Library News

Access Denied! What Is Open Access and Why Is It Important?

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Filed under Library News:  Events

Open Access Week 2015 is upon us! Now in its 8th year, Open Access Week (Oct. 19-25) is an annual event that promotes Open Access (OA) in scholarship and research. McMaster University Libraries, along with other libraries and institutions around the world, are organizing and offering a week of activities and opportunities to participate in this global movement. See the library’s Schedule of Events for Oct. 19-23. 

Open Access removes the “paywall”—the need to pay for access—to research output and, increasingly, to research data, allowing researchers to more easily disseminate their own work as well as access other people’s scholarly work. The diagram below helps to illustrate the benefits of Open Access.

The Benefits of Open Access

Image used under a CC-BY licence. Created by Danny Kingsley & Sarah Brown. Image Source.

Open Access to academic research continues to generate some misconceptions. Below are two common myths about OA.

Myth #1: Open Access journals are low-impact and low-quality.

False! OA journals have grown in reputation, quality, and number among a wide range of disciplines. Highly-regarded publishers of OA literature such as Public Library of Science (PLOS) and BioMed Central, have also helped to increase the support for OA as more researchers and scholars are becoming frustrated with paywalls and limitations for distributing their own research.

Myth #2: Open Access journals are not peer-reviewed.

False! The peer-review process in OA journals is conducted in the same way as peer-reviewed journals from traditional publishers.

For more myths, see the following articles:
“Open Access: Six Myths to Put to Rest”  (The Guardian)
“Dispelling Myths about Open Access”  (MIT Libraries)

Open Access is now more important than ever to the scholarly community as journal fees are becoming unsustainable to subscribers, such as libraries, thus creating barriers for the dissemination of and access to important research. To learn more about these and other issues related to OA, please see the websites below and consider participating in Open Access Week 2015!

Explore McMaster University Library’s Open Access Webpage

Search MacSphere McMaster’s Institutional Repository

Find more information and resources:
OOO Canada
Open Access Week
Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC)

Elise Tung, Instruction and Research Librarian (Intern)
Emily Tyschenko, Digitization and Archives Librarian (Intern)

24 Hour Film Festival Gala Event- Fri. Oct. 9

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Filed under Library News:  Mills

Celebrate McMaster’s budding filmmakers at the 4th annual McMaster 24 Hour Film Festival Awards Gala. The 24 Hour Film Festival challenges McMaster students and alumni to create a five-minute movie in just 24 hours using three randomly assigned elements; a prop, a line of dialogue and a location.  Now you’re invited to come and find out which films made the cut! The winning films will be announced at the gala event, hosted by the Lyons New Media Centre, which includes a public screening of the top ten films, complete with popcorn. The top films will be screened and judged by industry specialists. Audience members will have the chance to vote for the "Audience Choice" award.

When: Friday October 9 @ 6:30p.m.

Where: The Hamilton Art Gallery

Tickets are $5.00 and can be purchased here.

View the winning films from the 2014 competition.

Five years later, students still ‘blown away’ by Lyons New Media Centre

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Filed under Library News:  Lyons New Media Centre
“This Centre is truly a space designed for the digital generation," said McMaster University Librarian Vivian Lewis at a recent event to mark the 5th anniversary of the Lyons New Media Centre.

"This Centre is truly a space designed for the digital generation," said McMaster University Librarian Vivian Lewis at a recent event to mark the 5th anniversary of the Lyons New Media Centre.

According to University Librarian Vivian Lewis, when the Lyons New Media Centre opened its door five years ago, no oneknew exactly what direction it would take.

Instead, staff were asked to listen to students and faculty and shape services to meet their needs. And that’s just what they did.

Five years, a 3D printer, a video game room, and countless pieces of media production technology later, the space has become a hub for learning and creativity.

This week, Library staff and students gathered to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the Lyons New Media Centre.

“This Centre is truly a space designed for the digital generation--a generation that doesn’t just want to view media, but to create it,” says Lewis.

The Centre was created in 2010 with the support of the Office of the Provost, McMaster University Library, the Faculty of Humanities and through a generous gift made by Margaret and Ed Lyons.

“I would like to thank Margaret and Ed Lyons for their vision in helping to create the extraordinary centre that we’re celebrating today--a place of learning and of fun and a place where new ideas come to life.” says Lewis.

The space is open to students from all Faculties and includes video and audio editing workstations, two edit suites, a consultation room, a video gaming room, a classroom with a green screen, a service desk and also provides students with access to the latest media production software.

Lewis says these services have made the space one of the most popular areas of the library. Jason Lau, a third year multimedia student, agrees and says he was “blown away” when he first discovered the Lyons New Media Centre.

“I didn’t realize there was a space like this on campus where students could learn new technology and just be creative,” says Lau. “Technology is such a big part of the learning experience. We’re expected to be more creative with our work and make slideshows, power point and videos. So the fact that someone took the time to really invest in the future of our learning experiences has really had an impact.”

The Lyons New Media Centre is located on the 4th floor of the Mills Library.

Meet the 2015/16 Sherman Graduate Fellows

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Three graduate students from a range of disciplines will spend the next year exploring how they can apply the principles of digital scholarship to their research.

The students are the 2015/16 recipients of the Sherman Graduate Fellowship, an award given out annually that provides graduate students with an opportunity to incorporate the tools and methodologies of digital scholarship into their areas of research.

Learn more about digital scholarship

Each student will receive a $1500 stipend and a workspace in the Lewis and Ruth Sherman Centre for Digital Scholarship located in Mills Library for the coming academic year.

“We were pleased to receive an excellent pool of applications this year,” says Dale Askey, Associate University Librarian “This level of interest is indicative of the growth of digital scholarship and digital humanities at McMaster. We are eager to start working with these students and to see the contributions they will make to the growing community of Sherman researchers.”

2015/16 Sherman Centre fellows:

Deena Abul Fottouh – Sociology

Photo of Sherman Graduate FellowMy research is on networking and digital activism during the Egyptian revolution that started in 2011. I look at the evolution of Twitter networks among Egyptian activists since the start of the revolution in 2011 till now. I specifically look at how Twitter networks evolved over time by investigating different moments of solidarity and schism within the Egyptian revolutionary movement. The research methodology is based on network analysis of tweets produced by Egyptian revolutionary activists during the period from 2011 to 2015. My research is funded through the Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship.

Michael Johnson – Religious Studies

Photo of Sherman Graduate FellowIn my research I am exploring how one ancient collection of Jewish poetry called the Thanksgiving Hymns fits into the broader landscape of other anthologies of Jewish poetry from the Second Temple period (515 BCE– 70 CE). The Thanksgiving Hymns were recovered among the Dead Sea scrolls at Qumran in 1947, and their peculiar rearticulation of language from the biblical Psalms has mystified scholars ever since. For the Sherman Centre fellowship, I am using RStudio to discover corpus-wide patterns of syntax in machine-readable and syntax-tagged texts of the Thanksgiving Hymns in order to compare them with those in the Book of Psalms. Treating syntax-tagging of the corpora as strings, I will uncover reoccurring patterns: those that are shared as well as those that are unique to each corpus. This project will not unlock every mystery of the Thanksgiving Hymns, but it will enable us to assess one of the ways the Hodayot psalmist mimics and modifies the poetics of the Psalter.

Melissa Marie Legge – Social Work

legge 140My research centres on the well-being of humans and other animals in shared social environments. The broader aim of my doctoral research is to increase positive outcomes for both humans and other-than-human (OTH) animals involved in social services by documenting how animals are integrated into and neglected by social work practice in Ontario. My goal is to partially document the experiences of OTH animals to gain a greater understanding of how they are impacted by their involvement in these interventions. I intend to explore ways of collecting data with OTH animals, through wearable digital photo and video technology as well as sensory technology.

Attention graduate students: Travel scholarship available

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Filed under Library News:  Innis Mills Thode

McMaster University Library is very pleased to sponsor a travel scholarship for one McMaster graduate student to attend OpenCon in Brussels, Belgium from November 14-16, 2015. 

The event is intended to inspire the next generation of scholars to change how research outputs are shared through open access, open data and open educational resources. 

Learn more about OpenCon

The conference organizer, SPARC, is a respected international organization with a mandate to educate and advocate for open access around the world.

The travel scholarship, valued at $2,500 USD, will cover the successful candidate’s registration fees, flight and hotel (shared accommodation). 

In return, the University Library asks that the successful individual produce a short (800-1000 word) report on what they learned, with the key focus placed on how we can better support open access here at McMaster.  The individual may also be asked to participate in some aspect of the Library’s Open Access Week activities. 

If you are interested in representing McMaster at this event, please complete the application form. The deadline for applications is August 21.  The successful candidate will be informed by August 31, 2015.

For further information, please contact Olga Perkovic, Haley Kragness or Lorraine Chuen.

Paying homage to Alice Munro

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Filed under Library News:  Archives & Research Collections Mills
Image of Alice Munro stamp beside a letter written by Munro

McMaster is helping to celebrate one of Canada's greatest literary talents.

A handwritten letter penned by Alice Munro and housed in McMaster's William Ready Division of Archives and Research Collections, has provided the backdrop for a stamp recently issued by Canada Post honouring the Nobel Prize winning author.

Munro is best known for her collections of short stories including the classics "Lives of Girls and Women" and "The Moons of Jupiter."

The letter is part of a collection of correspondence contained in the McMaster archives written by Munro to Douglas Gibson, her publisher and editor at MacMillan Canada. Canada Post contacted McMaster about incorporating the letter into the stamp design after discovering the letters on McMaster University Library's website.

McMaster is home to the archives of a number of Canadian publishers including MacMillan Canada, McClelland and Stewart, Key Porter Books, and Clarke Irwin.

Farley Mowat, our digital future and gems from the archives

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Filed under Library News:  Archives & Research Collections Innis Mills Thode

350 boxes of manuscripts, correspondence and photos from Canadian literary icon Farley Mowat; using 21st century tools to explore the realities of World War I; the extraordinary rare book collection of Rabbi Bernard Baskin.

Read about all this and more in the latest issue of the McMaster Library News.

RefWorks Access Ending August 15 – Save Your Research Now!

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Filed under Library News:  Alerts Innis Mills Thode

RefWorks Countdown Clock


August 15, 2015

The final deadline for RefWorks is approaching and all users are reminded to migrate their references before it’s too late.

On August 15, 2015, McMaster University Library's subscription to RefWorks will end. At that time, McMaster faculty, students and staff will no longer have access to their RefWorks account.*

RefWorks users who wish to save their research must export their references into another citation management tool. If this migration is not done by the deadline, all references will be irretrievably lost. 

To help with this transition, McMaster University Library has created a list of citation management alternatives.

Users are encouraged to explore their options and migrate their references from RefWorks into another citation management tool as soon as possible. 

No action is required from RefWorks users who do not wish to save their references; their accounts will automatically expire on August 15.

For more information contact Ines Perkovic, McMaster’s RefWorks coordinator.

* McMaster’s RefWorks license was negotiated as part of the Ontario Council of University Libraries (OCUL) consortia. Earlier this year, OCUL announced that its members had opted not to renew this product, resulting in the phase-out of RefWorks at a number of universities across the province. 

FHS (Faculty of Health Sciences) faculty, staff and students who wish to continue using RefWorks beyond August 15 should contact the Health Sciences Library at


Library unveils new strategic plan

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Filed under Library News:  Innis Mills Thode
Collage of library spaces

McMaster University Library has unveiled a new strategic plan intended to help accelerate the pace of research on campus and enhance learning opportunities for students.

The plan, developed in consultation with library staff and the broader McMaster community over an 18 month period, includes a new vision and mission statement and focuses strongly on advancing the University's research mission,building and promoting the Library’s unique collections, enhancing community engagement activities and partnerships and securing appropriate financial resources.

University Librarian Vivian Lewis describes the new plan as transformative and writes that the strategy will advance the Library’s role beyond its “time-honoured role as a custodian of books” and more deeply connect the Library with the University’s teaching and research mission.

“Going forward, the University Library will aspire to be a true catalyst of intellectual activity- both on campus and beyond,” writes Lewis. “We will create the opportunities and environments (both physical and virtual) necessary to facilitate new knowledge, inspire creativity and unleash innovation.”

Read the McMaster University Library Strategic Plan 2015-2020


What 'Sinful Sally' can teach us about vice in the 18th century

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Filed under Library News:  Archives & Research Collections Mills
Jessica Steinberg, McMaster-ASECS fellow, has spent the last month poring over a number of texts in McMaster's renowned 18th century collection looking for insights into how immorality and sin were defined and controlled in England 300 years ago.

Jessica Steinberg, McMaster-ASECS fellow, has spent the last month poring over a number of texts in McMaster's renowned 18th century collection looking for insights into how immorality and sin were defined and controlled in England 300 years ago.

What can “Sinful Sally” teach us about moral attitudes in the 18th century? That’s what Jessica Steinberg has come to the McMaster archives to find out.

Steinberg is this year’s recipient of the McMaster-ASECS fellowship,* a program that supports 18th century studies, and has spent the last month poring over a diverse array of period texts in McMaster’s William Ready Division of Archives and Research Collections looking for insights into how immorality and sin were defined and controlled in 18th century London.

The tale of Sinful Sally
The cover page of the "Story of Sinful Sally," one of the texts that Jessica Steinberg has come to the McMaster archives to study.

“The question of morals and vice is among the most central questions of the 18th century,” says Steinberg. “Religion is a really important part of life in this period, it’s how people think about themselves, it’s how they look at themselves in relation to the world- what is acceptable conduct and what isn’t acceptable conduct. There’s a lot of moral policing around sexuality, especially women’s sexuality, and there are huge concerns that this is going to bring down the nation.”

Steinberg , who recently completed her PhD at the University of Ottawa, has been examining this question by looking at a number of period texts from the McMaster archives’ renowned 18th century literature collection to see how religious language associated with the seven deadly sins and the ten commandments was used to frame ideas around what she calls, “moral failure.”

The texts include religious writings and sermons, magazines and popular works by period authors like Daniel Dafoe as well as Hannah More who wrote the colourfully titled, “The gamester: to which is added, The story of sinful Sally, told by herself,” a tale that, according to Steinberg, reveals much about moral attitudes of the period.

“Although sin specifically refers to a violation of God’s laws, it was also seen to have an immediate impact on the sinner’s soul and on the rest of society,” says Steinberg. “In the story of Sinful Sally, we see how an initial transgression leads to a life of sin, crime and ultimately Sally’s demise. Once someone committed a transgression, even a seemingly minor offense, like gaming or over drinking, social critics and moralists believed they would inevitably commit more transgressions until they were ultimately caught and punished.”

Steinberg, whose research at McMaster will inform revisions to her dissertation and ultimately a journal article, says these texts have helped provide her with additional insights into the nature of Christianity, religious discourse and social order in 18th century England.

Wade Wyckoff, Associate University Librarian, says he’s pleased that through the McMaster- ASECS Fellowship, the collection is helping support scholarly research like Steinberg’s.

“The collection contains an extensive array of texts and materials that shed light on many aspects of life in the 18th century,” says Wyckoff. “It’s very gratifying that as this year’s McMaster-ASECS fellow, Jessica has been able to make use of these resources to further her work in advancing scholarly understanding of the some of the central social and religious issues of the period.”

*The McMaster-ASECS fellowship is a month-long program administered annually by McMaster University Library and funded by McMaster’s Faculty of Humanities and the American Society for Eighteenth Century Studies (ASECS).


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