Chatham University's JKM Library

April 12, 2015
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Meet the JKM Library Staff: Molly Tighe

Molly Tighe:

Molly at the Castillo San Felipe del Morro in San Juan

Molly at the Castillo San Felipe del Morro in San Juan

  • likes classical music
  • has a history of sneaking into libraries
  • is in favor of having a library cat

What do you do here at The Jennie King Mellon Library?

I’m the Archivist & Public Services Librarian, so there are two aspects to my role in the library.  As Archivist, I manage all aspects university Archives and Special Collections including acquiring, cataloging, and preserving documentation of the university with long-term historical and cultural value.  As Public Services Librarian, I work with students and faculty to ensure that their research and educational needs are met.

What made you choose your current profession?

In many ways, a career in Archives is a logical choice for a former history major and I’ve found it to be a wonderful way to explore how the past has shaped the present.  I was also inspired to choose career in the library field after spending many hours in the Harold Acton Library in Florence, Italy while I was a nanny for an Italian family. I would sneak into this then-private library, which is housed on three floors of a 16th century palazzo, and tip toe down a spiral staircase to the literature section, where I would relax into the ease of my native tongue.

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A Las Vegas Chorus Girl. I love glitter.

What’s your favorite part of your job?

It’s always a pleasure to be contacted by an alumnae about their time at Chatham or to work with Alumni Affairs to help former students and faculty reconnect to their time here. Since I’m fairly new to Chatham, I’m doing a bit of research on the history of the university and I’m enjoying learning about all the amazing men and women who have played a role in the development of our school.  I also really enjoy helping students learn about the resources available to the library to further their academic and research goals.

If you could do one thing to change/improve the JKM Library, with no worries about time or expense, what would you do?

This is totally impractical, but it would be great to have a resident cat.  On a practical level, I’d love a cold storage environment to help preserve our film and photograph collections.

What do you like to do on your days off?

I’m a classical music fan, so I attend Pittsburgh Symphony concerts pretty regularly.  I love to practice yoga and the weekends are great time to take classes with Pittsburgh’s many fantastic teachers or with a visiting “yoga-lebrity.” I like to go hiking with my husband and we often make road trips to small historical societies or history sites.

What’s the last thing you checked out?

The Martian by Andy WeirThis science fiction thriller is as heavy on the science, as it is on the thrills. It is being made into a feature film starring Kate Mara, Jessica Chastain, and Matt Damon due in theaters in November.

What book do you think everyone should read? Why?

Whichever book I’m reading so that we can talk about it!

What’s your favorite thing about living in Pittsburgh?

I love the geography and exploring all the neighborhoods tucked into the hollows and the runs.  The cultural amenities, restaurants, and all the friendly people are also high on my list of favorite things about Pittsburgh.

What’s one thing you think everyone should do while they live in the city?

Go to a Pirates game!  See the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra!  Rent a kayak downtown (especially nice on hot summer days)!  Buy cheese at Penn Mac!

Tell us some surprising things about yourself:

  • I did a cultural exchange with Norway when I was a teenager and lived in Trondheim for a month.  It is an amazingly beautiful country.
  • I catalogued a Christmas card sent from John Lennon and May Pang to Andy Warhol when I worked in the Archives of the Warhol Museum.
  • I take gift wrapping very seriously.

April 6, 2015
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App Review: POETRY from The Poetry Foundation

April is National Poetry Month! Why not take a selection of poems with you everywhere with the help of an app? POETRY, the appropriately-titled but obnoxiously capitalized app from The Poetry Foundation (publishers of Poetry magazine), can help you search for and save your favorite poems. You can also find new poems to love with the help of the “Discover Poetry” feature, which caused me to happily while away a good amount of time while writing this review.

“Poetry Library” by John Zacherle on Flickr

Poetry Library” by John Zacherle on Flickr, made available under a CC BY-SA 2.0 license

The app opens and presents you with a curious button: “Spin.” Hitting this button starts a scrolling rainbow of options which eventually settles on a mood and a subject. On my first try I got “Humor & Youth,” which displayed 25 poems beneath the header. Dragging the colored bar displaying the mood, I was delighted to find that you can search by any combination of mood and subject and the app will display poems that are tagged with both. From gloomy combinations such as “Boredom & Love” to the more colorful “Joy & Celebrations,” this approach allows for an interactive and engaging discovery process. My one complaint is that this view displays only the title of the poem and not the author, so I ended up selecting a number of titles that I would have otherwise avoided. On the other hand, perhaps this allows for serendipitous discovery and destruction of literary comfort zones, or at least the element of surprise.

If you’re looking for poems by a specific author, or trying to locate a poem by title or by a line or phrase, there is also a “Find Poetry” search feature. This may be more useful for poems you have encountered while using the Poetry Foundation website or the POETRY app, as the collection is necessarily somewhat limited. The mobile collection does not include all of the poems available on the Poetry Foundation website, probably due to the issues inherent in obtaining the correct permissions. What the app does contain are poems from Poetry magazine, poems in the public domain, and those poems for which the app creators have secured mobile permissions. New poems are added on a monthly basis.

There is a sharing function which allows you to integrate your Twitter, Facebook, and/or email account. Otherwise, there doesn’t seem to be a great deal of integration between the app and the website proper, so your favorites appear to be accessible only within the app interface. The only other distracting element of the app is its (understandable) struggle to represent poetic structure, so line breaks and irregular spacing may not be reproduced faithfully.

I will admit that I downloaded this app in order to review it, but I’m not giving it up. I will be celebrating throughout April and beyond by browsing through its collection while on the bus, waiting in line, and probably in many other places throughout Pittsburgh. (Don’t worry, Twitter app, I still love you. But it’s National Poetry Month.)

POETRY is available for iOS and Android.

April 2, 2015
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Prizewinning Edible Books!

Yesterday’s celebration of the International Edible Books Festival was a rousing success! Thanks to everyone who participated. IMG_4809

Thank you also to our three wonderful judges for their hard work in selecting the prizewinning edible books:

  • Dr. Heather McNaugher, Associate Professor of English & Creative Writing
  • Malik Hamilton, Food Studies student
  • Amy Lee Heinlen, Librarian and Poet
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Serious deliberation was required to select the prizewinners.

And a big congratulations, of course, to our fantastic prizewinners:

Most Creative Literary Interpretation:
Molly Tighe for Tender is the NightMost Creative Ingredients / Use of Ingredients:
Shuai Lu for Ancient Egypt: The Land and its Legacy
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Most Sustainable:
Breanne Healey for The Very Hungry Caterpillar
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Most Popular Vote:
Rachel Geffrey for Curious George
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Grand Prize:
Tiffany Waltenbaugh, Teresa Scibilia, & Lorraine Yanjtovich for The Very Hungry Caterpillar
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March 19, 2015
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Meet Gesina Phillips, Reference Associate!

GesinaIsAwkwardGesina Phillips:

  • wanted to be a marine biologist when she grew up
  • DJ at WRCT-FM, Carnegie Mellon’s radio station
  • is a Reference Associate here at the JKM Library!

What do you do here at The Jennie King Mellon Library?

I’m a Reference Associate, which means I’m one of the people you might talk to if you contact Ask a Librarian or email/call/stop by the Reference Desk at the library.

What made you choose your current profession?

I’m still studying for my Master’s in Library Science at the University of Pittsburgh, but I’ve chosen to become a librarian because I love teaching and learning. Collaborating with people to find answers to their questions is fulfilling for me both as a people person and a researcher. Plus, my previous degrees are in English literature, so it sure is nice to be surrounded by books all the time.

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A marine biologist. I grew out of that sometime during high school biology, but I still really like whales.

What’s your favorite part of your job?

I really enjoy helping people through the research process. It’s great to be able to point people toward new resources or search strategies so that they’ll be better equipped to find things in the future. I also love the range of research topics that I encounter—I always learn something new!

If you could do one thing to change/improve the JKM Library- with no worries about time or expense, what would you do?

I would love to put in a cozy and inviting space for collaboration, like a cafe or a commons, and fill it with tons of supplies (whiteboards, interactive technologies) and leisure reading materials (magazines, newspapers). The library has a lot of these things already, but I would love to combine them all in a more casual open space.

What do you like to do on your days off?

When I’m not at the library I enjoy reading, getting out & exploring the city, finding new music to listen to & revisiting old favorites, playing video games, and making baked goods.

What’s the last thing you checked out?

The last book I checked out–and I’ll be honest–was Volume 3 of Mike Mignola’s Hellboy (a compilation which includes The Conqueror Worm and Strange Places). Mignola’s use of shadows is gorgeous, and who doesn’t love a good comic book halfway through the semester? I got it from CLP Main, which has a great collection of comics, graphic novels, and even zines!

What book do you think everyone should read? Why?

I think everyone should really read Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. It’s funny, it’s important, and it’s light enough sci-fi to be a potential gateway to some really nerdy stuff.

What’s your favorite thing about living in Pittsburgh?

I’ve heard it described as “the biggest small town” and I tend to agree. People love living in Pittsburgh, talking about Pittsburgh, and getting excited about all things related to Pittsburgh. I think that energy is great and above all quite infectious.

What’s one thing you think everyone should do while they live in the city?

Everyone will tell you to take the Incline, but they’re right! It’s a great thing to do because a) it’s part of the transit system, which is weird, and b) you end up with a lovely view of the city. Also make sure to take advantage of both the world-class venues and the little hole-in-the-wall spaces in the city that cater to art, music, and more.

Tell us some surprising things about yourself:

  • I’m a DJ at WRCT-FM, Carnegie Mellon’s radio station.
  • I’ve been cited in an academic publication…for talking about Viking Metal.
  • I’m on a constant search for the best burger in Pittsburgh.

March 17, 2015
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FOIA and Libraries: The Persepolis Story

On March 16, 2015, Jennie King Mellon Library celebrated Freedom of Information Day, an annual observance of our rights to speak out, to share information freely, and to obtain information that the public has a right to know. See our display of related books and materials in the first floor lobby!

Libraries are information repositories, and are based upon the idea that information should be freely shared and experienced. Libraries and librarians are often on the front lines of First Amendment and information freedom concerns. A recent example is the controversy that occurred when, in 2013, the Chicago Public School System pulled Marjane Satrapi’s award-winning graphic novel Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood from their curriculum.

persepolisThe banning of the work could not have happened without discussion amongst various administrators in the school system, much of which occurred in writing, and so the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom, the Freedom to Read Foundation (FTRF), and the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) all put in Freedom of Information Act requests for the correspondence in early 2013. FOIA allows for anyone to access, or to request and receive, any information held by the federal government (including public schools) that is not specifically required to be kept confidential. The professional organizations received only a few pages of documents, including a heavily-edited version of the email chain which began with a complaint about the book and ended with the determination that it would be banned.

Over a year later, in December 2014, Jarrett Dapier, a student of library science at the University of Illinois who was writing a paper on censorship in K-12 classrooms, submitted his own Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request on the subject and received the complete email correspondence chain.

The full correspondence received by Dapier reveals that the decision to pull the book from the curriculum was based on two pages in Persepolis identified as being “not appropriate” by one school principal. In a domino-effect panic, the book was thus ordered to be removed from curricula across the entire Chicago Public School System. The correspondence also reveals that some teachers and librarians at the affected schools initiated “pushback,” by noting that the book is acclaimed, and that librarians retain the authority to purchase and make available to students even those texts that have been deemed controversial.

Responding to the controversy, the Chicago Public School System ultimately allowed the work to remain in its libraries, and approved it for study in 11th and 12th grade classrooms. The story indicates how progressive causes can use information transparency to effect change, but also how imperfect the system can be. Information access is a right that needs to be exercised continually to be retained. March 16 is a better time than any to take advantage of this right! See http://www.foia.gov/ for more information.

Sources:

http://www.foia.gov/

http://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/blogs/the-scoop/persepolis-rising/

http://ncac.org/blog/how-chicago-public-schools-dumped-persepolis/

http://www.ftrf.org/blogpost/852091/161174/FTRF-files-FOIA-request-to-Chicago-Public-Schools-over-removal-of-Persepolis

http://www.ala.org/advocacy/advleg/federallegislation/govinfo/opengov/freedomofinfo

March 4, 2015
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Spring Break Popular Reading

Spring break is just a few short days away, so you better stop by JKM Library to check out the books on your Spring Break Reading List! Don’t have a list prepared? Have no fear…the Popular Reading Display has just been stocked!

Here’s what’s new on the table:

Pittsburgh Noir, edited by Kathleen George
The Autumn House Anthology of Contemporary American Poetry, edited by Sue Ellen Thompson
Inside by Alix Ohlin
Dancing on the Edges of Knives, poems by Ed Ochester
Allegheny, poems by Ed Ochester
Invisible Monsters by Chuck Palahniuk
Wicked and Son of a Witch, by Gregory Maguire
Prodigal Son, by Dean Koontz
The Pittsburgh Book of Contemporary American Poetry, edited by Ed Ochester and Peter Oresick

pop reading March

February 23, 2015
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Services for Book Lovers: Goodreads

Looking for a way to tame your “To Read” list? Obsessive about keeping track of things you’ve already read? For book lovers, social media junkies, and everything in between, Goodreads might be the service you’ve been looking for. A number of our staff—myself included—use Goodreads with varying degrees of fanaticism, so we’ve decided to feature it on the blog so you can join in as well!

"d-221 books" by azrasta on Flickr

“d-221 books” by azrasta on Flickr, made available under a CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license

The best thing about Goodreads is that it gives you a lot of options; you can use whatever functions you want and ignore the rest. If you’re not into the social networking aspect, for example, you can use it instead to very specifically track your own reading habits. While writing this review I consulted my own profile, which devolved into a period of obsessive organization of my virtual bookshelves—by date read, by rating, by shelf. I have lists going for books I’ve read, books I am reading, and books I would like to read. If I put a book down for a time (or run out of renewals at the library!), I can record what page I was on for the next time I pick it up. You can also create custom bookshelves and write public reviews. For the organizationally-minded user, it’s a wonderful tool for generating a lot of lists about your library and reading patterns. There are even some functions that provide statistics on the number of books you read in a given year or the authors that you read the most!

This might be good for someone who wants to use the site simply to curate a personal library, but how about people who are looking for recommendations? Goodreads offers a few different ways for you to find out about new books you might like to read. The social aspect of the site allows you to connect with other users and see what they are reading. From that one friend with killer taste to other Goodreads users you meet while discussing your favorite books, you can develop a network of people whose reading habits are similar to your own. There’s also an algorithmic option for recommendations, which suggests books for you to read based on what you’ve added to your bookshelves.

There are some other functions within Goodreads, some of which are pretty neat. You can set a personal reading challenge for the year (good for goal-oriented types!) or import your Amazon purchases directly onto your bookshelves (this makes a little more sense when using the Kindle app version; otherwise, it seems somewhat intrusive). There are author interviews and curated lists galore for you to read, and if you love vehemently disagreeing with people, you can always check out the user reviews.

Overall, the social networking and personal library aspects of Goodreads work well together, but users can also tailor the experience effectively to their own needs. In addition to the web interface there are free apps available for iOS, Android, Kindle, and NOOK. Reviews are generally good for the apps, although the web interface offers the most comprehensive access to the service’s many features.

Check out Goodreads at goodreads.com, or download the app for your device from iTunes, Google Play, Amazon, or Barnes & Noble.

February 3, 2015
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Meet the JKM Library Staff: Amy Lee Heinlen

Amy Lee and a small section of her personal book collection.

Amy Lee and a small section of her personal book collection.

Amy Lee Heinlen

  • is a huge fan of the museums in Pittsburgh.
  • is working on her MFA in poetry with a concentration in publishing here at Chatham and hopes to defend her thesis in spring 2016!
  • was co-captain of the 2009 bronze-cart-winning book cart drill team, The Steel City Kings (watch the video!).

What do you do here at The Jennie King Mellon Library?

I oversee all of the many goings-on at the Circulation Desk. I am the liaison librarian for Falk School of Sustainability, and the departments ofEducation; History, Political Science, and International Studies; and Women & Gender Studies. I am often found at the Reference Desk, too.

What made you choose your current profession?

I love learning and I love books. I’m interested in people and I’m passionate about our access to information. I am inspired by the energy of a university campus.

 When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

 A poet and a zoo keeper.

 What’s your favorite part of your job?

Learning about the varied and wide-ranging interests of our patrons. I discover something new to read, something new to think about, some new connection to the world, every day.

If you could do one thing to change/improve the JKM Library- with no worries about time or expense, what would you do?

I would have every single student, staff, and faculty member on campus visit the library for a series of instruction sessions demonstrating all of the many fantastic resources and services their library makes available to them!

What do you like to do on your days off?

I spend time with my daughter and husband. We play, explore Pittsburgh, and spend lots of time at the museums. I love to read for hours, though that doesn’t happen very often these days. I write. I revise. I write some more.

What’s the last thing you checked out?

I’m reading Helen Vendler’s, Dickinson: Selected Poems and Commentaries, which is a series of close readings of Emily Dickinson’s poems. Alongside this, I’m devouring The Gorgeous Nothings: Emily Dickinson’s Envelope Poems, which reproduces, in full-color, the experimental poems she wrote later in life on unfolded envelopes. If you’re perplexed and intrigued by Dickinson, I highly recommend both of these titles.

What book do you think everyone should read? Why?

I think everyone should read voraciously. But if I have to pick just one, I suggest 1984 by George Orwell because it forces the reader think about the importance of privacy, something which we as a society are complacent about and take for granted in the United States. 

What’s your favorite thing about living in Pittsburgh?

The geography. I grew up in Central Ohio which is rather flat and I love the hills of Pittsburgh!

 What’s one thing you think everyone should do while they live in the city?

Visit the museums. All of them!

Tell us some surprising things about yourself:

I am working on my MFA in poetry with a concentration in publishing here at Chatham. I hope to defend my thesis in spring 2016.

I worked as a waitress, a bartender, in used and rare book retail, as a horse-back riding instructor, as a personal assistant, and as a copy editor before I decided to become a librarian.

I lived in Columbus, Ohio; Mobile, Alabama; and Austin, Texas before moving to my favorite city so far, Pittsburgh.

I was co-captain of the 2009 bronze-cart-winning book cart drill team, The Steel City Kings.

February 1, 2015
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Blind Date with a Book Display

IMG_2080Have you ever read a book and thought, “This is true love!”? Well, we’re hoping to set you up with your next favorite book (or film) this Valentine’s Day. Stop into the library and pick up a wrapped book from the display, check it out, and unwrap your date! Was it a dud? Is it getting put in the friend zone? We hope you find new love.

January 26, 2015
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Popular Reading Display

As we neared the end of the fall semester, we at the library asked our patrons to let us know what they wanted to see on the Popular Reading Display. You suggested, and we listened! The display was filled with new titles in the middle of January, so make sure to stop by and see what made it to the table.

Here are some of our new features:Pop Reading Jan

Have your own suggestions for the Popular Reading Display? Send an email to circdesk@chatham.edu or stop by in person and let us know!