Library News

Library seeking input on Strategic Plan

Submitted by libbalche on
Filed under Library News:  Thode

McMaster University Library is seeking feedback from the McMaster community on its draft Strategic Plan 2015-2020.

The plan, developed in consultation with library staff 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 and enhancing community engagement activities and partnerships.

The McMaster community is invited to submit feedback from May 11-19, 2015.

View the Library’s Strategic Plan 2015-2020.

Submit Feedback

21st century tools provide students with a window into life during the Great War

Submitted by libplessla on
Filed under Library News:  Mills
In HUMAN 2DH3: Introduction to Digital Humanities, students fused text, images and multimedia content with maps from the Library’s extensive WW1 maps collection to explore the lives of four prominent figures who experienced World War One.

What was it like to be in the midst of an artillery barrage? Or to be a single woman living alone on the edge of a war zone?

An innovative new course is helping students combine digital technology and archival materials to better understand and share the experiences of those who fought and lived through the First World War.

Developed by a team of interdisciplinary instructors from McMaster University Library and the Lewis and Ruth Sherman Centre for Digital Scholarship, HUMAN 2DH3: Introduction to Digital Humanities teaches students to use modern research technologies like mapping and text analysis software, to study and present historical scholarship in a new way.

“Digital humanities encourages people to think very actively about how to make research accessible in a visual sense, and make it available to a broad audience.” says Paige Morgan, a postdoctoral fellow at the Sherman Centre and one of the course instructors. “I want students to walk away with a rich and complicated vision of the ways in which they might create something that will connect not just with scholars, but with any number of people.”

Throughout the course, students worked in groups to create a digital story map that examined different aspects of World War One told through the archival materials of four individuals who experienced the war: John McCrae, Mary Augusta Ward, Bernard Freeman Trotter and Mildred Aldrich.

To create their projects, students fused text, images and multimedia content with maps from the Library’s extensive WW1 maps collection.

Students were introduced to a range of digital techniques including map and aerial photo interpretation, geo-referencing, video and image editing, text analysis tools, and web design.

“The idea was to introduce students to the software and get them asking each other questions and figuring out how they could use those tools to tell a story.” says Jay Brodeur, manager of Maps, Data, GIS department in the University Library and a course instructor. “That process of not being afraid to experiment with technology, of trying things out knowing that they might not work, breaking things and then figuring out how to fix them- I think that process is critical to being a scholar in the 21st century.”

Lauren Karrys is s third year gerontology student whose group was asked to create a story map featuring McMaster alumnus, poet and soldier, Bernard Freeman Trotter.

Karrys says the experience taught her the impact that digital technologies can have on scholarship and provided an opportunity to interact with archival material in a meaningful way.

“We were taught a wide range of digital technologies to explore large information and text corpuses and we were able to see recurring trends that may have taken months to uncover had we done it manually,” says Karrys. “It was also powerful to research Bernard and go down to the archives and hold the last letter he’d written home before dying in France during the war. It was a fascinating discovery process.”

The course was offered for the first time this winter and will be offered again in 2016. In the meantime, the Sherman Centre will continue develop Digital humanities courses focused on different themes.

Morgan says since Digital humanities is a growing trend worldwide, it’s important to continue to find ways to expose students to this form of scholarship.

“Once upon a time, no one knew what Twitter was and now it’s ubiquitous. Digital humanities is likely to become just as commonplace – just another part of Humanities research.”

Explore the digital story maps created by the students in HUMAN 2DH3 Introduction to Digital Humanities:

Bernard Freeman Trotter, McMaster alumnus, poet and soldier

Digital Story Map screen grab of Bernard Freeman Trotter.            

Mary Augusta Ward, British novelist

Digital story map screen grab of Mary Augusta Ward.          

John McCrae, Canadian poet, physician, author, artist and soldier

Digital story map of John McCrae.            

Mildred Aldrich, American journalist and writer

Digital story map of Mildred Aldrich.  

Students work and learn in McMaster's libraries

Submitted by libplessla on
Filed under Library News:  Innis Mills Thode
Top row, left to right: Faiza Ali, Michelle Pickett, Ayesha Nisar. Bottom row, left to right: Hiral Patel, Umna Islam, Justin Raudys.

Meet McMaster Library's student assistants. Top row, left to right: Faiza Ali, Michelle Pickett, Ayesha Nisar. Bottom row, left to right: Hiral Patel, Umna Islam, Justin Raudys.

We all know that the Library plays a huge role in the lives of McMaster students as the go-to place for research and study, but did you know that the Library also employs 70-80 students each year? Student Library Assistants work in many different areas of the Library, doing everything from signing out books and answering questions at the help desks in each library, to scanning archives and other documents for researchers, providing alternate format materials for students with disabilities, participating in marketing and social media activities, and assisting with multi-media software. We wanted to introduce some of our hard-working students and asked them some questions about their work experiences:  

Faiza Ali, Hons. Life Sciences, Level IV

Why were you interested in working in the Library?

I love books and I am a people person, so for me, it was like two worlds colliding. Ever since my first year at McMaster, I have been coming to Thode Library to study, so I was excited for the possibility of being able to work here as well.

How has working in the Library helped you as a student?

It has helped me significantly with my research skills. I have become more aware of the many different sources of information which are available to students. This goes beyond just books and online articles and reaches out to old journals, Inter-library Loans (ILLs) as well.

What is the most important thing you've learned in your job?

It is important to pay attention to the details, no matter how small, and to put forward your best effort. It's the little things that count, and learning to pay attention to details is helpful in so many aspect of life.  

Michelle Pickett, Hons. Gerontology & Health Studies, Level IV

Why were you interested in working in the Library?

As students, we are required to use the libraries for our research, and I knew that working there would expose me to the resources offered by McMaster Libraries so I could utilize them at full capacity. In addition, I knew working part-time on campus would be beneficial not only to my bank account but would also improve my transferrable skills.

How has working in the Library helped you as a student?

It has taught me how to manage my time and remain organized when school becomes stressful. It has also taught me communication skills.

What is the most important thing you've learned in your job?

The most important thing I've learned from my job is collaboration. Working with others is something that I will be able to use for the rest of my life.  

Justin Raudys, Hons. English, Level IV

Why were you interested in working in the Library?

As an English major, most of my undergraduate work has been of a highly literary nature: working in the library presented not only an environment I am familiar with, but also one in which I could gain valuable experience to complement my future career goals.

How has working in the Library helped you as a student?

I believe that forming an intimate knowledge of our library network here at McMaster has been one of the keys to my academic success. Working here has done even more to bolster my knowledge of the wide variety of services and content offered by McMaster’s fantastic library system.

What is the most important thing you've learned in your job?

From the perspective of life skills and experience for my future career path, I would single out the technical expertise I’ve gained in this position as the most important knowledge I’ve achieved. I suppose this answer is two-fold: the technical expertise, but also the confidence and skills I’ve developed in the way I achieved it.  

Hiral Patel, Hons. Biology & Psychology, Level III

Why were you interested in working in the Library?

There are many soft skills acquired through the library assistant position, which are vital for most jobs after graduation. For instance, the ability to work alone on a task or in pairs, to be able to successfully address students’ concerns, being attentive to detail, and executing specific tasks assigned by supervisors are all required skills in the medical field (which I plan to pursue).

How has working in the Library helped you as a student? Before working at Thode, I wasn’t aware of the various resources that the McMaster Libraries have to offer. Specifically, RACER has allowed me to borrow books that are required for my courses.

What is the most important thing you've learned in your job?

This job has taught me that being excellent and/or passionate about your job is not the only variable in the job satisfaction equation. The necessity to build strong relations with your co-workers is just as important as passion and job expertise.  

Ayesha Nisar, Hons.Bachelor of Commerca, Level III

Why were you interested in working in the Library?

I became interested in working for the library mainly due to the convenience of being able to work and study in the same environment. Along with that though, I really wanted to contribute to the McMaster community on a larger scale and working for the library seemed like the best way to do so!

How has working in the Library helped you as a student?

Working for the library really opened my eyes to all the resources we have access to as students. There’s so much I didn’t know about study areas, course resources and general help before I began my role at the library!

What is the most important thing you've learned in your job?

My job has taught me how to stay accountable to my responsibilities and superiors even when I’m not under direct supervision. A lot of the times as students we’re told exactly what to do and how to do it but in my particular job I had the flexibility to choose my own hours and workload.  

Umna Islam, Hons. BSc., Level II

Why were you interested in working in the Library?

I volunteered in a library for 2 years, and liked the atmosphere. I figured working on campus would be convenient and could help me expand on my previous experiences.

How has working in the Library helped you as a student?

It has taught me the one thing students lack: time management. I have begun to be more productive and make wiser choices with my free time.

What is the most important thing you’ve learned in your job?

The importance of paying attention to detail. It is so easy to shelve a book in the wrong spot and then no one can find it when they need it for their research.    

Stress-sensing headset helps students train brains

Submitted by libplessla on
Filed under Library News:  Mills
Student Maxine Gravina demonstrates the Muse headset in the Graduate Students Lounge at Mills Library.

Student Maxine Gravina demonstrates the Muse headset in the Graduate Students Lounge at Mills Library.

McMaster students have a new tool to help them learn to manage stress.

Muse headsets, designed to help train the mind to focus, will soon be available for loan at Mills Library.

The brain-sensing headband wirelessly sends users’ brain signals to their phone or tablet, where it interacts with a mobile app.

The sights and sounds of the app change according to real-time readings of brain states.

When neural signals indicate a busy, unfocussed mind, storm clouds approach with noisy winds. When neural signals indicate that the users’ brain is in a state of focus and increased attentiveness, users are rewarded with the sounds of waves gently lapping the shore and birds quietly chirping.

Through this high-tech neuro-biofeedback system, users can learn to control their brain states to be focused and attentive, both while using the Muse and in other situations.

“My lab started a research collaboration with InteraXon [makers of the headsets] last year, so I know the science behind mindfulness training, and I’ve seen myself how useful the Muse is in reducing stress,” says Allison Sekuler, professor of Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour and Associate Vice-President and Dean of Graduate Studies.

“I used the Muse myself last term to help me through the most stressful time I’ve had in years – writing three complex research grants at the same time. It really drove home the fact that sometimes you can work better by working less, taking a break to re-focus. The Muse was so helpful to me, that I wanted to provide it as a resource for students now, during what is one of their most stressful times, and throughout the year so students can manage their stress better in general,” says Sekuler.

Because libraries are the student hub, especially during exam time, and can be accessed by any member of the university community, housing the Muses in McMaster’s libraries seemed a natural fit.

McMaster’s School of Graduate Studies purchased the Muses. They will be available to all students, faculty, and staff at the Library Services Desk on the 1st floor of Mills Library in the coming days.

Open Journal Systems Training Workshop at McMaster University

Submitted by libmirceag on
Filed under Library News:  Events Mills

McMaster University Library and the Ontario Council of University Libraries (OCUL) Publishing-Hosting Community invite you to a free Open Journal Systems Training Workshop on May 13 and 14.

Wed. May 13 - 9:30 am - 4:00 pm - Getting started with OJS: what's under the hood? This session will focus on basic OJS journal functions including managing users, journal setup, customization, statistics and reports and plugins.

Thurs. May 14 - 9:30 am - 4:00 pm - Keep your journal running smoothly: editorial workflow with OJS. This session will highlight journal editing functions including submissions, review process, editing and production, managing issues and making changes after publication.

The full program is available here. Participants may register for either one or both days. Attendance is capped at 25 each day. Lunch and refreshments are included. Please indicate any dietary restrictions by emailing

Please register by Wednesday, May 6, 2015:

Please share this information with anyone who may be interested.


Top six NEW online resources to check out at the library

Submitted by libbalche on
Filed under Library News:  e-Resources

Each month, the McMaster University libraries add thousands of new items to its collections.

Resources range from online films, research handbooks, archival sources, and many e-books! 

The following six new resources are just a sample of the many, many materials available to McMaster faculty, staff and students.

Criterion Pictures

This massive collection of over 1500 feature films  - from The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1919) to such recent releases as The Hunger Games and The Artist – is now available for online streaming or 48-hour download.  

Criterion’s goal is to provide easy access to educationally relevant feature films.  Although not every title from their extensive DVD catalogue is online, they have a great selection of mainstream Hollywood films, documentaries, foreign films, and independent productions available for immediate viewing.  All films are licensed for teaching, research, or private viewing, but public screening or use at events is prohibited.

 Indigenous Peoples: North America

Pulling from a range of Canadian and American institutions, this database provides insight into the cultural, political and social history of Native Peoples from the seventeenth into the twentieth century.  It includes original manuscripts, photographs, book collections, newspapers from various First Nations and related organizations, Bibles, dictionaries, and primers, allowing exploration of the intersection of Indigenous and European histories and systems of knowledge through original sources.

SAGE Research Methods Online

Planning a research project?  Wondering which qualitative, quantitative, or mixed method to use?  SAGE Research Methods includes articles, reference handbooks and full books to help you define your research questions, select approaches, collect and analyze data, and publish the findings.  From questionnaire construction or cohort research, to specific statistical tests, to broader guidance on dissertation completion or academic career management, SAGE Research Methods has what you need.

Business Expert Press E-books

Looking for concise, practical business books – online?  Business Expert Press provides accessible, issues-based works by professors or academic thought leaders who build on their real-world business experience.  Focus areas include marketing and management, the economic, financial, legal, and analytical aspects of business, and such special topics as innovation, ethics, and internationalization.  Titles are specifically designed for studies in advanced business and management.   

Artemis Primary Sources 

A new face on some old resources!  Artemis, from Gale, allows you to easily search across a number of primary source databases, including Eighteenth Century Collections Online, 19th Century newspapers from the U.K. and U.S., select 19th century journals, and the Times (London) Digital Archive.  Uniquely, Artemis also links to titles from Early English Books Online, covering 1473-1700, letting you reach into seven centuries of history from a single starting point. 

IMF E-Library

Yes, we have data.  And reports, working papers, and e-books.  The IMF E-Library provide information and perspective on the economics and finances of the world’s countries, with coverage of macroeconomics, globalization, development, trade and aid, technical assistance, demographics, emerging markets, policy advice, poverty reduction, and much more.  The library’s new collection of over 14,000 reports adds to the familiar statistical databases, International Financial Statistics (IFS), Balance of Payments Statistics (BPS), Government Finance Statistics (GFS) and Direction of Trade Statistics (DOT), providing context to the numbers.

Exploring Digital Scholarship: Library Speaker Series

Submitted by libbalche on
Filed under Library News:  Events Mills

Join McMaster University Library’s Lewis and Ruth Sherman Centre for Digital Scholarship on Friday April 24 for “Seeding Digital Scholarship” the third and final event in the Library’s 2015 speaker series.

McMaster faculty and staff are invited to take part in a day of planning (& playing!) through a series of workshops designed to provide participants with ways to incorporate big and small digital scholarship activities into student learning.

Workshops include:

Electronics for the Rest of Us, 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
An Arduino & makerspace workshop for librarians, faculty, chairs, & deans

Modular Digital Scholarship, 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Strategies and adaptable templates from practitioners at McMaster and Brock University

Trends in Digital Scholarship Centres, 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Guest speakers Joan Lippincott (Coalition for Networked Information) and Harriette Hemmasi (Brown University) on recent research and activities in North America and beyond.

Event details:
Friday April 24 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Where: The Sherman Centre for Digital Scholarship, 1st floor of Mills Library


Contact Paige Morgan for more information.

Need a study break? Visit the“De-stress Zone" at Innis Library

Submitted by libbalche on
Filed under Library News:  Events Innis

April can be a stressful time for students who spend hours finishing major assignments and preparing for final exams.

Innis Library’s “De-stress Zone” has lots of activities to help students unwind during this busy time:

  • Visit with Liam, a SPCA certified therapy dog on April 14 and 17, from 2-3 p.m.  UPDATE: Back by popular demand! Liam makes another appearance at Innis on April 20 from 2-3 p.m.
  • Take a few moments to meditate, nap, or just relax in our comfortable chairs
  • Doodle at our “Art Station”
  • Work on a Sudoku, a crossword or other puzzles
  • Browse our selection of popular magazines

We will also be running daily contests to win Library swag.  Follow us @innisbizlib for any updates.

Poster of Liam, a certified therapy dog.

Celebrating the work of a Canadian literary icon

Submitted by libbalche on
Filed under Library News:  Archives & Research Collections Events
This image depicts some of the texts, manuscripts, photos and artwork that are contained in the Farley Mowat archive.

“He was Canada’s best story-teller.”

That’s how Anna Porter, co-founder and publisher of Key Porter books, recalled the late Farley Mowat at a recent reception that paid tribute to the work and life of one Canada’s most distinctive and iconic writers.

The event highlighted Mowat’s extensive personal and literary archives, housed in McMaster University Library’s William Ready Division of Archives and Research Collections.

“He was a very serious, thoughtful writer with a commitment to honing methods of telling stories that were designed to grab reader’s attention,” said Porter, also a long-time personal friend of Mowat.

Mowat was best-known for his literary depictions of the Canadian arctic, famously recounted in Canadian classics such as “Never Cry Wolf” and “People of the Deer.”

Mowat first began depositing his archives in 1970, while sill in the prime of his writing career.

Over the past 45 years, the collection has grown significantly, and is now made up of 350 boxes of textual records, manuscripts, research materials, correspondence, financial documents, photographs, maps, audio reels and videocassettes and more materials still to come.

“It is my great honour to join in this celebration of the life and work of Farley Mowat – one of Canada’s great storytellers and, one of the true iconic figures of this country and its fine literary traditions,” says Vivian Lewis, McMaster University Librarian. “He challenged us as a society and as a reading public. McMaster University Library is proud to be the custodian of his rich archive.”

In attendance was Farley’s widow Claire Mowat, a writer and visual artist in her own right who has also donated her archives to McMaster.

McMaster is  home to the archives of a number of Canadian literary talents including Margaret Laurence, Pierre Berton, Matt Cohen, Austin Clarke, Sylvia Fraser and Peter C. Newman, as well as Canadian publishers McClelland and Stewart, Key Porter Books, Macmillan Canada and Clarke Irwin.

“I applaud the work of the library in recent years building the archival collection. The Mowat archive is a very significant addition to that, which I think will open all kinds of possibilities for research and teaching in the years to come,” says McMaster President Patrick Deane.

Read the Hamilton Spectator article featuring Farley Mowat's archives.

Image of Hamilton Spectator article featuring the Farley Mowat archives.

Now Available for Research in the Division of Archives and Research Collections!

Submitted by libplessla on
Filed under Library News:  Archives & Research Collections

Listed below are highlights of new collections of archives and books that have been described and catalogued over the past year.



  • Pierre Berton.  The 16th accrual of the archives of one of Canada’s most popular writers, including a story written by the 12-year-old Pierre Berton, dozens of letters written to his wife in the 1940s, copies of The Pipeline, a hand-produced newsletter written and illustrated by Berton in Yukon, 1939-40, and much more.  Donated by Janet Berton
  • Austin Clarke.  The 9th accrual of the novelist’s archive, including manuscripts of his Giller prize winning The Polished Hoe.  Acquired from Austin Clarke.
  • David Freeman.  The archive of the award winning playwright, who, upon arriving at McMaster University in 1966, became the first university student in Canada who suffered from cerebral palsy.  Bequest of David Freeman.
  • Pauline Johnson.  The latest accrual of the archive of the renowned Mohawk poet consists of 2 letters from Johnson to one Charlotte Jones, 1881-82. Purchase.
  • Edward Lacey. The 2nd accrual of the archive of the author of the first gay-identified book of poetry published in Canada.  Donated by Fraser Sutherland. 
  • Eugene MacNamara.  The 5th accrual of the Canadian writer.
  • Wilson McDonald.  The 4th and 5th accruals of the collection relating to the Canadian poet.  Donated by Elizabeth Ramsay Shanahan (4th) and Don Bailey (5th).
  • Susan Musgrave.  The 9th accrual of the Canadian poet’s archive.  Donated by Susan Musgrave.
  • Stephen Reid.  The 4th accrual of the Canadian writer’s archive, including further manuscripts written while in prison. Donated by Stephen Reid.
  • Hugo Sonnenschein (Sonka) A collection relating to the controversial Czech poet better known as “Sonka”.  Donated by his son, Ian D. Spenser.
  • Fraser SutherlandThe 2nd accrual of the Canadian writer’s archive includes extensive correspondence with several other Canadian writers, as well as manuscripts and other material. Donated by Fraser Sutherland. 
  • Writers Union of Canada.  The 10th accrual of the archives of the union that represents most Canadian writers. Donated by the Writers Union.

Bertrand Russell Archives

  • A unique copy of Russell’s Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy (1919).  It is the copy that Russell sent to the governor of Brixton Prison--he wrote the book while incarcerated there in 1918—complete with a tongue-in-cheek inscription.
  • Trinity Boat Club, 1890, Senior Trial Eights Trophy Cup. This pewter trophy lists the names of the members of both teams, including Russell as the cox on one of them.

Small Press and Book Art

  • Gerard Brender à Brandis.  The 3rd accrual of the renowned artist, featuring prints, drawings and other material.  Donated by Gerard Brender à Brandis.
  • Locks’ Press.  The 2nd accrual of the Kingston based small press, featuring books, pamphlets, broadsides and other material.  Donated by Fred and Margaret Lock.

First Nations

  • First Nations Collection.  The collection consists of material relating to land claims of the Potawatomi in Canada and the United States, a photograph of Six Nations chiefs ca. 1887, and a notice of sale of lands on Manitoulin Island, Sheguiandah, Bidwell and Billings, 1866.  This is a collection we plan to develop further in the coming years.

Peace and Social Activism

  • Canadian Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament3rd accrual of this archive includes correspondence and other documents from the early 1960s..  Donated by Stig Harvor.
  • ETAN (East Timor Alert Network).  A large and significant archive of the Canadian group that lobbied for human rights and self-determination for East Timor during its occupation by Indonesia in the 1980s and 1990s. Donated by David Webster.
  • Peace Brigades International. The 10th accrual relates to PBI Columbia.  Donated by Peace Brigades International.
  • Revolutionary Marxist Group.  The second accrual of the archive of this Canadian communist group includes material from the 1970s.  Donated by Ken Hiebert via the University of British Columbia Library.

First World War

  • Gordon William Parkinson. A poignant First World War archive made up of over 100 letters written by Private Parkinson to his family, many of them from the Western front where he was killed in September, 1918.  Most of the archive was donated by Parkinson’s niece, Catherine Cook, with additional material donated by Robert Parkinson.


  • Boris Brott.  The 3rd and 4th accruals of the archive of the renowned Hamilton based conductor.  Donated by Boris Brott.

Businessman and Naturalist

  • Harold Carl Nunn.  Diaries and correspondence of the businessman who was pioneer in North America of pre-fabricated homes and the naturalist who served as Chairman of the Federation of Ontario Naturalists.  Donated by Henry Carl Nunn’s grandchildren, Lucinda and Carl Bray.

McMaster related

  • Anthropology.  Includes a small archive of Department founder Richard Slobodin, as well as significant field notes and other documents of anthropologists James E. Anderson, Everett Case, Rutherford Smith and Frank and Alfred Wood.  The Slobodin material was donated by the Department.  The other material was donated by the estate of William Noble.


  • John Connell.  A collection of the works of the British writer and books relating to British and Israeli history and politics.
  • Alain Goldschlager.  We have completed the cataloguing of this collection relating to the Holocaust.  Donated by Alain Goldschlager.
  • Macmillan Canada. Further imprints of the Canadian publisher.
  • Klaus Pringsheim. Further books and music scores donated by the former McMaster professor and son of the German composer and conductor of the same name.  Donated by Klaus Pringsheim.
  • Robert Sawyer.  We have begun cataloguing the works of the well known Canadian science fiction writer.  Donated by Robert Sawyer.
  • Oliver Woods & Frank Waters.  A collection of the works assembled by the British journalists on topics including British politics and imperialism, British Africa, and the Caribbean.
  • Poem of the Month. Over 40 broadsides produced in the 1970s containing signed original poems by W.H. Auden, Robert Graves, Seamus Heaney, Philip Larkin, C. Day Lewis, Stephen Spender and many others.  Donated by Bernadette Ryan. 



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