Trunk, Tufts new collaboration and learning environment that launched in September on the Medford campus, provides a variety of options which allows faculty and students to make library services and resources an integral part of their course and project sites. The Citation Lists feature, pictured here, while still under construction, is unique to Sakai, the software which powers Trunk.
Screen shot of the Trunk Library tool.
Each course site in Trunk has an embedded link to essential library services. Trunk course sites for the Schools of Arts, Sciences and Engineering have a link to Tufts Libraries located under course tools. The Fletcher School course sites feature a link to the Ginn Library. These links can be modified to point to a customized library research guide for a course, redirected to another relevant web resource, or removed (if it doesn’t suit an instructor’s needs). This link has been visited over 10,000 times since September 1st, which is slightly more than one visit per active user of the system. It’s a good start for a virtual branch library.
Trunk also allows an instructor to embed a librarian in his or her course. In addition to roles in Trunk for Instructor, Student, and TA, there is a role called Librarian which can be used to give students direct access to librarian expertise and research help. Librarians can add material to the Resources area, and can participate in discussions and other activities on the site, but cannot grade. Permissions can be modified to suit an instructor’s needs. For example, Biology professor Colin Orians has sciences’ librarian Regina Raboin participating in grading the research assignments for his Bio 7 course.
Linking to library resources, like an article in JSTOR or a book chapter from an Oxford handbook, can be confusing. The basic challenge is that students, faculty or staff who are off-campus usually cannot get the URL to a library resource to work in their browser. To resolve this faculty need to find a permanent URL for the item they want to link to, and add a prefix which will channel the request through the library catalog. On-campus users will be passed through, and off-campus ones will be prompted to log in. Detailed directions on how to do this can be found through the Trunk Libraries or Ginn Library links on Trunk course sites. Directions are also included in the related resources section of this article.
Trunk also provides a unique (and somewhat experimental) feature called the Citation Helper which is part of the Resources tool. The Citation Helper allows faculty to import multiple citations into their Trunk course sites which are used to create a reading list with FindIt@Tufts links. Faculty can also search Google Scholar and import citations directly from there. Complete directions for how to do this are in the online Trunk documentation.
The FindIt@Tufts aspect of the Citation Helper has had mixed results. The success of importing citations with the FindIt@Tufts links is dependent on the source of data being accessed. The library community in Sakai is planning to address this issue, with help from Tufts staff. Another planned project is to allow faculty to search library resources from within Trunk and create reading lists directly inside their course or project sites. If you have questions about this, or library linking in general, please contact Chris Strauber at Tisch Library (firstname.lastname@example.org).
As faculty and staff learn how Trunk works, Tufts librarians are a great resource. Ask a librarian how they can help make teaching, learning, and research better for faculty and students.
Chris Strauber, Humanities Research and Instruction Librarian, Coordinator of Instructional Design, Tisch Library