All posts by libraryhacks

Faculty: how can the library help you?

We’ve started a new category on Library Hacks where we’ll highlight the innovative and creative ways Duke faculty are using library resources and librarian expertise in the classroom. We will continue to add new case studies to this section on a regular basis to highlight each project.

Case Study:

Assignment #1: Obesity and Health. Dr. Jen’nan Read, Spring 2009, SOC 161

View Mapping Grocery Stores and Bus Routes -example in a larger map

The goal of this assignment was to demonstrate how individuals’ everyday social environment influences important health outcomes, such as obesity.  Students broke into teams and conducted comparative research at local grocery stores in the area, focusing on cost, content, and placement of food at the different locales.  Students were given a fixed budget to feed a family of four and compared the quantity and quality of foods within that budget.  Students evaluated the accessibility of the various grocery stores (and exercise facilities) in relation to different socio-economic and ethnic neighborhoods in the Durham area using mapping tools that were demonstrated in class by Librarians and CIT staff.

Library Session:

Two librarians, Linda Daniel and Joel Herndon, and Shawn Miller, a consultant with CIT, prepared a highly interactive introduction to library resources and online mapping tools. The class enabled the students to make compelling visual connections about the complex relationship between diet, socioeconomic status and access to grocery stores.

The result:

Thank you all so very much for your efforts and preparation.  The students were duly impressed, as was I (many commented on how happy they were to get the training and hand-outs, etc).  Sorry if it seemed rushed; it’s a learning process for us all.  At the end of the day, it was superb.

Thank you again.

Jen’nan G. Read
Associate Professor
Department of Sociology

Written by Nathaniel King

Foreign Office Files for China, 1949-1980

Sourced from The National Archives, Kew – the UK government’s official archive, Foreign Office Files for China, 1949-1980 provides primary source materials in English language for researchers at all levels.

Published in three sections covering the periods 1949-1956; 1957-1966; and 1967-1980; this database addresses a crucial period in Chinese history, from the foundation of the People’s Republic, in 1949, to the death of Zhou Enlai and Mao, the arrest of the Gang of Four and the end of the Cultural Revolution in 1976. This complete British Foreign Office Files deals with China, Hong Kong and Taiwan in this period. These files are particularly important because Britain was one of the first countries to recognize Communist China and to maintain diplomatic relations with China and from 1950 onward. From their vantage point in Beijing British diplomats reported on the turbulent and confusing political, social, and economic developments.

The Foreign Office’s reporting on politics, industry, trade and cultural affairs include:

  • Eye-witness accounts and detailed reports on life in China, 1949-1976.
  • In depth analysis of the Communist Revolution and all the major figures.
  • Material on the Korean War, the Cold War, US relations and the Cultural Revolution.

Please note that files for 1980 have not been released under the 30 year rule in time to be included at this stage but will be added by the publisher as soon as possible.

Written by Luo Zhou

New Database on China 1833-1949

National index to Chinese newspapers and periodicals, 1833-1949 全国报刊索引 is an  index database is from Shanghai library and covers about 18,000 Chinese newspapers and periodicals published  1833-1949. There are approximately 400,000 entries in NICNP (1833-1910) and more than 4,000,000 entries in NICNP (1911-1949). From 1833 to 1949, China experienced great changes from the dynastic reign to the establishment of Republic of China(1912) then to the founding of the People’s Republic of China(1949).  These journals and newspapers record the major and minor events at that time, including two Opium wars in mid-19th century and the Japanese invasion of China(1937-1945).  They are important primary source materials to the study of China’s politics, economics, ideas and culture in this period.

Written by Luo Zhou

Librarians Want to Know

We hope you know that librarians are here for you – we are in the business of supporting research at all levels, assisting students, faculty, and everyone in the Duke community. In an effort to improve the services we provide, we are trying to better understand the research habits and needs of different groups at Duke. This is where the User Studies Initiative comes in. We are trying to get past our own preconceived notions about what our users need and base decisions about library services on empirical evidence. The User Studies Initiative is a staff development effort, providing librarians at Duke with the tools and know-how to conduct effective user studies.


On Monday, March 8th, a group of Duke librarians presented this work-in-progress to colleagues from across North Carolina at the annual LAUNC-CH Conference. Their talk, Know Thy User: Duke Libraries User Studies Initiative, demonstrated to other librarians the feasibility of conducting effective, targeted studies to better understand users’ needs and wants. Diane Harvey and Yvonne Belanger provided the big picture view of the initiative, and Emily Daly, Linda Daniel, and Shawn Miller discussed studies they are currently working on. To read more about the presentation, see Diane Harvey’s post on the new Instruction & Outreach blog.

What do you wish the library did that it doesn’t? The User Studies Initiative is an ongoing project intended to generate a culture of continual assessment and improvement of library services. Let us know what you think!

Written by Alice Whiteside

What screencasting can do for you

Screencasting technology allows you to record what is happening on your computer screen with accompanying audio commentary and then share it with others. It enables remote collaboration and learning and provides an effective medium for educating users in the best use of databases and online resources.

It is a handy and useful tool for students, teachers and developers of software and web resources. Screencasting is especially useful in learning environments where it can be used to make live recordings of presentations or training sessions, to comment verbally on projects and assignments, to remotely show students how to use software or search a database, or for collaboration on projects. Developers can use screencasting to highlight features in new products or to give a tour of a website or resource.

These tools can also be used socially for things like sharing narrated slide shows with friends. More advanced tools with additional features, such as Camtasia and Adobe Captivate, are available for purchase. These tools allow you to edit your content and import still images, video, and PowerPoint slides and also let you create accessible tutorials and lessons through the use of closed captioning. Several basic tools such as Jing, Screenr and Screen Jelly are available for free. These online tools are designed for easy use so you can begin making screencasts immediately.

Have you tried any screencasting tools? What did you think?

Written by Julie Adamo

Growing Your Knowledge Base

Need new research material? No matter what it is — book, DVD, CD, database, etc. — our library offers services to obtain it.

You May:

  • Suggest a purchase:

  • Request it through ILL:

Be sure to Search TRLN first in case the book is closer than you think.

Loans from libraries in the Triangle Research Library Network generally are quicker:

Otherwise use Interlibrary Loan:

Also, keep in mind that not everything is available through ILL, though many things are.

For other requests see the forms at:

Written by Cheryl Thomas

Ever wonder what you can ask a reference librarian?

During the month of January, Reference librarians at Perkins Library answered a total of 1,795 questions, excluding questions sent in by chat.

Here is a sampling of the questions asked last month –

* Need help tracking down the volume in which a 1883 botanical illustration appeared?

* game theoretic applications to executive compensation?

* US and global railcar manufacturing?

* Seeking 1968 Soviet physics journal?

* I spilled some coffee–do you have any paper towels?

* I am trying to locate a book of collected drawings of the Great Kanto Earthquake by children. I have found an oblique reference to it in a caption to an illustration without any bibliographic info?

* Stem cell biology in traumatic brain injury: effects of injury and strategies for repair?

* what citation management tool do you recommend?

* GIS : how to get started; availability of data for India?

* trouble accessing journal article?

* help finding articles for class?

* speech by Booker T. Washington in Atlanta, 1895?

* can you eat in the library?

* How to find Russian books?

* 2001 Indian Census volumes for Gujarat

* I can’t find this shelf at all, where are these books?

You can ask reference questions in person (Perkins Reference Desk), im/chat (click on the askusNOW icon), email ( or by phone (660-5880). Save some time and get the information you need quickly!

Written by Anne Langley

Quiet study spots in Perkins/Bostock

Quiet study spots
Looking for a quiet place to study in Perkins/Bostock? No need to limit yourself to the designated quiet rooms in Bostock – the International and Area Studies Reading Room on the 2nd floor and the Carpenter Reading Room on the 3rd floor. Check out some of the lesser known places.

Group spaces
For those who want large spaces in which to study, the Gothic Reading Room on the 2nd floor of the oldest wing of Perkins (closest to the bus stop) could be perfect.

Individual spaces
On the 3rd and 4th floors of Perkins individual open carrels are available on the side facing CIEMAS. On lower level 2 of Perkins, you might find an individual table/chair tucked away at the ends of aisles. Individual carrels are available around the edges of the 5 upper stack levels in the oldest part of the building, accessed by making a u-turn around the circulation desk, entering level A, and taking the interior stairs to levels B-F. Additional open carrels are available at the back of the 3rd and 4th floors of Bostock.

Written by Joline Ezzell

A Piece of Sound Advice: “Use Your Ears!”


Previous posts have focused mainly on text- and image-based resources. This installment will highlight audio, specifically free resources available on the Internet.  Here are a few:

The British Library’s public collections include field recordings of natural and urban soundscapes, music from around the world, a survey of English dialects, early spoken word recordings, as well as historical information on sound reproduction technology.

Xeno-Canto hosts an archive of bird sounds from across the globe and makes good use of Google Maps in its search and information display interfaces.

London Sound Survey is a nice example of how audio can contribute to an overall picture of a geographical place and its culture and history over time.

The Freesound Project is a collaborative database of Creative Commons licensed sounds (focusing only on sounds, not songs).

Free Music Archive is an interactive library of high-quality, legal music downloads directed by New Jersey’s freeform radio station WFMU.

This is just a small sample of what’s out there.  Now it’s up to you to decide how audio could enhance your research, project or presentation.  Here’s some inspiration:

Written by Zeke Graves

LSC Unveiled

The catalog says the location for the item you want is “Library Service Center.” Where’s that? and what is it? The Library Service Center, or LSC, is a high-density shelving facility in East Durham that holds the library’s books and other materials for which there is no room in the campus libraries. With 30 ft. high shelves, it can hold 4 million volumes. No searching for call numbers on the shelf here – it’s all tied to barcodes. Check it out for yourself:

If you want something from LSC, click on the delivery-truck-icon next to the title. Then click the Request link in the “Get This Title” box. Deliveries are made to and from campus libraries twice a day during the week and once on weekends.

Written by Joline Ezzell

Images of colonial Taiwan are available free online

For people who are interested in colonial Taiwan(1895-1945), there’s some good news. Libraries inside and outside Taiwan are digitizing their special collections including photographs and art images and make them free available to interested researchers and general public. The following are four selected collections:

Three photpgraph collections from Lafayette college’s digital collection. All the photos have very detailed descriptive data (bilingual in many fields) and the images are of good quality themselves.

Taiwan Art Exhibition (1927-1943) Database 台灣美術展覽會資料庫 from Academia Sinica of Taiwan has Images of 2144 artworks from 16 art exhibits during Japanese colonial period. Information is in Chinese with Japanese titles.

Written by Luo Zhou

eprint reprint – paper jam got you down? read on –

Duke’s ePrint distributed printing system now allows you to print a job again without running back to your computer.

With ePrint, you send a job to the system and then swipe your card at any print station and select the job from your print queue. With ePrint rePrint, the job goes back into the print queue for 15 minutes. If you need to reprint the job within that timeframe, just swipe your DukeCard at any ePrint station and choose the job out of the list of available jobs in your print queue. (sincere thanks to the Duke Divinity school blog)

Written by Anne Langley

Can’t get enough Library Hacks?

Do you find yourself waiting longingly for the next post of Library Hacks?  Is there just nothing that will satisfy your thirst for research, technology and library related news??  If so, LibWorm is the tool for you!  LibWorm, a search engine that searches over 1500 library related or librarian maintained blogs, can help you find research tips, tools and strategies from librarians of all types from all over the world.  Just type in a topic of interest and – PRESTO! –  Hundreds of librarians are at your fingertips.

Facebook for Faculty (Part Two)

Name ambiguity is a recurring issue that impacts research accuracy and quality, career advancement and tenure, global collaboration among researchers, and identification and attribution of funding for institutions and individual authors alike. by Thomson Reuters (the creators of ISI’s Journal Citation Reports) allows researchers to:

  • Generate a unique identifier to ensure that your work is correctly attributed to you
  • Provide a way for your institution to properly measure your performance
  • Manage your publication list and professional profile online, in one place
  • List previous institutions in your profile to helps others find you as you move through your career

Learn More…

Written by Nathaniel King

Library Guides in Non-English Languages

Attention: Faculty and Teaching Assistants

Do you teach classes in non-English languages?

Does your class need library resources?

Subject specialists, with language skills across the curriculum, are available to create online guides that showcase the wonderful range of non-English resources the library has on offer. These guides can be easily integrated into Blackboard for use by students.

Would you like a library guide for your class? Ask a Librarian!

Written by Nathaniel King

Facebook for Faculty (Part One)

2collab is a collaboration platform designed specifically for researchers in the science, technical and medical communities.

Produced by Elsevier and intended for use by professional researchers in academic, government and corporate institutions, 2collab provides a great solution for the following challenges:

1. I need a place to store and manage my online bookmarks
2. I’m collaborating with colleagues and I need a place where I can share information easily with my network
3. I need new ways to get recognition for my work

As a published author you can import and display your publication history (with citation counts!) using Elsevier’s extensive coverage of over 2.5 million validated author profiles and a database of 15,800 peer-reviewed journals.

Learn more…

Written by Nathaniel King

Are you up-to-date?

For many faculty and graduate students who remain on-campus, the summer is the time to catch up with all those things that got left behind in the end-of-semester rush.

With the deluge of articles and books in your field, it’s sometimes a challenge to keep up-to-date.

Not any more.

If you use Duke’s databases for your research, you can use RSS feeds to send you automatic updates on relevant articles, authors, journals, search results and citations.

These feeds allow you to automatically and effortlessly:

-Find out who’s citing your work

-Find new research in your field…

Read More

Written by Nathaniel King

iTunes for Your Papers

Wouldn’t it be nice to have all your research (your papers, articles, etc.) in one place? Papers (for Mac, iPhone & iTouch) allows you to download, browse and organize all of your research from within its attractive and intuitive interface (2007 winner of Apple’s Design Award).

Papers allows you to perform searches in major databases, like Web of Science, JSTOR, Google Scholar and PubMed (to name a few). Articles retrieved from databases include rich metadata goodies, like full bibliographic info. The marketing of this tool seems to be geared towards science-related research, though it has potential for any form of research.

The $42 fee may be a deterrent to some, but students can purchase Papers at a 40% discount ($16.80). The application does wonders for organizing your papers, but does not support bibliographic managment (EndNote, RefWorks and Zotero).

For all the PC owners out there, sorry…the creators of Papers (Mekentosj) show no love for the PC. But check out an earlier post on the PC-friendly pdf organizer, Mendeley.

Written by Hannah Rozear

The Left Index™

Lenin Poster

The Left Index™ is a complete guide to the diverse literature of the Left, with an emphasis on political, economic, social and culturally engaged scholarship inside and outside academia.

Topics covered include the labor movement, ecology & environment, race & ethnicity, social & cultural theory, sociology, art & aesthetics, philosophy, history, education, law and globalization.

Historically significant early Left publications such as The People (est. NY 1891) and The Class Struggle (1931 – 1937) along with classic texts by Marx, Lenin, Trotsky, Engels and others, written in the formative years of the Left are also covered.

Click here to access the Left Index™.

Written by Nathaniel King

Struggles for Freedom in Southern Africa

Namibia independce poster

The Struggles for Freedom in Southern Africa collection consists of more than 180,000 pages of documents and images, including periodicals, nationalist publications, records of colonial government commissions, local newspaper reports, personal papers, correspondence, UN documents, books, oral testimonies, life histories, and speeches.

Materials in the Struggles for Freedom collection have been selected to address the following five broad themes:

• the colonial system and its consequences;
• popular resistance;
• anti-colonial organisations;
• regional and international contexts; and
• wars of liberation, destabilisation, and internal conflicts.

Click here to access the Struggles for Freedom in Southern Africa collection.

Written by Nathaniel King


It’s the one little line in your assignment that can lead to hours of work:

Format your paper in APA (or MLA, or Chicago, or Turabian…)

Inserting correct citations and a properly formatted bibliography used to involve complicated manuals, memorization of arcane facts about space placement after a period, and a lot of hair pulling. Kudos to those who want to keep citing by hand…but for those who don’t, it’s….


We’re kicking off a whole week of RefWorks training, which will run between March 30th to April 3rd, to introduce you to your new best citation friend.

What is RefWorks? It’s a web-based program that collects all your research and references in one handy spot, search and select them, and automatically generates citations and bibliography in whatever style your Professor is asking for.

In other words, RefWorks is a Lifesaver!

Drop by and learn more all week:

Mon. March 30: Bryan Center 12-2 pm

Tue. March 31: Lilly Library 1-3 pm

Wed. April 1st: Perkins Library 1-3 pm

Thu. April 2nd: East Campus Marketplace 12-2

Fri. April 3rd: Bryan Center Plaza 12-2 pm

Written by Kyla Sweet-Chavez

Mendeley: Manage, Share & Discover Research

Got a pile of PDFs on your computer? Turn your research documents into your own personal digital library with Mendeley–a new tool for organizing and sharing research.

Mendeley has a downloadable (free!) desktop software component, as well as a web-based component (Mendeley Web). Mendeley Web allows you to sync your library of PDFs, so that you can access them while you are away from your computer. Mendeley Web also serves as a social networking tool for connecting with researchers in your field.

When adding PDFs to Mendeley’s desktop client, Mendeley extracts the metadata (author, title, publication info, etc.) and creates a record for each PDF that you add to your Mendeley library. In addition to storing your PDFs, you can use the tool to add annotations and tags.

How does Mendeley differ from a tool like Zotero? In a nutshell, Mendeley grabs citation info from a PDF, whereas Zotero grabs citation info from webpages. Many reviewers note that the Mendeley’s sharing and collaboration features are superior to other tools, including tools like Zotero. Reviewers also pointed out another notable difference in the development philosophies of these tools…Zotero is ‘open source’ (developers are sharing the code, so that many people can contribute). Whereas, Mendeley is currently a closed, commercial product.

Note: Mendeley is still in ‘Beta’, which means its developers are still tweaking the tool!

You can have a look at the features here:

Written by Hannah Rozear

Tweet Tweet! AskRef’s Twitter Feed!

Are you all-a-twitter about Twitter? So are we!

You will occasionally get funny pictures like this

If you have questions, you can go to the reference desk or IM, email and text librarians. But what if you just want some general updates on library happenings? What if you’re curious about some of the fascinating questions we are asked each day? How do you get that kind of information?

Why, from Twitter of course! If you’re already glued to Twitter, then you can follow us now! While you can post anything you want to your account, we try to keep it interesting.

Our updates range from tips on ways to use our services (like texting a librarian if you’re in the movable stacks and they are stuck) to highlighting important days (two weeks ago we celebrated W.E.B. Du Bois’s birthday on Twitter by including a link to some of his works in our collection). Sometimes librarians are pretty hip, so we Tweeted about our Full Frame Film Archive for those of you who couldn’t get enough of the Oscars last week.

And sometimes…sometimes we get questions that are just awesome. So we will Tweet them to give you something to think about. You want an example? “Where can I find information about spontaneous cataracts in dogs and monkeys?” So, yeah. You’re interested.

Find us by searching for ‘askref’ or just click here.If you have yet to enter the Twitterverse, you can check out these frequently asked questions to see what it’s all about!

Written by Tiffany Lopez

Google Scholar Tips

Google Scholar is an excellent tool for searching across a set of scholarly journals and books, but how do you get your hands on the articles or books that you find? When you’re using Google Scholar off campus, you’ll need to set your Scholar Preferences to recognize Duke University Libraries.

Select the link for Scholar Preferences:

Under the section Library Links, enter Duke University Libraries and then select Find Library:

Make sure you select the Save Preferences button before beginning your search!
Once your preferences are set, you’ll see the Get it @ Duke link next to your search results. The Get it @ Duke link will connect you to the online or print version of the article/book in the library:

Do you use a citation tool, like EndNote or RefWorks? You can also set your Scholar Preferences to provide links to import your citations to EndNote or RefWorks:

If you have any more questions about Google Scholar, Ask a Librarian!

Written by Hannah Rozear

Cambridge Histories Online

Cambridge University Press Logo

Writing a history paper? Need background information on your topic? Cambridge History Online provides online access to over 250 Cambridge history volumes. These volumes cover a wide range of subjects including American history, British history, economic history, general history, history of science, history of the book, and the history of language and linguistics.

Key Features:

  • Search and browse full-text content across all subjects and volumes
  • Easily export citations

Click here to access Cambridge Histories Online.

Written by Nathaniel King


Want a good book for a long car ride? Like to listen to fiction while doing your laundry?
Check out these tips for finding free audiobooks on the web and in local libraries.

Audiobooks available in the library:
Audiobooks (on cd and cassette) in Lilly
These books are in Locked Media–bring the call number to the Lilly desk.
Audiobooks in Ford library
These have a 1-week loan period.

Audiobooks outside of Duke’s libraries
For more extensive collections, check out your local public libraries:

Chapel Hill residents (requires a Chapel Hill Public Library card):
Download audiobooks from the NC Digital Library here.

Durham residents (requires a Durham County Library card):
Download audiobooks from Overdrive here.
You may need to contact the library for your ‘PIN’, but it should be the last 4 digits of the telephone # you used to get your library card.
**Unfortunately, these downloadable books are not compatible with iPods.**

Both Chapel Hill & Durham also have collections of Books on CD & cassette on-site.

Free audiobooks are available from the following sites. These include mostly books that are in the public domain (published before 1923, roughly):,, and Project Gutenberg.

There’s always the option of podcasts, too! Like this ‘podiocast’ site for serialized fiction: Free podcasts (and not-so-free audiobooks) are also available from commercial sites like, iTunes, and Amazon.

Written by Hannah Rozear


SimplyMap lets users create professional quality maps for use in presentations, research reports, business plans, or Websites. Data variables can be viewed at the State, County, ZIP Code, Tract and Block Group levels.

Want to know the top 10 wealthiest ZIP codes in your state? How about the top 25 counties with the most elderly residents? These and similar questions are easily answered by ranking locations using any data variable in SimplyMap.

SimplyMap Image

SimplyMap includes access to thousands of demographic, business, and marketing data variables such as consumer expenditure, real estate, crime and many more.

Everything you do in SimplyMap can be exported in multiple formats for further customization and analysis. Create and export large amounts of data or detailed reports as Excel or CSV files. Advanced users can even export shapefiles for use in their own GIS software.

Written by Nathaniel King

Click here to access SimplyMap.

India, Raj and Empire

Taj Mahal

India, Raj and Empire provides documents pertaining to the History of South Asia between the foundation of the East India Company in 1615 and the granting of independence to India and Pakistan in 1947.

The database includes original manuscript material, comprising diaries and journals, official and private papers, letters, sketches, paintings and original Indian documents containing histories and literary works.

Documents are arranged around the following themes:

The East India Company: Government and Administration c.1750-1857; Agriculture and Trade c.1750-1857; Society, Travel and Leisure c.1750-1857; The Mysore and Maratha Wars; Indian Uprising 1857-58; The Raj: British Government and Administration of India after 1858; Agriculture and Trade after 1858; Society, Travel and Leisure after 1858; and India:  Literature, History and Culture.

Click here to access India, Raj and Empire.

Written by Nathaniel King


The Latinobarómetro is an annual study of public opinion in eighteen Latin American countries.

Latinobarómetro has the goal of providing a representative survey of Latin American public opinion over time and provides annual measures of attitudes toward democracy, civic culture, economic issues, gender issues, the environment, inequality, social capital, and trade policy.

Latinobarómetro covers Latin America from 1995-1998 and 2000-2006.

Click here to access Latinobarómetro.

Written by Nathaniel King

Reference Desk, 1958

What kinds of questions did Duke students ponder 50 years ago?
Here’s a glimpse at some of the questions recorded by Duke Reference librarians in 1958:

Have we (the U.S.) ever been out of debt?

I have to write a paper on the origin of the earth.

I want material on the moon in July 1778.

Where can I find material on safety items in airplanes, like ejection seats?

Is Thurston the Magician still alive? If so, where does he live?

Where can I find how many witches were killed in Europe?

Can you recommend a book on “mind reading”?

Where can I find how to grind the lens of a telescope?

I need some quarto-sized pictures of prehistoric man.

What color is the star Venus in the morning sky?

Are the people of Massachusetts called “Massachusettentians”?

Could you give me a list of brand names of all whiskey made in the U.S.?

I want a list of cities with their pollen counts, so I can locate to a pollen-free community.

Shortly after World War I (probably 1924), you sent me a booklet on inflation. As I recall it, that booklet discussed the evils of inflation and what happened to people in the area it hit. I would like to get a copy of it as a more modern version.

What is the source of the quotation “It is better to light a candle, than to curse the darkness”?

Where in the Manhattan yellow sheets should I look for a company which handles foreign exchange currency and sending money abroad?

I ate some fruit at lunch and I’ve forgotten what it is. Can you help me?

I am writing a 1500 word paper (due tomorrow!)–on how to set up a beach (life saving corps, etc.).

Who makes Edith Lance bras? I want to write a complaint to the company…

Image credit: “Studying Dink, 1957.” Duke University Archives. Durham, NC. USA. Accessed Nov. 17th, 2008.

Written by Hannah Rozear

China Data Online

China Data Online Logo

China Data Online includes two parts: economic statistics and census data. It includes the economic statistics of China, arranged by regions and categories; monthly and yearly reports on China’s macroeconomic development; statistical databases about China’s population and economy at the county and city level; and financial indicators of more than 568 industrial branches.

Duke’s subscription includes (1) China Yearly Macro-economy Statistics (1949-), (2) China Monthly, Macro-economy Statistics (1998-), (3) Monthly Reports on Economy Development (2002-), (4) China City Statistics (1996-), (5) China County Statistics (1997-), (6) China Industrial Data (2001-), and (7) various statistical yearbooks (2002-).

The database also includes census data, including census data from 1982, 1982 (10%), 1990, 1995 (survey), and 2000 (county and province level).

Click here to access China Data Online.

Written by Nathaniel King

Russian Resources

St Basil's Cathedral

The Universal Databases provides a unified search engine for several Russian language databases: Russian Central Newspapers (UDB-COM), Current Digest of the Post-Soviet Press (UDB-CD), Social Sciences & Humanities (UDB-EDU), Voprosy istorii: Complete Collection (UDB-VI), and Voprosy literatury: Complete Collection (UDB-VL).

The multilingual interface offers transliteration and Russian/English search capabilities.

Click here to access the Universal Databases.

Written by Nathaniel King



PrimateLit provides access to the scientific literature on nonhuman primates for the research and educational communities.

Coverage of the database spans 1940 to present and includes all publication categories (articles, books, abstracts, technical reports, dissertations, book chapters, etc.) and many subject areas (behavior, colony management, ecology, reproduction, field studies, disease models, veterinary science, psychology, physiology, pharmacology, evolution, taxonomy, developmental and molecular biology, genetics and zoogeography).

Click here to access PrimateLit.

Written by Nathaniel King

Subject Librarians to the rescue!

Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No! It’s…it’s…a subject librarian!

I know that some of you think your professors have sent you out into the world of research and writing with no allies and no weapons. I’m here to tell you that you are mistaken. A group of superhero-like librarians have been summoned from the ends of the earth and brought to Duke to equip you with subject specific knowledge and tools.

Trying to figure out if you need a subject librarian? Do you have a really specific topic? Are you looking for data, obscure documents or resources? Do you feel the need for an in-depth research consult? If you answered yes to any of these questions, do not hesitate to contact us.

Astronomy? Got it. Korean Studies? Yep. Music Media? You know it! And that’s only a taste of the subject coverage we’ve got! What’s that? You want to contact them right away? You want to learn more about the subjects they cover? I thought you might feel that way. All the information you need is here.

If you still have questions, don’t forget that the reference desk is always a great place to start. You can always save time and ask a librarian!

Written by Tiffany Lopez

Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade

The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database has information on almost 35,000 slave voyages to the Americas between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries.

This database allows users to search for specific voyages of slaving expeditions. Users can also create listings, tables, charts, and maps using information from the database.

Use the interactive estimates page to analyze the full volume and multiple routes of the slave trade.

Use the African Names Database to identify over 67,000 Africans aboard slave ships, using name, age, gender, origin, and place of embarkation.

Click here to access the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database.

Written by Nathaniel King

Digital Library of the Caribbean

The Digital Library of the Caribbean (dLOC) is a cooperative digital library for resources from and about the Caribbean and circum-Caribbean. dLOC provides access to digitized versions of Caribbean cultural, historical and research materials currently held in archives, libraries, and private collections.

Collections include newspapers, photographs, archives of Caribbean leaders and governments, official historical documents, and historic and contemporary maps.

Click here to access the Digital Library of the Caribbean.

Written by Nathaniel King

Blue Devil Press

Duke University Press Logo

The library has recently obtained access to Duke University Press Scholarly Books.

Duke University Press Scholarly Books provides easy access to the Library’s electronic Duke University Press titles.

The Collection includes online access to around 100 new scholarly books published by Duke University Press in the humanities and social sciences. In addition to new books, the Collection also includes access to all of the Press’s backlist books that are available in electronic form.

Click here to access Duke University Press Scholarly Books.

Written by Nathaniel King

UNdata – A world of information

Undata Logo

UNdata pools major UN databases and those of several international organizations into a single entry point for easy access. Users can easily browse, search and download data from a large number of statistical databases.

Data categories include: agriculture, education, employment, energy, environment, health, human development, industry, information and communication technology, national accounts, population, refugees, trade, and tourism.

Data sources include, but are not limited to: UN Statistics Division, UN Population Division, Food and Agriculture Organization, International Labour Organization, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, World Tourism Organization and UNESCO.

Click here to visit the UNdata site.

Written by Nathaniel King

The Wayback Machine

Wayback Machine Logo

Do you ever come across the following error message while doing research on the Internet?


Not Found

The requested URL /was not found on this server.


There may be a solution! The Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine allows you to browse through 85 billion (!) web pages that have been archived since 1996. Simply enter the URL of the site and the Wayback Machine will show you all the available versions of the site since 1996.

For example, ever wondered what the Google page looked like before Google became a household name. Click this link to see the Google page from 1999.

Written by Nathaniel King

Ultimate Citing: EndNote VS. RefWorks

In the competitive world of Ultimate Citing, two kingpins rule the ring…RefWorks and EndNote, the academic world’s leading bibliographic management tools. Lucky for you, Duke has a subscription to both, so the choice is yours!

RefWorks EndNote
Registration Register for your free account here Download for free here
Access Web-based (Any computer w/ Internet access) Not web-based. Access through any computer(s) in which you’ve installed EndNote
Most Useful for… Collaborative projects, term papers, coursework Complex research projects, dissertations, lengthy tomes
# of Bibliographic styles 3000+ 800+
Classes Register here Register here
PC and Mac Compatability Web-based, so will work on any computer w/ internet Versions available for both MAC and PC

Neither RefWorks or EndNote have figured out how to write your papers for you, but both are excellent tools for managing and formatting citations. Learn more about RefWorks here and EndNote here

Written by Hannah Rozear

Declassified Documents

Confidential Stamp

The Library has recently obtained access to Declassified Documents Reference System (DDRS), a collection of declassified documents from various government agencies such as the White House, the CIA, the FBI, the State Department and others.

DDRS makes possible both broad-based and highly targeted investigation of government documents. Users can query every document in the database for any name, date, word, or phrase. Searches can also be focused according to document type, issue date, source institution, classification level, date declassified, sanitization, completeness, number of pages, and document number.

You can access DDRS by clicking here.

Written by Nathaniel King

Where are all the books?

The “Find Books” link on the library homepage gives the call numbers and locations for print items in Perkins/Bostock.

Here are the most common call numbers with their corresponding location:

Call number Location
A – JK Perkins Lower Floor 2 ( map )
JL – PZ Perkins 4 ( map )
Q – QR Bostock 4 ( map )
R – Z Bostock 3 ( map )
Oversize A-Z Use “Request” link in catalog
000-999 Use “Request” link in catalog
Oversize 300s, 800s, 900s Use “Request” link in catalog

For other book locations in Perkins/Bostock click here.

If something is not on the shelf, please stop by the Perkins Reference Desk (or IM us); we’ll do our best to track it down for you.

Written by Nathaniel King


Wish you had a photographic memory? Me too, but since that’s not an option, I use Evernote. Never heard of it? Let me fill you in.

In a nutshell: Evernote is an application that allows you to collect information as you encounter it. What do I mean?

Viewing a website or an email and want to remember a certain passage or image? Just highlight it and copy it to Evernote. Looking through a friend’s class notes and see something you missed? Take a picture of it and upload it to Evernote. The same goes for whiteboards, business cards, fliers, and more! Text within images that you copy to Evernote are completely searchable. Even photos of handwritten notes! Glued to your QWERTY board? Use the phone application to send ideas, to-do lists or other reminders as they come up.

The best part (besides the fact that it’s free!) is that there is a web-based version, so you’re not tied to your desktop. Search your information from your laptop in the Perk or on your web-ready cell phone.

What else? Keep your information private or share it with your friends. Add tags or notes to make your images and entries more searchable or sortable. Want to browse by dates? You can do that too. For some additional bells and whistles, use the Windows or Mac application too (don’t worry, it syncs with the web version).

Written by Tiffany Lopez

Make citations in Facebook

In further Facebook takes over the universe (at least the parts not already claimed by Google) news, there’s a new application in Facebook called CiteMe. You enter the title of the book you want to cite, click go, and the app spits out a formatted citation in one of five styles (APA, Chicago, Harvard. MLA, or Turabian).

It uses the WorldCat library catalog to find books, so it won’t be helpful for citing journal articles. If you’re working with journal articles, you can check our Citing Sources pages for examples and do them by hand, or get started with RefWorks or EndNote, the two citation managers Duke has site licenses for, or Zotero, a free online citation manager. Lots of choices, but CiteMe is a nice little addition to the mix!

Written by Phoebe Acheson

How do I get access to NetLibrary e-books?

Most of Duke’s e-books are provided by a service called NetLibrary. The 24,000+ e-books can be viewed at the site but not downloaded, and printing is cumbersome.

You can go directly to NetLibrary and search for e-books, or find them in our catalog and click on the link into NetLibrary. Once at the NetLibrary site, you need to create a free log-in and password to access a book. You can then “check out” the book, usually for 4 hours, unless someone else is using it.

If you are off campus you will need to make sure that NetLibrary is recognizing you as a Duke user. Look for the little Duke window at the top left of the page. If it’s not there, you will need to turn on the Duke VPN if you use it, or force our EZProxy server to ask you for a Duke NetID and password. To do this, go back to the library home page and search for NetLibrary using the Databases tab. When you click the link in the results, you should get a pop-up asking for your NetID and password.

(You can also force EZProxy by right-clicking on the page and following the link when you are using the LibX plugin. Just another reason that LibX is so great!)

Written by Phoebe Acheson

Duke Libraries on Film!

I’m late to the party on this, but I recently learned that the winning film in Duke’s 2008 Froshlife first-year movie festival, Wilson’s Making the Grade, features both Lilly and Perkins Libraries. Lilly and its opinionated e-printer make an appearance at about 2:10, and Perkins and the Gothic Reading Room show up at 6:20.

Know any other appearances of the Duke Libraries on film?

Written by Phoebe Acheson

Academic uses for Twitter?

A lot of the technoscenti have become coverts to Twitter in the last six months. Twitter is a microblogging platform that allows you to post 140-character snippets (via text message, web or other media) and have them read at the site, fed into your Facebook status page, or delivered in a variety of other ways. I know an office that uses Twitter instead of an old-fashioned in/out board, and Twitter got a lot of press as a result of the “revolt” at the SXSW Keynote Address.

But is Twitter relevant to academic work? I didn’t think so until I read Lenore’s blog post about using Twitter at a blogger’s meetup, and her musings:

Despite the high quality of both the planned and unplanned sessions, the best part, by far, was meeting other Twitter users. It was a tremendous amount of fun observing and participating in conversations during the actual sessions while also tweeting about what the presenter was trying to convey. …

I was effectively live blogging or taking notes on what I considered to be the main points of each session and others who were attending the conference or following along from a remote location, could see them using or

And then I found a series of posts at AcademHack discussing using Twitter in the classroom. This is from the faculty perspective – but certainly a study group of students could work together to take collaborative notes in a lecture using hashtags. What do you think, faculty, and students?

Written by Phoebe Acheson

What does “In process-LC” mean?

Duke libraries recently moved from Dewey-Decimal to the Library of Congress (LC) classification system. “In process-LC” generally means that an item has gotten stuck in the reclassification process, and won’t be found in the regular stacks.

Since the item might be located in a number of places, the easiest thing to do is request its delivery. Here’s what you do:

  • Click on the catalog “Request” link for the item
  • An email will be sent to you when it is available for pick-up at the Circulation desk

Now you can get on with your research!

Written by Kathi Matsura

Summer at Perkins: Floors Open, Books Move!

This summer, the second, third and fourth floors of Perkins are re-opening as public spaces, with book stacks, carrels, group study rooms, and more. Perkins 2 is already open, now housing the Public Documents and Maps collection. The just-vacated shelves on Bostock 3 are being filled with books from Bostock 4 and the Vesic Library, which is moving into Perkins/Bostock this month. (Need to access Vesic materials during the transition? Email for expert help.)

As the other floors open later in the summer, we will see materials move out of temporary quarters in the Perkins Levels; other books will spread out from the over-full shelves in Perkins Lower Level 2.

To keep up-to-date on the locations of call numbers, always consult our Book Locations for Perkins/Bostock, and if you have any trouble finding things, Ask a Librarian for help.

Written by Phoebe Acheson

Can I request a book that is already checked-out?

Yes. You can use the catalog “Request” link in order to have a checked out book returned and held for you.

Here’s how it works:

  • If the item has been checked out for at least two weeks, it will automatically be recalled for you (each borrower is guaranteed two weeks)
  • Once an item has been returned to the pickup library, you will be sent an email notification and it will be held for 10 days

All patrons are eligible to request a hold on materials currently checked out. Only Duke students, faculty and staff and TRLN patrons are eligible for recall privileges.

More details and screen-shots on Recalls and Holds can also be found on our website.

Written by Kathi Matsura

What is the LSC?

The Library Service Center (LSC) is an off-site storage facility where materials are kept at optimal environment levels to help ensure their longevity. An item located at the LSC can be retrieved when requested, but there are slightly different procedures for Duke patrons and guests:

Duke community:

  • Click on the “Request” link in the library catalog
  • After entering your Net ID/password, indicate a library location for delivery
  • An email will be sent to you when the requested materials arrive at the library


Helpful screen shots and detailed instructions can also be found here.

Written by Kathi Matsura

Can a book be delivered to another library?

You are referring to a system called BARD (Book/Article Delivery) which is available to Duke faculty and Duke graduate students. It allows you to request books and articles for delivery and pick-up from one Duke library to another Duke library location.

A great page with screen shots and instructions is linked above, or you can just follow these easy directions:

  1. Find the item in the library catalog
  2. Click on the item’s call number
  3. Click on the “Request” link on the far right side of the screen
  4. Fill in the requested information

Written by Kathi Matsura

Search TRLN: Facets for Refining Searches

We have already highlighted a couple of features of the Search TRLN Catalog, which allows users to search the combined library catalogs of Duke, UNC, NCCU and NCSU. If you missed them, see our posts on spelling correction and quotes.

Probably Search TRLN’s most innovative and powerful feature is that is it a “faceted browser” interface. After you perform an initial keyword search, you can narrow your result set by choosing one or more ‘facets’ from the menu on the left side of the screen.

Here’s an example. I am interested in Pylos, a Bronze Age archaeological site in Greece, which was also the site of a famous Classical Greek naval battle, and is today a small city that occasionally hosts academic symposia.

A keyword search for “pylos” pulls up books relevant to all of the above, but I am particularly interested in the Linear B tablets from Pylos, so I click the relevant facet under Subject:


Many of the hits are in languages I don’t read, so I open the Language facet to narrow my search to only items in English:


Search TRLN keeps track of the facets I have chosen, and I can broaden my search again by clicking the x to stop using one of the facets:


Other facets available include format (book, dissertation, map…), location (at Duke?), author, year of publication, and call number range. Happy faceting!

Written by Phoebe Acheson

Search TRLN Tip 2: Quotes!

Another great new feature of the Search TRLN interface for searching across the Duke, NCCU, NCSU and UNC libraries is that you can use quotation marks in the search box.

Quotes are a great tool when you know the item you want and are trying to find it. Sometimes a Keyword or Title Keyword search returns irrelevant hits – though honestly, the Search TRLN algorithm is really good: in my experimenting, I found that usually the title I want is on the first page of hits. If you have trouble finding your title, putting quotation marks around it will usually help the item you want rise to the top of the results list.

You can also use quotes to link together keywords into a phrase. Instead of searching for ‘social activism’, which gets you 1746 results, try ‘”social activism”‘, which results in only 164 hits – much easier to browse through.

Written by Phoebe Acheson

What happens when an item is overdue?

Before heading home for the summer, you may want to check whether you have any books out on loan… and when they’re due. Here’s how to find out:

  • Click on “My Account” on the library homepage searchbox
  • Enter your Net ID/password
  • The number next to “Loans” will indicate the number of items you have out. Click on the link for the full details.

Once an item is overdue, you should receive an email. Charges can vary depending on the type of material (book, laptop, video) and the lending library. Here are some quick links:

Written by Kathi Matsura

What if the article I need isn’t full-text online?

Unfortunately, not all databases or online searches will lead to full-text articles, but there is always a chance that we have a print copy of the journal. In order to check whether the library has copies of the journal, check the online catalog:

  • You can either search by “Journal title keywords” or “Title begins with…” from the library homepage search box
  • Be sure to type the name of the journal in the search box (not the article title)

We also maintain a handy guide of helpful tips and instructions for finding journals. If you’ve ever been confused about journal abbreviations or how to find journals on your topic – it’s a great place to look!

Written by Kathi Matsura

CIT Showcase Features Research Tips & Tools

This year’s annual Instructional Technology Showcase, on April 24 in the Bryan Center, features a number of presentations about using technology tools in teaching. Come hear about:

Duke Digital Initiative 2008-2009
Tips and Tricks for Incorporating Web 2.0 in Your Class
Duke’s New Teaching and Learning Spaces
Second Life in Undergraduate Education at Duke
New Tools for Library Research and Teaching
Google Earth for Teaching and Learning

Of special interest to readers of the Library Hacks blog will be the 10:20 am program on New Tools for Library Research and Teaching, facilitated by Tom Crichlow. We’ll be highlighting some of the tools on the library’s Research Tools page, with tips on how to make them work for your needs, and will be fielding audience questions.

Register, see these tools in action, and meet some of the people behind their use at Duke!

Written by Phoebe Acheson

What should I do if the book isn’t on the shelf?

Yes… I guess it’s happened to all of us. You make a trip all the way to the library, and then realize that the book you want is nowhere to be found.

Before leaving in frustration, try one of these steps:

  • Look around the surrounding shelves a bit. It’s possible that the book was inadvertently misplaced. Nearby copy machines and tables are also possible spots to quickly look.
  • Check the catalog record again, and make sure that both the call number and location are correct. Bound journals, for example, are not shelved with the other books, and you might be looking in the wrong area (maybe even the wrong library). Here’s a quick glance at our book location chart.
  • When double-checking the catalog record, make sure that the book hasn’t already been checked out. Take a look at the “Library (Owned/Out)” column in the catalog record. The first number indicates how many copies the library owns, and the second number will let you know how many are checked out. If all the books are available, the second number should read “0”.
  • Is the book still missing? Try checking the re-shelving area in Perkins. Before going back to the shelves, the books are organized in a room behind the circulation area – Level A. Follow the pathway with the library lockers, e-print stations and copy machines. The re-shelving area is the first door on the left.
  • Finally, you can request a search for the book. Submit this missing book form electronically, and library staff will try to locate the book for you. This request form includes both Perkins and Lilly (plus a few other branch libraries). You would be contacted by email regarding the status of the book. If the book is found, it will be held for you. Otherwise, an inter-library loan might be suggested.

Additional information about the shelf maintenance at Perkins Library can be found here.

Written by Kathi Matsura

iGoogle and Duke Libraries

We’ve heard of several faculty and library staff members who are converts to iGoogle, which is sort of a customizable universal home page. If you use iGoogle and the Duke Libraries, you should certainly add our Google Gadget, which lets you put the tabbed search box from the library home page right into iGoogle. Here’s how it looks:


You’ll notice that Catherine also has her Gmail account, Facebook account, Google Reader (for subscribing to blogs, like Duke’s Library Hacks!), Google Docs, and a news feed (plus other stuff you can’t see like weather and Youtube) all feeding in to her iGoogle page.

You can also create your own free-form “gadget” with links to, for example, e-journals or databases that you search all the time, creating a series of research shortcuts for yourself. Give the Duke Library Google Gadget a try and see if other iGoogle tools work for you. If you have a library or research-related iGoogle Hack, leave us a note in comments!

Written by Phoebe Acheson

Find an Open Computer

As the semester gets endy and the library gets FULL, remember we have a handy online system that allows you to see where there are unused computers in Perkins, Bostock, Vesic, Music, and Lilly.

Another school (Georgia Tech) set up a system like this, and a student cartoonist in their paper replied with the following:


If you are uncomfortable asking someone to give up a computer even though she is hanging out on Facebook and you really need the statistical software because your paper is due at 5pm, ask a librarian at the desk. We can find you an open computer or help remind others that people using the library computers for academic work should have priority.

Written by Phoebe Acheson

Search TRLN Feature 1: Spelling Correction

Search TRLN (introduced here) has some great features that make the search experience more like familiar online searches (cough*google*cough) than like more traditional library catalogs.

Search TRLN will try to suggest corrections for your spelling errors or typos. I did an Author search on “milosAvic”, deliberately, but plausibly, spelling this name wrong. Search TRLN realized I might have meant “milosEvic” and included search results for that spelling in my list. As it turns out, the first 5 items in the list have authors named Milosevic associated with them. Nice!


Written by Phoebe Acheson

Search TRLN: unified catalog for Duke, UNC, NCSU and NCCU

Did you know that these local universities have cooperative agreements between their libraries ? Duke students, faculty and staff can use their Duke ID cards to check out books at UNC, NC State, or NCCU, and vice versa, for example.

Now TRLN (the Triangle Research Libraries Network) has launched a new catalog that has a unified search for the collections of all the schools’ libraries. You can request delivery between the schools, which is expected to take 48 hours.


Search TRLN has a number of exciting new features:

    Browse by call number
    Look at books recently added to the collections
    Limit to types of libraries (i.e. law only)
    Refine your search by format, subject, etc.

It still has the support you’re used to:

    Ask a Librarian
    Live chat help

We’ll be posting some more detailed suggestions and web tutorials for how best to use this new catalog in the coming weeks. Right now, give it a try! Leave a question or a tip in comments.

Written by Phoebe Acheson

How do I access databases from off-campus?

To get to databases or e-journals from off-campus, be sure to go through the library website in order to be recognized as a Duke user. Going directly to a bookmarked e-resource will not work.

Try logging in using any one of these methods:

  • Start at the database or e-journal interface, or follow a “GetIt@Duke” link. When you click on a link, a new window will pop up, and you just need to fill in your NetID and password to connect to EZProxy. You should be good to go until you end your browser session or log out!
  • When entering the library website from off-campus, you might also notice that there is a Yellow box located to the right of the titled database link(s) saying “Your web browser is reporting an IP address that is not within range of authorized AP addresses”. Just click on the link for signing in with your Net ID/password. Once you’re signed in, you can access any number of databases.
  • If you’re still not being recognized as a Duke user, download and install the Duke Virtual Private Network (VPN). Some resources exclusive to Law, Business, or Medical Center affiliates cannot be accessed via EZProxy. Make sure that the the VPN is open when you access the database or e-journal.

If you’re having any trouble Ask a Librarian, or check through some of the connection issues that might cause difficulties with the VPN.

Written by Kathi Matsura

Watch Your Laptop

Yesterday there were two laptop thefts reported in Perkins-Bostock in the course of the morning. The police officer who responded walked around the building and noted that he could have taken three more laptops that he saw unattended. Please do not leave your laptop alone, even if you just plan to run to the Perk or to the stacks for 2 minutes!

Laptop thefts are a financial blow to students, but they often cause academic harm as well. Many students do not regularly back up their files, so the loss of a laptop can mean the loss of projects and papers you haven’t turned in yet.

Sometimes it feels like we’ve seen it all at the Reference Desk (there was the squirrel living in a trash can on Perkins 4 one spring), but we never get used to the heartbreak of seeing students who have lost significant work. I’d estimate that laptop theft is the number 2 cause of loss of student work; the number one cause we see is saving to the desktop of a public computer, then getting logged out (which wipes the desktop of all files). Take the time to back up your files, and keep your belongings with you. It’s worth it.

Written by Phoebe Acheson

How do I cite sources?

There is a citation help guide available through the library website.

The section on the left explains how to cite sources within your paper. The section on the right explains how to compile a list of references at the end of your paper. Styles covered in this guide include: MLA, APA, Turabian, Chicago, and CSE. If this source does not include what you are looking for – try a Google search. Many libraries create similar citation guides, and one of them just might have what you need. Complete style manuals can also be borrowed from the library. Check the online catalog for availability.

For keeping track of citations and managing your references, be sure to consider some of the bibliographic software options available to Duke students:

  • EndNote, for example, will import references into a document as you write, and papers can be automatically formatted according to many different bibliographic styles.
  • The open-source Zotero (part 1 / part 2) is also an exciting new Firefox extension that allows you to store, retrieve and organize your reference sources for a more streamlined citation process.

Any of these can be fabulous time-saving options, and worth taking the effort to learn and explore!

Written by Kathi Matsura

Search Duke Library Resources from Facebook

Hang out in Facebook a lot? Do you think you might want to search the Duke library catalog and other library databases directly from there some times? You can now using the Duke Libraries Facebook application.


To install it, go to and follow the usual method for installing Facebook applications, checking or unchecking the settings you want for this application. Then look for it on your profile page. The box should be able to be moved around on your page and fit in either column. With this app, you should be able to do any of the searches that you can do on the library home page.

Try it out, and let us know what you think!

Written by Phoebe Acheson

Working over Spring Break? We are.

For those of you who are working hard instead of (or in addition to) playing hard this spring break, here are some tips for using the library remotely:

You have automatic access to all the library’s article databases and other resources while you are home (or in Myrtle Beach.) Use the “database search” box on the library home page to find the resource you need, and when you click through to it you will be prompted for your NetID and password. More information on remote access is here.


We’re here for questions via email, IM, and phone. We’ll be keeping short hours during the week, but if you email overnight we’ll get back to you first thing in the morning.

For those staying in town, come on by! We’re only open days, but we’d love to see you.

(Photo of Myrtle Beach taken by Curtis and Eric, found at Flickr, and used under a Creative Commons license.)

Written by Phoebe Acheson

The shelves in Perkins LL2 are stuck. What do I do?

  • Check whether a footstool or any other object (sleeping student?) is obstructing one of the aisles
  • Press the reset button
  • If that doesn’t help, either IM a Librarian or call the Circulation desk at (919) 660-5870 to let us know which shelf is stuck (we’ll need the call number area). A phone is located on the wall near the shelf labeled AC to AG by the rear elevator. Someone will be sent down with a key.

Written by Kathi Matsura

More Study Seating in Perkins-Bostock

In response to student requests, we are adding temporary tables and chairs to provide more seating for study on the first floors of Perkins and Bostock. As midterms are upon us and spring semester starts to rush to its end, we know that demand is at its greatest.

Can’t find a seat in the Carpenter Reading Room or The Perk at the Pavilion? Try one of these more out-of-the-way study spots:

    Lower Level 2 Perkins, with soft seating and wooden tables
    Lower Level 1, the connector between Perkins and Bostock, has a computer cluster and a few tables
    Bostock 4 has open carrels along the windows facing the Fitzpatrick center and some of the less-used group study rooms
    The Old Perk, located outside the Gothic Reading Room, is a great space for groups to meet and talk
    Tower Room 201 on Perkins 2 opens to evening student use towards the end of the semester, and is available during the day if not booked for library meetings

When the upper floors of Perkins open this coming summer, there will be an increase in study seating and group study rooms. If you’ll be here next fall, come by and stretch out.

Written by Phoebe Acheson

Documentary Films for Research

Documentary films can be a great resource for academic work, and Duke is a great place to find documentaries. The Center for Documentary Studies offers undergraduate classes, workshops, and public programs and events; Lilly Library has an excellent film collection including many documentaries; and Durham is home to the world-famous Full Frame Documentary Film Festival. has a useful directory of documentaries by broad categories like Biography and Nature and Wildlife, and includes a search box. You can also search for documentaries, and often find free streaming video of the trailer or even the entire film, at YouTube or Google Video.

This is a trailer for Born Into Brothels, which won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Film. Duke has this film at Lilly Library; it’s DVD 5317.

You can search the library’s online catalog for films relevant to your research using the search tips provided by Lilly. While most films are in the Lilly collection, we have government videos, medical training videos, and other valuable items in libraries across campus. Lilly has stations where you can watch video cassettes, and most DVDs can be checked out.

Written by Phoebe Acheson

Where are the books?

I guess you have the Call Number and Title, but now you’re wondering where to go? Given the ongoing construction at Perkins, this is a very common question – and fortunately easy to answer!

* For Perkins/Bostock Libraries:

  • Most books are located either on Perkins Lower Level 2 or Bostock 4
  • Some exceptions include: current periodicals or newspapers, microfiche, East Asian collection, Reference sources and government documents. Locations are indicated in the “Find Books” link near the center of the homepage (under the How Do I… heading)

* For materials at the Library Service Center:

  • Use the GetIt@Duke “Request” link for retrieval and delivery to a library location convenient to you. Email notification will be sent when it arrives.

* For “In-Process LC” books:

  • These sources can still be retrieved with the GetIt@Duke “Request” link, and an email will be sent to you when it is available for pick-up.
  • These materials have Dewey call numbers (notice they begin with numbers- not letters), and haven’t completed reclassification into the Library of Congress (LC) system.

* For materials at other libraries:

  • Includes information for locating books at both Lilly and the Divinity Library

You can also check with the Circulation or Reference desks if you are unable to locate a book on the shelf, or request a search for the missing book.

Written by Kathi Matsura

Lectures on Academic Citation

The Citing Sources pages are some of the most popular on the library web site (Google “citing sources” and you’ll know why!).

If you’re addicted to citing sources, or wondering about the deeper relationships between MLA style and scholarly discourse, come to two lectures featuring David Kellogg, the Director of Advanced Writing in the Disciplines at Northeastern University, on Wednesday February 20:

10:15-11:30 ART 116
“Citationality across the Disciplines”
Differences in citation practices across fields reflect different intellectual and rhetorical commitments. Understanding these differences has ramifications for teaching academic writing.

4:15-5:30 Lilly Library Training Room
“Following the Citation Thread: Citation-Based Literature Searching”
Students are traditionally taught to find sources for research projects through keyword or subject searching. But research databases increasingly provide links to cited and citing articles. Compared with keyword or subject searches, citation-based search strategies identify a narrower and more relevant set of sources and more effectively model the practices of
working researchers.

Written by Phoebe Acheson

How do I look for specific books, journals or movies in the catalog?

It may sound like a lot of questions rolled into one, but the process for locating resources in various formats is fairly consistent.

* Basic Search:

  1. From the library homepage, type the title into the search box under the catalog tab.
  2. Choose “Title begins with” from the drop down menu, and click “Go”. This will search the entire library catalog and retrieve the results.
  3. Because the search included all formats of the title, you may need to scroll a bit to find what you need.

* Advanced Search: (Limiting to specific types of materials)

  1. Click on “Advanced Search” from the library homepage search box.
  2. Under “Format” in the blue box on the right of the screen, select “Film/Video”, “Audio Books” or another type of resource from the drop down menu
  3. Select “Title Keywords” from the drop down menu
  4. Enter Title keywords and click “Go”

*“How Do I…?” Feature Box:

The feature box linked above offers numerous helpful hints and guides when searching for specific types of materials.

Some of the helpful links include searches for books, journals, movies and lots more. Explore it a bit. You might learn a useful thing or two!

Written by Kathi Matsura

Introducing Zotero (part 2)

(Since my first post introducing the research tool Zotero, its development continues apace. Several new features have been added, and over 60 institutions, according to the Zotero blog, now recommend Zotero, including MIT and Rice University–both having published their own tutorials on using it.)

Zotero Tour ThumbnailIn my initial post I promised to explain why I thought Zotero was something worth writing home about, not just yet-another-piece-of-software. In case you’re still wondering if Zotero is worth the hype, I’ll make good on the promise. First, since Zotero is an open-source extension to the Firefox browser, anyone can modify it to support their needs—for example, by adding new citation styles or integration with word processors like Of course, being open-source software, Zotero doesn’t cost a dime, making it an even more attractive alternative to expensive proprietary options like EndNote. Second, Zotero makes use of the evolving Firefox extension platform (also open-source) which will, I think, become ever more useful and functional development platform, as software proliferates that lives in the space between the internet and your computer. Lastly, Zotero is a modest coup for open access. As Zotero not only creates a citation to the material you’re reading in your browser—a journal article from PLOS Biology, for example—but also a copy (Zotero calls it a “snapshot”), when you need to refer or share the material later, you’ll be able to provide not only the citation but also the content itself. No trip back to the database or journal’s website is required (“Research, not re-search” is among Zotero’s mottos). Imagine thousands of researchers making use of this feature and you can imagine how this might constitute a modest push toward faster, easier access to research material for those who need it.

If any of this interests you and you’re not already a user, the Zotero folks have a short video introducing the extention.

Where is the best place to find information on a specific subject?

There are a number of ways to approach a subject search, and I’d recommend exploring all of these options:

  • Subject guides: These guides can be found through the library website, and introduce multiple resources which are particularly useful for specific subject areas. They have been created by our own subject librarians, and can provide an excellent starting point for your research.
  • Databases: For step-by-step instructions, watch this brief tutorial (1 min, 5 sec) on choosing a database for your topic. In addition to a database search, both the article tab and advanced search e-journal tabs offer pull down subject headings which can help narrow the field.
  • Print Resources: When searching the library catalog for books, it might be useful to try a subject search using the Library of Congress subject headings. Find a book that is relevant to your topic using a keyword search, and then explore the topic by either displaying other records that match your topic or browse other subject headings that may be related to it.
  • Research Consultation: Still having difficulty or unable to find what you need? Individual research consultations can be arranged by appointment with one of our reference or subject librarians. Consultations can be arranged within a week, but feel free to email, IM, call or stop by the reference desk if you need some pointers to get you headed in the right direction.

Written by Kathi Matsura

New Look and Feel for Web of Science

Web of Science is probably the most important database for the sciences, and it’s very powerful for humanities and social sciences as well. Yesterday it debuted a new user interface, so don’t be startled when you see its new GREEN look!

A newer Web of Science feature you should try is the Author Finder, which makes it much easier to find papers by a known author, especially one with a common name. To use Author Finder, use the Web of Science tab and click the link under the Author line. There are a number of simple, self-explanatory steps to follow.


Another vital Web of Science tool is the Cited Reference Search. This hasn’t changed in the upgrade. You still need to enter an author, journal title (using the long list of journal title abbreviations) and year – and then you can access a wealth of articles that refer to the initial article you entered.


One down side of the upgrade we’ve noted in the library is that you can no longer limit your search to include only the Science, Social Science, or Humanities subsections of Web of Science – you have to search the entire thing.

Have you discovered any new features of this database? Leave us a note and share!

Written by Phoebe Acheson

Online Encylopedias for Specific Subjects

We recently wrote about some all-encompassing online encyclopedias. But there are also some very useful encyclopedias on specific scholarly topics. Increasingly the standard print reference works in any given field are becoming available in keyword-searchable full text online. Here are some great ones:

Oxford Reference Online
has excellent encyclopedias and dictionaries for fields from Art and Architecture to Science, and also includes foreign language and quotation dictionaries. Titles include The Oxford Classical Dictionary, A Dictionary of Food and Nutrition, and The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Politics. They even have a browser toolbar you can download and install allowing you to search their products.


AccessScience @ McGraw-Hill gives you keyword searchability of the McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science and Technology as well as science biographies, yearbooks, and some news articles.

Blackwell Reference Online has especially strong collections in Business, History, Linguistics, Literature, and Philosophy.

Next in our tour of online reference works we’ll look at some specific titles. If you want an overview of the things we subscribe to, look in the Resource Finder under the subject heading Reference, and look for Encyclopedias and Dictionaries.

Written by Phoebe Acheson

I need a specific article. How do I get it?

Not a problem… we get asked this question a lot!

If you already have the citation (author, title, journal name, etc.) , you can look up the journal title in the E-Journal Finder.

  • If we have no online full text, click the link to search the catalog for print or microfilm.
  • Need help figuring out what words are the journal title? See Understanding Citations.
  • Have a mystery abbreviation for the journal title? See the book Periodical Title Abbreviations at the Perkins Reference Desk or Ask a Librarian.

On occasion, the library may not have the particular journal either in print or online for the year needed. As long as your paper isn’t due in the next few days, you can always request the article through our interlibrary loan service.

Still having trouble? Maybe you’ve already found the article in a database, but can’t figure out how to access it? The answer is in the “get it at Duke” button. Take a look at our “get it at Duke” tutorial (2 min 12 sec). It could save you a lot of time and confusion in the end.

Happy hunting!

Written by Kathi Matsura

Plagiarism Prevention Tips

Plagiarism is in the news again, most recently when a romance novel writer was found to have copied from an article on (no kidding) endangered black-footed ferrets. Here’s Paul Tolme, the freelance wildlife journalist, on being plagiarized:

In the Internet age, every freelance writer fears that his or her words will be appropriated without compensation. First I was angry. Then I had to laugh. To see my textbook descriptions of ferrets in a bodice-ripper, as dialogue between a hunky American Indian and a lustful pioneer woman who several pages later have sex on a mossy riverbank, is the height of absurdity.

The romance novelist is claiming ignorance as a cause of her plagiarism. Unfortunately, ignorance is no excuse. Most students who plagiarize didn’t mean to: they either are careless in cutting and pasting from multiple sources and forget to attribute their sources, are genuinely confused about whether or how to cite something, or are working at the last minute and get desperate and sloppy.

How can you avoid plagiarism? The library has a tutorial that helps explain the dangers, sets out the rules of appropriate citation, and sends you to writing tutors or counselors if you need more help. A sample:

Chances are that you understand the difference between creating incomplete citations and passing off someone else’s work as your own. Still, you … may occasionally find yourself in confusing situations. Do Internet sources need to be cited the same way as books? How do you cite something from the Web if there’s no indication who wrote it? What if you rewrite someone else’s ideas, putting them all into your own words — do you still need to cite? If you are in doubt, you run the risk of unintentionally plagiarizing.

In the end, it all worked out for the ferrets. The romance novel reader’s community that broke the story has donated $5,000 to protect the black-footed ferret.

Written by Phoebe Acheson

Bookish Applications for Facebook

If you spend all your time in Facebook, branch out from Scrabulous and movie trivia quizzes to take a look at some applications related to the library and books.

So far we’ve found:

WorldCat, the closest thing there is to a universal library catalog (for US users, anyway), now lets you search their public site directly from Facebook.


MiniLibrary, which does sort of the same thing except searching European National Libraries.

Books iRead, which allows you to add your books and rate them, and compare them to what your friends have. It’s sort of a simplified LibraryThing for Facebook, basically.

We hear that an application that will allow you to search the Duke Library catalog from Facebook is in the works; we’ll announce it here when it’s ready.

Have you found any useful and/or fun library, research, or book-related applications on Facebook? Give us a link!

Written by Phoebe Acheson

Webcast on Zotero: Online Citation Manager

Innovate, Journal of Online Education, is hosting a webcast that looks like a good introduction to Zotero, the free online citation management system that Allen raved about here. It’s Thursday Jan. 10 at 2:00 pm EST. [edited to correct date: Thanks, Brandi!]

It looks like you have to register for the webcast, but it’s free. A good way to get your feet wet if you’ve been thinking about Zotero. And how often do you get to hear from an official Technology Evangelist?

Written by Phoebe Acheson

Online Encyclopedias: Wikipedia Alternatives

Why an encyclopedia?

    Fast overview of a topic
    Historical timeline & basic facts
    Find out the right keywords for article searches
    Find out the main issues in the field
    Check for a list of suggested readings to start your real research

Which Encyclopedia?

Wikipedia has quickly become a go-to internet source when you need an encyclopedia. But there have been some concerns about its authority and objectivity, so it should be used cautiously. Use your critical thinking skills – if the article has footnotes, a list of further readings, and feels balanced, it is more likely to be comparable to what you would find in a more traditional encyclopedia. And Wikipedia can be a wonderful source of arcane information: when you really need a list of original air dates for episodes of The Brady Bunch, Wikipedia is the right source!

When your needs are less Florence Henderson-centric, there are other excellent encyclopedias available online. This post will cover the big general ones:

Encyclopedia Britannica online (available by Duke subscription) replicates the authoritative print version but adds web-only tools, including historical timelines and country comparisons.

Enciclopedia Universal en Espanol is also produced by Britannica, but in Spanish and with a focus on Spain and Latin America.

The Columbia Encyclopedia (6th Edition) is available via and; this is a shorter, one-volume encyclopedia in its print version. Both sites also have various other dictionaries, thesauruses, and almanacs – as well as ads (InfoPlease’s interface is far more busy and annoying, IMO).

Browse the list of Reference resources here for more useful starting places for research – and watch this space for highlights of some excellent subject-specific encyclopedias online.

Written by Phoebe Acheson

Cell Phones for Citation

A colleague in the library recently observed a student using a cell phone camera to make a quick “note” of the title page of a book, and the call number label. What a great idea! Very useful for people who are in a big hurry, but want to make sure they capture the full bibliographic citation of something they checked, and also want a reminder of the call number so they can come back for it. Much better than a scribbled post-it note that can be lost or undecipherable.

Plays, and More Plays.

Photo by absent.canadian from the Photo Scavenger Hunt – any interest in doing a new hunt in the new semester?

By Phoebe Acheson

Duke Library Website Under Creative Commons License

Most of the Duke Libraries’ web pages are now licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share-Alike License. What that means in non-lawyer speak is that everyone is welcome to use, share or remix the pages so licensed, under certain conditions.

Look for the logo below the footer on every relevant page. A few pages are not licensed, because of various copyright or other legal issues; they will explicitly say so.


The conditions for use are: you give credit to the Duke Libraries for the used material, you don’t use our material to make money, and whatever you make from our material must also be available for sharing and remixing.

Do you have a web site that you host or contribute to? Consider Creative Commons licensing for your site.

Written by Phoebe Acheson

New Soda Machine in Bostock for 3 AM Caffeine

In response to student interest, the library has installed a Pepsi machine in Bostock, on the Lower Level across from the elevators. Now you can get a caffeinated beverage without leaving the building after The Perk at the Pavilion by Saladelia closes!

The new machine sells Pepsi products in 20 ounce bottles for $1.25. Right now it only takes cash; there is a change machine on Bostock 1 across from the elevators. The Card Office will install a card reader so the machine will take flex, but this probably won’t happen until exams are over.

Written by Phoebe Acheson

End-of-Semester Crunch Time Tips

It’s that time of year when we find people asleep at the computers (some with head back and snoring loudly). Here are some tips for taking care of yourself and fellow Dukies in the library as the semester comes to a close:

1. Take care of your computer & files. Back up often. Don’t walk away from a library computer without saving your files to a thumb drive, your AFS space, or emailing them to yourself (or all three); when you log out of a library computer the files saved to the desktop disappear (and they auto-log out after 15 minutes of inactivity, so be careful if you tend to fall asleep!) If you’re on your laptop, take it with you to the bathroom – laptops are stolen every exam period, even those with half-done not-saved papers on them.


2. Ask a librarian for help. We can save you time and frustration at the best of times, and we’ve probably had more sleep this week than you have. Walk up, IM, email, or call. At Perkins and Lilly you can get Reference help from 8am to 2am.

3. Take care of yourself and your fellow students. Get sleep, take walk-in-the-garden breaks, hit the Perk for a salad instead of McDonald’s. If you move into the library, try to put your trash in the trash cans to make life easier for the housekeeping staff. Consider ceding the group study rooms to actual groups who want to study. Keep the headphones low enough so they don’t drive the next person crazy.

By Phoebe Acheson

Library Help over Thanksgiving Break


Thanksgiving falls at a busy time in the semester, and many students take papers or research projects home with them to work on over the break.

You can take the library’s resources home, too. Almost all of our databases are accessible remotely with your NetID and password. For more details see our off-campus access page.

If you have a question for a librarian, Perkins/Bostock Reference will be available by IM, email, or phone on Tuesday until midnight, Wednesday from 9-5, Saturday from 1-5, and Sunday starting at 1pm. If you’re in town, see the full library hours here.

(Photo from

By Phoebe Acheson

The Sad Saga of Library Staplers

Most of the campus libraries provide staplers, hole punches, and other basic office tools for students to use. We also regularly have to replace these items because of theft – accidental due to absentmindedness, or intentional – and breakage.

So, think of the poor librarian (that would be me) who spends all her time buying new staplers and hunting for that magical, heavy-duty stapler that staples up to 60 pages and doesn’t break (our current standby is the Swingline 77701, but it breaks a lot). Please don’t try to force the staplers or hole punches to do jobs they are not made to do. Banging on the stapler never helps, and as for the person who did this:

hole punch

You are very strong – this is an all-metal handle that has been broken in two. Wow. I am impressed, and also a little afraid.

If any of our readers are stapler afficionadoes (or have just watched Office Space too many times), please leave us a comment suggesting the miraculous stapler that will solve all our problems and never break!

By Phoebe Acheson

Holocaust Survivors Tell Their Stories

The Shoah Foundation Visual History Archive is a remarkable database that contains full-length digital videos of Holocaust survivors and witnesses. This resource that Duke Libraries just recently purchased contains over 50,000 video testimonies.

To get to this database, just click on the database tab on the Duke Library homepage and type “Shoah” in the search box. Once at the site, you will be asked to create a free username and password in order to log-in.

Shoah screen shot

Once you are logged in, you can search for interviews by keyword, a specific person, or by an experience group.

What will you find inside, you may ask?

  • Extraordinary primary source material to use in your research.
  • Full-length video interviews taken in 56 countries, in 32 languages!
  • At the end of many interviews, personal photographs, documents, and artifacts from the interviewee’s family are displayed.

Have questions? Save time, Ask a Librarian!

Written by Jennifer Castaldo

Podcasts: Audio Primary Sources

As we at iPod – I mean, Duke – University know, podcasts have proliferated in the past 5 years. They aren’t just for fun, however – major radio news sources and government agencies are making podcasts available that can be used in research or academic presentations. Radio podcasts can provide in-depth interviews with politicians, medical researchers, legal scholars, and much more. Here’s an NPR podcast in Spanish on youth culture:


Have a look at our podcasts page to see links to sources for academic and primary source content via podcast.

Got another favorite podcast? Leave us a link in comments!

By Phoebe Acheson

Subscribe to the Census by RSS

The United States Census Bureau now allows you to receive updates via RSS, with subscriptions available for web site changes, tip sheets, population estimates (PopClocks!) and even daily podcasts, among others.

Most useful for researchers may be the set of RSS feeds for news releases on a wide variety of topics, including Aging Population, Housing, and Retail Industries. Sign up and whenever the Census has news on your topic, you’ll know.


More ideas about using RSS feed subscriptions in your research are here.

Written by Phoebe Acheson

Web Browser Search Plug-Ins

One of the comments on the LibX toolbar post asked about ways we could customize that toolbar to allow searches of specific databases, like JStor.

There is a way to search a database right from your web browser toolbar, using a customized search plugin. Most browsers come with options for searching Google, Yahoo or Amazon, but you can add options like WorldCat, the Oxford English Dictionary, and ProQuest.


We’ve set up a page collecting the plug-ins we’ve found or created here. If you don’t see a search plug-in for the database you want, contact Phoebe Acheson and ask for it. Not every database works with the plug-in generator we’re using, but many do.

Written by Phoebe Acheson

Introducing Zotero (part one)

zotero logo smallZotero describes itself as a Firefox extension that helps you “collect, manage, and cite your research sources.” Since I’m as technologically trail-weary as the next person, I’ll try to make clear what it is about Zotero that should rouse you out of bed and why I’ve been an enthusiastic user for the last six months.

At its most basic, Zotero streamlines the process of creating citations. Instead of making an extra trip back to the library catalog or a book’s front matter when you need to fill in the required fields (publication year, editor, etc.) in your bibliographic software (EndNote, BibTex), you let Zotero do it for you the first time, when you’re looking at the book’s record in your browser (in Duke’s catalog, Worldcat, Amazon, Google Books, etc.). It’ll grab the relevant details and more from the catalog record at the click of an icon (see image below). Zotero gets much sweeter if you’re viewing the item-to-be-cited itself in your browser, rather than its catalog entry–for example, an article on Le Monde or the New York Times. Not only will Zotero pull out all the information you’ll need to cite the article later, it will make a local copy of the page you’re looking at, so if you or the article is ever off-line, you’ll still have a copy. Once the item is saved, creating a citation or a bibliography in whatever style you’d like (MLA, APA, Chicago) is easy.

using zotero with nytimes

If you’re already using Firefox, treat yourself to Zotero. It’ll save you typing and time. The extension is open-source as well, over a year in development by a crack team at George Mason University. Still have doubts? Zotero recently won an award for best instructional technology software from the American Political Science Association.

All this said, I’ve hardly touched on the features of Zotero that make it well-nigh revolutionary as a piece of software. I’ll save that for part two.

[update 2007-10-12: If you’re eager to read more about Zotero, I recommend Scott Mclemee’s review from a few weeks ago on Inside Higher Ed.]