Where technology meets the liberal arts

Exploring Nordic Songs

October 17th, 2014 | Posted by pauljn in Library News - (Comments Off)


Most people familiar with vocal music probably recognize the name Edvard Grieg, but what about Agathe Backer-Grøndahl, Halfdan Kjerulf, or Eyvind Alnæs?  During the past fifteen years, Dan Dressen, Associate Provost and Professor of Music, has worked in partnership with the libraries to create one of the country’s largest collections of solo song from all five of the Nordic countries–Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden.  Working with librarians, music information centers, and antiquarian dealers in Nordic countries, Dan has located and purchased printed music of solo “art” song for our library collection.  We have begun to digitize the music, and Dan hopes to create a webpage complete with pronunciation guides and more–all to encourage the performance of this little-known repertoire.

Interested in seeing some of what we have?  Music cataloger Kathy Blough has made these resources available by doing the search “Nordic Solo Song Collection” in Bridge.  Most of the collection is available for browsing on the music library shelves and can be checked out.  Why not take some time to get to know some new repertoire as we celebrate our Nordic heritage?  You’ll be glad you did!

–Beth Christensen, Music Librarian  

Lynda and Illustrator

October 16th, 2014 | Posted by Elijah Verdoorn in Digital Humanities | Technology Tools - (Comments Off)

elijah logo croppedMy most recent task as a DH Intern this semester has been learning to use Adobe Illustrator and demonstrating my knowledge by making a logo to represent myself. There are numerous ways that I could have gone about starting to learn the program, but I chose to use lynda.com because St. Olaf provides all students with free access. The tutorials can be watched in sequence and used as a sort of lecture, or I found them to be most useful as a means of solving problems I was having and finding the answer to questions as I went. I began with some Photoshop knowledge, so the design environment was not completely foreign to me, allowing me the freedom to play with ideas and attempt to recreate images found in daily life, using Lynda as a reference whenever I did not understand how to get the desired effect. Once I got my bearings and was able to effectively using the interface, I browsed assorted image galleries to get inspiration, looking at trends in logos today. Inspired by the over-the-top nature of comic book logos, I settled on a shield type logo, much like the ones seen here:

The shield logo, I later learned, has been making a resurgence in modern advertising; most designers cite the whimsical feeling that the shape provides as the primary reason for its use, along with its inherent versatility and ease of creation. For my logo project, I used Lynda to learn how to get the binary background effect and how to take an image and have Illustrator trace it for me so that I can use it as a part of my vector graphic. Vector graphics are images that are made of many points and lines, and can be scaled to any size without loosing image quality, making them ideal for designing a set of graphics that are able to be used in a variety of situations, and even across media types such as web and print media. This differs from the other, more popular image type, called raster images. Raster graphics are pixel based, with the computer only being able to scale an image to a certain size before it becomes fuzzy and unclear what the image is a depiction of.

To get an idea of the design process, I also have shared a few screenshots highlighting the interface and the process (click to enlarge):

logo design process 2

This image shows the layers that are used to make a logo like mine, where each layer is a different element of the final product. The tools at the left are ones that I use most often, but others are available and can be found by hovering over the icons that you see.

logo design process 1

The Color selection panels at the right make it very easy to choose a color for various parts of the design, and Illustrator will even suggest color combinations and variations that you may want to use. Also visible is the tracing panel, which I used to cut out the image of the man in the center and turn it into a vector image rather than a raster image, increasing the scalability of the logo as a whole.

Family History Learning Communities

September 17th, 2014 | Posted by pauljn in Library News - (Comments Off)

Two groups of intrepid up-and-coming genealogists have begun meeting to explore their family histories using the Libraries’ subscription to Ancestry.com. These sessions are open to staff, faculty, emeriti, and students, as well as interested spouses and teens of St. Olaf families. Join Kris MacPherson (Libraries) and Jackie Henry (NAHA) to explore the U.S. Census, vital records, obituaries, published family histories, church and military records, and much more. Interested? Check out our Guide to Family History Research; and email Kris MacPherson (macphers@stolaf.edu) if you’d like to join us. It’s not too late to start! The next session, on vital records, will be held on October 21 or 22, 4:00-5:00 pm in RML 115. -Kris MacPherson

Have you ever wanted to learn how to use a new software program, digital film/audio equipment, or even how make your gmail account more organized? Lynda can help!

UnknownIt’s the DH and IT interns again and this time we want to talk about a great new digital tool that’s available for everyone on campus to use. IIT recently invested in a campus subscription to the online tutorial website, lynda.com. We’re pretty excited about this website in IIT because it has so many helpful software tutorials and training courses. If you just want to learn to edit images in photoshop, lynda.com tutorials can help, but they can also teach you basic and advanced fundamentals. Lynda.com doesn’t just have software tutorials, there are also courses covering business skills, networking, educational software, and even accounting basics.

We hope everyone will take advantage of Lynda’s educational possibilities, but in case you’re still wondering what you can learn with this site, here are some ideas:

  • Learn Adobe design software like Photoshop and InDesign
  • Get caught up with Stats homework with tutorials on R
  • Filter St. Olaf extra emails by learning how to create labels in Gmail
  • Make more engaging presentations with PowerPoint, Prezi and Keynote tutorials
  • Practice graphic design and typography skills by making a Victorian advertisement
  • Learn how to code and customize your websites with CSS
  • Learn how to create 3D models in Blender to be printed with our new 3D printer
  • Create course lessons in iBooks
  • Save money and learn how to photograph your own family portraits
  • Take your pages.stolaf.edu site to the next level with tutorials on WordPress

That’s just a sampling of some of Lynda’s offerings. Click here to log in with the St. Olaf account and start exploring for yourself!

Check out Divi: A Fabulous New WordPress Theme

June 10th, 2014 | Posted by rosem in Uncategorized - (Comments Off)

Hi, we are Lauren, Maddy, and Sonja and we’re all working as Digital Humanities interns this summer. We’ve been exploring WordPress and its possibilities as we develop our own pages.stolaf.edu wordpress sites, and we wanted to share our findings! St. Olaf has recently acquired new WordPress theme options from Elegant Themes. This company offers a wide variety of professional-looking themes, but the Divi theme in particular has become a favorite among the interns as we build our own websites.

Here’s what we like so much about the Divi theme:

  • it’s very user-friendly and includes a built-in “page builder” that allows you to load templates and insert your content and media easily
  • it’s highly customizable- from uploading your own logo to changing color schemes, gallery formats, menu layout, even header position
  • it’s one of their “responsive themes,” meaning the website adapts its layout depending on the device, making it easy to view on tablet or smart phones
  • it’s easy to embed a variety of content- we’ve had fun experimenting with embedding YouTube videos, vimeo videos, and soundcloud clips directly into posts and pages
  • the theme comes with built-in social media icons and it’s easy to link your site with your facebook, twitter, and google + accounts

We’ve all used Divi to build our personal websites, but each has a unique look and feel. Check out examples from our sites of Divi’s theme capabilities:

On the page below, you can see the options for both a main menu and sidebar menu.  Using WordPress, creating menus and dropdowns is as easy as drag and drop.

Screen Shot 2014-06-09 at 3.40.32 PMSidebars can be customized to include additional menus, as seen in the “Additional Resources” section of the sidebar.  You also have the option to include any number of widgets in this space. Sonja’s page above demonstrates the ‘calendar’ widget on the bottom of the sidebar and the ‘Recent Posts’ widget in the middle which displays your most recent blog posts.

On Maddy’s media page, she demonstrates the possibilities of the gallery feature in Divi.  The grid format seen below is just one layout option, but offers viewers a broad view of all her images at once.  While the gallery function only displays small thumbnail images, each picture can be enlarged with just a click.


Another Divi feature we like is the ability to display and hide information in a visually-appealing way. For example, on the DHH website designed by the spring interns, tabs allow information to be condensed or expanded for a neat look:

Screen Shot 2014-06-10 at 4.09.02 PM

These are just a few of the features we like about the Divi theme and if you’d like to learn more or design your own pages.stolaf.edu website with Divi, drop by IT’s open lab from 3:30-4:30 Monday through Thursday.

Your DH interns,

Lauren, Maddy and Sonja



Summer Fun in the Library

May 28th, 2014 | Posted by pauljn in Library News - (Comments Off)

Research and Instruction Librarians recently hosted a “Summer Fun” workshop for the St. Olaf community. Are you planning to research your family history? Try out the college’s Ancestry.com subscription. Or do want to find summer reading to download to your mobile device? Why not watch a Puccini opera through Met Opera on Demand or a Ken Burns documentary through Films on Demand? To learn about these resources and more, take a look at our Summer Fun guide!

Google Fusion Tables

May 13th, 2014 | Posted by jcm in Digital Humanities | Digital Trends | GIS | Google | Research Tools | Technology Tools - (Comments Off)

… we’ll stop posting about Google products when they stop making cool stuff. You don’t see us talking about Google + much, do you?

One of the in-vogue things in the sciences and digital humanities is data visualization.  However, a lot of the time, you need some Javascript or other coding skills to make use of visualization tools like d3.  Not everyone has those, and not everyone wants to invest the time it takes to make something fantastic.  A lot of the time, you just want to be able to see your data in a different way, quickly and easily.  And some collaboration might be nice too.  That’s where Google Fusion Tables comes in.  You can still make fantastic things, but you can do it without needing programming skills.

In a way Fusion Tables, picks up where Google Maps Engine leaves off.  It lets users collect, link together and visualize data, and since it’s Google, you can use Google searches to find publicly available data and then, link your own data to that data, and finally create cool visualizations based on all of it, including map based visualizations:

FusionTables Example

And since this is a Google App that IT supports at St Olaf, Fusion Tables are accessible through your stolaf.edu Google account already– as part of Google Drive.  This also means, of course, that you can publish, share, and collaborate on your work with anyone who has a Google account.   Check the IT How-To Guides and Tutorials page in the coming months for a quick guide on getting started with Fusion Tables.

But, if you’re frantic to make your data pretty (and you should be!) you can check out Google’s tutorials right here, right now.

Happy visualizing!

Google Maps Engine

May 5th, 2014 | Posted by jcm in Digital Humanities | GIS | Google - (Comments Off)

One of the newer online mapping tools we use at St Olaf is Google Maps Engine Lite. It’s a quick way to make a good-looking map very quickly. You can create points manually, or add them using a Google search. You can also draw polygons, and add additional information about your features– including images and video! Even better, you can fully integrate your map with Google Apps, so you can share it with others, and best of all, it’s easy to embed your map on a web page. While the functionality you have available is somewhat limited; it’s quick, it’s easy to use, and it’s easy to share and publish with it. With Google Maps Engine Lite, you can go from zero to a simple map on the web in five minutes. We’ve added an example of what you can do quickly and easily with Google Maps Engine below.

Check out the Google Maps Engine Guide on the St Olaf IT website, recently updated!

ARLD Presentation

April 25th, 2014 | Posted by aarsvoln in Digital Humanities | Library News - (Comments Off)

Kasia Gonnerman, Jason Paul, and Nancy Aarsvold gave a presentation today at ARLD Day 2014 at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum.  ARLD is the Academic Research and Libraries Division of the Minnesota Library Association.

Interested in Blended Learning?

April 21st, 2014 | Posted by aarsvoln in Blended Learning | EDUCAUSE - (Comments Off)

blendedThe University of Central Florida and EDUCAUSE are teaming up to offer a free MOOC titled “BlendKit2014: Becoming a Blended Learning Designer.”  The course starts today, April 21, and runs through May 26, 2014.  Here is the course description:

Blended learning (the strategic combination of face-to-face and online learning experiences) is growing in popularity within higher education and K-12 settings around the world. The goal of BlendKit2014 is to provide assistance to faculty and instructional designers in developing and designing blended learning courses through (1) a consideration of key issues related to blended learning and (2) practical step-by-step guidance in producing materials for a blended course (e.g., developing design documents, creating content pages, and receiving peer review feedback at one’s own institution).

This course is designed for faculty, instructional technologists, librarians, and others who are interested in developing blended learning courses, and several of our colleagues from St. Olaf, Carleton, Macalester, and other liberal arts institutions are taking this course.  Please join us by registering via the link below. Participants may choose to pursue an official credential, take the course for personal interest, or just follow the readings and the discussions.

(By Nancy Aarsvold, Assistant Director of Instructional Technology)