Spencer writes in the library, part 24: The California edition!

Written by: Spencer Greenhalgh

Primary Source: Spencer Greenhalgh


This episode of Spencer Writes in the Library took place Tuesday, December 23rd around 10:00am.

The Spot

Where am I working today?

It’s still holiday season, and I’m still using it as an excuse to explore new libraries! After a few days in Utah, Kathryn and I headed to Torrance, CA to see family there. I’m on the second floor of the Katy Geissart Civic Center Library for a couple of hours before going out to find a Christmas tree.

What’s a perk of this spot?

Easy access to plugs. The study desks in this library all seem to be near wall outlets, which is more than I can say for some of the public libraries where I’ve tried to work. Plus, the library itself was pretty interesting: There were a lot of comfortable reading chairs down on the first floor that would have been nice to try out. Also, not needing a jacket when entering or leaving the library was a definite perk, but that has less to do with the library as with California weather more broadly.

What’s a problem with this spot?

Poor wi-fi. I think I might have needed a library card to get anything beyond the openly accessible wi-fi, but since I don’t live here, I don’t have a card. Now, going without wi-fi could be a perk, since it’s difficult enough to do research during the holidays without the Internet and its many distractions looming over me, but the nature of today’s research project made limited Internet access kind of a pain. In addition, this seemed to be a pretty talkative library, so I got to hear about some other students’ semesters while trying to do my own work.

What have I learned in this spot?


I happened to be sitting near a shelf of government documents, which is a logical thing for a library to have… but since so much of my personal library experience has been focused on comic books, Star Wars novels, and academic journals, it had never really occurred to me that someone might come to the library to look for the latest publications from the Government Printing Office.

How would I rate this spot?

2 out of 5 dentists. (Why dentists?)

The Work

What am I working on today?

Hashtags! MSU’s Master of Arts in Educational Technology, which I’ve been involved with since I came to East Lansing, is predominantly an online degree, which means that instructors have to be creative in the way that they create community and culture within their classes. The #maet hashtag serves as a Twitter community for the program as a whole (and, to our frequent surprise, a way for Scandinavians to complain about eating too much), and most of the classes within the program have course hashtags as well. I’ve been working with my colleagues Dr. Leigh Graves Wolf–the co-director of the program–and Josh Rosenberg–a fellow MAET TA–to explore just how these hashtags are being used.

What’s the highlight from today’s work?

Today, I looked at all of the tweets from this past semester that used three particular course hashtags. Even though today’s work was just a brief survey of how each of these courses used Twitter, I noticed that the course hashtag played a distinct role in each of these communities, which I found terribly interesting. This suggests not only that can Twitter play an important role for teacher communities but also that it can play different kinds of roles for these communities. I look forward to exploring these roles in more detail soon!

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Hi there! My name is Spencer Greenhalgh, and I am a student in the Educational Psychology and Educational Technology doctoral program at Michigan State University. I came to Michigan State University with a strong belief in the importance of an education grounded in the humanities. As an undergraduate, I studied French and political science and worked as a teaching assistant in both fields. After graduation, I taught French, debate, and keyboarding in a Utah private school before coming to MSU, where I plan to study how technology can be used to help students connect the humanities with their lives. I have a particular interest in the use of games and simulations to promote ethical reasoning and explore moral dilemmas, but am eager to study any technology that can help students see the relevance of studying language, culture, history, and government.