‘Laker Launch Party’ Supports Early Student Engagement

‘Laker Launch Party’ Supports Early Student Engagement at Deep Creek Lake, MD

The Garrett College Learning Commons, located within the GC library, will be hosting a “Laker Launch Party” to kick off the new academic year.

The Garrett College Learning Commons will kick off the fall 2023 semester with an exciting new event scheduled for September 15 – the Laker Launch Party.

The Kalie Hostutler Ashby Academic Support Grant recently awarded $500 to the Learning Commons to support the Laker Launch Party and other events. The grant will help foster the high-energy, engaging, encouraging, and learning-centered environment that the Learning Commons aims to emulate.

The launch party is designed to increase early-semester engagement by students. Party organizers said it is intended to raise awareness of campus programs, clubs, organizations, opportunities, and activities that support academic excellence and general well-being.

Similar to other events hosted by the Learning Commons, the Laker Launch Party invites students, faculty, staff, and community members to attend and explore the LC space. The event will feature some familiar activities, including cornhole and yoga, along with the wildly popular therapy dogs of Garrett County.

In addition to games and refreshments, students will be eligible to enter the raffle for grand prizes donated by the Campus Advisory & Activities Board (CAAB).

“The Laker Launch Party will be an exciting occasion to bring the college community together, introduce students to services and activities, and promote the Learning Commons as a center of knowledge and student support,” remarked Ashley Ruby, director of the Learning Commons and Academic Success.

The Learning Commons, which encompasses both the library and Advising & Academic Success Center, hosts multiple events throughout the academic year to engage students in academic and social opportunities. These activities are meant to promote a greater campus connectedness, which intentionally supports student retention, persistence, and completion outcomes.

A highlight of the Laker Launch Party will be the newly established Garrett County & Appalachia special collection. This collection was curated utilizing Garrett Pride Annual Opportunity Grant funds through the Garrett College Foundation.

The $600 award facilitated the purchase of books, materials, and maps – many of which were procured directly from the Garrett County Historical Society.

The expanded Coal Talks special collection also features new artifacts. Prominent displays showcase drill bits, augers, underground respirators, headlamps, and actual masses of coal.

Coal Talks artifacts on display were donated to Garrett College by oral history interviewees and former employees with connections to the local coal industry.

A third special collection – Indigenous Peoples of Garrett County – will also be on display during the event. A fourth special collection – Embracing Diversity – is currently in development.

This newest special collection was awarded Garrett Pride Annual Opportunity Grant funds and will feature graphic novels, digital materials, and artwork.

“Digitizing the Coal Talks oral histories was one of the first major projects I worked on when I started in the Garrett College library,” noted Stephanie Miller, head librarian and assistant director of the Learning Commons. “Curating materials for the special collections has been both rewarding and fun.”

The Joan Crawford Lecture Series, also hosted by the Learning Commons, kicks off on September 13th with a presentation by Gary Powers Jr. Powers will discuss his book Spy Pilot: Francis Gary Powers, the U-2 Incident, and a Controversial Cold War Legacy in the Performing Arts Center at 6 p.m. The full schedule of JCLS events can be found at https://garrettcollege.libguides.com/jcls.

New Learning Commons leadership has recently been put into place.

Ruby accepted the appointment as director of the learning commons and academic success. In addition to the prior responsibilities of advising, tutoring, career and transfer services, and testing, Ruby now also directs the library functions of the College.

“The Learning Commons is an integral feature of Garrett College. We have a lot of great ideas in the works and I am excited to provide leadership to the unit,” said Ruby.

Miller, as head librarian and assistant director of the learning commons, assumes primary responsibility for library resources and services. Those responsibilities included leadership in special collection development and information literacy initiatives.

Incoming Technical Services Librarian Julie Mozelewski will join the team in September.

Ruby said she and Miller are excited to welcome Mozelewski and her library expertise to campus.

Garrett established a customized learning commons model in 2017. The first phase of the project included physical changes to the space, such as truncated bookshelves and custom-branded signage.

The second phase enhanced and relocated services, including tutoring, which was placed centrally in the space to allow for maximum visibility. Cross-departmental training activities and team-building events were established during the final phase of the learning commons project to cultivate one cohesive unit comprised of library staff, advisors, tutors, and other personnel.

“I love being a part of the Learning Commons,” said Nick Pratt, academic success specialist. “I value the collaborations I’ve had with other learning commons staff and positive experiences with the student clubs and events that are often held here.”