Feb 15, 2018

Thursday Resource[s]: Online Encyclopedias

O’Grady offers multiple online encyclopedias and dictionaries, some general—such as CQ Researcher 
(highlighted January 25th) and Gale Virtual Reference Library (GVRL) and some topical such as 
Gale [Artemis] Literary Resources and Testing & Education Resource Center.  

Two of the online encyclopedias, Britannica Online Academic and Oxford Reference Online, are briefly 
highlighted below.

Britannica Online Academic (aka Encyclopædia Britannica)
High-quality and comprehensive resource which combines Encyclop√¶dia Britannica  and Merriam-
Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary and Thesaurus, plus primary resources, newspapers, magazines and 
periodicals.  Provides easy access to a variety of reliable sources, all in one place.

Not sure where to start?  Click on Article Browse (or Media Browse, or Biographies-- see above screen shot) 
to bring up a table of topics, then click on a topic of interest in the [Article Browse] list (pictured below).  

Clicking on each subject area "box" brings up additional lists--  a topic list, and an alphabetized article list 
(see screen shot below).

Oxford Reference Online
Find facts, figures, definitions, and translations from 220+ Oxford University Press reference titles. 
1.4 million plus entries cover all subjects including English, Music, Philosophy, Religion, Science, 
Sociological & Cultural Anthropology, and Theatre Arts. Includes English language and bilingual 
dictionaries, timelines, illustrations, biographical entries, and bibliographies.

Ready, Set, Explore!
To get to these and other online encyclopedias, simply click on the Databases tab on the
 O’Grady homepage, click on a letter, then “All.”  On the second “All Database Types” 
drop down menu, select ”Encyclopedias & dictionaries,”  then have fun exploring!

Feb 1, 2018

Why a Black History Month?

Image by The U.S. Army, public domain
At the beginning of Black History Month, it’s important to think about why it’s necessary to even have a month dedicated to the history and culture of a particular segment of our population.  This is a rather complicated question, which cannot be answered in single blog post.  One possible way to think about this is identity.

Bryan Stevenson, a well-known Civil Rights attorney and author, in his 2012 TED talk, "We Need to Talk about an Injustice," observed
When we create the right kind of identity, we can say things to the world around us that they don’t actually believe makes sense.  We can get them to do things that they don’t think they can do.  
The subject of Stevenson's talk is the disproportionate numbers of people of color, specifically African Americans, in America's prisons but his thought about the role of identity and social action is quite important.

One of the functions of Black History Month is to help reshape the identity of African Americans on a social level.  Social identity is a new concept to some, but it plays a crucial role in social interactions.  This concept of identity comes from social psychology and shows how “people’s conception of who they are (their self-concept) is associated with their membership of social groups and categories” and how these memberships influence how people conceptualize the world and behave in it, as well as how they are conceptualized and interacted with by other people.(1)  An influential way of thinking about this concept is in terms of what Pamela Hays called the ADRESSING model; people’s social identities are tied up with their age, disability, religious culture, ethnicity, social class culture, sexual orientation, Indigenous heritage, national origin, and gender.(2)  Race, in this model, is considered an aspect of ethnicity and, as SMU’s Dr. Leticia Nieto points out, is a “historical attempt to limit the definition of ‘human being’ to some people and to define other people as not quite human.”(3)
A well-known photograph from Charles Moore taken in 1963, Birmingham, AL, image from http://www.dadychery.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/Birmingham_1963e_CharlesMoore.jpg
Historically speaking, African Americans have unfortunately not been fully classified as “human being”—consider the 3/5 Compromise in the U.S. Constitution and the arguments for slaves as being property and slavery as a divinely ordained institution.  On the level of visual culture, consider the persistent pattern of African Americans being presented as apes through the Reconstruction and Jim Crow eras.  Consider the violence directed at African Americans and their white allies during the Civil Rights struggle.  This dehumanization also occurs on the level of language and was even applied to Former First Lady, Michelle Obama.  Many other examples could be cited, but hopefully these will suffice.

Dr. Carter Woodson, image from the National Park Service, public domain
Black History Month is a result of the work of Dr. Carter Woodson, one of the first African Americans to receive a graduate degree from Harvard University and a founding member of the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, one of the first academic associations to study the lives of African Americans.  Starting as Negro History Week in 1926, the month was created to “increase awareness of and interest in black history among both blacks and whites”(4) and actively seeks to combat the dehumanization that African Americans have been subject to for centuries, to help create a more positive social identity for African Americans and to acknowledge their many roles and contributions in the development of America.  For an introduction to this history, watch the PBS documentary, The African Americans: Many rivers to cross which is available for streaming through Alexander Street Press and can be accessed via the library’s website.  The idea behind these efforts is that when the social identity of African Americans and all people of color is improved, the lives and opportunities of individual persons will be improved and the promise of "all men [and women] are created equal" can be realized.

Image by Wonder woman0731 from Flickr, CC BY
The O’Grady Library is pleased to participate in Black History Month by presenting displays of books on important topics of African-American history and culture and by co-hosting with the Office of Service Learning and Diversity Initiatives a panel on race on February 22 in the Benedictine Reading Room, from 3:00-4:00.  Through these efforts, we hope to help improve the social identity of African Americans and all people of color and to inspire others to work for a more equitable society.


1. Hogg, M.A.  (2018).  Social identity theory.  In Jackson II, R.L. & Hogg, M.A. (Eds.) Encyclopedia of identity, Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.  DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.4135/9781412979306.n241 

2.  Discussed in Nieto, L., Boyer, M.F., Goodwin, L., Johnson, G.R., & Smith, L.C. (2010).  Beyond inclusion, beyond empowerment: A developmental strategy to liberate everyone.  Olympia, WA: Cuetzpalin.  p. 45.

3. Nieto. p. 51

4.  Goggin, J.  (2006).  Black History Month/Negro History Week.  In Palmer, C.A. (Ed.) Encyclopedia of African-American culture and history.  Detrot: Macmillian Reference.  Retrieved from http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/CX3444700144/GVRL?u=olym77009&sid=GVRL&xid=ec10756e 

Jan 24, 2018

Sign up for library cards with Timberland Regional Library!

Librarians from timberland set up at a table
Librarians from Timberland Regional library set up in Harned Hall

On Thursday, February 1st from 10am-1:30pm, librarians from Timberland Regional Library in Lacey will be in Harned Hall.  Stop by and sign up for your library card!  

Located just across the disc golf fields at the corner of Abbey Way and College, Timberland has a books and materials for  your recreation, and also has a few really great resources for students:

learning express library logo

If you are getting ready to take placement tests, the Learning Express Library has many study materials and practice tests in different areas.  Taking the NES tests for education?  They've got resources! Check out their study guides while you are getting ready for the next stage of your student or professional career.

Lynda.com logo
Using your library card, you can access Lynda.com for a wealth of video courses taught by experts in their fields.  Find classes on Photoshop, Excel, etc. with Lynda.com videos, or look for new subjects to learn about on your own.

mango languages logo
Need help learning a new language?  Timberland has a subscription to Mango Languages, a language learning platform.  Use it to supplement your Saint Martin's classes, or pick something up on your own to get ready for study abroad.