Monday, June 30, 2008

The Play’s The Thing

Anyone who knows me knows I’m a theatre geek. I’ll go see just about anything. It’s not that I’m not discriminating in my choice of what to see, just that I’m willing to give anyone who’s “puttin’ on a show” the benefit of the doubt that it could be good. And when everything connects, it can be a life-altering experience.

But I do pay a price, having to sit through some awful productions when I know someone in the show, or I’m seated next to the director, or I’ve left my bike with the box office staff because there was no place to lock it up outside and I just don’t feel right asking for it back during the intermission for a show I got free tickets to (I wonder why they were free?).

A bad performance is one thing, but a bad audience can also sully an otherwise good show. Late-comers blocking my view, cell phones ringing (and owners answering!), candy wrappers crinkling, private conversations that everyone within 10 feet can hear. You know, people who behave as though they’re sitting in their living room watching a DVD.

“So what,” you ask, “does this have to do with the library?”

Marriott Library has just purchased access to the Theatre in Video* database. So now I (and you) can enjoy a theatre performance and not have to feel guilty if I stop watching halfway through, or worry about inconsiderate audience distractions.

Because this is an online, streaming resource, I can choose when and where I want to watch it (unlike videos from the Multimedia Center, which need to be watched in the library). In addition to plays, it has documentaries and interviews with theatre artists (such as Arthur Miller and Israel Horovitz Discuss Theater). I can create clips of my favorite parts to share with my friends (look for the clip links for Mummenschanz—the toilet paper mimes from Sesame Street, remember?!) And I can see shows from when I was just a kid (check out Meryl Streep in Alice in the Palace, a made-for-TV adaptation of a Joseph Papp-conceived/directed production for the New York Shakespeare Festival, a musical she did between Kramer vs. Kramer and Sophie’s Choice).

Speaking of Shakespeare, Marriott Library has paid extra to provide access to BBC productions of all 37 of the Bard’s plays. And the Theatre in Video database is not yet complete. Alexander Street Press has only uploaded half of the titles they plan to include.

You better start now, if you want to watch them all!

*If you are off campus, you will need to authenticate your browser session by logging in to first. Theatre in Video is also available from Marriott Library's Article Databases list.

Friday, June 27, 2008

What is the Truth?

Here's an interesting article (from the popular magazine US News & World Report) about the FDA and alternative medicine web sites. Read the brief article, but then read the comments that follow.

Who is right and what is the truth? Which side has a more validity and why? Is the information current? Who is the intended audience? What are the author(s) authority (Does the blog commenter "Ani of NM" have the authority and credibility to claim that the FDA and AMA are "Nazi organizations"?) -psst! this is a great exercise for all of the information you use daily.

Sorry US News & World Report, we're not picking on you, I swear!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

A Bun in Your Man-Oven

Check it out: it's the first male pregnancy. Oh, yes--men can now experience the miracle of childbirth. Thank you, modern medicine.


I admit I don't get the . . . ummm . . . logistics of if it all, but, hey, I don't understand airplanes either. But whatever. If it's in print, then it must be true, right?

A: Wrong.

Today, I want to introduce you to an easy test you can use to evaluate information, whether it's in a textbook, a newspaper, or online. It's called the CRAAP Test, and it was created by a group of librarians from California State University at Chico. Nice acronym, huh? As in, if the information you've found doesn't meet these criteria, then it's crap, so don't use it. The extra "A" is for extra crappiness.

Try applying the CRAAP test to the male pregnancy site, and let me know what you determine.

(Oh, by the way, if you can do this simple test, you meet Standard #3 of the ACRL's Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education, which is pretty awesome and academic of you.)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

What do Nancy Regan and I have in common?

SO I’m feeling just a touch empty headed at the moment, but wait I am in the library surrounded by books, connected to technology, how can it be?! It is true, everyone has their moments even those of us at the heart of information and technology can’t be experts on everything. I need a knowledge fill up, something to expand all of my current smarts or help me sharpen my Photoshop skills.
One place where I can pick up this knowledge is TACC : Technology Assisted Curriculum Center right here in the library. TACC offers free courses for students, staff, and faculty with an easy online info and registration page. Who knows you might catch me in the next Photoshop tutorial.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Wasatch Mountain Club (What is/are Special Collections?)

You may have heard "primary sources" when you were on the receiving end of a term paper assignment, but other than interviewing your grandmother (again), what's available?

Hey, good question! Many academic libraries have special collections that are unpublished things like manuscripts, diaries, photographs and letters that come from an authoritative source on the topic. Note that not every Bob and his uncle can contribute their things to a special collections. They actively collect significant and important collections and are growing constantly. Also, each library will have different stuff, guaranteed; because they're all typically one-of-a-kind materials. The special collections at our University of Utah Marriott Library are open to the public. Anyone can waltz on up to the desk and ask for specific things or general questions like, "how do I find out the names of miners at Bingham Mine in 1915?".

A great example of a collection is the Wasatch Mountain Club photographs. There are two ways of seeing the photographs. In person with the real photograph albums (special collections is on the 2nd floor of the library), or online via the scanned images. You can see an index of the images in what we call a 'finding aid'. If you want to see the actual images, you'll have to call ahead to make sure the collection will be there for you. Call 585-3073 for all the info.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Killing Two Birds with One Stone Statue

Over the weekend, I had a patron come to the Fine Arts reference desk who was doing research on the Temple of Zeus in Olympia, Greece. She was looking for research articles about it and also wanted images to include in a class presentation. I knew just the resource she should use, JSTOR*, because she could do one search and get everything she needs.

JSTOR (short for Journal Storage) is one of the best all-around article databases out there. It offers complete, digitized and searchable back issues of significant research publications in every imaginable discipline, from Art to Physics to Economics to Women’s Studies. So, you can do a search and it’ll bring back results with full-text articles scanned right from the published journals.

Anyway, the JSTOR folks recently added an image-filtering feature to their search box. After you look through the article results, you can click on the Images in JSTOR tab and it highlights the exact pages in articles that have images on your topic. This includes photographs, statistical charts and graphs, scientific diagrams, etc.

In addition, there’s another tab for Images in ARTstor, a database with 500,000 images (and still growing) of art, architecture, clothing, interior design, historical artifacts, posters, videos, maps, and much more. Under this tab you’ll see thumbnail images found by searching for the same topic in ARTstor. When you click on an image, it will open a new window with a larger version that you can download and save. Perfect for PowerPoint presentations.

The student’s search for “Temple of Zeus” and Olympia was very successful in finding articles and images. Mileage may vary. You may need to change your search terms just a bit to get more images from ARTstor.

* As always, if you're a member of the University of Utah community, you can gain access to both the JSTOR and the ARTstor databases through the Article Databases list, linked from the Marriott Library homepage.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Graphic Novels

If you haven't read a graphic novel before, I highly recommend them. They're an awesome combination of comic book and novel. They can deal with the serious content of a novel, yet still have the engaging artwork of a comic book.

For example, one of my favorite graphic novels is Maus by Art Spielgelman. The story recounts the struggle of Art's father to survive the Holocaust as a Jew in Poland. Jewish people are depicted as mice in the book while the Nazis are cats. Despite the seemingly comical look at the Holocaust, it's actually a memoir of real events experienced by real people.

Plus, I thought it was brilliant. And I'm pretty picky.

I also wanted to talk about the graphic novels owned by the Marriott Library. We have a fairly extensive of this genre in our Browsing Collection as well as some scattered throughout the main collection and the curriculum library, which is where we have quite a few books for young adult readers.

A few particular favorites of mine (and I'm about to reveal my geekly love of all things science fiction, fantasy, and paranormal) are:

Sloth. YALSA, the Young Adult Library Service Association, voted this one of the top graphic novels of 2007. For the complete list, click here.

Genius Girl 1: Agatha Heterodyne & The Beetleburg Clank
. This is the first in an ongoing steampunk series about a Victorian girl with the ability to manipulate physics and mechanics with her mind. The first story introduces you to a historical world like ours, but not. It's alternative history. What could have happened if certain things or events had turned out differently. One of my favorite genres, and the artwork is interesting.

You can look both of these up by doing a search for their titles in the Marriott Library Catalog.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Car Talk

My partner and I are considering buying a car. We've found a few that *seem* to meet our criteria, but we didn't really know much about them beyond the advertisements.

So, how do people typically do car research? They go to Consumer Reports, right? And just like most people, we don't have a subscription to Consumer Reports.

So, as we were lamenting the cost of a subscription and how we really just want to browse the archives anyway, since none of the cars we're interested in are brand new, it occurred to me that we should try the library. (Go fig, huh?)

We went to the library's homepage, clicked on the "Online Journals" link (first column, under Research Tools), and typed in the title of the magazine. We were surprised to find not one, but four versions available in full-text through six different databases--all of them accessible for free.

My partner's response to our online library experience:

"Databases are awesome."

Yep, we're nerds--but, at least, we're well-informed nerds who are gonna get a hot car.

Friday, June 13, 2008

How Bathroom Breaks Can Inspire Me

So, I left my office this morning to take a trip to the restroom. When I got there, I noticed a young woman washing her hands. This might seem rather innocuous, but what intrigued me about this woman was that she stared at her hands in the mirror while washing them. She also lathered them in a very precise, almost ritualistic manner. It was a little disturbing, I have to admit.

When I returned to my office, I mentioned the incident to my colleagues, and they insisted that this was worthy of a blog post. The woman was clearly OCD, they said.

Since our mission on this blog is to teach you about places to get information, I thought I would mention a few databases you could search to find out about mental disorders.

The first place I looked was a database open to anyone called PubMed. It's a public medical database sponsored by the US National Library of Medicine. I wanted to find out more about what causes a mental disorder and how it's diagnosed by medical professionals, so this seemed a good place to begin my search for information. I typed "Obsessive Compulsive Disorder hand washing" into the search box and retrieved over eighteen articles on my topic. The first one talked about how to treat OCD hand washing. It turns out the woman in the bathroom may have had a fairly common disorder.

So, in this database, I learned about diagnosis and treatment, but what about the causes of mental disorders? I still needed to find out about that part of my original question. I thought the best place to look would be a database that specialized in psychology.

To learn more, I went to the Marriott Library's databses and selected a database called PsychArticles, which the library subscribes to through the vendor EbscoHost. In this database, I simply searched for "obsessive compulsive disorder" and found over one hundred psychology articles on the mental illness. The results also included information about diagnosis and treatment, but also case studies on the various ways in which a variety of mental illnesses present themselves.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Gritty Summer Reading: London Fields

london fields.bmp

. . . She entered the Black Cross. She entered the pub and its murk. She felt the place skip a beat as the door closed behind her, but she had been expecting that. Indeed, it would be a bad day (and that day would never come) when she entered a men's room, a teeming toilet such as this and turned no head, caused no groans or whispers. She walked straight to the bar, lifted her veil with both hands, like a bride, surveyed the main actors of the scene, and immediately she knew, with pain, with gravid arrest, with intense recognition, the she had found him, her murderer . . .

(excerpted from London Fields by Martin Amis)

To pick up this or another tawdry book, like Nick Cave's And the Ass Saw the Angel or Happy Baby by Stephen Elliott, just drop by our library and check out the displays on the first and second floors. They're so filthy, you'll want to bleach your teeth. Or your soul.

Feel free to email me, and I'll send you the complete list.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

“Will the real lesbians please stand up?”

A new publication for one of our own faculty, Lisa M. Diamond Ph. D. has hit the shelves here at the Marriott Library.

Sexual fluidity: understanding women’s love and desirepublished by Harvard University Press, 2008 can be picked up in the, HQ’s on Level 2.
With chapters titled Will the real lesbians please stand up? -- Gender differences in same-sex sexuality -- Sexual fluidity in action -- Nonexclusive attractions and behaviors -- Change in sexual attractions -- Attractions to "the person, not the gender" -- How does fluidity work? -- Implications of female sexual fluidity. Diamond’s book throws a curveball at black and white concepts of sexual identity and sexuality. The questions remains, can ten years of research also prove to be a good read?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

"Hot Sex" Database Test!

Ok, academically speaking, this test has limited application, but you can learn about databases along the way to "hot sex" and that's Information Literacy right there, son!

Ok, which database will have more incidences for the phrase search "hot sex" (note: putting words in quotes is called a phrase search and will look for that specific group of words)

Academic Search Premiere
(a catch-all general article database)

Proquest Newspapers
(hundreds of North American newspapers in full-text)

Library Catalog
(database with all of our books, movies, etc. -millions of records, mind you)

Place your bets! When you're ready, scroll down for the results... (and remember, the University of Utah pays for these journal and database subscriptions so you may not be able to browse the results unless you log in at

Academic Search Premiere 29 results!
The most academically credible in this database (by far) was Hot sex in voodoo lilies. By: Diamond, J.M. in Nature.

Proquest Newspapers 523 results! Yow, we have a winnah!
Being newspapers, the academically credible bit probably won't fit, but some great titles were:
The Day the Laughter Landed in Jail (Toronto Star 3/6/08)
Hooked on Hot Sex with Flatmate's Mum (The Sun 2/12/08)
(my fav) She's a Murder Suspect (Again!) and is still Fond of Office Furniture (S.F. Chronicle 3/31/06)

Library Catalog el zilcho
I can't tell you how disappointed I am about this one, I thought for sure we'd have a ringer here. Keep in mind that library catalogs do not search the full text of an item, just its description! So keep looking for hot sex in the library! (please don't take that quote out of context!)

Monday, June 9, 2008

Happy New Book: Madness AND Murder

In our ongoing new books series (oh, by the way, these can be seen refreshed monthly on our New Books site) here's a happy number looking back at 'criminal lunacy' and how it was dealt with in the 19th century. Madness and murder : gender, crime and mental disorder in nineteenth-century Ireland by Pauline Prior who typically writes on gender and mental health policy & law.

"On our visiting (Armagh), we found several of the inmates under restraint... Another female was in the day room, without shoes, or stockings, with strait waistcoat and wrist-locks; she had been two years in the ouse and almost continually kept in that state day and night. Writs-locks and body-straps were hung up in the day room, for application at the pleasure of the attendants." (p. 65)

p.s. I'm glad I was born in the 20th century, even though I'm not mentally ill (yet).

Prior, P. M. (2008). Madness and murder: Gender, crime and mental disorder in nineteenth-century Ireland. Portland, OR: Irish Academic Press.

Can be found on the second floor of the Marriott Library at the call number HV6517 .P75 2008

Friday, June 6, 2008

Word of the Day

Today I want to talk about several resources available for finding definitions to words. One is available to University of Utah faculty, staff, and students through our subscription databases, and the other is open to anyone with internet access.

However, it wouldn't be fun if I didn't bring up some weird and wild words they've used for their Word of the Day.

The Oxford English Dictionary, or OED, is a database the Marriott Library pays for access to. It has not only a definition for each word, but the history of its use (which is the etymology of the word). Here are a few examples of strange words I found in the OED:

ampoule: a. A small sealed (glass) vessel used for storing sterilized materials prepared for injection. b. A similar vessel or phial containing other materials.

It was first used in 1644, and the OED gives you the example text it pulls that date from:

[1644 EVELYN Diary (1827) I. 108 The Monkes shew'd us the Holy Ampoule.

maculated: Spotted (now chiefly Biol.). Also (now rare): stained, soiled (lit. and fig.); defiled.

1646 SIR T. BROWNE Pseudodoxia Epidemica V. xxi. 272 For Warts we..commit any maculated part unto the touch of the dead., on the other hand, is freely available to anyone who has access to the internet. They also have a Word of the Day feature. I pulled a couple of examples from their archives for your amusement.

bagatelle \bag-uh-TEL\, noun:
1. A trifle; a thing of little or no importance.
2. A short, light musical or literary piece.
3. A game played with a cue and balls on an oblong table having cups or arches at one end.

\SHOD-n-froy-duh\, noun:
A malicious satisfaction obtained from the misfortunes of others.

Both of these dictionaries have RSS feeds for their Words of the Day. Click here for OED's and here for's. even has a feature where they will email you their word of the day or allow you to post it as a Facebook application.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Random conversation leads me to accidental knowledge.

I spend enough time in my cubicle that it would be safe for me to have concerns about my sanity; so I struck up a conversation with my cube mate about the history of psychiatry in the United States. We both buzzed through a list of books on the subject, the biggies:

-The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
-One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
-Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen

These titles got me thinking…I was in search of a book that was a bit more academic and still a good read. The actual hospital in Susanna Kaysen’s Girl, Interupted is McLean Hospital located in Belmont, Massachusetts. So I opened up a web browser and hit Amazon to see what popped up under a book search for McLean Hospital. The top title: Gracefully Insane: Life and Death Inside America's Premier Mental Hospital by Alex Beam. Reading in many cases is a leap of faith and I took it. Gracefully Insane turned out to be a lovely read, well written and researched. It touches on the history of Boston, the development of mental health care in American, and interweaves the history of the hospital with that of its many unique occupants.

The Visual Thesaurus: How To Get the Most Enjoyment out of Your Dirty Words

Ever find yourself looking for a synonym for "the f word," but you just don't know where to go?

a: Go to the library! Well, more specifically, go to the library's online databases.

The Marriott Library subscribes to 300 or so databases. And while I have many favorites, the Visual Thesaurus makes my oh-so-exclusive top ten. Like a regular print thesaurus, the Visual Thesaurus gives you a "classified list of synonyms"--a definition that I ripped off directly from the Visual Thesaurus. But in addition to that, it also provides definitions and word maps (see below) that show how those synonyms interact with other related words. The most amusing feature, however, is the audio pronunciation. Just imagine: an emotionless computerized voice repeating curse words to your wicked, little heart's content.


Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Database -Literature Resource Center

Now don't get me wrong about finding junk on the web. It can be a quick way to prove your point or even win a bet (like: When was "Frankenstein" written -(psst! 1818 by Mary Shelley -Wikipedia)). But when you need to have something other than semi-reliable and semi-anonymous stuff about an author, our database "Literature Resource Center" (note: you'll have to scroll down to find it) is muy excellente.

You can find creditable information like biography (ex. born, wrote a few things, took amazing drugs, then died), a complete list of works, criticism (great for term papers) and a little bit more.

Need more info? Ask a librarian!