This spring Michael Peper and Melanie Sturgeon, two Duke science and engineering librarians, left Duke University Libraries to pursue other opportunities. We’re sad to lose these valued colleagues, but are thrilled to introduce two new staff members and some different roles for remaining staff. Please see below for our updated titles and responsibilities.
Elena Feinstein Head, Natural Sciences and Engineering Section Librarian for Biological Sciences
Elena has moved into a leadership role for the science and engineering librarians group, and she looks forward to continuing her work with the departments of Biology and Evolutionary Anthropology as well as other biologically focused programs.
Ciara Healy Librarian for Psychology & Neuroscience, Mathematics, and Physics
Ciara is thrilled about continuing her work with the Department of Psychology & Neuroscience and Duke Institute for Brain Sciences, and learning more about the needs of the Departments of Mathematics and Physics.
Janil Miller Librarian for Marine Science and Coordinator, Pearse Memorial Library at Duke Marine Laboratory
Janil will continue coordinating library services and collections at the Duke Marine Lab, serving the Nicholas School of the Environment’s Division of Marine Science & Conservation as well as other Marine Lab patrons.
Sarah Park Librarian for Engineering and Computer Science
Sarah joins Duke on July 18 as liaison to the Pratt School of Engineering and the Department of Computer Science. She has 15 years of experience as a science and engineering librarian, most recently at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. In addition to her library science degrees, Sarah holds an M.S. in applied computer science.
Jodi Psoter Librarian for Chemistry and Statistical Science
Jodi joins Duke on August 14 as liaison to the Departments of Chemistry and Statistical Science. She has 15 years of experience as a science and engineering librarian, most recently at Williams College.
Brittany Wofford Coordinator for the Edge and Librarian for the Nicholas School of the Environment
Brittany will continue to coordinate services and spaces for The Edge research commons and will take on a new role as liaison to the Nicholas School of the Environment. Brittany has experience as the librarian for Cultural Anthropology, which will return to the care of librarian Linda Daniel.
If you’re ever in doubt about which of us to contact, we can all be reached at email@example.com. We look forward to hearing from you!
The Duke University Libraries are offering $250 to faculty who are interested in learning about open educational resources for the courses they teach. Details below.
What are open educational resources (OERs)?
Open educational resources are teaching and learning materials that are free. Unlike traditional textbooks or course packets that students must purchase every semester, OERs are released under an open license that permits their free use and repurposing by others. OERs can include textbooks, full courses, lesson plans, videos, tests, software, or any other tool, material, or technique that supports free access to knowledge.
What is the Duke University Libraries OER Review Project?
The OER Review Project is a collaborative effort of the Duke Endowment Libraries, which includes all libraries at institutions supported by the Duke Endowment—Duke, Davidson College, Furman University, and Johnson C. Smith University. Faculty at all four schools are being offered $250 stipends to review OERs for potential use in their courses. (Limit 10 stipends per university.)
How does the program work?
Meet with a library staff member to learn more about OERs and select OERs to review.
Review each of your OERs by a determined date. We supply the review form.
Fill out a short survey about participating in the program.
10 lucky faculty members will get $250!
Who can participate?
All Duke faculty members. We’re interested in working with faculty from a variety of schools and academic programs. To learn more, please contact:
Outreach Coordinator for Open Access
Head of Research and Instructional Services
Members of these advisory boards will help improve the learning and research environment for Duke University students and advise the Libraries on topics such as study spaces, research resources, integrating library services into academic courses, and marketing library services to students.
The boards will typically meet four times a semester to discuss all aspects of Duke Libraries and provide feedback to library staff. This is an amazing opportunity for students to serve on the advisory board of a large, nationally recognized non-profit organization.
All three advisory boards are now taking applications or nominations. Application deadlines are:
Members of the Graduate and Professional Student Advisory Board and the Undergraduate Advisory Board will be selected and notified by mid-September, and groups will begin to meet in late September. More information is available on our website, where you will also find links to the online applications forms.
For more information or questions about these opportunities, please contact:
Guest post by Melanie Sturgeon, Librarian for Engineering, Physics, and Computer Science
I was terribly saddened to hear that Professor Horst Meyer passed away this weekend. As the physics librarian, I started working with Horst three years ago. I feel like I should say that I never met anyone like Horst, but that’s not entirely true. Horst reminded me very much of my Grandpa, Harry Goldberg. It wasn’t that Horst acted like a grandfather towards me. It was their personalities. They were of an age and lived through a time that is difficult for most of us to imagine. My Grandpa was part of what we in the U.S. call our “greatest generation.” I’m not sure what they were called in Europe, other than “survivors,” I suppose. But neither Horst nor my Grandpa were hardened by what they had been through. Instead, they were almost giddy with life and determined not only to enjoy every minute of it, but to make sure those around them did as well.
Working with Horst was a joy. He was always passionate about whatever he was doing and thankful to be doing it. As a leading physicist at Duke for almost sixty years, Horst was a brilliant scholar and a very familiar face in the library. Many librarians worked with him over the years and also have stories about him. It was impossible to come away from an interaction with Horst without a positive memory or a story you wanted to share with someone.
When the latest Stephen Hawking book came in for him, he was so excited he literally bounced up and down when I gave it to him. Later, when Horst returned the book, he joked about how proud he was that he was able to understand part of what Hawking wrote. He did clarify that Hawking’s work was in a completely different field of physics than his, then quickly returned to joking and smiled about needing to be a genius to understand the whole book.
I’m sure many people did consider Horst a genius. But as a librarian, my takeaway was an appreciation for someone who obviously enjoyed learning so much. Every interaction with him left me smiling and thankful for the opportunity to work with him. It turned out that Horst was also thankful for those opportunities. A few years ago, he submitted a wonderful letter of appreciation along with a very generous donation to the Libraries for always supporting him. This is something Horst did frequently. If he cared about something, he wanted to help it grow and flourish. You can read more in the beautiful DukeToday article about his dedication to art, music, and the Duke Gardens. Here in the Libraries, we will be forever grateful that he wanted to help with our mission to preserve the past and educate the future. His memory will live on in the Libraries through his contributions to the History of Medicine Collections and our collection of rare materials on physics.
I am deeply grateful for my time with Horst, and I’m reminded of the lessons my Grandpa taught me about truly enjoying life and pursuing your passions. While Harry Goldberg was no world-renowned scholar, he had that same infectious smile and positive outlook that Horst did. To be honest, I had a difficult time remaining professional with Horst, as I was always tempted to hug him goodbye and ask if I could adopt him as an honorary grandfather.
When Horst told me the end was close (while still requesting more research), I became visibly upset. He comforted me and assured me that he was a lucky man who had had a great life. I can only hope that we all feel that way—not just at the end, but every day as we pursue our dreams and appreciate the amazing life around us.
… What are the libraries’ hours? … How do I find a book? … Who can help me with research? … Where can I print?*
Duke University’s newest students will find the answers to these questions (and more!) on the Library’s First-Year Library Servicesportal page.
Each August, a new class of undergraduates arrives in Durham ready to immerse themselves in the Duke Community. Duke University Libraries serve as the core of intellectual life on campus. Because East Campus is home to the First-Year students, Lillyand Music Libraries have the unique opportunity to introduce our newest “Dukies” to the array of Library resources and research services available.
To help navigate the vast library resources, there is a portal especially for First-Year Students. Through this portal page, new students (and even some not-so-new) can discover all that the Duke University Libraries offer:
WHAT: International and Area Studies 25th Anniversary Celebration WHEN: Tuesday, April 12, 4:00 p.m. WHERE: Holsti-Anderson Family Assembly Room, Rubenstein Library RECEPTION: Featuring a selection of food and drink from around the world
Remarks by Deborah Jakubs, Rita DiGiallonardo Holloway University Librarian and Vice Provost for Library Affairs
Peter Lange, Thomas A. Langford University Professor of Political Science and Public Policy and former Duke University Provost
Faculty Roundtable Our program will feature five Duke faculty members in area studies discussing their teaching and research and how they have worked with library.
Laurent Dubois (Professor of History and Romance Languages, Director of the Forum for Scholars and Publics) is currently teaching a class on the Modern Caribbean using materials about Haiti recently acquired by the Rubenstein Library.
Guo-Juin Hong (Associate Professor, Asian & Middle Eastern Studies, Director of the Program in Arts of the Moving Image) will talk about curating exhibits on the photography of Sidney D. Gamble and using video oral histories that are part of the Memory Project.
Timur Kuran (Professor of Economics and Political Science, Gorter Family Professor of Islamic Studies) will discuss how the social sciences are integrating area studies and facilitating interactions among scholars working on different parts of the world. His observations will focus on the benefits to the study of Islam and the Middle East.
Charmaine Royal (Associate Professor, African & African American Studies and Director, Center on Genomics, Race, Identity, Difference) will talk about her research on the intersection of genetics/genomics and concepts of “race,” ancestry, ethnicity, and identity.
Sumathi Ramaswamy (Professor and Interim Chair, Department of History) will discuss using the tools of digital humanities to track the itineraries of the terrestrial globe in Mughal India.
Special Thanks to Our Co-Sponsors Asian/Pacific Studies Institute, Duke University Center for International Studies, Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, Duke University Middle East Studies Center, Office of Global Affairs
That’s the question we’re asking Duke students and faculty today—and every day this week.
It’s National Library Week (April 10-16), and we’re celebrating by asking people to #ThankALibrarian and tell us how a librarian has helped them.
Has a librarian helped you with a paper or research project recently? Or maybe someone helped you check out a book or a DVD? Or maybe someone came to one of your classes and taught you about a new tool or database?
If so, now’s your chance to say thanks! (We’ll only blush a little).
Look for groups of librarians all around campus (East and West) this week. We’ll be taking pictures, posting them on our Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook accounts using the hashtag #ThankALibrarian.
You can also send us your own photo by downloading and printing this handy template. Write a message, take a photo, and post your photo with the hashtag #ThankALibrarian on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram and tag us (@dukelibraries).
We’ll be giving away fun library buttons (because everyone loves buttons, right?). Plus you can enter a drawing to win one of our sweet Perkins-Bostock-Rubenstein library T-shirts.
So if you see us out there, take a moment to stop and #ThankALibrarian!
Welcome to our blog series on innovative projects coming out of The Edge! The Edge is a collaborative space in Bostock Library where students, faculty, and staff can work on research projects over the course of a semester or academic year. If think you have a project that would be ideal for the Edge, head over to our project spaces page to apply.
The Project: Fairy Tales, from Grimms to Disney
Fairy Tales, from Grimms to Disney is a digital library of 210 Grimms Fairy Tales in English translation, ordered by number and themes. The team built this digital library in WordPress to support the lecture course “Fairy Tales: Grimms to Disney” (Professor Jakob Norberg, Department of German), and students use the WordPress site to blog about weekly readings. Heidi Madden, Librarian for Western European Studies and Medieval Literature, answered some questions for us about this project.
What inspired this project?
The Fairy Tales course is a popular lecture course taught every year in the German Department by Professor Jakob Norberg. The project arose in conversation with Professor Norberg, who wanted to draw on the visual elements of fairy tales to inspire students to read widely. He also wanted to make the large course more interactive. Students discover and write about modern versions of fairy tales; they find a wide variety—with many international examples—of tales based on Grimm fairy tale characters, themes, and plots. Professor Norberg wanted to capture some of that information from one year to the next by having students contribute their ideas to a blog.
Who are the members of your team? What departments and schools are they part of?
Professor Jakob Norberg, Department of German
Heidi Madden, Duke University Libraries
Nele Fritz is a Library Science student (B.A.) at TH Köln – University of Technology, Arts and Sciences, Cologne, Germany. From September 2015 to March 2016 she worked as an intern in International and Area Studies and in Research Services at Duke University Libraries.
Liz Milewics and Will Shaw as Digital Scholarship consultants
How has working in The Edge influenced your team?
The Edge space was an ideal central meeting place for the team. The most important affordances of the project room were the display screen and the writable walls. The site has many pages and images, and we needed room to sketch and evaluate the site. It was also useful to have a large table, so that we could work together on tasks where we needed immediate feedback. Having the project room available to us two afternoons a week really helped with keeping us on schedule.
What tools do you use to work collaboratively?
We used WordPress, SAKAI, Basecamp, and Photoshop. Many students in the course are in engineering and computer science, and they have explored research involving text-mining and other digital tools for students to work with text data and images. Professor Norberg wanted his class site to list examples of that type of research as inspiration for students who take the class in the future. Having those clean text files readily available on the site allows for mobile reading, but also for downloading text data for projects.
What are you learning as part of this project that is surprising to you?
WordPress can be surprisingly difficult when building multimedia content and when building it with many pages. That’s why planning and sketching out the whole site is very important. Getting an overview of what the plug-ins offer is time-consuming. However, once the project was running, Professor Norberg was delighted to get to know his 43 students through their blogs very quickly.
What are the difficult problems you are trying to solve?
When the spring course is over, we want to turn the course site into a public site, so students interested in the course can explore the website. We also want to use the public website to showcase some of the original and tech-savvy research students are doing. In addition to that, we want to retain the bibliography of Grimm version fairy tales that students bring to the course from all of their diverse backgrounds.
What would you do with your project if you had unlimited resources?
We want the site to be used in teaching beyond Duke.
Nele Fritz, a graduate student from Germany, worked on this project as part of her field experience. Besides planning, sketching and building the site, this experience also included getting to know WordPress very well and monitoring the project with project management tools and strategies.
This post was written and compiled by Hannah Pope, a Master’s of Library Science student at UNC-Chapel Hill. She is interested in instruction, helping with research, and encouraging student innovation in libraries. She is currently working as a field experience intern in the Assessment and User Experience department and with The Edge at the Duke University Libraries.
Guest post by Carson Holloway, Librarian for History of Science and Technology, Military History, British and Irish Studies, Canadian Studies and General History
Why does this beautifully crafted lapel pin connect Harrison’s name with reform? Such questions provide a good deal of the appeal of fourteen campaign pins on display as part of the Kenneth Hubbard Collection of Political Campaign Ephemera in the Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library. In the current season of election news, Hubbard, a Duke alumnus and donor, has provided tokens of particular interest in contextualizing some notable presidential campaigns between 1840 and 1948.
William Henry Harrison’s is a name to ponder. Some might recognize that he was a President before the American Civil War. The alliteration of his name may sound familiar. Fewer could identify him as hero of the Battle of Tippecanoe, though more would recognize the campaign slogan “Tippecanoe and Tyler too,” referring to Harrison and his running mate, and successor. Harrison, the oldest person elected President until Ronald Reagan, died from pneumonia contracted at his inauguration after serving fewer than forty days.
“Reform,” in Harrison’s campaign of 1840, was economic reform required as a result of a protracted depression known as the “Panic of 1837.” Over a third of American banks in New York and elsewhere faltered and then failed after President Andrew Jackson’s administration decentralized the Federal banking system and British banks raised interest rates in response to perceived risk. Jackson’s Democratic successor, Van Buren, was unable to correct the economic course and prices for important agricultural export products like cotton plummeted. Whether Harrison’s Whig reforms would have been effective is questionable. The severe economic downturn lasted until 1844.
Like the Harrison pin, each of the items on display in the Rubenstein is interesting in its own right. A few have great aesthetic appeal like the Harrison pin. Other buttons illustrate powerful personalities and world-changing events. One particularly rare pin is from the only presidential campaign in which the candidate was running while serving a term in federal prison!
When is the library open? How do I find a book? Where do I print?*
Duke University’s newest students can find the answers to these questions (and more!) on the Library’s First-Year Library Servicesportal page.
Each August, a new class of undergraduates arrives in Durham ready to immerse themselves in the Duke Community. Duke University Libraries serve as the core of intellectual life on campus. On East Campus particularly, the Lilly and Music Libraries have the unique opportunity to introduce our newest “Dukies” to the array of Library resources and research services available.
To help navigate the vast Library resources, we’ve created a portal especially for First-Year students. Through this portal page, new students (and even some not-so-new) can discover all that the Duke University Libraries offer:
Quick Facts: about collections and loan policies Where: to study, print, and … eat! How: to find and check out books & material, and get… Help!: Meet the “who” – Librarians, Specialists, & Residence Hall Librarians Research 101: how to navigate the Research Process Citation 101: how to cite using recommended styles *And when is the Library open?
Find the answer in our list of the Top 12 Questions, developed with input from First-Year Library Advisory Board students.
You’re invited to a Duke University Libraries Open House!
Help us celebrate the completion of
Wednesday, January 14, 2015 1:00 – 4:00 p.m. Bostock Library, First Floor
Remarks at 1:30 p.m. by Deborah Jakubs, Rita DiGiallonardo Holloway University Librarian and Vice Provost for Library Affairs
Tour the new spaces, labs, and project rooms
Meet and mingle with library staff and The Edge support teams
Learn how The Edge can support your research and project work
Enjoy refreshments by Parker and Otis
About The Edge To meet the needs of interdisciplinary, team-based, data-driven, and digitally reliant research at Duke, the Duke University Libraries have transformed the first floor of Bostock Library into a new academic service hub. With digital tools and collaborative workspaces, reservable rooms for project teams, and expanded technology and training facilities, The Edge: The Ruppert Commons for Research, Technology, and Collaboration is an attractive new research community destination in the heart of campus.
Every year the Libraries run a series of essay contests recognizing the original research of Duke students and encouraging the use of library resources. This year competition for the awards was particularly keen, reflecting the quality of student research at Duke. The annual Duke University Libraries research awards reception, scheduled as part of Duke Family Weekend on Friday, October 24, at 3:30 p.m. in Lilly Library’s Thomas Room, will honor all the winners and applicants. The entire University community is invited to join us for refreshments and the opportunity to honor the recipients and applicants for the 2014 Aptman Prize, Holsti Prize, and Middlesworth Award.
Over 70 student entrants and their faculty supporters participated in the process this year. Several of the entries mentioned Duke University librarians and library resources in their applications. Many thanks were reserved for the staff of the Document Delivery Department, which makes other libraries’ collections available for Duke students’ use. In addition, entrants made note of the support of several individual librarians, including Holly Ackerman, Rachel Ariel, Greta Boers, former librarian Margaret Brill, Linda Daniel, Elizabeth Dunn, Joel Herndon, Carson Holloway, Karen Jean Hunt, Kelley Lawton, Catherine Shreve, Lee Sorensen, Erik Zitser and Luo Zhou.
The Lowell Aptman Prizes are awarded to undergraduates whose research makes excellent use of library resources and collections. It is awarded in three divisions: Honors Thesis, 3rd- and 4th-year students, and 1st- and 2nd-year students.
Honor Thesis Category
Winner: Mary Tung – “Bankrolling Apartheid: The Coins that Forged Modernity, Fostered Nationalism, and Funded Apartheid South Africa”
Runner-Up: Rhyne King – “Persian History and Historiography: Understanding the Praxis and Politics of Religion in the Achaemenid Empire”
3rd- and 4th-Year Category
Winner: Carmi Medoff – “The Kodak Girl: Every Woman’s Woman”
Runner-Up: Brandon Maffei – “Unstable Grounds: Women as Revolutionaries in the Weather Underground”
1st- and 2nd-Year Category
Winner: Gayle Powell – “The Advent of Black Sororities on Duke University’s Campus”
Runner-Up: Zachary Johnson – “Dreams of My Father and Self-Identifying”
The Ole R. Holsti Prize, our newest library research award, is awarded to students who exhibit excellence in the field of political science and public policy research. This is the first year the Holsti Prize has been awarded, and we look forward to many more.
Co-Winners: Nadia Hajji (“Post-Transitional Justice in Spain: Passing the Historical Memory Law”) and Lauren Hansson (“German Jewish Refugees in 1933: Failure of the League of Nations”)
The Chester P. Middlesworth Award recognizes students whose research makes use of the primary sources and rare materials held in the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library.
Winner: Andrea Lewis – “The Association is Dying: Black Student Activism and the Evolution of Conscious Space-Making at Duke University”
How do you “library”? Let the Libraries Save the day!
Each August, First-Year students arrive on East Campus and begin a Welcome Week filled with numerous events, workshops and programs designed to ease their transition to undergraduate life. The libraries on East Campus support the new students with programs for the First-Year Library Experience.
On East Campus, after students settle in and begin classes, the Lilly Library and Duke Music Library offer several ways for the newest “Dukies” to learn and benefit from the incredible resources of the Duke Libraries. Lilly and Music sponsor Library Orientation events such as scavenger hunts, film showings, and prize drawings to familiarize them with library services and collections. Past years have seen students “Keep Calm and Library On”, play The Library Games, and the Class of 2018 will discover the “Super Powers” of the Incredible Duke Libraries!
Fall Semester 2014:
Meet the Incredible Libraries – Open House and Scavenger Hunt for Duke 2018
When: Tuesday, August 26th at 7pm
Where: Lilly Library
Movie on the Quad: The Incredibles
When: Thursday, September 25th at 8pm
Where: East Campus Quad between Lilly and the Union
In addition to Orientation, the East Campus libraries — Lilly and Music — invite first-year students to engage with the Duke University Libraries in these ways:
The questions we get in Perkins Research Services range from the fatuous to the far-fetched to the fascinating. This is one of a series on our most interesting research questions, and how we go about answering them. (Some details have been changed to protect our users’ privacy.)
Stephanie used the library catalog to identify a book on the topic and sent Adira to get it. Adira returned very excited that she also had found some similar books by browsing nearby. That might have been the end of the interaction, but Stephanie kept working on the question after Adira left, determined to find some good journal articles as well to email to her.
What she found was fascinating. It seems that graffiti did not incite protests, but flowered immediately after the Arab Spring, once people felt more empowered and free. As eL Seed, an artist who calls his work “caligraffiti” says in an interview from PRI’s The World, “I hear a lot that artists create revolution, but I believe in Tunisia is the contrary, revolution has created artists.”
The barricades put up in the wake of the uprisings were converted from their original obstructive purpose and became canvasses for uniting people with their spontaneous messages. In addition, they served as memorial spaces dedicated to those killed during the confrontations, as discussed in an article from Theory Culture & Society. In another article, Stephanie found the claim that the graffiti reflected further unification of the people, with Muslim and Christian symbols side by side. Meanwhile in Cairo the government gave up whitewashing the pervasive graffiti because it reappeared almost immediately, according to Al-Arab.
Research librarians learn something new every day thanks to questions like this. Doesn’t it inspire you to find out how graffiti’s role has evolved in the four years since the Arab Spring? Or at least to go out and express yourself, as the students in POLISCI 222 did this spring?
Post by Catherine Shreve, Librarian for Public Policy & Political Science
When I teach Writing 101, I focus not on content, but on process. The goal is to give first-year students what my co-teacher, Heidi Madden, and I like to call a tool chest of skills in academic communication, broadly understood, that will help them make the most of studying at Duke. The skills we emphasize include writing skills such as revision; giving and accepting rigorous yet fair feedback; and communicating clearly and effectively for different audiences, media, and formats. We also emphasize turning students into effective, knowledgeable, and critical researchers by teaching them how to master the complex modern research engine that goes by the name of a research library.
Still, to learn process you have to apply it. For their final paper, students write a research paper in an area of my scholarly expertise, late medieval badges. These are small objects found in Great Britain and northwestern Europe, usually about the size of a quarter and featuring a vivid image. They were made to be worn, usually sewn or pinned to clothing, but sometimes suspended as a pendant. Made of lead-tin alloy, badges were cheap to make and to buy. Some 15,000 survive; millions were probably made in the three hundred years they were in circulation. Although they are little known today, badges were once ubiquitous, ordinary artifacts. What makes badges rewarding for student research are their images, which draw on and disseminate iconographies that, however shocking, mysterious, or inscrutable they now seem to us, were once widely and immediately understood. A badge image presents itself to a modern viewer as a puzzle that repays diligent, focused, expert research by delivering new findings and a deeper understanding of the past.
What a great topic for Writing 101! For their final paper, each student selects and researches a single badge and its image. As a way of getting to know their badge better, we asked students to carefully draw it. Then, we used the library’s button-maker to affix each drawing to an aluminum, pinned back. Viola! The medieval badges live again in a modern form, as buttons. Students were also asked to write a blog post about their badge, which they have identified using categories and data from an important, web-based reference and research tool for badges, the Kunera database housed at the University of Nijmegen in the Netherlands. This assignment allowed them to practice making academic research accessible and compelling to non-specialists. We, teachers and students, hope that the buttons and blogs pique your interest in medieval badges and in Writing 101 at Duke.
A Selection of Student Research on Medieval Badges
Tiffany Chen: What a week this has been! To be honest, when first faced with the task of researching the badge—well, actually, mine is an ampulla—I was sure it would not be so difficult. But when I realized that the ampulla for my paper is… undocumented in a conspicuous way… I found out how challenging researching the unknown can really be.
I have felt like a detective lately, sleuthing for clues and trying to piece them together in a way that not only makes sense, but also is likely to be correct. Luckily, I have found clues pointing me in promising directions. For instance, the location of my ampulla was listed as Jerusalem, but I had to look at the ampulla itself and its depiction to discover that it represented Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which is held by tradition to be the location where Christ was resurrected.
I am on a good path towards uncovering more clues. So far, I have delved into the ampulla’s rich history, circa 1149-1199 (around the time of the Third Crusade to the Muslim world). I have researched its image and as well ampullae in general to better understand how they were used. But I have yet to uncover information on the ampulla’s inscription of capital letters, HMPO, and on other key features. More to come in the future! Until then, this detective needs to pick up her magnifying glass and see what else she can find.
Kay Hasegawa:Yes, that badge is showing exactly what you think it is, a woman standing next to a penis with little arms and legs, wearing a crown, and carrying a pilgrim staff and a shoulder bag. Very, very eccentric, and not exactly the first thing we would imagine when we think about medieval accessories in Western Europe! But the image embodies a very common desire for the agriculture-intensive peasants of the day, the wish for fertility of the land and of the mother. All hail the medieval phallic figure!
Alyse Whitaker:Do me a favor. Imagine a world in which it is acceptable for you and your peers to wear clothing or badges adorned with explicit images of female and male genitalia… In our world, it would be unusual to walk down the street and see a man wearing a shirt with a phallus on it because exposing genitals is not tolerated or legal in American culture. Thinking back to the Middle Ages, which supposedly is a time when people were more modest, it was shocking to discover that this assumption was not accurate. Here is a badge that caught my eye. It shows a phallus on a spit, something used to roast chicken over a fire, with a vulva functioning like a “grease trap” to catch the drippings. There are so many impressions that could be taken from this image. My first impression was that the artist was trying to express the efficiency of the men when it came to fertility,. Or perhaps the image was supposed to shock and ward off evil spirits? Badges such as this one may have been worn for many different purposes.
Special thanks to Elena Feinstein and Aaron Welborn for bringing the button-maker to the library, and to Mark Zupan for photographing the buttons.
Beginning May 13th 2014, a Bass Connection project team of undergraduate and graduate researchers faculty and I began our collaboration, meeting in a dedicated space in Bostock Library and our project team will carry on there through early July. The Regulatory Disaster Scene Investigation project provides an opportunity to evaluate the process of assisting groups in focused research activities using the resources and expertise available through Duke Libraries. This project is in line with the projected opening of the Library Information Commons in 2015.
The broad intellectual question the group is investigating is “how does government best respond to crises?” The outcomes from this particular Bass Connections project will include a working visit to Washington D.C. to interview regulators and officials, producing a policy brief/ white paper, and possible conference presentations. This Bass Connections group work will make a contribution to a projected edited work which falls under the umbrella of the Recalibrating Risk working group in the Kenan Institute on Ethics.
The work group was convened in the Library by Professors Lori Bennear and Ed Balleisen and began with a discussion of assignments to investigate the history of government responders to crisis such as the NTSB, the Chemical Safety Board, the Congressional Research Service of the Library of Congress, British Parliamentary Commissions and corresponding institutions in other countries around the globe. The group members were assigned the task of preparing annotated bibliographies about the institutions and their histories.
As the project moves forward, librarians with subject specialization and language expertise including Holly Ackerman on Latin America and Greta Boers who has expertise in Dutch are helping these researchers make the best use of their limited time. Only four more weeks- yikes! In the future it seems likely that the role of librarians will expand in assisting researchers in time-delimited participation in work groups revolving around new spaces like the Information Commons.
Carson Holloway is Librarian for History of Science and Technology, Military History, British and Irish Studies, Canadian Studies and General History
The questions we get in Perkins Research Services range from the fatuous to the far-fetched to the fascinating. This is one of a series on our most interesting research questions, and how we go about answering them. (Some details have been changed to protect our users’ privacy.)
Anonymous IM makes it so easy to prank librarians that over the years we have finely tuned both our crap-detectors and our sense of humor. This month, for your entertainment, we bring you some of the silliest and least research-oriented questions we’ve gotten. We make no assertions about the users’ intentions.
The quick and frivolous
can I freeze rock buns?
my computer just got wiped
how old are you?
can u give me some help with my crush …. pllllllllllllllllllllzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz :_(
PERKINS PERKINS COME IN PERKINS. STOP. THIS IS DUKE DIVINITY LIBRARY. STOP. WE ARE BUNKERED IN WITH MASSIVE SNOW. STOP.
Uh-oh Sometimes our users do us a service by reporting problems in and around the libraries.
To whom it may concern: I wanted to inform you that on the second floor bridge, there is a HUGE ANT problem…I do not know why they are there, but I thought you may want to know!
[Did you know that our experts tell us the ants are seeking moisture, not your lunch? We are aware of the problem and doing our best to battle them on all fronts. To report a sighting, please fill out our building maintenance request form.]
FYI I think your current listing for: 20th century ghosts by Joe Hill is incorrect. It is currently: “There are many things that can go wrong with your car, but it’s knowing what to do that can make the difference between a small repair, a major bill, or worse.”
[We have reported this mismatched book summary to the vendor who provides them.]
Punked We pride ourselves on providing answers or good referrals for all questions that come our way, however arcane. But we have not yet reached consensus on the answer to this ubiquitous question:
“What does the fox say?”
Post by Catherine Shreve, Librarian for Public Policy & Political Science
The questions we get in Perkins Research Services range from the fatuous to the far-fetched to the fascinating. This is the second of a series on our most interesting research questions, and how we go about answering them. (Some details have been changed to protect our users’ privacy.)
Sometimes the questions we get are terse yet timely, like this one: “Articles about engineering and manufacturing of basketball shoes.” This has obvious and immediate import in the month running up to March Madness, so Perkins librarian Brittany, ever on her toes, got right to work on it one Sunday evening.
In fact, there are at least two, the newer one subtitled “50 years of sport shoe design” and available to Duke users upon request from the library at NC State. (The Triangle Research Libraries are team players, even during basketball season.) Brittany started by recommending these books for “Steve” to get some background before delving into the technical questions.
The full-court press followed, with more specific questions that were not answered in the books:
How is a basketball shoe made? What science goes into the design?
How do factories make basketball shoes? What machines are used? What is the process in detail?
For these answers Brittany turned to our databases, first constructing a search strategy in ProQuest: ‘athletic shoe’ in Subject AND (manufacture OR design) in Subject
She also recommended the Engineering Village database, which turned up a promising article, “A structural mechanics model for sports shoes: the heel strike” from the Sports Engineering journal. Who knew there was such a specifically targeted journal? Not this Social Sciences generalist.
We aim for both the slam dunk and the buzzer-beater when we answer research questions—zeroing in on exactly the information you need, and just in time. Brittany turned in a good performance in this round.
Moving forward, I wonder if March Madness led to this other question we received about the same time: “I want to find articles about how would drunk people walk. Like would they stumble to their dominant side?” Our answer, in part, is to be careful around those bonfires, folks. LET’S GO, DUKE!
Post by Catherine Shreve, Librarian for Public Policy & Political Science
The questions we get in Perkins Research Services range from the fatuous to the far-fetched to the fascinating. This is the first of a series on our most interesting research questions, and how we go about answering them.
In this age of Edward Snowden’s NSA leaks and Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks, a lot of current U.S. classified information is in the news and floating around on the web, should you choose to seek it out. But how do you find top-secret communications between world leaders from the past? This was the question I received via IM recently.
According to several articles, in October 1973 Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir sent an urgent letter to President Richard Nixon via Henry Kissinger. The researcher (let’s call her Mary) had already checked many primary sources, databases, and yes, even Google. But she could not locate the original letter. Only quoted fragments of the declassified document could be found.
Rule #1 of library detective work: Go with your gut (especially if it’s an experienced gut). If you think it should be found in the National Security Archive database and Mary didn’t find it there—look again, trying other search strategies. So I did.
No luck there. This question obviously would take more persistence as well as intestinal fortitude. I checked the print Foreign Relations of the U.S. and other sources in the Reference area then redoubled my efforts. (For those with less research experience in this area, there are clues in the library’s guide to International & Transnational Relations.)
In true government document fashion, my search results often had obscure titles that made it difficult to know if I had hit pay dirt. With a combination of persistence, collaboration, educated guessing, and serendipity….
BINGO! Document 7 in a search of the National Security Archive website through GWU was described thus: “Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Brent Scowcroft to Kissinger, 5 October 1973, enclosing message from Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir (passed through Israeli chargé Shalev).” The murky type on the cover page said “Top Secret/Exclusively Eyes Only.” Coo-oo-uhl. Once I deciphered the trail of all the people through whom it was transmitted, it became clear that the next page was Meir’s own message. I IM’d Mary, who excitedly confirmed this by matching some of the quotes she had found.
Although we found our answer on the free web after all, it took a library to index and share the document and librarian intervention to track it down. You might call us everyone’s favorite “intelligence agency,” mining and exposing information for the common good.
Post by Catherine Shreve, Librarian for Public Policy & Political Science
Once digitized, the manuscripts will be made freely available online through the British Library, giving scholars around the world access to an important archive of religious texts that were previously accessible only by traveling to a monastery in a remote part of the Indian Himalayas.
The Menri Monastery, located near the village of Dolanji in the Northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh, possesses the world’s largest collection of manuscripts relating to Bön. Most of these materials were rescued from ancient monasteries in Tibet before they were destroyed during the Chinese Cultural Revolution.
The collection includes some 129 pechas, or traditional Tibetan books, comprising more than 62,000 pages of text. A pecha consists of loose leaves of handmade paper wrapped in cloth, placed between wooden boards, and secured with a belt. Also included are some 479 handmade colorfully-illustrated initiation cards, or tsakli, which are employed in various rituals and contain significant amounts of text.
As the name suggests, the British Library’s Endangered Archives Programme aims to preserve archival material that is in danger of disappearing, particularly in countries where resources and opportunities to preserve such material are lacking or limited. The Bön manuscripts are an excellent case in point, according to Edward Proctor, the principal investigator for the project. Proctor is Duke’s librarian for South and Southeast Asia. He also works to develop the South Asian Studies collection at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Library through a cooperative arrangement with Duke.
“The Bön manuscripts are subject to a variety of perils,” said Proctor. “They are currently housed in a building that is neither air-conditioned nor humidity-controlled. Having so many unique materials in one location means that a single disaster, such as a massive mudslide or earthquake (not an infrequent occurrence in this area), could quickly extinguish the records of this ancient tradition.”
The Bön manuscripts cover a wide range of subjects, including history, grammar, poetry, rules of monastic discipline, rituals, astronomy, medicine, musical scores, biographies of prominent Bön teachers, and practical instruction manuals for the creation and consecration of paintings, sculptures, mandalas, ritual offerings, reliquaries, amulets, and talismans.
Proctor first traveled to the Menri Monastery in 2009 on a Pilot Project grant from the British Library to investigate the scope and condition of the Bön manuscripts and the feasibility of digitizing them. He will return later this fall and winter to oversee their digitization, which will be carried out by monastery staff. Proctor will provide training in digitization techniques and offer guidance on best practices in archival management. Once the project is complete, the digitization equipment funded by the British Library will remain at the monastery for the future use of the Bön monks.
According to Proctor, this digitization project is essential to the efforts of Bön monks and nuns to preserve their unique culture, as well as the efforts of scholars elsewhere to understand the early cultural and intellectual history of Central Asia.
“These unique documents already escaped destruction once, during the excesses of the Cultural Revolution,” said Proctor. “But there is still a risk that they could disappear. Just last year, a fire in an 18th-century temple in Bhutan reduced its entire manuscript collection to ashes. Tragically, the temple’s collection had been proposed to be digitized as part of a Major Project grant. Thanks to this grant from the Endangered Archives Programme, it will now be possible to ensure the long-term survival of the Bön manuscripts in Menri Monastery.”
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.
Assignment #1: Obesity and Health. Dr. Jen’nan Read, Spring 2009, SOC 161
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.
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.
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
Department of Sociology
We’re librarians: we like information. For the next month, Library Hacks will be gathering information from you, our reader, in our first-ever feedback poll!
This is your chance to tell us a little bit about your blog-reading habits and what you’d like to see when you visit Library Hacks.
In the sidebar you’ll see an orange button that links to our short survey – we hope you’ll take a few minutes to help us learn how to create a better, more informative blog. Of course, your responses and comments will be submitted anonymously, so click away!
We’ll be gathering responses through Friday, April 15th, and we’ll be sure to let you know what we’ve learned once the results are tabulated.
All of the other Duke University Libraries blogs will be running the exact same poll, so head over to the other blogs that you read and leave some feedback for them, too.
The study conducted by Harley and four others was comprehensive: It involved over 160 scholars from 45 elite research universities and includes 12 case studies representing as many disciplines (anthropology, English language literature, law economics and biostats, to name a few), in addition to an extensive literature review and daily environmental scans of issues in higher education.
As you might imagine, Harley and her colleagues gleaned an amazing amount of extremely rich data from their interviews of faculty, administrators, publishers and librarians. One surprise to Harley was the amount of time she and her colleagues spent discussing tenure and promotion (T&P) with their interviewees. Let’s consider just a few of Harley’s findings related to T&P and the role that scholarly publication plays in it:
– The most important aspect of T&P is a stellar publication record — service, teaching and public engagement are important but secondary to publication
– New journals and genres are acceptable — so long as they’re peer reviewed
– Peer review is the “coin of the realm” — it is the sole value system in academia, but…
– Peer review has problems: lack of speed, conservatism, bias, low quality reviews, non-scholar editors, cost to the institution to subsidize peer review via faculty salaries, lack of fraud and plagiarism detection
– T&P should be supportive of non-traditional forms of publication (e.g. Open Access journals)
– Publishers may say that they “do” peer review, but that’s not the case — faculty “do” peer review, at a cost to their institutions, NOT at a cost to the publisher
Do these ring true for you? Are these issues that you face in your work as a librarian, faculty member or aspiring scholar? How does the culture at Duke fit into this picture of T&P and scholarly communication? What can or should Duke Libraries do to support non-traditional forms of publication?
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:
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!
The new rules have driven confused and frustrated researchers to sources such as APA’s blog, which provides examples and attempts to explain the more complicated rules (check out the DOI/URL flowchart — yes, this rule requires a flowchart), or Purdue’s Online Writing Lab (OWL), which hosts APA and MLA resources that received 3.5 million and 2.5 million hits, respectively, during September and October alone, according to the coordinator of OWL.
It is evident from these stats alone that librarians and faculty have spent countless hours supporting the researchers and students who have spent even more time formatting manuscripts to meet the unbending rules of CSE, APA, MLA and enumerable others.
As Barbara Fister posits in her ACRLog post, is this time well spent? Is research somehow made more valid when its footnotes are perfectly formatted, its works cited page spaced just so? Have we spent so much time agonizing over comma placement and tracking down database names that we’ve lost sight of the whole point of citing sources in the first place? Do our budding scholars realize that citing sources is not merely an academic hazing ritual of sorts, causing them hours of extra labor after their papers are written?
It would seem that the newest editions of APA and MLA are only muddying the waters, making it harder for researchers — especially novice ones — to achieve the true goal of citing sources: to give credit to the scholars their research builds upon and to make it as easy as possible for their readers to learn more about that work.
And if we can agree on that primary goal, how do we get back to emphasizing it rather than the arcane rules?
Ready to start that term paper? Not sure how to start? The University of Minnesota Libraries have created an assignment calculator to help students organize their time to meet their research needs. Start with today’s date, enter the date assignment is due, a timeline is provided, with research milestones. Use Duke Library links for local, on-site research assistance. For example, How do I begin my research? or Find a Librarian in my subject area? or ask for help are just a few of the services available to you through the Duke Libraries.
The award invites library users to recognize the accomplishments of librarians for their efforts to improve the lives of people in their community. Nominations will run through October 9 and are being accepted online at www.ilovelibraries.org/ilovemylibrarian.
Up to 10 librarians will be selected. Each will receive a $5,000 cash award, a plaque and a $500 travel stipend to attend an awards ceremony and reception in New York, hosted by The New York Times in December. In addition, a plaque will be given to each award winner’s library.
Nominees will be judged by a selection committee based on quality of service to library users, demonstrated knowledge of the library and its resources and commitment shown in helping library users.
The Digital Projects Department is pleased to announce that the enhanced homepage will go live before classes begin on Monday. Thanks to all the Libraries’ staff who helped collect and interpret user input. The focus of the Libraries’ homepage is first to facilitate research, teaching and learning and second to promote our services and resources.
Here is a brief summary of enhancements based on that focus statement:
Digital Collections are now searchable from the homepage via a new tab in the ‘Search Our Resources’ section.
Links were reviewed and edited down to only those most used as was identified by statistics and a circle maps exercise.
Links to services and resources are given priority and located in the top portion of the site.
Help links (How Do I?…) are located under links to resources and services.
News headlines are now each aligned with a corresponding image. Clicking an image will bring you to the related story. Two news items display at a time; more can be accessed without leaving the homepage by clicking the left & right arrows.
Recent posts from the Libraries’ various blogs (including the professional school libraries) are displayed; use the left & right arrows to browse through posts without leaving the homepage.
In an effort to give greater prominence to the Libraries’ exhibits, an image and link for a current Library Exhibit is visible in the lower right portion of the screen.
You can preview these changes at the following URL while the DPD works to put them in production:
We will review these changes this fall and make adjustments as necessary. Please watch for invitations to participate in assessment activities for the Libraries’ web resources.
…Or, how to browse full-text collections of books and more in foreign libraries without leaving your chair. Contrary to popular belief, there is no single starting point for browsing open access Digital Collections for Western European Studies –the Europeana is as yet more of a vision than a reality.
Today’s spotlight is on finding digital libraries of full-text materials in German Studies as one example of browsing what is available from libraries abroad. Your best first stop is this excellent list of digital production centers dealing with German language materials: Digitale Sammlungen [Dr. Klaus Graf]. Add to this a website on Digitalisierung und Digitalisierte Bestände that lets you browse digital libraries by subject or by geographic area: you will find materials for the study of witchcraft ,travel literature , this includes travel in the Americas , and cook books for immigrants, to highlight just a few themes.
Digital Collections add international materials previously unavailable in US libraries. Take the debates of the Reichstag as an example: I remember well standing in the stacks at the Historisches Seminar Tübingen combing through the heavy volumes of the Reichstagsprotokolle to write a paper on the German politician Eugen Richter. These volumes are not held in US libraries, but today, I could search all of these volumes from my desktop through the free digital library of Reichstagsprotokolle.
A combination of free online content hosted abroad and Duke Holdings can add dimension to your syllabus. Contact me for help with Western European Studies: Heidi Madden
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.
Beginning January 19, 2009 the Duke University Libraries will use Google Analytics to gather statistics on portions of its web site. The Libraries will use the information gathered to improve web services for its patrons. Google Analytics employs cookies to define user sessions , which allows for the collection of important data about how our patrons are using the Library’s site. Google Analytics uses only first-party cookies for data analysis. This means that the cookies are linked to the Libraries’ website domain(s), and Google Analytics will only use that cookie data for statistical analysis related to your browsing behavior on the Libraries’ websites According to Google, the data collected cannot be altered or retrieved by services from other domains. If you choose, you can opt out by turning off cookies in the preferences settings in your browser. For more information on Google Analytics, please visit Google’s web site.
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.library.duke.edu/uarchives. Accessed Nov. 17th, 2008.
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!
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?
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.
“I spent seven hours in the library yesterday, researching, and I only found four articles!”
Painful words for any librarian to hear. But wait! Was the subject of research truly something obscure and unknown? Some potentially unexplored but fruitful area of discovery? Sadly, no, the topic of research (further eavesdropping revealed) was a common medical issue well covered by a range of library databases.
A stop at the reference desk could have saved this undergraduate hours of suffering. It can be intimidating to approach a librarian to ask for help, but most librarians are quite friendly, and all of us want to help you do your research better. If you’re not sure what to ask, just tell us about your research, and we’ll be glad to point you in the right direction.
In a Writing 20 library session the other day, a student was shocked when I mentioned my Facebook account. “Is that even allowed?!” he asked.
Indeed, like an alien invasion, librarians have descended upon Facebook. Why are we there? Partly for the same reasons you are: to connect with students, you, but also to connect with faculty and other librarians, at Duke and beyond.
Why befriend a librarian in Facebook? Well, why not? You use Facebook to keep track of your friends, so consider using Facebook to keep track of your favorite librarian. Make a librarian a friend, and you’ll never lose track of her (or his!) name and email.
Some librarians currently in Facebook, along with their subject areas, include
Margaret Brill, British and Canadian Studies
Carson Holloway, Military History
Anne Langley, Chemistry
Catherine Shreve, Public Policy and Political Science
While we admit to a certain fondness for tipsy librarians, we can certainly see how it might be frustrating to be faced with 43,000 hits, only 0.007% of which might actually contain the piece of data you want, when you do an internet search. When this happens to you, where can you turn?
Welcome to The Sober Librarian. In this occasional column we’ll explore – and, I hope, unravel – some research tangles that Google can’t help you with. You can learn some of the tricks, shortcuts, and special resources that librarians use. Maybe they’ll help you with your research. Maybe you just like a good mystery, or the thrill of the chase. Follow along as we track down the obscure, find the needle in the haystack, and uncover serendipitous gems.
Written by Phoebe Acheson
News, Events, and Exhibits from Duke University Libraries