Monday, October 31, 2011

Day of the Dead at Your Campus Library

Students build an altar to Amy Winehouse (photo by Joel Bullock.)

We've got a couple of events coming up this week related to Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead.) For those who have not joined us for this observance before, Día de los Muertos is a holiday celebrated mainly in Mexico and by people of Mexican heritage living in the United States and Canada. The holiday is dedicated to the remembrance of friends and relatives who have died. Tomorrow, Tuesday, November 1st, Kappa Pi (The Student Art Association) is having a Day of the Dead sale from 11 a.m. - 4 p.m. on the library's main floor. Items available for purchase will include t-shirts, tote bags, posters, ceramics, handmade notebooks and baked goods.

On Wednesday, November 2nd, students from Prof. Eric Vaccarella's Spanish 150 class will present their ceremonial altars (ofrendas,) which are located in the library's main floor lobby. This year's altars will be dedicated to actor and comedian Bernie Mack, singer Elvis Presley, playwright William Shakespeare, and singer Amy Winehouse. The public is invited when our students present their work at 10:00 a.m. The altars will remain on display from Friday, October 28th – Friday, November 11th.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

University Presses and RSS Feeds

An often-overlooked task for those of us who work in higher education, especially librarians and researching faculty, is keeping up with the latest monographs published by university presses. In the past, librarians and professors have learned about new publications by reading reviews in scholarly journals, scouring Choice cards, or sifting through glossy product catalogs, which inevitably seem to end up in our department mailboxes and then recycling bins after a glance.

Today, we have RSS technologies to keep track of information, and the most savvy university presses now present their content online in ways that benefit RSS users. It's now easier than ever before to know when important scholarship in a given field is published. MIT Press is a good example. If you visit their homepage, you can quickly navigate to a bank of RSS feeds organized by subject. You can subscribe to individual feeds for each subject area, add them to a reader, and learn when new titles in that area are published. MIT isn't the only press to do this. In a nearly-complete investigation, I've found several other presses that assign RSS feeds to specific subject areas:

If anyone has found other university or academic presses that organize new titles RSS feeds according to subject or discipline, let me know.

From a librarian's perspective there are several practical reasons why all university presses should provide this services on their websites. One is that the feeds allow us to customize content on our own Web 2.0-compatible sites. Many of the subject specific research guides that we create at the Carmichael Library contain feeds from recent publications (like, for instance, our recently published Sociology Research Guide). Students who reference these guides can encounter the latest scholarship in a given field, and librarians don't have to update web content.

Yet another way to keep track of what university presses are doing is to follow the blogs many of them maintain. All blogs can be tracked with RSS feeds. I've created a clip of some (not all) university press blogs, and anyone can subscribe to this list.

We'd love to hear how you keep track of university presses.

Monday, October 03, 2011

The Revelation of Research Guides

Although I've been on faculty at the Carmichael Library for a few months now, this is my first post to the library blog. Many thanks to everyone in the Montevallo community who has welcomed me so warmly.

Today I wanted to share some of the new ways that our students and teaching faculty have been accessing information on the library webpages. Since July, I and the other librarians have been developing a series of subject-specific research guides. These guides are designed to index credible (scholarly and popular) information in a given discipline. So far, we have good research guides in Social Work, Literary Criticism, Education, Psychology, and several other fields.

The Social Work research guide is a good example of what these pages do. When you visit its homepage, you can see that resources are organized in a series of tabs at the top according to kind of resource. Students can rapidly make distinctions between popular and scholarly print sources, online publications, and electronic journals, and they can find materials specific to their discipline.

Faculty will also find these pages useful, especially the "Journals" tab, which often contains a constantly-updating list of recent journal publications. This is the "revelation" of research guides, and of the "Web 2.0" landscape in general: information comes to you automatically if you take time to cultivate a single online space or tool.

There's also a section of every guide dedicated to constructing Web 2.0 tools as sources of information. For instance, on the "Social Media" tab of the Social Work research guide, anyone who visits can find a list of organizations to "like" on Facebook, find a list of Twitter feeds to "follow," or view a clip of RSS feeds to add to a personal reader.

The Carmichael Library is using Twitter to organize information. Those people who follow the @umlibrary Twitter list on Social Work resources will be able to keep tabs on journals, prominent public intellectuals, professional organizations, and college/university initiatives, all with a few scrolls of the mouse.

There's also a space on our research guides that can be customized for a specific class. Carmichael Librarians can add information, create or build ideas related to a specific assignment, or assemble any other resources that may be helpful. If you are teaching a class at the University of Montevallo, consider taking us up on our offer to save a space for you on our research guides.

The project is still in progress. We have many more guides to build, but we are always open to suggestions as we move ahead.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Scenes from Family Day 2011

For the second year running, Carmichael Library took part in the campus' Family Day event. Library staff and student workers told stories at three different campus sites giving talks at the top of the hour on Saturday afternoon. Below is a short clip of some of the scenes from this year's event:

We've also posted photos from this weekend's event on our Facebook and Flickr!