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From Gutenberg to Kindle

Lost in the world of e-books? The ZSR Library wants to help.

By Kerry M. King ('85) Wake Forest Magazine
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Eva P. Clontz (’64) could stay-up-to-date with technology and continue learning new skills when she was working, but that changed when she retired.

“I was in a bit of a vacuum on my own for learning,” said Clontz, who retired in 2007 as program coordinator for the Statewide Program for Infection Control and Epidemiology in the UNC School of Medicine.

Last spring, she jumped at the chance to take a course for alumni on using the Internet and search engines without leaving her Chapel Hill home. She signed up for the first online course offered through ZSRx, the Z. Smith Reynolds Library’s ongoing effort to provide lifelong learning opportunities for alumni and parents.

The library is launching its next online course, ZSRx: Digital Publishing, on Feb. 4. The three-week course is free and open to anyone. Registration is open now at http://zsr.wfu.edu/about/zsrx/

The course will help alumni navigate the shift from traditional books to the exploding world of e-books and digital publishing, said Bill Kane, head of digital publishing at Wake Forest, who will lead the course.

“I hope they (alumni) will be better prepared to take advantage of what honestly is the golden age of publishing,” he said. “More books than ever before are being produced and published in more formats than ever before.”

The course will explore the past, present and future of publishing, “going back to books on paper and ink, to Kindles and Nooks and screens,” Kane said. The course will cover the advantages and disadvantages of e-books and self-publishing vs. traditional publishing; ways to find and download digitally published works; and how to produce your own self-published booklet. (Wake Forest has a digital publishing website that features e-books by, among others, freshman Samantha Seto and Steve Duin (’76, MA ’79), an author and columnist for The Oregonian.)

Alumni can spend as much, or as little, time on the course as they want. New information — reading materials, PowerPoint presentations, videos and web links — will be posted on the course website each week. Throughout the course, alumni can engage with Kane and with one another in online discussions.

More than 700 alumni signed up for the first ZSRx course last spring, “The Cure for the Common Web,” on ways to use the web more effectively and search for information online. Clontz said she appreciated the flexibility of the course.

“I could begin the module and then choose how much time I wanted to spend exploring all the readings and information,” she said. “I learned things that I incorporate in my computer use now, and I even took some notes that I refer to occasionally to refresh my memory about tips that I wanted to remember.”

wall of ebooksThe library plans to offer additional online courses for alumni. Last fall, the library offered an online course for parents of Wake Forest students called “Deacon Development 101.”

The library also offers free lifetime borrowing privileges for alumni and access to databases and journal articles. On April 4 and 5, the library and the Office of Alumni Activities are sponsoring a weekend conference on wellness featuring faculty presentations on emotional, intellectual, spiritual and social well-being. The conference is free and open to alumni and the general public.

“We really value the relationships that we build with students while they’re here,” said Rosalind Tedford (’91, MA ’94), director of research and instructional services at the Z. Smith Reynolds Library. “If we can help students after they graduate, we want to do that. The library is in a unique position to foster intellectual connections with alumni.”