Spencer writes in the library, part 25: Library gossip

Written by: Spencer Greenhalgh

Primary Source: Spencer Greenhalgh


This episode of Spencer Writes in the Library took place Monday, January 5th around 9:30am.

The Spot

Where am I working today?

Back in the MSU Library! Since the semester hasn’t quite started yet, the library is relatively empty, allowing me to try out different working spots that I usually wouldn’t. Today, I’m sitting in some of the chairs next to the reference desk and checkout kiosk right by the north entrance to the library.

What’s a perk of this spot?

Getting to overhear the library staff talking to each other. My fascination with libraries should be abundantly clear by now, and that fascination extends to the work done by members of the library staff. I’ve seen people working at this checkout kiosk who appear to be logging comic strips for some kind of project, and it was fun to just overhear one person calling her colleagues to update them on the morning’s work.

What’s a problem with this spot?

While this spot worked well for me today, I don’t know how well it would work on a regular basis. Without any desk areas, this is better suited for reading than for writing. However, once the semester starts, this area is going to have enough traffic that I’d probably get easily distracted while trying to read.

What have I learned in this spot?


On my way back to this spot after trying to track down some tissues (blasted weather…), I noticed a little exhibit that taught me some about the “gift book” tradition. Sure enough, I’ve seen plenty of these kinds of books when browsing the local Barnes & Noble, so it was fun to see just how far back that tradition goes.

How would I rate this spot?

3 out of 5 dentists. (Why dentists?)

The Work

What am I working on today?

Reading. At the beginning of the winter break, I assigned myself three books to read by the beginning of the next semester: The Fundamentals of Ethics, World Peace and Other 4th Grade Achievements, and, on Josh Rosenberg’s recommendation, Discovering Statistics Using R. Each of these books has information that will play an important role in my research this semester, so I’ve been working hard to power through them during the break.

What’s the highlight from today’s work?

One of my reasons for going through The Fundamentals of Ethics is to familiarize myself with different moral theories so that I can recognize them when I interview students about their personal ethical theories. It’s interesting to see the breadth of moral theories that exist, and it’s sometimes troubling to see just how many of them are appealing and how many of them are, well, lacking. Russ Shafer-Landau does a good job of challenging all of the theories out there, and it’s become clear that none of them can currently claim to be the obvious answers to all the world’s ethical problems. However, I’m currently reading through his treatment of ethical subjectivism, ethical nihilism, and so on, and it’s nice to know that these views are just as (if not more) lacking than theories of ethical objectivism. I believe strongly in an objective morality even if I’m not entirely sure what it is just yet, so it’s nice to see professional philosophers who challenge arguments against moral objectivism.

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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.