Dec 18, 2014

What's with the Space?

Over the next several days you may notice that there will be empty shelves in the library's reference collection on the main floor and you may ask, "So, what's up with the space?"

Reference shelves after evaluation

The reference collection is a part of the library that is meant to meet quick information needs, answering questions like :
  • In which industries were more businesses created in Washington in 2012? (According to the 2014 Washington State Almanac: construction, manufacturing, wholesale trade [p. 8].)
  • What the heck is authentic assessment?  (According to the The Greenwood Dictionary of Education, it is a form of evaluating student work that does not use standardized tests [p. 33].)
  • Who were those guys that were supposed to spy on Hamlet? (According to The Oxford Companion to Shakespeare, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern [p. 180].)  
By it's nature, the reference collection changes more rapidly than the library's main collection on the upper floor.  Right now the reference collection is being evaluated and compacted.  We have been working with the Library Faculty Committee in this project.

This evaluation is taking place for two reasons:
  1. The library multimedia center is being converted into a multimedia lab for video and audio production.  To have enough room, the audio and video materials need to be moved out of the room and we have decided to move them over to the reference area.
  2. The collection needs to be periodically evaluated and updated and it has been a number of years since this has happened.  Evaluation allows librarians examine the collection up close and pull or shift those items that no longer fit the needs of reference users.  In addition, "leaner" and "tighter" reference collections actually allow librarians to better serve the needs of users.
Some of the materials will be removed from the collection, but many will actually be designated for shifting up into the main collection on the upper floor.    We anticipate that up to 70% of the collection with be left in the collection or moved upstairs. 

Additionally, much reference research is actually being done via electronic tools now.  In the past 15 years, the print reference collection has 5,040 recorded uses.  (Because reference books are used within the library, their use counts are often low.  Thus, this number may not accurately reflect how frequently these items have been used.)  By contrast, the electronic reference items have seen an increase in use.  In just the last two years, the library's two primary electronic reference tools, Gale Virtual Reference Library and Oxford Reference Premium, have been accessed 3,218 times.

Dec 3, 2014

New trial for streaming films and documentaries: Kanopy

The library is currently exploring a new platform for streaming films and documentaries.

Some sample collections available on the platform include Criterion Films, Stenhouse Publishers,, Russian Cinema Council, Green Planet Films, BBC, HBO and many more.

The platform makes it very easy to create playlists of clips and films, and link or embed content in Moodle or email.  We hope you have a few minutes to try it out and let us know what you think!

Explore the platform and sample content

Provide feedback on your experience

Oct 28, 2014

Have citation, can't find article!

Ever come across a great sounding article, but don't know whether the library has it or don't think you can track it down?  You're not alone.  It's a pretty common concern.

Fortunately, you have tools available to you through the O'Grady Library's website.  Through Saints search and the e-journals a-z list, you can check out whether you can get the article through the library.  We've put together a quick video to show you how you can check check out whether we have those articles you need.

 As always, if you need a bet more of a hand, please feel free to contact the librarian assigned to the subject you are studying.  We'll be delighted to help you track down whatever information sources you need.

Oct 9, 2014

It's October. Time for Masks!

by Fr. Peter Tynan, O.S.B. (aka Papa Pete)

Since it is October, why not treat yourself to some masks that are not made out of plastic or rubber?  On display outside the Special Collections Room in the O’Grady Library (lower level) are 10 West African Masks that were recently donated to Saint Martin’s University  by Joe Spacciante, a Saint Martin's College graduate (1969) and retired teacher at Timberline High School, who collected the masks through his friend James Oatfield who worked in West Africa.

Image from:

The collection consists of more than 16 masks collected in Mali and the Ivory Coast. They were made for use in traditional religious ceremonies. During these ceremonies the masks were worn by members of tribe who then embodied the spirit the mask represented. So the wearer of the crocodile mask, for example, would no longer be himself, but would stand for the spirit of the crocodile and all it represented to the members of the tribe for the duration of the ceremony. This kind ritual falls under the category of Animism, the religious belief that all of nature is endowed with spirits that can be invoked and entreated.

Crocodile mask

A couple of the masks on display depict the faces of blind persons. These represent the victims of “river blindness,” or onchocerciasis. It is a disease caused by an infection from a parasitic worm.   A person is infected by being bitten by a black fly that carries the parasite. The worms breed and multiply under the person’s skin. They will then migrate throughout the body including the eyes. In some West African tribes, over half the adults over the age of forty are river blind.

The blind face masks were used in ceremonies to ward off the disease from the tribal members. Men wearing masks representing good spirits would ritually drive off those wearing the masks representing river blindness.  As for the science, there is no known vaccine for the disease, but it can be prevented by avoiding insect bites, using insecticide, and wearing proper clothing. An infection is treated by killing larvae and waiting for the adult worms to die. Surgery may be required to remove lumps created under the skin.

Special thanks to Joe Spacciante for donating these fabulous cultural artifacts and works of art.