Psychology and Education @St. Thomas

July 24, 2013

InterLibrary Loan: Where do your books come from?

Filed under: Books,Libraries and Librarians,Library Services — merriealynn @ 4:58 pm

What’s the greatest thing about libraries? We share almost everything with each other!

Here at the University of St. Thomas, we share our collection with other libraries of the ACTC schools. Searching our catalog brings results from the other schools. A click on the Request link starts the process that ends with the courier bringing the book to your favorite CLIC library where you can check it out.

But if no CLIC library owns your book or subscribes to your journal?

books from UST, CLIC, Minitex, the US, the world

Our InterLibrary Loan department rocks harder than any I’ve seen.

Faith Bonitz and Lindsey Loree borrow books from everywhere. And with about 60 requests per day, they get requests for almost anything.

The UST libraries also participate in the Minitex network which makes it easy for us to get books and articles from academic and public libraries in Minnesota.

Generally,  they get books and papers for you mostly from the University of Minnesota. It’s close and, as a state university, has the obligation to assist all of Minnesota’s citizens. But even the U doesn’t have everything. Soooo……

Around once or twice a month, we borrow books from around the world: France, the UK, Taiwan, Australia, and everywhere else.


Maps showing that books are lent to UST from all over the world

ILL is the Travel Agent for Books


April 10, 2013

Why can Librarians Find Stuff that Other People Don’t?

Filed under: Libraries and Librarians,Research Techniques — merriealynn @ 7:48 pm

Yesterday, I gave a talk to several librarians. I’ve often wondered why I can often find articles, books, information, videos when my students don’t. What’s so special about librarians?

I came up with 7 different advantages we have over regular folks. I forgot the last one, that happens because of our personalities and/or because of the 7 advantages we have: we’re obsessive; we never give up.

who needs a doctor when you have webmd obsessvie_librarian

But here are the 7:

  1. Students are panicked! We’re not. We can still think, while their minds are buzzing with so many thoughts, many of which are about the dire consequences of not finishing their paper in time.
    What have I done!?
  2. We know how information is organized in a library. All the terminology on our websites makes sense to us. We know what a library does, so we know what to look for.
    For instance, we know that libraries generally have guides that point out the most important resources for each field of study. There are several names for these (subject guides, research guides, lib guides and an older term pathfinders), but we know what lies behind those names. Students don’t even know to look for such guides.
  3. Databases are fun! (for us). Not necessarily for other people. We just love to play with websites and databases, just to see what they might do differently than all the other databases (100’s) that we’ve played with.
    Other folks just want to use the databases to find the information they need. And they’ve only used 2 or 3 databases in their lives. So, not so intuitive to them.
  4. We know how research is done (at least in our specialty fields). In the Social Sciences, you can’t answer huge questions with a single experiment or study. Research studies don’t answer the question “How do children learn?” They answer the question, “How do 2 year olds learn to use paintbrushes through imitation?”toddlertoolsBroader questions are usually answered by faculty who have already been tenured and are synthesizing their lifetime of research in a book, not an article.
  5. An answer to us is not necessarily an answer for students.
    Often students want a definite answer, with a number attached. Science doesn’t give definite answers. All science is specific to the context of the research and subject to change when deeper information is found.
  6. We understand the levels of analysis of the different research tools we use. You don’t look for article titles in catalogs. You don’t look for topic sentences in subject guides.
    Databases differ from each other. You don’t look for industrial psychology in MergentOnline (a business database).
    Summon is helping us with this.
  7. Finally, librarians love to share what they’ve found with other librarians! Our colleagues in our libraries, universities, on the Internet, our associations spend lots of energy helping each other. We are the coolest OpenAccess/OpenData people alive.

And we took this position because we love research, learning, and guiding other people to the enormous amount of information we can find. And helping them analyze and evaluate, plan their future research, and find fun reading to do during their breaks!librarianheart

October 4, 2011

It’s hard to get downtown. Skype me!

Filed under: Contact Merrie,Libraries and Librarians — merriealynn @ 9:18 pm

Can’t or don’t want to come downtown to Minneapolis? Need to chat about your paper or doc project? The phone is frustrating?

Man on telephone, looking at a computer, says "Click where?"

Let’s Skype!recording skype

Why do I love Skype?

  • It’s free!
  • We can see each other!
  • We can see each others’ computer screens!
  • I get to hear your voice!
  • Less time-consuming and frustrating than the phone or IM.

My Skype name is merrie.davidson.

Download Skype at

We can chat and share our computer screens without a web camera. So, if you’d rather I not see you in your pajamas, we can still use Skype. (But flannel pajamas are my clothing of choice.)

If you’d like to play on Skype before using it for real, we can do that too!

September 8, 2010

Dove World and the Freedom to Read

Filed under: Libraries and Librarians — merriealynn @ 10:04 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

The church that is threatening to burn the Qur’an on September 11 is located in the town I lived in previously. Everyone I know from Gainesville, the Mayor, and almost all of the religious clergy are speaking out against the burning, but the church has decided to go ahead with their deed.

Before this great event, there were other actions by the church that were disrespectful. In addition, there were  allegations of semi-slavery of people working for the church and children under their custody. This is all of a piece.

The American Library Association is combating this denial of freedom of religion and speech by reading from the Q’uran on the steps of its building. I say, let’s all read from the Qur’an quietly or with others on Saturday.

February 10, 2009

Liaisons at Keffer Library

Filed under: Libraries and Librarians,Library Services — merriealynn @ 9:51 am

Who are our subject liaisons at the University of St. Thomas libraries and what can they do for you?

We are a group of librarians who are passionate about our subjects. We spend our days keeping up with new

Original image caption reads: Whitley County, Kentucky. One of the mountain homes visited by WPA Pack Horse librarian. Man was permanently injured by bullet wound.

Original image caption reads: Whitley County, Kentucky. One of the mountain homes visited by WPA Pack Horse librarian. Man was permanently injured by bullet wound.

publications, databases, and research in our areas so that we can help you find information you need to do your own research.

  • We select books, databases, journals, manuscripts, DVDs etc for our collection.
    Ask selectors to purchase materials you need or would like to see in the collection.
  • We teach library research classes detailing library resources or library  research methods for your particular field.
    Invite a librarian to teach one of your classes or lab meetings. Ask your professor to invite a librarian.
  • We consult with you on your library research, suggesting resources, techniques, and library services to help you.
    Email or call a librarian to meet with you individually about your research and problems you might have.
  • We maintain web pages to assist you with your research when we can’t be physically there.
    Check out our Subject Guides and blogs for suggestions.

If you are working outside of your field, subject specialists can be especially helpful. If you are new to a field just checking our web pages gives you great insight into which databases, methodologies and resources you can use. Plus we love talking with you!

August 20, 2008

Help Digitize Books for the Web

Filed under: Libraries and Librarians,scholarly communication — merriealynn @ 10:32 am

NPR broadcast a story last week about how we Internet users work to digitize materials for the web. You know all those times you have to sign into different social network communities (like this one) or get past security that checks to make sure you’re not a computer bot trying to spam. You’re given a distorted set of letters to decode and type into a box.

Well, now some sites use something called reCAPTCHA, where two words appear. The first is the regular security code. The second is a real word that scanning equipment found difficult to interpret. So, you’re the interpreter! You’re helping to scan material for the Internet Archive.

Recaptcha on Craigslist

Recaptcha on Craigslist

The Science article describes exactly how it’s done! (You can read the abstract online; the journal article is in periodicals at the O’Shaughnessy-Frey Library-Frey Library in St. Paul.)

May 23, 2008

Books Open the World … for children, women, and others in Uganda

Filed under: Libraries and Librarians — merriealynn @ 11:48 am

I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to write about this…duh!

Last spring a UF graduate student, Joel Hartter, now an Assistant Professor at the University of New Hampshire, brought a project he’d become involved with during his doctoral work in Uganda, Books Open the World, to the Smathers Libraries.

As the website describes it, “Books Open the World (BOTW) is a non-profit, secular organization that seeks to promote and encourage education and opportunity in rural communities to children and women through community libraries, literacy classes, vocational training, support groups, and by supporting all levels of education.”

Here at UF, a group of librarians and some other folks have written articles for library magazines, garnered money from grants, inspired a young librarian to help develop the libraries in Uganda,  and developed BOTW’s website. We’re also collecting books for the libraries, getting non-profit status, and looking for more grant money.

We are sending many books from here, but the communities also want many books in the native languages. Those can only be bought in-country, so for that cash and grants are needed.

If you are interested in helping in other ways, contact the organization. It’s all quite exciting.

May 13, 2008

Social Networking with Facebook,, & Wikis for Libraries?

Filed under: Libraries and Librarians — merriealynn @ 1:29 pm

Recently, I’ve thought a lot about social networking sites, especially comparing Facebook with (a site for Knitters, Crocheters, and Spinners) and how they relate to wikis and blogs by librarians and for libraries.


I wonder if I’m more comfortable at Ravelry because 1) it’s more structured or 2) it revolves my great obsessions. Facebook feels too amorphous to me; I can’t seem to get settled. But at Ravelry, I jumped in right away, setting up my own group — Guerilla Knitters (knitters who perform public art with knitting or crochet), writing to others, setting up projects I’m working on, and contacting people I know from other cities who are obsessed with knitting and spinning, too.

Ravelry allows each member to organize his or her knitting or crocheting projects, library, yarn, needles/hooks, and design plans online. Furthermore, each of these can link to other people’s projects that are using the same materials or patterns. So, you can find people doing similar work as you.

And you can find people in groups that others have founded based on geography, love of a yarn, a pattern, a style of knitting, spinning, or a movie that has great handknits in it (like A Christmas Story!)


Scot Farcus Group on Ravelry

Scot Farcus Group on Ravelry

Knitting becomes even more collaborative through the Internet. It’s how I became a spinner years ago through listservs and bulletin boards.

Social networking and collaborative work are both hot topics. Here are some sources:

Can our library work become even more collaborative in the same way? Students can communicate with each other about their research experiences — what works, what doesn’t — everything becomes richer and easier. Is structure the answer?

Could students set up their research projects with links that connect them to other students who use the same databases, methodologies, topics, or books? Is this already done with current classroom websites? But if it’s done across universities, there could be much more collaboration and students could learn research much like real professors and researchers do.

March 25, 2007

Crazy Librarians

Filed under: Libraries and Librarians — merriealynn @ 10:03 am

Peeps in the Library — A User Study

Well, it’s getting close to Easter. Librarians all over the country are looking again to Millikin Library and shaking their heads, considering doing similar studies in their own libraries. Or wondering why they haven’t. Make sure you scroll down through the entire website. You certainly don’t want to miss a thing. Let me know if any of you would like to become involved in some studies in our library. I have some work in mind…

It is really time for people outside of the librarian world to see the nutty world of librarians. What we do with our free time. What our professional senses of humor looks like.

Medieval Helpdesk (with English subtitles)

Reading on a Dream: A Library Musical

Librarian Workout Tape

“Ray of Light” St Joseph County Public Library (This is rather long. If you can’t watch the whole video, skip to the end.)

Gorilla Librarian (Monty Python)

Have a good time chuckling!

March 6, 2007

An impression of UF libraries by a non-librarian type person

Filed under: Guest Blogger,Libraries and Librarians — merriealynn @ 7:05 pm

First of all, thanks to Merrie for allowing me to guest-blog on her very excellent, very informative forum, and for giving me the opportunity to talk about one of my favorite subjects, Library West and the UF libraries.
To be honest, I really didn’t start to appreciate the university libraries until I started working as a student assistant at the beginning of last summer. Working with the reference librarians has been a great opportunity to see how knowledgeable they are and willing to go the extra mile for their patrons. If you’ve ever hesitated to go up to the desk and ask for help with a project, please reconsider; no matter how arcane your question, you will no doubt find someone at the desk who can help you. And if, for some reason, they are unable to get the information you need they will invariably refer you to someone who can.
My advice: Make the reference desk at Library West your second home and the librarians your best study buddies. They will not do you wrong.

Some more tips:

  • The Circulation desk on the second floor is a great place to start in your search because they can direct you to the places you need to go. They can also provide you with a laptop if computers in the library are scarce, and a set of headphones if you foolishly left yours at home. Be nice to your circulation desk people and be sure to say “hi” to Missy!
  • Using your own laptop in the library? You can now print to the third floor orange printer.
  • The fourth floor, if you are an undergrad who needs extreme quiet to study, is the place to go. You can even sometimes find a study carrel in which to hunker down.
  • Second choice for X-treme quietude: The first floor, which at times resembles a basement so how can you go wrong?
  • Design and film students take notice: The third floor has high-end computers for graphics and two editing suites! Sweet!

Besides the UF Libraries’ home page, Merrie’s blog is probably the best resource for new and interesting information, not just for her areas of expertise but for Library West as a whole. Her most recent post about Book Crossing is a great example of the potential of a library as community space, and I encourage every reader to explore its possibilities. She talks about the library’s potential as community arena in another post about other university and college libraries who have jumped on the library-as-community-space bandwagon (a coffee shop also doesn’t hurt).
Okay, I’ve babbled long enough, back to our fearless leader of the library blogs at UF. Thank you once again.
Michele is a student, mom, and mate who enjoys helping others. When she is not working for the greater good at Library West she works on her own, somewhat neglected blogspot blog, The Accidental Environmentalist.

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