All posts by Catherine Shreve

Of champions & libraries

What else can we say this week except: DUKE RULES!duke-university-ncaa-champions--d-10nc-x-00195sm

How does the library relate to (or compete with) that? Well, ummm…here are some facts to peruse as you transition from celebration to research focus:

  • The University Archives has a collection of coaches’ films–men’s basketball films date from 1947 to 1996.
  • And here’s a pictorial history of our own Blue Devil.
  • Duke Libraries hold 112,186 unique titles that no other library in the world reports having.
  • We are 5th in the nation for our Film & Video holdings with 81,517 Film and Video titles collected.

Now that you’ve calmed down, don’t forget that the subject librarians have created research guides for you, and will meet with you to help you find sources for your papers. Here are some recent reviews of our services:

Thank you so much! This is extremely helpful!


my awesome Duke librarian

Just say “Ni!”

Do midterms and research papers have you crying out “Run away! Run away!?” Take a study break and just say “ni!” to them for awhile with Duke Libraries Monty Python resources. You’ll find videos, books, audio, and music in our catalog.

Knights who say ni
Knights who say ni

Why? Because, those zany blokes are celebrating their 40th anniversary in NY City this week. Besides, it’s a proven fact that laughing yourself silly is an effective antidote to stress.  According to a literature review in the Journal of Psychosocial Nursing & Mental Health Services 1

There are several beneficial efforts attributed to humor and laughter, including improved immune function, increased pain tolerance, and decreased stress response.

If you must rationalize it as schoolwork, you might hone your persuasive argument skills with The Argument Clinic

I don’t think there’s a punch-line scheduled, is there?

1 MacDonald, C. (2004). A chuckle a day keeps the doctor away: therapeutic humor & laughter. Journal of Psychosocial Nursing & Mental Health Services, 42(3), 18.

What is beta anyway?

You might have noticed that our new catalog interface says (beta) on the tab. Now if we were Douglas Adams we could be referring to the fish pictured here: beta fish

But no, in this galaxy, we are referring to something not quite as beautiful and complete–a pilot version of the catalog interface. The interface is still in the process of development, with some features remaining to be implemented (and some pretty cool features like faceted browsing and linking to other Triangle libraries already there).

The good news for users is that “beta” means that we (the library) are receptive to making changes more nimbly with this interface than in other established ones. And unlike the beta fish, of which it’s said: “It is important not to feed your Beta fish too much live food as it has been known to cause problems,”

we encourage as much live input as possible. Once you are in the new catalog, just click the Feedback link at the top right. Or go directly to:

So go ahead and feed the beta fish! Throw that constructive criticism at us and help us make it beautiful! We want to hear from students, faculty, and other researchers as well as library staff so that we can make it work best for all of the users in our library galaxy.

picture and quote from

Connotea — another look

In Ted’s recent comments on connotea, he said he enjoyed it, but found that connotea was not such a great citation manager; it doesn’t always gather the metadata needed. On the connotea site, it explains that it is “specially designed for scientists and clinicians,” so it gathers bibliographic data better for some sites than others.

I agree, connotea is no substitute for a bibliographic reference manager like Endnote (to which Duke subscribes) or Refworks. I also agree that it’s “downright fun!” As a librarian, I use it as an academic networking tool, to find, track and tag resources as I come across them. It’s very handy for retrieving items on a particular topic, and for creating feeds for specific classes–I tag resources with the course name.

Ted was also concerned about messy tags. The “related tags” on the right belong to other users, who may create them however they’d like.

That’s both the beauty and the chaos of a Web 2.0 tool–everyone gets to play, and you can follow their leads, or not.

So, the short answer is: the value of connotea depends on your purpose. For a free web-based citation manager, you might like to try zotero (from an earlier LibraryHacks post):

The open-source Zotero (part 1 / part 2) is [a] Firefox extension that allows you to store, retrieve and organize your reference sources for a more streamlined citation process.

Has anyone out there done more than a first foray into zotero? Please send us your comments.

Live @ the RefDesk

Today in Perkins we are testing some software for keeping Reference statistics. Why? It’s helpful to plan for staffing–how many questions, from which kinds of patrons, what types of questions (from staplerology to ‘jumpstart my thesis’).

But what I really want to get at is the human element. There is talk of the future irrelevance of a Reference Desk, if not the actual Reference librarians, whose minds presumably will be accessible in other modes and places. Here’s an excerpt from the TAIGA Forum Provocative Statements:

Within the next five years…There will no longer be reference desks or reference offices in the library. Instead, public services staff offices will be located outside the physical library.

Or, to expand on this line of reasoning:

If the truth be known, as a place to get help in finding information, the reference desk was never a good idea. A reference librarian standing behind a desk waiting for someone to say, “I can’t find what I’m looking for; can you help?” might be justifiable if, as is the case with other service professionals, that librarian was the reason the person came to the building to begin with. But reference librarians have not served so central a function. They have stood ready to help “just in case”-just in case navigating the building isn’t clear, just in case the catalog doesn’t produce wanted results, just in case the collections seem not to contain the desired material or information. In short, reference service-in particular point-of-need reference service-has been an afterthought, something to be considered after the building’s signage or the finding aids or the collections fail the user.
(Anne G. Lipow, “Point of Need Reference Service: no longer an afterthought,” in ALA-RUSA The Future of Reference Services Papers)

Do you come to the Reference Desk for f2f consultation with a librarian? Why or why not?

IRB approval for research using interviews

Sarah Wallace has some interesting comments on the process of getting IRB approval for using (interviewing) human subjects for her Ukraine project. Here’s an excerpt:

All week, I’ve been working hard on my application for Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval of my project in Ukraine. …Procedures for protecting the rights and welfare of human subjects are the same, no matter who conducts the research; thus, student researchers like myself are held to the same standards as faculty researchers. If an undergraduate at Duke wants to conduct research that involves human subjects in any capacity, he or she must fill out a long, complicated application and send it to the Duke IRB before beginning the study.
..there is a chance that I won’t gain approval until after I arrive in Ukraine. …
Although the form took a lot of time and effort to complete, I’m very glad I did it. It really made me think through my research approach at a level of detail that I hadn’t before.


See her full post here, or check out her Notes from YkpaïHa feed on the right.

And here’s her update:

The Duke IRB liked my protocol a lot. Flattery aside, however, they had “a number” (read – “a million”) suggestions for ways to improve my consent forms and other documents.

..[I must] also prepare a separate consent protocol for the interviewees that are Ark workers/ICARR participants. As the IRB pointed out to me, these people shoulder the most risk by talking to me, so I must take extra precaution to ensure that their interviews are kept confidential.

Staying Alert in Ukraine

 From our Duke researcher in Ukraine, Sarah Wallace: Sarah Wallace


“I recently discovered a great feature of Google called Google Alerts. The program allows you to closely monitor specific topics in the news without having to do a manual search. I have it set up so that any news or blog posts containing the words Ukraine, Chernobyl, or Duke will be consolidated and sent to my email account at the end of the day, every day.”

“Although I’ve only been receiving alerts for a few days, I’ve already learned so much about Ukrainian politics, economics, and culture. For example, …my favorite news alert of the week:

‘PepsiAmericas, Inc., the world’s second largest manufacturer, seller and distributor of PepsiCo beverages, and PepsiCo itself, announced a landmark agreement on June 7 to jointly acquire 80 percent of Sandora LLC, Ukraine’s number one juice maker… Home to some 46 million consumers, Ukraine is considered to be one of the fastest growing beverage markets in Europe.’

“I definitely recommend Google’s alert system to anyone who wants to track a topic in the news. But be warned – Google alerts are a big distraction. I really should be studying Ukrainian at the moment, but my mind can only handle so much in one day.”

How about you? Do you have any cool tools to share?

Notes from Україна: a Blue Devil’s Ukrainian experience

Sarah WallaceFollow Duke’s Sarah Wallace, a senior, as she blogs on her Public Policy/Global Health research project in Ukraine. We will be posting excerpts throughout the summer; the feed to the full blog is on the side.Here’s a brief intro to her learning experience:

This will be my first summer away from Duke since beginning college, and the trip to Ukraine will be my first experience traveling overseas. Also, this summer will be my first time doing a real independent, self-structured research project. I have done research before, but always under the strict guidance of a mentor, and always on a suggested topic. This summer I will be largely on my own, although I do have mentors in Durham and Kyiv. My topic is self-designed, this trip is self-designed, and my methods are self-designed.

Best of luck, Sarah, we know this is going to be a fantastic experience!

Do you know of a Blue Devil blogging about their research? Tell us!

Summertime–ask us!

Suddenly Perkins and Bostock are so…quiet…and relatively empty. It’s an abrupt change from last week’s intense activity. Now, don’t get me wrong, we Reference librarians have plenty of projects, conferences, and catchup work to do over the summer. But I kinda miss the frantic end-of-semester questions, the exhilaration of nailing that last citation for the research paper, the sleep-deprived (or sleeping) students in every corner of the library.

So, if you’re out there, help ease our transition from the adrenaline highs of the semester to the easy-livin’ flow of summer. Send us a question, keep us busy! See Ask a Librarian for multiple ways to talk with us.