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Images in a developing online collection.

Introducing the Online Learning Lab

An exciting new technology is coming to your classroom! Last week, the Smithsonian Institution launched their new Online Learning Lab. The Lab gives anyone access to the Smithsonian’s digital collections, including millions of digitized images, videos, artifacts, and documents. Following the Lab’s “discover, create, share” model, items in the collections can be organized, annotated, and remixed according to your imagination. Have a topic you’re interested in? Create a collection for yourself or to share with friends, like the one I created about my home-sweet-home: Nevada.

Images in a developing online collection.

Creating my collection in the Smithsonian’s Online Learning Lab.

While it’s a fun tool for exploring personal interests, the Online Learning Lab was created for teachers with the help of teachers and is intended to be used in K-12 as well as higher education classrooms. You can use the Lab to give students access to customized collections, including your original annotations, quizzes, and assignments. Students can also create their own collections, making this the perfect tool for a digital exhibit assignment. And even as you add your own annotations and titles, you won’t lose or overwrite the Smithsonian’s excellent metadata so you don’t have to worry about endangering the knowledge of one of our nation’s most venerable institutions.

The Smithsonian is presenting the Online Learning Lab this week at the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) conference. Even if you weren’t able to make it to Denver for the conference, you can still get started with this incredibly fun and easy tool. So, what are you waiting for? Your class could be on the cutting edge.

Salem Witch Trials

This month’s display was created by Wheelock student and Salem Witch Trial enthusiast, Bridget Hoarty! The Salem Witch Trials began in 1692 in Salem Village, Massachusetts. Within the 15 month time period during which the hysteria ensued, 185 people (and two dogs) were accused of witchcraft. Stop by the Library to see the display which includes fiction and non-fiction books written about the Salem Witch Trials and don’t forget that all the books in the Library display cases are available for check out!

Want to learn more? Plan a visit to Salem during the month of October when Salem Haunted Happenings is in full swing! Events vary from the educational (visit the Salem Witch Museum or The House of Seven Gables) to the frightening (haunted houses and spooky shows galore) or to the more family friendly (costume parades and fireworks.)

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Open House at the Museum of Fine Arts

The Museum of Fine Arts is hosting an Open House in celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. on Monday, January 17th.

This event is free for everyone and the museum will be organizing special programming on this day which features lectures, music, crafts, tours, and films. There are several family-friendly events planned so children are encouraged to attend as well! The museum is open from 10 am – 4:45 pm and you can view the schedule of events here.

This is a great opportunity to learn and appreciate the life and contributions of Martin Luther King, Jr., while experiencing the beauty of the MFA’s new Art of the Americas wing.

Vacation day trip: Museum of Science

Looking for something to do while you’re on break from classes? Why not visit the Museum of Science? The Library offers passes for $5 admission for up to four people (regular price $21 for adults).

This is your last chance to see the temporary exhibits “Inside the Mind of M.C. Escher” (closes January 2), “Reptiles: The Beautiful and the Deadly” (closes Jan. 4), and “K’NEX: Building Thrill Rides” (closes January 17). But don’t worry if you can’t make it by then — new exhibits will be opening soon, and the 30-plus permanent exhibits will be there no matter when you go.

Stop by the Service Desk on the first floor of the Library to pick up your discount admission pass. We only have one per date, so they are first-come, first-served, but because the passes do not need to be returned, you can pick them up any time before your visit.

Go to for more information about the museum, including hours and directions. And have a great time!

Holiday hours Monday, April 19

The Library will be open from 1 to 11 p.m. on Monday, April 19, in observance of Patriots’ Day. If you’re new to Massachusetts, you may be wondering what this holiday is about. Here’s a quick primer. (Click here if the embedded video does not work.)

Heading out to Lexington to take in some of the day’s events? Why not combine it with a trip to the National Heritage Museum, which in addition to its cornerstone exhibit, “Sowing the Seeds of Liberty: Lexington & the American Revolution,” is hosting “Jim Henson’s Fantastic World” through June 27.