ResearchScapes

Discussions on the art and craft of research

Author: Andrew Lopez (page 1 of 2)

Library Helps Expand Use of GIS to the Social Sciences

While use of the Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Lab at Connecticut College is focused primarily in the field of Environmental Studies, it could also be useful to students and researchers across the social sciences. So I was excited recently when working with Joseline Urbina ’19 on her Honors Thesis in the Government department when it became clear that she could use GIS for her project. What follows is Joseline’s own brief summary of her project and how GIS was leveraged to further her research. Many thanks to Joseline for agreeing to share this preview of her work in progress. And many thanks to Professor Beverly Chomiak for supporting this kind of research.

Joseline Urbina ’19

Government Major

For my honors thesis in the Government Department, I am conducting an exploratory case study of Ayanna Pressley’s 2018 Campaign for the Democratic Primary nomination in Massachusetts’ 7th Congressional District. Throughout my research, I will examine the strategies used during the election, the campaign, and the transition period to study how Pressley won against a ten-term incumbent to become Massachusetts’ first African American Congresswoman, and what does the win suggest for the future of politics.

One portion of my thesis required me to study the geographical boundaries of the district in which Pressley won. However, after searching online (e.g. Google Image search), I was unable to find a map of the Precincts and Wards that are in the district. So I enlisted the support of our research librarians. During one of my research consultations with the librarians, I learned that it would be possible to create the map I was looking for using the Geographic Information Systems (GIS) lab in the Olin Science Center on campus.

So with the help of Andrew Lopez, I contacted all of the towns in the 7th Congressional district in order to collect the GIS shapefiles we’d need to make the map. Once the shapefiles were collected, we contacted Professor Beverley Chomiak, Senior Lecturer in Geology and Environmental Sciences, who also runs the GIS lab, to ask for her assistance in putting a map together.

This map shows all precincts in the 7th Congressional District color coded with percentages of votes received by each candidate in the September 4, 2018 Democratic primary.

This map shows all precincts in the 7th Congressional District color coded with percentages of votes received by each candidate in the September 4, 2018 Democratic primary.

Professor Chomiak worked around the clock to assemble the map from the less-than-ideal files we had collected. Once the Wards and Precincts were assembled for the 7th District, the voting results were layered into the map and color-coded to exhibit where each candidate received the most votes during the Primary Election.

These maps have enabled me to visually analyze the election results in a new way, and they have also highlighted the significance of gerrymandering in the district, which expanded my research. As I continue with my thesis, I plan to continue to use GIS where possible, as it proved extremely helpful in increasing my data and analysis.

 

Book Exhibit in Shain Library Captures the Attention of Human Rights Advocate

There is a small rotating exhibit of books on display in Shain Library related to a current event or theme on campus. One recent exhibit on Guns in America caught the attention of the international human rights and peace advocate, Binalakshmi “Bina” Nepram, who is a visiting scholar in residence at Connecticut College.

Nepram — who was recently awarded the prestigious Anna Politkovskaya Award, established in 2006 to remember the Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya, who was killed for her reporting on the Russian conflict in Chechnya — has been researching arms proliferation around the India-Burma border for the past 15 years. Her work is all over the internet and a quick scan of Google Scholar indicates that she’s been publishing for at least that long. So I was surprised at her 2nd campus-wide dialogue series on global gun violence (October 26, 2018) to learn that the guns exhibit in Shain Library actually caught her attention.

Local New London peace advocate and author Frida Berrigan joined Bina Nepram in the Walter Commons for a discussion on gun violence (26 Oct. 2018).

Local New London peace advocate and author Frida Berrigan joined Bina Nepram in the Walter Commons for a discussion on gun violence (October 26, 2018).

Nepram told me that she “loved those books,” that she “devoured them,” and that they were “stunning!” To understand why, let’s consider where she is coming from.

I first saw Bina Nepram speak on June 26, 2018, at the Eastern Connecticut One Book, One Region kickoff event for this year’s selection, Exit West by Mohsin Hamid. She took a very simple approach to introducing the book by placing it in the real world context of the global migration crisis currently underway. Within the first few minutes of her talk, I estimate that about half of the approximately 100 people in attendance burst into tears, myself included. Of the talk, Bina later told me that she was very nervous, because she had “never commented on another author’s work in that way before.”

Because Nepram is an established international scholar, who has given a Ted Talk no less, I think she means she was nervous because she was not used to commenting on novels. But she handled Exit West with an incredible attention to detail as she read the real world trauma of migrants into select passages from the book. “I love books,” she says. And more importantly for the sake of this blog, she considers libraries the living rooms of America; a place where one can be oneself and feel safe and secure. She knows, because when she first arrived in the US for reasons of personal safety, she was able to get her bearings at the New York Public Library.

Faculty, staff, and students at the 2nd dialogue on gun violence.

Faculty, staff, and students at the 2nd dialogue on gun violence.

Her transition to mostly-rural southeastern Connecticut at the beginning of the year was more complicated. Let’s just say American hospitality wasn’t the welcome party she was expecting. In India, she says everyone would invite you over for tea or whatever. Even the King, she says, sometimes disguises himself in order to test the hospitality of his subjects. During her first few months in Connecticut, she says it felt like no one said anything to her. She was isolated and alone, she felt imprisoned, and she wondered what she was doing here.

Then she was in Shain Library, her big American living room on campus, and she noticed the display of books on guns in America, and she had a Eureka moment. Look at all of these books organized according to a theme, she thought! Then she checked the majority of them out and began reading about the history of guns and violence in the United States. At her 2nd campus-wide dialogue series on global gun violence, she mentioned that she researches guns and violence in part because they are very scary to her and they represent a real threat to her and her family.  Importantly, she reads about guns in order to understand them and overcome her fear.

Binalakshmi Nepram checking out the New Books display in Shain Library.

Binalakshmi Nepram checking out the New Books display in Shain Library. The current exhibit on the AIDS Quilt is visible in the background.

Her discovery of books about guns in Shain Library happened in the summer of 2018, a time riddled with multiple mass shootings in the United States. To name only several, there was the Douglass High School shooting in Parkland, Florida (Feb. 14), the Santa Fe High School shooting in New Mexico (May 18), and the Thousand Oaks, California shooting (Nov. 7). The Tree of Life Synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (Oct. 27) happened within 24 hours of the 2nd campus-wide dialogue series on global gun violence that Bina led with the support of Frida Berrigan.

Bina and I met recently to talk about her experiences. She is a wonderful and powerful speaker, but she is also really enthusiastic and incredibly humble. She told me the books about guns exhibit in Shain library helped her understand why she is here in Connecticut. “Why is America the world’s leading international arms dealer,” she asked me rhetorically. Gun making started right here in Norwich, Connecticut, she said, as an artisanal craft industry to fight against the British. Nepram began speaking about the life of Sarah Winchester, heiress of The Winchester Repeating Arms Company, which was one of the biggest gun makers in the world. A lot of their rifles were used in the US Civil War, and they were established in nearby New Haven.

“Books!” Bina says. “They are like strange animals.” Whoever created that exhibit, she told me, must really understand these issues. Nepram really liked the variety of sub-topics, with books on women and guns, for example. But one thing that really stood out to her was the inclusion of children’s books. She says there are always children’s books in the exhibits and she loves that. Her daughter visited recently, and of course they read children’s books together in Shain Library.

 

 

Original Publications by James Baldwin in Shain Library

To mark the occasion of what would have been James Baldwin’s 94th birthday, we’re going fairly deep into library collections, back to the source of Baldwin’s early works in their original published form in magazines, before they were collected in the books we know today. What follows is a brief introduction to Baldwin’s recent popularity, which no doubt echoes his celebrity in the 1960s, followed by selected images of original Baldwin publications in Shain Library—it’s amazing to think they’ve been here at Connecticut College all along.

The popularity of the work of James Baldwin seems to have grown substantially around the time of the release of the film I Am Not Your Negro (Raoul Peck, 2017) and likely contributed to its success. In August 2017, I went to take a look at a couple of Baldwin’s former apartments in New York City, and one of the current residents told me , “ever since that movie came out, people have been coming by to have a look at the building.” It is not all about the movie, however, as Douglas Field documents a renewed interest in Baldwin starting in the late 1990s, when some of his later and overlooked works began to be reconsidered (Field, James Baldwin 86). Now hardly a week goes by without Baldwin’s name being mentioned in The New York Times newspaper or The New Yorker magazine; an ironic outcome for the author of Nobody Knows My Name (1961). In May,  former President Bill Clinton told the New York Times that James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time is one of the books that “made me want to become a writer.”

James Baldwin lived in an apartment in this building on Horatio Street in Greenwich Village.

James Baldwin lived in an apartment in this building on Horatio Street in Greenwich Village. The building has since been completely gutted and renovated.

In November 2017, Hilton Als of The New Yorker introduced the re-release of Nothing Personal (1964), Baldwin’s collaborative project with photographer and former DeWitt Clinton High School mate Richard Avedon. Two of the latest developments of the Baldwin buzz include the 2018 publication of Magdalena Zaborowska’s Me and My House: James Baldwin’s Last Decade in France, and Michael Eric Dyson’s What Truth Sounds Like: Robert F. Kennedy, James Baldwin, and Our Unfinished Conversation about Race in America. Before these, in 2015 we saw the publication of Ta-Nehisi Coates’s best-selling, Baldwin-inspired book, Between the World and Me

In his 2017 best-seller, We Were Eight Years in Power, Coates again explicitly states his intention “to try” to write in the vein of James Baldwin (218). It has become customary for those writing about race in America to invoke Baldwin’s legacy, as we see in the example of the powerful collection of essays brought together by Jesmyn Ward, The  Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks about Race (2016). While The Fire Next Time is the go-to starting place for an introduction to Baldwin, there is disagreement about how best to engage his work. Joseph Vogel argues that “no single work by Baldwin is as connected to the issues animating Black Lives Matter as his final nonfiction book, The Evidence of Things Not Seen (1985)”, which was written at a time says Vogel when Baldwin had “lost the public’s affection”.

As part of the recent resurgence, in the fall of 2017 I participated in a reading group at Connecticut College for James Baldwin’s first collection of early essays, Notes of A Native Son (1955). The group was organized by Rose Oliveira, Erin Duran, and Visiting Assistant Professor of French, Benjamin Williams (they also organized a subsequent reading of We Were Eight Years in Power, mentioned above). I was immediately excited to discover in the acknowledgments section of the book that most of the essays in Notes had been previously published in the 1940s and 1950s in magazines that are still available in Shain Library. To be sure, a number of Baldwin’s books, like those of many authors, are indeed collections of previously published work. Curious to see them in their original form, I began tracking them down.

Just as I am Not Your Negro played a part in exposing a new generation to the life and work of James Baldwin, extending it to a wider audience, so too I think it has had the unintended effect of adding another layer between the reader/viewer and the work itself (if such a thing exists), concealing it in a way that is not immediately obvious. There is a world of context — what was happening at the time, where was it published, who were the editors, who were the other contributors, who were the readers, etc. — that is hidden in the form of the original publication that may not be apparent to the reader of a reprint.

FROM NOTES OF A NATIVE SON:

“The Harlem Ghetto,” Baldwin’s first published essay, originally appeared in the February 1948 issue of Commentary. Baldwin-biographer David Leeming calls it Baldwin’s first essay publication, distinguishing it from his book reviews and other early works (Leeming 51). Between 1947 and 1949, when Baldwin was just 22-25 years old (born August 2, 1924), he published an astounding 16 reviews in The Nation and The New Leader (Field, “James Baldwin’s Life” 833). These publications earned him the beginnings of a transatlantic reputation even before he first set foot in France in November 1948.

Commentary, February 1948

[Click to enlarge] Commentary, February 1948. Notice the Palmer Library embossment in the upper-left corner, and the corrected typo for the date of publication.

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Commentary, February 1948 – table of contents. Notice that then 23-year old Baldwin is already published in the company of New York’s leading intellectuals.

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“The Harlem Ghetto” by James Baldwin. Notice the 1948 biographical statement (bottom-left).

Notice the slight annotations in pencil (right column).

When “Everybody’s Protest Novel” appeared in the June 1949 issue of Partisan Review — an attack on “the most famous African American writer [Richard Wright] of his time” and an early mentor (Field, James Baldwin 15) — the young Baldwin was already a “seriously recognized presence on the literary scene” (Leeming 73). Moreover, it was one of the first significant essays by an African American to be published in Partisan Review, impinging directly on the established relation between race and writing at the time (Field, “James Baldwin’s Life” 847).

[Click to enlarge] Partisan Review, June 1949. Unfortunately, the cover was removed in binding so we are left only with the title page.  The essay was originally published in Zero magazine (Spring 1949), before appearing in Partisan Review.

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Partisan Review, June 1949 – table of contents.

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“Everybody’s Protest Novel” by James Baldwin.

“The Negro in Paris” appeared in the June 6, 1950 issue of The Reporter:

The Reporter, June 6, 1950.

[Click to enlarge] The Reporter, June 6, 1950.

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The Reporter, June 6, 1950 – table of contents.

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“The Negro in Paris” by James Baldwin. Notice the illustrations.

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“A Question of Identity” was published in the July-August 1954 issue of Partisan Review:

[Click to enlarge] Partisan Review, July-August 1954.

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“A Question of Identity” by James Baldwin.

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[Click to enlarge] Checkout cards in the back of this binding could indicate interest in the issue or in Baldwin in particular.

“Life Straight in De Eye” was published in Commentary in January 1955:

Commentary, January 1955.

Commentary, January 1955.

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Commentary, January 1955 – table of contents.

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“Life Straight in De Eye” by James Baldwin. Notice the development of his biographical statement (bottom-left) from the earlier 1948 issue (pictured above).

Beyond the sources listed above that were collected in Notes of a Native Son, there are a number of other compelling, original publications by Baldwin in Shain Library, a few of which are featured below.

OTHER ORIGINAL BALDWIN PUBLICATIONS:

The Nation, April 12, 1947. Baldwin's first published book review.

[Click to enlarge] The Nation, April 12, 1947. Baldwin’s first published book review.

Baldwin in Nation_Page_07

The Nation, April 12, 1947 – table of contents. Notice Kay Boyle is a contributor. She is the one who invited Baldwin to speak at Wesleyan University on May 22, 1963.

Kay Boyl's piece in the same issue as Baldwin's.

Kay Boyle’s piece in the same issue as Baldwin’s.

Baldwin in Nation_Page_08

“Maxim Gorki as Artist” by James Baldwin.

Baldwin in Nation_Page_09

“Maxim Gorki as Artist” by James Baldwin.

Baldwin in Nation_Page_10

The ad next to Baldwin’s article.

[Click to enlarge] “Letter From a Region in My Mind” was published in The New Yorker, November 17, 1962, causing the magazine’s sales to soar, before it would become the major portion of The Fire Next Time in 1963. At the time, Baldwin was between continents, between visits to the White House, and a rising star on the international literary scene.

"Letter From a Region in My Mind" by Baldwin in The New Yorker, November 17, 1962.

“Letter From a Region in My Mind” by Baldwin in The New Yorker, November 17, 1962.

"Letter to My Nephew" is the other essay that would be collected in The Fire Next Time (1963). Before that, however, it was published in The Progressive, December 1962.

“Letter to My Nephew” is the other essay that would be collected in The Fire Next Time (1963). Before that, however, it was published in The Progressive, December 1962.

The December, 1962 issue of The Progressive marked the centennial of the Emancipation Proclamation, and it included a letter from president John F. Kennedy addressing the occasion.

The December 1962 issue of The Progressive marked the centennial of the Emancipation Proclamation, and it included a letter from president John F. Kennedy addressing the occasion.

The Progressive, December 1962 - table of contents.

The Progressive, December 1962 – table of contents.

“Letter to My Nephew” by James Baldwin in The Progressive, December 1962.

In March 1963, Baldwin testified before the House of Representatives with Betty Shabazz, wife of Malcolm X. In his testimony, Baldwin argued that whitewashing American history would deny the black American a sense of identity.

In March 1963, Baldwin testified before the House of Representatives with Betty Shabazz, wife of Malcolm X. In his testimony, Baldwin argued that whitewashing American history would deny the black American a sense of identity.

Baldwin in Nation_Page_05

Notice Betty Shabazz’s name is misspelled “Shadazz”.

James Baldwin interview in the Paris Review no. 91 (1984)

James Baldwin interview in the Paris Review no. 91 (1984). In the interview Baldwin talks about his early book reviews from the late 1940s.

Beginning of James Baldwin interview in Paris Review (1984)

Beginning of James Baldwin interview in Paris Review (1984).

Architectural Digest, August 1987.

Architectural Digest ran this photographic profile of James Baldwin's French home in 1987 shortly before his death.

Architectural Digest ran this photographic profile of James Baldwin’s French home alongside a short piece by Baldwin in 1987 shortly before his death. It was his last published work.

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Notice here Baldwin uses the now-famous term “transatlantic commuter” to describe his itinerant path.

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Architectural Digest, August 1987.

In 1989, artist, printer, and book maker Leonard Baskin made a posthumous illustrated limited edition of a few Baldwin poems published by his Gehenna Press. The Lear Center for Special Collections and Archives maintains a Leonard Baskin Collection that includes Baldwin's Gypsy & Other Poems.

In 1989, artist, printer, and book maker Leonard Baskin made a posthumous illustrated limited edition of selected Baldwin poetry published by his Gehenna Press. The Lear Center for Special Collections and Archives maintains a Leonard Baskin Collection that includes Baldwin’s Gypsy & Other Poems.

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Gypsy & Other Poems by James Baldwin.

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Gypsy poem by Baldwin.

Checkout card for James Baldwin's Going to Meet the Man

Checkout card for James Baldwin’s Going to Meet the Man. Obviously the book was pretty popular at Connecticut College.

Checkout card for James Baldwin's Go Tell It on the Mountain

Checkout card for James Baldwin’s Go Tell It on the Mountain. The book clearly circulated widely on the Connecticut College campus.

WORKS CITED

Field, Douglas. James Baldwin. Tavistock, Devon, UK: Northcote House, 2011.

Field, Douglas. “James Baldwin’s Life on the Left: A Portrait of the Artist as a Young New York Intellectual.” ELH 78.4 (2011): 833-862.

Leeming, David. James Baldwin: A Biography. New York: Knopf, 1994.

Accessing Our Local Newspaper, The Day: Challenges and Opportunities

“Digitizing The Day’s back issues is a dream I haven’t given up on.”

-John Ruddy, Copy Desk Chief at The Day

Connecticut College appears on page four of the 450-page history of our local newspaper, The Day Paper: The Story of One of America’s Last Independent Newspapers. This is because in 1911 the newspaper’s early and prominent publisher, Theodore Bodenwein, championed the cause of establishing Connecticut College for Women in New London at a time when other Connecticut towns were vying for the opportunity to host the new college.

Unfortunately for anyone who wants to fact-check the newspaper’s coverage at the time (i.e. October 19, 1911), or any other historical issue, your best bet is to make a trip down to the Public Library of New London (PLNL), where they maintain a complete run of The Day back to 1881 on microfilm.  The PLNL website even claims they are “the only repository in the world with a complete record of the paper.” While that seems mostly true, it is also the case that the Waterford Public Library, the Groton Public Library, the Connecticut State Library, and The Day itself combined have pieces of what amounts to a second or third microfilm copy of the newspaper’s back issues. Not to mention the film negatives allegedly stored at ProQuest that are used in the creation of the microfilm in the first place. All of these copies combined, however, still amount to a rather precarious legacy for our local paper.

Day index by Groton Public Library

Day on microfilm at PLNL  Day index 1881-1890
The Day on microfilm along with a few incomplete print indexes at the Public Library of New London.

The date of October 19, 1911, cited in The Day Paper makes for an interesting example, because it is not covered by the pieces of The Day that were digitized by Google when the company aspired to scan everything in every library; a project that was abandoned in haste without explanation some years ago. At least that’s how The Day‘s Copy Desk Chief John Ruddy recalls the relationship when he described it to me in recent communications. Ruddy estimates that Google scanned about a third of the paper, “but the gaps are random and unpredictable.”

It was only when I asked Ruddy how anyone can make an authoritative claim about what is, or is not, printed in The Day without systematic access to all of its contents, that he explained how he uses the microfilm in conjunction with several incomplete indexes in existence:

  • a card file maintained from 1929 to 1977 by librarians at The Day
  • a system of story clippings from 1977 to around 2000 also at The Day
  • incomplete print indexes available in local public libraries covering the years 1881-1890, with a partial index to one or two decades later in the 1900s
card file at The Day


Conn College entry in the card file at The Day.

Most of the cabinets that makeup The Day’s card and clipping files.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Budding researchers may be surprised to learn The Day is not free and it is not all online.  It has been cut up with scissors over the years into little pieces of paper folded into envelopes and documented by hand on index cards that are organized  in the drawers of some filing cabinets in an office almost no one still uses, while other components were bound between book covers, photographed, microfilmed, and/or digitized in haste and incompletely, some of it available on the internet for you to puzzle over.  The rest of it is buried until someone comes along to sort it all out, assuming the various scattered pieces will last that long. Besides, who would do such a thing? How long would it take? How much would it cost? How come no one does it?

We have to ask these questions as a starting place in the hope that someday something will happen. Hopefully someone will find a grant or a benefactor and connect with the right people to help advance a project like realizing the complete digitization of The Day.

As part of the National Digital Newspaper Program, the Connecticut Digital Newspaper Project has been working in this direction, to be sure, but each NEH grant received only provides for the digitization of a small portion of one or several papers in a state that has seen the publication of some 1,600 newspapers since the 1700s. One outstanding example is the Hartford Courant which has been well-digitized from 1764-1991, albeit by ProQuest rather than the public, and is available through a database via the CT State Library.

For my part, I have talked with stakeholders at area public libraries and now The Day itself about possibly getting a group together to return to the massive project of indexing the entire paper. At least then we would have a means of making efficient use of the microfilm available at PLNL. Ruddy at The Day told me that if I do resume work on the index, then I should focus on the period from 1890 to 1929, which given the tools available is the hardest portion of the paper to search, in his view.

As for access today, in addition to the abovementioned, here’s what we have:

—Andrew Lopez

Harvesting Gov Docs Locally for Preservation and Discovery

On Wednesday January 10, I had the privilege of presenting the following poster at the annual CTW* Retreat:

Harvesting Gov Docs Locally for Preservation & Discovery. Poster presented at CTW Retreat 10 Jan. 2018.

Harvesting Gov Docs Locally for Preservation & Discovery. Poster presented at CTW Retreat 10 Jan. 2018.

A quick summary of the chart featured prominently in the center of the poster, which is copied from James A. Jacobs’ report Born-Digital U.S. Federal Government Information: Preservation and Access,” and which was re-presented in his October 2017 presentation with James R. Jacobs called “Government Information: Everywhere and Nowhere,” provides an easy way to understand the nature of the problem.

Scope of the Preservation Challenge. Source: Jacobs, 2014.

Scope of the Preservation Challenge. Source: Jacobs, 2014.

The first column represents the number of items distributed by the Government Publishing Office (GPO) to Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) libraries in 2011 (appx. 10,200 items). The second column represents the total number of items distributed by GPO to FDLP over its entire 200 year history (appx. 2-3 million items). The third column is the number of URLs harvested by the 2008 End of Term crawl (appx. 160 million URLs).

Clearly, the scope of government information produced outside of the GPO and FDLP is very large. So large in fact that what is produced online each year makes the entire 200 year history of the Depository Library Program look like a drop in the bucket. This vast array of online government  information can be called fugitive. No one knows how much born-digital government information has been created or where it all is.

At Connecticut College, Lori Looney and I are exploring ways of being proactive about this situation through our role in the FDLP. While we are unable to participate in large-scale digitization projects, we have nonetheless adopted this idea of being proactive in the FDLP from some of the ideas sketched out in Peter Hernon and Laura Saunders’ College & Research Libraries article “The Federal Depository Library Program in 2023: One Perspective on the Transition to the Future.” We see their proactive approach as preferable to withdrawing from the program altogether or assuming a more passive role within it that would maintain the status quo. We describe our adoption of this approach in our essay “Experience of a New Government Documents Librarian,” published in Susan Caro’s book Government Information Essentials.

Our latest activity addressed by the poster consists of several easy steps that librarians everywhere can do in their own libraries:

  • Keep track of your favorite websites and online publications, and make sure their URLs are captured in the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine
  • Add rare, hard-to-find, and/or local government documents to your library catalog, as well as digitizing those that are not already available online, and upload them to Internet Archive, ideally with as much catalog metadata as possible
  • Advocate for the long-term value of seemingly obscure government information and help spread the word that short-term ease of accessibility actually masks the major problems associated with long-term preservation, access, and usability

Some of the documents we harvested in this capacity (see a few examples below) are local government publications that may not be easy to find online and which may not be accessible through any other library catalog anywhere. By finding them, adding them to Internet Archive, downloading them, physically adding them to our collection, and adding records to OCLC/WorldCat we are actively supporting preservation and discovery.

Hodges Square creativeplacemaking master plan_Page_01    

2017_draft_comprehensiveenergystrategy_Page_001    NEW LONDON DOWNTOWN TRANSPORTATION AND PARKING STUDY 2017_Page_001

 

This is a very small way of responding to the very large problem of web preservation in general. However, as a small institution with a selective collection of government publications, it is a practical strategy for contributing to the efforts of larger institutions involved with the fascinating and complex problems like the End of Term (EOT) Web Archive.

 

—Andrew Lopez

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Works Consulted

Hernon, Peter, and Laura Saunders. “The Federal Depository Library Program in 2023: One Perspective on the Transition to the Future.” College and Research Libraries 70, no. 4 (2009): 351–70.

Jacobs, James A. “Born-Digital U.S. Federal Government Information: Preservation and Access.” Center for Research Libraries: Global Resources Collections Forum, 17 Mar. 2014.

Jacobs, James A., and James R. Jacobs. “Government Information: Everywhere and Nowhere.” Livestream web-based presentation to Government Publications Librarians of New England (GPLNE), 24 Oct. 2017.

Lopez, Andrew and Lori Looney. “Experience of a New Government Documents Librarian.” Government Information Essentials. Ed. Susanne Caro. Chicago: ALA Editions, 2018. 13-20.

Seneca, Tracy, Abbie Grotke, Cathy Nelson Hartman, and Kris Carpenter. “It Takes a Village to Save the Web: The End of Term Web Archive.” DttP: Documents to the People (Spring 2012): 16-23.

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*CTW is the library consortium between Connecticut College, Trinity College, and Wesleyan University

Open Data Salon at Hartford Public Library

On Thursday, October 26, I attended the Connecticut Open Data Salon presented in partnership with UCONN Library at the beautiful and spacious Hartford Public Library.

After a brief introduction from Tyler Kleykamp, the chief data officer for the State of Connecticut, I launched into conversation with Steve Batt, the Data Visualization Librarian at UCONN and the Associate Director of the Connecticut State Data Center.

Steve showed be how he uses NHGIS and Tableau Public to make impressive data visualizations using Census data. The visualizations can be seen on the Connecticut State Data Center Tableau dashboard, with one example here:

Data Visualization from CT State Data Center

Data Visualization from CT State Data Center

One can click on the map and zoom in to see an area of specific interest. I was surprised to discover the median household income in New London county in the southeast corner of Connecticut has increased from $59,087 per year in 1979 (adjusted for inflation to 2014 dollars) to $66,693 in 2014.

Next I spoke with Graham Stinnett, Archivist at UCONN, and Anna Lindemann, Assistant Professor of 2D Animation and Motion Graphics, about their collaboration working with the Human Rights Collections at UCONN. Specifically, they showed me how they take photographs from the Romano Archives and transform them digitally to enhance their emotional affect.

A representative from the Korey Stringer Institute talked about the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research (NCCSIR) and how they collect data nationwide.

It was good to meet with Jennifer Chaput and Renee Walsh, both of UCONN Library, and co-organizers of the Open Data Salon along with Connecticut Data Collaborative.  The CT Data Collaborative is open to partnering with area organizations and has two upcoming events:

Disappearing Government Information and the Effort to Preserve It

[Updated 25 October 2017]

The group Government Publications Librarians of New England (GPLNE) has organized a fall webinar on disappearing government information and the effort to preserve it. We are fortunate to be joined by two leading government information advocates, James R. Jacobs (Stanford University) and James A. Jacobs (Emeritus, UC San Diego) who will lead the presentation after a brief introduction.

Disappearing Government Information poster

Link to poster as PDF

Presentation details:

Who: James R. Jacobs (Stanford Univ.) & James A. Jacobs (UC San Diego)
What: Disappearing Government Information and the Effort to Preserve it
When: Tuesday, October 24, at 2pm EST
Where: Live streaming via GPO: http://login.icohere.com/gpo?pnum=QFH57863

A recording of the presentation is now available online at the following URL:

http://login.icohere.com/gpo?pnum=QFH57863

James R. Jacobs provided a link to the slides for download here:

https://freegovinfo.info/node/12422

Please note the name of the presentation was changed to Government Information: Everywhere and Nowhere.

Some recent related articles include the following:

Please direct additional questions or concerns to Andrew Lopez, Research Support Librarian at Connecticut College: andrew.lopez [at] conncoll.edu

 

 

The ICPSR Undergraduate Research Paper Competition: An Overview of the last 10 Years’ Winners

The Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) will soon be reviewing submissions for its eleventh annual undergraduate Research Paper Competition (submissions are due by midnight PST on 1/31/2017). ICPSR is a consortium of academic institutions and research organizations that maintains an impressive data archive in the social and behavioral sciences, providing access to rich data sets on aging, arts, attitudes, criminal justice, economics, education, elections, political behavior, psychology, substance abuse, terrorism, and other fields. Part of ICPSR’s role as a data steward includes providing a variety of educational opportunities for students and researchers to learn more about working with data. To mark the occasion of this year’s research paper competition, let’s take a look back at the last ten years’ winners.

As one of two ICPSR representatives at my institution (Connecticut College), my interest in the past winners is to see what kind of work they did so I can promote the competition at my home institution. That means I want to see what data are being used and who is using them. One thing that’s great about ICPSR is that every study has a unique ID number, so it can be easily discovered or shared among researchers. Unfortunately for my purposes, some of the information requested on the Entry Form for the competition, specifically the ICPSR study number, does not appear clearly in the public view of past winners.

This is frustrating because it makes it difficult to determine exactly what data are used in the winning papers. One has to open each paper individually and carefully search it. According to my review of all 26 previous undergraduate winners (there are numerous winners each year), more than a third do not cite the unique ICPSR study number (ID) in their references (e.g. of an ICPSR study number would be ICPSR31521, which when searched on the ICPSR site will take you directly to the data set). Another third of past winners do not cite it accurately (e.g. ICPSR02597 does not seem to exist and it is not obvious to remove the first 0 in order to find it). My findings indicate that only a minority of winning papers accurately cite the ICPSR study number (ID) for the data they used. A list of data sets used for each paper is documented in my review linked above.

ICPSR - studyID

In terms of who was using the data, my main interest is in which department the research was undertaken. Unfortunately again, there is neither class- nor department-specific information provided for the winning papers. Instead, the Entry Form asks applicants for their expected majors and/or minors upon graduation. For the most part, this information carries over to the public view of the winners, as represented in the chart below. But to give an example of when it does not, take a look at the 2012 second place RCMD winning paper, “Black Feminism and Hip Hop: A Cross-Generational Disconnect.”* With this winning paper we cannot tell what the student’s expected major was, and moreover we don’t know in which course or department the work was done, except that it was for Professor R. Khari Brown at Wayne State University. But why does the major/minor matter anyway? And if the work was done early in the undergraduate experience, the major could have changed between winning this award and actually graduating.

Besides, an excellent research paper could have been done in Economics, Sociology, or Political Science, for example, by an English or Religious Studies major. The major could therefore be considered irrelevant. What matters is the course and department in which the winning work was done. Such information would lend itself to thinking about ways of replicating or furthering the research in similar courses or departments at other institutions. It is nonetheless interesting to see that the greatest number of past winners for whom a major is given went on to receive degrees in Economics (28.1%), Sociology (18.8%), and Psychology (15.6%). Perhaps more interesting still, is that the next largest group of winners (12.5%) did not list a major; enough to change the results significantly depending on what they were.  

ICPSR - images

Another aspect of who is using the data that matters to me, is what sort of institution they come from. Fortunately, this information is clearly provided for all winning papers. It is not surprising that research universities account for half of the winning research. What is somewhat surprising and a little exciting for me is that Liberal Arts Colleges makeup about a quarter of previous  winners. This means that students at my institution should plan to submit their research and expect to do well, since so many of our peers already have.

ICPSR - institution

My takeaway from this brief review of past winners is that the winning work is impressive and exciting. I want my institution to focus on submitting papers to this competition in the years ahead. However, as a liaison librarian, I wish there was more clear information about what classes and in which departments the winners did their work. I also think it is not sufficiently clear exactly what data were used for many of the winning papers. Moving forward, I recommend that the Research Paper Competition Winners website clearly indicate each of the following for all winning papers:

  • ICPSR study number (ID) used
  • Class in which the research was undertaken
  • Department in which the research was undertaken

While collecting and sharing this kind of information about applicants could help attract interest in the ICPSR Research Paper Competition moving forward, I certainly hope researchers everywhere will take the occasion of this review to spread the word and get submissions ready for the upcoming deadline on January 31, 2017.

—Andrew Lopez

 

*The RCMD competition is for papers written on data held within the Resource Center for Minority Data archive and/or on a topic relevant to the focus of that archive.

Manage Your Citations with RefWorks to Save Time and Keep Organized

Per the request of seniors writing honors theses this year, the librarians offered an advanced workshop on citation style. In the workshop, we took a close look at how the three main style guides (APA, Chicago, and MLA) handle translated sources, and we did some exercises with the additional tools in RefWorks (the citation manager of choice available to all at Connecticut College):

  • Save references on the Web
  • Cite in Microsoft Word
  • Cite in Google Docs

Pros & Cons of Citation Managers

It is important to be clear up front about the advantages/disadvantages of using a citation manager. Now that we can export citations for virtually everything in a library catalog or database, as well as anything listed in Google Scholar, citation managers promise to substantially cut down the number of keystrokes required to compose a list of citations. As the number of citations grows, we are quickly talking about hours of typing labor that can be saved by using a citation manager. Organizationally, it’s a tremendous help to keep all citations stored in one place. The major drawback is that all sorts of typographical errors creep into the citations, whether from the exporting source such as a database, or from within RefWorks itself. It does not take long, however, to recognize the pattern of typos that occur. Just keep an eye on them and make sure to edit them as you go along, or at the end of a project.

Citing Translated Sources

For translated sources, the main style guides do not have a whole lot to say. But they provide just enough guidance that we should be able to document non-English language sources clearly and consistently. That guidance is reflected on these slides, which spell out the main rules for translated sources:

Translated_Sources

Click here to view slides on style guidelines for translated sources

New Tools in RefWorks

In the new RefWorks interface, click on the three dots located on the top white ribbon to access the tools.

Click here for the Tools in RefWorks

Screenshot of RefWorks

The “Save references on the Web” tool can be dragged to your browser and used to capture information from Web pages for composing a citation. It works perfectly on a site like PubMed, which must have really good metadata; less so on the New York Times and other sites, but worth a shot.

The “Cite in Microsoft Word” tool needs to be downloaded and installed according to your operating system and version of MS Word. While there can be as much as a two-hour learning curve in getting this tool up and running, it ultimately promises to be a major time saver. With this tool activated, one can seamlessly insert formatted citations into a Word document, whether parenthetical or footnotes, as well as inserting a bibliography or list of works cited. If at a later date you need to change the citation style of your paper, you can do so with the click of a button, and watch your entire document reformat to the designated citation style.

The “Cite in Google Docs” tool is an Add-on that’s easy to implement. If you need footnotes instead of parenthetical citations, simply manually insert the footnote in Google Docs, then select a reference from the RefWorks sidebar.

Conclusion

As far as citations go, we know there are a thousand exceptions and a million quirky sources that don’t seem to fit the rules laid out in style guides. That’s why we encourage anyone with questions to contact one of our librarians for assistance.

Additional Resources

The Purdue OWL (Online Writing Lab) has long provided a very useful overview of the main rules from the three major citation styles. It’s easy to cross-check what you’re doing with the rules laid out on Purdue OWL.

Our own succinct Citation Guide for Print & Electronic Sources provides links to RefWorks and other leading citation managers, as well as to the major style guides, which are all available at the Reference Desk in Shain Library, and to additional online help.

Additional support from RefWorks:

—Andrew Lopez

 

 

 

 

Schedule a Research Consultation to Get Help Finding Sources

The fall semester is well underway at Connecticut College and the reference desk in Shain Library is abuzz with questions and consultations about finding, evaluating, and citing scholarly sources on a wide variety of topics.

What follows is an overview of a recent transaction in which an undergraduate student wanted to find works by two renowned anthropologists. The takeaway is that sometimes when it seems like the library doesn’t have a book you’re looking for, be persistent (e.g. ask us); it could be just a few searches away.

An anthropology student contacted the library by using the Schedule a Research Consultation link on the library website. One can schedule a research consultation using the library mobile app as well, so it’s super easy to schedule an appointment with a librarian.  In her message, the researcher told us about her project and the kinds of sources she was hoping to find:

I would like help finding works by Franz Boas such as his 1907 essay “Anthropology”, or his 1911 book “The Mind of Primitive Man”, or his 1920 essay, “The Methods of Ethnology”. And such works by Lewis Henry Morgan as “Systems of Consanguinity and Affinity of the Human Family” or “Ancient Society” (1877)

We scheduled an appointment and met in person to work on this together. Some of the sources can be found using the library catalog online, but some of them are trickier and require a more advanced search technique.

Here’s a look at how we found them:

Franz Boas’ work called “Anthropology”:

  • Do an Advanced Search in the library catalog

    Screenshot of an Advanced Search in the library catalog.

    Screenshot of an Advanced Search in the library catalog.

  • Search for franz boas in the first search box (case doesn’t matter), and set the drop-down option to search Author Name
  • In the second search box, search for anthropology, and set the drop-down to search Title
  • This search produced 5 results, including one for the book Anthropology and Modern Life, which is what it turned out we wanted

Because we were not sure at first if “anthropology” is the title of a whole book or perhaps just an article or chapter, we started with an advanced search to see how the catalog would handle this information. The advanced search technique helped in this case, because we found what we wanted and quickly.

The next item of interest, The Methods of Ethnology, sounds more like a book title, so we thought we would find it with a basic title search:

  • Do a Basic Search in the library catalog

    Screenshot of a Basic Search in the library catalog.

    Screenshot of a Basic Search in the library catalog.

  • Search for the title (without the initial article, because library catalogs and databases do not search initial articles such as “a” and “the”)
  • Limit the search to within the Title field
  • Unfortunately there are no results for this title, so it is either something we do not have in our library, something that’s contained in another item or classified under another title, or maybe it’s not a book, but a journal article or conference presentation instead

Assuming the work in question is at least part of a book, we can redo the search in WorldCat, the catalog of library catalogs, where we can hope to find out for sure if it is in a book somewhere:

  • Under the Catalog search box on the library website, click on WorldCat

    Screenshot of search results in WorldCat.

    Screenshot of search results in WorldCat.

  • Do a keyword search like this: “Methods of Ethnology” Boaz
  • This search contains a unique phrase (“in quotes”) and a unique name (Boaz); all as keywords
  • We still get a lot of results, but notice the first few. They happen to be titles available at Connecticut College, because the name Connecticut College appears highlighted in green
  • Click on those records to find out more about them
  • When viewing the full record in WorldCat, one can see these various titles contain the chapter we’re after – The Methods of Ethnology / Franz Boas
  • Pick any of the titles that appear to contain the essay of interest, and return to the Connecticut College Library Catalog to find out where the book is located in our library

With the search techniques listed above, we found everything we needed in about 15 minutes. It was all available only a few steps away.

— Andrew Lopez

 

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