Library News

Attention graduate students: Travel scholarship available

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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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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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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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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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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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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).

A Conversation with writer, publisher and filmmaker Antonio D’Alfonso

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Image of publisher and filmmaker Antonio D’Alfonso

Writer, editor, translator, publisher, filmmaker, Antonio D’Alfonso is the author of more than 40 books. In 1978, he founded Guernica Editions, where for 32 years he edited 450 books by authors from around the world.

His novel Un vendredi du mois d’août won the Trillium Award in 2005. His feature film Bruco won the best director award and best foreign film award at the New York International Independent Film Festival in 2010. His most recent film Antigone (an adaptation of Sophocles’ play) won the bronze award at the Prestige Film Festival in 2012.

Aside from his own award-winning writing, D’Alfonso has translated some of Quebec’s finest poets. Fluent in English, French and Italian, he holds a PhD in Italian Studies and Film from the University of Toronto.

Recently, D’Alfonso donated an extensive collection of his writing, photo, film and audio archives to the McMaster Library. He spoke with the Daily News about this remarkable gift.

Was it difficult to let go of all that priceless material? Or perhaps it was a relief?

It was an honour to be asked to offer my thousands and thousands of pages of material. It was as though McMaster gave every writer I had published a home in which to rest. The sort of work we have done will be understood later, once the children of immigrants will need to study how it was in the 1970s to be the educated child of European war-torn emigrants.

Why did you choose McMaster as the place to permanently house your archives?

I did not choose, I was chosen. This is why I feel honoured. I have never been chosen in my life. With the birth of my daughters, Elisa and Micha, to be given this archival home is one of the most important moments of my personal life. I was given a chance to live a second life.

One hundred years from now, how do you hope this material will be used?

The questions that the writers Guernica Editions asked between 1970 and 2010 are very unique. The questions we give as answers to the questions of what it means to be living in a minority collective might provide clues to help deal with the doubts that future generations will be undoubtedly experiencing.

Obviously, a life in the arts isn’t easy. What traits does a young person (or any person) need to develop to have a long-term career as a professional artist?

Yes, working in the arts is never easy. What made it possible for me to continue my own writing was that I chose to become a publisher. By helping other writers I was able to learn how to make a living. One lesson I can submit to the young is that rare are those who make it by themselves. By creating a communal forum, loneliness – so harsh for most artists – is defeated and replaced by comradeship. Dialogue is what makes monologue possible.

If you could speak to your 20-year-old self, what would you tell him?

I remember why I began to write, make films, and shoot photographs. What saved me was the fact that I filed everything I did. To become a publisher was a conscious decision. When one is totally aware of one’s actions, there can be no regret. I can criticize the choices I made, but I cannot say I did not know what I was doing. I have said elsewhere how I would not do what I did back then. Perhaps I was being too harsh with myself. What I would tell myself at 20 is that I should find myself a job and encourage my children to do what I did. I am one generation ahead of my cultural community. Perhaps, to be a publisher is a job for the third-generation, and not for the second-generation. But I might be wrong.

What has given you the most joy in your life?

To have travelled the world and to have met writers was for me extremely fruitful. I have published as many writers I met as possible. And I was dearly punished for doing so. There is a strange policy at the arts councils in this country that punishes men and women who publish foreign authors. But to do so is the best way to get Canadian writers known abroad. If you invite Anna to dinner, Anna will invite you to dinner next time. I ate well and learned so much about world literature, cultures, and politics. For this I am extremely thankful.

With texting, tweeting, touch-screens, and whatever new technology comes along next, will the human race still need “writing”?

More than ever. I stare at the young typing on their intelligent phones, and am totally amazed. They are writing more than most people I have ever met in the past. I believe the future generations will continue to write and read and communicate, and they will write and speak more languages than most people speak today. Technology has brought about what many of us were dreaming of in the 1970s: the crossing over of national borders.

What advice do you have for aspiring filmmakers, writers, translators, publishers?

Education, generosity, translation: learn to read and write, use your knowledge to help your neighbours, and translate what men and women from different corners of the world are doing. The more you move outside of yourself, the greater you will become.

What do you think the future holds for higher education?

I did my PhD in 2012. I was 59 years old. So many around me have a master’s degree and a PhD. Why should a young person not study as much as possible? There is so much to learn, so many secrets to unravel that only reading and study can offer. Just learning a language requires at least three or four years before you can master it. I fear the young person who does not do higher education will lag behind their friends who are doing their PhD.

What are you working on now?

I have decided to translate my generation of poets from Quebec, France, Italy, Belgium, Germany. It is helping me understand writers, languages, and myself and my own use of language. I finished a short film (3mm), Duse and Me, which is being presented in Toronto at the Italian Film Festival. I hope to be able to turn it into a feature. But money is not easy to find to make films. I am also working on an exhibition of more than 40 years of my portraits of relatives, friends, and artists. There is less space ahead of me than behind me. So I do many things a day just to be sure that I will achieve what I came on earth to do.

McMaster supports international declaration on open access

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McMaster has taken a significant step in support of open access publishing of scholarly research.

The University is now a signatory to the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities, a major international statement meant to encourage researchers to make their scholarly articles publicly available online, free of financial or legal barriers.

The McMaster University Senate passed the motion to sign the Berlin Declaration in March 2015; McMaster University president Patrick Deane added his name to the list of signatories on behalf of the University earlier this month.

The motion was brought to Senate by Nicholas Kevlahan, Senator and Chair of McMaster’s Department of Mathematics & Statistics, in partnership with Vivian Lewis, McMaster University Librarian.

Kevlahan says that by signing the Berlin Declaration, McMaster is underscoring the importance of publishing open access.

“When scholarly knowledge is created, it needs to be made widely available so that it can be criticized and improved upon, and potentially lead to the generation of new knowledge,” says Kevlahan. “Publishing open access enables this kind of broad dissemination of research results to take place without many of the traditional barriers that prevent access to scholarly literature. I encourage the McMaster community to learn more about the benefits of open access and consider publishing their research results on an open access platform.”

There are currently 507 signatories to the Berlin Statement which include a number of top academic and research institutions from around the globe.

“The Open access movement continues to gain momentum worldwide,” says Lewis. “McMaster University Library is pleased to support the signing of the Berlin Declaration and is committed to creating opportunities to continue the conversation around open access within the McMaster community and to providing researchers with the resources they need to explore the world of open access publishing.”


Funding agencies are also increasingly adopting open access publishing policies, including Canada’s Tri-Agency which recently introduced a policy requiring scholarly articles arising from publicly funded research be published in an open access journal or repository within 12 months of publication.

More about open acces:

New online tools to help researchers comply with Tri-Agency policy on open access

WWII photo archive captures the realities of the world at war

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December 6, 1943- A hole blasted through a hill-top wall in Italy gives this Canadian a vantage point from which to observe enemy movements while men of his unit move into a new position.This image is just one of the thousands of WWII photos recently donated to McMaster University Library by the Hamilton Spectator.

December 6, 1943- A hole blasted through a hill-top wall in Italy gives this Canadian a vantage point from which to observe enemy movements while men of his unit move into a new position.This image is just one of the thousands of WWII photos recently donated to McMaster University Library by the Hamilton Spectator.

70 years ago this month, Germany surrendered to Allied forces, ending five long years of war in Europe.

McMaster University Library is now home to a collection of photos that capture that tumultuous time and bring the war years vividly to life.

The Hamilton Spectator has donated its extensive World War II Photo Collection to McMaster University Library’s William Ready Division of Archives and Research Collections.

The collection contains thousands of black and white photos taken by the Associated Press and other news wire services that illustrate the pivotal battles, political events and human tragedies that took place during WWII.

“We are very grateful to the Hamilton Spectator for the donation of this remarkable collection,” says Vivian Lewis, McMaster University Librarian. “This photo archive visually documents some of the most significant events of the last hundred years. We are so pleased to house this collection at McMaster and to ensure that is preserved for current and future generations of students and scholars to help them better understand the realities of world war.”  

The images in the collection capture the seminal events of the war including the German invasion of Poland, the fiery aftermath of the attack on Pearl Harbour and the D-Day invasions.

They also provide insight into Canada’s involvement in a number of key campaigns including a set of photos that illustrate the experiences of Canadian soldiers as they fought their way through Italy.

"The Hamilton Spectator is very proud to have its World War II photo archive at McMaster University," says Neil Oliver, Publisher of the Hamilton Spectator. "Our job is to tell stories - to report on events and help our readers make sense of their world. Photographs are a powerful tool in this quest. As the community's newspaper since 1846, The Hamilton Spectator wanted to collaborate with our community's university to allow students, faculty and researchers access to these stories for both scholarship and for preservation. We are so proud to have created this legacy with McMaster University."

Lewis says the collection complements McMaster Library’s extensive World War I and II archives which include personal diaries & letters, top secret maps and stories of survival in concentration camps, among many other materials.

New online tools to help researchers comply with Tri-Agency policy on Open Access

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McMaster University libraries have developed a set of online tools to help researchers navigate the new Tri-Agency policy on open access, which took effect on May 1, 2015.

Researchers who receive a grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) or the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) are now required to make any peer-reviewed journal articles arising from this research freely accessible within 12 months of publication.

The libraries have developed a suite of online resources including an interactive tool that provides researchers with a customized guide to help them comply with this new policy and learn more about open access.

“Funding agencies and institutions around the world are increasingly adopting open access policies,” says Vivian Lewis, McMaster University Librarian. “We hope these online resources will provide researchers with the information they need to comply with the Tri-Agency’s policy and encourage them to learn more about open access, a growing trend in scholarly publishing.”

Open access is a worldwide movement to make scholarly research more freely available online for the benefit of researchers, institutions and society as a whole.

For researchers, open access can result in greater use and impact of their work, leading to wider dissemination of their findings and potentially more citations.

Institutions and funding agencies around the world are adopting open access policies that encourage researchers to make their work freely available online in an open access journal or repository.



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