Monthly Archives: June 2015

Trial Database: North American Women’s Letters and Diaries

diaryThe Library is currently trialing a new database: North American Women’s Letters and Diaries, Colonial to 1950. Take a browse and let us know what you think.

From Alexander Street Press:

North American Women’s Letters and Diaries includes the immediate experiences of 1,325 women and 150,000 pages of diaries and letters. Particular care has been taken to index this material so that it can be searched more thoroughly than ever before.  The materials have been carefully chosen using leading bibliographies, supplemented by customer requests and more than 7,000 pages of previously unpublished material. The collection also includes biographies and an extensive annotated bibliography of the sources in the database.

Opening Up the Congressional Research Service

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) turns out wonderful reports for members of Congress. I often direct students to these reports if they’re researching current or contentious issues.

Unfortunately, the CRS is not allowed by law to directly share these reports with the public. The members of Congress who request the reports are allowed to share them, and there are non-profits who persistently ask for these reports and then release them to the open Internet.

This is sort of an obscure topic, but one closely followed by academic librarians. Perhaps it will receive a little more attention now that the New York Times has published an op-ed – Congressional Research Belongs to the Public.

“Every day, the Congressional Research Service, a little-known government agency attached to the Library of Congress, churns out papers on issues as varied as the defense budget, the farm bill and nuclear weapons. They’re not classified. They’re nonpartisan. And unlike many government reports, they’re fairly easy to understand. Yet it’s hard for most people to get copies of reports produced by the Congressional Research Service, which operates as an in-house think-tank for lawmakers. That is absurd.”

In 2007 the then-director of CRS released a memo to staff supporting the status quo of not releasing the reports.

“What is the rationale for CRS providing its work solely to the Congress? Three broad concerns go to the heart of the existin policy; impairment of th eperformance of Members’ representational role, risk to confidentiality, and impact on the mission and congressional focus that characterizes our efforts. These issues also inform our policies on furnishing products to individuals outside Congress and our guidelines on staff interactions with the media.” (Read the whole memo here.)

You can see a collection of these reports at the Federation of American Scientists website.

MFA Lectores series begins Thursday, June 18

27427Don’t miss the first Lectores in this summer’s MFA reading series this Thursday June 18th, 7:30 at the Vaughn Center, 9th floor.

Lydia Davis is a Man Booker-prize winning author of acclaimed short story collections, a novel, and several translations, including Varieties of Disturbance: Stories (May 2007), Samuel Johnson Is Indignant (2001), and Almost No Memory (1997).

Read more about her in interviews with NPR and the Believer Magazine.

The Lectores series will take place every evening at 7:30 p.m. until June 25th. There’s a great line-up this year – view the full calendar of events here.

Read up! The library holds The collected stories of Lydia Davis. It is shelved in the display case at the entrance to the library — ask for it at the Circulation Desk.