“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.”
“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.”
“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.
By Rachel Howard
Most peer-reviewed academic journals are subscription-based: some require high fees from academic libraries and their institutions, while others charge authors directly if they want to make their content freely available to other scholars and researchers through open access. The University of Louisville recently launched its own open access, peer-reviewed journal, The Journal of Respiratory Infections, using ThinkIR, the University of Louisville’s institutional repository in University Libraries.
Released on January 30, the new journal is one of several open access journals planned for hosting in ThinkIR that will serve the needs of scholars and researchers worldwide regardless of their means and without toll barriers.
Left to right: Rachel Howard, Sarah Frankel, and Jessica Petrey of University Libraries; Dr. Julio Ramirez, Dr. Bill Mattingly, Kimberley Buckner, and Matt Grassman of Division of Infectious Diseases.
Doctors in UofL’s Division of Infectious Diseases approached their Clinical Librarian, Kornhauser Library’s Jessica Petrey, last year about their idea to publish two open access journals: one focused on respiratory infections and the other on refugee and global health. They had thought through the aims and scope of these journals, and identified who within the division and the field they wanted to be involved, but they needed the Libraries’ help with hosting it and providing digital preservation of journal content – a prerequisite to getting it listed in PubMed.
Jessica put them in touch with Rachel Howard, Digital Initiatives Librarian, whose work involves digital preservation as well as open access. As a result of the work of Rachel, Sarah Frankel, the Libraries’ Open Access and Repository Coordinator, Dwayne K. Buttler, the Evelyn G. Schneider Endowed Chair for Scholarly Communication at UofL, and the Scholarly Communication and Data Management Work Group, the Libraries developed policies, procedures, and agreements to support the Division of Infectious Diseases as a pilot project for a new phase of repository development. Jessica expanded her support of the Division by serving as copy editor of the journal.
On January 30, 2017, the Division of Infectious Diseases celebrated the launch of Journal of Respiratory Infections Volume 1, Issue 1, with a party at MedCenterOne. Petrey, Howard, and Frankel were in attendance, where they were warmly thanked by Division of Infectious Diseases Chief Dr. Julio Ramirez.
by Erin Gow
Perhaps not surprisingly, given recent news, the Law Library has seen a sudden surge in questions about U.S. executive orders.
Wondering how to find out more about them? Here are a few good resources to get you started.
Executive orders are published along with other Presidential documents in the Code of Federal Regulations Title 3, which you can access online, in print in the library, or through a subscription database such as Bloomberg Law, HeinOnline, Lexis or Westlaw.
To see recent executive orders visit the White House page. The American Presidency Project and Federal Register also reproduce executive orders, although there may be a slight delay before the latest orders are available.
For current and older Presidential documents, consult the FDsys compilation, which includes executive orders along with letters, statements and other documents.
Historic executive orders are available through the National Archives and through HeinOnline’s Daily and Weekly compilations of Presidential documents.
For more information about the issuing, modifying and revoking of Executive Orders, see the Congressional Research Service’s 2014 report.