MALS/IDS Alumni Jeff Tangel Creates “Little Free Library” for Chicago’s Englewood Community

Jeff II

DePaul University MALS Program alumni Jeff Tangel was recently featured in Dawn Turner Trice’s Chicago Tribune article, “The Nourishing Quality of Books.” Tangel graduated from the MALS program in 2012 and currently works as an associate for DePaul University’s Institute for Nature and Culture, but the Tribune article highlights his unique social entrepreneurship and service work in the Englewood community.

Tangel coordinated a “little free library” outside an Englewood neighborhood food pantry, giving community members access to an eclectic and growing collection of books.  The library mimics the idea of an oversized bird house, but with a plexiglass door. Tangel drew inspiration for the project from a gentleman in Wisconsin who created a free and bird-house-like library in memory of his mother.

Tangel partnered with local food pantry volunteer and friend, Arenge Dixon, to set up the library near the food pantry. While Dixon was skeptical about the library’s functionality, community members have since embraced the library as a vital source of reading material. Tangel collects donations and has scavenged for books recycled by used bookstores in order to sustain the library and his patron’s reading needs. His personal initiative coupled by the eager interests of Englewood community members has helped Tangel’s “little free library” and its success.

The MALS and IDS Program congratulates Tangel on his post-graduate successes. He models the spirit of DePaul’s Vincentian values and commitment to community service. Please be sure to check out Trice’s Tribune article and follow Tangel’s work in the Englewood neighborhood. We hope that his work inspires other students and graduates in their future Chicago community involvements and professional endeavors.

By Caelin Niehoff, Student Assistant

MALS/IDS Launches Digication Community Portfolio Site

Digication clip

Since 2008, MALS and IDS students have been required to maintain academic portfolios which contain samples of their best work. Following best practice in portfolio-building, the selected works become evidence to support our students’ Midpoint and Reflective Essays, which unify the portfolios as our students explore their academic journeys and evaluate their diverse accomplishments and goals.

Time for a change! As of Spring 2014, MALS/IDS portfolio-building has gone “Technicolor” with the creation of the MALS/IDS Digication Community (

Digication, DePaul’s online portfolio tool, gives each student the ability to create, individualize, and share their portfolios not just for our program purposes, but with the outside world. Students can provide prospective employers and academic institutions with their own URLs to share professional, polished, and colorful representations of their best work. Students can utilize their portfolio URL on a variety of professional social networking platforms, such as Linkdn. Students “own” their portfolios, and can create as much variation as they like. Digication portfolios can remain as fixed or fluid as each student chooses, and can be published to select groups or individuals. These portfolios follow our graduates, who may access and share them at will beyond graduation.

Learning to use Digication is not difficult, and in fact, the Spring 2014 MALS/IDS graduates did a great job launching their basic portfolios with little help aside from our basic guidelines and links to online instruction. Individualized help is always available from DePaul’s Writing Center ( And we will be offering group DIgication sessions in the upcoming months to help our students see Digication’s many design and organizational possibilities. Students have the ability to create banners, color palettes, and images specific to their personalized portfolios. Cohesive images, colors, and font styles help students unify their portfolio content and translate an academic portfolio to an online community. While students will encounter a slight learning curve, once Digication logic takes hold, we know our students will embrace this technology with excellent results.


An example of a capstone portfolio completed by an MA student in DePaul’s English Department


MALS/IDS still asks student to follow our basic portfolio requirements, but our students can now create their presentations to best represent their academic and professional portraits. In addition to online tips and tutorials, DePaul provides several examples of student portfolios online ( Portfolio examples are categories by portfolio types; MALS/IDS students might browse examples of capstone portfolios such as Matt Albert’s pictured above. Take a look at some of DePaul’s sample Digication portfolios to get an idea of the possibilities.