Ask A Librarian

The Purpose of a Library

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
February 14th, 2018

By Karen Diaz, Interim Dean of Libraries

Recently, I attended a leadership training event. The trainer encouraged attendees to think about the difference between our function and our purpose.  To illustrate the issue the trainer showed us a photo similar to those in this news story. Clearly, the function the men in superhero costumes were performing was cleaning windows.  But by dressing in superhero costumes to do this work they fulfilled a larger purpose. They provided a healing environment for children who were suffering from pretty horrible diseases by including a sense of fun and happiness.

Bringing this thinking into a library context, it’s hard to pinpoint the function of a library, much less its purpose.  Some might say that a library’s function is to preserve the cultural record. Others might say it is to promote lifelong learning. Yet others might consider it to be a community center focused on meeting both educational and entertainment needs. Many library vision statements include language like “collect, preserve, and provide access to information.” When you look at staff positions there are all sorts of more traditional functions that are carried out: such as cataloging and archival processing, acquisitions of materials, reference, interlibrary loan, systems and technology support, circulation, instruction, and communication. There are newer functions in some environments such as learning technology, open access publishing, copyright services, and more.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read All About It! More Historic Newspapers Available on Chronicling America

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
February 12th, 2018

Masthead of American Union Newspaper

Blog post by Stewart Plein, Rare Book Librarian

Woman reading newspaper

The West Virginia and Regional History Center is pleased to announce that an additional eighteen historic West Virginia newspapers have recently been uploaded to the Library of Congress Chronicling America database.  These newspapers have been digitized as part of the National Digital Newspaper Project (NDNP) grant awarded to WVU Libraries and funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities in partnership with the Library of Congress. These newspapers have been digitized under the receipt of WVU’s third NDNP grant award.  All of these historic West Virginia newspapers now on Chronicling America are available free to read and download in the comfort of your own home.  Read the rest of this entry »

Help lower textbook costs for students

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
February 12th, 2018

The cost of textbooks is rising at a rate of four times inflation. Sixty percent of students have delayed purchasing textbooks until they’ve received their financial aid. Seventy percent don’t purchase a required textbook during their academic career because of cost.

You can help by attending the Open Textbook Workshop and Textbook Review where you can discover open textbooks in your field. After the workshop, you will be asked to write a short review of an open textbook. Your review will benefit other faculty considering open textbooks. You’ll receive a $200 stipend for your participation and a written review. The workshop will be held at the Downtown Campus Library, Room 104, March 8 at 10 a.m. Librarians Hilary Fredette and Martha Yancey will lead the workshop.

Read the rest of this entry »

Selected Environmental History Archives and Manuscripts Collections at the WVRHC

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
February 5th, 2018

Blog post by Lori Hostuttler, Assistant Director, WVRHC.

West Virginia is known for mountain vistas, beautiful rivers and forests, and rural scenery.  The natural beauty of the state is one of its greatest assets.  This blog post compiles a number of collections at the West Virginia & Regional History Center that document efforts to preserve the natural environment in West Virginia.  Click on the link to see the finding aid for each collection.  This list is not comprehensive – there are many more relevant sources in the Center’s holdings.  Search the Guide to Archives and Manuscripts for additional collections and review the WVRHC website to find books, photographs, maps, and printed ephemera among other resources.  Read the rest of this entry »

Applications being accepted for Faculty/Staff Exhibition Award

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
February 1st, 2018

West Virginia University Libraries and the Art in the Libraries committee have created the WVU Faculty/Staff Exhibition Award to help promote the art and scholarship of faculty and staff. Current faculty and staff may submit ideas for an exhibit that visually showcases their scholarship in new and experimental ways, provides a visual evolution of their work or answers a research question. One awardee will receive a $1,000 professional development award and an exhibition, including promotion and public programming. Application deadline is February 28. More information is available at exhibits.lib.wvu.edu.

Art Crawl to highlight art, history, nature on Campus

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
January 30th, 2018

West Virginia University Libraries encourages University and Morgantown community members to participate in the Campus Art Crawl on February 15, from 4-6 p.m. In addition to exhibits, the tour will feature activities, such as a scavenger hunt, and food and drink. Admission and participation are free.

Downtown

Downtown Campus Library Atrium: This exhibit celebrates a decade of College of Creative Arts Professor of Photography Michael Sherwin teaching a workshop on Jackson Hole photography. Beginning at 4 p.m., Sherwin and a group of his students will give a presentation on their work.

West Virginia & Regional History Center: A selection of documents and artifacts from the Center’s archives illustrate the University’s founding and early years. Read the rest of this entry »

Server Updates

Posted by jetapia@wvu-ad.wvu.edu.
January 24th, 2018

We will be updating the following systems.  The sites may be down briefly, but downtime should be minimal.

January 24:

ojs.lib.wvu.edu
civilwarwv.lib.wvu.edu
clarysville.lib.wvu.edu

January 25:

iai.lib.wvu.edu
jerrywest.lib.wvu.edu
mdid.lib.wvu.edu
news.lib.wvu.edu
pec.lib.wvu.edu
rockefeller.lib.wvu.edu

January 26:

gbe.lib.wvu.edu
holt.lib.wvu.edu
rahall.lib.wvu.edu
storercollege.lib.wvu.edu
suma.lib.wvu.edu
textbooks.lib.wvu.edu
usswv.lib.wvu.edu
wvhistoryonview.org

Looking for a fun summer online course? Register for ULIB300: Film and Media Literacy

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
January 23rd, 2018

Wherever you travel this summer, as long as you have Internet access, you can take ULIB300: Film and Media Literacy. In this 12-week online course, students will watch the films of Quentin Tarantino, including Inglorious Basterds, Kill Bill, Pulp Fiction, Reservoirs Dogs, Hateful Eight, and Jackie Brown, and discuss how they relate to other films in their genre, criticism, marketing, film vocabulary, and media literacy.

This 3-credit course runs May 14 to August 3 and fulfills GEC 5 and 7, and GEF 6. To register in STAR, use the Class Schedule Search and set Subject to “Library Instruction.” Learn more at the Libraries website or contact the instructor, Matt Steele, at matthew.steele1@mail.wvu.edu or 304-293-4240.

University Archives Update, Part 1: University Records

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
January 22nd, 2018

Blog post by Jane Metters LaBarbara, Assistant Curator, WVRHC.

In honor of WVU’s new and exciting records retention schedule, here is a little history about the University Archives and information about what we are collecting.

People working at desks on the 10th Floor of Wise Library, West Virginia University

The stacks in the old Wise Library used to be open; now they are closed and we store a lot of the University Archives here.

The West Virginia & Regional History Center is the special collections unit of WVU Libraries and the home of WVU’s university archives.  It all began in the 1920s when an ambitious WVU history professor started to seek support for preserving the state’s historical records. By 1933, we were authorized by the University as the “Division of Documents,” and in 1935 we hired our first full-time archivist Dr. Festus P. Summers.  Read the rest of this entry »

Dreaming of Spring: Historic Garden Catalogs in the West Virginia and Regional History Center

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
January 17th, 2018

Blog post by Stewart Plein, Rare Book Librarian

Long, cold winter nights are the perfect time to dream of spring.  What shall we plant in the garden this year?  Will we order plants, seeds, or some of both?  Will we have a vegetable garden or will we plant flowers?  Should we dig a new bed for those iris we’ve always wanted to plant?  This might be the year!  If you’re like me, you’ve already received garden catalogs offering heirloom seeds or the latest cultivars. I always get drawn into the beautiful images of plants, the latest introductions, and ways to use them in the home and garden.  There’s nothing like looking at garden catalogs on a snowy day to make you think of spring.  Read the rest of this entry »

Arts build community among WVU Libraries, campus and Morgantown

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
January 12th, 2018

As library collections become increasingly digital, West Virginia University Libraries seeks to engage our users and community in our spaces in new ways. One avenue is the Art in the Libraries program, which brings art and collaborative exhibitions into the library buildings to spark discussions and inspire new ideas.

“Having art and exhibits in these publicly used spaces presents a unique opportunity for exhibitor and library guest,” said Sally Deskins, exhibit coordinator for WVU Libraries. “The exhibitor’s work is in a neutral space, a space which preserves and protects new ideas and perspectives, and a space where some who wouldn’t normally seek out art and exhibits, will go.”

Art in the Libraries programming spans the Downtown Campus, Evansdale and Health Sciences libraries. The committee welcomes ideas for collaborative and engaging programs and submissions for exhibition proposals on an ongoing basis.

Read the rest of this entry »

Dean of the Libraries Student Art Awards, 2017

Posted by jetapia@wvu-ad.wvu.edu.
January 12th, 2018

In November, the Art in the Libraries Committee awarded College of Creative Arts’ students Megan Grindle and Christina Kang with the Dean of the Libraries’ arts awards. Grindle’s work, Exposure (2017, acrylic paint, ink, glitter, and art resin)  and Kang’s work Creatures of Dichotomy: Finding a Bridge Between (2017, sceenprint under etching, watercolor, pins), won the awards selected by the Art in the Libraries Committee at the CCA’s Juried Student Exhibit in Laura Mesaros Gallery.

Exposure will be on display in Evansdale Library January through April 2018; Creatures of Dichotomy: Finding a Bridge Between will be on display in the Downtown Campus Library Lobby January through December 2018.

Artist Megan Grindle’s work can be explained simply as abstract, but there are more to the layers of paint than that. She explains that her process takes a careful, skillful hand but the decisions on how to move her hands comes from her unconscious mind. For her work she uses an abstract fluid style that allows her to use the randomness of the paint to create a beautiful outcome.

Artist Christina Kang is a printmaker working on her BFA. She is a self proclaimed “tiny lines enthusiast” and explains that her creating her artwork is her way of showing people her personal identity.

Grindle and Kang will have more artwork on view alongside work by recent graduate Mallory Burka, on display in Room 1020 of DCL January 20-February 2018.

Artist Mallory Burka’s paintings, from afar, seem photographic until viewers look a little closer. Burka’s paintings, though based on her own photographs, are made with oil paint and drop cloth to create a painterly-realistic depiction of structural and natural landmarks in West Virginia. She hopes to interest viewers and persuade them to visit the sites of West Virginia that inspired her.

More information at exhibits.lib.wvu.edu.

Contact: Sally Deskins, Exhibits & Programs Coordinator, WVU Libraries
sbdeskins@mail.wvu.edu, 304-293-0369

Server Maintenance

Posted by jetapia@wvu-ad.wvu.edu.
January 9th, 2018

Systems Development will be performing server maintenance on Thursday, January 11th beginning at 9am.  Downtime should be minimal, but there may be brief outages.  The following system will be affected:

textbooks.lib.wvu.edu

We are very sorry for any inconvenience this may cause.

WVRHC’s Latest Newsletter Features Ancella Bickley

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
January 9th, 2018

The latest issue of the West Virginia & Regional History Center’s newsletter has been released!  The feature article is “Ancella Bickley Papers Document the Life and Work of Pioneer Black Educator and Historian.” Additional articles include a celebration of the recent donation of a set of glassware of the Kennedy Presidential pattern, which was produced by the Morgantown Glass Company, and the donation of a set of historical newspapers that document key moments in history. We also honor our recently retired Coordinator of Public Services, Kevin Fredette, who helped the patrons of the Center for 10 years.

You can read a PDF copy of the newsletter or contact the Center to request a print copy.  If you want to see back issues of the newsletter, they are all online and accessible through our Newsletter webpage.

WVU Plagiarism Avoidance Tutorial

Posted by jetapia@wvu-ad.wvu.edu.
January 3rd, 2018

The Libraries are now offering two versions of our updated plagiarism avoidance tutorial.  Both tutorials cover how plagiarism is defined; why students may advertently and inadvertently plagiarize; possible penalties for plagiarism; how to use information ethically in research papers / projects; and where to get help with researching and writing. To enhance usability, students can watch videos, read scripts, or listen to audio covering the Tutorial’s content. Students work through 5 modules, taking self-tests in order to progress from one module to the next. After completing the last module, students take an exam on the Tutorial’s material. The final exam, consisting of 20 questions, randomly draws from a bank of 58 possible questions. Students generally require about 1 hour of concentrated work time to complete the tutorial.

eCampus

 

This version can be added to your course in eCampus, and the exam’s grade is immediately entered into the eCampus gradebook. To add the Plagiarism Avoidance Tutorial to your class:

  1. Go to https://ers.wvu.edu
  2. Click on the course that you want to add the Plagiarism Avoidance Tutorial to.
  3. Click on the Request Content button.
  4. Check the box next to the sections you want to add it to and click Next.
  5. Click on Development System when it asks where your source content is located.
  6. Then click on Other.
  7. In the Name box, type “WVU Plagiarism Avoidance Tutorial” and click Next.
  8. Then click Submit.

If you would like to review the Plagiarism Avoidance Tutorial before adding it to your current or future class, you can add it to the course shell of a non-current class using the process listed above.

Web

 

This version is available at https://lib.wvu.edu/plagiarism. Students will simply visit this link and take the tutorial and quiz.  At the end of the quiz, they will be prompted to email their scores to their instructors.  This new process will eliminate the need for students to register or for instructors to be added to a list.  This will streamline the process for both students and instructors.  Both this updated version of the tutorial and the previous tutorial will be available through the Spring 2018 semester.  On May 7, 2018, the old version will be removed.

Art in the Libraries Annual Faculty/Staff Exhibits Award

Posted by jetapia@wvu-ad.wvu.edu.
December 27th, 2017

As part of its mission, Art in the Libraries seeks to highlight the art and scholarship of WVU faculty and staff. With the Annual Faculty/Staff Exhibits Award, Art in the Libraries committee invites current WVU faculty and staff to submit ideas for consideration for an exhibit to visually showcase their scholarship in new and experimental ways, providing a visual evolution of their work, visualizing their research and influences, or answering a research question.

Broader goals of this award include:

  • to provide a multidisciplinary platform for deeper learning.
  • to foster a continuation of intellectual discourse and discussion.
  • to demonstrate the breadth of WVU’s creative and innovative activity.

Exhibitions will take place in the Downtown Campus Library, room 1020 for an agreed-upon duration, and include a public lecture, program or demonstration. Non-art faculty or staff may submit a proposal based on their academic research that could become visualized with Library consultation and limited resources. Applicants must submit an outline of their proposal on the Propose an Exhibit online form , with “Annual Faculty/Staff Exhibits Award Submission” in the Proposed Exhibit Location section. (Exhibits.lib.wvu.edu)

Award includes $1,000 as professional development funds. Award also includes promotion, and coordination of public program and reception, offering an opportunity for exposure.

Eligibility: All West Virginia University part-time or full-time faculty or staff.

Winners will be selected by the Art in the Libraries Committee.  Selection will be based on applications that best meet the award’s goals listed above.

Deadline: Midnight, February 28, 2018

Exhibition space is in Downtown Campus Library room 1020.  This is a prime viewing location with glass front walls, located on the first floor of the Library (which averages 4,000 visitors each day).  A hanging system allows for two-dimensional work to be displayed conveniently on the 12’ tall off-white walls.  Three dimensional work can be displayed using the exhibitor’s own pedestals or installation, but must not inhibit student study space area.  Exhibition space will be open during normal Downtown Campus Library hours listed on the website and security is limited to the staff working at the service desks.  There is no security guard or locked hanging system, however the Libraries hold the University-wide insurance which can cover loss or damage with proof of worth.

Applicants may contact Sally Deskins, sbdeskins@mail.wvu.edu, for a tour and/or consultation before applying.

Room 1020 Floorplan (above); entrance is from main 1st floor area.

Celebrating Nitro, 100 Years, 1917 to 2017

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
December 19th, 2017

Blog post by Stewart Plein, Rare Book Librarian

Panoramic View of Nitro

One hundred years ago this month, on December 23, 1917, ground was broken for the development of Nitro, a town born out of necessity.  Not long after the United States entered World War I it became clear that there was a critical shortage of gunpowder and production lagged far behind requirements.  According to William Wintz’s history, Nitro:  The World War I Boon Town, Congress called an emergency session, passing the “Deficiency Appropriates Act” on October 6, 1917, to address this shortfall.

Congress determined that three plants were needed to produce the necessary gunpowder.  Each plant would be capable of producing 500,000 pounds.  Locations for the plants were considered in ten states.  West Virginia became the top choice for a location, just 14 miles from Charleston with adequate water supplies, transportation, topography and access to raw materials.  Sites in Nashville, Tennessee and Louisville, Kentucky were also selected.  In the end, production was bumped up to 700,000 pounds for two plants, Nitro and Nashville.  With this level of production, the Louisville site was no longer needed.

Nitro, under construction

These photos, above and below, are from a photograph album depicting the earliest days of Nitro as it was under development.  Above, Nitro under construction.  Below, the town of Nitro as seen from a nearby hill.

Town of Nitro as seen from nearby hill

A true boom town, Nitro soon saw the influx of thousands of men and materials.  Shortly thereafter, twenty-seven 200 bed barracks were under construction.  110,000 people were employed to build the plant over an eleven month period.  This plant, known as Explosive Plant “C,” could produce 350 pounds of smokeless gunpowder a day.

A town of over 24,000 people sprung up during the same period.  The steady stream of workmen, servicemen, and their families all needed housing.  Since the area was nothing but grass and corn fields when the government purchased it, housing had to be provided.  The War Department contracted with a Huntington company, Minter Homes, founded by William E. Minter as a division of his Huntington Lumber & Supply Company in 1913.

Minter Homes, like the better known Sears & Roebuck and Aladdin homes, supplied ready-made houses that could be ordered from a catalog and delivered to the customer’s site for construction. The War Department purchased a whopping 1,724 Minter Homes for construction in Nitro from February to July 1918.   It has been said that the construction of Nitro was so rapid that a workman could leave his home in the morning and when he returned at the end of the day, another street with an entire row of houses would have been built in his absence.

Since the homes needed furnishing too, Minter Homes also provided the furniture.  Wicker was an inexpensive choice for supplying the homes.  The Nitro photograph album in the WVRHC collection shows one of these Minter Homes, including photographs of the rooms.  Interior photographs from this period are quite rare.  The following photographs below show a charming cottage in Nitro, with morning glories covering the porch, supplied by Minter Homes along with its interior views.  According to a Minter Homes brochure, this was considered an “executive’s home,” probably used in Nitro as the home of an officer.  Heating was supplied by natural gas/forced air, walls were plaster, laundry tubs were included, as were the electricity and the “ornamental” light fixtures.  Everything was new when these photos were taken. Notice that although the flowers are blooming, the front yard is nothing but bare dirt.

Minter home in Nitro, with flowers on porch and a dirt front yard

Interior of Minter home in Nitro, showing fireplace

Some of the wicker furniture supplied by Minter Homes can be seen in these photos, above and below.

Interior of Minter home in Nitro, showing wicker chair and loveseat

A beautiful dining room in the same home.

Interior of Minter home in Nitro, showing dining room

Stop by the West Virginia and Regional History Center to view this photograph album documenting the birth of Nitro as a munitions manufacturing site.  You can also read all about the history of Nitro in Nitro: The World War I Boom Town by William D. Wintz in the WVRHC collection.  Check out Nitro’s history on their website:  http://historyofnitro.com/index.html.  A silent film on Nitro, made in 1918, by the U.S. Signal Corps is available on YouTube:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PHcLohqsoa0

Resources:
WVRHC A&M 4122: Nitro photograph album circa 1918 – 1919
E-WV:  https://www.wvencyclopedia.org/articles/2001
Banner image: West Virginia State Archives
Wintz, William D.  Nitro: The World War I Boom Town
Nitro: A Historic Past, An Exciting Future:  http://cityofnitro.org/west-virginia-history/
Nitro, West Virginia:  http://historyofnitro.com/index.html
Minter Homes: Homes for Workmen:  http://historyofnitro.com/ExplosivesPlantC/MinterHomes/HomesForWorkmen78-85.pdf
Nitro Housing Layout:  http://historyofnitro.com/ExplosivesPlantC/MinterHomes/housing_layouts.pdf

Server Maintenance

Posted by jetapia@wvu-ad.wvu.edu.
December 18th, 2017

The Libraries will be performing server maintenance next week on Wednesday, December 20.  Downtime should be minimal, but there may be brief outages.  The following systems will be affected:

mdid.lib.wvu.edu
rahall.lib.wvu.edu
news.lib.wvu.edu

We are very sorry for any inconvenience this may cause.

West Virginia and the Vietnam War

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
December 12th, 2017

Blog Post by Catherine Rakowski, Administrative Associate at the WVRHC

The United States’ involvement in Vietnam (also known as French Indochina) began as early as 1950 in an effort to contain the spread of communism.  Throughout the next 25 years, the American support for the anti-communist government of South Vietnam escalated from supplying funding, military advisors and equipment to a full-scale involvement of U.S. forces fighting the war.

By the end of America’s most controversial war in 1975, more than 3 million Americans had served and 58,220 had died.  The state of West Virginia sent 36,578 troops of which 1,182 died. West Virginia suffered the highest casualty rate in the nation.

The West Virginia and Regional History Center is now displaying through December 2017, in the Rockefeller Gallery (2nd floor of the Wise Library) the exhibit, “West Virginia and the Vietnam War.” It includes political papers, maps, photographs, correspondence, artifacts, ephemera and the stories of individuals involved in the war on the front lines and at home. The photographs in this blog are from that exhibit.  Read the rest of this entry »

Women Speak at West Virginia University

Posted by jetapia@wvu-ad.wvu.edu.
December 8th, 2017

Event by Women of Appalachia Project

WVU Libraries was pleased to host Women of Appalachia: Spoken Word, September 30, 2017 in the Milano Reading Room of the Downtown Campus Library. The curated event that travels around the region featuring some 30 women artists, included several West Virginia artists. WVU Campus Read Director and Teaching Assistant Professor of Marketing, Susan Lantz, graciously provided a reflection of the event for the Libraries’ blog, below, accompanied by links to recordings of the event.

Today, as I begin the semester assessment in my 97-student “Intro” classes, I asked the students,

“What things did we do in class to make you better understand the diversity of West Virginia University?”

I expected typical answers like. . .

“We read a book about women who were African American.”

“We watched a TED talk about women in Rwanda who are entrepreneurs.”

“We talked about race and class in business when we watched the one video.”

And, indeed. I got those answers. But I got another one that pleasantly surprised me.

A young women raised her hand and said, “That event you told us to go to at the library…the one where the women read stories. ‘Women Speak,’ I think it was called.

I could have kissed her.

Because, even though a 48 year old Assistant Professor of Marketing like me absolutely knew that a spoken word event consisting of Appalachian Women telling their stories speaks to the diversity of our college, state, and region. . . I wasn’t sure the students would. Especially because the event was on a beautiful September Saturday afternoon. And especially because the event was on a list of events that students could choose from (they were required to attend five.)

But, to my surprise, not only did over 100 people show up to the Spoken Word Event, but over 30 of them were students. Some of them were native West Virginians. Some of them were from New York, New Jersey, and Washington D.C. One young woman was from Oman, and one was from Saudi Arabia.

And they were INTO IT. When I quizzed my classes later to find out which events from the list of 19 they had enjoyed the most, this event was often mentioned.

We linked the event to this year’s Campus Read, *Hidden Figures*, a book about the female African American Physicists and Mathematicians who were the underpinnings of the space program. We had chosen the book because two of these women had lived in our town. In fact, one of them had actually attended West Virginia University. We are very proud.
We thought that the subject matter of the book, daughters of Appalachia who used their talents to achieve great things, would link naturally to an event that celebrated Appalachian Women. And it did, and it was a huge success.

But I underestimated my students. Because I think they understood the importance of the event even more than I did. For many of the students who gathered together for the Women Speak event in Morgantown, it was a celebration not only of the diversity of our state and our region, but of the beautiful commonalities and truths that we all share.

Below are the last two video recordings of the live event; to see the first two visit:
https://news.lib.wvu.edu/2017/11/07/wvu-libraries-hosted-regional-women-of-appalachia-spoken-word-event-a-reflection-by-wvu-mds-professor-renee-k-nicholson/