Spring DIY

At long last the snows have cleared and Spring is upon us. What better time to get back to the earth, get your hands dirty, and DoItYourself?

Our country has, in some way or another, been a DIY nation since its early days. Be it gardening, cooking, distilling, or dressmaking, early Americans made and did by hand because often there was no other reasonable option.

As time progressed and the nation became wealthier and more mechanized, a sense of what was lost in an earlier age began to grow. Perhaps this is best exemplified in the work of philosopher, naturalist, and ardent-DIY'er Henry David Thoreau. Amidst the proprieties and formality of New England society, Thoreau sought an individualism that could express itself in an authentic life. Thoreau's experiment at Walden is itself a great example of how making carries a political message.

Today, the DIY spirit is alive, strong, and growing. Crafters, artisans, gardeners, brewers, and so on have turned making into a movement and a message. Tired of the rising tide of throw-away culture, DIYers aim to make creation part and parcel of daily life. So pick up a shovel, dust off the sewing machine, and get out there and make something!

Google NGram Viewer — “Culturomics”?

NgramViewerThe NGram Viewer from Google made a splash when it was introduced in December of 2010. It is essentially a data-mining application that enables queries against Google's massive digitized books corpus.  Researchers behind the Google Books project wrote about the Viewer in the ambitiously titled Science article "Quantitative Analysis of Culture Using Millions of Digitized Books." Some of the ways the tool has been used include exploring social and political change in China , the evolution of marketing history, and changes in the popularity of specific drugs. The authors called this "culturomics," and defined it as "the application of high-throughput data collection and analysis to the study of human culture."
According to that article, the "oldest works were published in the 1500s. The early decades are represented by only a few books per year... By 1800, the corpus grows to 60 million words per year; by 1900, 1.4 billion; and by 2000, 8 billion."

However, remember some of the limitations of the N-gram Viewer:

  • Google Books consists of only about 4% of all books ever written
  • the data end in 2008
  • the project is only books, and most of them come from libraries, meaning that  popular culture isn't really reflected
  • it takes about a decade for events or trends to start being reflected in literature
  • the graphs are sized for easy viewing, but the numbers on the X axis are usually tiny

Use commas to separate your words or phrases, and it's CASE-SENSITIVE, so if you're looking up proper names, use capital letters. LET'S PLAY!

  • Greece, Italy, Athens, Rome -- Boy, Rome has really gotten attention over the years. (Not much recently, though.)
  • dogs, cats, dog, cat -- What on earth is that giant “cat” spike?? It’s between about 1612 and 1624. To look more closely, you can either enter those dates, or scroll to the bottom of the page, choose a date range, and see what kinds of books are listed. Oh, I see – it’s all kinds of usages of those three letters together, including abbreviations and non-English words. But it sure looks impressive.
  • Our interest in sharks certainly keeps growing. Note the blip at 1974, when Jaws was written.
  • black hole, worm hole, wormhole -- What’s that “black hole” peak between 1610 and 1618? When I focus the date, it looks like there are two peaks, at 1610 and 1618. A search of Google Books for 1610-1618 gives two results. They’re both referring to the same thing – a prison.
  • Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Flickr -- Tumblr and Instagram got zero hits – this means that (1) through 2008, (2) they were mentioned in fewer than 40 books (3) that had been scanned by Google. No surprise, since they were launched in 2007 and 2010, respectively.

What groups of words or phrases would you like to see displayed in the N-gram Viewer?  Here’s how to do more advanced searches -- the Viewer is more powerful than you realize!  If you want even more information, here’s their page about datasets.

Good-bye, farewell, ta-ta, have a nice day!


What’s the Dirt?

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

Logo for the DiRT -- Digital Research Tools directory. The word dirt with the i shown as a light-bulb.Looking for a tool (preferably free and easy to use) for a scholarly project?  Maybe you need to clean up, model, or interpret data. Perhaps you are looking at ways to visualize information, or you have a large number of audio files that you have to transcribe. Building a website for your project? Trying to learn how to program? Look no further, here’s DiRT, Digital Research Tools. “The DiRT Directory is a registry of digital research tools for scholarly use. DiRT makes it easy for digital humanists and others conducting digital research to find and compare resources ranging from content management systems to music OCR, statistical analysis packages to mindmapping software.” Beyond your own scholarly endeavors, think of how these tools could be used by your students for their course research projects.

The welcome page greets uses with “I need a research tool to…” followed by a long list of possible tasks.  Each category has a number of suggested tools. Many of these are free and open source, many have been developed at universities to accommodate specific faculty scholarly needs.

There are several ways to search for tools beyond the list of tasks. Searching bycategory will lead you to the TaDiRAH (Taxonomy of Digital Research Activities in the Humanities) listing. “TaDiRAH breaks down the research lifecycle into high-level “goals”, each with a set of “methods. …In addition to goals/methods, TaDiRAH includes open lists of ‘techniques’ (which are more specific than methods, and may be used with more than one method) and ‘research objects’.” This will give you and your students another way to think about and find tools appropriate for your needs.

You don’t need an account to use DiRT to find a tool. If you want to add a review of a tool,  have found something that you like to use that isn’t listed on DiRT and would like to add it, or have developed a tool that you want to share, it is easy to create an account for these purposes.

Helping Your Patients

ambulance9You want to be the very best RN, MD, PT, NP, OT, PA, or other kind of health professional that you can.  You want to be understanding, kind, compassionate, and empathetic with your patients, those scared adults and children who are depending on you to help them.

But you worry about learning more about how to do this. In addition to shadowing medical professionals and working through other ways to gain experience, where else can you find out about what it's like to work with (or to be) patients? How will you relate to a dying patient or a patient from another culture? What are the crucial human qualities that you will need for every one of your interactions with sick or hurt people whom you want to help?

The films, print and online books, articles, editorials, poems, stories, and documentaries on this list are all worlds where you can go to learn more -- witness the range of emotions, detective work, errors, successes, and relationships between medical professionals and patients (and some medical professionals who have been patients).Rec resources by topic

For example:

Reading or viewing any of these resources will contribute to your holistic understanding of the world of health and medicine. Please explore this list, and please do let me know what you'd like to see added.

"Yours may be the last face that someone who is dying may see. Yours may be the first face that a new baby sees." Dr. Catherine DeAngelis (Conversations in Medicine, 2/18/16)

Jubilee: A Journey to the Italian Renaissance on M-Level

Screen Shot 2016-04-15 at 10.20.39 AM

Petrus Mallius, Paolo De Angelis, & Bernardini Tani, Basilicae veteris Vaticanae descriptio avctore Romano eiusdem Basilicae canonico (Rome, 1646).

Make a pilgrimage to the Milton S. Eisenhower Library’s M-level for JUBILEE: Roman Catholic Pilgrimage Culture in Papal Rome, 1500 – 1675, a rare book exhibition featuring beautifully illustrated books from the Italian Renaissance. The curator, senior Taylor Alessio, will give at talk about the exhibition on M-level at noon on Friday, April 29. Stop by and hear about her experiences working with rare books and contact relics.

These volumes from our special collections illustrate important aspects of Papal Jubilee years of the 16th and 17th centuries. The exhibition coincides with Pope Francis’ recent declaration of an “Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy” throughout the Catholic world (December 9, 2015 to November 20, 2016), and brings exhibition visitors back in time to the origins of this important tradition.

Senior Taylor Alessio followed her passion for this aspect of European and Catholic history from the classroom to the Special Collections Reading Room. Alessio, a History of Art major in the Krieger School, was awarded a Sheridan Libraries Dean’s Undergraduate Research Award (DURA) in 2015 and spent the summer before her senior year investigating the culture of Jubilee pilgrimages and the indelible marks they left on the city of Rome.

The exhibition is a culmination of her research. “I am incredibly excited to share this project with my classmates and the greater Hopkins community. It was truly an honor and a privilege to spend time piecing together how this great tradition was experienced by pilgrims through this collection of rare books and unique historical objects.”

In early modern Europe, the celebration of Papal Jubilee years attracted millions of pilgrims to the city of Rome. Books printed for and about the events surrounding these anni santi provide unique insight into religious, political, and social life of the time, with volumes produced for a marketplace that ranged from the humblest pilgrims to Renaissance Popes.

Books featured in this exhibition explore and manifest the physical development of the city of Rome as a pilgrimage destination, the mental and physical qualities of pilgrimage, the cult of holy relics, and the proliferation of guide books and other sacred keepsakes from this period of Catholic Reformation.

With the Ottoman Turks in control of Jerusalem, Rome became the ultimate Catholic destination. The traditional spiritual benefits of pilgrimage were augmented by the sale of Holy Year indulgences, which some likened to rebaptism in their special power to remit sin and damnation. The urban fabric of the city of Rome itself had grown to awe-inspiring heights with the revival and expansion of the ancient city and the construction of the largest church in the world: the new St. Peter’s basilica at the Vatican.

Despite the challenges of physical danger, poor living conditions, food shortages, periodic lawlessness, and the threat of plague, pilgrims nonetheless flocked to Rome in the hundreds of thousands seeking personal salvation and the saving power and promise of holy relics.

Jubilee is on exhibit through June 1.

Winners Announced for the 2016 Student Book Collecting Contest

Student Book Collecting Contest 2016

Congratulations to the winners of the 2016 Betty and Edgar Sweren Student Book Collecting contest!

The annual competition, which is sponsored by the Friends of the Libraries and was endowed in 2007 by Betty and Edgar Sweren, recognizes the love of books and the art of shaping a thoughtful and focused book collection.

All undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in a degree program at Johns Hopkins are eligible to enter.

“I look forward to this contest each year,” said Winston Tabb, Sheridan Dean of University Libraries and Museums. “The judges had some tough choices to make this year, but it’s always a pleasure to discover these collections and the interesting individuals who assemble them. Thanks to everyone who entered the contest, and congratulations to our winners.”

First prize in the undergraduate division was awarded to senior Audrey Cockrum, a Writing Seminars major in the Krieger School of Arts & Sciences, for her collection The Ever-Evolving Atlas of Amy Clampitt: Mapping Two Centuries of British and American Ecopoetry.

There was a tie for first prize in the graduate division, with Alexander Englert and Christine Lee each receiving top honors. Englert, a doctoral student in Philosophy in the Krieger School, won for his collection Philosophy in Times of Crisis: Jaspers, Arendt, and the Question of Our Shared Nature. Lee, who is pursuing a PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the Bloomberg School of Public Health, was recognized for Ekphrasis: Relating Words with Art, Thinking with the Eyes, Seeing with the Brain.

Undergraduate Ruth Marie Naime Landry, a junior Writing Seminars major, took second prize for Cities in Literature. Anna Moyer, a PhD student in Human Genetics at the School of Medicine, was awarded second prize in the graduate category for Coming Down to Earth: Improving Representations of Intellectual Disability in Literature and Memoir.

Third prize in the undergraduate division went to sophomore Gillian Marie Waldo, a Film and Media Studies major in the Krieger School, for From Apertures to Zoetropes: A Collection of Books on Cinema. There was no third prize awarded this year in the graduate category.

Stop by the Special Collections Reading Room on M-level of the Brody Learning Commons to see selections from this year’s winning collections. The books will be on display through May 31.

ProQuest E-Book Survey: Tell a Vendor What You Need!

ebookOne of our e-book vendors, ProQuest, is administering a Global Student & Researcher E-book Survey. They want to better understand e-book usage and needs among college and university students, faculty, and staff.

Follow the link below - it should only take approximately 15 -20 minutes to complete.


As a thanks for your time, ProQuest will enter you into a drawing for one of three Apple Watches. The prize winners will be notified in June using the email addresses entered in the survey.

Please note this survey is voluntary, and all responses received will be treated in the strictest confidence. So, feel free to tell them what you think about e-books!

Collecting GIS Data via Your Mobile Phone

Historically, when Geographic Information Systems (GIS) users collected field data outdoors, they often used paper forms or dragged along a laptop computer and GPS unit to record observations and measurements.  Once back on campus, the data were uploaded BlogCollectorinto a GIS project for further analysis.  In situations where an entire class went out field collecting, an additional workflow required compiling and editing all the individual  submissions.

This past year, the Sheridan Libraries GIS and Data Service began promoting Collector for ArcGIS, a mobile phone based application that offers field data collection that automatically updates GIS maps housed in a library-provided geocloud via ArcGIS Online for Johns Hopkins.

The process is simple.  GIS users working on their own, or with a GIS and Data staff member, identify the geographic area where students and faculty will be collecting data and assign a default basemap.  The library offers a wide assortment of imagery or terrain basemaps to choose from.  The second step involves attaching the basemap to a blank GIS table that will be used to collect variables in the field.   The table can include drop down boxes and predefined options to simplify the field data collection process and eliminate errors while thumb typing on a mobile phone.  The last step is uploading the GIS basemap, and associated table, to the geocloud area assigned to the class as part of an ArcGIS Online Group.

As students head out to the field they download the free Collector app from the Google Play Store or the Apple AppStore.   At the field site, students will see the predefined map and collection table on their phone.   While collecting data, GPS coordinates are captured from the mobile device and automatically added to the GIS table and map in the ArcGIS Online geocloud.  In cases when field sites are too remote for cellular connections the data are stored locally on the mobile device and uploaded when Internet service is available.

Collector for ArcGIS is one of the newest GIS options available to all Johns Hopkins users.  To learn more about Collector take a look at our GIS and Maps guide or send an e-mail to us in GIS and Data Services:  GISandData@jhu.edu.

Got Term Papers?

Just a reminder to all you stressed students out there - the library can help! There is a reference librarian on duty on M Level of MSEL in the Research Consultation Office from 10am-8pm Monday through Wednesday, 10am-5pm Thursday and Friday, 1-5pm on Saturday and Sunday. Stop by or make an appointment - we are trained to help with ALL kinds of research questions and can get you started with resources, help you track down difficult sources, and find additional resources if you need them.

In addition, there are subject librarians available for individual consultation. Each has specific expertise in online and print resources in nearly every field of study.

Like to do-it-yourself? Try our lists of databases by subject. You will most likely find some very relevant sources there.

And last but not least, we have made research guides for many of the disciplines, departments, and programs. Find an appropriate guide in the box on the libray homepage under GUIDES by TOPIC. These can help you in beginning, and even advanced, research.

So take heart! And take advantage of your library's services.

Hopkins’ Spring Fair, A History

click any image to enlarge

As Spring Fair gets under way, here’s a look back at the origins of the annual event. The first Spring Fair took place April 21-23, 1972, an entirely student-run festival. From the earliest days, it has been organized and run by the undergraduate student body, with cooperation from campus offices providing electricity, water, and security. It still serves as a means for inviting the community to the campus for food, crafts, and children’s activities.

For the first few years, the formal title of the event was 3400 On Stage, signifying that the university was holding an open house for all to enjoy. The 1972 publicity poster includes this invitation: “The Student Council invites the Baltimore community to join us for a parade, concerts, plays, arts and crafts exhibitions and sales, sports events, science exhibitions, and a wealth of entertainment opportunities.”

In its early years, Spring Fair took its place beside the many community/ethnic festivals that were held around Baltimore every year. While most of those festivals have since disbanded or moved away (for a variety of reasons), Spring Fair has taken place each year without fail and, weather permitting, always draws a crowd. On some occasions, the weather has not cooperated – one year it snowed on the opening Friday, but in some years it seems as if the weather picked up on the theme and carried it forward; in 1985, the theme was “A Touch of the Tropics,” and the weather for all three days was sunny and very warm.

While the size of the fair has waxed and waned over the years, the purpose has remained the same. In the earliest years, the fair took place on the upper and lower quads, with children’s rides on the freshman quad. Beer vendors were distributed throughout the venue, rather than being confined to the “Beer Garden.” The need to ensure that only those of legal age could get to the beer led the organizers to create a single, gated area for beer sales.

When the brick sidewalks (and underground irrigation pipes) were laid in 2000, tents could no longer be pitched or vehicles driven on the quads due to the danger of hitting or crushing pipes, so the Fair moved to an area known as Garland Field. Garland Field was where the Decker Quad is now located (when that area contained a surface parking lot). In recent years, the food vendors have been placed on the Freshman Quad, with crafts on the upper quad.

So, enjoy the food, crafts, entertainment, and these retro photographs, taken at the first event in 1972.