MSEL Helps you Forecast the Future!

Nope, this isn't about the discovery of a Greek oracle on D Level. This is about the different resources MSEL offers that deal with different types of future forecasting.

Weather forecasting is covered by books and articles within Catalyst. We also offer you access to the journals of the American Meteorological Society.

Futures, or futures markets, are important in economics. Our list of economics databases will help you find journal articles, working papers, and other types of literature about futures markets.

Business people are also interested in the future, whether it's related to specific companies, or  particular industries.

If you're interested in a more personal future forecast, you might try the Ouija Board, which has a connection to Baltimore. In fact, back in April, Baltimore hosted a OuijaCon!

Happy Birthday Johns!

04532-CliftonOn May 13, 2015, it was my privilege to speak at the annual birthday celebration held for our founder at Clifton, his country estate. Clifton was given to the University in Johns Hopkins’ will, but the trustees sold it to the city in 1895. Since then, a public golf course has been built around the house, and the mansion served as the clubhouse for several years until a new clubhouse was built. A non-profit corporation named Civic Works is slowly renovating and restoring the house to its 19th century appearance, mostly through private donations, assisted by Friends of Clifton Mansion. The house is located in the vicinity of Harford Road and Erdman Avenue.

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Excerpt from the will of Johns Hopkins

Johns Hopkins bought the house in the 1840s and added an observation tower, from which he could see ships bearing his flag entering the harbor to unload goods. He also entertained friends and family at Clifton, sparing no expense for their comfort and enjoyment. In the 19th century, Clifton was well outside the city limits and it served as his “summer home.” He enjoyed walking the grounds with his gardener, inspecting the horticultural progress. Johns assumed that the University eventually would locate at Clifton, but because he did not want the trustees to spend the principal of the endowment, they chose to begin in the city, with the intention of moving to Clifton as finances allowed. Due to financial problems in the late 19th century, which led to our first fundraising drive, the trustees sold the house and property to the city.

In my talk, I addressed the question of our founder’s intentions for the University. He wrote two paragraphs in his will regarding the University, and nothing else, leaving everything in the hands of his trustees. Therefore, we know very little about what his ideas were. Because his own formal education ended at the age of twelve, he may not have presumed to know what a university should be or how it should operate. His only requirement was that the University offer scholarships to qualified students from Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina, the three states where he did most of his business. The trustees, none of whom were educators, hired Daniel Coit Gilman as our founding president and left all but the most important decisions in his hands. So, while we have Gilman to thank for what the Johns Hopkins University became, this should not diminish our gratitude for the magnificent gift from our founder.

Dino-mite! Brush up on your Dinosaur Knowledge

Like many kids of the '90s, I loved dinosaurs. The 1993 film Jurassic Park sparked a generation of people who became fascinated with prehistoric creatures, and I was one of them. I thought dinosaurs were so cool, that for my high school senior project, I interned at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, in the Vertebrate Paleontology Department, to get my dinosaur fix. So when I heard that a new dinosaur movie, Jurassic World, was coming out this summer, I was probably just as excited as my 8-year-old cousin.

But now that I'm an adult, and I did get that taste of real dinosaur study, I can enjoy both the larger-than-life dinosaur action on screen and appreciate the real story of the dinosaurs. For those of you like me who can appreciate a fun film, but still like to play real vs. reel, we have plenty of information about dinosaurs in the Sheridan Libraries.

In addition to natural histories, studies, and descriptions of paleontological digs, we have books, ebooks, documentaries, and other materials all about prehistoric animals. Maybe your ideal summer vacation is digging up fossils, so you should first check Dinosaur Digs: Places Where You Can Discover Prehistoric Creatures to get a start in the right direction. If you're more of an artist, we have an ebook to help you sculpt, mold, and paint dinosaurs: Dinosaur Sculpting: A Complete Guide. Just want some trivia to impress your friends as you wait in line to see Jurassic World? Take a quick look at the 10 page ebook, 50 Quick Dinosaur Facts. And, we even have a bedtime story you can read to the young ones in your life, Good Night Dinosaur.

MSEL and Friedheim also have a few copies of the original 1993 Jurassic Park for check out. If you want more, just search "dinosaurs" in Catalyst, and start exploring!

What is Information Literacy, anyway?

If you’ve been in academia for a while, or hang out with a librarian or two (we’re everywhere), you have probably heard the term information literacy. But, pinning down an exact definition is difficult, even for academic librarians. Critical thinking, inquiry based learning, media literacy, evaluation of information, citing, ethical use and re-use of information, the research process, are all contained in the conceptual sphere of information literacy. Navigating and using the information sources that are increasingly available in varied formats is an ongoing journey. Having a dexterity with the location, use and re-use of information responsibly, is a highly valued competency in graduate schools and private sector careers across the disciplines. It is what many employers expect of our graduates.

Over the years libraries have transformed from being repositories of mostly physical resources to curating and constructing sources of information. Librarians work diligently to help users navigate the growing landscape, evaluate information, and use it responsibly. For the foreseeable future there will be a need for resource professionals to help students and professionals learn the skills to be successful in pursuing personal and professional projects that require information in all its myriad forms: data, images, reports, transcriptions, books, statistics, reviews, research articles, news articles, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

Recently, the Association of College and Research Libraries gathered leaders in the field in order to examine how librarians were describing information literacy and to recommend new ways to define the term. In doing so, ACRL moved away from a prescribed list of skills to a focus on concepts. ACRL’s new Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education defines IL as “the set of integrated abilities encompassing the reflective discovery of information, the understanding of how information is produced and valued, and the use of information in creating new knowledge and participating ethically in communities of learning.” [See ACRL’s Information Literacy Resources]

At Johns Hopkins University, President Ronald J. Daniels’ Ten by Twenty initiative has tasked the Sheridan Libraries with “help[ing to] create bridges for our students beyond their own ideas, so they have a chance to be full participants in a thriving intellectual community.” A thorough understanding and intentional application of information literacy by the JHU community has the potential to be a pivotal success factor in creating life-long learners and engaged intellectuals. I see the intentional work towards weaving these concepts in scaled ways throughout our varied curricula as an empowering way to graduate students ready, not only for engagement in scholarship, but for engagement with the world.

If you are at Johns Hopkins University and are interested in learning more about how your students can gain information literacy competencies, please contact me at ssimpson@jhu.edu. Those outside of JHU may find the Teaching & Learning section of the ACRL information literacy resources to be useful. This article was edited by Macie Hall and first appeared in the Center for Educational Resources blog.

Summer on the Chesapeake Bay

Not convinced that Maryland is the Land of Pleasant Living? Then you need to experience summer on the Chesapeake Bay. If you can't find time to leave the library, we have some recommendations to at least engage your imagination.

A good place to start is James Michener's Chesapeake. Michener's  epic tale weaves a fascinating story of life along the Choptank River from 1583 through the Watergate scandal.

Want something more scholarly? How about Arthur Pierce Middleton's Tobacco Coast:  A Maritime History of Chesapeake Bay in the Colonial Period? It's a classic.

If charts are your thing, find out where the oyster beds were in the Bay in the early twentieth century. Alas, there are far fewer now, and the state's efforts at aquaculture are getting off to a slow start.

It's not all bad news, though. We're having a bumper year for "beautiful swimmers," Maryland's blue crab. Stop by the George Peabody Library and have a look at Mrs. Charles Gibson's Maryland Cookbook, a best-seller from 1894, to see ways to prepare them.

Since a picture is worth a thousand words, feast your eyes on photos taken by noted Maryland photographer, Marion Warren, or simply enjoy "Sailing Down the Chesapeake Bay."

 

Independent Films from Around the World!

Lake TahoeLooking for some interesting films to watch during the summer months? The library has a growing collection of independent and foreign films that may do the trick!

If you're not sure how to find them, here's an example of how to use subject keywords and a DVD format limiter to browse Catalyst for cool things to watch.

We also have a very interesting collection of independent, foreign, and documentary films called the Video Americain Collection. Sadly, this collection was carefully built over the years by an independent video store in the neighborhood that closed a few years ago. We are honored to house over 1,600 of their amazing films.

Some other movies that may pique your curiosity include those in the Film Movement Series, comprising recent films from the international festival circuit. And, we have a small but amazing collection of films by a distributor called Women Make Movies.

Perhaps you want to view Cannes Film Festival winners or Sundance Film Festival entries - we've got 'em. We also have nearly the entire Criterion Collection, a great assortment of classic, ground-breaking films.

Come to the library, check out some DVDs, and enjoy the summer!

What Publishers Think About Technology

tech-trends-main1The International Association of STM Publishers released their Tech Trends 2015 list as a set of infographics. It's always an interesting list to librarians because we spend our time working with publishers, researchers, and technology.

So you shouldn't be surprised that JHU librarians have been creating services, guides, and blog posts along the same lines. Below are the three themes STM uses to anchor their list. Under each theme, I've pointed to library sites that mesh with these themes.

Data as first class research object

The article in a hub and spoke model

Reputation Management

Popular Books, 2014

oneshelfwithbooksIn previous posts I've told you about the journals with the most downloads in 2014, as well as the library databases with the most searches in 2014. Now it's time to see which parts of our book collection were checked out the most in 2014.

Did you check out any of these books last year? The top 10 list below is grouped by LC class - the letter(s) that start the call numbers. The list is similar to one from 2009.

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Cavalcade of America

02181-Hopkins-1200dpiPrior to the advent of television, radio was king of broadcast media. Families of at least modest means in the 1930s would gather around their radio set listening to news programs and entertainment. While music and sports were popular, dramatic presentations were considered the epitome of broadcast. The Lone Ranger was a well-known radio drama (later a favorite on television), and there were comedy programs such as Abbott and Costello. People listened to their radio and used their imaginations to illustrate what they could not see.

One program prominent in the 1930s and 1940s was Cavalcade of America. This series, on radio from 1935 to 1953 before moving to television, presented episodes on history and biography. “The Declaration of Independence” and “The Constitution of the United States” were dramatic re-enactments surrounding the adoption of those documents. Biographies focused on individuals who were not well-known but still important figures. Johns Hopkins was one of those subjects and on May 26, 1941, Cavalcade of America featured a half-hour drama on our founder.

This episode begins with a family discussion in 1807, where Samuel Hopkins, Johns’ father, announces his intention to free their slaves who worked the family’s tobacco fields in Anne Arundel County. Johns, then twelve years old, is dismayed because this means he, along with the older siblings, will have to leave school to take over in the tobacco fields. Johns throws a tantrum and declares that he will overcome this obstacle and become rich and famous.

I found this episode to be poor history in many respects. Because little remains of Johns’ personal papers, we do not know what was said or how individuals felt about events, so some degree of literary license must be allowed. This program, however, presents Johns, from the age of twelve until near his death, as a bitter, spiteful man seeking vengeance on society and everyone who wronged him. This does not square with firsthand accounts of nieces and nephews and their children, to whom Johns was a kindly uncle who indulged them during their visits to his home. Johns was known to entertain lavishly, sparing no expense for the comfort and enjoyment of his guests.

Two events depicted near the end of the program are simply wrong. Johns is portrayed as suffering from cholera late in life, and at the end of the drama, he collapses and dies in his cousin’s arms, immediately after finishing plans to found a university and a hospital, having finally overcome his bitterness. That probably played well on radio, but it’s not the truth. He survived cholera as a young man, and incorporated The Johns Hopkins University and The Johns Hopkins Hospital in August 1867, six years before his death. He died from pneumonia late on Christmas Eve 1873, peacefully in bed attended by his physician, his dog Zeno, and family members. His experience with cholera decades earlier may well have influenced his decision to found a hospital.

Cavalcade of America is made available through the Internet Archive, and I encourage those interested to have a look and listen. Keep in mind that, if these programs were modern television presentations, they would bear the disclaimer, “dramatic re-creation.” As entertainment, the episode on Hopkins is interesting; as history, not so much. If you wish to listen to the episode on Johns Hopkins, scroll to number 218 in the program list.

There are, unfortunately, few biographical sources on our founder longer than an encyclopedia article. The only book-length biography is Helen Hopkins Thom’s Johns Hopkins: A Silhouette (1929; reprinted 2009). An excellent biographical article appeared in a 1974 issue of Johns Hopkins Magazine by Kathryn Jacob, entitled “Mr. Johns Hopkins.”

I read it in the News-Letter

MSELdedicationYou all read the JHU News-Letter every week, right? How else are you going to keep up with student affairs on campus? But did you know that the News-Letter has been published since 1897? While you could previously look at the paper copy of any issue by coming to the Brody Learning Commons, now you are going to get the chance to sample many older editions of the paper online. The Ferdinand Hamburger Archives has recently digitized about 200 issues from the 1960s to the 1990s and has plans to do the entire run. Following is a sample of some of the cool things you can find there.

One thing that really stands out is just how Mad Men the campus was in earlier days. There are four cigarette ads in the December 1, 1961 issue, including one on page 8 that asks the question, "Is it wrong for a faculty member to date a coed?". Booze was also part of the JHU experience as you can see several liquor ads in the issue of November 21, 1986.

The News-Letter has always done well in reporting on cultural activities on campus. Did you know the Ramones played on campus in 1982? And Joan Baez lit up Shriver Hall in 1962 (and she is still going strong!). For a different aspect of culture, read about chess champion Boris Spassky defeating 26 players simultaneously in the Glass Pavillion in 1987. And, of course, lacrosse is always well covered. Check out current Blue Jay coach Dave Pietramala in his playing days (see page 4 of the LAX Special).

Hopkins students have always been serious about the big issues of the day. During the Civil Rights movement, JHU students participated in sit-ins at local restaurants to protest the fact that African Americans were not served (see page 3). This helped lead to integration of restaurants and other public facilities. Important people in the news like President Lyndon Johnson have regularly appeared on campus. The Student Council has often debated controversial issues like the US military involvement in El Salvador in 1981 (see page 3 for the story and don't miss the picture of President Michael Steele, a later Lt. Governor of Maryland).

Enjoy reading accounts of Hopkins history as it happened. But don't get too depressed over reports of $11,000 per year tuition. Those days are long gone.