Monthly Archives: September 2013

What Kind of “Banned Books” Reader Are You?

banned-button

Take the ACLU quiz and find out. Choose from, “…a list of some of the most challenged books from the past 5 years. Check the box next to every book you’ve read to find out if you’re a literary lightweight or a rebellious reader.”

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Banned Books Week

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September 22-28 is Banned Books Week, an annual celebration of open access to information and the unfettered freedom to read. According to the ALA and the Office for Intellectual Freedom, which tracks reported challenges or requests to remove books at libraries and schools nationwide, there were 464 official complaints in 2012. Offensive language or sexual content are the most commonly cited reasons given and challenges predominantly occur in school and public libraries. However, from 2000-2009 there were 30 reported  requests to remove materials made in college libraries and 114 objections to materials used in college classrooms. Exercise your freedom to read and check out one of these books which made the top 10 challenged list for 2012:

kite runnerthe glass castlebeloved2  200px-Captainunderpantscover

For more information check out these posts about web filtering in schools and the freedom to read.

What is research, and why should we care?

Stop by Reeves Theater to see a presentation by librarian David Davisson about why your professors expect you to find academic research in scholarly journals.

Find out what research is all about, how it can be useful outside of the classroom, and how the library can help you locate high-quality resources for your classes or for yourself.

“We live in a world flooded with misinformation. Learning how to locate and interpret research will help you cut through the misinformation to accurate, verifiable, trustworthy resources backed up by evidence.”

The talk will be given four times in the week of Sept. 30 to Oct. 4. The presentation was developed for the Gateways students, but everyone is invited to attend. The presentation should take about 40 minutes.

Reeves Theater
Monday, Sept. 30: 2pm
Tuesday, Oct. 1: 10am
Tuesday, Oct. 1: 2pm
Wednesday, Oct. 2: 2pm

The Value of Libraries

I’m putting together the slides for my presentation next week, and I came across the following passage by Ken Bain. I’m going to attempt to distill the following into a slide or two, but I thought the whole sentiment was worth sharing.

Ken’s answer is from an interview he did with Alison Head (of Project Information Literacy). You can find the whole interview here: http://projectinfolit.org/st/bain.asp

[[NEXT WEEK’S PRESENTATION: I’ll be giving a presentation on the importance of research at the following times in Reeves Theater. The presentation will be the same, only the times will be different. Monday 9/30: 2:00-3:00pm; Tuesday 10/1: 10:00-11:00am & 2:00-3:00pm; Wednesday 10/2: 2:00-3:00pm]]

Ken: “Reading is the way to explore other people’s ideas, and through that exploration to make them your own. I think the people I explored understood that through reading they could develop and expand their own minds and become more productive and creative people.

“Libraries play a huge role in this process. I think you are right: the lifelong learners I profiled in the new book explored constantly and saw connections between everything they encountered. They did more than just pursue some private taste. They became interested in everything. It’s like the profile of Sherri Kafka and what her father told her. The most productive people, the most satisfied people, are the best-integrated people who see connections between every subject.

“I think libraries and librarians can help with that process. In the new book, Liz Lerman just loved to explore the open shelves of a library. Other people—Tom Springer and Dudley Herschbach, for example, benefitted from the suggestions that librarians made. None of these people could have grown without books and the other resources that libraries offer.

“Libraries can also help raise questions. They can help learners see the connection between some problem and some new area of investigation. If we just understand the simple notion that people are most likely to take a deep approach when they are trying to answer questions or solve problems that they regard as important, intriguing, or beautiful, then we can imagine lots of ways in which libraries can play an essential role.

“The people I profiled did have a deep curiosity, but they also had a purpose for their lives. Often that purpose involved serving other people or some larger cause. As I argue in the book, many of them had a strong sense of justice and sought to create a better world. They often wrestled with their own purpose in life, and the values that they held, but those struggles helped define who they were as individuals.

“The problem that often arises is that we strip people of any sense of purpose. We give them assignments to do rather than stimulate their curiosity with fascinating questions that provoke and challenge. We hold them responsible to a rigid code of conduct rather than helping them to grow. We say to them, I’ve got a mold, and I’m going to fit you into that mold, and if you don’t fit, I’ll trim something off around the edges. We should be saying: what are your questions, what is your background, have you considered this possibility, have you explored this avenue?

“In reality, libraries and librarians often do a better job of fostering deep approaches to learning than does the typical classroom. For many of my subjects, libraries became places where they could explore, get help when they needed it, and grow from the experience. Sometimes through a strange and unexpected process. In the book, Duncan Campbell looked for a thin book to complete a reading assignment and found the world of great literature through John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men.”

Ken Bain is the author of What the best college teachers do, and What the Best College Students Do (which is available through the library’s online catalog as an e-book.)

Anatomy of a Scholarly Article

If you are unfamiliar with reading scholarly articles the following page offers a nice breakdown of the key components typically found in a scholarly article: http://www.lib.ncsu.edu/tutorials/scholarly-articles/

The Added Value of College

I recently read an opinion piece by Notre Dame Philosophy Professor Gary Gutting in The New York Times philosophy forum, The Stone, entitled “Why Do I Teach.”  The following quote is particularly intriguing:

“The fruits of college teaching should be measured not by tests but by the popularity of museums, classical concerts, art film houses, book discussion, groups, and publications like Scientific American, the New York Review of Books, The Economist, and The Atlantic, to cite just a few. These are the places where our students reap the benefits of their education.”

Dr. Gutting makes an interesting point about the potential of higher education to not just instill knowledge or prepare students for employment but to excite passion and creativity, pique curiosity, develop critical thinking, cultivate aesthetic appreciation; in short, to open us to greater possibilities intellectually and emotionally.

This gave me pause to consider how the library figures in the lives of students. It goes, or should go, without saying that the library is integral to the scholarly academic experience of university students. But the library is also full of books and films which may bear little relation to a particular students coursework or major (at least explicitly) but nevertheless have the potential to inspire, bring pleasure, engender new interests, lead to reflection, or raise new questions.

For example, just a short walk from UT over the Kennedy Boulevard Bridge at the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts are currently two exhibits, Exposing the Self: Photography and Surrealism and Frida and Friends: The Life and Times of Frida Kahlo. The library also has many wonderful books and films available for those curious to learn more or who merely seek the pleasure of engaging in the works of artists and writers associated with Surrealism and Mexican Art (just search the Online Catalog) because, as Dr. Gutting puts it, even though you may never become an expert in the subject there is value in such encounters, “they make students vividly aware of new possibilities for intellectual and aesthetic fulfillment.”

Gateways Intro to the Library Video

Finally! I’ve completed the video for the Gateways Introduction to the Library. I have a new-found respect for anyone who can put together a polished video. Due to a couple of unforeseen circumstances this one took waayyyyyyy longer than I anticipated.

This video is only one part of the Gateways introduction. It is paired with a quiz on Blackboard. The purpose of this quiz is to make students click on various links to learn answers about the library.

I love teaching research skills to students, but I’ve noticed (and research supports the idea) that unless a student is in the middle of a research project the presentations on research resources are not salient.

If I have time I’m going to re-do the intro and conclusion. It’s hard to get good lighting in the library. But, until then, remember we’re happy to answer questions at the reference desk. See you in the library!

Beginning week 4 and only 12 to go before exams…

I admit it, I am obsessed with the calendar. I like to know what is coming and what I need to get done by what date. I don’t like to be rushed and I HATE forgetting things, although sadly I regularly do forget things and fail to stay on top of what needs to get done. After all I have two paid jobs and one first grader, so my head gets a little cloudy sometimes.

Right about now I am feeling tired as we begin week four of the fall semester. How are you feeling? Tired too? Well, let me run down some calendar numbers for you:

There are 12 weeks left until exams

There are 10 weeks until Thanksgiving break

There are 8 weeks until Veterans Day

There are 6 weeks until Halloween

and 4 weeks to Columbus Day

Out of this list ONLY Thanksgiving is a UT holiday; meaning the library is closed from 10 pm on Tuesday, November 26 and doesn’t reopen until Sunday, December 1 at 12 noon. So wake up, get some exercise and get on the ball.

Maybe you think you have a long time, Well, maybe…I suppose you now have settled into your routine. You know where you need to be and when. You know when you can manage free time and when you can’t. BUT have you begun your library research related project? If the answer is NO, maybe you should get started.

The library is open many hours but librarians are NOT here all those hours. Check the library’s web page and find out when you can meet up with a librarian and get started on your projects, have time for several rough drafts, and create the product that satisfies you and gets you the grades.

How to do a Literature Review

What is a literature review? How do you do a literature review?

If you’ve been tasked with creating a literature review and are not sure where to begin, check out our new research guide – Literature Reviews at http://libguides.utopia.ut.edu/literaturereviews.

“A Literature Review or “A Review of the Literature” is a survey of existing scholarly writings or published knowledge on a particular topic. It is not an analysis of a single work of literature (e.g. analysis of Moby Dick) but rather a survey, summary, critical analysis, comparison, and synthesis of multiple scholarly works addressing a specific subject area. Conducting a literature review is part of the research process and serves to establish a base of knowledge and overview of the principle works on a specific area of research as well as identify important themes, discoveries, areas of consensus and debate, change over time, and provide a foundation for further research. There are multiple lit review types and methodologies which vary by discipline and the particular requirements of your assignment.”

Brainstorming and 9/11

This Wednesday will be the 12th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks. I wonder do normal every day people call them that, “the September 11 terrorist attacks?” I would hazard to guess they do not. Most people say 9/11. Twelve years ago I hated how the news media and people called it 9/11 but now I do it too. I think I didn’t like it because to me it seemed to minimize the loss that tragic event brought about and I thought it made it seem as not as important. Over time I realized it didn’t matter how one labels the event as long as they acknowledged and remembered it.

In the online catalog (the library’s book database) the official Library of Congress subject heading is “September 11 Terrorist Attacks, 2001.” I didn’t magically know this, rather I brainstormed the topic. I used “9/11” as a keyword search. I found some books. I then looked at the bibliographic record of one of the items and I discovered the official subject heading. When I clicked on that I found A LOT more books! I have to say that if I wanted to do a research project on some aspect of 9 /11 there are many subjects to choose from:

September 11 Terrorist Attacks, 2001

September 11 Terrorist Attacks, 2001–Psychological aspects

September 11 Terrorist Attacks, 2001–Influence

September 11 Terrorist Attacks, 2001–Juvenile literature

September 11 Terrorist Attacks, 2001–Economic aspects

September 11 Terrorist Attacks, 2001–Medals

September 11 Terrorist Attacks, 2001–Environmental aspects–New York (State)–New York

September 11 Terrorist Attacks, 2001–Health aspects–New York (State)–New York

September 11 Terrorist Attacks, 2001–Anniversaries, etc.

September 11 Terrorist Attacks, 2001–Drama

September 11 Terrorist Attacks, 2001–Personal narratives

AND many more. So, whether you are doing a research project on 9/11 or something else, take time to brainstorm your topic, use the bibliographic records found in the online catalog, and of course always stop by and see a reference librarian for even more help and advice.