Library News

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

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“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.

Science Literacy Week offers a wide range of fun, informative programming

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Science Literacy Week Graphics

Scientific discovery happens at McMaster every day. It happens in labs, in classrooms, in libraries, and elsewhere on campus.

Science Literacy Week is an opportunity to celebrate the wonder of science with interesting events that are taking place all across Canada. At McMaster, we are celebrating with these events:

Lunch with TED

Presented by the H.G. Thode Library of Science and Engineering
When: September 21st-25th, Noon-1:30pm
Where: Main floor, Thode Library, in the soft seating area across from the café area

Bring your lunch, and join us at Thode Library to watch a series of classic TED Talks, from some of the most brilliant minds in science. Each day we will play five or six TED talks, curated around a theme:

  • Monday – Exploring the Universe
  • Tuesday – Tackling Environmental Issues
  • Wednesday – Mapping our Evolutionary Progression
  • Thursday – Technology at the Speed of Life
  • Friday – Examining the Human Mind

Science Trivia and Daily Twitter Contest

Presented by the H.G. Thode Library of Science and Engineering
When: September 21st-25th 
Where: In person, on the main floor of Thode Library, and online at

Test your scientific knowledge with two fun trivia games, and find out if you know enough to win the (virtual) $1,000,000 prize or how you stack up against the general public. Look for the ‘arcade’ machine in the lobby of Thode Library.

Follow us on Twitter (@thodelibrary) to participate in our daily contest, for a chance to win some Library swag, plus general bragging rights, of course.

The science of Alzheimer’s: where are we going?

Presented by the McMaster Health Forum
When: September 22nd, 6:30-8:00pm
Where: McMaster Innovation Park, 175 Longwood South, Hamilton, ON
Attend in person, or connect to the live stream!
More details on the McMaster Health Forum event page

Alzheimer’s disease, one of the major causes of disability and dependency among older people, has been recognized by the World Health Organization as a public health priority. Despite the increased focus on this disease, many questions remain unanswered.

Join us as Jay Ingram, one of Canada’s best-known and most popular science personalities, and Dr. Christopher Patterson, an expert on the diagnosis and treatment of dementia, examine the latest research and evidence into risks, prevention and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.

McMaster’s Sidewalk Astronomy

When: September 23rd (Night Sky Viewing) and September 27th (Total Lunar Eclipse); 7-7:30pm
Where: Meet at the turning circle in front of Mary Keyes Residence
Note: These events are weather permitting. Check the Sidewalk Astronomy website in advance of the event for confirmation.

McMaster's Sidewalk Astronomy is a public outreach initiative that is run by the graduate students at McMaster's Department of Physics and Astronomy. We give the public of Hamilton, Ontario and the surrounding areas the unique opportunity to look through a powerful telescope at some of the brightest celestial objects in the sky. Everyone is welcomed to take a peek through the telescope.

Eclipses at McMaster’s W.J. McCallion Planetarium

When: September 23rd; two shows: 7:00pm and 8:15pm
Where: Located in the Burke Science Building (BSB), lower level, B149
$7 admission fee (cash only at door) – Reserve your ticket!

What are the different types of eclipses, why don’t they occur more often, and how can we safely observe them? During this show we’ll discuss the answers to these questions, as well as when can we next see such events from southern Ontario. We’ll also explore other types of transits, eclipses and occultations that we can see not only from the Earth, but also other places in the Solar System

Let’s Talk Science

Join Let’s Talk Science at the Hamilton Public library for exciting public science demonstrations with McMaster engineering students (ages: 5-12 years)

Mars: A World on the Edge in 3D!

Presented by the McMaster Origin Institute
When: September 24th, 7:30-8:30pm
Where: Michael DeGroote Centre for Learning, Rm 1110 (3D Theatre)
$7 admission fee (cash only at door) – Reserve your ticket (limited seating)

We will take you on a journey to Mars and explore its structure, history, and the possibility that it was the site of a “second genesis” of life in the solar system. Each show combines 3D movies, images, and interactive sessions with real scientists. Shows last one hour and include time for audience questions and answers.

McMaster CryptoParty – Learn cryptography basics

Hosted by Wes Kerfoot, in cooperation with HackItMac
When: September 24th, 6:00-9:00pm
Where: Institute for Applied Health Sciences building (IAHS), Room 201/A
More information at or on Facebook

Cryptography, the practice and study of techniques for secure communication, lives at the intersection of math, computer science and electrical engineering. It continues to be an important topic, with regular news articles about breaches and theft of sensitive, personal information. A Cryptoparty is an event where you can learn about how to use basic cryptography tools, with no prior knowledge required. Bring your device and learn how to stay secure.

For a list of events across Canada, and for more information about Science Literacy Week, visit

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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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.


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