MRU Library Blog

Francine May Appointed as Associate Dean, Collections and Digital Services


Meagan Bowler, Dean, University Library announces the appointment of Francine May as Associate Dean, Collections and Digital Services, effective July 1, 2018.

May has held various positions in public and academic libraries for over 15 years and has excelled in leadership positions here at MRU. She has a clear understanding of the challenges and opportunities that arise for libraries and has proven herself in times of significant change and high stake transitions.

Experienced in collection development, technology deployment, and library technical services, May enters into the position after serving in an interim role for the last 10 months. During this time she has overseen the launch of a new library management platform, where she worked closely with members from MRU’s Information Technology Services team to implement this platform, which allows the MRU Library to streamline services and access to resources for students and faculty.

Francine May


“Holding a variety of faculty and leadership roles within this Library has allowed me to easily recognize what sets it apart from other post-secondary institutions.” says May. “I’m excited to continue working with both the collections and digital services teams, leading the work of ensuring these crucial resources, technologies, and expertise are integrated into the work of campus and available to our current and prospective students, faculty and staff.”

Dedicated to teaching and learning, May teaches in the Library’s information literacy program and taught for a number of years as a GNED instructor.  She also serves on Mount Royal’s Human Research Ethics board and had served on the executive committee of the Foothills Library Association and the Alberta Association of College Librarians. May’s research focuses on better understanding the role that libraries as physical spaces play in the lives of their users.

She holds a Master in Library and Information Studies from Dalhousie University, Master in Science and Technology Studies from Universiteit van Amsterdam and a Bachelor in Physical Geography from the University of Lethbridge.

Fun and Games in the Maker Studio Supports Entrepreneurial Goal

Left to right: Mitchell George, Cal New


Mitchell George and Cal New are self professed gamers. They love connecting with friends over elaborate board game nights or they may try out the newest video game. Ask them about the gaming industry and they will speak to the changing trends and direction it’s going towards with ease. Knowing this makes their current initiative of creating a custom board game they hope to manufacture an obvious next step.  

It doesn’t currently have a name but the duo has ironed out the general concept of their board game after New came up with the idea over a year ago. He quickly made his idea tangible by designing geometric game pieces with cardboard and pencil crayons. This helped to literally get the idea on paper but they needed a better quality prototype to be taken seriously and appeal to investors.

George, a 4th year Child Studies and Social Work student, had walked by the Maker Studio on the main floor of the MRU Library many times and finally decided to step inside and get an informal tour of the space. This helped him realize that all the tools he needed to create a professional version of his game were on campus.

”It was an opportunity to take this one step farther, there’s a difference between the plastic and the cardboard”, says George who used one of three 3D printers available to students, faculty and staff in the Maker Studio to create the latest prototype. “To be able to take that step and make your own game with an actual game board and pieces, it’s a dream for some. We now have a board game and it didn’t even take long. “

Mitchell and Cal’s original board game made of cardboard (left), and their most recent prototype made with a 3D printer in the Maker Studio (right)


New and George acknowledge they have a lot to learn and do before they can launch a Kickstarter campaign that will help them finish the design elements and initiate production, but 3D printing goods is a common initial step experienced entrepreneurs and the manufacturers take due to the technology’s accessibility.

“What you have here is absolutely the design process where you make your first prototype and then you iterate that into a different material,” explains Maker Studio Specialist Kerry Harmer while seated near the printer she helped George and New use to elevate their creation. “That’s the whole process of a makerspace, that is what 3D printing is for. You can test things out, it’s inexpensive, and it’s quick.”

George spends his days studying human behaviour as part of his degree and also works with a not-for-profit catered to at risk transient youth. Though he loves his work and student life, George admits it can be very taxing; bringing this game to life is a creative outlet he often seeks out when he needs a break. At heart he’s a storyteller with a background in filmmaking. He struggled to decide whether to dedicate his post secondary studies to film or working with children, but in the end he says he’s happy with his decision to pursue child studies and this board game has been a reminder of how he can use his passion to inform his studies and future career.

”My biggest release is art so I want to make the two disciplines work together”, says George. “Many of these youths are told their stories aren’t important. I advocate that they should tell their stories, whether that’s through making a board game, shooting a film, or writing a book.”

Ideas Lounge Summer Schedule

Come hang out with us in our Ideas Lounge!

We’ve added events to our calendar that will be available for the MRU Community to enjoy throughout the summer.  You’ll definitely be impressed as you show off your gaming skills on the 18-55″ LCD monitors that make up the Visualization Wall in the Lounge or try out the VR/AR/MR technology we have available.

Highlights are below, but please be sure to check the Library calendar for the full schedule and any changes. Programming starts Tuesday, July 3.

Movie Mondays  — 11 am- 4pm
Spend your break with us. Sit back with fellow movie buffs and enjoy a film on our impressive Visualization Wall. We don’t have popcorn but feel free to bring your lunch.

TED Talk Tuesdays — 11am-4pm
Learn something new while witnessing remarkable storytelling through a TED Talk.

Web-Based Games Wednesdays — 9am-4pm
Connect with fellow gamers and try out popular games that are all abuzz.

Demo VR/AR/MR Technology Thursdays — 12pm-2pm
This is your chance to experience the difference between Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, and Mixed Reality. An afternoon of fun is inevitable once you get settled in a headset and step into a new world, but this is also an opportunity to ask questions and see how this technology can incorporate into your class or research project.

Video Game Fridays — 12pm-2pm
Can we interest you in a game of Mario Kart? Drop in over your lunch break and enjoy video game favourites!


Please contact Anna Nuhn with questions about programming or drop in details.

Anna Nuhn – Visualization Specialist
Phone: 403.440.7088

Aileen Smyth Heads Into Retirement with a Lasting Legacy at MRU

Aileen Smyth


Aileen Smyth works hands on with students across campus at Student Learning Services but as her peers reflect on her contributions as she heads into retirement this week, it’s clear the impression she’s left on the MRU Community can’t possibly be confined to a singular role.

“Aileen is a collaborator, a builder, and a connector. She is full of wonderful ideas and always works from a place of how to bring others together to help make those ideas a reality,” says Katharine Barrette, Associate University Librarian, Public Services, when asked to describe Smyth.

Barrette not only works two floors away from Smyth in the RLLC, they both collaborated on Mount Royal University’s inaugural Long Night Against Procrastination (LNAP) this past March, which was initiated by Smyth. Working as a Writing and Learning Strategist, Team Lead, since 2006 has allowed Smyth to connect with students, help them to improve specific skills, and identify opportunities to set them up to succeed here at MRU and beyond.

LNAP is now a renowned initiative that is typically hosted by writing centres at post-secondary institutions around the world. The idea to host a full evening dedicated to guiding students towards resources meant to help them throughout their course work first kicked off in Frankfurt, Germany in 2010. Smyth was introduced to it by a speaker at a conference she attended in November 2012 and was inspired to bring a version of the event to MRU.

“Most of the institutions at that time did an all nighter, it started at 10 p.m. and went to 7 a.m.” says Smyth, who goes on to explain that her and the rest of her colleagues at Student Learning Services knew they could gather support for LNAP by preserving the spirit of the event but adjusting elements, such as the timing, to keep from encouraging late night cramming and students forfeiting sleep.

Shortly after working out the details, Smyth approached Barrette about incorporating the MRU Library into LNAP. The pair formed an LNAP committee, comprised of partners across campus that came together to offer everything from free yoga classes to help with writing and study techniques. The goal is to ensure student attendees are supported academically, spiritually, emotionally, physically, and socially.

“Students who came out expressed excitement at discovering services and support available to them and we certainly had students express gratitude at being able to access some of these services (SLS and START in particular) at times when those areas are normally closed,” says Barrette, who looks forward to planning future LNAPs at MRU, but she knows Smyth’s presence will be missed.

“I will miss Aileen so much; I’ll miss her energy, her positivity, her unwavering belief that our potential to support student success is limitless. I’ll miss how she listens deeply to others and I’ll certainly miss how calm and calming she is, even when there’s a terrible blizzard on the day of the very first LNAP ever!,” says Barrette as she recalls the unseasonably frosty weather that made an appearance at the first LNAP on March 15.

Smyth’s last day at SLS is Friday, June 29. When asked what she’ll miss most about being on campus, her response is immediate and instinctive.

“The students! My colleagues are wonderful, but I’ll miss the students.”

Calvin the Cougar takes some me-time and gets a massage from MRU Massage Therapy students at the first MRU LNAP held on March 15, 2018 (photo credit: Katharine Barrette)
Calvin the Cougar takes some me-time and gets a massage from MRU Massage Therapy students at the first MRU LNAP held on March 15, 2018 (photo credit: Katharine Barrette)

The next LNAP will take place on November 14, 2018. Please look out for updates as the evening’s activities are confirmed.