“Which bridge did Muhammed Ali throw his medal off of?” and other interesting questions answered by the Research Assistance & Instruction DepartmentPosted: October 10, 2017
By Anna Marie Johnson
Imagine a job where you were able to learn about all kinds of different and fascinating topics in the process of helping someone answer a burning question that they have. That is part of the work of the Research Assistance and Instruction (RAI) office. Librarians, professional staff, and peer research assistants answer questions like these (and much more prosaic ones such as “Why can’t I access this journal article I need?”) via e-mail, chat, phone, or face-to-face:
- How many buildings are there on Belknap Campus?
- How did St. Paul come to be a Roman citizen?
- What is the childhood address of Hunter S. Thompson?
- What was the roll call vote for the Kentucky senators and House members for the Civil Rights Act of 1964?
- Can you help me research design for justifying the excavation of a privy?
- What are the cultural reactions regarding American Indians during the Gilded Age and Progressive Era (1870-1929)—particularly in how American Indians and the related federal policies were represented in the media?
- Where can I find industry and consumer data for Gillette Fusion?
- What are the general prosodic characteristics of English and Spanish?
Over the years, we have helped with questions that ranged from the esoteric (journal articles on the dead Sabaean language, from someone wanting to piece together the language and write a book about it) to the downright impossible, such as the patron who wanted a copy of the WHAS Radio broadcast license from 1927, or the patron researching obscure magicians and street performers from Europe.
“What’s the best book you’ve ever read?”
While we go to great lengths to track down an answer, sometimes there’s a little luck involved. One day, a call came in to Rob Detmering, the librarian responsible for Film Studies. The caller was looking for one of the original copies of a 1972 film called Asylum of Satan. The film had reportedly been shot here in Louisville and the out-of-state caller thought that the university might have a copy. Rob asked around to the Archives, the Art Department, and a few other campus contacts that he thought might know something,
“How many theaters exist in the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel?”
but to no avail. Rob did some digging in the online database for the Courier-Journal that the library subscribes to and discovered the film had been shown at a film festival in 2008 at Baxter Avenue Theatre. Rob called the theater and spoke with someone who not only knew the film but knew the location of the copy that they had used in the showing.
We often learn a lot as we’re helping. Our former Libraries Diversity Resident George Martinez received a question from a faculty member asking about the history of the African American Theater program at UofL. He looked through some microfilm and consulted with our colleagues in the Archives & Special Collections to find articles that traced the history of a controversy over how money generated by the Fiesta Bowl was being used for scholarships. The results of that controversy was the increase in hiring and scholarship distribution to increase the diversity at UofL.
Got Questions? Ekstrom’s RAI Department can help you track down your answer! Oh, and there is some doubt as to whether Ali ever threw his medal off any bridge, but the closest answer is the Clark Memorial.
Several faculty and staff will represent the University of Louisville Libraries at the upcoming Kentucky Library Association Conference this weekend at the Galt House in downtown Louisville. Following are some of the presentations and presenters at this year’s event, which runs from September 21-23.
ETDplus: Guidance for Graduate Students’ Research Output
Rachel Howard, Digital Initiatives Librarian, and Dwayne Buttler, JD, Endowed Chair for Scholarly Communication
The IMLS-funded ETDplus project has produced guidance documentation, workshop materials, and software tools for students and staff to use in managing complex digital objects such as research data sets, video installations, websites and music recitals. These intellectual works cannot be captured in words alone and implicate copyright, metadata, file formats, versioning, and other research and practical challenges. We will demonstrate these freely available resources and their potential uses.
Renovations and Innovations: Merging Departments and Unit Cultures
Matthew Goldberg, Head, Access & User Services, Ekstrom Library; Ashley Triplett, Student Supervisor and Social Media Library Specialist, Ekstrom Library
This is the story of Ekstrom Library at the University of Louisville and its renovations during 2015 and the experiences we had merging nine separate sub-departments into a single unit called Access and User Services. What may seem like a challenging process turned into an opportunity for growth and development. We will explore how we reexamined how the public desks prioritized our patrons and how we grew from several disjointed departments into a single unit with a unified department culture.
Kentucky and the Great War: Filling and Operating Military Camp Libraries
Jonathan Jeffrey, Department Head, Manuscripts Coordinator, Western Kentucky University; and Delinda Stephens Buie, Curator of Rare Books, Archives & Special Collections
The American Library Association provided library services in U.S. military camps during WWI. To fill those libraries, Americans donated 3 million books in 1918 with Kentuckians contributing generously. Louisville’s Camp Zachary Taylor was part of the ALA’s work to provide wholesome activities in the training camps. They also sought to show the value and even “manliness” of libraries. Perhaps ironically, much of the work at Taylor was done by women from the Louisville Free Public Library.
Research DIY: Enhancing Online Learning Through Strategic Planning and Collaborative Professional Development
Robert Detmering, Information Literacy Coordinator, Information Literacy Coordinator; Amber Willenborg, Online Learning and Digital Media Librarian
We enhanced and expanded our online instruction program, while building buy-in within a departmental culture that was not enthusiastic about this work. Through strategic hiring, staffing reallocation, and collaborative professional development, we created general and customized online tools and services, including course-embedded content. We will share our team-based creative process, promotional activities, and initial assessment data for our homegrown research DIY site, Discover It Yourself.
One of life’s greatest pleasures is browsing bookshelves, searching for topics at random, finding the unexpected, neglecting all commitments to ponder at leisure.
Anyone seeking such non-digital delights can visit libraries on the Belknap or HSC campuses, or for virtual browsing, our website. But how did these physical and virtual books make it to the stacks and website, to be discovered by inquiring eyes and fingertips?
Each book’s journey to the shelf is deliberately egalitarian, says Tyler Goldberg, Head of Technical Services and Print Collection Development. Anyone affiliated with the University may request books, videos, recordings or other materials via this link on the Libraries’ website (http://library.louisville.edu/forms/order-recommendation). Allowing suggestions from University-affiliated individuals aligns with the Libraries’ mission to provide free and open access to information for our patrons.
After a request comes in, Tyler and Technical Services Acquisitions Specialist John Burton confer to determine: 1) whether we already have an item; 2) whether it meets basic criteria for inclusion in our collection; 3) if so, where to order it; and 4) how to pay for it.
After searching Amazon or other online sites, John orders an item, inspects it when it arrives, and ensures it is as advertised, i.e., not ripped, not missing pages, published in the wrong language, or another book altogether. (These errors have all happened.) Before the book is ordered, John has to choose a fund from which to order the book, either from an endowment or gift*, or from the main Libraries budget.
Continuing the journey, a book, DVD or other item arrives at a Technical Services staffer’s desk, to be barcoded, cataloged (added to Libraries’ online catalog), and passed to a staff member for labeling, stamping, and a final check. Items without records or incorrect information are bounced back to Tyler. For those items without records, she creates and adds a record to the WorldCat database.
After final processing, materials arrive at their final destination, perhaps the Browsing Collection on the third floor of Ekstrom Library, or the African American Collection on Ekstrom’s second floor, or the general stacks — wherever it will be among its counterparts, waiting to be gazed at fondly by browsing eyes.
So there you have it. Our librarians and staff deal with machinations behind the scenes so you can study, research, write that scholarly paper, or continue in the simple pleasure of book browsing.
*Many of our loyal and fantastic donors have contributed funds for general materials and specific genres, and the Libraries depend upon these gifts to augment our collections. Some of these funds support specific subject areas, such as Asian studies, humanities, engineering, women’s studies, finance, children’s literature, biology, American literature, and even railroads. Given the budget cuts to collections, these gifts are more valuable than ever.
By Amber Willenborg
Research assignments can lead to enlightenment, but, as the scholarship on information literacy indicates, the path isn’t easy. The Project Information Literacy Freshmen Study found that students face many challenges with finding and using information, from locating appropriate databases to reading research articles and evaluating information. With this in mind, and in direct response to faculty requests for a one-stop research resource for students, the library has unveiled our new Research DIY website.
Research DIY is an online tool featuring visually appealing infographics, videos, and step-by-step instructions to help students get started with a wide variety of research tasks. The PIL Freshmen Study revealed that students struggle most with formulating online searches, selecting and locating research resources, and reading and comprehending materials. On the DIY website, students will find resources that directly address these struggles: a video on generating keywords for searching, numerous videos with instructions for finding a variety of source types like scholarly articles, and an infographic on how to approach reading research articles. Research DIY also includes content created in conjunction with the University Writing Center to help students appropriately integrate sources into their research papers.
While the website is easy for students to find and use on their own, we encourage instructors to link to the site on Blackboard or in their syllabus, or direct students to sections of the website that would be helpful for particular assignments. In addition to Research DIY, the library offers a variety of teaching tools including online learning modules for practice with information literacy concepts and research guides for more in-depth information on research topics and resources. Librarians are also available to create custom content tailored to your class or assignment. The path may not be easy, but the library is here to illuminate your way forward to success.
Happy birthday to Ekstrom Library, which first opened the doors of its current location on August 28, 1981.
Named after Dr. William F. Ekstrom, a noted English professor and the first Academic Vice-President of the university, Ekstrom Library was built to house an expanding collection that had outgrown its former location in what is now Schneider Hall.
The University Library grew from an original donation of Dean John Letcher Patterson’s personal collection in the early 1900s; by 1956, library moved into its own building to accommodate the growing collection, and by the end of the 1970s, the University Library had over 200,000 items in its collection, prompting plans for a new $14 million library.
Coincidentally, Ekstrom Library director, Associate Dean Bruce Keisling shares a birthday of August 28. Happy birthday to both!
By Chris Heckman, Intern, Research Assistance and Instruction, Ekstrom Library
Do you need to know the rate of accidental gun deaths in the U.S. between 2006-2012? What about the voting records of your representatives in Congress, or the percentage of households with running water in a particular Afghan province?
Finding very specific data like this can be a significant challenge for both new and experienced researchers. That’s why the University Libraries offers research guides, or collections of curated links to useful journals, databases, and depositories of statistical data, organized by subject. These can be invaluable resources for students beginning the research process, as well as for faculty who want to impart research skills in their students.
Social Sciences and Outreach Librarian Sam McClellan has recently added a new research guide, Finding Data and Statistics, which provides links to several databases and search engines for use with a variety of topics. For example, Zanran is a search engine specifically designed for finding statistics on the internet. A search as simple as “birth rate Somalia” returns over 2,700 relevant graphs, charts, and tables for a researcher to easily narrow down and comb through. You can find a link to this research guide in any of the social sciences subject guides.
The Finding Data and Statistics guide also includes links to social science data archives from universities such Cornell, Princeton, and Northwestern, all freely available for students at University of Louisville to use.
The new guide allows for narrowing by topic, including criminal justice, economics, education, environment, health, politics and elections, labor and employment, public opinion, religion, and urban planning and housing. Selecting any of these topics takes the user to a collection of links to useful data sources. For example, narrowing by “health” yields links to over 50 different data sources along with descriptions of those sources. These data archives are selected because they are freely available (or available to anyone with a UofL Library account), and because they contain a wealth of information for researchers interested in health issues in the United States and abroad. From statistics on the prevalence and mortality rates of specific diseases to information on access to healthcare by region, a wide array of information is available here at a researcher’s fingertips.
Data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and National Institute of Health (NIH) are available here, as well as data from international bodies such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and World Bank. Broad research tools such as CDC Wonder, a search engine provided by the CDC for navigating the agency’s public records, or WHOSIS, the WHO’s statistical information system, can assist with research on a wide array of topics, but there are also databases for more narrowly focused research areas. For example, the AIDS Public Information Dataset from the CDC provides data specifically on HIV/AIDS incidence in the U.S., while the Cancer Statistics resource from NIH provides data on cancer in the United States. You can find data from some current large-scale studies here as well. For example, results from Princeton University’s ongoing Fragile Families and Child Well-Being Study are useful for research on children’s health, particularly among children with single parents.
Several resources provide information on mental health concerns (the NIH’s National Institute of Mental Health, the HHS’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration), child and adolescent health concerns (Data Resource Center for Child & Adolescent Health, Monitoring the Future Series, The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health, UNICEF Data: Monitoring the Situation of Children and Statistics, Guatemalan Survey of Family Health 1995), and healthcare cost and utilization (Health and Medical Care Archive @ ICPSR, Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HHS), Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (HHS)).
The Health section of the Finding Data and Statistics guide contains many more avenues for researchers to explore subtopics in the health field, and health is just one of the topics available in the guide. Anyone conducting research at University of Louisville should consider giving the research guides a try!
Kornhauser Library provides access to point-of-care tools such as DynaMedPlus, Essential Evidence Plus, and First Consult. Effective Monday, September 4, 2017, Kornhauser will no longer be able to offer access to UpToDate and understand this is a significant transition. Kornhauser Librarians are here to help with the transition, and are can provide training sessions on these additional resources.
If you have any further comments or questions please direct them to our comment form at http://library.louisville.edu/forms/contact.