Why is 94% so great?

Last May when they picked up their commencement information, graduation garb, and other necessary materials for making their final exit from the University of Scranton, the graduating class of 2008 completed their Senior Survey.   In this survey, students are asked a variety of questions about their experience at the “U” during the past four years.  Questions range from cafeteria food to lab equipment and virtually every other subject in between.  Of course we as librarians are always interested in their opinion of how they found the library resources and services to be useful and helpful to their academic careers.  The results for the Class of 2008 are in and the great news is that the seniors experienced a 94% satisfaction rate with the Library.  This figure is also compared to students at other colleges and universities in our peer institutions – and we excel here as well.  I would like to pose a question to all readers of this blog.  If you were to take the Senior Survey today (no matter if you are a freshman, sophomore, junior, or senior) what one improvement would you make to raise the satisfaction level even higher?  Every few years the library undertakes a survey sent to a random sampling of students asking questions about library resources, hours, services, etc.  But this informal question can help us make improvements (if realistic and within the bounds of fiscal responsibility) even before the next survey reaches your Royalmail account.

Going digital

A page from "Prominent Men of Scranton and Vicinity," one of WML's newly digitized books

A page from “Prominent Men of Scranton and Vicinity”

This fall, the Weinberg Memorial Library is one of 14 institutions participating in a mass digitization pilot project.  The program is headed by PALINET, a network of more than 600 libraries, archives, and museums  in the mid-Atlantic region, with a goal of making electronic copies of interesting books available to the public via the internet.

So far, we’ve had six local history books digitized by Internet Archive.   All six were written before 1923, which means means that they’re in the public domain – so we can post them on the internet without violating anyone’s intellectual property rights.  What’s fantastic about the digitized books is that:

  1. they’re now accessible to anyone, anywhere, anytime (while the physical books are only available to people who visit the WML Special Collections library in person, during limited hours), and
  2. they’re full-text searchable!

Check out our books on the Internet Archive website here.  You can browse through the books using the “flip book” viewer, and you can also download PDF copies of each book.  If your family is from the area, be sure to use the full text search box in the flip book viewer to search for your last name – the books are great resources for genealogists.  Or just look at the great pictures, like this 1882 line drawing of the proposed design for the Lackawanna County Courthouse from “Memorial of the Erection of Lackawanna County” (if it looks a bit different from what you see on the Square today, it is!) —

Proposed Lackawanna County Courthouse, 1882

Proposed Lackawanna County Courthouse, 1882

Happy Fall Break!!

 

The leaves of Northeastern PA

The leaves of Northeastern PA

 

Now that midterms are over, take a walk outside and enjoy the beautiful weather and amazing foliage that Fall has brought us!! 

The Library is closed until Tuesday, October 14th, when we will reopen at our regular hours of 8am-11:30pm. 

We look forward to seeing everyone refreshed and ready for the second half of the semester… See you then!

Banned Books Week

Since 1982, the American Library Association has declared the last week of September as “Banned Books Week.” According to ALA, “BBW celebrates the freedom to choose or the freedom to express one’s opinion even if that opinion might be considered unorthodox or unpopular and stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of those unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints to all who wish to read them. After all, intellectual freedom can exist only where these two essential conditions are met.”

To learn more about Banned Books, check out the ALA website. We also have a copy of ALA’s Banned Books Resource Guide in our Reference collection here at the Library. And don’t forget to check out our display on Banned Books, which you can find in the Quiet Study room on the 4th floor of the Weinberg.

Here’s a list of the top 10 books challenged in 2007 – have you read any?

1) “And Tango Makes Three,” by Justin Richardson/Peter Parnell
Reasons: Anti-Ethnic, Sexism, Homosexuality, Anti-Family, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group

2) “The Chocolate War,” by Robert Cormier
Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Violence

3) “Olive’s Ocean,” by Kevin Henkes
Reasons: Sexually Explicit and Offensive Language

4) “The Golden Compass,” by Philip Pullman
Reasons: Religious Viewpoint

5) “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” by Mark Twain
Reasons: Racism

6) “The Color Purple,” by Alice Walker
Reasons: Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language,

7) “TTYL,” by Lauren Myracle
Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group

8) “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” by Maya Angelou
Reasons: Sexually Explicit

9) “It’s Perfectly Normal,” by Robie Harris
Reasons: Sex Education, Sexually Explicit

10) “The Perks of Being A Wallflower,” by Stephen Chbosky
Reasons: Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group

Need Journal Articles from 1865?

Then JSTOR is a database you want to try.

If you are looking for journal articles from as far back as 1865, this database will provide them for you, and in .PDF full-text format too. Here’s how you would run a search for your topic, in order to find articles about that topic, which were written in bygone days:

  • Select JSTOR on our A-Z List of Databases.
  • The way to narrow your search to find journal articles from a specific time period is to place a check-mark in the box next to “Article” under “Limit To: Type:” and then to put the range of years you are looking for in the “Limit To: Date Range:” fields. So, for example, if I want journal articles on my topic from the years 1865-1940, I will check off “Articles” and then put “From: 1865” and “To: 1940.”
  • Then, type your search topic into the Advanced Search field at the top of the page. Keep in mind that your topic may have been called by a different name back in the 1800s!
  • Then click “Search,” look for article titles that cover what you need, click into them to read the abstracts (summaries) as needed, and select the .PDF option for viewing, printing and saving the articles for your research.

Remember, if you’re working from home or your dorm, make sure you first sign into My.Scranton.edu, and then select “A-Z Database Listing” from inside the Library tab. This way, when you eventually get to JSTOR, the database will recognize you as a student, and it will let you access the full-text .PDF of the articles you need.

Ever wonder what was being written about, say, librarians, in the late 1800s-early 1900s? Go give the search a try to find out!* There is one very interesting article from 1929 about a study of ways that librarians cultivated “wholesome reading interests” back then (“Methods Employed to Stimulate Interests in Reading. I” by William F. Rasche, from The School Review, Vol. 37, No. 1 (Jan., 1929), pp. 29-36) — very interesting indeed.

*So, okay, I know most of you probably don’t care about librarians and our fascinating history as public figures in the community… Ahem. But! Whatever your research interest is (for instance, I know there’s an assignment going around about researching the same social issue in 3 different historical time periods) JSTOR is a great place to start in your search for old journal articles on the topic.

Before You Vote, Surf

The 2008 presidential election is coming up quickly — only 40 more days until November 4th!

With all of the debates, town halls, news stories, and sound bites, it’s hard to keep up with all of the information from and about the candidates – even if you are a devoted CSPAN viewer.  And, here in the Library, we encourage everyone to examine information from several sources and think critically about a source’s accuracy, reliability, validity, and potential bias.  So I thought it might be a good idea to highlight a few useful news and fact-checking websites to help you make an informed decision on Election Day.

One of my favorites is the non-partisan Annenberg Political Fact Check, aka FactCheck.org.  The site reviews political ads and commercials from both campaigns and checks to see whether their statements are accurate.  They also answer “questions of the day,” submitted by the public, to help you understand the background behind various rumors and accusations — today’s is “Did Sarah Palin make rape victims pay for their own rape kits?” (Answer: “Palin’s police chief in Wasilla did that. Whether Palin supported this is not certain”).

As a recent transplant from Virginia, I’m also a fan of a Washington Post blog called “The Fact Checker,” where blogger Michael Dobbs grades the candidates’ claims.  He assigns between 1-4 “Pinocchios” to let you know whether a statement was absolutely true, completely false, or somewhere in the middle (for example, true but misleading).  The Post also has a neat 2008 Campaign Toolbox, filled with links to up-to-date news, polls, and analysis.  CNN has a similar site, the Election Center 2008.

Of course, after digesting all of this political information, you’ll need a break! That’s when it’s time to go watch a few episodes of The Daily Show.

Most importantly, though, don’t forget to register to vote.  There’s been a table for voter registration in DeNaples every day during lunch, or you can download a Pennsylvania voter registration form (and find out more about voting in Pennsylvania) at www.votesPA.com, a website published by the Pennsylvania Department of State.  And let us know where *you* find your election information, by posting a comment.

Project MUSE now on our Facebook page

Exciting news! The article database Project MUSE has now designed an application for Facebook. “The University of Scranton Weinberg Memorial Library” (found here) has just added the Project MUSE search box to our FB Page, which means you can search for articles right from inside Facebook. I just tested it out, and it definitely works, allowing you to open the full-text .PDF’s of articles in your results list.

There’s a possibility if you use the search box from home, you’ll be prompted for your My.Scranton username and password — but just type these in and you should have access to the full-text articles in this database.

This is a step in the direction of giving you guys full article searching and access capabilities from right inside Facebook, which is our ultimate goal.

So, give it a try! And if you hit a dead end, or for some reason you aren’t able to access the full-text of articles in your results list, definitely let us know (leave a Wall comment or post in the discussion forums on our FB page) so we can fix the problem.

Just for fun: try running a search for “Pittsburgh Steelers” (I know, such a scholarly topic :-P ) and yinz should check out the .PDF of the 2nd hit in the results list! (And I’m not even a Pittsburgh native — just an adoring Steelers fan who laments their loss to Philly tonight. *sigh*)

Update from the Schemel Forum

It’s now week three of this semester’s Schemel Forum on the American Presidency, and the debates just keep getting more interesting.  Today, we were talking about the extents of executive power, and two of the philosophers present mentioned John Locke‘s views on the power of a sovereign.  Locke wrote in his Treatises of Government that a sovereign could act beyond the law under certain conditions – for example, if no laws yet existed to provide rules for a certain circumstance, or if the preservation of the public welfare were at stake.  The hope was that the sovereign would be a wise enough ruler that these decisions could safely be left up to his discretion.  We talked about how this idea could apply to the American presidency today – how far can the president go beyond stated laws in a time of emergency to protect the public?

We only have two weeks left, and lots of material left to cover.  I’m anxious to hear the debates about executive privilege and “signing statements.” The last session on Guantanamo Bay also promises to be intriguing.

If you’re interested in the Schemel Forum, now is a great time to sign up for two of the upcoming Forums — Dr. William V. Rowe from the University of Scranton’s philosophy department will present a five-week forum in October on “Think World: Reflections on our Times,” and Father McKinney, also from the philosophy department, will present a three-week forum in November called “The Role of Drama in the Jesuit Tradition.”  For more information, or to sign up to participate, contact Kym Fetsko at 570-941-7816.

The Fall Library Newsletter is Out

The Fall 2008 edition of the Weinberg Memorial Library Information Update Newsletter is now out. Included are articles on the LibQUAL+TM assessment survey; news from Special Collections; the Letters to Sala Exhibit; the upcoming Abraham Lincoln Exhibit; updates on the Patriot Act and other related legislation; and news about the Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence and Assistive Technology. The Information Update is published twice a year at the beginning of the Fall and Spring semester. A paper copy can be picked up at the Library Reference or Circulation Desks; an online copy along with past issues can be accessed from the Library homepage or by linking to http://academic.scranton.edu/department/wml/newsletter.html.