Brandeis Library & Technology Services

Access & Commons Services Team Shines as the Front Line of the Library

September 26th, 2017 · No Comments

Keeping the library open and running more than 100 hours per week during the semester is no small task.

The Brandeis University Library Access & Commons Services Team helps manage and secure more than 110,000 square feet of the library, with more than 725,000 people a year entering the building and checking out almost 144,000 items from an inventory of well over 1,000,000 items. The team responds to questions, watches for leaks in the building and keeps occupants safeall with the goal of student and faculty success.

Led by Brenda Cummings, the manager of Access & Commons Services, the team consists of six staff and about 40 students. Often the first point of contact for visitors to the library, the Access & Commons Services Team answers questions that range from how to find an article, how to use a lockable carrel, and how to locate and check-out books, laptops, phone chargers and calculators.

While it takes a whole team of dedicated employees to keep the library a place of discovery, access and creativity, Access & Commons Services plays a crucial role in managing the library space. Knowing that the library is used not only as a study space but also as a community space, they help organize finals activities such as puzzles, coloring and visits from baby farm animals.

The team is adaptable and resourceful, and they kept the library running as smoothly as possible through challenges of construction and new equipment this past summer.

With the Access & Commons Services Team on the front line, the Goldfarb-Farber Library thrives as a location where students and faculty from across campus can go to find answers, become inspired and develop new ideas year-round.

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Andrew J. Koh: Libraries Bring Scholars Together for a Richer View of Our History

September 13th, 2017 · No Comments

The goal of archaeology is to better understand the human past—and that requires knowledge from a wide variety of disciplines, says Brandeis University’s Andrew J. Koh.

Koh, assistant professor of classical studies and co-director of the Digital Humanities Lab located on the Goldfarb Library Mezzanine, said archaeology is an inherently interdisciplinary field, bringing together researchers from across the university to share perspectives on art, history, language, biology, chemistry and more.

While many people may have a general understanding of archaeology, the field is more than unearthing artifacts, Koh said. There’s something intrinsically humanistic about archaeology.

“That’s our job in archaeology: to think about the core of what makes us human and study how and why people behaved as they did in the past,” he said. “Humans are very unpredictable and resourceful. We’re survivors.”

Archaeology can be tied to any major or interest that students want to study, Koh said. For example, records from ancient Egypt detail how its society dealt with everything from fashion to medicine to ethics.

“It was such a rich culture. They wrote down everything and it’s in the desert, so it survived,” he said.

Koh said libraries have always had a special place in history, with the Library of Alexandria in Egypt as a prime example of a center for scholars from all disciplines to gather and share knowledge.

In a similar manner today, libraries such as the Goldfarb-Farber Library serve as the Brandeis community’s hub for research and innovation—not only scanning and preserving digital representations of artifacts and texts, but also recreating them with 3-D printing as well as using virtual reality and topography scans to make new discoveries.

“For us, the library is much than books; it’s knowledge and people talking to each other,” he said. “It’s a chance for people from all different disciplines to come together and exchange ideas, and that’s how you deeply learn.”

Koh welcomes students from across the university to his classes because each individual brings their unique interests and perspectives to the discussion.

He said there’s a strong temptation to become narrowly focused on the present and what coursework might get students a job. The future is difficult to predict and overlooking disciplines that may seem like a luxury can provide a richer, adaptable understanding of the ever-changing world both now and into the future. For example, a pre-law student can gain a deeper appreciation and understanding of ongoing political events by enrolling in classical studies or history to learn how the first democracies of the world handled similar situations.

In actuality, studying the human past fundamentally equips students for careers that don’t even exist yet, Koh said. As researchers better understand how people have interacted throughout history, they can better teach students how to develop life skills that they will carry with them well into the future.

“If we’re not conscious of the main tenets of what happened in the past, we’re just reinventing the wheel,” he said. “When we’re not in the field collecting data, the curation and accessibility of this information in our libraries will always provide us with a solid place to start.”

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Information Literacy Grants awarded for 2017-2018

July 24th, 2017 · Comments Off on Information Literacy Grants awarded for 2017-2018

Brandeis Library has awarded four Information Literacy Grants to faculty members who will work with librarians to integrate information literacy into a course during the 2017-2018 academic year. Each faculty recipient will receive a $2,000 stipend. Congratulations to this year’s recipients!

Grant Recipients:

Faculty member: Melissa Kosinski-Collins
Librarian: Melanie Radik
Class: Plant Biology

Faculty member: Carina Ray
Librarian: Laura Hibbler
Class: African History in Real Time

Faculty member: Doug Smith
Librarians: Chloe Morse-Harding and Aimee Slater
Class: Immigration and Human Rights

Faculty member: David Engerman
Librarian: Laura Hibbler
Class: Colloquium in US History, 1865-present

Comments from faculty members who received grants for the 2016-2017 academic year:

Caren Irr, ENG 238a Capitalism and the American Novel
Librarians: Zoe Weinstein & Lisa Zeidenberg

“Thanks to this grant, I was prompted to organize a new course that brought disciplinary differences in the treatment of “information” to the fore.  My students gained invaluable experience locating and analyzing new types of documents, and together we all reflected earlier and more intentionally on our various literacies.”

Kathrin Seidl-Gómez, German 30a Intermediate German
Librarian: Anne Woodrum

“Having been awarded one of the Library’s Information Literacy Grants allowed me to introduce an experiential learning module to one of our key German language courses. Supported by the expertise of Special Collections Librarian Anne Woodrum, my students can now explore under professional guidance Brandeis’ outstanding collection of incunabula, rare books and handwritten documents in German and immerse themselves in archival research. Our students excelled at the presentation of their research, both orally and in writing, even though the material was more challenging than most other material encountered throughout the course. The reason was simple: We had instigated their passion by allowing our students to work with primary sources that were absolutely novel and captivating for them. Many reported in their end-of-semester portfolio that this was the one activity they found most challenging and most rewarding. Studying handwritten letters from Max Planck and Albert Einstein or the Nuremberg Chronicle of 1493 and being able to share their findings in a foreign language filled them with pride and spurred students on to surpass themselves. A true success story!

“I am truly grateful for the unique opportunity the Library Information Literacy Grant has brought to our students in the German language program and I thank Anne Woodrum and the Department of University Archives & Special Collections for their support.”

Kerry Chase, IGS 10a Introduction to International and Global Studies
Librarian: Aimee Slater

“Working with Aimee Slater on my information literacy project greatly enhanced my ability to prepare students in IGS 10A to write independent term papers. IGS 10A enrolls many first-year students and I attempt to use the term paper assignment as an opportunity for students to learn how to locate, assess, and properly cite sources for college-level writing. In the class, students are asked to choose a treaty or other international agreement and to answer a set of structured questions about the purpose, design, and effectiveness of the agreement. Their work unfolds in steps over several weeks during the term as they choose an agreement, locate an original copy of its text, focus analytical attention on specific elements of the agreement, select good scholarly sources related to the agreement, and then proceed to thesis, argument, evidence, and write up, including thoroughly documenting all sources. Aimee’s assistance in the course was invaluable in two important ways. First, Aimee worked with me to create a Library Guide for the class on treaties and international agreements which functioned as a gateway into students’ independent work on the assignment. In the Library Guide they could find examples of treaties and international agreements that they might choose to study and links pointing them to places where they could find copies of their original text, and they could also access search engines to locate good secondary sources. Second, Aimee and I used a session of the class for a library instruction session to preview the Library Guide and demonstrate searches and search strategies for students. In demonstrating strategies for locating scholarly sources and for evaluating their usefulness, and providing guidelines and best practices for citation management, including a brief introduction to citation software, we sought to provide students a hands-on feel for how to tackle the research and citation process. As students researched and wrote their papers, they could refer back to Aimee’s handout “How to Find, Assess and Cite Sources,” and Aimee is always terrific about meeting students to work with her one-on-one. Aimee’s assistance and support enabled me to integrate important aspects of information literacy into the course in the hope that this would help students add to their toolkit of transferable skills to apply in writing assignments throughout college and beyond.”

Lucy Goodhart, POL 119a Red States, Blue States: Understanding Contemporary American Voters and Parties
Librarian: Aimee Slater

“I loved working with the Academic Outreach Librarian for the Social Sciences, Aimee Slater, on a section of my course that would be about how students first identify and engage with data. One of the useful parts of that, for me, is that I was forced to think about works that would get my students thinking about data is collected so that the, and we, can be more informed users of that data. That gets to vital points about human subjects and confidentiality, but also to issues that will be more relevant for the emerging world of big data — like whether the data is collected by non-profit, non-partisan institutions or whether by corporations with agendas that include profit-seeking. Thus, on reflection, I will keep that part of the readings in seminars with a data component for years to come.

“Second, Aimee created this amazing web page/portal into the world of data that Brandeis LTS has. That was incredibly useful for a small number of people and, while it would be costly to do that for every class, I believe that she is using that page as a reference tool for Politics students in general. My own goal would be to create an interface that can help students navigate from their frequent departure point — they care about issue X — to identifying and using data. In other words, if a student wants to study migrants in the US, how do we enable them to get very quickly towards actual data? And could we do this even online? Finally, is it kosher to just say to students to google “data variables attitudes to migrants US” because this is what I might do myself and I am trying to figure out if I should just say that to students.

“Thirdly, and this is great for me, it’s just been great for me to have more of an ongoing relationship with Aimee, and LTS. I refer other students to Aimee and she has also been in contact with me to ask about how political scientists might value and use particular types of data. It’s been really helpful. Given my own desire to incorporate more empirical analysis into teaching, it’s been great to have that connection.”

Library course guide



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New Library Databases

June 30th, 2017 · Comments Off on New Library Databases

The Library is excited to announce that we have added the following databases to our collections:

Immigration: Records of the INS, 1880-1930  
Immigration: Records of the INS, 1880-1930 presents the investigations made during the massive immigration wave at the turn of the 20th century. The files cover Asian immigration, especially Japanese and Chinese migration, to California, Hawaii, and other states; Mexican immigration to the U.S. from 1906-1930; and European immigration. There are also extensive files on the INS’s regulation of prostitution and white slavery and on suppression of radical aliens.

Black Freedom Struggle in the 20th Century: Organizational Records and Personal Papers, Part 2
This Black Freedom module is highlighted by the records of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), the Africa-related papers of Claude Barnett, and the Robert F. Williams Papers. SNCC, formed by student activists in 1960 after the explosion of the sit-in movement, was one of the three most important civil rights organizations of the 1960s, alongside SCLC and the NAACP. CORE was formed in 1941 and organized the pioneering Journey of Reconciliation in the 1940s and the Freedom Rides in the early 1960s; both events are documented in the CORE records in this module. With the addition of SNCC and CORE records, History Vault now includes SNCC, SCLC, CORE, and NAACP records. Rounding out this module are the papers of Chicago Congressman Arthur W. Mitchell, the Chicago chapter of the Congress of Racial Equality, and records pertaining to the Mississippi Freedom Summer. The Library added Part 1 of the Black Freedom Struggle database last summer.

NAACP Papers: The NAACP’s Major Campaigns
Major campaigns for equal access to education, voting, employment, housing and the military are covered in this module. The education files in this second module document the NAACP’s systematic assault on segregated education that culminated in Brown v. Board of Education in 1954. Files from 1955–1965 focus on the NAACP’s efforts to implement the Brown decision as well as to combat de facto segregation outside of the South. Voting rights was one of the NAACP’s earliest major campaigns. The voting rights document in extensive detail the NAACP’s campaign against the white primary, discriminatory registration practices, the grandfather clause, and the triumphs of the 1957 Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. This database will add to the primary source coverage provided by another library database, NAACP Papers: Board of Directors, Annual Conferences, Major Speeches, and National Staff Files.

Digital National Security Archive: Electronic Surveillance and the National Security Agency
A collection of leaked and declassified records documenting U.S. and allied electronic surveillance policies, relationships, and activities. It serves as an addition to several National Security Archive documents sets – including those on U.S. Intelligence and the National Security Agency. The records provide information on the limitations imposed on electronic surveillance activities, organizations, legal authorities, collection activities, and liaison relationships. This collection is part of the Digital National Security Archive, which provides access to declassified government documents.

Encyclopedia of Jewish History and Culture Online (Enzyklopädie jüdischer Geschichte und Kultur)
From Europe to America to the Middle East, North Africa and other non-European Jewish settlement areas the Enzyklopädie jüdischer Geschichte und Kultur covers the recent history of the Jews from 1750 until the 1950s. About 800 keywords present the current state of international research and depict a complex portrait of Jewish life – illustrated by many maps and images. About 40 key articles convey central themes on concepts like autonomy, exile, emancipation, literature, liturgy, music or the science of Judaism.

MGG Online
The authoritative German-language music encyclopedia Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart is now available as a searchable database, including the complete content of the second edition, published from 1994 to 2008, plus continuous updates, revisions, and additions. Database features advanced search and browse capabilities. Includes more than 19,000 articles offering comprehensive coverage of all fields of music studies. Features automatic translation from German to over 100 languages via integration with Google Translate. Cross-references and links to related content in RILM abstracts of music literature. Save and share annotations and notes. Mobile and tablet device compatible.

Global Financial Data (GFD)
Global Financial Data is a collection of financial and economic data provided in ASCII or Excel format. Data includes: long-term historical indices on stock markets; Total Return data on stocks, bonds, and bills; interest rates; exchange rates; inflation rates; bond indices; commodity indices and prices; consumer price indices; gross domestic product; individual stocks; sector indices; treasury bill yields; wholesale price indices; and unemployment rates covering over 200 countries.
Please note: You will need to register for a GFD account in order to use the database.

Latin American Newspapers
Searchable collection of over 280 historical Latin American newspapers, 1805-1922, offering unprecedented coverage of the people, issues and events that shaped this vital region during the 19th and early 20th centuries. Featuring titles from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Cuba, Guatemala, Mexico, Peru, Venezuela, and a dozen other countries. These resources provide a wide range of viewpoints from diverse Latin American cultures.

African Newspapers (1800-1922)
This collection contains more than 60 searchable African newspapers published in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Featuring English and foreign-language titles from Angola, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Sao Tome and Principe, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. “From repercussions of the Atlantic slave trade, life under colonial rule and the results of the Berlin Conference to the emergence of Black journalism, the Zulu Wars and the rejection of Western imperialism, these newspapers provide a wide range of viewpoints on diverse cultures.”

Jacoby Online
Jacoby Online is one of the most authoritative resources for the study of ancient Greek historians. It includes:

  • Brill’s New Jacoby
  • Brill’s New Jacoby, Second Edition
  • Die Fragmente der Griechischen Historiker: Parts I-III
  • Die Fragmente der Griechischen Historiker Part IV: Biography and Antiquarian Literature
  • Die Fragmente der Griechischen Historiker Part V: Geography

Jacoby Online is updated twice a year.

  • Full text search for Greek and English
  • Extensive indexes and keywords
  • En face English translations of Greek fragments and testimonies

The Library has also upgraded our Business Source Premier subscription to Business Source Ultimate which provides full text and indexing in thousands of journals in business, international business, management, economics, banking, finance, accounting and more.

Links to these databases can be found in OneSearch, in Brandeis Scholar, and on relevant Library Research Guides. We hope that you’ll explore these amazing resources. As always, feel free to ask us questions about how to get the most out of these library resources!


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Congratulations to the Library Research Award Winners, Xinyu (Annie) Li and Saren McAllister!

June 20th, 2017 · Comments Off on Congratulations to the Library Research Award Winners, Xinyu (Annie) Li and Saren McAllister!

From working with students throughout the year, Brandeis librarians see many students completing impressive research papers and projects. To recognize undergraduate students who apply exemplary library research skills, the Library has started a Library Research Award and selected two award winners from an outstanding pool of student submissions. Congratulations to this year’s winners, Saren McAllister and Annie Li! Descriptions of their research are provided below:

Saren McAllister, “Visual Discourses of Colonialism, Interracial Sex, Resistance, and Nation-Building in Mexico, 1711-1810”
Saren completed this research in AAAS 135: Race, Sex, and Colonialism, taught by Carina Ray. In her recommendation, Carina described Saren’s paper as “eloquent and meticulously researched.”

Saren McAllister

Saren described working with three different librarians (noting each librarian by name!) and concluded: “The final product of this research project is one of my favorite papers I have written at Brandeis, and I learned a lot throughout the process. This project taught me that research papers can be really enjoyable if the process of researching and writing starts early. Not only was starting early on this project advantageous in completing the paper on time, I also realized that starting early gave me more time to really explore my interests. Because I had so much freedom throughout this process, I found the process more enjoyable overall than any other research paper I had done. Choosing my own research and guiding myself was really rewarding, and I felt more invested in the product of my work. I also had a tremendous amount of institutional support throughout the process which helped the process feel less overwhelming. I used to be scared of reading and writing history, but Professor Ray and the multiple employees at the library who assisted me for this project made me feel more confident engaging with history. Until I did this paper, I was not aware of all the systems in place to support undergraduate students doing research. In the future, I will be more willing to access all the resources available to me. I also found a strategy for researching and writing that works really well for me that I can implement in the future.”

Xinyu (Annie) Li, “The Legacy of the South China Sea Arbitration: An Introduction of PCA Ruling in a Historical and Political Context”
Annie completed her research for her senior thesis in International and Global Studies. She was supervised by Richard Gaskins, Heyward Parker James, and Xing Hang. In recommending Annie for the award, Heyward wrote “Annie’s thesis is the most thorough analysis of this issue that I have encountered anywhere thus far. Although I am familiar with this issue through press coverage, this is the first time I have seen the issue covered in this kind of depth. Annie based her research on primary sources throughout. She presented her findings in a balanced manner. Although her perspective on this issue is different than my own, I greatly respect her work. I am extremely impressed by the quality of her research. I recommend her for this honor with enthusiasm and without hesitation.”

Xinyu (Annie) Li

Annie used over eighty different sources, including a wide range of primary and secondary sources. In her research process essay, Annie wrote, “I relied extensively on Brandeis Library’s resources throughout my project. I used the library catalog to borrow academic works on the South China Sea and Southeast Asian histories. These books included but not limited to Bill Hayton’s The South China Sea: The Struggle for Power in Asia, Ji-Young Lee’s China’s Hegemony: Four Hundred Years of East Asian Domination, and Kathlene Baldanza’s Ming China and Vietnam: Negotiating Borders in Early Modern Asia. I located numerous journal articles and online resources from JSTOR, LexisNexis Academic, Ebrary e-book and WorldCat. I borrowed 7 books from Interlibrary Loan service for this project, and these books became a great addition to my project.”

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