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Thursday, July 07, 2011 - SEHS Educational Resource Laboratory is more than a library

The Educational Resource Laboratory (ERL) is home to more than reference books and computers, as many multicultural events have brought diverse art, food and music into Pawley Hall. This past semester, the ERL participated in both National Poetry Month and Gay Pride Month. The ERL had an ongoing video display of SEHS faculty and staff reading their favorite poems this past April for national poetry month. You can watch the video on You Tube. In June, there was a book display for Gay Pride Month. A bibliography of the books on display and can be downloaded here or found on the ERL website

The first multicultural event at the ERL was a storytelling by a small group of readers in 2000. “We invited faculty to bring their students and they responded with wonderful enthusiasm. We always had a full house,” says retired ERL Director Adelaide Phelps. Soon the event expanded to include African American, Chinese, Iranian, Pakistani, Korean, Latino, Italian and Native American cultures. Art, artifacts, music, demonstrations of craft, and food became part of the event.

When asked how people were recruited to help plan the cultural event, Phelps said, “People like to talk about their cultural background. They are proud of who they are and how they got to where they are. All we had to do was open the door and make them feel welcome. The staff in the ERL are good at that.” Phelps has worked with faculty, students and staff to organize the ERL cultural exhibits over the past eleven years.

This past January, after twelve years of service, Adelaide Phelps retired as the director of the SEHS ERL. During her time as Director, Adelaide Phelps introduced the idea of hosting cultural exhibits in the ERL with the goal of increasing cultural diversity in the School. Phelps began by adding books about the Latino/Latina experience, African American authors, books that included people with disabilities, and American Indian Award winners. The new coordinator, Barbara Begin Campbell, is excited to continue having the ERL as a site of cultural diversity.

The Educational Resource Laboratory (ERL), housed on the third floor of Pawley Hall, serves as a library for Oakland University students with specific resources tailored to pre-service teachers. Such resources include a diverse collection of children’s books, including full collections of the Caldecott Medal award winners, the Coretta Scott King Book awards and the Newbery Medal award winners. Additional materials include Flip cameras, voice recorders, K-12 textbooks and a Smart Board for pre-service teachers to develop lesson plans in a variety of formats for all types of learners. Students of all majors meet in the ERL for group projects and study groups.

OU students, alumni and the public are welcome to take a tour or read a book in the ERL. For further information, visit the ERL website for upcoming events or to search through the collections database. Email sehs@oakland.edu with questions about the ERL.