JHU Faculty & Staff: Join a Timely, Relevant Discussion with TILE – Tuesday, 4pm

What we do in the classroom impacts what happens in the real world. Join the Toolkit for Inclusive Learning Environments, TILE, for a thoughtful discussion on classroom practices that can make lasting changes on how students perceive and communicate with the world.

Funded by a Diversity Innovation Grant (DIG) of the Diversity Leadership Council (DLC), TILE is a growing resource for instructional faculty and staff that works to provide and support inclusive practices in the classroom. Sharing diverse perspectives and validating students’ and minorities’ varied experiences is a challenge for many faculty. Even those with the best intentions may unwittingly create classroom environments where students from minority communities feel uncomfortable or excluded. However, when executed effectively, an inclusive classroom becomes a layered and rich learning environment that not only engages students, but creates more culturally competent citizens.

TILE held its first session in March, providing examples and sparking discussion. The second session will be held Tuesday, May 5th from 4-5:30pm in the Macksey Room of the Brody Learning Commons, and you are invited! Registration is encouraged at the website, where you can also submit an example if you would like to share. You can use and read all about the examples shared at the first session on the Center for Educational Resources' website, where the final repository will eventually be held. Refreshments will be served. See you there!

To explore the topic before the session, The Center for Integration of Research, Teaching and Learning (CIRTL), of which Johns Hopkins is a member, has some excellent diversity resources on its website, including a literature review, case studies, and a resource book for new instructors.

Questions and ideas can be routed to anyone on the TILE team. Project collaborators are Demere Woolway, Director of LGBTQ Life; Shannon Simpson, Student Engagement and Information Fluency Librarian, and Macie Hall, Senior Instructional Designer for the Center for Educational Resources, with support from the Sheridan Libraries and Museums Diversity Committee. Most important will be the various lecturers and faculty from across the disciplines who will work with us on developing the toolkit.

Baltimore-Centric: A Learning List

Baltimore Dance Party, by Erica Hellerstein/ThinkProgress

We're stunned, or maybe not surprised. We're sad, angry, frightened. We're protesting, or helping to clean up, or scouring the news and social media... or maybe we're feeling helpless, or not sure how to react. Whatever it is each of us at Hopkins is doing, thinking, and feeling in response to the tragic death of Freddie Gray while in police custody--and the events of the past week--one thing we have in common, one thing we all know, is how to learn.

Here is the beginning of a list of resources you might find helpful as we continue on this journey of learning, discussion, reflection, and action. With a few exceptions, these resources are focused on Baltimore: about Baltimore, by Baltimore writers, or published in Baltimore.

History and Sociology

Autobiography and Biography

Fiction and Poetry

Music, Art, TV, and Film

Please send us comments with your suggestions for additional resources: books, articles, blog-posts, films... Your suggestions may go beyond Baltimore, which is great. But by starting here, with this city, we give a shout-out to this place that is for all of us, in some way, home. Let's show it our love by learning.

Study Suggests That Online Searching Only Makes You Feel Smarter

While driving home recently I heard on NPR that online searching may make you think you’re smarter than you really are. Matthew Fisher, doctoral student in cognitive psychology at Yale, found that people tend to think that “information is leaking into our head, but really the information is stored somewhere else entirely.”

Fisher surveyed hundreds of people and published his study in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, you can read the article for free in PsycArticles (licensed library database). Fisher suggests that internet searching results in increased self-assessed knowledge, which suggests that “the illusion is driven by the act of searching itself."

The more we rely on the Internet, Fisher poses, the harder it is to draw a line between where our knowledge ends and the web begins. Unlike poring over manuscripts or books, or debating peers, asking the Internet is effortless. The ease of looking up information leads people to consider knowledge that is stored online as their own.

Whoa, wait – what? I know tons of brilliant people courtesy of working here at Hopkins. You don’t have to look far to see undergraduates winning research awards, a food blogger and aspiring nutritionist sharing simple recipes for intersession, students winning competitions…I could go on and on and on…and that doesn’t even include the impressive accolades and honors faculty at JHU receive each year.

I confess, even though I’m a librarian, I google things all the time. It’s just as Fisher says, a very modern-day convenience and one that bugs me if my internet ever goes down or my data connection on my phone slows to a crawl. So while I can give my kids a better answer to the age-old question, “why is the sky blue?” I don’t ever feel bad about looking up information online. When searching, we make decisions on what to look at all the time, whether it is the NASA website or this one.

Because when it comes down to it, I still have to know how to evaluate that information and incorporate it into what I do know. That sounds an awful lot like learning to me. Bottom line – if searching online makes people feel smarter, think about what searching for articles, reading books, browsing manuscripts, or consulting with a librarian or your faculty advisor could do.

Most Popular Library Databases

In early March I listed the journals used most often by the JHU community in 2014. Now it's time to do the same for library databases. I did this back in 2011, and the list for 2014 isn't all that different. The top 5 databases are listed below.

What I wish we could do is get similar stats for Google Scholar. I'm pretty sure JHU use of Google Scholar would overwhelm the numbers you see below. Many graduate students and faculty tell us they rely heavily on Google Scholar for their literature searches. Sometimes it's the only search tool they use; sometimes they use it in addition to the library databases.

No matter what search tool you use for discovering scholarly literature, your librarian is ready to help you make your search strategy efficient and effective.

Top Databases in 2014

  1. PubMed - Unknown. They only report the number of full text downloads. For 2014 that number is 883,992. I think that means they win.
  2. Journals@Ovid Full Text - 212,022
  3. Web of Science Core Collection - 150,519
  4. CINAHL Plus with Full Text - 131,216
  5. Academic Search Complete - 122,719

Explore Mars, the moon, and the skies

mars1For nearly fifty years, people have attempted to send spacecraft to Mars. During the 1950s and 60s, an increasing preoccupation with the future and technology helped transform America’s outlook, as well as its conception of itself, as if seen anew from space. Even though by the beginning of the 21st century, only ten missions out of thirty-three attempts to launch satellites to Mars had been completely successful—fashion, furniture, comic books, science fiction, and children’s toys were profoundly affected by these explorations.

The fantasy of Mars captured the public’s imagination. Where astronomers left off, fiction took over sustaining the myth about life on Mars. Stories about Mars during the post-World War II era contained dark elements of fantasy. Ray Bradbury’s The Exiles depicted mythic characters exiled on a perishing Mars when the last of the books containing their stories were burned or lost. At Bell Laboratories, closely related to NASA in its earliest years, engineer Billy Klüver organized groundbreaking collaborations with artists, including Rauschenberg and Andy Warhol, to inject space-age technology into artwork.

By the sixties, NASA established a strong exobiology program to study the potential for life beyond Earth. Over the years, this study has expanded to multidisciplinary astrobiology – increasingly focused on planetary exploration missions. NASA sent the Viking lander mission to Mars in the 1970s to answer the overarching question: does life exist on the red planet? The Viking lander’s payload carried sophisticated analytical laboratory equipment to Mars, devoting a significant amount of the mission time to identifying, collecting, preparing, and analyzing samples. Despite yielding tremendous amounts of data and information about the planet, the answer about life on the red planet remained equivocal.

The 1976 Viking missions searched for these compounds through three experiments. One experiment known as Labeled Release (LR) was originally called Gulliver, for the Lilliputians, in this case microorganisms it was seeking. Designed by Dr. Gil Levin to detect carbon dioxide released by microorganisms as a result of their metabolic activity, this experiment could detect growth and metabolism associated with the rate of carbon dioxide production. The LR experiment tested the soil of Mars nine times at two different landing sites under different temperature regimes and environmental conditions.

mars2A permanent exhibit, curated by Emily Carambelas, that resides on C-level of the Eisenhower Library explores Dr. Levin's work, from developing the LR instrumentation and joining the Viking Mission to performing the test on Mars and interpreting the data. Next to the display, browse an exhibit guide.

Perhaps Buzz Aldrin summed it all up best when he said:

"Exploring and colonizing Mars can bring us new scientific understanding of climate change, of how planet-wide processes can make a warm and wet world into a barren landscape. By exploring and understanding Mars, we may gain key insights into the past and future of our own world."

Mars is in the news a lot more these day, with NASA reporting that Curiosity has found life-sustaining materials on Mars. Some other cool things:

  • Some teens recently took a simulated flight to Mars
  • Mars One has selected 100 candidates to travel to Mars
  • And you can fly to the moon in Google Maps and explore Mars also...
  • For those looking to explore both space and time, here’s how to sneak into the TARDIS.
  • Google Sky Maps allows you to view stars, constellations, galaxies and planets. Share your fun tips and tricks with Google Earth, Maps, or Sky.

Here’s how to explore through Google Maps:

  1. First, go to Google Maps
  2. Down in the bottom left, you should see an icon that lets you put the map in Google Earth mode.
  3. The flat map has to load in 3D before you start zooming out as far as you can. You might have to wait a second or two for the map to load.
  4. Once you’re zoomed all the way out, options for Moon and Mars should appear at the bottom of your screen.

Note: You need to be in the new version of Google Maps for this to work properly.

We'd love to hear if you have used these, especially for fun, but also in study or school.

Ask the Experts: Work with a Librarian on Your Research

Slide2You're working on those final papers and projects, and you realize you need a few more articles to support your claims. You need some statistics or data to really drive home your point or to show the evidence in a compelling graph. You wrote an awesome term paper and are considering getting it published in a journal. You remember that your professor recommended a book that can help with your research, but you can't remember exactly what it is. If any of this sounds familiar, there's only one place you should be right now: the Research Consultation Office on M-Level of Eisenhower Library.

The expert librarians can help you with all of this and much more! Get research help during the day and early evening - drop in to ask a few questions or schedule an appointment for an in-depth consultation. Librarians are great at finding and evaluating information and can help you find and access what you need. Librarians even specialize in different subjects so they can become familiar with the resources in your field of study. Whether you're taking an intro class or working on your dissertation, there's a librarian for you - come visit us today!

2015 Library Printing, Copying and Scanning Survey

printersDo you use MSE Library or Brody Learning Commons to print, copy or scan? Or would you like to? Please visit bit.ly/printingsurvey2015 to participate in the 2015 Library Printing, Copying and Scanning Survey.

As our printing volume continues to increase (over 3 million pages printed in 2014), we want to be certain that our printing and copying environment meets the needs of JHU students, faculty and staff. After completing the survey, you can enter your e-mail in the drawing for one of five $10 Daily Grind coffee cards. The survey will remain active through the end of April.

Go To Other Worlds This Weekend


Yes, this is news worth shouting. Prepare for the non-stop extravaganza that will be JohnCon 2015 (April 10-12).

JohnCon is the annual convention of JHU's Science Fiction and Fantasy Association (HopSFA). It's held in Levering Hall, continuously from Friday evening until Sunday evening.

As the schedule says, the board games go on for 48 hours in the Great Hall. Also listed are anime, laser tag, panels, and some special events, including:

  • +2Comedy – they specialize in nerd comedy and were a big hit at last year’s con
  • A sci-fi/fantasy musical performance by author and performer Danny Birt

The encouraged entrance fee is $10, but you may pay whatever you wish (attention: paying more = getting good stuff).

By the way, your library has anime; here are the latest anime additions to our book collection (oh, look, we have Manga Studio 5 Beginner's Guide) and our films.

Here's the easy way to find science fiction movies in the library catalog:

For more specific topics, enter your search word and add the word drama (again, it's always a good idea to add FORMAT -->DVD just to make sure that your list is only movies):

Enjoy this year's JohnCon!

Why Can’t Some People Donate Blood? Is That Fair?

Are the guidelines used to screen potential blood donors discriminatory?

blood donation bumper stickerThis question will be the subject of the talk given at this year’s Undergraduate Conference in Public Health, the theme of which is “Giving Life to Public Health.” The keynote speaker will be Dr. Richard Benjamin, Chief Medical Director of the American Red Cross, whose talk is entitled “Controversial Public Health Aspects of Blood Donation: When Donor Selection and Discrimination Collide.”

The conference will be held:

Who can donate blood? The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s page entitled "Donating Blood: Questions and Answers" says that:

"A person's suitability to donate blood depends on two general considerations: that the donation will not be injurious to the donor, and that the donated blood will not be unnecessarily hazardous to the recipient.”

For example, in order to donate blood, you must be old enough, weigh enough, and feel well. More specifically, you can be ineligible to donate if you are on certain medications, have certain medical conditions, have visited certain countries within given dates, or have had recent organ transplants or body piercings; there is a long list of criteria that must be considered.

Do any of these guidelines discriminate (a word with at least three definitions) against anyone?

Read more in the PubMed database (to get links to the full text, use THIS address, NOT this one):

  • On the bottom right, choose MeSH Database ("Medical Subject Headings") -- use this amazing thesaurus so that you don't have to guess about what search words to use
  • Enter blood plus the letter "d" to see all of the choices; e.g., "blood donor," "blood donation"; choose blood donors
  • MeSH terms also have subheadings -- you can check the boxes for ETHICS and for LEGISLATION AND JURISPRUDENCE
  • Click the button labeled Add to search builder
  • Then click Search PubMed
  • Here are the results for your search for articles about EITHER ethics OR law concerning blood donors
  • If you wish, use the filters on the left to refine your search to those written in English, written about human beings, and published within the past five years


Where the Visual Meets the Verbal: Letters as Art

Hypergraphic paintingThe Sheridan Libraries' significant avant-garde collections hold some real gems; among them is one of the most important collections in North America of the mid-20th century French movement of Lettrisme. We have been adding to our lettriste holdings over the past several years and now have an important collection, including the movement's periodicals and books. Interestingly, the basis of our Lettrism holding is in the Goulemot collection. Many of our early lettrist titles come from this collection.

The essence of lettrisme is, well, the letter. Its founder, Isidore Isou, believed that poetry must be deconstructed, down to its most basic element, a single letter. Letters, as mere visual symbols, would be the basis of a new poetics and art. Isou's ideas and influence spilled over into the visual arts, film, architecture, even mathematics, psychiatry and politics.

There's nothing new under the sun of course, and Lettrism probably reminds you of Concrete Poetry, which has been around for centuries. Coincidentally, the Sheridan Libraries also boasts a significant collection of this unlikely marriage of word and image; from a book of the German Baroque to Guillaume Apollinaire's experiments in the early 20th century, and lots in between.

The Lettrist collections here at the Sheridan Libraries include books by Isou and his colleague Maurice Lemaître, periodicals put out by the lettrists, as well as works by their once-collaborators and later rivals - the Situationist International, led by Guy Debord.

Try exploring our collection of this fascinating movement. Here are a few searches to get you started:

Look for an exhibit in the Eisenhower Library at the end of this month showcasing our Lettrist holdings. The exhibit will be curated by the students in Professor Molly Warnock's class on "the long 60's" in European art.