Library News

WWII photo archive captures the realities of the world at war

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

Submitted by libbalche on
Filed under Library News:  Innis Mills Research @ McMaster Thode

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.


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.


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