Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Meet the Reference Books: The Oxford Dictionary of Modern Slang

Meet the Reference Books introduces noteworthy encyclopedias, dictionaries, and other reference materials in Carmichael Library's print and digital collections.  Blog posts are contributed by student library employees as part of our Homegrown Book Reviews initiative.  This post is written by Cassie Wallace, an Accounting major.  The Oxford Dictionary of Modern Slang is available in both print and digital formats.

Cassie Wallace

Still using the phrase "off the chain"? Man that's so old school, but don't worry! We've got you covered. Stone the Crows: The Oxford Dictionary of Modern Slang has all of the latest and greatest word usages from around the globe. Published in 2010 it has all of the terms from "A-OK" to "zowie" including an array of American, British, and Australian phrases. This book is a real page turner. Don't have time to sit in the library and read a book for that long? No problem -- it's available online too! Made easy as pie to find on the library's Virtual Reference Shelf.

This book is also a life saver when it comes to figuring out what an author means when he or she writes a phrase like "stone ginger." Who likes losing important or funny references in translation? It is a must-have for readers and English majors alike! Just go to the Carmichael Library website any time of day or night and find out for free exactly what people mean when they say "lallapaloosa."

Monday, January 28, 2013

Meet the Reference Books: Black Women in America

Meet the Reference Books introduces noteworthy encyclopedias, dictionaries, and other reference materials in Carmichael Library's print and digital collections.  Blog posts are contributed by student library employees as part of our Homegrown Book Reviews initiative.  This post is written by Astin Cole, a History and Political Science major.  Black Women in America is available in both print and digital formats.  

Astin Cole

Black Women in America is a scholarly reference that cites concise information on biographical figures and events. The purpose of the encyclopedia is to heighten awareness of individuals, contributions, and cultural struggles that made the advancement of African American women possible.

Research Tips from Astin:

1. Pick a seemingly broad topic and investigate the literature cited in the article.

Pretty straightforward; just as you would take a chunk of coal and compress it into a diamond, refine your research into a clear-cut thesis once you’ve grasped the general subject. As it pertains to refining research from an encyclopedia the fastest way is to branch your search from sources used to make the reference article. For example, by looking up the Abolition Movement and scanning the text you discover the primary source “The History of Mary Prince, a West Indian Slave.” Using this piece in conjunction with the general topic of abolition provides a deeper understanding.

2. Make a chain of topics by linking smaller subjects and categorizing them into a larger concept.

To make a chain of topics, go through the table of contents and write down titles that interest you. After about three or so topics, beginning reading parts of them, linking together the topics that are related in terms of time period, trend, or chronology.

For example, if you looked up Affirmative Action, Aviation, and the Civil Rights Movement, you could link all three topics under the trend of equal rights and opportunities. Once you’ve established a relationship between the topics, identify how a pattern is portrayed in a specific context; in this case: black women in the military after the Civil Rights Movement and in the midst of Affirmative Action. In order to provide scholarly depth, focus on analysis, identify keys signs of progress through black women’s involvement in aviation, then decide whether this group of people is represented properly or is otherwise marginalized.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Freshmen Ethnographers in the Library

Earlier this semester Leah Fountain's English 102 students were greeted with a surprise when they came in for library instruction: they were going to be ethnographers for an hour!  Groups of students were sent to roam the library "habitat," observing and interacting with patrons, staff, and spaces.

As students explored, they took fieldnotes about their observations and drew maps of the library.  Some of their discoveries:
  • The Welcome Desk on the Ground Floor, staffed with a helpful-looking stick figure
  • Rolling white boards and dividers
  • The new and improved Reference Desk (aka the "Ask Here" desk), often labeled "Help" (which is exactly what it's there for!)
  • A "Cool New Room Thing" (an accurate description of the JA Brown Room on the Main Floor)
  • The brave, lone plant amongst the books in the Circulating Collection on the Second Floor
  • An intriguing "secret" door on the Ground Floor (actually just a sad room where office supplies go to die)
Take a look at some of the maps here:

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

JSTOR's Register & Read

Carmichael Library has access to the Arts and Sciences I collection from JSTOR, which includes 119 core journals in economics, history, political science, and sociology, as well as in other key fields in the humanities and social sciences. This collection also contains titles in ecology, mathematics, and statistics.

But, for the content that Carmichael doesn't have access to, JSTOR has introduced a experimental program called Register & Read. People can sign up for a JSTOR account and, every two weeks, read up to three articles online for free. This program makes the archives of more than 1,200 journals available for limited reading by the public. With Register & Read, people can visit JSTOR directly and read any of more than 4.5 million articles for free. They can put up to three articles on their bookshelf where they must be held for a minimum of two weeks, after which more free articles can be shelved.

Click HERE for more information.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Martin Luther King Jr. holiday hours

Carmichael Library is closed Sunday and Monday in observance of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.  The library will open Tuesday at 8:00 am.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Why Academics Should Remember Aaron Swartz

This morning, when I woke up and checked Twitter I found out that 26 year-old Aaron Swartz had committed suicide after a protracted struggle with depression.  I have to admit that when I first heard this news, I didn't recognize his name, but when I read some of the obituaries and blog posts about his life, especially Cory Doctorow's on BoingBoing, I immediately remembered him as the guy facing multiple felonies and fifty years of jail time for downloading 4.8 million articles, a substantial portion of the JSTOR archives on MIT's servers.

However, academics should all remember Swartz not just for this, but also for his lifetime of action to make the Internet a vehicle for the democratic flow of information.  He worked tirelessly to keep people from confusing piracy with censorship.  When he was only 14, Swartz coauthored the code that led to RSS technology, something that is now a fundamental part of the Internet.  He later founded what later became Reddit, a radically open marketplace of information, and he advocated for the establishment of a Creative Commons.  He also spoke vociferously against the failed SOPA legislation.

Both Doctorow and Lawrence Lessing speculate that Swartz's downward spiral may have been due in large part to the aggressiveness of his prosecutors.  So what exactly did Swartz do at MIT, and why is it so important?  According to the indictment, he snuck into MIT's campus and set up a laptop and an external hard drive and started downloading articles from JSTOR, a large nonprofit database provider that hosts academic journal content in many arts, humanities, sciences, and fine arts disciplines.  JSTOR itself eventually decided not to press charges against Swartz, but MIT and the U.S. government continued to do so, claiming that Swartz had stolen content valued at $50,000.

Yes, Swartz was a rogue hacker, but I believe he was trying to make a point about the fundamentally flawed model of scholarly communications and information in the United States.  Much of the information generated by scholars is effectively subsidized by public tax dollars.  To ask universities and colleges to pay exorbitant rates just to access the same content that has been freely surrendered seems unrealistic.  Worse, only those affiliated with higher education can access this information.

Lessing describes the case as a matter of common sense and justice:  "From the beginning, the government worked as hard as it could to characterize what Aaron did in the most extreme and absurd way. The 'property' Aaron had 'stolen,' we were told, was worth 'millions of dollars' — with the hint, and then the suggestion, that his aim must have been to profit from his crime. But anyone who says that there is money to be made in a stash of ACADEMIC ARTICLES is either an idiot or a liar.'"

It's interesting that Swartz's death occurred just days after JSTOR announced a kind of middle ground.  It has begun a "Register and Read" program that allows people to download up to 3 articles for free every two weeks, as long as they register with JSTOR.  This is a good step, but it's only the beginning of some profound changes that are going to have to take place in scholarly communication.

R.I.P., Aaron Swartz.

Monday, January 07, 2013

Spring 2013 Instruction Workshop Series

It's back. Last Fall, the Carmichael Library introduced an Instruction Workshop Series, informal sessions where students and faculty learn about a tool, software, or social media platform.  Often, these workshops correspond with classes at the University of Montevallo, but anyone is welcome to attend.  Next week is our first session, entitled Informed Blogging.  In it, we'll explore the mechanics of Wordpress and talk about writing for an online audience.  If you are taking a class that requires you to blog, you will want to attend this session.  Later in the semester, there will be sessions on Twitter, RSS Readers, Geographic Information Systems projects, and advanced Googling.

Also, this semester there's a new wrinkle! For each session you attend, you'll earn a badge (yes, a literal badge) to represent your achievement.  In all, there are nine total sessions, and you are invited to attend as many sessions and earn as many badges as you'd like. There's no need to make a reservation; just come and learn.

You can always see the lineup of sessions on our library homepage, but here is an overview of the schedule:

Informed Blogging - January 17, 5-7 PM
Advanced Googling - January 22, 5-6 PM
Organizing the Internet with RSS Readers - January 29, 5-7 PM
Curating with Twitter - February 7, 5-7 PM
Developing GIS Projects - February 14, 5-7 PM
Mapping Concepts with Mindmeister - February 21, 5-7 PM
Producing Videos with SlideRocket - March 7, 5-7 PM
Managing Research with Zotero - March 26, 5-7 PM 

Contact Andrew Battista or Lauren Wallis if you have any questions about any of the sessions.

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Spring 2013 Hours

Carmichael Library Spring 2013 

Sunday:       2:00 pm - 11:00 pm
Monday       8:00 am -  1:00 am
Tuesday       8:00 am -  1:00 am
Wednesday  8:00 am -  1:00 am
Thursday     8:00 am -  11:00 pm
Friday          8:00 am -  5:00 pm
Saturday      10:00am - 2:00 pm

Access via the rear door after 9:00 pm is available by swiping a valid UM ID. The front entrance remains open during all library hours.  Exceptions to the schedule will be posted.

Digital Media lab is available by appointment.  Schedule time in the lab via the library web page
Group Study Room may be reserved online via the library web page
Instruction can be scheduled online or contact a librarian directly 
Schedule a Research Consultation with a librarian for in-depth assistance with your specific research need
Recommend a purchase link is an ideal way to contact the library with suggestions to acquire material