21st century library a lot more than just books

By NATHAN VOELLER/Montana State News

Prospective patrons who expect to see a warehouse full of books will observe something else when they enter the Bozeman Public Library. To reach the first shelves of books, they must pass a coffee shop, a large meeting room, electronic anti-theft detectors and self-checkout circulation desks.

According to Lois Dissly, the head of technical and automated services at the Bozeman Public Library, libraries are no longer just about books. Technological advances have spurred changes in library services, the way libraries are used and even the jobs of librarians.

Dissly said one of the largest changes the Bozeman Public Library and other libraries across Montana have undergone has been the emergence of MontanaLibrary2Go as a new service.

According to the Statewide Library Resources Division, “MontanaLibrary2Go is a consortium service that offers circulating downloadable digital e-books and audiobooks to patrons at participating libraries.” Continue reading “21st century library a lot more than just books”

Programs make independent living possible

By MATT PARSONS/Montana State News

Ty Sherwood and Nick Fordyce seem like any other twenty-something roommates.  The only difference is that in their Bozeman bachelor pad there’s no beer in the fridge and the toilets seats are down.

Despite disabilities, Ty Sherwood and Nick Fordyce are able to live independently.
Despite disabilities, Ty Sherwood and Nick Fordyce are able to live independently.

And on the back side of their front door is a note that reads “Is it after 9 p.m? If it is…STAY INSIDE!” I wonder what this means. But I decide not to ask, not yet at least. I had just arrived.

Inside their three-bedroom, two-bath duplex, Sherwood and Fordyce lounge around in t-shirts and basketball shorts. Fordyce has a Hewlett Packard computer in his lap and Sherwood is busy cleaning up the kitchen where French toast is frying in a skillet.

Fordyce shows me what he’s been working on.

“It’s a menu for the coming week,” says Fordyce. “Ty and I take turns cooking dinner every other week.” This week was Fordyce’s. His menu looks pretty appetizing – spaghetti, pork chops, a variety of vegetables. Thursday night just says “leftovers.” Sundays are reserved for dinner with their parents.

At this point you’re probably wondering what is different about these two young men. They plan out their menus a week in advance? They clean the kitchen? They put the toilet seats down? That’s just not normal, certainly not for a 20-year-old male. Well, you would be right.

In fact, it’s quite extraordinary, especially considering that Sherwood and Fordyce have mental disabilities that prevent them from doing some of the things that many of us take for granted.  Continue reading “Programs make independent living possible”

Agency seeks peace between wolves, humans

By REBECCA MARSTON/ Montana State News

Within a region, populations of wildlife cannot exist in isolation; changes that occur in one population will affect all of the others. This has proven especially true over the decades for Montana’s gray wolves.

That’s where state agencies like the Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks come into play: One of their main goals is to preserve and manage the animal populations that reside within Montana. With a state full of large, elusive and sometimes dangerous mammals, this is not always an easy task.

According to their website, the FWP’s “wolf team” consists of a group of experts with over 35 years of combined experience dealing with wolves. They work throughout the state, “monitoring the wolf population, investigating wolf reports, working with landowners, and doing public outreach.” Continue reading “Agency seeks peace between wolves, humans”

Chance meetings lead to musical success

By ALEX KOMSTHOEFT/Montana State News

“Damn, that is good,” Shawn Swain says as he sips on his Bridger Brewery IPA.

Handcrafted, local beer is just one of the many fine things these Kitchen Dwellers appreciate about their hometown of Bozeman. From Montana, Alaska, Colorado, Wisconsin and Illinois, these five boys have unmistakably crossed paths to collaborate what they define as “no ordinary string band.”

All past and present students of Montana State University, these once individual musicians have found their collective sound as a foot-stomping, crowd-pleasing, heart pumping bluegrass band.

Joe Funk and Kyle Shelstad met their freshman year in 2009 when the magic started. “I met Kyle in September of 2010 and the three of us started playing together,” said Swain. “A week later I met Torrin in class.”

Shelstad left the country for a semester and Tyler Schultz stood in as a substitute guitar player for the Kitchen Dwellers. Upon Shelstad’s return, the band had one too many guitarists and were short one fiddle player. The obvious, rational solution Schultz came to was to “just show up with my fiddle that I had never played before. Never.” Continue reading “Chance meetings lead to musical success”

Dancer made an unlikely transition

By PATRICK HILL/Montana State News

Mary Powell is not what you would expect from a belly dancer. As a former tire saleswoman who spent the majority of the day covered in vehicle grease, she made the transition to that of a woman dancing in a hand-sewn costume. It goes without saying, such a transformation requires a leap of imagination.

“I got into dancing because I was curious and I loved it from the first moment I tried it. I realized I could express myself through this,” said Powell. “My palate of emotional strata in movements – in layers – comes from my daughter, Rayven, my family and friends. The root of my heartbeat is made of emotions, music and dreams.”

It was in 2003, on a self-described “double dog dare” when Powell joined an existing local belly dance group in Bozeman, called Lotus Fire. Five years later, she branched off to teach others what had originally inspired her: the spark and the passion that existed within every woman to dance. Continue reading “Dancer made an unlikely transition”

MSU ventures into the world of online classes


The Montana State University administration has been trying to increase the availability of online core classes. However, finding faculty that is both willing and has the time and knowledge to do so has been a struggle, according to English professor Josef Verbanac.

“Online courses are extremely time-consuming, not easy, and often there is not a lot of support when using technology as a teaching tool,” Verbanac said. On average, an online class is three to four times more time-consuming than a typical on campus class, according to Verbanac. He believes that the amount of time an online class requires is not adequately stressed by faculty.

“Online classes aren’t for everyone. They require a tremendous amount of self-motivation and discipline. The faculty stresses that online classes are great because of the flexibility, but that is a misnomer. They don’t stress the rigor.” Continue reading “MSU ventures into the world of online classes”

Rodeo arena prep involves lots of dirt

By ALYSSA BURZYNSKI/Montana State News

Long before the competitors arrive with their horse trailers and the crowd fills the arena, the Brick Breeden Fieldhouse is in preparation for the spring rodeo.

Brick Breeden Fieldhouse after it has been transformed into a rodeo arena.
Brick Breeden Fieldhouse after it has been transformed into a rodeo arena.

The Brick Breeden Fieldhouse’s unique design lends it self to the rodeo better than most indoor facilities since it is “the largest domed structure in the western hemisphere without a center support,” according to the Montana State Bobcats website.

“For this year’s rodeo, 6,692 tickets were sold,” according to Michelle Cook, Montana State University ticket manager. Saturday night’s ticket sales filled over 3,000 seats of the possible 4,867, a spectacular turnout for the rodeo, says Cook. But none of this would be possible without the nine months of planning that the Montana State University facilities office does. Continue reading “Rodeo arena prep involves lots of dirt”

Photo school uses the past to teach the future

By NOAH BOSTROM/Montana State News

In a world where everyone has a camera, where an Instagram is considered art and the word “film” has lost its meaning, what is the importance of studying classical approaches to photography?

The photography students of the Montana State University photography program would argue strongly for the older processes because they are an important part of understanding the visual language.

“We are teaching an entire language to our students, and the same as any other language, we start with the basics,” professor Chris Anderson says. This visual language is one of the most complex languages to learn or express.

“Since we see the world visually, minute to minute, we pay less attention to the detail and the beautiful scenes,” said professor Ian van Coller. “Using the commonplace to create something spectacular is the most important role of photographer.” Continue reading “Photo school uses the past to teach the future”

Belly dance troupe revives an old artform

By PATRICK HILL/Montana State News

The pastel colored walls of the Verge Theatre are decorated with framed portraits of past dance performances and other ornaments befitting of a ballet studio. Tucked in the middle of the theatre is the Rainbow Studio. Rhythmic music pumps from the studio as women of all ages move and sway their hips to the various musical beats.

Initiated in 2008, Bad Asp Belly Dancing Troupe is holding strong in their fifth year and currently revolves around five diverse local women. Each instructor focuses on her own blend and style of belly dancing. The troupe maintains a self-described “Earthy feel” to their Tribal Fusion style of dance. “Our style is about setting our own style,” said Mary Powell.

Sitting comfortably on a wooden bench outside of their studio, Powell is half in costume, half in street clothes while she tells the backstory of Bad Asp and the art of belly dancing.

“We started in the living room dancing and it was a lot like the garage band of dancing,” said Powell. Bad Asp is based in a self-made image to maintain a community-influenced approach to the arts. Continue reading “Belly dance troupe revives an old artform”

Native American Studies prof goes online

By KEVIN KNAPEK/Montana State News

For Kristin Ruppel, associate professor of Native American Studies, following her bliss allowed everything to fall into place.

Kristin Ruppel  of MSU Native American Studies is leading the charge on the development of online education opportunities.
Kristin Ruppel of MSU Native American Studies is leading the charge on the development of online education opportunities.

Ruppel wanted to be closer to her parents who live in Twin Bridges. So she decided to make her way back to Montana. Before graduating with her doctorate, she had an opportunity to buy a gutted-out log cabin in Virginia City.

“Eventually, my parents and I went in on it together, and since then, my husband and I, but mostly my husband, have made it livable. So coming to Bozeman was really the tail wagging the dog. I just knew I wanted to be back in Montana,” Ruppel said.

At the time she was hired, the NAS department at Montana State University had been considering the idea of setting up online courses. The plan was in place, but lacked any staff with adequate time to get the program rolling. In 2006, Ruppel, along with the NAS department heads proposed to the university provost that they support the program by allowing funds to support the development of classes through the NAS department.

Saralyn Sebern, who was an NAS-tribal liaison at the time, worked with Ruppel in researching what worked and what did not. The research required Ruppel to visit tribal colleges in Montana to see what she would find useful from the tribal school’s perspective.

When all the research was completed, it was decided that Ruppel and her team would move ahead. Continue reading “Native American Studies prof goes online”

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