November 30, 2009

The Google Books issue summarized

Maybe you've heard a bit about Google's plan to digitize all the world's books. It's a massive project, with widespread implications. CBC news has prepared an informative backgrounder that includes milestones in the history of the project as well as concerns for reader, issues for authors, publishers and researchers.

November 28, 2009

Long live the Library!

“Let’s face it: the library, as a place, is dead,” said Suzanne E. Thorin, dean of libraries at Syracuse University. “Kaput. Finito. And we need to move on to a new concept of what the academic library is.” Thorin was participating in a debate at the 2009 Educause Conference in Denver this month

Richard E. Luce, director of university libraries at Emory University, countered that just because libraries are transitioning from print to online does not mean they will cease to be libraries.“The issue is really about library as place, whether you need the bricks and mortar,” Luce said. “So let’s look at that.”

The history of libraries, he said, has been marked by evolution: They were founded as places where materials were collected and stored. Then they shifted their focus toward connecting clients with resources. Then, with the addition of creature comforts such as coffee shops, they became "experience" centered, effectively rendering student unions obsolete. Today, libraries are defined more by what they do than what they look like.

“Now, in the fourth generation, we’re really seeing the library as a place to connect, collaborate, learn, and really synthesize all four of those roles together,” said Luce. “How do you do that without bricks and mortar?The library still is, and will continue to be, the centerpiece of a campus," Luce said. It's a place "to interact with one another — to talk, to collaborate, to think, to communicate, to be with one another."

While new technologies might be replacing print collections they are not replacing librarians — whose roles as research guides have become more even important as available resources have multiplied. For librarians, the number of directional and simple questions has dropped, because of the tools provided to make answering those questions easy. On the other hand, the number of more difficult, research-oriented questions, has grown as the complexity of the tools to provide answers to those questions has become more intense.

Thorin and Luce agreed that while the functions and appearance of libraries will likely change, nobody’s about to tear them down just because they have fewer books and more social spaces.

“Maybe the whole idea of ‘Is the library, as a place, dead or not,’ maybe this is a red herring,” Thorin said. “…Maybe the question is, ‘Who knows what the library means anymore?’ ”

Adapted from an article in: Inside higher Education by Steve Kolowich

November 25, 2009

Alloway Library's Christmas Collection

We went looking for Christmas...
And lo, using a keywords search in the Alloway Library catalogue we found over 300 results* and put the best ones on display on the main level for you to borrow.

There are picture books, DVDs and CDs with works by St Augustine, Charles Dickens, Dr Seuss and Bing Crosby to name just a few. From sermons, songs and stories to social commentaries and biblical commentaries; crafts and customs; history, astronomy, biology, business and psychology; the subject headings are a clue to how Christmas influences so many aspects of our life.
  • Books checked out or renewed between December 3 and 13 will be due January 4, 2010.
  • Media items checked out or renewed between December 17 and 23 will be due January 4, 2010.
  • Remember, you can renew online at, or contact circulation staff to request a renewal. (Some exceptions may apply.)
*A keyword search doesn’t find everything. More resources were found using subject specific searches such as Jesus Christ—nativity or Advent or Santa Claus

November 12, 2009

Celebrating Archives Week 2009!

In honour of Archives Week 2009 (November 16 to 20) the Archives Association of British Columbia has announced improvements to, a searchable portal where you can access descriptions of archival materials throughout the province. As the gateway to British Columbia's past, MemoryBC provides access to more than 11,500 descriptions of the archival material preserved in 180 repositories throughout BC.

Archival repositories, such as the TWU Archives and Special Collections preserve records, papers, photographs and other types of historical information created by people and organizations over time. Repositories make these materials available to the public to access, research and enjoy.
Researchers can use to conduct full-text search for persons/organizations and repositories in the database

MemoryBC's updated website interface provides improved access to BC’s documentary heritage via the Internet. It also provides AABC member institutions, including TWU Archives, with the opportunity to participate in a new provincial catalogue of archival descriptions.

November 10, 2009

HELP! (and how to find it)

"I need at least six peer-reviewed articles, but I don’t know where to start." Sound familiar?

Asking for help isn’t always easy. Sometimes we feel it's something we should already know. Or worse yet, it’s something we’ve already asked about, but have forgotten how to do.

TWU's Alloway library offers help that fits your style and comfort level. We have the more traditional types of reference – face-to-face for those who love the personal human touch, e-mail for the neo-traditionalists, and chat for those who live online. These are available by coming in, or through the links on the left hand side of the library home page.

But sometimes we’re working late at night and can’t wait for a librarian to wake up. Fortunately, the library also has a less well-known form of help -- a set of flash tutorials linked from this page

The tutorials cover a range of topics, including how to:

  • do research (click on the graphic above)
  • use the library’s online catalogue
  • cite your sources.

Other tutorials show how to use databases linked to specific disciplines such as:

  • Communications
  • Education
  • Nursing
  • Psychology
  • Religious Studies

Many of them have PDF versions for those prefer to work from a print copy. Have a look at them and if you still have questions, contact a librarian.

November 09, 2009

Souvenir of the Berlin Wall

Recent news stories tell us that November marks the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Alloway Library has a unique reminder of the Iron Curtain on display: a plaque showing pieces of the wall and illustrating the lethal security zone that kept Germans in the communist east separated from their countrymen in the west.

The plaque was given to the library by former faculty member Robert Thompson. It commemorates November 9 1989, when the East Germans were permitted to cross into the west.

It is normally in a librarian's office, but will be viewable on the Main Level near the checkout counter for the next few days.

November 06, 2009

Keeping the lights on for you

Now that Alloway Library has been connected to a natural gas-powered generator we are ready for the storms of winter. Electricians completed work this week that will keep all the computers and lighting on the main level functioning if there is a general power failure. The back-up power supply will also keep the library's servers and security systems functioning.

Recognizing the importance of the library to academic success and the way that "power failure season" often coincides with the end of the term, connection to a generator has long been on the library's wish list. It was even included in our successful application for a federal Knowledge Infrastructure Program grant.

Your library; your world. Now more than ever!

When the next power failure occurs we can expect a momentary blackout and then lights and computers will come back on within a few moments. Because the upper and lower levels are not connected to the alternate power supply library staff may evaluate safety conditions and close those areas if necessary.

November 04, 2009

Why rent what you've already got?

Deep Dyve bills itself as the largest online rental service for scientific, technical and medical research with 30 million articles from thousands of authoritative journals. Deep Dyve “rents” articles—which means users can view content without ownership rights or printing capabilities—for as little as 99 cents for 24 hours. Users can also subscribe for monthly passes.

Currently the site has 30 million articles from various peer-reviewed journals. According to an article in The Wired Campus, William Park, chief executive of Deep Dyve, says the model will not only allow more people to read articles they might otherwise not see, but will actually encourage users to purchase more content from journals.

That sounds like great news but... as an Alloway Library patron you already have full access to over thirteen thousand electronic academic journals for free through the library's Article indexes and databases and TWU Journal list. You can copy, print and save the articles; and the library also has professional staff available in person and online to help you understand how to use the resources.