Rolfing Unshelved

Books, news, and events from TIU's Rolfing Library


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WHY are you here?

I’ll be the first to admit it: I’m a TED junkie. If you’ve never heard of it before, let me explain the idea — it’s simple. Take somebody who’s an expert on something or other, put them on a stage, give them between 2 and 20 minutes to talk about their passion, record it on video, and post it online for the world to see. For free. Celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, TED serves as a clearinghouse for over 1,800 videos on everything from neuroplasticity to how to tie your shoelaces.

goldencircleTo date, the third most-watched video in their collection (with over 18 million views) is by a leadership expert named Simon Sinek, and it’s called “How Great Leaders Inspire Action.” (He later wrote a book called Start with Why that unpacks these ideas even further.) The talk is worth watching in and of itself — but so we can move on to my main point, let me give you a quick run-down of his main argument. He says that we as human beings (and organizations) operate on three levels — whathow, and why.

  • What describes the actions that you or your group undertakes – for example, the products a company markets or the events a ministry group coordinates.
  • How describes the plans or strategies by which these actions get done – for example, the style of music at a worship service or the manufacturing practices a company uses.
  • Why describes the purpose, cause, or belief that fuels the whole process– it’s the reason an organization exists or a person gets out of bed in the morning.

He goes on to explain that while everybody knows what they’re doing, and most know how they’re doing it, shockingly few actually understand why. Thus, we tend to live our lives backwards – we waste time and energy worrying about and trying to coordinate the whats rather than letting them fall into place naturally when we truly understand the whys.

So, then, as we gear up for another year at Trinity, let me challenge you to take Simon Sinek’s words to heart. Especially if you’re a returning student, you’re familiar with the whats of college/seminary life: going to class, reading books, writing papers, participating in clubs and teams, getting a job, spending time with friends, getting (probably not enough) sleep… the list goes on and on. And if you think a little harder, you can probably figure out how you’re doing those things: showing up to class on time, paying attention to your professor, making sure the sources you cite are reputable, picking activities that interest you, etc. But have you considered why you’re doing it?

A complementary strategy to Simon Sinek’s is the “Five Whys” technique developed by Sakichi Toyoda and implemented within the Toyota Corporation (yes, that Toyota). When an issue would arise on his production lines, he’d ask why five times in succession, in order to get down to the heart of the matter. So let’s try that here with the question I posed in the previous paragraph. Imagine two classmates. They’re both in the same program and taking the same classes — so their whats are the same. They both get good grades and are well-respected by their professors and fellow students — so you could even say their hows are pretty similar. But ask them why, and you’ll get two completely different stories.

Student 1:

  • Why are you going to college? To get a degree.
  • Why do you want to get a degree? To get the job I want.
  • Why do you want that job? To make enough money.
  • Why do you want to make money? To buy the things I want.
  • Why do you want to buy these things? To make my life feel fulfilled.

Student 2:

  • Why are you going to college? To broaden my understanding of the world.
  • Why do you want to broaden your understanding of the world? So that I can better fulfill the place to which God has called me within it.
  • Why do you want to fulfill your calling? Because it will bring God glory and me joy.
  • Why will it bring God glory? Because I’m living in harmony with God’s plan.
  • Why will it bring you joy? Because I’ll be doing what God created me to do.

Like I said before, these two students are doing the same things, using the same methods. Which of them, though, do you think will be under less stress to succeed at any cost? Which will be able to bounce back more easily from setbacks along the way? Who’s in charge of each particular student’s whys? Who do you think will ultimately end up more fulfilled?

I encourage you to try the same exercise on your own life. Why are you at Trinity? (And, while you’re at it, why are you at Trinity?) Be honest — it’s OK if you encounter answers that you’re not completely happy with right now. Part of college/grad school (honestly, it’s not all about writing papers!) is finding and examining those hidden parts of your own life, so that you can better understand both who God created you to be and what role He’s called you to fulfill. Yeah, it might be a little daunting, but it’s totally worth it.

Blessings to you as you begin this new semester!

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Summer Reading: 2014 Caldecott Honorees

If you have or work with the youngsters around campus, or if you’re an Elementary Education major, you’ll most likely already be familiar with the three sets of bookshelves on the left wall as you enter the library. If you’re not, I encourage you to go take a look — even if you’re (supposedly) a grown-up. Our Juvenile collection contains titles that span from pulleys to Pluto, and it continues to grow.

Now, you might be thinking, “I’m busy with real research. I’ve got my head stuck in a book for too many hours a day as it is. Plus, I don’t have children. It would be embarrassing for my fellow students to see me reading a kids’ book!” I respectfully beg to differ; I see juvenile books as a way to work a different part of your mind, and a great stress relief when academic jargon gets to be too much to swallow. Think about it this way — it’s the same reason that coloring books find their way into Hawkins Hall during finals week.

Over my next two blog posts, I’ll draw your attention to two special groups of books: those that have won and/or been considered for the two highest awards in juvenile literature. Today I’ll be talking about this year’s contenders for the Caldecott Medal, and next time I’ll talk about the Newbery Finalists.

The Caldecott Medal, named in honor of British illustrator Randolph Caldecott, was first awarded in 1938. Given by the Association for Library Service to Children (a division of the American Library Association), it honors the artist of the “most distinguished American picture book for children.” You may recognize some of the previous winners and honorees: The Invention of Hugo Cabret (known to moviegoers simply as “Hugo”), The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales, The Polar Express, Jumanji, and Where the Wild Things Are.

2014 saw three honorees and one winner, as listed below. Click on the cover image for holdings information. 

locomotive2014 Caldecott Winner: Locomotive

It is the summer of 1869, and trains, crews, and family are traveling together, riding America’s brand-new transcontinental railroad. These pages come alive with the details of the trip and the sounds, speed, and strength of the mighty locomotives; the work that keeps them moving; and the thrill of travel from plains to mountain to ocean. Come hear the hiss of the steam, feel the heat of the engine, watch the landscape race by. Come ride the rails, come cross the young country!

journey2014 Caldecott Honoree: Journey

A lonely girl draws a magic door on her bedroom wall and through it escapes into a world where wonder, adventure, and danger abound. Red marker in hand, she creates a boat, a balloon, and a flying carpet that carry her on a spectacular journey toward an uncertain destiny. When she is captured by a sinister emperor, only an act of tremendous courage and kindness can set her free. Can it also lead her home and to her heart’s desire? With supple line, luminous color, and nimble flights of fancy, author-illustrator Aaron Becker launches an ordinary child on an extraordinary journey toward her greatest and most exciting adventure of all.

flora-flamingo2014 Caldecott Honoree: Flora and the Flamingo

In this innovative wordless picture book with interactive flaps, Flora and her graceful flamingo friend explore the trials and joys of friendship through an elaborate synchronized dance. With a twist, a turn, and even a flop, these unlikely friends learn at last how to dance together in perfect harmony. Full of humor and heart, this stunning performance (and splashy ending!) will have readers clapping for more!

 

mr-wuffles2014 Caldecott Honoree: Mr. Wuffles!

In a near wordless masterpiece that could only have been devised by David Wiesner, a cat named Mr. Wuffles doesn’t care about toy mice or toy goldfish. He’s much more interested in playing with a little spaceship full of actual aliens—but the ship wasn’t designed for this kind of rough treatment. Between motion sickness and damaged equipment, the aliens are in deep trouble. When the space visitors dodge the cat and take shelter behind the radiator to repair the damage, they make a host of insect friends. The result? A humorous exploration of cooperation between aliens and insects, and of the universal nature of communication involving symbols, “cave” paintings, and gestures of friendship.

All our juvenile award-winners and honorees are marked with a star on the spine; if these aren’t available, there are plenty more to catch your eye! Happy reading!

Author’s note: Book descriptions are from Amazon.com.


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40 Days Before Easter: Celebrating the Lenten Fast

© Claude Truong-Ngoc/Wikimedia Commons

© Claude Truong-Ngoc/Wikimedia Commons

Editor’s note: this post was composed on Ash Wednesday, March 5 but published a day later.

As you look around today, you may happen to notice individuals walking around campus and the surrounding community with black smudges on their foreheads. And while on other days it might cause some suspicion, today it stands as a visual reminder of the season into which we Christians are headed. Today is Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of Lent, the 40-day (not including Sundays) period preceding Easter. Now, if you’re not from a liturgically-oriented branch of the Church, you may not be completely familiar with this season or just what’s involved with it. (Hey, if you’re like me, you may not be familiar with much of the history even if you are from a liturgically-oriented branch.) So, to appease your hopefully-now-piqued curiosity, let me share with you a little of what I’ve learned.

When did Lent get started?
The origins of the Lenten celebration as we know it aren’t exactly certain — but we do know that it’s extremely old. The first explicit mention of a 40-day period of fasting and prayer that coincided with the Easter season was way back in 325 AD, in the fifth canon of the Council of Nicaea (yes, the same one that developed the Nicene Creed). However, its roots reach back before even that: early church father Irenaeus of Lyons (c.130-200 AD) wrote about a time of Easter preparation, but he described a period of only 2-3 days. What is notable, however, is the ecumenical nature of this practice: Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant traditions alike generally affirm the Council of Nicaea as a trusted source of theological orthodoxy.

Why’s it 40 days long?
Like I mentioned before, this preparation period preceding Easter wasn’t always set at this length. Some Christians took 24-48 hours, some took six days, some took three weeks. However, you may be familiar with the fact that the number 40 is an important one in the Bible — the rain pelted down on Noah and his floating menagerie for 40 days and nights; Moses and the Israelites wandered around in the wilderness for 40 years; and Jesus fasted and prayed in the wilderness for 40 days before officially beginning his ministry. It’s with this last point that the good folks at Nicaea hit their theological pay dirt. They figured that imitating Jesus’ 40 days in fasting and prayer could help Christians to better identify with the passion and purpose of Christ.

Why’s it called “Lent”?
In many other languages the term for this period somehow revolves around the idea of forty: Quaresima in Italian, Cuaresma in Spanish, Carême in French, Tessarokonta in Greek. However, there’s nothing that speaks to that idea in English. Instead, our term comes from an Anglo-Saxon word which meant “to lengthen.” As Norman Tanner, a Jesuit priest, describes, “Lent comes at a time when the hours or daytime are ‘lengthening,’ as spring approaches, and so it is a time when we too can ‘lengthen’ spiritually, when we can stretch out and grow in the spirit.”*

© Claude Truong-Ngoc/Wikimedia Commons

© Claude Truong-Ngoc/Wikimedia Commons

What’s the purpose of Lent?
A friend recently posted a meme to his Facebook wall: “I believe I’m getting closer to God by spending a few weeks not eating M&Ms.” Admittedly, I got a chuckle out of it — because that’s not what Lent is really about. Again, I tip my hat to Norman Tanner: “Our role during Lent is to cooperate with God’s grace and initiatives, in a sense to relax in the presence of God, rather than to force the pace with our own efforts… Some asceticism is important, of course, but it is essential to place the discipline within its proper and positive context: so that we can receive God’s gifts more fully.”* Lenten disciplines aren’t just about depriving ourselves so that we can somehow “earn” an extra portion of God’s graces; just like any other spiritual discipline, it’s about getting ourselves out of the way so that we can better hear God’s voice and feel God’s presence.

What do people do during Lent?
A lot depends on the religious tradition of the particular person. Catholic and Anglican/Episcopal brothers and sisters traditionally fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, and abstain from eating meat on Fridays. Some other Protestants have traditionally given up a thing or practice during this month-and-a-half time span. Others add on a spiritual discipline: longer or more focused devotional time, volunteering time to some ministry, keeping a prayer journal, etc. (Personally, I’d be willing to argue that the act itself isn’t as important as the meaning behind the act — if it draws you to a deeper love and understanding of God, it’s fair game.)

And finally, the big question:

Why is this showing up on a library blog?
Because if you’re interested in devotional resources to help guide your thoughts and prayers during Lent, we can help! Any of the following titles can get you started:

On behalf of the staff here at Rolfing, I pray (whether your tradition practices Lenten disciplines or not) that this time leading up to the celebration of Christ’s resurrection will be a fruitful one for you — that your spirit will be “lengthened” as you grow deeper in your faith and love of the Lord.

*Tanner, Norman, SJ. “A Short History of Lent.” Thinking faith: the online journal of the British Jesuits. Available online at http://www.thinkingfaith.org/articles/20110315_1.htm.


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Surveying for Change

We’re humbled (and pleasantly surprised!) that a recent Scrawl article gave a welcome “shout out” to the library. The article, “Memo to the Next President,” gave recommendations about how to improve the university. The first priority considered school operations, and encouraged the administration to survey students in order to learn what they think needs to be improved. The author observed, “Here the library deserves a special shout out: they solicit input every year (and even try to beat their previous record of responses!). I suspect some suggestions are good, some have already been tried, and some are impossible. Simply having the data, however, allows them to create accurate metrics of quality, discern changing needs, and be on the lookout for industry best-practices.”

Discerning the needs of our patrons has certainly been the library’s goal in conducting its surveys. We used the results of our recent surveys to benchmark our services against other university libraries and to determine our strengths and weaknesses. These surveys were also valuable for discovering what students care about and what they want to see changed. In addition, more focused surveys allowed us to solicit specific feedback on possible projects and improvements.

The surveys have affirmed what we do well here at Rolfing, yet have also identified problems. Thanks to a recent survey, we discovered that students gave positive ratings to the service provided by librarians and staff. One patron commented, “The staff are always helpful, courteous and wonderful. Any improvement needed is more on the side of resources and services.” (Thanks, dear patron!) This and other responses suggested that resources and the library building were the greatest areas of concern. Our surveys confirmed that students want access to a greater number of books and journals, both in print and online. Patrons also desire a more pleasant study environment: better lighting, more numerous electrical outlets, a more stable temperature, comfier furniture, and an inviting yet studious atmosphere.

new-chairs

Our new study chairs!

As the Scrawl article noted, it can be difficult to make needed changes in response to feedback. One of the major limitations for the library has been budget issues — all these requests cost money (crazy, I know)! Despite our financial limitations, Rolfing staff has worked to find innovative ways to move forward and make some of the improvements you’ve requested. For example, we can’t afford to redo the lighting in the library, but we can (and do!) provide desk lamps for students to check out. Other improvements include our coffee machine, a new vending machine, and a scanner. We’ve also recently purchased new furniture: study chairs, “comfy” lounge chairs, and laptop tables. Recently, we partnered with the GSGA to purchase and install whiteboards in our study rooms. We do hear your requests, and we’re striving to make improvements — albeit small ones — whenever and wherever possible.

Your input is crucial in identifying what changes we should make. We continue to value your critiques and comments, especially as the world of libraries and higher education changes. As the Scrawl article noted, feedback is the best way for us to improve. We always appreciate your suggestions —  keep ’em coming!

Rebecca Miller is Head of Public Services at Rolfing Memorial Library. If you have any ideas to share, please post a comment below or email Rebecca.


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Summer Movie Marathons

For students, the summer is a golden opportunity to loosen up and cast off (some of) the cares of the academic year. What better way to do that than to hold a movie marathon!

The great news is that the library has in its DVD collection all three mainstays of movie-marathoners. Yes, my friends, the great Triumvirate of Trilogies can be found on our shelves: Indiana Jones (sorry, no Kingdom of the Crystal Skull), Star Wars (the original three — of course!), and The Lord of the Rings (yes, even the extended editions!).

Each is epic. Each is exciting. Each is perfect for a summertime couch-bound decompression session. So put down the summer Hebrew homework, gather some friends together, pop some popcorn, and spend a day at your nearest home theater munching, gabbing, and enjoying the show.

Plus, unlike your local multiplex, tickets to these movies are free. Or as Yoda would say, “Free of cost they are.”

Yoda

Credit: starwars.wikia.com


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Why Go to Seminary?

Why go to seminary? Admittedly, many readers of this blog–namely, seminarians–will have already answered such a question for themselves. But maybe you need a reminder, especially in these last weeks of papers and (gulp!) final exams.

Mark Rogers, who did his PhD at TEDS and is on staff at the church I attend, recently wrote a wonderful piece on the Gospel Coalition blog answering this question with five big points drawn from the wisdom of Timothy Dwight: (1) time to study, (2) the library, (3) the faculty, (4) other students, and (5) the doctrine. I recommend you give it a read (it’s short!).

But let me briefly highlight the one you might tend to forget, or to undervalue–reason #2. Mark writes,

Full-time students have lots of time to read–more than they’ll ever have in full-time ministry. Broad and deep reading is one of the main purposes of seminary. Professors are there to teach and mentor, but also to force you to read. As you read, you learn and grow, you learn how to read, and you learn what’s worth reading.

You can’t afford all the books, journals, articles, and dictionaries you’re required to read. That’s why strong seminaries and divinity schools have extensive and growing libraries. A good library gives you access to vast amounts of knowledge and distilled wisdom you cannot find online. If you’re in seminary, take advantage of the library–you’ll miss it when you’re gone.

Logos is great, and so are e-books and discount books from Amazon. But face it: once you’ve graduated from TEDS, you won’t have access to anywhere near Rolfing’s carefully acquired 200,000 volumes.

So let’s give thanks to God for the great blessing to our training and scholarship that our library represents and take full advantage of it while we are students.