Open Access Week: Interview with Alicia Marrese

In honor of Open Access Week, we interviewed Alicia Marrese, who is the coordinator for Fisher Digital Publications, our open access repository for Fisher scholarship!

Describe what open access means in 5 words or less: Sharing your scholarship freely online.

What misconceptions are out there about open access? That open access journals aren’t scholarly, aren’t peer-reviewed, and publishing in them is less prestigious than publishing with a more well-known publisher. You always want to investigate the quality of a journal before submitting your work, but many open access journals go through just as much editorial work and peer review as a traditionally published journal.

What is your favorite part about working on Fisher Digital Publications? My favorite part is being able to see how many times and from where Fisher scholarship has been downloaded! It always amazes me that people from all over the world read works created by our Fisher Family right here in Rochester, NY.

Readership Map

What do you think is the greatest benefit to open access? When items are open access, readers do not need to be able to access an expensive database in order to view them. Your scholarship can reach many more people around the world since it available for anyone with internet access—no subscription needed!

The Benefits of Open Access by Danny Kingsley and Sarah Brown (

Where do you see open access scholarship heading in the future? I think the amount of open access scholarship will grow, and the idea of freely sharing works will become more common as people learn about it. Authors with knowledge about open access can choose to publish works in open access journals and archive their scholarship in open access repositories like Fisher Digital Publications.

How can Fisher faculty, staff, and students contribute to the open access movement? Publish in open access journals and add your works to Fisher Digital Publications! I think it is absolutely worth it to investigate alternatives to traditionally published journals and see what open access journals are currently available in your field. If you do publish in a traditional journal, you can also see if the publisher permits you to add a draft copy of the article to Fisher Digital Publications. If we can share more through open access journals and repositories, we enable other researchers around the world to easily access it and use it in their own research, which helps further advance the growing open access movement.

Calmly cloistered in quiet corners or Crowded on comfy couches

. . . favorite spots in Lavery Library

With the semester in full swing, the library is getting busier and busier. And hopefully by now you’ve scoped out your favorite place to study or hang out with friends (while hopefully doing school work). Whatever the reason you’re visiting the library, getting your favorite spot always makes your visit better. However, if you haven’t found a favorite spot in the library, pull up a chair and discover the secret hideouts and favorite haunts of the library staff.

Office Manager, Lynn Seavy, loves the view from L315! “It has a wonderful view of the academic side of campus, and south towards the City.  You can just see the tower of Colgate Divinity School peeking over the treetops.  Sometimes I’ll pop in this room to take a break from my computer screen, especially when the leaves change color in the fall.”

Access Services Librarian, Kourtney Blackburn, is a fan of the new high stools and counter space that faces out on Keough Quad, particularly for the natural light!

Circulation Coordinator, Stacy Celata, hides out in L100 (the library computer lab). “It’s cooler most days, vacant of students most days, and a good place to hunker down and do my homework.” But if she’s catching up on a good book during the summer, she likes the couches by the windows facing Keough.

Serials Assistant, Jenny Bigenwald, or as I like to think of her, display-maker extraordinaire, really likes the lounge space on the lower level near the restrooms. “I love this space for its bright windows, where you can people-watch others going to and from class.  It is a quiet space, tucked away from the more public spaces in the library…great for taking a break!”

Education and First Year Program Librarian, Stacia Maiorani, also like the lounge space by the lower level restrooms. “I love the large windows that let so much natural lighting in and enjoy reading a book for a bit during my lunch break. I also enjoy seeing students that have found this gem of a spot and often study or chat over a meal in this spot.”

And for me, it’s the large tables to the left of the elevator on the upper level. I like to find a spot right next to the windows and imagine I’m working in a tree house. I don’t get the chance to work up there too much during the school year, but during the summer I can be found hunkered down in the corner.

We all hope you find your favorite spot in the library, somewhere you can hide out and write a paper or study for a test, or a place you can get together with friends between classes or work on a group project. Wherever this space is, we won’t hold it against you for not sharing, but if you do want to share it with us, just tag us on Instagram @lavery_library.

Lavery Library Alumni Spotlight

In honor of Alumni Weekend, we asked our Access Services Librarian, Kourtney (Evans) Blackburn ‘10, to reminisce about her time at St. John Fisher College alongside her father-in-law, Jim Blackburn ‘65. Take a trip down memory lane and see where they think Fisher is headed!
image of Kourntey and Jim Blackburn
Kourtney & Jim

What was the campus like when you attended? How has it changed?

Jim: There were fewer students and only a few buildings when I attended. Many offices, classes, and the dining hall were located in the basement of the Administration Building (which is now Kearney) under the auditorium. I used to study on the second floor of the White House, (a farmhouse where the previous owners lived) which was also used by Security. There was the Chemistry Building, a dorm, the White House, and a small gymnasium used for basketball.

old image of Fisher campus
1960 Fisher Campus from left to right: “Chemistry Building”, Kearney, and the White House

Today the campus is abuzz with students. It is jam-packed with buildings. Fisher is now like a mini city, and it is much more exciting than it was when I was a student. I must say that I am very impressed with the caring and kindness that the students show me when I visit. They offer to help me get wherever I want to go, they hold doors for me, and they are cheerful.  They make this old alum very happy.

What technology did Fisher have when you attended?

IBM 1620 Computer
IBM 1620 Computer

Jim: There was one IBM 1620 computer.  It had the unique feature that if one wanted to do something special, one had to wire up a board that slid into a socket. Programing was done on standard IBM cards in Fortran.  A deck of these cards had to be placed in a card reader to get the program into the computer, which compiled it, and hopefully would run it.

What was one of your most memorable days at Fisher?

Jim: I was sitting in Professor Richard Pegis’ math class at about 2:30pm when someone came down the hall shouting that President Kennedy had been assassinated in Dallas, Texas. The professor dropped his head and put the chalk down.  We all just got up and silently walked out of class with big lumps in our throats.

What is your favorite memory from Fisher?

Jim: My favorite memory from Fisher is when the girls came, when Fisher and Nazareth began to share students. It was not a coeducational school yet, as the men were Fisher students and the ladies were Nazareth students.Some of us boys went to classes at Nazareth and in return some of the girls came to classes at Fisher. It was a big improvement for all of us. I also helped the Drama Club build scenery. I had experience from my days at Aquinas, where I helped Fr. Bud Cullen C.S.B. with the Performing Arts Club.

Kourtney: I think my favorite memory involved performing in musicals because it is where I met some really great friends. I also met my husband in Dorsey Hall thanks to a mutual friend, so that’s a favorite memory, too!

What was your favorite class?

Jim: My favorite class was Classical Mechanics, a physics course, taught by my good friend Fr. John Poluikis, C.S.B. We remained friends and always looked for each other at RPO concerts until he went to his eternal reward.

Kourtney: I loved all of my honors classes, especially Medieval World and Seeing Metaphor. Another favorite was the History of English. Thanks to Dr. Vanderbilt, I will forever remember the year 1066, the year the English language changed forever due to Normans invading England.

What do you remember most about the library?

Nazareth Women visit the Fisher Library
Nazareth Women visit the Fisher Library

Jim: It was on the south end, second floor of the Administration Building.  It was not very large and did not have many very many books. We students used it mostly as a study/work area as it had a number of solid tables. And of course, there were no common library PCs, workstations, cell phones, etc. The microprocessor [unit integral to computers] did not exist back then.

Kourtney: I remember how welcomed and comfortable I felt in the library, which is now an entire building packed to the gills with students! I could always go there to get help or lock myself away in a study room to camp out and write papers…and eventually sneak in a nap. It wasn’t as technology-oriented then, either. We had a handful of computers on the main floor and a computer lab in the lower level, but the majority of the main floor contained books and journals.

What gives you the most pride in your alma mater?

Kourtney: Seeing how engaged Fisher students, faculty, and staff are with each other and with the greater Rochester community gives me the most pride. We all aspire to learn new things, to better ourselves, and to better each other. I think that sort of engagement is contagious!  While we are all focused on the future, we remain committed to the Basilian motto engraved above Basil Hall: Teach me goodness, discipline, and knowledge.

What piece of wisdom do you want to impart on the current students?

Kourtney: Take advantage of all of your time to learn new things inside and outside the classroom! Don’t get so caught up in your daily schedule that it prevents you from going to events on and off campus.

Jim: Your years at Fisher are but a short interlude in what is a lifetime of learning.  Pour yourself into that learning; make it your life’s work to learn something new every day. I still do! I do Tensor Calculus problems just to keep my brain going in the second half of my 70s. Challenge yourself. Academics first. Party after the work is all done.

Jim Blackburn image
Jim Blackburn

Jim graduated from Fisher with a BS in Mathematics/Science. He went on to receive an MS from the University of Rochester in Applied Mathematics, and an MS from RIT in Computer Science. Jim was a high school teacher at Aquinas, teaching mathematics and all the sciences before being recruited by the Fuel Systems Division of General Motors to be a research engineer. He mostly devised methods of manufacturing and specialized research instruments. He also wrote algorithms for manufacturing and research. He taught Christian formation for 35 years. Now retired, Jim likes camping, hiking, and building things like playhouses for his three granddaughters. He is married with two children.

image of Luna

Kourtney is the Access Services Librarian at Lavery Library. Before earning her Masters of Library Science from SUNY Buffalo, Kourtney graduated from Fisher with a BA in English and Adolescence Education. In her spare time, Kourtney likes to cook and go for walks with her dog Luna (named for Luna Lovegood) and her husband. Her favorite food at Ward-Haffey is the Tomato Parmesan Soup!