New Resource! American Influenza Epidemic of 1918: A Digital Encyclopedia

by Julie Judkins

The American Influenza Epidemic of 1918: A Digital Encyclopedia (AIE) is an undertaking by the University of Michigan’s Center for the History of Medicine (CHM) in partnership with the University of Michigan Library’s MPublishing division, to create an open source, digital collection of archival, primary, and interpretive materials related to the history of the 1918 influenza pandemic in the United States. The materials in the AIE collection originated as research for two commissioned reports for the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (2005) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2007). This virtual collection documents the experiences of diverse communities in the United States in fall 1918 and winter 1919 when influenza took the lives of approximately 675,000 Americans. The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) awarded the project a prestigious “We the People” designation for its contribution to the teaching, study, and understanding of American history and culture.

The AIE collocates an estimated 50,000 pages of digitized reproductions of archival materials gathered by CHM staff at over 140 national institutions. It is intended for a wide-ranging audience that encompasses high school and college students, historians and social scientists, epidemiologists and public health practitioners, journalists and writers, as well as casual internet users interested in the period.

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Curiouser and Curiouser: What Caught Our Eyes Online this Week

“Curiouser and Curiouser!” cried Alice…
Alice’s adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Welcome to Chasing Reference’s weekly roundup of the curious articles and links that have caught our eye this week!

Curiouser and Curiouser: What Caught Our Eyes Online This Week

“Curiouser and Curiouser!” cried Alice…
Alice’s adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Welcome to Chasing Reference’s weekly roundup of the curious articles and links that have caught our eye this week!

What They Didn’t Tell Me in Library School

by Emily Hamstra

My favorite article in the latest RUSQ is “What they Didn’t Tell Me (or what I didn’t hear) in Library School: Perspectives from New Library Instruction Professionals.” In the article, three new librarians reflect on what they have learned in the field of library instruction outside of library school. Julie VanHoose writes, “What they didn’t tell me in library school is that students don’t care about learning to use the library.”  Bridget Farrell writes, “What they didn’t tell me in library school is that sitting down with the faculty and administration is a vital step in the process of preparing for information literacy sessions.” And, Emily Rae Aldridge writes, “What they didn’t tell me in library school is that my colleagues would be my biggest asset.” I couldn’t agree with these personal reflections more. This article made me think about what they didn’t tell me in library school about library instruction.

They didn’t tell me in library school that working on the reference desk is library instruction. In library school, they teach you about library instruction and information literacy, and they teach you about reference resources and services. I was reminded of this last week during a particularly busy chat reference session. A patron asked me for our book request form. I sent the patron a direct link to the form. The patron chimed back with a “thank you,” and asked me how to get back to the link in the future. In my rush, I had forgotten to teach the patron how find the form on her own. Good thing this patron kept me in line!

At the reference desk, we encounter a lot of patrons who have never looked up a book in our catalog before, never read a call number before, or are baffled by which database to start looking for the information they need. This is library instruction at the point of need. Moments like this are when the patrons we help are going to learn and retain the best, because they need the information we’re giving them. Library instruction in the classroom, as I encounter it, is not often at the point of need. The paper or project we’re talking about in the class might not be due for another week or two, sometimes longer. At the reference desk, a student comes searching for books and articles she needs right away. She needs to do research for paper, and the paper is no longer something far off on her calendar. I have her attention, and she wants to know how to find information on her topic.

They didn’t tell me in library school that learning starts with a question, and so does every reference desk interaction. They didn’t tell me that reference is more than a fabulous service, it’s an opportunity to teach.

What We’re Reading: October 2012

On the first Friday of each month, we share what we’re reading, which may include everything from magazines and blogs to novels and books for work or pleasure.

I’m reading Eleanor Henderson’s debut novel Ten Thousand Saints, which the New York Times placed on its top five fiction of 2011 list. I’ve been meaning to read it since it came out last year, but I finally picked it up as a playaway audiobook at the public library last week. Typically, I only listen to about one audiobook a month, but I was enjoying this novel so much, I picked up a print copy at the library to finish it more quickly. The story opens in a small Vermont town in the 1980’s with two best friends, Teddy and Jude, doing all they can to get high and find a way to New York City and its punk and drug scene. Henderson paints a fascinating picture of 1980’s Lower Manhattan and Vermont, and I’m utterly enchanted with it. –Carrie

This past month I was entranced by Maggie Stiefvater’s new novel The Raven Boys. Stiefvater writes with a skilled and deft hand, creating worlds and characters that draw the reader in, and The Raven Boys is Stiefvater at her finest. Filled with delightfully quirky and realistic characters, an intriguing plot revolving around the legend of an old Welsh king, and lyrical writing, The Raven Boys was truly a treat. Following The Raven Boys, I’ve delved into another wild and quirky world, that of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan. It’s the story of a mysterious bookstore in the heart of San Francisco and the many secrets it hides.  I’m enjoying the quick and engaging writing, and the mystery behind the shelves–it draws a booklover in with the secrets it hints at. –Heather

I just finished Robert Harris’s The Fear Index.  This thriller follows the story of a hedge fund trading system that runs amok (i.e. develops an independent will no longer controllable by programmers).  I can’t say it’s the best book I ever read, but it was entertaining and engaging–perfect escapist reading.  Sci-fi and dystopian literature fans might enjoy this easy read that nonetheless raises interesting questions about consciousness and the role of technology. — Sarah

I’m reading Jane McGonigal’s Reality is Broken. In the book, she argues that video games can help us fix our world, or reality. She provides fixes to reality throughout the book and examples of games that improve our lives. McGonigal argues that games make us more social and creative, and games should be embraced as creative problem-solving method for the issues we face from our health to education and the environment. — Emily