Wednesday, August 27, 2008

New EBSCOhost 2.0 Interface

You may have noticed some fairly extensive changes to the EBSCOhost Interface. The Alabama Virtual Library hosts both a training session via Flash Player and PowerPoint for the new 2.0 interface. Please see the links below.

Basic Searching for Academic Libraries

(Flash 5:25 min,

PowerPoint 1.35 mb)

If you're interested in learning more about new EBSCO 2.0 features and would like to see a demo, please contact me by phone or email.

Live Help! Internet Message a Librarian

The Librarians at Carmichael are launching a new service called Live Help.If you need online help with library resources and you want to chat with a UM librarian within the designated hours, click here and type in the Live Help box. Note: be sure you've disabled your pop-up blocker before you use this service.

If you see that our status is "offline," please contact us through one of the following links:

What do librarians fear most?

Water! No, we don't melt like the Wicked Witch in the Wizard of Oz when you throw water on us, but water and books do not go together very well. Bindings warp, paper expands, and, worst of all, mold grows very well on damp books.

For this reason, we were alarmed to learn late yesterday afternoon that the recent heavy rains had caused our roof to leak in several places. Staff members Carey Heatherly, Amanda Melcher, Joel Bullock, and Charlie Conway immediately started covering the books stacks under the leaks with plastic, and, fortunately, no books were damaged.

David Pritchett, head of the Physical Plant, told me this morning that we're going to be getting a new roof on the library before too long.

What should you do if you have a book that gets wet? If it's a library book, please get it back to us immediately so that we can take appropriate action! If you can't get the book to the library quickly, wrap the book in freezer paper (if possible) and put it in the freezer. Really! This won't "solve" the problem, but it will keep the damage from getting any worse. A frost-free freezer will help the water in the book evaporate over time.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Welcome Back!

Welcome back! We've had a busy summer here in the library, and we're looking forward to even more excitement as the academic year unfolds. There are not a lot of immediately obvious changes in the library or its website, but there are a number of changes afoot.

First, we're beginning the planning process for transforming Carmichael Library from a conventional academic library into a Learning Commons. This transformation is one of the goals included in the University's Strategic Plan, which will be presented to the Board of Trustees in November. We'll be posting more information on the Learning Commons planning process to this blog as the year goes along.

Second, you'll notice that the Library has a number of channels in ForUM, the University's new web portal. I have served as the chair of the committee, and Alan May and Jason Cooper have put a lot of work into connecting ForUM to the library's services. Please let us know if there is anything we can do to make ForUM more useful to you, and stay tuned for news about additional features to be implemented this fall.

Third, Carey Heatherly, our University Archivist, worked with a number of interns from the History program over the summer on getting our archives better organized. There's still a huge amount of work to be done, but we're making slow, steady progress. Space for the Archives is also included in the Strategic Plan.

We hope your year is getting off to a good start. Please let us know if there is anything we can do for you!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Wedgwood and Squirrels

A recent donation of Wedgwood china, to the University Archives, has ignited a flurry of curiosity here at Carmichael Library. Beginning in the 1920s, the famed Josiah Wedgwood & Sons Company would often team up with colleges and universities to create decorative china. Frequently, the selling of this dinnerware was a means for alumni offices to raise funds.

In 1946, the Alabama College Alumnae Office formed a partnership with Wedgwood to highlight this campus. Reynolds Hall was chosen for the first plate in the series. The official description of this piece reads, "Combining beauty and usefulness these commemorative plates will be of interest to all graduates, students, and friends of Alabama College. The center depicts a charming view of Reynolds Hall and is framed by a border of wisteria, squirrels and nuts."

"Squirrels?!" Graduates and current students can certainly attest to the fact that our campus features an abundant population of squirrels. But if other schools chose pines, dogwoods, and other ornate symbols, Alabama College choose the squirrel?

Further archival research suggests the administration lead a campaign to introduce a scurry of squirrels in 1927. While we haven’t found evidence as to why the administration pursued squirrels, we can assume a healthy population existed by the 1940s. During this era, the student newspaper introduced an editorial cartoon that touted campus situations as seen by a squirrel.

Whatever the reason for their introduction, squirrels are now a common sight and cherished icon at the University of Montevallo. For more information, please visit our display cases on the first floor Carmichael Library or view photos on our Flickr account.

Photos taken by Joel Bullock

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

New Reference: Cultural Studies, the Environment and More

The Carmichael Library has recently accumulated a bevy of new and and exciting reference books. The diversity of the new additions to the reference collection speaks to the focused flexibility the library can provide at any step in a research project.

Historical Dictionary of the Green Movement

Elim Papadakis, Professor of Modern European Studies at The Australian National University, has provided a lucid account of the various machinations of environmental activism. Loosely speaking, the book devotes itself to a kind of clear archeology of green movements and parties over the course of human-occupied millenia.

African American National Biography

A product of the union of the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard University and Oxford University Press, the African American National Biography examines 4,100 commonly and uncommonly known lives in an effort to scan an image of African American experience. To its credit, the book attempts to circumvent the limits of the typical lists based on celebrity and recognized ingenuity, opening the field of vision to include some of those everyday lives that tend to disappear into more private geneologies.

Saving the Earth as a Career

For anyone interested in becoming a conservation professional, Saving the Earth as a Career opens the field up in a clear way to provide a practical guide to the various possible entry points.

The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Love, Courtship, & Sexuality Through History

Engaging the span from prehistory to an era some have called 'the end of history', this Greenwood volume attempts to look at love and sexuality on the myriad, diffuse terms of each respectively. The denotation of the umbrella terms 'love', 'courtship', and 'sexuality' serves as a kind of provisionally essentialist grounding upon which to draw up similarities and dissimilarities across borders. When removed from the context of the broad, binding terms in the title, the entry list of the book reads like an list of disparate or eclectic errata: abortion, daoism, Joan of Arc, bestiality, painting, virginity, Ottoman women, Benjamin Franklin, geisha, divorce, etc.

Icons of Hip Hop

This Greenwood 2-volume set seeks to balance an attentive devotion to 24 prominent hip-hop artists with the extended family of the genre, its influences as well as the objects of its post-productive appropriations. From DJs Kool Herc and Grandmaster Flash to Kanye West, the iconology limits its primary focuses in order to smoothly and helpfully digress into such subjects as "the mixtape, the concept of a "beef," the 808 drum machine, and anti-Semitism in rap, to name a few. A timeline of hip hop history is also included." (Reference & Research Book News August 2007)

Encyclopedia of American Indian Literature

So often glossed over in even the more substantive typical North American literary bibliographies, the work of American Indians finds itself lit in this particular encyclopedia. The book provides an insightful lauch pad for private projects as well as for more expansive programs in American-Indian studies.

Encyclopedia of American Indian History

From precontact history to the shift marked by European assimilation, research in American Indian experience over time would do well to begin here. The book works to manifest an implicit dialog between the scholarly historical narratives of both Native and non-Native Americans.

Power Restored, August 20th

The Library lost power at approximately 2:20 p.m. There were a number of students in the building at the time and we apologize for the inconvenience. Power was restored to the building at approximately 2:45 p.m. Our Reference Commons terminals and wireless access are all up and running. We remain open to assist UM students, staff, and faculty until 5:00 p.m. today.

Power Outage, August 20th

As I write, Carmichael Hall is currently without power. It's our understanding that other parts of town are also in the dark. Stay tuned to this page for further information.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Monday, August 18, 2008

Muncipal Elections, August 26th

Another voting day is rapidly approaching and will be here a week from tomorrow, August 26th. Elections for city offices, including mayors and city and town council representatives, will take place on that Tuesday across Shelby County.

Montevallo residents may be interested in another candidate forum, which will take place this Wednesday the 20th at Eclipse Coffee and Books on Main Street. All candidates appearing on the Montevallo ballot have been invited to participate in this moderated session. Meeting organizers will allow questions from citizens. The forum begins at 7:00 p.m.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Back to School Bash '08, Coming August 25th

The University Program Council (UPC) has announced that this year's Back to School Bash will take place on Main and King Quads on Monday, August 25th. Music, food, and prizes will be in the mix, and there will be a Rockband/Guitar Hero Competition. DJ Big Sweatt will again be back to spin the soundtrack for another fantastic Montevallo welcome!

For those of you who Facebook, the UPC is promoting the bash there.

For those wondering what B2SB is all about, check out one of our blog posts from last year.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Physicist Debunks Cellphone Popcorn Viral Videos

Our own Skeptic-in-Residence, Amanda Melcher, found this cool story on's blog The Underwire:
YouTube videos that show a group of friends apparently cooking kernels of popcorn with their cellphones have been viewed more than a million times since they were uploaded last week.

The clever parlor trick (see embedded clip) looks amazing enough, but there's a hitch: It's not physically possible, according to University of Virginia physics professor Louis Bloomfield... (read on)

I was reminded of how much effort libraries and librarians put into teaching their users how to recognize the authority of the information they find on the Internet. A well-known example of this problem is illustrated by a web site that appears to be dedicated to a civil rights icon of the 20th century. At first glance, the site appears to be a legitimate source of information, but one sees warning signs a mere click or two into the content.

In addition to the popular, there are a number of terrific library guides that show you how to evaluate the information you've found. My favorite is the CRAAP (Currency, Relevance, Authority, Accuracy, and Purpose) Test, developed by the library at California State University in Chico. (Here's one page devoted to the CRAAP Test, hosted by the library at Southern Alberta Institute of Technology.)

Just for fun, here's another recent and widely circulated urban legend. I wonder how many bottles of soda were wasted on this one: The Mountain Dew Glow!

Monday, August 04, 2008

E-Journal Cleanup Complete

Our sentiments exactly! We have removed over 1,300 outdated records from the catalog over the past week. The problem that I described last week is now resolved.

Thanks for your patience as we update the catalog!

Image credit: I Can Has Cheezburger