Library News

Science Literacy Week 2016

Submitted by libbalche on
Filed under Library News:  Events Thode

Scientific discovery happens at McMaster every day in labs, in classrooms, in libraries, and in many other spaces on campus. It's true what they say, you really do learn something new every day.

Science Literacy Week (September 19-25) is a celebration of science taking place at universities across Canada. At McMaster, we're celebrating our love of science with the following events:

At Thode Library

Science Trivia and Daily Twitter Contest

When: September 19th-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.

Lunchtime Events in Thode (all events start at 12:30pm)

Monday 19th Movie Screening: Disney’s Oceans 

Journey into the depths of a wonderland filled with mystery, beauty and power. Oceans is a spectacular story, narrated by Pierce Brosnan, about remarkable creatures under the sea. It’s an unprecedented look at the lives of these elusive deep sea creatures through their own eyes. Incredible state-of-the-art underwater filmmaking will take your breath away as you migrate with whales, swim alongside a great white shark, and race with dolphins at play.  Screening takes place in the soft seating lounge.

Poster for egan eventTuesday 20th Reactor Lecture: Dr. Michael Egan on The Social History of Truth: How Science Became Science. (Talk takes place in the Reactor Café)

How do we know what we know? And how to we know it is true? What is expertise? And why do we value it? What is science? And what does it produce? Why do we trust science? And how is it that it has come to dominate our daily lives? Science is a function of society. The rules of who can do science, what and where truth comes from, and who has access to this specialized knowledge were composed over a centuries-long evolution. Valuing empirical knowledge over superstition may seem like a natural pursuit, but its practice is actually fairly recent and much more contested than we might imagine. This lecture aims to explore the cultural features of who could practice science and how their scientific method came to be ingrained as a method of forging consensus among scientists, and how their findings came to be adopted as truths to a more general public.

Wednesday 21st Lunch with TED

Join us for a public screening of  Can You Believe Your Eyes? This TED Talk delves into magic tricks, optical illusions, death-defying defeats, digital lies. Believe it or not. Screening takes place in the soft seating lounge.

Thursday 22nd Movie Screening: Disney’s Earth

An epic story of adventure, starring some of the most magnificent and courageous creatures alive, awaits you in Earth. DisneyNature brings you a remarkable story, narrated by James Earl Jones, of three animal families on a journey across our planet – polar bears, elephants, and humpback whales. Screening takes place in the soft seating lounge.

Friday 23rd Lunch with TED

Join us for a public screening of, TED Talk, So You Think You Know … Science Myths Debunked! Simple ideas and big discoveries, battling bad science, why people believe weird things. Discover the truth. Screening takes place in the soft seating lounge.

 On Campus

Tour and View the LIVELab

When: September 20th; 12:30-1:30pm
Where: LIVELab, Room 202, 2nd floor of the Psychology Building

Located within the McMaster Institute for Music & the Mind (MIMM), the LIVE (Large Interactive Virtual Environment) Lab is a 106 seat research-based performance theatre and testing centre. The LIVELab is committed to developing a world class facility for the scientific study of music, sound, and movement and their importance in human development and human health.

Sidewalk Astronomy

When: September 21st Night Sky Viewing 7:45 pm
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.

The Astrophysics of Everyday Life at McMaster’s W.J. McCallion Planetarium

When: September 21st; 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!

In our daily lives, we constantly experience physical phenomena. Driving a car, turning on a light, boiling water – physics is inescapable. But the fundamental laws that govern everyday life don’t stop there. On the scale of the Universe, these same equations have extraordinary consequences. In this show, we will take a tour of the night sky and see these principles in action. Just by looking in the right places, we’ll be able to see, for example, what it looks like when you turn on a light the size of our Solar System.

The Planetary Society’s McMaster Space Initiative Science Café

When: September 23rd; 5:30-7:30pm (doors open at 5:15pm)
Where: Bridges Café

Featuring four speakers from the scientific community at McMaster from different departments, a night of great talks about science (and of course space too!) – plus coffee, tea, and sweet treats! Open to all ages.

Around Hamilton:

Gaze at the Stars

When: September 20th; 7pm
Where: Turner Park Branch
Note: Registration required – Please call (905)546-4790

Join John Gauvreau of the Hamilton Amateur Astronomers as he takes us on a virtual tour of the universe. Presented by: Hamilton Amateur Astronomers.

Let’s Talk Science

Join Let’s Talk Science at the Hamilton Public library (HPL) for exciting public science demonstrations with McMaster engineering students (ages: 5-12 years). Registration information can be found on the HPL website.

  • September 21st, 1:30 P.M – Dundas Branch*
  • September 22nd, 1:30 P.M – Locke Branch*
  • September 24th, 2:00 P.M – Terryberry Branch*

* Registration Required

Learn more about all Science Literacy Week events taking place in the Hamilton community.

Wi-Fi Improvements in Mills and Thode Libraries

Submitted by libperkovic on
Filed under Library News:  Mills Thode

wireless iconOver the summer, the Library funded the installation and upgrading of new and existing Wi-Fi access points in both Mills and Thode Libraries.

Working closely with University Technology Services, who helped optimize and fine tune the new network, early reviews strongly suggest that both buildings now boast the fastest and most stable Wi-Fi signals on campus.

The most notable improvement is the addition of McMaster’s first, public access 5GHz wireless network. Existing alongside of the current campus wide networks MacSecure and Eduroam, MacSecure-5 uses the 5GHz frequency for what promises to be faster data transfers, less congestion and reduced interference. The caveat is that in most cases, only newer phones, laptops, and tablets have the ability to “see” 5GHz signals.

Even if your technology cannot take advantage of the new MacSecure-5 network, the addition of over a dozen new access points and the improved configurations of existing access points ensures that current users of MacSecure and Eduroam networks will also reap the benefits of these technological updates.

These improvements are limited to Mills and Thode alone with no current plans for expansion. If you find yourself in these spaces, we encourage you to log in and find out for yourselves. Please let us know what you think! 

Everything on Paper Will be Used Against Me: Quantifying Kissinger: Sept. 30

Submitted by libbalche on
Filed under Library News:  Events

Scarcity of information is a common frustration for historians. For students of 20th- and 21st century history, however, the opposite problem is also increasingly common — overwhelmed by a deluge of information, historians have begun to struggle with what is now understood as ‘big data’.

On Friday, September 30, 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., join Micki Kaufman, from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, for her presentation, Everything on Paper Will be Used Against Me: Quantifying Kissinger.

Kaufman will discuss how she is using digital research methods and data visualization techniques to study the Digital National Security Archive (DNSA)’s Kissinger Collections, which is comprised of 50,000 documents and includes approximately 18,000 meeting memoranda (‘memcons’) and teleconference transcripts (‘telcons’) detailing the former US National Security Advisor and Secretary of State’s correspondence during the period 1969-1977.

Learn more or register

This event is hosted by the Lewis and Ruth Sherman Centre for Digital Scholarship located in Mills Library.

Micki Kaufman (MA CUNY, BA Columbia) is a fifth year Graduate Student Researcher in US history, Big Data, Visualization and Cultural Analytics at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York (GC-CUNY). Micki’s current PhD dissertation, “‘Everything on Paper Will Be Used Against Me:’ Quantifying Kissinger,” researches diplomatic history using network and text analyses/visualizations of the National Security Archive’s Kissinger Collection. Micki is a former GC-CUNY Digital Fellow, former Project Manager of the CUNY Academic Commons and DHDebates sites, a three-time winner of the GC-CUNY’s Provost’s Digital Innovation Grant, and the recipient of ADHO/ACH’s 2015 Lisa Lena and Paul Fortier Prizes.


Your MAC ID: Keeping Your 'Digital Key' Safe and Secure

Submitted by libkemperd on
Filed under Library News:  Alerts e-Resources Innis Mills Thode Web Resources

With the start of a new term upon us, the McMaster University Library is encouraging new and returning students to adopt stronger digital security practices.

Your MAC ID is your personal digital key to unlocking access to expensive databases and journals and other licensed content offered through the University Library.

Treat your MAC ID as you would treat your online banking:

  • Use a strong MAC ID password.
  • Never share your MAC ID password with anyone or any organization.
  • Do not click on unfamiliar links or attachments in unsolicited emails, as they may be malicious attempts to steal your MAC ID password
  • Report suspicious emails to UTS (

Remain vigilant while computing. Keep your MAC ID password safe and secure.

Update: Completed - Crane work closes some areas of Mills Library

Submitted by libpottier on
Filed under Library News:  Mills

Several areas of Mills Library will be unavailable on Thursday August 25th, as a precautionary safety measure while some very large crane work related to HVAC replacement is taking place just outside the building.

The following areas will be closed - no access will be permitted to:

1st floor:  corridor leading to and including the main floor washrooms, the Connections Centre and Media Production Services. The west entrance doors will be locked.

2nd floor: the entire Administration wing (Business Office, Human Resources, Library Development, University Librarian's Office)

3rd floor: the corridor leading to and including the staff lounge, CAVS office, Community Room, staff washrooms and custodial lounge

4th floor: the corridor leading to and including the Quiet Study Space, the Grad Study Room, and three librarian offices 

These areas will re-open on Friday August 26th.

We appreciate your patience while this work is being done.

Graduate Student Travel Scholarship Available!

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

McMaster University Library is pleased to offer a travel scholarship for one McMaster graduate student to attend OpenCon 2016 in Washington, DC from November 12-14, 2016. This conference is organized by SPARC, an international organization devoted to openness in research and education, and the Right to Research Coalition, a student arm of SPARC.

Now in its third year, OpenCon brings together early career researchers and scholars from around the world to learn about and advance Open Access (to research and scholarship), Open Data and Open Education. The program is designed to help participants build skills in key areas from raising institutional awareness about Open Access to working with community members on a national level.    

The scholarship, valued at $1,500USD, will cover the cost of the successful candidate’s registration fee, flight and hotel (shared accommodation).

In return, the University Library asks that the successful candidate produce a short (800-1000 word) report on his/her experience at the conference with recommendations on how to advance the Open cause at McMaster. The candidate may also be asked to participate in activities related to International Open Access Week, Oct. 24-30, 2016.

To apply, complete the secure online application form. Applications will close on Tuesday, September 13, 2016.

For more information, please contact Olga Perkovic, Research and Advanced Studies Librarian.

Coming Soon: Makerspace @ Thode Library

Submitted by libbalche on
Filed under Library News:  Thode

Wondering what’s behind the construction hoarding in the lower level of Thode Library?

This fall, McMaster’s Faculty of Engineering and University Library will be launching a makerspace in Thode Library, a new interdisciplinary experiential learning space where the McMaster community can gather to create, invent and learn.

By providing access to tools, technology, expertise and social connections not otherwise easily accessible, the makerspace will offer students from all disciplines a hands-on opportunity to explore new technologies, learn technical skills and work collaboratively to transform their innovative and creative ideas into tangible prototypes.

The makerspace is expected to open in October. Stay tuned for updates.

Take a look at the floor plans for a sneak peek of the space.  

Off-Campus Access and Medportal

Submitted by libkemperd on
Filed under Library News:  e-Resources Web Resources

In our ongoing efforts to strengthen security and improve access to our extensive library of licensed content, the University Library, in collaboration with the Health Sciences Library, is disabling the single barcode access, commonly used by Medportal users to access library e-resources, and replacing it with a MAC ID login.

This change will impact Medportal users who access the library's licensed content through MedPortal. As of August 15, 2016, Medportal users who click on links to the library's licensed content will be prompted to enter their MAC ID username and password.

These efforts, part of a larger plan started last year by the University Library and Health Sciences Library, aim to strengthen security, improve access, and comply with greater precision with content vendors' terms of service.

How a piece of Honest Ed's found its way to McMaster

Submitted by libbalche on
Filed under Library News:  Archives & Research Collections
The family of award-winner writer and McMaster alumnus Gary Lautens with a column written by Lautens that was displayed for more than 30 years outside Honest Ed’s. Left to right:  Jane (daughter); James (grandson, son of Stephen and Rhea); Richard (son); Stephen (son); Jackie (wife); Rhea (Stephen’s wife); Chelsea (granddaughter, daughter of Jackie; currently a Mac student).

The family of award-winner writer and McMaster alumnus Gary Lautens with a column written by Lautens that was displayed for more than 30 years outside Honest Ed’s. Left to right:  Jane (daughter); James (grandson, son of Stephen and Rhea); Richard (son); Stephen (son); Jackie (wife); Rhea (Stephen’s wife); Chelsea (daughter of Jane; currently a student at McMaster).

A piece of Toronto history has found a new home at McMaster.

A poster-sized column written by award winning journalist and McMaster alumnus Gary Lautens, which hung for more than 30 years outside iconic bargain retailer Honest Ed’s, will now be housed in McMaster’s William Ready Division of Archives and Research Collections.

The poster was presented to the Lautens family earlier this year by Honest Ed’s* owner David Mirvish. Lautens’ widow Jackie donated the poster to McMaster where it will be preserved as part of the Lautens archive.

Lautens, a noted humourist and Toronto Star columnist wrote the column, entitled, “Why can’t the Queen shop Honest Ed’s,” during a royal visit in the 1980s, suggesting that the Queen could liven up her Canadian tour by taking 30 minutes to shop at the famous discount store.

“It was a fun column, very tongue and cheek– Ed (Mirvish) was always about fun, so it obviously resonated with him,” says Jackie Lautens who adds that Mirvish and her late husband had a good personal relationship. “They could kid back and forth,” she says.

Jackie, along with a number of members of the Lautens family, recently delivered the poster to McMaster University Library where damage to the column– the result of decades of exposure to sun and moisture– is now being repaired in McMaster’s Preservation Lab.

“The poster is a wonderful addition to the Lautens archive,” says Wade Wyckoff, Associate University Librarian, Collections. “It captures the popular appeal and impact of Gary Lautens, a talented writer and distinguished alumnus. We’re very pleased that this iconic piece, for so long a fixture in Toronto, has come to McMaster as part of Gary’s archive.”

As a student, Lautens served as the editor of the Silhouette. After graduating from McMaster in 1950, he went on to work at the Hamilton Spectator, then the Toronto Star, where he won a National Newspaper Award for sports writing. As a humourist, Lautens wrote a regular column for the Toronto Star, authored several books, and was a two-time winner of the prestigious Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour.

The Lautens archive includes correspondence, newspaper columns, books, speeches, broadcast scripts, appointment calendars and notebooks, awards, personal and financial documents, photographs, interviews with Lautens, artwork and audio and video recordings.

*Honest Ed's is scheduled to close later this year.

Behind University Hall, there is a special tribute to Gary Lautens– a small monument that reads:

I like my life
I like my family
I like my job
I like my country
I liked my parents
I like where I was raised
I like where I went to school

I’m happy

No big complaints
Enjoyed the bumps
and the good times,
the good times more of course

This is written you see,
by a happy man
whose only regret is that
it has all gone much too fast.

Gary Lautens
Class of 1950

Gary Lautens monument behind University Hall

This monument to award-winning humorist and McMaster alumnus, Gary Lautens is located behind University Hall.


18th century science education “for women, by women”

Submitted by libbalche on
Filed under Library News:  Archives & Research Collections
This year’s McMaster-ASECS fellow, Anna K. Sagal examines a white orchid in the McMaster Biology Greenhouse, a flower specimen prominently featured in a number of rare 18th century botanical textbooks written by early female botanists. Sagal has been examining these textbooks, which are housed in McMaster University Library’s William Ready Division of Archives and Research Collections, for the past month.

This year’s McMaster-ASECS fellow, Anna K. Sagal examines a White Orchid Phalenopsis in the McMaster Biology Greenhouse, a flower specimen prominently featured in a number of rare 18th century botanical textbooks written by early female botanists. Sagal has been examining these textbooks, which are housed in McMaster University Library’s William Ready Division of Archives and Research Collections, for the past month.

While examining a rare botanical textbook contained in McMaster’s William Ready Division of Archives and Research Collections, visiting scholar Anna K. Sagal made an unexpected discovery.

Pressed between the brittle pages of one of the textbooks written and used by early female botanists, she found a tiny golden flower, likely placed there more than 200 years ago– a tangible connection to the world of the 18th century and a symbol of women’s participation in one of the few fields of science open to them at the time– botany.

Sagal, who recently completed her PhD at Tufts University in Boston is this year’s recipient of the McMaster-ASECS fellowship,* a program that supports 18th century studies.

For the past month, Sagal has been poring over McMaster’s unique collection of 18th century English botanical textbooks, examining a number of works written and referenced by trailblazing women, early pioneers of female science education.

“This is science education for women by women,” says Sagal, “I’m interested in the role that scientific writing plays for women’s intellectual lives in a culture where women and science were often divorced from each other.”

According to Sagal, in the late 18th century, while many fields of science were still largely closed to women, botany was considered a “feminized science,” making it socially acceptable for women- who were culturally linked with nature and flowers- to participate in the practice of botany.

Unlike other fields of science like chemistry or astronomy, Sagal says botany was also comparatively accessible to women, requiring only simple, inexpensive equipment– like a magnifying glass– and access to a garden.

A number of female writers emerged at this time, publishing botanical textbooks aimed primarily at a feminine audience, but which turned out to have broader appeal.

“This is a rare moment when all of a sudden it’s OK for women to be publishing on this subject,” says Sagal. “You get male authors recommending these books and praising these female authors. These books also sold really well, they all went into multiple editions.”

Sagal says these textbooks, many of which are contained in McMaster’s collection, were quite different from works authored by men at the time. While they were scientifically accurate and contained the Latin terms associated with the Linnaean system of plant classification, they were written in a simplified, conversational style– sometimes taking the form of letters or dialogues– so they could be easily understood by female readers, many of whom didn’t know Latin.

And to keep costs low, they used fewer illustrations; instead providing detailed descriptions and encouraging aspiring botanists to take the textbooks into the field to identify plants and collect specimens, like the one discovered by Sagal.

Despite the popularity of these textbooks, she says many female authors nonetheless encountered strong cultural disapproval.

“These textbooks were being published by more liberal publishers– there was still broad social resistance to this,” she says. “There was an interesting tension at the time as to whether women were compromising their femininity by being too engaged with botany on a technical level. It took a lot of courage for these women to get these books published and then stand by their work as an intellectual authority.”

Sagal’s research at McMaster is contributing to her larger body of scholarship on women in scientific writing in the 18th century and the different genres in which scientific writing appears.

McMaster University Librarian Vivian Lewis says she’s pleased the collection is helping to support scholarly research like Sagal’s.

“The collection contains a diverse array of texts and materials that provide valuable insights into many aspects of life in the 18th century,” says Lewis. “It’s very gratifying that as this year’s McMaster-ASECS fellow, Anna has been able to make use of this unique collection to shed light on the some of the central social and cultural themes of the period.”

The materials consulted by Sagal include The Botanical Magazine, or Flower-Garden displayed (1787-1798), Botanical Dialogues (1797) by Maria Jackson, The British Garden (1799), by Charlotte Murray, and An Introduction to Botany (1796) by Priscilla Wakefield.

*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). 

Sagal discovered this tiny flower, thought to be a buttercup, pressed between the pages of an 18th century botanical textbook. “They were collecting, pressing and saving these specimens so they could then sit down and classify them. It’s evidence that people were using these in the way they were intended to be used, which is always a question coming up against historical texts,” says Sagal who discovered pressed flowers in a number of textbooks while conducting her research.

Sagal discovered this 200 year-old flower pressed between the pages of an 18th century botanical textbook. Aspiring female botanists,"were collecting, pressing and saving these specimens so they could then sit down and classify them. It’s evidence that people were using these in the way they were intended to be used, which is always a question coming up against historical texts,” says Sagal who discovered pressed flowers in a number of textbooks while conducting her research.


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