Phoenix Public Library is newest location in ASU's Alexandria Co-working Network

January 17, 2014

The newest location in Arizona State University’s Alexandria Co-working Network opens its doors today as the Phoenix Public Library launches the hive @ central at Burton Barr Central Library.

The Alexandria Co-Working Network is an ASU initiative that brings people together in collaboration spaces in public libraries across Arizona, creating a statewide network of places for people to connect, collaborate and find valuable resources. The network supports the entrepreneurs, inventors, problem-solvers and small-business owners across the Valley who need help to advance their ideas but don’t currently have access to the necessary tools. Alexandria Co-working Network logo Download Full Image

“This partnership connects entrepreneurs with people and resources to help turn ideas into thriving business ventures,” said Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton. “Forward-thinking cities must have numerous co-working services to successfully advance and broaden our economy.”

ASU, the Phoenix Public Library and the City of Phoenix will officially open the hive @ central in a 2 p.m. ceremony Jan. 17. The ceremony will feature tours of the space as well as remarks by local dignitaries, including Stanton, ASU senior vice president Sethuraman "Panch" Panchanathan, Phoenix councilman Daniel T. Valenzuela and Phoenix councilman Michael Nowakowski.

"hive @ central advances our efforts to create an ecosystem that supports entrepreneurship and innovation, by providing the physical and intellectual space to explore ideas," said Valenzuela. "We are taking control of our own economic future through entrepreneurship - by nurturing these individual job creators and offering access to experts from ASU, and other partners. This is a key component to our overall mission to make Phoenix the place to be for entrepreneurs and the creative class.”

The Phoenix Public Library is the third Arizona library to join the Alexandria Co-Working Network, which is led by ASU’s Entrepreneurship and Innovation Group. In 2013, the Scottsdale Public Library launched the Eureka Loft at the Scottsdale Civic Center Library, and the Mesa Public Library opened THINKspot at its Red Mountain Branch.

The Alexandria Co-working Network is named after the world’s first great library in Alexandria, Egypt, which was established in the third century B.C. The library at Alexandria, and the other libraries in antiquity that followed it, were not just about books; in essence, they were society’s first co-working spaces and knowledge hubs. The Alexandria Co-working Network is designed to help the modern library offer similar collaboration spaces with an emphasis on innovation and entrepreneurship.

The Alexandria Co-working Network’s collaboration spaces, which are free and open to the public during normal library hours, combine elements of co-working spaces with library services and ASU startup resources in one place where innovators, entrepreneurs and others can gather to share ideas and work together. Local library staff act as champions, offering information resources to their community of innovators.

“The Alexandria Co-working Network leverages the many entrepreneurship resources of ASU to support innovators outside of the traditional startup spaces in Arizona,” said Gordon McConnell, assistant vice president for innovation, entrepreneurship and venture acceleration at ASU. “We’re delighted with what’s been accomplished in the libraries so far, and we look forward to continuing to expand to other communities throughout Arizona.”  

The next Alexandria Co-working Network location will open in late January in Goodyear, at the city’s new library near Bullard Avenue and Van Buren Street.

Education student takes the path less traveled

January 17, 2014

Editor's Note: This story is part of an ongoing series about student excellence at the university. To read more about some of ASU's outstanding students, click here.

Wendy Williams, a student in the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College at Arizona State University, discovered her passion for teaching while practicing karate. Download Full Image

She picked up the sport merely out of interest, but quickly advanced to a level that made the dojo masters take notice. She was asked to become an instructor, an experience that set the tone for her future.

“I was a high school student at the time. After my first class I thought, ‘This is it. I’m a teacher. I love to teach,’” she said.

While Williams only studied karate for six and half years, the Glendale, Ariz. native went on to earn her bachelor’s degree in secondary education from ASU. She secured a position teaching eighth grade, but discovered it was not a good fit. She decided to take a leap of faith and enroll in the Scottsdale Culinary Institute. Her interest was in patisserie and baking.

Williams worked in a Scottsdale restaurant for a bit before changing gears again. This time she took up employment with the Hilton Hotel to learn the administrative side of party planning. One day, the routine task of changing the day on her desk calendar made her reevaluate her career choice.

“It was a Shakespeare quote that said, ‘Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more.’ It hit me how much I missed literature and working with kids,” she said.

So it was back to ASU to earn a master’s degree in English education. Williams was simultaneously working as a teacher high school in the Glendale Union School District. This time she loved it.

“Maybe it was because I was older and more mature, I’m not sure. I was there for seven years and loved it. It was hard to leave,” she said.

After completing her master’s degree, Williams enrolled as a doctoral student under the same concentration. For her dissertation, she has decided to pursue a new area of study. After all, a paper she wrote exploring it won honorable mention from the Literacy Research Association.

Williams is interested in the literary practices that adolescents engage in, both in and out of school, particularly the pursuit of spoken word poetry. To research this subject, Williams is spending time with a local spoken word poetry group that travels to Valley schools teaching youth. She studies their methods and how the students put their emotions into words. One of her goals is to analyze how schools might support this practice.

“In some cases, these kids are writing about abuse and difficult experiences. It’s great because they’re finding an emotional release. The group leaders are extremely honest and vulnerable as well. It creates a culture of honesty,” she said.

On the other hand, Williams said writers may not feel comfortable sharing these emotions in the classroom.

“Teachers tend to be guarded with their students and don’t want to appear vulnerable,” she said.

Williams expects to complete and defend her dissertation by spring 2015. She hopes that the path ahead of her is just as exciting as the one behind her.

“Trying new careers has enriched my life. You don’t have to have a job connected to your degree. You can always transfer the skills you’ve learned to other things.”