During the past few months I have worked closely with a manuscript collection donated by former Fitchburg State University history professor: Susan Reynolds Williams. The collection contains documents and objects about her personal research interests. During processing, I noticed there are some very interesting domestic history materials which prompted me to think deeper about the role of archives in historical research.

Williams was a cultural Continue reading


Domestic History at Work: Why Archives are Essential to Domestic Historians

NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month


Are you a writer? Do you have an idea for a novel buzzing around in your head? Maybe you just want to give writing a try. If so, then join thousands of writers around the world for NaNoWriMo!

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing. On November 1, participants begin working towards the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 PM on November 30.

Valuing enthusiasm, determination, and a deadline, NaNoWriMo is for anyone who has ever thought about writing a novel.

Join us at the FSU Library for Write-In Events!

Sign up in the library or email Sherry Packard (spackard@fitchburgstate.edu) with the subject “NaNoWriMo” to be added to the mailing list for information about upcoming events.

The  Library will be hosting weekly open write-in workshops every Sunday throughout the month of November.

Drop in on Sundays anytime from 1:00-8:30pm starting 11/1 in Room 101 (back of the library first floor past the open computing space)

To participate nationally you can signup with NaNoWriMo’s official site by following these easy steps:

  1. Fill out your profile at nanowrimo.org. Complete your profile so like-minded writers can connect with you.
  2. Create your novel.
  3. Select your region. Choose a home region to get updates on local events from your volunteer Municipal Liaison. Once you’ve selected your region, your Regional Lounge will appear with the forums.
    FSU Students should select: USA :: Massachusetts :: Elsewhere

Carson Collection of Oral Histories


Professor Norman Carson

Professor Norman Carson (1931-) was an instructor of History at Fitchburg State College from 1964-1990.  In the early 1970s, he developed an oral history course that included student interviews of local residents regarding specific historical topics.   The course was offered from 1972-1976.  During that time, Prof. Carson and his students captured more than 180 oral history interviews, including the only recorded interviews with early alumni of the Fitchburg Normal School.  The recordings document the experiences of Fitchburg Normal School and Fitchburg State Teachers College alumni and faculty.  The collection also includes interviews with Fitchburg area residents on topics including immigration, war veterans’ experiences, living through the Depression Era, Black migration to the North, labor history and growing up in Fitchburg.

The entire collection has been converted to digital format, and all of the interviews are now available online as streaming audio files.  Click here to browse the collection and listen to some fascinating first-hand accounts of the history of our community.

First Class: Student Life During the Fitchburg Normal School Era


Banner designed by graduating class for commencement exercises.

The photographs and documents in this exhibit represent some of the earliest surviving examples of student life and the educational experience at Fitchburg State University, originally known as Fitchburg Normal School. These documents have been reproduced from materials that are located in the University Archives & Special Collections, which are maintained by staff of the Amelia V. Gallucci-Cirio Library.


What do YOU want to read?


The Community Read Committee is looking for your input on what we should read together next year as a campus and community. The Committee has narrowed down the suggestions that you provided to three equally interesting and stimulating books, so now its up to YOU to make the final decision for the 2015-16 Community Read book.

Image_CommunityRead_2015-16SelectionsThe 3 finalists are:

1. I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai
2. Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis by Robert D. Putnam
3. Redeployment by Phil Klay

Vote online NOW at http://goo.gl/uSc3xZ

About Each Finalist:

I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai

When the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley in Pakistan, one girl spoke out. Malala Yousafzai refused to be silenced and fought for her right to an education.

On Tuesday, October 9, 2012, when she was fifteen, she almost paid the ultimate price. She was shot in the head at point-blank range while riding the bus home from school, and few expected her to survive.

Instead, Malala’s miraculous recovery has taken her on an extraordinary journey from a remote valley in northern Pakistan to the halls of the United Nations in New York. At sixteen, she became a global symbol of peaceful protest and the youngest nominee ever for the Nobel Peace Prize.

I am Malala is the remarkable tale of a family uprooted by global terrorism, of the fight for girls’ education, of a father who, himself a school owner, championed and encouraged his daughter to write and attend school, and of brave parents who have a fierce love for their daughter in a society that prizes sons.

Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis by Robert D. Putnam

It’s the American dream: get a good education, work hard, buy a house, and achieve prosperity and success. This is the America we believe in—a nation of opportunity, constrained only by ability and effort. But during the last twenty-five years we have seen a disturbing “opportunity gap” emerge. Americans have always believed in equality of opportunity, the idea that all kids, regardless of their family background, should have a decent chance to improve their lot in life. Now, this central tenet of the American dream seems no longer true or at the least, much less true than it was.

Redeployment by Phil Klay

Phil Klay’s Redeployment takes readers to the frontlines of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, asking us to understand what happened there, and what happened to the soldiers who returned.  Interwoven with themes of brutality and faith, guilt and fear, helplessness and survival, the characters in these stories struggle to make meaning out of chaos.

In “Redeployment”, a soldier who has had to shoot dogs because they were eating human corpses must learn what it is like to return to domestic life in suburbia, surrounded by people “who have no idea where Fallujah is, where three members of your platoon died.”  In “After Action Report”, a Lance Corporal seeks expiation for a killing he didn’t commit, in order that his best friend will be unburdened.  A Morturary Affairs Marine tells about his experiences collecting remains—of U.S. and Iraqi soldiers both.  A chaplain sees his understanding of Christianity, and his ability to provide solace through religion, tested by the actions of a ferocious Colonel.  And in the darkly comic “Money as a Weapons System”, a young Foreign Service Officer is given the absurd task of helping Iraqis improve their lives by teaching them to play baseball.  These stories reveal the intricate combination of monotony, bureaucracy, comradeship and violence that make up a soldier’s daily life at war, and the isolation, remorse, and despair that can accompany a soldier’s homecoming.

Redeployment is poised to become a classic in the tradition of war writing.  Across nations and continents, Klay sets in devastating relief the two worlds a soldier inhabits: one of extremes and one of loss.  Written with a hard-eyed realism and stunning emotional depth, this work marks Phil Klay as one of the most talented new voices of his generation.

Open Educational Resources

Image_Open Educational ResourcesThere has been a lot of discussion lately regarding the expanding cost of resources with students (and faculty) finding it more difficult to afford course materials.

In the interest in helping alleviate some of this, we have put together a guide to some useful resources that can be used in classrooms, or that are available to anyone who wishes to learn on their own.

Everything on this guide is free and legal to use.

It is here: (http://fitchburgstate.libguides.com/openeducation)

This guide includes the following:

Open Educational Resources – these are Educational Resources that are Open Access;  in other words, they free to use.    This tab includes the following:

  • Open Textbooks  – These are peer-approved textbooks which have been created by experts within many academic fields.  You may find these to be as good, if not better than some of the textbooks you are already assigning
  • Digital Repositories – These are storage databases for journal articles which are within public domain or have been granted “Green Open Access.”   These repositories help to both alleviate the cost to universities regarding the increasing cost of periodicals and also make high level material available to the general public (or your students).
  • Open Access Journals – Similar to the above repositories, these are periodicals which have made themselves freely available to the Public
  • Free Course Materials – These are resources, often from top institutions, that can be used in your classrooms.  They can be extremely helpful as supplementary tools for your existing classes and labs.

Open Source SoftwareHere’s a list of a few good examples Free Open Source software which can serve as a substitute for many expensive commercial packages.

The content is divided up as follows:

  • Operating Systems – tired of being locked into a Microsoft or Apple environment?   There’s Linux, but also many more options, which are getting easier and easier to use.
  • Learning Management Systems – If you don’t like working with some of the existing commercial platforms (or find them too complicated), there are a few helpful options here
  • Open Source Software – This is just a very brief list of a few useful items which may serve as adequate substitutes to popular commercial items.

We always open to suggestions for new items to be added.  If you know of a great resource, please do not hesitate to contact us!

Back and better than ever

After more than six months and several years of planning, we are happy to announce that the first stage of the library renovation is complete!    We have moved out of our temporary digs on the third floor, and have now moved back into our regular space.  Many changes have occurred to the first two floors of the library, including, but not limited to:

  • More space.
  • More computers (including the lab, there are now 93).
  • More light.
  • An opened up balcony area on the second floor.
  • A brand new library instruction lab.
  • A brand new Center for Teaching and Learning.

Let’s take a quick tour of the changes.

As you enter the library, the first thing you will see is the new circulation desk on your right, and a new books display on your left.  You will also get a view of the new center staircase column:


Library Entrance

Here’s a clearer view of the stairway and elevator column:

Stairway and Elevator

Stairway and Elevator


If you turn to your left, you will see the new reference desk (and some of the computers):

Reference Desk

Reference Desk

Here is another view in the daylight:


Reference Desk

Here are some of the new computer workstations:

Computer Work Stations and Printers

Computer Work Stations and Printers


Here is the print reference collection:

Reference Collection

Reference Collection

Here’s another view of the new books display, with a casual studying area in the distance:

Book Display and Casual Studying area

Book Display and Casual Studying area

Just to the right of the entrance is a display case for items from the Special Collections, a directory, and a screen which will show library-specific news:

Display Case

If you walk around behind the stairwell, you will find the location that will house the “nook” for casual reading:

The Nook

The Nook

The first floor also houses the brand new Library Instruction Lab:

Library Instruction Lab

Library Instruction Lab

Upstairs, on the second-floor balcony, you can find the print periodicals:



Another quiet reading area behind the stairs:

2nd Floor Study Area

2nd Floor Study Area

A  conference room, director’s suite, and the new Center for Teaching and Learning:

Director's Suite, CTL

Director’s Suite, CTL

There’s more that is not pictured here, so please come by and take a look at your brand new library space.   Also stay tuned for the next phase which will renovate the 3rd and 4th floors.