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.
Ranked one of the most LGBT-friendly universities in the south, the University of Louisville provides a variety of supportive services for the LGBT community, and also training for those who serve or interact with these individuals. One such program targets future doctors, dentists, nurses and health care workers and culminates in a LGBT Health Competency certificate.
Over the 2016-2017 academic year, Kornhauser librarian Jessica Petrey availed herself of this training, and recently earned her certificate by attending seven live and one online sessions.
The coursework aims to develop awareness and compassion for LGBT patients, and includes an overview of LGBT health; medical and legal disparities affecting LGBT patients; medical implications of prolonged cross-sex hormone therapy; how to create a welcoming environment to improve health outcomes, and other classes.
We caught up with Petrey to ask a few questions about her experience:
Q. How does this training augment your work as a clinical librarian?
A. Most people attending these trainings are either current or future healthcare providers, so my benefits as a librarian were a little different than the average attendee. In addition to the health information and clinical training we all received, I was able to pay attention to the kinds of questions other attendees were asking and make note of resources we could gather and make available to our patrons. It also gave me the opportunity to network with faculty and students and promote not only the electronic resource guides I have created for them as part of Kornhauser’s LGBT initiative but also my literature searching services on LGBT reference questions.
Q. What was the most difficult part of the training?
A. Stories of disparities, stigma, and discrimination are always the hardest—but perhaps most important—part of these kinds of discussions. Even for those of us who are at least somewhat aware in the abstract of statistics regarding violence, discrimination, and barriers to care, it’s entirely different and much more real hearing the personal accounts of people who have had and continue to have these experiences. The sensitivity to those experiences is so much more important in empowering attendees in providing competent care than any information a textbook could provide.
Q. What was the most surprising aspect of these sessions?
A. I come from a very conservative area, so I was continually (and positively!) surprised at how well attended and supported each session was. It’s so great knowing that our university is working intentionally to reduce those disparities, and having buy-in from students and faculty from all four professional schools, campus offices, and the broader community is integral to that work being successful.
Q. Did you have a favorite session?
A. The variety of session structures and topics was one of the most positive aspects of the series, but my personal favorite session was the one with Dr. Koch. She is a trans woman who transitioned later in life, and was able to speak to both the technical clinical information about the transition process from a provider perspective and share her more personal experiences as a trans woman and patient. It was a privilege to listen to someone who could provide such a complete, enlightening picture of the whole process.
Q. Biggest lesson learned?
A. Probably leaving space for people to assert their own identities, rather than making assumptions. For healthcare providers with patients in particular, maybe that means introducing yourself and mentioning your own pronouns to ask for someone else’s, asking people what an identifier means to them, providing blank space on intake forms to write in orientation and gender rather than checking boxes, mirroring a person’s own language when referring to partners and identities, or some other tangible step you can take to establish a rapport of acceptance and understanding with an individual. Even though the focus of this course was to train healthcare providers, I think curating an approach of understanding and acceptance is a skill that can and should translate to our personal lives as well.
By Matt Goldberg, Head, Access and User Services
Have you ever stopped at a desk in Ekstrom Library to ask a question, such as: Do you have any copies of Dan Brown’s new book? Where’s the bathroom? What time does the library close? If you have, our desk staff have carefully recorded the question and answer so that we can determine trends in patron needs and service requests in an effort to improve how our library operates.
Using a program called Gimlet, the Access and User Services Department (AUS) records every question and answer asked at the west, east, and technology desks, and this data is reviewed weekly by departmental staff. Beyond looking to make sure our staff is giving correct information, we do significant work to refine, manipulate, and extrapolate the hundreds of questions asked per week.
The collection of these questions is quite labor-intensive, thanks to the frequency of questions asked by patrons. From June 2015 to May 2016, there were nearly 32,000 questions asked at the desks, an average of more than 2,600 per month, or about 90 per day. Each question is tagged by the desk staff to group them into easily sortable categories (internal directions, policy, technology, research, etc.) so that we can go back and look for data trends.
You might wonder how we use these trends to make decisions. For instance, in early 2015, we noticed that there were an abnormally high number of printing and copying questions being handled by desk staff at the east and west desks. To alleviate this we opened the technology desk in the computer commons to give students more direct technology help. In another instance, high levels of directional questions have led to improved signage across the building to help patrons find what they are looking for with more visual cues.
We routinely examine trends in the data to examine our own processes and policies. Last semester we opened the east side of the building until 2 a.m., a move that was fueled by a combination of student suggestions, gate count data, and Gimlet numbers that showed students in the building later in the evening than usual. We periodically run visualization reports of the data to see how users are asking their questions, producing word clouds like the one above.
So the next time you ask a question in Ekstrom, just know, we are listening and always looking to be of better assistance!
Through photographs by Robert Doherty and James N. Keen
March 5, 1964
On March 5, 1964, close to 10,000 people from in and around Kentucky gathered at the state capitol for a peaceful civil rights demonstration which has become known as The March on Frankfort, one in a series of civil rights marches lead by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The Allied Organization for Civil Rights (AOCR) coordinated this effort. Among its members were Officers Frank Stanley, Jr., editor of The Louisville Defender; Dr. Olof Anderson, Synod Executive of the Presbyterian Church; and a young Georgia Davis Powers. Powers, who later became the first African American and the first woman to be elected to the Kentucky State Senate in 1967, states this was the beginning of her civil rights activism.
Key speakers were Ralph Stanley, Jr.; the Rev. Dr. D. E. King, pastor of Zion Baptist Church in Louisville from 1946 until 1963; The Rev. Dr. Ralph David Abernathy, Martin Luther King, Jr’s close associate and friend; Jackie Robinson, major league baseball legend who broke the color barrier; and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Folk singers and civil rights activists Peter, Paul and Mary performed.
Robert Doherty founded the University of Louisville Photographic Archives while a professor in the Allen R. Hite Art Institute. Also an active photographer, Doherty documented Louisville scenes, political rallies and events, prominent Louisvillians, and important visitors to the city. His photographs of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Louisville and at the 1964 march on Frankfort have frequently appeared in print. In 2010 Doherty received a Doctor of Fine Arts honoris causa degree from the University of Louisville.
James N. Keen was a photographer for the Chattanooga News, Dayton Journal-Herald, Associated Press, Acme Newspictures, and for twenty-six years, with the Louisville Courier-Journal and Louisville Times. His work appeared in Life and U.S. Camera Annual, and he won numerous national awards for photojournalism. His subjects include celebrities such as Martha Graham and Orville Wright, as well as political figures including Winston Churchill and several presidents. Keen also photographed local landmarks events such as the Kentucky Derby.
Governor Breathitt fought hard for the public accommodations bill. And although it was unsuccessful in 1964, in 1966 the Kentucky General Assembly passed the Kentucky Civil Rights Act. Dr. King called it “the strongest and most comprehensive civil rights bill passed by a Southern state.” The law prohibits discrimination in employment and public accommodations and empowers cities to enact local laws against housing discrimination. [A Kentucky Civil Rights Timeline, http://www.ket.org/civilrights/timeline.htm]
See the exhibit in the Photographic Archives Gallery, Lower Level Ekstrom Library, University of Louisville. Open Monday – Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
After such a sweet victory at the Sugar Bowl I thought it would be fun to take a look at the UofL football photographs we have. Looking through the historic UofL photographs some of my favorite pictures are action shots like this one from the 1960s with Tom LaFramboise (#14) blocking for Al MacFarlane (#33) during a game. Other great shots show cheerleaders, the University of Louisville Marching Band, and mascots.
While I love the historical photos I’m equally excited about a collaboration with UofL’s official photographer, Tom Fougerousse, which will bring more recent University photographs into the Digital Collections. He has taken some amazing shots which are available at the University of Louisville Flickr page. By adding the images to the University Libraries’ Digital Collections they will be preserved for the future with information about the events.
One of the great aspects of the University of Louisville Images collection is the input we receive from the community. UofL alums have helped us provide more information about these past events. The image above, for example, was originally posted without the players’ names, but a sharp-eyed viewer recognized the players and sent in their names. Now the players are identified and can be found by interested fans.
“Libraries exist to preserve society’s cultural artifacts and to provide access to them. If libraries are to continue to foster education and scholarship in this era of digital technology, it’s essential for them to extend those functions into the digital world.” – The Internet Archive
Earlier this year, the University of Louisville Libraries began digitizing and adding texts to our very own corner of The Internet Archive, a nonprofit internet library which provides free, permanent access to digital collections from all over the world. Several of the items we’ve added so far are souvenir booklets containing some wonderful photographs of the city of Louisville from the early 20th century.
Other items include biographies and histories of industries in Kentucky, including one of our most downloaded items to date, Fine Whisky Facts compiled by George C. Buchanan.
The books UofL Libraries have uploaded to The Internet Archive can be viewed in several formats including online, on a Kindle e-reader device, downloaded as a PDF file, etc. UofL’s contributions were scanned and assigned metadata by Sarah Frankel and MARC cataloging records were created by Tyler Goldberg.
Last month, the University of Louisville Electronic Theses and Dissertations (ETD) collection reached and surpassed 1,000 titles!
The 1,000th ETD was authored by Daniel Baumann, a recent graduate of the Speed School of Engineering, Department of Bioengineering for his thesis, “Effect of Flow on Human Endothelial Cell and Dermal Cell Growth Rates Supplemented with Drug Infused Media.”
The UofL Libraries are thrilled that what started as a small project in 2002 has grown to a collection of over 1,000 titles. The Libraries have seen an amazing growth in recent years due to an increase in participation from UofL’s graduate students. For the May 2011 graduates, the ETD program’s participation rate was around 87%. For future graduates, the UofL Libraries hope to increase participation to 100%.
We also have appreciated a boost in participation thanks to a mention in the University of Louisville magazine (Summer 2012 edition, p. 39) which put a call out to U of L alumni to give their permission for us to digitize and add these titles to our ETD collection. As the distributed statement noted, electronic documents are more easily accessed by other scholars than print versions.
If you are reading this blog post and this is the first time you have heard of ETDs or you are a UofL Master’s or Ph. D. graduate interested in submitting your work to this digital collection, please visit our about page where you can find out more information about the collection and UofL’s “Nonexclusive License” which can be mailed or submitted electronically.