Category Archives: Duke Libraries

Finding the so-called needle in the haystack

I would like to repond to people claiming that hispanics are taking jobs that other Americans want by quoting a study I heard about last year. According to that study, something like 30,000 people responded to an advertisement for an actual job but when they found out what the conditions actually were, only the hispanics would accept the work. I have searched but can’t find this study… Can you help me?

I can indeed! First, let me applaud you for trying to raise the level of discourse by bringing in data rather than succumbing to the emotional. Second, let me point you to Duke University Libraries’ tremendous reference staff, who are more than happy (and much more qualified than I am) to assist you in searching databases to find this needle in the haystack. Go to the Libraries web site, click on the AskUsNOW! button in the upper right corner, and ask your question. They’ll have excellent ideas on how to tailor your search to track down the article or study and, more importantly, others like it.

Cite this!

I have a professor who wants the class to cite ourselves as references for a speech we’re giving. How do I go about citing myself?

Probably depends on whether your bibliography is MLA or APA style. But this is the perfect question for the Libraries’ superb reference staff. In the upper right hand corner of the Libraries’ home page, click on the AskUsNOW! button and a chat box will open on your screen. A reference librarian will give you the answer, and they won’t consider subjecting you to an acerbic comment like the one I’m restraining myself from including here.

Should it stay or should it go now?

A lot of times a book I need is at the Service Center and it takes a day or two for it to arrive. Now, I don’t have a problem with this, but often when I’m perusing the stacks I notice a large number of foreign-language titles. Maybe I’m ignorant, but I can’t imagine there’s a ton of demand for books in, say, Romanian. It seems to me like it would make more sense to stock Perkins with books written in good old English and leave the foreign-language stuff in the Service Center. Am I missing something here? Who determines which books are given shelf space in Perkins and which ones are in the Service Center?

With apologies to The Clash, when considering which materials to move, we realized “if it goes there will be trouble, and if it says it will be double.”  In other words, we knew we weren’t going to make everyone happy.

The criteria used initially to assess movement of materials to the Library Service Center (LSC) was the 10 / 10 rule: anything published more than ten years ago that circulated less than ten times would go to the LSC.  Of course, you can always request that material you will need frequently be moved back to Perkins/Bostock.  And, you do realize there’s a Slavic and Eurasian Studies Program at Duke, don’t you?

Answer Person Retires

For the past 28 years, I’ve enjoyed answering your questions about life and the Libraries.  But, alas, it was time for me to retire.APonDP Over the years, I’ve been inspired by your curiosity, at times challenged by your obscure references, and always flattered that you were reading.  At other times, I must admit, I’ve been exhausted by the repetition (so many questions about a certain unofficial graduation requirement that’s supposed to be fulfilled in the library).

Some faithful readers might be curious about what I’ll do next.  I plan to travel a bit with a special someone and do all of the things I dreamed of doing while working.  For the immediate future, I’ve rented a cottage overlooking Inch Strand in County Kerry, where I paddle out to surf only when the waves are overhead.  Durham will remain home.

You’ll have noticed that I removed the question book from the lobby before leaving a few weeks ago; but I’ll continue to answer your online questions for as long as I’m able.  Now back to my pint.  Slainte!

Downsizing and Gifts in Kind to the Libraries

What to do with old Duke yearbooks?  Hate to just toss them in the dumpster but gotta downsize!  My wife and I (T’65 and ‘66) have five between us.  Suggestions?

Goodness gracious (!), please don’t ever throw a book into the dumpster.  Duke Libraries have received Gifts in Kind of all sorts, from old Duke yearbooks to houses.  Information about how to make such a gift to the Libraries can be found at our web site.  On a related note, in the past few years we’ve digitized all past issues of the Chanticleer.  Those can be found by searching in the Digital Collections tab from our catalog.

And while I have your attention, alumni now have remote access to a number of databases and help from our Reference librarians from the Alumni Portal at the Libraries’ home page.  Alumni, give it a whirl and let us know what you think!

Duke University ranked #9 by US News and World Report

Duke is tied for #9 in the U.S. News & World Report survey this year. Where were we on the list last year (2010)? It would have been published mid Aug. 2009.

Last year, Duke was ranked #10 by U. S. News & World Report.  The report last year featured a sweet photograph of the bridge connecting Perkins and Bostock Libraries.  On a related note, The Princeton Review just ranked Duke Libraries as #2 (behind Harvard University).

Elephant Talk

Dear Answer Person,

I’m not sure who else to say this to, so I’m saying it to you. These groups of high school kids who spend a lot of time in the libraries at the computer labs are extremely distracting. I understand some amount of conversation may be necessary to whatever they are doing, but it seems they make no effort to keep the laughing and shouting to a minimum. One group just left and I was able to work in peace for about 5 minutes before the next group arrived.

I’m sure no one cares about this, but I hope if someone does, some requests can be made to the people who handle these matters.

Yours Sincerely,
Some patron and fan of Duke Libraries

Dear Some Patron and Fan of Duke Libraries,

Seems to me that these gosh darn kids simply aren’t aware of library etiquette.  My suggestion is to politely let them know you’re conducting research and that their volume is distracting you.  If you don’t get satisfaction, you should inform the library staff at the nearest service point and ask them to address the problem.  I believe these are, in the vernacular, teachable moments.



Why can't I smoke in a classroom?

Why can’t I study in a classroom? [3585A]

[written in other hand:  Actually, yeah, I wanna know too:  why are the classrooms in the Link always locked, even when the desk is staffed?  It’s not like there’s a surplus of rooms!]

The original question is far too general (I can’t comment on classrooms across campus), so I’ll address the Secret Scribbler’s follow up (specifically about the Link, the only location of classrooms in the Libraries). I was told that classrooms in the Link are locked when the Paul B. Williams Service Desk is unstaffed because people had repeatedly disabled the smoke detectors in some of the rooms so they could smoke. As is so often the case, a few selfish people ruin things for everyone else.