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Archive for April, 2012


On Saturday morning, February 25th, some twenty eager middle-schoolers from Des Moines Meredith Middle School, visited the “Many Faces of George Washington” exhibit at Cowles Library.

Each institution hosting the exhibit from the Mount Vernon Estate, Museum & Gardens also received a beautifully-framed replica of Rembrandt Peale’s famous porthole portrait of Washington.

This portrait will be awarded to Meredith Middle School, along with a “George Washington Celebration Kit,” containing suggested lesson plans for classroom use. Also included in the kit is a flag of the United States flown over Mount Vernon.  Teacher Randi Montag Weeks announced that the portrait would hang in the school’s new Media Learning Center.

Research Guides

Research Guides

In the first three months of 2012, there have been 18,594 visits to the most popular Research Guide: Pharmacy. What is it pharmacy students (and faculty) know? Research Guides are an invaluable resource provided by Cowles Library. Librarians have developed Research Guides for each department and school at Drake. There are numerous guides designed to help students in particular courses and with particular assignments. There are even guides designed for First Year Seminars and the Engaged Citizen experience.

Each guide was created by a librarian who is an expert in that field and contains links to both Cowles Library resources and relevant information sources available online. These guides are not static, however, as librarians are frequently updating Research Guides as more resources become available. While there are changes to what databases and journals Drake subscribes to, Research Guides are invaluable tools to knowing what is available now. Research Guides highlight relevant resources and help students figure out which resources are best for each research need.

One of the many perks of the library’s new website is the better visibility and integration of Research Guides. To discover and explore Research Guides, simply navigate to the library’s home page and select Research Guides from the Find menu or visit

New Web Site Launched

 After an extensive one-year development and test process, the Library launched a new website March 20.  There are actually “four sites in one” in the new architecture:

The “Research, Study and Learning site is the core service and access component at  This site focuses on providing resource access for Drake students and faculty, research assistance to Drake students, faculty and staff.

Our Purpose, Our People,” located at, covers the practice of librarianship at Cowles Library.  Planning, assessment, our building master plan and facilities projects, and the professional activities of the Library faculty and staff are the main components of this site.

Our extensive digital projects and special collections documenting the history, traditions, scholarly output and unique holdings of Drake University and Cowles Library are finally brought together in a single site as “Collections at Cowles” at  This site includes the noted Drake Heritage Collections and the Student Newspaper (Times-Delphic) digitization project that received national attention in the Chronicle of Higher Education.

And, finally, this site — our Newsletter — at provides an ongoing record of our activities and discussions as part of the Drake community.

What’s Ahead?

A continued focus on ever more seamless integration of the Library’s massive electronic resources and services will dominate our immediate development efforts — including further enhancements to our Find Articles (databases) lookup tool.

“The site isn’t finished,” noted Dean Rod Henshaw, “We have an aggressive schedule of cosmetic and functional improvements that will appear over the next couple of months.   We know that students and faculty will benefit particularly from the site’s improved integration with Research Guides and a much better engine for finding databases and other resources.  And it will only get better with time.”

Renovation of Cowles to Start this Summer

Cowles Library is pleased to announce the first major renovation in the Library since 1998’s restoration of the Reading and Atrium. The “Lower Commons/After-Hours” project focuses on student success by providing a quality study space designed to facilitate social learning in a comfortable and safe environment.

What is this project?

Funded by generous donations and matching funds from Drake, the Lower Commons project builds on the success of the study space near Cowles Cafe. Additional amenities — restrooms, a drinking fountain and vending machines — are brought into the immediate cafe area and a new entrance will allow Drake to create an extended after-hours operation for late-night study in portions of the space. The renovation will commence this summer, pending final administrative review.

Reclaiming the “dead space” of what is now a large hallway creates a buffer between the active social learning space of the Lower Commons to preserve the traditional quiet, individual study space of the Reading Room and it’s atrium.  The hallway is actually the entrance to the 1937 portion of the building.  Now known as the “Historic Entry,” we expect this space to be a quieter study area as well as a fine space for selected, small events.

What are the next phases?

The current renovation cycle is expected to continue through 2016.

The Lower Commons space is one component of a larger learning spaces design planning concept for Cowles Library. This particular space is designed as a social learning space supporting informal group work and individual study in a social setting. This space does not directly provide technology tools, classrooms, concentrate academic support services or support formal collaborative activities such as presentation practice. These activities and services will be the focus of the second phase of the renovation (“Upper Commons”) extending throughout the remainder of the First Floor.

The Lower Commons  also facilitates a transition to classical, individual study spaces in the second floor Reading Room and Atrium. Renovation projects on the second floor will include a focus on creating and maintaining technology-enabled, very high quality individual study and learning spaces in more traditional library configurations and converting Room 201 (known variously as the “Glassed-In Room” or “the fishbowl”) into a new campus conferencing center.

How can I learn more?

Visit the project website at The website includes detailed floor layouts, architectural designs, furniture designs, project documents and a discussion area.

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