Friday, February 29, 2008

Brown Bag Informal

It's time for another Brown Bag Informal at the Library. This time we are going to feature our cool new streaming-music database, Naxos--not to be confused with the island off the coast of Greece! Faculty member Lois Price and I will be showing off the Naxos Music Library database on Thursday, March 6th, from 12:30-1:30 in MIC 308. Discover a wide range of music from piano music of Enrique Granados to Chinese lute music of Fung Lam. Lois will discuss how she has used Naxos in her classes, and I will present some of the basic features of the database. Join Lois and me on Thursday for a musical event.

"Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything." -Plato

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Wikipedia: where does it belong?

As I am spending more time in the classroom this semester, I am constantly dealing with the question of Wikipedia, the encyclopedia anyone can edit. As part of my starting the Information Literacy program with students, I ask them if they have been told that they can't use Wikipedia. Invariably, they say yes. Then I ask them why they think that is. Invariably, they say that it is because anyone can edit it. Because professors think it is unreliable. Because professors, wrongly they say, think it isn't worthwhile.

Students get pretty riled up about it.

The reason I don't want students to use Wikipedia is not because anyone can edit it. As a matter of fact, the more time I spend on Wikipedia, the more articles I read, the more changes I track, the more I learn about the technology, the more I believe in the democratization of information, the more I think that an encyclopedia anyone can edit is cool. Very cool.

But I still don't want students to use Wikipedia for their academic research papers. I don't want students to use any encyclopedias as a resource of an academic research paper. Encyclopedias, I tell students, are starting places. They are a great place to familiarize yourself with a topic, to identify keywords, key events, key issues, key players. But going to a summarization of a topic and its issues is not research. You, or your parents, aren't paying all this money for you to look stuff up in an encyclopedia and call it a day.

Students are hear to hone their critical thinking, writing, reading, and analytical skills. They are here to do dig deeper into what they learn in encyclopedia entries, electronic or print, edited by anyone or by the elite.

Much like Kim Leeder points out in this post from the ACRLblog (ACRL=Association of College and Research Libraries), a few years ago I took a different tack on Wikipedia. But it has changed and so have I. I think Wikipedia will continue to improve and continue to flourish, especially if Aaron Swartz gets his way and connects the Open Library with Wikipedia.

So where does Wikipedia belong in the research process: as a place to start it. But it is just that: a starting place. It does not belong on a Works Cited page. But it can surely be a useful resource in figuring out what does.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The List of Gary Scudder's Books

By popular demand, here is the list of Gary Scudder's Meaningful Books. All but a few are available at the Library, so if something looks appealling, come check it out!

Zhu Xi, Reflections on Things at Hand

James George Frazer, The Golden Bough

Junichiro Tanizaki, Some Prefer Nettles

Charles Dickens, David Copperfield

Sherwood Anderson, Winesburg, Ohio

Paul Fussell, The Great War and Modern Memory

Yukio Mishima, The Sea of Fertility cycle
Spring Snow
Runaway Horses
The Temple of Dawn
The Decay of the Angel

Sei Shonagon, The Pillow Book

Valmaki, Ramayana

Brooks Hansen, The Chess Garden

Henry Adams, The Education of Henry Adams

Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death

Robert Graves, Goodbye to All That

Julian Barnes, Flaubert’s Parrot

Herodotus, Histories

Basho, The Narrow Road to the Deep North

Charles Maturin, Melmoth the Wanderer

J.R.R. Tolkien, Lord of the Rings trilogy

Monday, February 18, 2008

Meaningful Books Series Highlights Gary Scudder

“The Miller Information Commons’ “Meaningful Books” series highlights Professor Gary Scudder

Monday, February 18th at 3:30 pm,
Miller Information Commons, Vista Room
(Refreshments will be served)

Professor Gary Scudder, recipient of the 2007 Edward Phelps Lyman Professorship, grew up in a small, country town in southern Indiana before cable TV or the Internet. While he wouldn't romanticize that upbringing, it was an environment designed to turn someone towards a love of reading. Professor Scudder found out early that books were a magical escape. For him, they have never lost that power of enchantment.

As a great and avid reader, Professor Scudder’s only problem in producing his list of Meaningful Books was later remembering other books that he had forgotten to include by some terrible oversight - and, as he said, “upon remembering them, I suddenly felt a sense of guilt as if I had heartlessly forgotten an old friend."

The Lyman Professorship honors a faculty member who has shown dedication to students and Champlain College through a record of excellence in teaching and service to the College.

A selection of Gary’s Meaningful Books is on display in the glass case on the main floor of the Miller Information Commons. Stop by to look at some of the titles.
Join the Library on Feb. 18th to find out more about the books that have made a difference in Gary Scudder’s life.