Student Book-Collecting Contest 2016: Application Extension, Feb 29th!

Student Book Collecting Contest 2016

The Sweren Student Book Collecting Contest has extended its application deadline to Monday, February 29th!

The Betty and Edgar Sweren Student Book Collecting Contest recognizes the love of books and the delight in shaping a thoughtful and focused book collection. All undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in a degree program at Johns Hopkins are eligible to enter.

Did we mention prizes?

The competition includes graduate and undergraduate divisions, with the following awards:

• $1,000 First Place • $500 Second Place • $250 Honorable Mention • A display of selected titles from the winning collections in Special Collections in the Brody Learning Commons

• A one-year honorary membership in the Friends of the Johns Hopkins Libraries.

Awards will be presented to the winners in the spring of 2016.


Each entry will be judged on the extent to which the items in the collection form a coherent pattern of inquiry and/or represent a well-defined field of interest. Additionally, consideration will be given to how well the collection reflects the student’s stated goals and interests.


1. Any student, undergraduate or graduate, enrolled in a degree program at the Johns Hopkins University is eligible to enter.

2. All items must be owned and collected by the student who enters the contest.

3. A collection need not consist of, or include, rare or valuable books. Paper-bound books may be included.

4. Although the focus is books, the collection may include other media that supports the collection.

5. Collections can be on any subject. Nonacademic subjects are welcome (past entries include Colonial America, Feminism, Running, Music, and more).

Application Information:

Each contestant must submit:

1.     A cover sheet including the title of your collection.

2.     A 2-3 page essay outlining:  The purpose of the collection, how you started the collection, how the collection was assembled, the items of greatest interest, and ideas for the collection’s future development.

3.     A bibliography of 20 or more items (maximum of 50) in the collection. Each item should be numbered, given a full bibliographic description, and briefly annotated as to its importance to the collection. Please use the Chicago Manual of Style.

4.     A wish list: A second bibliography listing up to 10 items that you would like to add to your collection, with brief annotation stating the reason for adding each item.

5.     Submit as one PDF document including your cover sheet.

*Finalists may be asked to bring a portion of their book collection to the Milton S. Eisenhower Library for final judging. The winning entries will be displayed in the Brody Learning Commons. First place winners of the Sweren contest are also eligible to enter the 2016 National Collegiate Book Collecting Contest, sponsored by the Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America (ABAA), the Fellowship of American Bibliophilic Societies (FABS), and the Center for the Book and the Rare Books and Special Collections Division of the Library of Congress.

The EXTENDED deadline to enter is Monday, February 29, 2016.

Last Year’s Sweren Student Book Collecting Contest Winning Entries:

1st Place, Undergraduate Category: Gillian Marie Waldo, "Everything You Can Imagine is Real." An introduction to graphic novels

1st Place (tie), Graduate Category: Jean-Olivier Richard, A Jesuit's Tree of Knowledge

1st Place (tie), Graduate Category: Justin Kyle Rivest, "Seeing Home From Abroad: The World along the Detroit River, 1670 to present

2nd Place, Graduate Category: Marina Escolano PovedaThe Library of Babel

2nd Place, Graduate Category: Shannon Alt, Volumes of Wonder: From Fairy Tales to Faraday

Submit all entries to:

Sweren Student Book Collecting Contest Dean’s Office/Milton S. Eisenhower Library Johns Hopkins University 3400 North Charles Street Baltimore, MD  21218 or via e-mail: or by fax: (410) 516-5080

Please direct any questions to Shellie Dolan at 410-516-8992 or

Lit Review Anxiety? Use our step-by-step guide.

image001Literature reviews can be tough. Whether you're writing a standalone lit review or writing one to incorporate into a longer research article, they can be intimidating, time-consuming, and frustrating. Each step of the process presents a new challenge: finding information, quickly evaluating it for its appropriateness for your research, summarizing each article, synthesizing your information, and integrating everything into a cohesive review.  It's quite the project!

We can help. One of the biggest challenges is ensuring that your lit review isn't simply an annotated bibliography with some well-worded transitions; synthesizing your information is key. We have a brand new guide that can take you through the process step by step, helping you write your best lit review yet.  Use the templates and strategies in the guide to help you tackle your lit review, and don't hesitate to ask your librarian for assistance at any point during the process.

What is THE best citation tool?

One very common question that comes up, from both students and researchers, is: "What is the best citation tool for doing X?"

It's an excellent question because every year another slew of citation management tools, apps, and software materialize. Often each new app or tool offers a new twist, but basically they help you organize and retrieve information, such as citations for books, articles, and websites by interfacing with library databases. The citation manager works with word-processing software to insert (hopefully) properly formatted footnotes, end-notes, and citations into a paper to create a formatted bibliography. Some tools do a better job of this than others.

Citation tools come in a variety of flavors...for example:

  • Some let you tag and annotate your citations, while others work well in terms of inserting citations and bibliographies into Microsoft Word. Often managers will have a plug-in for Word and some also have browser plug-ins to help capture web links more easily.
  • Many managers have connections that can be turned on for Google Scholar and article databases available to you through the library.
  • Some tools also try to foster group-based collaborative research. Some are designed for specific platforms, some can work on the desktop or online.
  • Some tools focus on managing the PDFs of papers, which can be incredibly useful if you've downloaded lots of them.
  • Some are software on the desktop, others are online, some are a hybrid and can sync between desktop and online versions.
  • Some are free, some cost money.
  • Refworks is available freely to JHU students, staff and researchers.

...see why it can be confusing? It's been hard for us to keep up also, so don't feel bad! We've created a guide to help sort through popular citation tools. Each tool has its own strengths and weaknesses...they also change and improve their functionality frequently. A 2015 Nature article offers an overview to 8 tools that are frequently popular with researchers. Also, there's a great Wikipedia table comparing many tools.

When somebody asks what is the absolute best citation management tool to accomplish what I want to do? It's not straightforward because there is no one single comes down to what features of a citation management tool best match what you want to accomplish.

If you have a favorite citation manager, please share in the comments...especially if it's not one that we've listed on our citation manager guide! If you'd like help with selecting a tool, please feel free to contact us.

John Barth Loves Us: A Valentine to Fiction

JohnBarthLovesUsS: So, what are you doing on February 14? Wanna go on a date?

Z: Hello?

S: …with me and John Barth?

Z: A double date?

S: Also, Rafael Alvarez, Madison Smartt Bell, Matt Porterfield, Rosalia Scalia, and Jason Tinney?

Z: Um. That’s a lot of people for a date?

S: It’s a party, more like.

Z: Oh, well, that’s a relief.

S: It’s a party, but it’s also a reading. JB won’t be there in the flesh, but he’ll be there in spirit, because the party is at his house… his exhibition, actually. An exhibition at the Peabody Library of his manuscripts, books, letters, including those insane bumper stickers at the top of this blog post. Which he did not make, by the way. His fans made them. He had a fan club.

Z: So what about the other people on the date? Rafael, Madison, Matt, Rosalia, and Jason?

S: They will be there, and they’ll be reading from their work. They might do stylistic homages to Barth, otherwise known as imitations. Or, they might read about fiction. Or about love. Or about loving fiction. Which I think is in the job description for fiction writers.

Z: A party that’s also a reading.

S: And also a roundtable. After we eat some cookies and cake, and listen to readings by Rafael, Madison, Matt, Rosalia, and Jason… then they’ll talk about fiction… like, what are you reading, and why? What is fiction in 2016, anyway?

Z: What does that have to do with John Barth?

S: Exactly.

Z: What?

S: Yes. What? What does fiction in 2016 have to do with John Barth?

Z: Ohhhh… what does fiction in 2016 have to do with John Barth!

S: Yes!

Z: What does it?

S: Have you ever read “Lost in the Funhouse”? From Lost in the Funhouse?

Z: That’s the story about the boy who gets lost in the funhouse, right?

S: Yup.

Z: So…

S: Lost in the Funhouse is sub-titled Fiction for Print, Tape, Live Voice.

Z: Meaning…

S: Meaning, it was a printed book that was pretending it wasn’t. Or, at least, it was reminding us that fiction is fiction, regardless of medium.

Z: And?

S: And that is where we are now, dude. Again. Or more so. Are you reading fiction on your smartphone? Or listening to the audio version of a short story collection? Grooving on a tv show serialized like a nineteenth-century novel?

Z: Aha. Got it. Yes.

S: And, more than that, genre is now very mixy, something that we can also trace back to John Barth, in novels like The Sot-Weed Factor and The Tidewater Tales that draw on historical documents and folk tales. So, if you are into a certain film based on a short story… or a short story based on a newspaper article…

Z: Which, yes, happens. I love true crime.

S: …then you can also thank JB for that, at least in part. This is where we are now. But JB was mixing things up back in 1968.

Z: What about Rafael, Madison, Matt, Rosalia, and Jason? Mixy?

S: Definitely also mixy. Fiction mixed with film and television, journalism and history. And even some theatre and music.

Z: Mixmasters! Mixtape. Mixfest.

S: Let’s not overdo it.

Z: One question. What if I’m not all that into Valentine’s Day?

S: No problem. There will not be stupid Cupids all over the place, I promise. It’s a Valentine to fiction. But… um… it would be awesome if you were there too. Sunday, February 14, 2 to 4 pm, at the George Peabody Library. RSVP to

Z: Dude, I’m in. John Barth loves us.

Learn from Modern Doctors

DOCTOR image for blogWhat is it like to be the Health Commissioner of a complex city like Baltimore (whose health department happens to have been the first in the United States)? Dr. Leana Wen, who has served in that role for just over a year, wrote journal articles and gave interviews about the role of public health during civil unrest, such as that in Baltimore in Spring of 2015. She has also investigated emergency departments in the U.S. and overseas.

Dr. Catherine DeAngelis served as Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) for 11 years, the first woman to hold that title; she is also a Johns Hopkins University Distinguished Service Professor emerita as well as a faculty member. She has written and edited several books, and her 100+ articles and opinions have appeared in medical journals and news sources around the world.

Dr. DeAngelis, who also has a degree as a registered nurse (RN), has written about many medical and social issues, notably the effort to "stop pharmaceutical companies from suppressing scientific studies that reveal the negative effects of their products," as stated in this article about her in Hopkins Medicine.

Don't miss these two fascinating doctors when they appear as guests of this year's Conversations in Medicine (CiM)  series, whose theme this year is The Modern Doctor. Come and hear Drs. Wen and DeAngelis discuss their experiences on the front lines of 21st-century medicine.

Thursday, February 11th, 2016

  • Dr. Leana Wen, Health Commissioner of Baltimore City
  • 6:00 PM
  • Hodson Hall, 110

Thursday, February 18th, 2016

  • Dr. Catherine DeAngelis -- JHU Professor and former Editor-in-Chief of JAMA
  • 7:00 PM
  • Charles Commons Ballroom

Unburied Treasure: Discovering ARTstor Collections

treasuremapWhile on an expedition through the ARTstor Digital Library's more than 1.9 million arts and humanities related images, you might use ARTstor’s robust search and filtering functionality to hunt for specific images or works of art. Alternatively, you might choose to set your course for the many phenomenal collections housed in ARTstor from institutions around the world. From the Barnes Foundation to the Berlin State Museums (Staatliche Museen zu Berlin), high quality images from noteworthy institutions are available for your adventures in teaching and study. You can navigate to the full list of Collections from the ARTstor Digital Library’s home page.

Not sure where to start your browsing voyage? How about with the QTVR Panoramas of World Architecture from Columbia University. QuickTime Virtual Reality (QTVR) files allow viewers to experience 360 degree panoramas. ARTstor and Columbia University have teamed up to provide almost 1,900 QTVR panoramas of architectural spaces in Bolivia, England, France, Greece, Italy, Japan, Peru, Turkey, and the United States. Not only does such an experience contribute to our sense of awe and wonder, but it also aides in the study and teaching of historic monuments. Understanding the functionality and scale of an architectural space is often difficult through still images alone. While a QTVR file is no stand in for the Pantheon in Rome or Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, it can certainly augment a viewer’s understanding of the space and what it would be like to travel to that spot. (Note: The VRC does not recommend Google Chrome when accessing QTVR files.)

Still on the ARTstor Collections page? Don’t forget to explore the JHU Visual Resources Collection, now available in ARTstor. The Collections page includes ARTstor collections, as well as Shared Shelf Institutional Collections where you’ll find the JHU Visual Resources Collection. Visit the Visual Resources Collection guide for more information about accessing the JHU Visual Resources Collection, and please do contact the VRC at with any questions about ARTstor or VRC services. For even more ways to find images, see the Images page on the library's Art History guide, and see the Finding Images guide.

The Value of Gaming in Higher Education

Guest blogger: Macie Hall, from the CER's Innovative Instructor.

A recent article in the Educause Review might be of interest to readers thinking about the value of gaming in the curriculum. [See also The Innovative Instructor May 13, 2014 post What is Gamification and Why Use It in Teaching?Taking Serious Games Seriously in Education by Kristen Dicerbo, July 20, 2015, examines the value that games provide: “Games can serve as a means of not just developing domain-specific knowledge and skills but also identity and values key to professional functioning. The data from games enable understanding how students approach and solve problems, as well as estimating their progress on a learning trajectory.”

Video game controller on a table, back-lit.DiCerbo, Principal Research Scientist at Pearson’s Center for Learning Science & Technology, notes that while educational gamification first focused on engaging students in the curriculum, it was “…found that games align themselves well with theories of learning in many other ways.” The use of games in the classroom can provide “…tighter ties to research-based learning progressions, better links to elements of professionalization, and better design for assessment.”

The article highlights two games, Mars Generation One: Argubot Academy (designed for middle and high school students) and Nephrotex (17-19 year olds). Argubot Academy intends “to teach and assess skills of argumentation, including identifying evidence of different types, matching claims to evidence to form arguments, and evaluating claim and evidence links in others’ arguments.” Nephrotex provides “a semester-long experience in which players assume roles as interns in a fictitious bioengineering firm.” The games archive data while being used so that faculty and students can receive relevant progress reports.

The two games exemplify two approaches. The first is gamification that helps students develop and hone basic skills needed for a course or discipline (the art of developing an argument in the case of Argubot Academy). The second is a simulation situation that enables students to gain a broader understanding of a particular domain. DiCerbo discusses these two approaches in the sections Games and Learning Progressions and Games and Professionalization. The latter can be particularly useful for freshmen new to a discipline who are lost in the weeds of foundation courses that may not appear have any direct application to the major they have chosen. DiCerbo cites evidence that situational games can provide students with a view of what work in the profession might entail and the impetus to persist through the introductory phase of core courses.

“Apart from learning skills and knowledge of a domain, becoming a professional in a given area involves developing an identity, for example as an engineer, a psychologist, or a biologist. Novices must come to understand the beliefs that people in a given profession hold and assimilate those into their own belief structures. Commercial games have long employed the concepts of identity, allowing players to build avatars, join guilds, and form teams, all around specific combinations of knowledge and skill. Instead of building identities as wizards, can we use games to build identities more applicable to the real world?”

The article also covers the assessment opportunities that games can offer. The possibility of “invisible assessment” that comes from analysis of student interaction with the game, and that doesn’t interrupt the learning is intriguing.

DiCerbo concludes with three questions instructors should ask about games:

  • What is the model of learning embodied in the game? What skills are needed for success in the game, and how are they sequenced in the game? Does that match known, research-based learning trajectories?
  • Can you clearly identify cognitive and non-cognitive skills and attributes targeted in the game?
  • Do reporting functions in the game link player actions to estimates of knowledge, skill, or ability?

Gaming has gained a lot of traction in the past few years. This article provides both evidence and incentive for you to think about how you might bring this pedagogical method “into play” in your classroom.

Artificial Languages, Universal Languages

Esperanto. Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) undergrad recently asked me about Lojban.

Those in computer science and related fields have probably heard of Lojban (a constructed language, formerly known as Loglan). And most of us have heard of Esperanto (a "universal" language), and other "constructed" languages such as R'lyehian and, of course, Klingon.

Are there a lot of artificial languages? (They’re also referred to as “planned,” “invented,” “made-up,” and probably a few other terms as well.) Yes, indeed there are.

I started my exploration with The Dictionary of Made-up Languages (2011).  The introduction tells us that there are more than 100 “made-up” languages; for the scope of this book, the author focused only on those that are written and/or spoken, leaving out sign languages and computer languages.

I loved Appendix A: Works, Language Creators, and the Languages Associated with Them (p. 273), which lists many favorite languages of us fantasy and science fiction fans, including

How *should* we refer to these languages? Our JHU catalog shows that there's been a lot of interest in languages that "everyone" can speak, and somewhat less interest in the kind of languages that we're discussing here:

Klingon. Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

nuqjatlh? Klingon

However, other catalogs such as the Library of Congress and WorldCat show quite a few more books about artificial and imaginary languages.

Google’s N-Gram Viewer shows that “invented,” “planned,” and “made-up” were never popular, and “constructed” had tiny blips in the mid-1850s, 1930, and the mid-1940s. “Artificial language” has always been around and was at its highest use in the mid-1960s.

As shown, the much more popular term has always been -- at least since 1800 -- “universal language.” Unlike languages spoken by fictional groups, or entities who don't usually speak (at least that we know of), like the animals in Animal Farm, a universal language is spoken by everyone (whomever that may be). The universal language could also be used for communicating in a group who all have different primary languages (as Esperanto was used in Philip Jose Farmer's vast and imaginative Riverworld series [use Borrow Direct for these]).

On your next study break, wander down to D Level -- on the BLUE shelves, in the P120.I53 section, browse through Encyclopedia of Fictional and Fantastic Languages or Lunatic Lovers of Language: Imaginary Languages and Their Inventors.

Try it yourself, or see what other "conlangers" are doing.

Thank You!

EDES blog post screen shotSo much for our New Year's Resolution about procrastination (don't judge!).

Here's our New Year's video and a salute to all the people --- students, faculty, staff, alumni, friends, parents, and you, gentle reader --- who help make the Sheridan Libraries and University Museums so essential to the intellectual, cultural, and social life of our community.

Thank you, and Happy New Year!

Hoop Dreams: Struggles and Redemption in Basketball Films

BasketballDreamsIt may still be football season, but basketball is starting to heat up.  There aren't quite as many movies out there about basketball as there are about football, but the Libraries does have a few to tide you over until Space Jam 2 is allegedly released in 2017 (fingers crossed!).

Hoosiers is a must-see for any basketball fan - it has the whole shebang: an underdog sports team, a coach seeking redemption, and a small town with little else to do besides pay too much attention to the high school basketball team. It's loosely based on the 1954 Milan High School Indiana state championship team, so you get a small dose of history with this one as well.

If you want a little more of real-life stories set around the same time period, and just down the road from Milan High School, there's Something to Cheer About: Oscar Robertson and the Crispus Attucks TigersThis documentary explores the Crispus Attucks High School Basketball team and their 1955 State Championship win - marking the first time in the U.S. that an all-black team won a state title.

Other documentaries feature the stories of the Harlem Globetrotters in The Team that Changed the World, LeBron James in More than a Game, the Roosevelt Roughriders in The Heart of the Game, and aspiring young players in Hoop Dreams.