Thursday, August 27, 2015

Treasures from the Archive: Concordia's Beginnings

Week 2: Concordia's Beginnings

Since we are still in the beginning of the semester and the academic year, I figured the beginning is as good a place as any to start with these posts. I know I touched on some of the initial stuff about Concordia but that’s no fun, I mean, after all, Concordia didn’t just appear overnight with 30 some students attending. Well, in the grand scheme of things it may very well have… the school opened up only 4 months after funding for it was approved by the Missouri Synod! Of course, this came due to the rapid growth of the Minnesota Dakota district of the Synod (a district that consisted of: Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Northern Nebraska and part of Canada).

The synod had other schools educating pastors who could then move into the territory and preach, but with over 300 congregations with 50,000 people throughout and only 131 pastors (though a steadily growing number), delegates in 1893 thought it would be a good idea to have an institution closer to home. Not all delegates at the 1893 synodical convention were in support of this idea though, and it came down to District President Freidrick Pfotenhauer and Concordia Seminary President Francis Pieper of St. Louis to convince the delegates.

As you can guess, these men met with successful efforts and $25,000 was provided for the school (impressive since the total resources of the synod were $50,000 at the time) and a local board of trusties were elected. The ball was rolling and Concordia opened in a temporary location on Agate Street in September 1893, under the direction of (then) functional director Theodore Buenger.

So there’s your cliff notes on how Concordia came about!

- Michael


Michael Hernick recently graduated from Concordia University, Saint Paul with a major in History. He spent his summer buried in the Archive digging up interesting nuggets of Concordia's history. We will be highlighting his work with Throwback Thursday post, Treasures from the Archive, throughout the year!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Treasures from the Archive: Welcome Back!

Michael Hernick recently graduated from Concordia University, Saint Paul with a major in History. He spent his summer buried in the Archive digging up interesting nuggets of Concordia's history. We will be highlighting his work with Throwback Thursday post, Treasures from the Archive, throughout the year!

Week 1: Welcome!

Concordia's original campus in 1894.
Pictured are Old Main (left), South building (background), and West dormitory (right.)
Today, this is the site of Wollaeger Hall. 

Welcome (and welcome back) Concordia Community! With summer behind us and the academic year starting, we at the Library figured it would be great to point out some of the cool or interesting things that have happened on campus in the past. Concordia has been around for over 120 years, so some stuff is bound to have happened here. Granted, if it was compiled in a 300-page book, you may want to get some of that elusive sleep that college students never seem to get (or at least I didn’t)… so here’s hoping that these posts don’t put you to sleep, after all, there is plenty of time to do that in your morning classes…

Since it is only the first week, and you know it is still nice outside, I will not keep you long today. As such, I just wanted to point out a few of the changes that have happened to our campus over the 122 years it has been around:

30 students (all male)
Diverse community 4000+ students 
High school (pre-seminary and teaching programs only)
University (undergraduate and graduate degrees in a variety of programs)
School was on a temporary site; the following year it moved to its current location, but with only 5 buildings (4 of which would be used)
17 buildings with additional residences
6 acres of land
42 acres covered

It is not much, but it is a small sample of just how much Concordia has grown and changed. There are many more things to come (anniversaries and such) so keep checking back.

Enjoy your first weekend back, Concordia!

- Michael

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Summer Reading!

Looking for something to read this summer? We’ve done some legwork for you and assembled a list of titles that some library staff, students and faculty either recommend or are planning themselves to read while lounging on the beach, the patio, under the big oak tree in the backyard…

Check it out! 


Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Q & A with a Librarian: Jennifer Carlson

Hometown: White Bear Lake, Minnesota
Favorite Book: The Secret Garden

Can you tell us about all of your Concordia experience?
I went to Concordia in Seward, Nebraska, where I got a degree in Education, class of 2000 - that was pretty exciting to be such a noteworthy class. So, I was there for four years and it was awesome.Then I taught for three years at a Lutheran school in rural Crown, Minnesota. Afterwards, I came to Concordia St. Paul because I was going to go into library science and my brother had been a student here and had worked in the library. So through some connections, I had an opportunity for an internship while I was going to library school - I worked mostly in Circulation, but I also helped out at the Reference Desk, and in Tech Services. 

Then I took over as Circulation Supervisor, and I did that for a number of years. I got my library degree sometime in there from St. Kate’s, and I transitioned away from Circulation and became more reference and instruction, which allowed me to meet students and help them with their research, and also meet them in their classes and teach. When the previous curriculum coordinator retired, I took on that responsibility, which was exciting because of my background in education. And now my current job is Reference, Curriculum, and Inter-library Loan.

So when you were teaching, how did you know you wanted to make the switch to librarian?
Teaching was good but it wasn't quite the right fit for me. So I started exploring different careers. It’s funny how God works sometimes - I just happened to be talking to somebody who was friends with somebody who happened to be going to St. Kate’s in library science, and I had never even thought of libraries as a career before. I looked into it and it was like, wow - this sounds perfect! So I decided to become a librarian. You never know where you’re going to find out about your future career path.

Do you play any instruments?
I took piano lessons in my childhood, so I can still kind of plunk out a tune. I play flute - again, I haven’t played much since high school, but I can still play a little bit. But what I am still active in is handbell choir. It's a very unique instrument. When you think of a piano, each key is a note, but with handbells each bell is a different note. You typically have a group of people - although I have seen soloists and they totally blow me away - and each person is responsible for like two notes and their associated sharps and flats. You read the music and when it’s your turn, you play your two notes. You have to follow that music and make sure you’re in tune with everybody else, so there’s a lot of coordination involved. I've done it since seventh grade, so it’s been well over 20 years!

What is your favorite part about working at the Concordia library? What's the oddest thing you've seen during your time here?
I really like being able to interact with a lot of different people, getting to know people and help them find what they’re looking for. I think the oddest thing I ever saw was when I went downstairs and found some students who had created a fort out of blankets and books for their study session in the stacks.

What advice would you give 20 year old Jennifer?
Be ready for things to not happen the way you planned them. Because I had lots of plans and things didn't turn out the way I planned, and that’s okay. And I think that’s the other part - it’s okay if things don’t go the way you planned them.

Is there anything else you want to share about you that I haven’t asked?
I’m a huge Muppet fan. My desk is decorated with lots of Muppet memorabilia. And that’s something I have enjoyed since I was a child. Apparently the first TV show that I would sit down and watch was the Muppet show. 

Anything you want to say about Baby Bob?*
I am super excited to be having a baby in April. Baby Bob is just his code name, after he’s born then everyone will get to find out what his real name is! The first book I want to read to him is the Monster at the end of this Book, but I don’t think he’ll be ready for that one right off the bat, so we’ll probably pick out something like Goodnight Moon, one of the classics.

*UPDATE! Baby Bob was born on April 17 at 10:31 a.m.! His real name is Simeon Russell Carlson and he is adorable. We are so excited to meet him! 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Happy National Library Week 2015!

April 12 - 18 is National Library Week, and we have lots in store for the Concordia campus! First and foremost is our READ poster campaign. You've probably seen them hanging outside the library, and recognized a few faces -

We want to thank all the staff, faculty, and students who posed for us, as well as our reference librarian Megan who edited each and every poster. If you haven't seen them yet, come on down to Pearson Commons and check them out! 

The library has also set up a "Take Your Own READ Selfie Station" on our main floor. Grab a book and some friends, take a selfie, and upload using the hashtags #CSPreads and #NLW15. Be sure to tag us @csplibrary!

This year's National Library Week theme is "Endless Possibilities @ Your Library." As always, come visit us for reference help, books to checkout, and great study spaces :) 

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Q & A with a Library Student Worker: Der Thao

Hometown: North St. Paul
ELL Education Major, Hmong Studies Minor, Class of 2015

You are a senior so I have to ask - how are you feeling about your last semester?
It’s been really intimidating, honestly. I’m really ready to be done with this semester. But I’m kind of scared at the same time because real life starts. I’m going to have to start paying my loans off and I’m going to be a (semi) adult. I have a lot of decisions and things I have to do. But academically, I’m doing….I’m doing okay. I could be doing better! I have zero motivation right now! Maybe this isn't a good thing to be writing about!

What do you hope to do with your ELL major and Hmong Studies minor?
My original plan was to become an ELL teacher in the St. Paul school district, and I chose the Hmong Studies minor to help enhance my major. But we’ll see where life takes me. This fall semester I’m doing student teaching, and after that it’s either Peace Corps, AmeriCorps or teaching English abroad, either in Southeast Asia or in South Korea through the EPIK program. And then I could also just stay here in Minnesota and become a teacher, or start off small and become a teacher’s assistant, to see if I really do want to be in the schools.

What originally drew you to study ELL?
I was introduced to student leadership when I was a junior in high school. So after the whole experience of getting to facilitate workshops at such a young age, I wanted to work with youth and I wanted to impact them on a deeper level. And I wanted to travel. So I thought of becoming a teacher. I added the Hmong Studies major so that I could be a more effective teacher to the Hmong students in the St. Paul public school district. I was very passionate back then about the Hmong community. I lost a lot of my passion gradually, and so I would like to get back to that some day.

Tell me more about that passion.
It starts off from family. My parents have only been in America for 23 years now. I love them so much. I owe them everything. They have worked really hard in just the 23 years they've been here. You wouldn't know that they've only been here for 23 years, which is half their life. They basically grew up in the jungles of Laos, in villages, and they've never been to any formal schooling. And they were never able to get their GED because they’re always busy providing for their family. Where I am now...I owe them a lot. So I wanted to help Hmong youth understand where their parents are coming from, and how they can obtain a greater life. Which is what their parents had originally wanted for them, and why they came to America. I want them to bring themselves up. Of course, it’s a hard society to do that in, with all the systemic issues. So that’s my little snippet! I could go on for hours about this.

How are you active on campus?
There’s a Concordia Hmong Unity Student Association here, on campus, which I was an active member of my freshman and sophomore years, and I was also involved in UMOJA, which stands for United Minds of Joint Action. They would have panels, talks, and discussions, where we would talk about societal issues and that stuff intrigued me at the time. And it still does, it’s still a very important subject to me. I was also a member in Concordia Sisterhood of Empowerment. And then my sophomore year, I became one of the co-presidents of CHUSA and got involved in Student Senate as a senator. Then I studied abroad my junior year.

Tell me about your study abroad experience, and where you hope to travel next.
It was wonderful! I learned a lot about myself and what I'm capable of doing on my own. I was able to go to Germany and Italy, and I learned so much about different people and how we can cross-culturally connect. It was a great experience and I did a lot of things for the first time - I went to the club for the first time ever in Italy, and I drank for the first time in Germany. I think Europe is a great place of history. It’s so old, and so much has happened there. The best part of the whole experience was being with the people I was with. I was homesick a few times, but not as much as when I went to Japan (where I went the summer after sophomore year). In Japan I was a camp counselor, helping Japanese students ranging from pre-K to college at 3-day camps. We would go in and teach the kids camp activities and camp songs, and I loved that part, I have a horrible singing voice but the camp songs were the best part! It wasn't so much about teaching them English, but about creating a bridge between U.S. and Japanese students.

As for the future, I want to do my student teaching in Vietnam, and I also really want to go to South Korea. We’ll see if that works out! I've also really wanted to go to Australia and New Zealand because I want to see where the Lord of the Rings takes place. I want to go to the Shire! I just want to hit all the continents. Oooh - I have this weird fascination with Iceland and Greenland. Like, I really want to go there. and I have always wanted to go to an authentic Eskimo village. I think that would be so interesting, to see how they actually live their lives without any outside influences.

What's your favorite part about working in the library? 
The staff! I love the staff here. I love knowing you all, you all have your own quirks and your personalities are really fun to work with. And I love my coworkers. It’s been so fun getting to know everyone and having it be a normal thing in my life to come back to, after classes change.

How has working in the library enhanced your Concordia experience?
I know a lot about library resources! Now I understand the struggle of placing a book in the right place - no one will understand it until they work in the library - and I hate looking for missing books! I also love people watching. It's one of my hobbies. You know those weird out-of-mind things, where you imagine yourself as someone else? And you’re out of your body and imagining everything from their eyes, and you see how you look  - I’m being so weird! But I consider myself to be very social and I enjoy seeing people in the library everyday, and getting to talk to them all.

What will you miss most after graduation? What does graduation mean to you?
I'll miss the people. And the normalcy of everything. I have a love-hate relationship with the the routine of it, but I'll miss it overall. And being able to study abroad - because I won’t have that opportunity as an adult. For me, graduation means I’m ending a chapter in my life. It’s so bittersweet because we've been raised to believe that (besides getting married and having children) this is a pinnacle moment of our lives, and when college is over, many opportunities go too. I wish I was given more opportunities when I was here that were affordable and attainable, but I am proud of what I have achieved in my time here. I've succeeded in obtaining my Bachelor’s Degree! I’m moving on in my life.

What advice would you give your first year self?
I would say talk to everyone and anyone. It’s good to make connections early and to talk to random people. Oh, and study abroad as soon as you can and as much as you can!

What’s your favorite color?
I like navy blue a lot but I like looking at green.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Wordcraft with Leif Enger

By Jaclyn Martini
English Lit & Creative Writing Major '16, 
Library Student Worker
One of the most interesting things for any literature-lover, be they creator or consumer, is to hear a published author speak.  Readers love to hear about why this might have been included, or why some other thing wasn’t there; those who write are hoping to hear tips, perhaps even encouragement, simultaneously praying that today is not the day they put their foot so far into their mouth that their toes start digesting.  When Leif Enger, author of Peace Like a River, blessed Concordia with a visit on Friday, the events were attended by students, professors, and community members.  Enger visited two classrooms during the day and gave a lecture later that night, each event different, but all centered on the all-important craft of words.  From writing to story development to reading, Enger had a lot to say.

When Enger’s class period started, he took the front of the room; the audience became utterly his.  Mostly attended by students interested in writing – and their professors – the talk was easy and enlightening. Enger seemed to have answers for everything we asked.  He addressed work ethic – “Just keep pushing through!” – and nerves – “Take the risk!  If it doesn’t work out you can always re-imagine it.” 

All around the room, shoulders relaxed.  Of course it was that easy.  Why shouldn’t it be?  “Write what you love,” he said.  “Not just what you know.”  He told interesting anecdotes from his early co-authorship with his brother, he gave insight to how he wrote Peace Like a River, and it was easy to wonder how many of the books sitting on shelves just out the door had been written similarly.  Authors changed from distant, frightening people to human beings sitting up at three in the morning, muscling through something that just didn’t want to flow, hoping that for every word that was thrown away a better one would take its place.  Many of us looked at each other when he started talking about that.  Was he talking about himself, or us?

Enger’s second talk focused more on his book, more on plot and characters and the actual story.  When asked about some of his characters, he revealed Roxanna was intended to be a character who was seen only once, in passing; Swede appeared unexpectedly inside a car one day.  “Swede was sitting there, and . . . that’s kinda the first I knew about Swede,” he said.  “You’ve gotta allow for some freedom.  You’ve gotta write an outline and not be married to it.” 

The third talk, held in the evening, was attended by several community members in addition to the group of Concordia people.  Here Enger spoke about reading, especially about reading for pleasure. “It is worth our time and worth defending,” he said.  “The stuff I read for education is gone.  The stuff I read for understanding is mostly gone.  The things I loved are still there.”  There was time for questions, and several were asked with the same core worry – how can we make sure that the next generation keeps reading?  What is it that we should be doing? 

Enger’s answer was in two parts.  “You become a reader,” he said, “the first time a book just - just grabs you.”  Heads around the auditorium nodded, each person thinking of their own introduction to the world of words.  “Never elevate a book beyond the possibility of enjoyment,” Enger added firmly, listing some of the books assigned to him in school he didn’t touch until much later in life.  “I was reading [Moby Dick] and I thought, hang on,” he said.  “If I had known about the shrunken heads, I would have read it when I was twelve!”  It was nice, refreshing, to hear someone express the idea was that if reading was seen as enjoyable, readers would enjoy it.  “Sometimes you fall into a book like you fall out of a rowboat.  You thrash around and you’re just . . . in it.”  His words made me want to head to the library and check out as many books as I could carry.  How long since I – since anyone in the auditorium who wasn’t retired – had just read for fun?

As the event came to a close, Enger thanked us for having him, for our questions, for our time.  However, it is the university who should be thanking him. Who knows which student might write the next great American novel, perhaps inspired or bolstered by his words?  Perhaps in ten or twenty years, several books on the library shelf will be Concordia alumni publications – any of them, when asked, might say in an interview that one time, Leif Enger had come to their university and answered some questions, and that they had been taking the risk ever since.