“Asger Jorn and CoBrA” – April 26, 4pm

Please join us on Wednesday, April 26th on M Level of the Eisenhower Library for a the opening of a student-curated exhibition, organized in conjunction with Professor Molly Warnock’s course, “The ‘Long Sixties’ in Europe.”

Throughout his prolific career, Danish painter, sculptor, and author Asger Jorn, 1914-1973, consistently upheld the revolutionary potential of the image. An inveterate collaborator, Jorn was at various points involved with a number of avant-garde groups, including Revolutionary Surrealism, 1947-1948; CoBrA, 1948-1951; and the Situationist International (SI), 1957-1972; and he maintained passionate, intensely productive relationships with individuals across the Continent. The name CoBrA, coined from the initials of the founding members’ cities – Copenhagen, Brussels, and Amsterdam – embodies this spirit of transnational exchange, a commitment equally manifest in the movement’s visual and textual output. Ranging from clandestine pamphlets to posters on behalf of the May 1968 protesters, the objects in this exhibition urge us to embrace “creative intelligence” – a rallying cry that still resonates today.

This opening event also celebrates an exhibition on Q Level of the library entitled "Extreme Materials and Conditions: Common Ground Between Art and Science" by HEMI artist-in-residence Jay Gould.

If either of these exhibitions pique your interest, find out more by exploring our Art History Research Guide!

“Very Short Introductions” — Quick Overviews about Lots of Things

POP QUIZ -- You need a quick overview about a topic. Where do you look?

Your answer is partly right but could be better. You said "Wikipedia," which never hurts. But you'll always need a few more sources, whose trustworthiness you can evaluate.

Where else can you get an (accurate) overview about something? You could look at:

Or, you could choose a Very Short Introduction. These are those little teeny books you see on the library shelves, about all kinds of things. We have 389 of them.

Here they are sorted by year. The most recent ones are:

  • Learning
  • Public Health
  • Accounting
  • African-American Religion
  • American Legal History

Some of my personal favorites are, of course:

The next time you need a short but dependable overview of a topic (Martyrdom? Probability? Sleep?), go to the library catalog, type the phrase "very short introduction" into the TITLE, add one search word, and see what you get.

Patents — Amaze Your Friends!

Patents are historical, technical, artistic, ground-breaking, legally binding, creative, and revealing. Patents are incredibly cool, and extremely useful.

What's a patent?

A patent is the right to keep other people from making or selling YOUR invention (unless you give them a license to do so). Specifically, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office defines a patent as “the right to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling” your invention in the United States (or importing it *into* the U.S.). (You can also get patents in many other countries; here is an FAQ with more information.)

Can anything be patented?

No. You cannot patent something that isn't new or useful, you can't patent an idea, and you can't patent something that's good only for using "special nuclear material or atomic energy in an atomic weapon." You CAN patent "any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof."

So what's cool about them?

Okay, I now have a better idea about why patents are so important and can be used for so many things. How do I find them?

There are many free and paid sources of patents. They cover different places and years, and each offers some advantages. All of the ones below are free, except the Derwent Innovations Index, which the library has.

  • U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is extremely reliable and the most current all patent databases, but is a bit of a pain to search.
  • Patentscope includes patents and applications from all members of the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), about 150 countries (including the U.S.).  It will also translate patents into seven languages from English, or from those languages into English (Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Russian, Spanish, German, and French).
  • Free Patents Online (FPO) is user-friendly and has lots of searchable fields.
  • Google Patents is missing some U.S. patents, gives unreliable results, contains some out-of-date information, and has some bad OCR, but is easy to use and fine for basic overviews.
  • Derwent Innovations Index gives enhanced patent titles, which really helps to see exactly what the patents are about when you're looking through the results list. It's also pretty easy to use.

JHU people have a lot of patents (surprise). Put "johns hopkins" into the U.S. PTO database as "assignee," and you get over 2,100 results.

For more information, see the Patents page on the Engineering research guide.

JohnCon Has It All

Johns Hopkins Blue Jay JohnCon Super HeroPaintball, magic, tournaments, laser tag, comedy -- where can you get all of this at the same event? That would be JohnCon (April 14-16)!

JohnCon is the annual convention of JHU's Science Fiction and Fantasy Association (HopSFA). It's held in Levering Hall from Friday evening to Sunday evening, with NO stops. None. These people are serious.

As the schedule tells us, events also include words like "melee," "red dragon," and "pandemic"; just the kinds of activities you need to challenge your brain with something OTHER than problem sets. Of course you can come for the anime and the games, too.

The encouraged entrance fee is $10, but you may pay as much or as little as you wish (attention: paying more = getting good stuff). And don't miss the app!

By the way, your library does have anime (perhaps you need a critical introduction to it?). And here, have some e-books about Anime Studio.Enjoy this year's JohnCon!

Fake News: Check Your Facts

It’s a post-truth world out there (Oxford Dictionaries’ 2016 word of the year). And your librarians will help you tell truth from fiction.

Our first post in this series discussed the history of fake news and propaganda. Now we’re going to give you some tools to investigate facts mentioned in news stories and the bias of media outlets.

Fact Checking Organizations
If you don’t want to do the research yourself, there are some reliable organizations that do the fact checking for the rest of us.

Snopes.com was started back in 1995 (early days on the Internet) to examine urban legends. Since then it has expanded its work and looks at rumors in the media, politics, science, as well as the ever-expanding list of urban legends. This site is apolitical and supported by ad revenue.

FactCheck.org focuses on American politics. This group sees itself as advocates for US voters; they’re supported by the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania.

PolitiFact also focuses on American politics. The site is run by staff at the Tampa Bay Times and describes its principles and funding sources. They decide what statements and stories to fact check. They are transparent about their process and have a wonderful rating system: Truth, Mostly True, Half True, Mostly False, False, Pants on Fire.

It’s also important to know if the media outlet you use is biased. News sources can be biased towards a liberal or conservative outlook and still be truthful. Some sources are so biased that it’s best not to rely only on their reporting because they will slant their stories to support their ideology.

Media Bias/Fact Check is a site that rates how biased (or not) a news outlet is regarding its political outlook. They categorize sources as having Left Bias, Left-Center Bias, Least Biased, Right-Center Bias, and Right Bias. They also have other useful categories: Pro-Science, Conspiracy-Pseudoscience, and Satire. You can also search for a specific news source.

Reliable News Sources
If you’re looking for reliable news sources, the library’s got you covered! Major US papers are available:

(I’m showing my own bias toward East Coast papers, aren’t I?) We have a very long list of newspapers that includes foreign (think Pravda and Financial Times) and historical newspapers (ProQuest Historical Newspapers).

We do have some television news sources:

Please use these sites to get information and to check information you find. And don’t forget: you can always ask your librarian for help.

Tips and Tricks for Finding Images: How to Get the Most from ARTstor

Colossal bust of Julius Caesar, Shared Shelf Commons: Cornell. Cast Collection

Looking for images for teaching, study, or research? The JHU Visual Resources Collection is accessible from the ARTstor Digital Library for all JHU faculty, students, and staff. The ARTstor interface allows for consolidated searching across the JHU Visual Resources Collection of 160,000 digital images and the ARTstor collections of more than 1.9 million images.

Images are frequently being added to ARTstor. For example, approximately 32,000 images of contemporary art from the Larry Qualls Archive of Contemporary Art were recently added to ARTstor. You can find out more about additions to ARTstor by checking out the ARTstor blog or by subscribing to the ARTstor email list. ARTstor also provides a support site for using ARTstor and makes available useful searching tips.

Wildcards / Filters, click to enlarge

For example, did you know you can use an array of wildcards in ARTstor? You can also improve your ARTstor searches by using filters.

ARTstor provides many resources for users, and the VRC aims to do what we can to augment the ARTstor user experience. From finding folio 39r of the Book of Kells to learning more about 20th century museum exhibitions, the VRC strives to create metadata for our local collection images that will aid in both the discovery of specific images, as well as in browsing areas of general interest.

Source Searching, click to enlarge

For example, if you are wondering if we have images from a particular source at the library, you are able to search by citation information.

Not sure what you can do with ARTstor images once you have found them? You can create image groups which can then be shared with your students, downloaded as jpegs, or exported as PowerPoint files with the metadata conveniently appearing in the notes section below each slide.

Groups / Downloads, click to enlarge

Need help accessing or using ARTstor? Want a one-on-one training session or a group training session? Contact the VRC at vrc@jhu.edu, and visit the Visual Resources Collection guide for more information. Need images not available in ARTstor? Click here to access our interactive pdf order form.

For more ways to find images, see the Images page on the library's Art History guide and see the Finding Images guide.

Consider an Open Textbook for your Next Teaching Gig

The high cost of college textbooks has been in the news as well as research journals. There's a movement to counter those escalating costs called Open Educational Resources. In fact March 27 - 31 is Open Education Week! Administrators and faculty at many colleges, community colleges, and even K-12 schools, are putting high quality textbooks and learning modules online with few restrictions on reuse.

While being free to the students is important, faculty and instructors are most interested in:

  • high quality, peer reviewed, edited content
  • the ability to use only the content you want
  • the freedom to update or mix content to create a resource that supports your teaching goals

Dr. Marian Feldman, History of Art & Near Eastern Studies, with help from the Center for Educational Resources Tech Fellows Program, has created open educational resources for courses dealing with Mesopotamian art history. The Bloomberg School of Public Health actively shares their OER. Other examples include Maryland, VCU, NCSU, and Tidewater Community College.

Don't worry, you don't have to create a textbook from scratch. Below are just a few of the sites offering OERs. Please contact the Center for Educational Resources if you are an instructor - faculty or graduate student - who is interested in teaching with or creating OERs.

If you're a student and want to use an OER textbook as a supplement to your own, please contact your librarian for assistance.




Have You Eaten a Good Book Lately?

Now is the time to grab a spatula and let out a primal scream for Read It and Eat It, our fourth annual edible book festival, is nigh! Our promotion of literacy and gluttony and whimsy will occur in the Glass Pavilion on Friday, March 31st from noon – 1:30. Did I mention eating cake? Because you get to eat cake!

Last year’s festival featured journeys to mystical places, tons of fun with fondant, a magical sorting hat, and a simply stunning rendition of The Life of Pi. Who knows what culinary mischief lies in the hearts of this year’s baking champions?

As is tradition, prizes will be awarded by popular vote in the following categories: most delicious dessert, funniest dessert, best effort, best literary theme, and overall best in show. Golly gumdrops, do we have prizes! Fancy a dinner at The Food Market or a lovely brunch at Carma's? Care to eat oodles of ice cream from The Charmery? Then you have to bake to win!

Ready to register? Then do so quickly. The deadline to enter a cake is 10am on Wednesday, March 29. Need some inspiration? Follow our sugary crumbs to tumblr or flickr to gain inspiration from cakes of years past!

Freedom for Government Information!

This week, March 12 – 18, is Sunshine Week and March 16th is Freedom of Information Day. Both events serve to remind us how we can obtain information from the federal government.

The most important tool in that work is the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which is administered by the Department of Justice. This 1966 law requires federal agencies to comply with citizens’ requests for information, as long as no harm is incurred in sharing that information. Most federal agencies now have their own FOIA offices to deal with these requests. Maryland (like most states) has a Public Information Act that gives Marylanders a way to obtain information from our state government.

FOIA is usually used to request government information that is not available in the many published reports and websites the federal government makes available. You can start a search for publicly available information at USA.gov or data.gov.

You will also discover published federal documents in Catalyst, our library catalog. The Sheridan Libraries have been a federal depository library since 1882, so we have a long history of making federal information available when it was only in print and we continue that tradition now that most of the information has moved online.

Below are some links to the government documents found in Catalyst on (hopefully) interesting topics. The trick is to use GPO as a search term – that’s the Government Publishing Office – and you’ll have a list of documents from federal agencies.

Don’t forget to ask your librarian if you have a more complicated question involving government information.

Fake News: Through the Ages

We’ve heard so much about “fake news” lately, we thought it might be interesting to focus on the topic in a series of blog posts. Although it seems to be a new concept, “fake news” has been around – in one form or another – for centuries. Let’s not freak out: humans seem to have always had the impulse to use language to persuade, influence, parody, and even deceive. Let’s take a look!

Probably the most well-known form of “fake news” takes the form of propaganda. What does that term mean, exactly? Skip Wikipedia and check out the entry in the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) – perhaps the best place to find all of its definitions, usages, and etymology. We have plenty of books about propaganda in the library, including some rare examples in our Special Collections Department. Explore the role propaganda plays in relation to Fascism, Communism, and politics more generally.

More subtly, we also have the urge to defend our beliefs – whether our beliefs are based on fact or not. If this interests you, try exploring apologetics and polemics. Both have played a significant role in the history of Christianity and, more generally, all faith-based ideologies.

Sometimes “facts” are manufactured as a means of critique – something we commonly call “satire.” For a great example of satirical literature, you might want to take a look a Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels – we have many editions. Or, if you’re fans of comic opera, maybe check a video of any of the Savoy Operas, by Gilbert & SullivanThe Mikado is a personal favorite! But, be careful not to mistake satire for truth – sometimes a very difficult thing to avoid!

So, now that you’ve researched some historical sources related to the topic, stay tuned for our next blog post about “fake news” – with some tangible advice on how to check sources and verify facts! Not only as a means to avoid spreading misinformation, but in extreme cases of spreading falsehoods, you may be sued for libel or slander.