Library News

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. 


Late Night Studying in the Libraries

Submitted by libpottier on
Filed under Library News:  Alerts Innis Mills Learning Commons Mills Thode
Late night hours image

This year you will once again have lots of options when it comes to late night studying during exams.

Thode Library will be open 24/7 from April 7th to April29th. The Reactor Café will be open April 8th-28th from 10am to 11:30pm. Don't forget there is an ATM to Thode so you will have easy access to cash for use at the café and the vending machines.

The lower level of Thode is the Quietest Study Area in the building. In addition there is a small Silent Study room on the lower level.

Mills Library moves to extended hours next week – the main library will be open 8am to 10:45pm, 7 days per week.

The Mills Learning Commons (2nd floor) is open 24/7 until April 29th.

The entire 6th floor of Mills is designated as a Silent Study Area and we will do our best to patrol this area. Feel free to send an email to or use the online form if students in the area are not respecting the Silent Study guidelines (no talking, no socializing, no cell phones, no music). A large area on the 4th floor is designated as a Quiet Study Area. During exams, all seating areas on the upper floors (3rd – 5th) are considered Quiet Study Areas and will be signed as such.

Innis will also move to extended hours next week – Monday to Friday 8:30am to 10:45pm / Saturday 10:30am to 5:45 pm / Sunday 1pm to 7:45pm.

You will find more information on the various study spaces available in our libraries here.

All libraries have bookable Group Study Rooms. Please remember that these are to be used by groups of 2 or more, and cannot be booked for more than 2 consecutive hours by one group. The library reserves the right to remove bookings which do not follow these guidelines. Food and beverage vending machines in all libraries will be stocked daily during exams. Good luck on your exams!

194,000 new items and counting

Submitted by libbalche on
Filed under Library News:  Innis Mills Thode
Using the “New Items” feature on the Library website, users can see the most recent additions to McMaster library collections from the previous day, the last 5 days, or the last 30 days. Results can be narrowed further by format, author, topic, language, region, or time period.

194,000 new items were added to McMaster library collections last year alone.

Each month, McMaster libraries add thousands of new books, e-books, videos, journals, and other e-resources on a range of diverse subjects to the library catalogue.

Now there’s an online tool to help students and researchers keep up-to-date on the many new materials added each day.

Using the “New Items” feature on the Library website, users can see the most recent additions to McMaster library collections from the previous day, the last 5 days, or the last 30 days. Results can be narrowed further by format, author, topic, language, region, or time period. This feature also allows users to request new materials that are still on order and reserve them for pick-up.

“The University Library is committed to supporting students and researchers with a wide variety of resources,” says Wade Wyckoff, Associate University Librarian. “We know that many of our faculty and students are interested in keeping up with new materials available for their research or studies.  We hope that this feature will help them find the right resources for their needs.”

The Countdown is on! RefWorks to be phased out this August

Submitted by libbalche on
Filed under Library News:  Alerts Innis Mills Thode

RefWorks Countdown Clock


August 15, 2015

RefWorks, McMaster’s citation management tool, is being phased out and all users are reminded to migrate their references before it’s too late.

As of August 15, 2015, McMaster faculty, students and staff will no longer have access to their RefWorks accounts.*

To help ease this transition, McMaster University Library has created a list of citation management alternatives. Users are encouraged to begin the process of exploring their options and migrating their references from RefWorks into another software tool.

Users can also purchase an individual subscription to RefWorks, however, this option may not be available for long. RefWorks recently announced that it is ending support for personal/individual accounts..

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.


JUNOs exhibits showcase Hamilton's musical legacy and digital future

Submitted by libbalche on
Filed under Library News:  Archives & Research Collections Mills
Artifacts belonging  to local blues great Jackie Washington and renowned conductor Boris Brott are among the items featured in a JUNO week exhibit drawn from materials contained in the McMaster University Library archives.

Artifacts belonging  to local blues great Jackie Washington and renowned conductor Boris Brott are among the items featured in a JUNO week exhibit drawn from materials contained in the McMaster University Library archives.

Ever heard the classically creepy tones of the theremin? Or seen the groovy purple suit worn by award-winning singer/songwriter, Ian Thomas? If not, now’s your chance.

In honour of the JUNOs, McMaster University Library has put together two unique exhibits that pay tribute to Hamilton's musical past and showcase the creative work emerging from the maker-space at the Lewis & Ruth Sherman Centre for Digital Scholarship.

Exploring Hamilton’s musical legacy:

In celebration of JUNO week, McMaster University Library’s William Ready Division of Archives and Research Collections have mined our holdings to create exhibits featuring prominent Hamilton-based or JUNO-winning musicians.

The display includes original artifacts and awards, sheet music, vinyl albums, diary entries, artwork and photographs belonging to Bruce Cockburn, renowned conductor Boris Brott, local blues great Jackie Washington and award-winning singer/song-writer Ian Thomas.

“Hamilton has a very rich musical heritage, reflected by these outstanding musicians. The University Library is proud to be home to their archives and welcomes this opportunity to celebrate the JUNOs by showcasing their careers,” says Wade Wyckoff, Associate University Librarian.

The exhibit is currently on display on the main floor of the Hamilton Public Library, Central Branch. A version of the exhibit can also be found at LiUNA JUNO House (28 James St. N. Ground Floor).

“Making” music at the JUNOs:

Some may know the theremin as the instrument used to create the other-worldly soundtracks in films like The Day the Earth Stood Still and It Came from Outer Space, but very few of us have had the opportunity to play one.

The Lewis and Ruth Sherman Centre for Digital Scholarship is bringing this and other fun and creative electronic instruments from our maker-space to the JUNOs.   The public will have the opportunity to build, and experiment with a variety of electronic instruments including a “Fruit Salad Piano,” miniature synthesizers, and the classically creepy sounding Theremin.

“This is a playful way to introduce people to technology that otherwise might seem a little daunting,” says Dale Askey, Associate University Librarian. “We hope the public will drop by and experiment with the instruments and be inspired to use the technology to start making music of their own.”

This exhibit can be found at the Blame it on Hamilton event on Friday March 13th and at the Junior JUNOs taking place on Saturday March 14th.


How do you want the library to look in 10 years? Tell us what you think!

Submitted by libbalche on
Filed under Library News:  Innis Mills Thode
An image depicting spaces in Innis, Thode and Mills libraries at McMaster University.

McMaster University Library is asking faculty, staff and students to complete a survey aimed at finding ways to improve existing library spaces and plan for future needs.

The Library is currently working with design firm, Perkins and Will, to develop a long-term space plan for Mills, Innis and Thode libraries to be implemented over the next decade.

The planning process includes a comprehensive analysis of existing spaces and facilities and will identify areas for future development based on input from library users.

“It’s vitally important that our libraries meet the changing needs of our faculty, staff and future students, while providing improvements to the quality of existing library space,” says McMaster University Librarian Vivian Lewis. “We hope that the McMaster community will take the time to provide us with input so we can create vibrant, welcoming and effective spaces that make sense for all our users.”

Tell us what you think!   The survey is open and will close on Friday March 6.

Complete the Library Space Review Survey now


Read the #macpoem, written entirely on Twitter by digital poets

Submitted by libbalche on
Filed under Library News:  Innis Mills Thode
Niedzviecki is this year's Mabel Pugh Taylor Writer-in-Residence, co-sponsored by McMaster and the Hamilton Public Library.
My name is Hal Niedzviecki and I’m the McMaster Writer-in-Residence. That means I spend most of my time on campus hiding out in a little office either writing stuff or talking to people about writing stuff.
I thought it would be a good idea to come out of hiding and try something different: a giant poem that anyone from the McMaster community — students, faculty, staff, alumni or friends — could contribute to.
Using the hashtag #macpoem, the idea was to write the poem tweet by tweet, each line building on the last, to create a continuous narrative. There were some great creative contributions. Thank you to everyone who added their lines!
I hope you enjoy the McMaster poem!
#macpoem is a collaboration between the Writer-in-Residence and the McMaster University Library.

Check Your Connection to Google Scholar

Submitted by libadling on
Filed under Library News:  Alerts e-Resources

Off-campus?  No longer able to see GetIt @ Mac links from your Google Scholar results?  There's a solution!  

Recent browser updates may lose the link to Mac.  To relink, set up your preferences in Google Scholar:

  1. from the Google Scholar home page, click Settings
  2. select Library links on the Scholar Settings page
  3. in the Library Links box, type mcmaster
  4. on the results list select McMaster University Library - get it @ Mac
  5. click Save

And you once again will see GetIt @ Mac links connecting you to fulltext from McMaster's subscribed or purchased collections.

For more tips and screenshots, check the library's video, Searching Google Scholar.

Please contact us if you have any questions!


Hidden gems on display at Mills Library, if you can find them

Submitted by libbalche on
Filed under Library News:  Events Mills
Students in Sally McKay’s third year Studio Arts class, New Directions in Painting and Drawing, install their art work in the library stacks.

Students in Sally McKay’s third year Studio Arts class, New Directions in Painting and Drawing, install their art work in the library stacks.

There are 10 new works of art on display at Mills Library, but you’ll have to look hard to find them.

Hidden among the shelves and designed to look like books, the pieces are actually works of conceptual art created by students in Sally McKay’s third year Studio Arts class, New Directions in Painting and Drawing.

“It’s a different way of thinking about the art experience for both the audience and the creators,” says McKay, a professor in the School of the Arts. “It may be that hardly anyone sees this art, but those who do will have a different kind of experience and a surprise because they’re not expecting these little objects that look like books on the outside, but have all kinds of surprises on the inside.”

The artists have used a range of unexpected materials to create a tactile or sensory experience. Intended to be an interactive display, audience members are encouraged to touch and interact with the art.

Student artist and contributor to the exhibition, Abedar Kamgari, say it’s exciting to be a part of this kind of installation.

“I like to see people’s reactions to the art,” says Kamgari “It gives you an opportunity to do something interactive, that you wouldn’t get to do in a traditional gallery setting and also, in a place as busy as Mills, you never know whose going to pick it up, which is also cool, it’s a new venue.”

Associate University Librarian, Wade Wyckoff, says the library has a history of displaying student art and was happy to partner with McKay on such a unique installation.

“Students usually come in to study and use the Wi-Fi, and do all the traditional things students do in libraries, so it’s great to give them the opportunity to find unexpected things,” says Wyckoff. “It’s also a very practical way to support teaching and learning at McMaster in a different way; giving students the hands-on experience of taking their work and putting out there into the world so people can interact with it.”

The installation will be on display at Mills Library throughout February.

The following students artists contributed art to the display:

  • Talysha Bujol-Abu
  • Mary Duncan
  • Vincent Farrauto
  • Abedar Kamgari
  • Bryan Kellman
  • T.J. Poplar
  • Samantha Raymond
  • Lydia Santia
  • Britanny Sostar
  • Whyishnave Suthagar


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