Monthly Archives: September 2012

New Arrivals: A History of Reading

A book I recently read and very much recommend is A History of Reading by Alberto Manguel. Manguel integrates personal experience with scholarship to create 22 essays that are at once intimate, historically enlightening, and compulsively readable. It would be difficult to come away without a deeper appreciation for the written word and a re-evaluation of one’s own relationship to books and reading.

From the publisher’s description:  “At one magical instant in your early childhood, the page of a bookthat string of confused, alien ciphersshivered into meaning. Words spoke to you, gave up their secrets; at that moment, whole universes opened. You became, irrevocably, a reader. Noted essayist Alberto Manguel moves from this essential moment to explore the 6000-year-old conversation between words and that magician without whom the book would be a lifeless object: the reader. Manguel lingers over reading as seduction, as rebellion, as obsession, and goes on to trace the never-before-told story of the reader’s progress from clay tablet to scroll, codex to CD-ROM.”

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National Public Lands Day is September 29th

We just put up a display in the library to promote National Public Lands Day this September 29th. From the first event in 1994 with only three sites and 700 volunteers, National Public Lands Day has grown to more than 2,000 sites and 170,000 volunteers in 2011. It is recognized nationwide but there are numerous state parks and beaches in the Tampa Bay area that will be involved in the one-day event. Volunteers help pick up litter and remove invasive plants. Many of the parks have clean up in the morning and volunteers are welcome to stay and enjoy the parks, trails, and beaches for the rest of the day!

To find out more visit http://www.publiclandsday.org/

To find a park to volunteer at in the Tampa Bay area visit http://www.publiclandsday.org/npld-sites/search?state=Florida

Reference Question of the Week: Locating articles for an education class

There is often, unbeknownst to students, a secret syllabus. The syllabus may require that you find an article, but beyond finding useful information the purpose of the assignment is to expose you to the databases and the challenges of research. Sometimes, in the effort to challenge the students by requiring them to work through difficult research questions, professors end up challenging librarians as much as the students.

Recently, an assignment for a 300-level education class ended up challenging all the librarians. The professor tasked the students with locating peer-reviewed, scholarly articles dealing with the “reading endorsement competencies” that Florida uses to gauge the progress of English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL).

For example, the students were expected to find an article discussing how writing enhances the development of oral language.

This is not a particularly easy topic to research because the there are only a few key terms, and they’re somewhat vague. However, for this RQotW I’m not going to spend a lot of time leading you through the databases to find suitable articles. Instead, I want to write a little bit about some search strategies to keep in mind when you’re faced with a challenging assignment.

FRUSTRATION – Research is often frustrating. I’ve been researching for many years and I still find myself occasionally frustrated. One of the things I’ve learned is to trust the process. I’ve done enough research to know that the early parts of researching any topic are filled with dead ends. This is part of the process. There is a maze you have to work your way through, and you’re going to reach moments where it’s clear you need to go back to the beginning start again. If you know this, that the early parts of your search won’t bear any fruit, then you can plan accordingly. Keep your frustration to a minimum by starting your research early.

READ – There’s no getting around it. You are going to have to read. And, you’re going to have to read things that don’t make it into your final research project. If I were in the education class I’d start doing some background reading if I didn’t start finding peer-reviewed, scholarly articles pretty quickly. If I looked through 3 databases, and spent at least 10 minutes in each, and didn’t find some good research, I’d realize I needed to take a step back and do some background reading.

SYNONYMS – While you read to gain background knowledge and familiarity with the topic, you also read to pick up different ways of phrasing your search. You want to look for synonyms and alternative keywords. While you read look for unique terms that will help you with the next spin through the database. Names of researchers can often be useful search terms. Sometimes you can generate more terms by exercises like mind-mapping. I frequently use the subject headings for all the articles I find during my searches to help me find new terms. The richest resource for ideas on furthering your search is reading through articles. Sometimes you have to read, even if you don’t end up using those articles in your research. There’s no substitute for a working knowledge of your topic.

One secret of research is that you almost never find the perfect article right off the bat. You find something close, and then use that information to find another source that’s still closer, and then use that information to get to the information you’re looking for.

Research is a skill. And, like any skill, it can be improved with repetition. Eventually, when you’ve mastered the art of research you’ll have confidence in your ability, and dead ends and false starts will be less frustrating. Just keep in mind that there is a process, and if you trust the process, you’ll eventually have success.

The Art of the Book – Honors Symposium

On Monday, September 24, a topic near and dear to my heart.

“Richard Mathews, UT Dana professor of English/English and writing and director of the UT Press and Tampa Review, will present “The Art of the Book: Revolutions, Reinventions and Revivals.” Books are at the heart of higher learning. They have led and reflected revolutions; they have enshrined and preserved art, science, and creative expression. This talk introduces some key revolutions, reinventions and revivals of the book on the world stage and on campus at The University of Tampa Press, Tampa Review and the Book Arts Studio.”

Honors Symposium Monday, Sep. 24, 2012, 4 – 5 p.m.
Location: Reeves Theater, Vaughn Center, second Floor

Find out more here.

Who writes the University of Tampa blog any how?

Perhaps you have lost track of time or maybe you just weren’t paying attention but secret bunnies began plugging away at this library blog in January 2012, close to a year ago.  Okay, truth, we’re not bunnies and we aren’t toiling away in secret, at least not any longer.

Information literacy librarian Dave Davisson, and reference librarians Stacy Harn and Katherine Kelly (that would be me) are the creators, developers, and all around writers extraordinaire of the University of Tampa Library blog. It is our goal to publish blog entries on a regular basis with varying topics: new books, DVDs, etc, current events, reference questions of the week, getting to know your library staff, and more. If you miss a UT Library Blog post you might miss out – so make reading this blog part of your routine and like us on Facebook where you will automatically find out when we add to the blog. The blog is for everyone at UT, students, faculty, and staff and beyond.

So, now you are probably asking yourself who exactly is this Dave Davisson and why do I find myself so drawn to his wonderful library wisdom? Well, Dave took Route 66 to UT. Well, maybe not…but he did do his undergraduate studies at the University of Oklahoma (I am guessing Route 66 is somewhat near there as I have only been to Oklahoma once and it was on Route 66 ). Later Dave moved on to the University of South Florida for his master’s degree in history and because that was so much fun he decided to go for another master’s degree in library and information science.

Dave tells me he loves helping students and that UT students are terrific. Dave also asked me to remind you to always remember that everything takes longer than you think and that revision and editing are essential to writing good papers. AND he also wants students (as well as  faculty and staff) to READ. Read anything, read the things that are weird, alien, or foreign to you and don’t forget the classics.  Dave’s final piece of advice: ask more questions….

Dave is at the library Monday – Friday during the day and at the reference desk most days from late morning to late afternoon.

Stacy Harn joined the reference staff in August and we are happy to have her as one of the library’s eight librarians and as part of the blogging team.

Stacy also studied history as an undergraduate and then went on for her master’s in library and information science also at USF. You can probably easily get Stacy to bend your ear on the importance of the preservation of the historical record. She also loves to help you and she wants you to come and ask her for help – don’t be shy! If you are a first year student or new to UT and you are feeling little overwhelmed when it comes to the college experience, Stacy can relate as she is brand new too, so she has great empathy for you. Don’t despair! Come to the library and find solace when it comes to your research needs from Stacy and the rest of the library staff.

Stacy works on the reference desk on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 4 – 9 pm and every other weekend.

So, I guess now I have to tell you a little bit about me. My name is Katherine Kelly and I too studied history as an undergraduate, is this a trend? However,  I did not spend my days at USF. Instead, I spent several chilly years toiling away at Loyola University in Chicago. I recall those days fondly but not fondly enough to go back to Chicago in the winter!

Once I graduated from Loyola I headed to an equally chilly place to study information and library science, the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. I have worked in many different kinds of libraries over the years and seen places I never could have imagined thanks to my husband and his career in the United States Navy.

I guess I should give out some advice too (advice I would give to anyone).  I encourage people to get involved in your communities: your residence hall, your student government, other clubs in the university, organizations in the neighborhood, organizations in the city. Step out of your comfort zone and help others, serve your country. As a university student or employee you are given great opportunities, share you knowledge, skills, and abilities.

I also find inspiration in two mottoes, the first is from my high school, Walnut Hills High School  in Cincinnati it is: “Sursum ad summum”  which is Latin for “Rise to highest” and the second motto is that of the U.S. Navy: “Honor, Courage, Commitment.” Maybe you too, can find inspiration in these two mottoes during your college days and beyond, or find or create your own motto.  I am always hoping for the best for all of our UT students, faculty, and staff.

Katherine works on the reference desk on Mondays and Wednesdays, 4 – 9 pm and every other weekend.

Lastly, I just want to say I/we hope you (that would be students, faculty AND staff)  enjoy reading this blog and we very much encourage your feedback. Let us know how the blog and the library as a whole can help you during your time at UT – we want your college experience be something you can look back upon with happiness – we are pretty sure if you ask us for help you will have more time for fun and enjoyment — we can teach you how to use the library effectively and efficiently – JUST ASK.

Writers at the University Series Kicks Off Sept. 20

Some news via the Office of Public Information

The University of Tampa will welcome author Michael Martone on Thursday, Sept. 20, to open the 2012-2013 Writers at the University series. The reading will be held at 7 p.m. in the Scarfone/Hartley Gallery on campus and is free and open to the public.

Martone is best known for his “false biographies” — his 2005 book, Michael Martone, is a collection of fake contributor’s notes that were all published separately as true contributor’s notes in various literary journals. His most recent works include Four for a Quarter and Racing in Place: Collages, Fragments, Postcards, Ruins, collections of stories that walk the line between fiction and nonfiction. Martone is a professor of creative writing at the University of Alabama, where he has been teaching since 1996.

Click here to read the rest and learn more about future speakers.

Movies Worth Watching: Schizopolis

Stephen Soderburgh made a splash when his first film, Sex, Lies & Videotape (1989), won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 1989.

Since then Soderburgh has had Hollywood success with films like Erin Brockovich (2000) and Ocean’s Eleven (2001). However, Soderburgh has always maintained his experimental streak. He cast non-professional actors in his 2005 movie Bubble and released it digitally on HDNet the same time it was released to theaters. Four days later it was released on DVD. His most recent movie is Magic Mike (2012), starring Channing Tatum, about Tatum’s life as a male stripper in the Tampa area.

One of my favorite Soderburge movies, and also one of his strangest, is Schizopolis (1996).

Schizopolis is about a speech-writer for a self-help guru, a housewife, a dentist, and an exterminator. Different scenes are seen through the eyes of the different main characters. There’s a lot of absurdist humor and it’s definitely not for everyone. For more background check out the entry at Wikipedia.

If your tastes run to the avant-garde and experimental check out Schizopolis. Look for movies on the library’s online catalog. Use the Quick Limit function to restrict your search to DVDs and then search for the titles that interest you. Ask for DVDs at the Circulation Desk and check them out using your Spartans ID as your library card.

Reference Question of the Week: Where can I find information on controversial topics?

An assignment we see regularly asks students to write a paper in opposition to, or in support of, a controversial topic. Sometimes the students are allowed to choose whether to write in support or in opposition, and sometimes that decision is made by the professor.

Students can be stressed when asked to write an argument that contradicts their personal beliefs. However, knowing your opponent’s argument is just as important as knowing your own. The first step in writing a successful argument is being able to describe your opponent’s argument in such a way that they say you have fairly represented their point. Once they agree that you understand their argument, then you can explain why it’s wrong by presenting your own facts, evidence, and cogent argument.

Many of the databases we have are not particularly suited for these sorts of assignments. If you’re looking for various points of view, and opinion pieces, you typically do not want to search in databases full of peer-reviewed research. You may use those databases to collect facts and evidence to support your argument, but often the research can be too specific.

The two databases I recommend first for locating information about controversial topics are Opposing Viewpoints in Context (listed as Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center on our Databases page) and CQ Researcher. (As always, be sure you’re logged into Esearch before searching these databases.)

Opposing Viewpoints in Context is a great starting point when researching controversial topics. When I use this resource I prefer to start with the Browse Issues button rather than using the search box. If I can find something in the Browse Issues list then it is formatted in an easy-to-use style. (If I can’t find something useful in Browse Issues page, then I use the search box.) Once you click on the Browse Issues link, then choose View All from the Choose a Category dropdown menu. Now, see if your topic is available on this page.

A caveat about using Opposing Viewpoints. What Opposing Viewpoints means by academic journals and what librarians mean by academic journals are two different things. They mean a journal with rigorous editorial standards, while we mean something that has been through the peer-review process (to learn more about the difference between different kinds of journals, magazines, and periodicals see The Difference Between a Journal and a Magazine). Ultimately, any decisions about whether a resource is appropriate is up to your professor, so always check with him or her if you have any questions.

The second place I visit when looking for information on contentious issues is CQ Researcher. CQ Researcher is like a thorough Wikipedia article, but one that is edited and reliable. Entries are usually long and include background information, pro and con arguments, a chronology, charts, graphs, and statistics, explanations of the debates, as well as recommended books and articles for further research. Recent entries include reports on genetically modified foods, treating ADHD, whale hunting, gambling in America, and alcohol abuse. There are hundreds of other topics in addition to the ones I mentioned.

And if you’re still frustrated you can stop by and visit with one of our reference librarians. We have librarians at the Reference Desk to answer your questions from 8am 9pm, Monday through Thursday; 8am to 5pm on Fridays; 10am to 6pm on Saturday, and 1pm to 9pm on Sunday.

Movies Worth Watching: Jane Eyre

ImageI first saw the newest adaptation of Jane Eyre at one of my favorite places, the Tampa Theatre. Recently, I checked it out here at the library and watched it again because well, I’m a sucker for period drama. But Charlotte Brontë’s classic nineteenth century novel has stood the test of time inspiring countless film and literary adaptations, along with considerable scholarly analysis and debate because it is about much more than costumes and melodramatic romance.

Some have read Jane Eyre as the first feminist novel for the title characters confrontation with Victorian era patriarchy. This is not however the universally accepted interpretation. The 1966 post-colonial novel Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys challenges the reader to question previously held assumptions. Rhys, outraged at what she perceived to be an Imperial gaze inherent in Jane Eyre, set out to give voice and agency to the silenced and imprisoned “mad lady” Bertha Mason.

Jane Eyre and Wide Sargasso Sea raise questions about gender, race, class, nationality, and ethnicity. How we interpret these texts and re-imagine them over time can provide fascinating insight into historical and contemporary understandings of relationships and differentials of power.

There is a wealth of scholarly articles which analyze these two works available through the library’s databases. Be sure to log-in to Esearch first.

I found the following article in the ProQuest database:

Ciolkowski, L. E. (1997). Navigating the wide Sargasso sea: Colonial history, English fiction, and British empire. Twentieth Century Literature, 43(3), 339-359.

Thanks for Visiting During Our Open House

I want to thank everyone who stopped by to visit during our Open House yesterday. It was great to see so many people from the University community stop by.

Thanks everyone! And remember, if you have any questions about finding movies to check out, or about borrowing books from other libraries through our Interlibrary Loan program, don’t hesitate to ask.