Annual Kentucky Women’s Book Festival brings together readers, writers in Ekstrom Library

The 12th annual Kentucky Women’s Book Festival will feature authors from a wide variety of genres March 3 on University of Louisville’s Belknap Campus.

The festival’s opening speaker is UofL alumna Sheri Riley, author of “Exponential Living: Stop Spending 100% of Your Time on 10% of Who You Are (with a forward by Usher),” which has been featured on numerous national television shows and news outlets.


Sallie Bingham, playwright, poet, founder of the Kentucky Foundation for Women and author of numerous books including an upcoming literary biography, “The Silver Swan: In Search of Doris Duke,” will present the luncheon keynote.

Other speakers include Carolyn Furdek, author of “Locked-In: A Soldier & Civilian’s Struggle with Invisible Wounds,” and Aimee Zaring, author of “Flavors from Home: Refugees in Kentucky Share Their Stories and Comfort Foods.”

Women Who Write, a local women’s writers’ group, will present the workshop “So, You Want to Write: Let’s Get Started” facilitated by Selene Phillips, who is an assistant professor of communications at UofL.

The festival begins at 9:30 a.m. with coffee and conversation and the opening session begins at 10 a.m. in the Chao Auditorium of Ekstrom Library. Festival sessions and presentations are free but participants are asked to register here to guarantee their space.  An optional $10 lunch is available for purchase by calling the Women’s Center at 502-852-8976.

The Women’s Center and University Libraries host the event, which is part of the university’s observance of Women’s History Month.


University Libraries offers new digital historic Courier-Journal

Despite recent budget challenges, the University Libraries have been able to maintain, or in some cases expand, the digital and print resources we offer our patrons. We have retained existing databases such as Elsevier’s Science Direct platform, and through cost efficiencies we are excited to offer new products, including the digital version of the historic Courier-Journal (1830-2000). Access to this new resource, which provides complete electronic access to the full Courier-Journal back file, is available from our web site at:

The Libraries have realigned resources to assess efficiencies and create a more sustainable operating environment that ensures students, faculty and researchers can continue their important scholarship. Over the past year, the University Libraries system has:

  • Reassigned staff to focus on building sustainable collections.
  • Implemented a comprehensive e-resource management system.
  • Assessed costs and analyzed usage data for all databases and subscriptions.
  • Evaluated program needs and incorporated input from faculty.
  • Studied peer institutions for comparison.

As budget reductions brought about a significant funding shortfall for FY 18, we made the difficult decision to not renew the Elsevier platform whose costs had dramatically increased. In fall 2017, at the urging of Health Sciences Center faculty, the University restored funding for this critical resource.

We understand the Libraries’s centrality to scholarly work and are therefore excited to continue providing these rich resources for the University community. However, where we cannot provide access to resources, we offer our Inter-Library Loan system (ILL), as well as a broad spectrum of resources for faculty:  You are invited to share your concerns with us via this online comment form.



“Which bridge did Muhammed Ali throw his medal off of?” and other interesting questions answered by the Research Assistance & Instruction Department

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.


Note to Shelf: A Book’s Journey

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 ( 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.


Shelves of book labels in Tech Services’ basement offices in Ekstrom Library.

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.


Tyler Goldberg (photo, Ashley Triplett)

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.


Research DIY: Self-Guided Library

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.

choose topic

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.

ask yourself

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.

additional tips

Then and Now in the Library: UofL Libraries Promo Video from 1986 Highlights Big Changes

Perhaps nothing terrifies a college student like the research paper: finding a topic, creating an original thesis, searching and vetting sources, reading thoroughly, writing meaningfully – all difficult, time consuming tasks requiring focus and perseverance.


“Cleopatra” showing her Libraries card.

However, today’s technologically transformed library offers students tools that vastly simplify the research process. Sources emerge with a finger swipe, and incorporating them into a paper is simpler with an online library catalog. Compared with 30, even 20 years ago, searching and finding sources today has never been more streamlined, and academic research has benefited.


Accompanied by Yaz, the snake (at left), from the Louisville Zoo.

Students curious about library research methods pre-Internet – or promotional videos from the mid-‘80s – should see this quirky, parodical video, made in 1986 to feature Ekstrom Library, which had been built five years earlier. Unearthed recently by Anna Marie Johnson, UofL Libraries Head of Research Assistance and Instruction, the video is interspersed with tongue-in-cheek “ads” promoting various library resources (one features Cleopatra requesting information on asps, a large python curling nearby). It presents a pseudo-athletic event, held in Ekstrom library, in which two students compete to find information the fastest on an obscure subject (“squirrel cage motors” and “dancing mice”) using the various tools in the library.

In the video, students confront the difficult “athletic” challenge of conducting research, something intended as parody. However, compared with today’s research methods, the students’ tasks do indeed look athletic.

pervis and angela

The two “competitors” were UofL basketball (then) rising star Pervis Ellison, and (then) SGA President Angela McCormick (now a Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge).

“Conducting research was very different from today’s methods,” says Johnson. “In fact, back then the process of finding a scholarly journal article involved several time-consuming steps in three separate locations.”

“First, you had to find the right subject index. So, if you were looking for articles in psychology, you needed to know that there was such a thing as Psychological Abstracts and that those were located in the reference section of the library. In addition, if you wanted all the articles on your topic for the last five years, it would likely involve paging through multiple volumes of the Abstracts.”


University Libraries Archivist Tom Owen (l) introduced the competition for viewers.

“Once you settled on some articles – which may have required you to also look up a journal abbreviation since the journal names were often abbreviated to save space – and wrote down the citations , you had to look at a printed list, which was often on a different table or shelf, of all the journals the library subscribed to in order to determine if the articles you wanted were in the library.”

“Remember, there were no cell phones handy to take pictures of your citations,” she added.

“Finally, you would take your list of citations upstairs to the journal stacks and choose the correct bound volume of the journal that you needed.”


An erudite gorilla peruses a rare book in Archives and Special Collections’ research room.

“Contrast that with today,” Johnson goes on. “You probably are not even walking into the library, but you are accessing a database on the web that Ekstrom Library subscribes to, searching 50 years of those printed volumes, and with often one or two subsequent clicks, finding a PDF of the article you’re seeking, all without leaving your couch.”

So while we sympathize with students confronting their first college research paper, we can say this: researching a topic today is wildly more convenient than in years past, and as a result, the act of writing, research, and even thinking, can be deeper, better synthesized, and stronger.

You can see the video for yourself here.

Interest in Dystopian Fiction Surges

By Carolyn Dowd and George Martinez

Following the November election, George Orwell’s 1984 became an instant best-selling novel. It is one among a number of 20th Century dystopian novels making a resurgence in popularity recently. A bitterly contested American election and subsequent change in governing style may have prompted some to seek out fictionalized accounts of dystopian realities, as an odd form of comfort.


What is dystopian fiction?  Contrary to utopian fictions, in which an author projects an ideal worldview of humanity, dystopian fictions offer a darker vision of human behavior, where desired societal norms are turned on their heads. Thus, a society might led not by a beneficent, wise and humane ruler, but an immature, inhumane, simple-minded fool.

In 1984, Winston Smith lives under the intolerable, crippling and constant scrutiny of the ironically named ruler of Oceana, Big Brother. His attempts to find individual freedom within such a society forms the main drama of the novel.

Other examples of dystopian fiction include Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World,  Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange, and Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale.

Want to dig further into our collection of dystopian fiction? Here’s a list:

handmaids taleThe Road by Cormac McCarthy

Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson

The Stand by Stephen King

V For Vendetta by Alan Moore

Battle Royale by Koushun Takami

Blindness by José Saramago

I Am Legend by Richard Matheson

The Drowned World by J.G. Ballard

Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler