Filed under Library News: Archives & Research Collections
In 1946, 13,000 Hamilton workers went on strike– the largest in the city’s history. A new graphic novel explores this tumultuous time with the help of materials from McMaster’s archives and maps collections. Image from: Showdown!: Making Modern Unions by Rob Kristofferson and Simon Orpana, (Between the Lines, 2016). Used with permission.
The year is 1946. 13,000 Hamilton workers are on strike. Once quiet neighbourhoods in the city’s east end are now teeming with striking workers carrying picket signs, fighting for a better life.
It was the largest strike in Hamilton’s history and now this tumultuous time has been recreated in, Showdown! Making Modern Unions, written by Rob Kristofferson and Simon Orpana, a graphic novel created with the help of materials from McMaster’s archives and maps collections.
“It is important to remember the rights and society that people fought so hard for during the 20th century,” says Kristofferson, co-author and associate professor, History and Society, Culture & Environment at Wilfred Laurier University*. “In Canada, one of the epicentres of these struggles—a pivotal point that galvanized the structures that workers had been fighting for decades—happened in Hamilton.”
On July 15, 1946, thousands of Stelco steelworkers, many of whom were veterans recently returned from World War II, walked out on their jobs, demanding, among other things, a 40-hour workweek, higher wages and better benefits. It wasn’t long before they were joined by workers from Firestone, Westinghouse, and The Hamilton Spectator and by mid-summer, nearly 20 per cent of the city's industrial workforce was on strike.
To help tell the story of this seminal event in Hamilton’s history, Kristofferson and Orpana turned to McMaster’s William Ready Division of Archives and Research Collections and Lloyd Reeds Maps Collection, which together, house extensive labour studies collections and historical maps from the period.
"In searching for photographic references and other means of telling this story in a graphic format, I spent a lot of time in the McMaster archives, which was a treasure trove of material that helped to bring this event from seventy years ago alive in a material way,” says Orpana, an artist and scholar who co-authored and illustrated the novel.**
From photographs and newspaper articles, to transcripts of radio broadcasts and letters, Kristofferson and Orpana used a wide range of materials, including first-hand accounts of the strike from the Library’s United Steelworkers Local 1005, Westinghouse Canada, United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers collections, and using the archives of Pat Kelly – the public relations specialist hired by Stelco during the strike.
Rick Stapleton, Archives and Research Collections Librarian at McMaster, guided Orpana through the extensive collections of archive materials.
“The documents and materials provide evidence of what actually occurred at the time,” says Stapleton. “Simon actually wrote the archives department right into the book by portraying our reading room and items from our collection—the book very literally displays the importance of archives in the writing of history.”
Kristofferson and Orpana also worked with Gord Beck, Map Specialist in McMaster’s Maps, Data and GIS department, to learn more about the setting of the strike and the communities in which it took place.
“Simon and I looked at a wide range of materials from old road maps and city neighbourhood plans to aerial photographs and fire insurance plans from the 1940s,” he says. “They were necessary for him to be able to visualize the narratives coming from the eyewitness accounts and to be able to accurately place the people and events. The neighbourhood and fire insurance plans are so detailed, in fact, that they show the footprint of every building, whether it be house, store or factory.”
McMaster University Library is home to a number of archival collections that document the history of organized labour, many with a Hamilton connection– collections that Associate University Librarian Wade Wyckoff says can shed light on our collective past.
“Connecting students, researchers and the community-at-large with our unique collections is an important part of the Library’s mission,” says Wade Wyckoff, Associate University Librarian. “Rob and Simon’s work highlights the creative ways in which both archives and geographic resources can be used. I’m very pleased that we could contribute to this new telling of an important story that continues to resonate in our community and had lasting impacts well beyond Hamilton.”
Visit http://archives.mcmaster.ca to search archival and manuscript material held at the William Ready Division of Archives and Research Collections.
McMaster’s digital collection of archives, maps and rare books can be accessed and explored by students and researchers worldwide.
Photos from McMaster's labour studies collections inspired the illustrations for Showdown!: Making Modern Unions. See below:
Mike Galang, a first year PhD student in the Department of Psychology, Neuroscience and Behaviour attended OpenCon, an international conference on Open Access after he was named this year’s recipient of McMaster University Library’s OpenCon Travel Scholarship.
It wasn’t long ago that Mike Galang, a first year PhD student in the Department of Psychology, Neuroscience and Behaviour, was learning the basics of Open Access, a global movement to make scholarly articles publicly available online, free of financial or legal barriers.
But after attending OpenCon 2016, an international conference on Open Access (OA), not only has Galang become a passionate advocate for OA publishing of scholarly articles, he’s looking for ways to spread the word and engage with other graduate students on this important issue.
Galang attended the conference, which brings together early career researchers and scholars from around the world to learn about and advance OA, Open Data and Open Education, after he was awarded McMaster University Library’s OpenCon Travel Scholarship.
Galang spoke to the Daily News about his experience at OpenCon, held recently in Washington D.C., and about how he hopes to start a dialogue on Open Access with other students at McMaster:
Why were you interested in attending the OpenCon conference?
I wanted to go to Washington D.C. so I could talk to people and have meaningful discussions to both broaden my understanding about these issues and also understand what I could do when I got back to McMaster.
Why do you think Open Access is important?
OA is important for a number of reasons. A lot of public money goes into scholarly research and, right now, the public can’t always access that research. Plus, the rising cost of subscription fees means that smaller universities around the country may not have access to certain journals.
Learn more about Open Access at McMaster
It’s also a broader socio-political issue in that knowledge is localized in certain countries in North America, Europe, Australia, and countries like Japan, but if you’re doing research in Africa, or South America– places that don’t have access to the same breadth of scholarly journals because of lack of funding or other reasons– then you’re missing out. You never know who the next big researcher is going to be, so we need to broaden the net.
The entire OA movement is important because it brings the culture of scientific discovery back to its roots of sharing, which is better for the scientific community as a whole. OA is about fostering the spirit of collaboration and openness to ultimately accelerate the pace of discovery and reduce false discovery, which can only be achieved with transparency and collaboration.
What did you learn from OpenCon?
It showed me there are a lot of people advocating for this– that you’re part of a team and what you do can lead to real impact. I enjoyed hearing from people who went to OpenCon for the first time a few years ago and now they’re coming back and saying, “here’s what I did. Here’s what I accomplished.” In two or three years, I want to be there talking to someone like me saying, “Here’s what I’ve done to support OA over the past few years.”
How do you think your work will change now that you understand more about Open Access?
I plan on choosing OA options as much as I can. If we look at a journal and see that the OA fee is too high, I want to try to find a way to make the research publicly available by posting a manuscript version which belongs to us– or publish the research in an open access journal.
Also, having a good data management plan is important. Knowing where my data is stored so, in ten years, if someone asks me for data from a paper I publish now, I can go back and find it. These are small things, but it’s just good practice.
What are your next steps?
I’ve found that there are a good number of students interested in these issues, but the problem is we never talk to each other except during Open Access Week. So I’ve been talking to another student about starting a club here at McMaster– creating a structure where we can talk about the things students here have done to move forward on OA.
Ultimately, this is about conversations and I think having this formal club is a good way to have these conversations because now we’ll have a place where students who are interested can come by.
What would you say to students thinking of applying for the Library's OpenCon Travel Scholarship next year?
It was a really great experience. For any students thinking of applying next year, I say that even if you don’t think you have the best understanding of OA right now, but you’re interested in these issues and want to take action, you should still go for it and apply. The first thing they said to us at OpenCon was, “If this is your first year, you probably feel like an imposter, look at all these people who know what they’re talking about.” But you’re not alone. You go to that conference because you want to learn, not because you know everything.
McMaster Library has countless resources to help students at any time of year, but during the exam period when stress levels soar and students are studying feverishly, Mills, Innis and Thode Libraries have lots of services that can help make this hectic time a bit easier
1. Trouble focusing? There's an app for that!
Relax, learn to manage your stress, and improve your ability to focus with Muse brain-sensing headbands. Using seven sensors to detect and measure brain activity and Bluetooth to send this information to the free Muse app, the headbands provide a one-of-a-kind interactive meditating experience. Muse provides feedback on your meditation by translating your brain signals into the sights and sounds of wind, which are stormy when the mind is active and settled when the mind is calm. The app reports on your session and progress, adjusts your goals, and challenges you to remain calm for increasing lengths of time. Visit the Library Services Desk in Mills, Thode or Innis Libraries to borrow the headbands for up to a week.
2. Forgot your headphones?
You’re all set up for an intense study session at the library, and realize that you forgot your headphones! You can still enjoy your favourite study playlist by borrowing headphones for four hours at a time from the Service Desk in Mills, Innis or Thode Libraries with your library card.
3. Food or drink, anyone?
Vending machines with snacks and beverages are now available and being stocked in Mills, Innis and Thode libraries.
4. Spark your curiosity and creativity at Lyons New Media Centre
From knitting and colouring, to Google cardboard VR glasses and BB-8 robot, Lyons New Media Centre has items available to book and use. While some items can only be used within LNMC, some can be signed out for up to 24 hours. Click here for more information.
5. Innis Library De-Stress Zone
Take a break in the Innis Library De-Stress Zone, which includes a range of activities and treats to help you decompress including colouring materials, puzzles, cookies, apples and library bingo (with prizes).
6. Thode Library Stress Busters
Visit Thode Library throughout the exam period and de-stress with puzzles, colouring and games.
7. Just add a cute dog
Liam the Library dog is a certified therapy dog who loves attention from students! Visit with Liam on December 15. Liam will be in Innis Library at 11:00 – 11:30, Mills Library from 1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m., and Thode Library from 3:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
8. Past Exams
The Library has a range of past exams from Humanities, Social Sciences, Business, Commerce Engineering and Science courses that can help you be more prepared. Find exams here.
9. Campus Bike Library
Don't get stuck by the bus schedule! Borrow a bike from the Campus Bike Library instead. There are ten bikes available on campus – five by Mills and five by Thode – as well as helmets and bike lights to borrow, similar to borrowing a book. Bikes can be borrowed for 48 hours at the Service Desk on the first floor of Mills or Thode with your library card, and renewed through your online library account. Click here for more information.
Quiet study can be found in the following spaces:
- 6th floor of Mills Library
- Area on 4th floor of Mills Library
- All areas on 3rd and 4th floors of Mills Library
- Silent late night study in Innis Library, Mon-Thurs, 11:00 p.m. – 2:45 a.m.
- Lower level of Thode Library, as well as a small silent study room also in the lower level
Library Hours for the exam period are as follows:
- Staring December 10, Mills Library will be open from 8:00 a.m. -10:45 p.m. The Learning Commons will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
- From December 8–21, Thode Library will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week; The Reactor Cafe will be open from 10:00 a.m.– 11:30 p.m.
- Starting December 9, Innis Library will be open from 8:30 a.m. – 2:45 a.m., Mon–Thurs, 8:30 a.m. to 10:45 p.m. on Friday, Sat. 10:30 a.m. – 5:45 p.m., Sun. 1:00 p.m.– 7:45pm
Filed under Library News: Events
About 70 faculty, staff, community members and alumni gathered in Alumni Memorial Hall to hear a talk by renowned Canadian author and journalist Peter C. Newman. Newman was on campus to celebrate the launch of his new book, and to be recognized for the ongoing contribution of his archives to McMaster University Library.
Renowned Canadian author and journalist Peter C. Newman was on campus Monday to celebrate the launch of his book, Hostages to Fortune: The United Empire Loyalists and the Making of Canada and to be recognized for the ongoing contribution of his archives to McMaster University Library.
Faculty, staff, community members and alumni gathered in Alumni Memorial Hall to hear Newman talk about the history and significance of the United Empire Loyalists who journeyed to Canada from the United States after remaining loyal to England in the years following the American Revolution.
The book is the latest by Newman, who has written extensively on Canada’s politics and history, including political chronicles of Prime Ministers John Diefenbaker, Lester Pearson, and Pierre Trudeau, as well as a three-volume history of the Hudson Bay Company.
During the event, Newman talked about his long-time ties to the University and to the Hamilton community, both as a student at Hillfield Strathallan College and as a lecturer at McMaster in the 1970s.
In 1976, Newman began donating his personal archives, which are housed in the William Ready Division of Archives and Research Collections, to McMaster University Library. Since then, the collection has grown to include correspondence, research files, transcripts, proofs and manuscripts of many of the books written by Newman over the years, with more materials still to come.
“Peter has been a valued friend of the McMaster University Library for four decades,” says Vivian Lewis, McMaster University Librarian. “The Newman collections have been used by scholars from around the world as they try to piece together the fabric of Canadian History–the people, the politicians, the scandals, the accomplishments and failures. They are a truly valuable resource for those seeking to understand the Canadian experience.”
As a journalist, Newman worked for the Financial Post, Toronto Star and Maclean's magazine. He was editor-in-chief of the Toronto Star from 1969 to 1971 before moving on to Maclean's, transforming it into a weekly news magazine and serving as Senior Contributing Editor.
Newman has published more than 30 books, which collectively, have sold more than a million copies including Renegade in Power: The Diefenbaker Years The Distemper of Our Times: Canadian Politics in Transition and The Secret Mulroney Tapes: Unguarded Confessions of a Prime Minister. In 2004 he published his autobiography, Here Be Dragons.
The Libraries’ 40th annual Frances McCrone Toy & Food Drive will be held Nov. 18—Dec. 14, in support of the Salvation Army’s Christmas Bureau.
Toys for girls and boys up to the age of 16, non-perishable food items, gift certificates/cards for teens, and items for family pets are needed. Over the years, the McMaster community has supported this cause generously. Your continued support is very much appreciated!
Why not start a toy-drive in your office, residence or department? Donations can be dropped off at a collection box at your nearest campus library (Mills, Innis, Thode or the Health Sciences Library).
Looking for ideas? Infants and toddlers might like:
- craft kits
- colouring books, crayons and/or markers
- building blocks
- dolls, popular Barbie(s), action characters/figures and accessories
- gift certificates for toy stores
Older children might like
- sports items, equipment, accessories
- model kits
- make-up, hair essentials and accessories
- gift certificates/cards (movie passes, video & music stores, shopping malls)
- electronics (MP3 players, etc.).
Inquiries should be directed to Eden McLean (905-525-9140, ext. 27099) at Mills Memorial Library.
McMaster library’s collection of Leonard Cohen’s letters and manuscripts offer an intimate view of the writer’s life
Filed under Library News: Archives & Research Collections
The early writing life of one of Canada’s most celebrated poets, novelists and lyricists, Leonard Cohen, is laid out in hundreds of pages of correspondence and manuscripts stored carefully at McMaster’s Mills Memorial Library.
There, in Cohen’s own neat hand, for example, is the final copy of Suzanne, the poem that would be published in 1966 and later become one of his most popular songs.
Cohen’s death at age 82 was announced Nov. 10. The news resonated with Lorraine York, a professor in McMaster’s Department of English and Cultural Studies who teaches Cohen’s works.
"As we come to the end of a tumultuous week, Leonard Cohen has slipped away, his death itself also seeming to be a meaningful, graceful exit from a world in turmoil. Poet-philosopher, prophet, provocateur: he brought us such riches from the Tower of Song,” York said in a statement.
McMaster’s William Ready Division of Archives and Research Collections is home to the largest and most varied collections of archives on Canadian publishing anywhere. They include years’ worth of running commentary between Cohen and his publisher Jack McClelland, starting in 1960, a fertile period when both were making indelible marks on the world of letters.
McClelland was taking Canadian literature to the world stage, while Cohen was coming into his period of greatest productivity, when he lived in Greece with his girlfriend and muse, Marianne Ihlen.
Sometimes pointed, occasionally profane, but mainly sarcastic and playful, Cohen and McClelland’s exchanges – letters, postcards and telegrams – featured fights over book titles, finances, jacket blurbs, and life’s events, all peppered with inside jokes.
Cohen, after jousting with his publisher over the presentation of the poetry collection Flowers for Hitler, ends a letter to McClelland this way: “Enjoy your authoritarian life,” and signs off: “Goodbye forever, Leonard Cohen, The Jewish Keats.”
Archives and rare books librarian Myron Groover says the Cohen-McClelland papers are popular with scholars and fans alike, offering an intimate look at the writer’s life.
“They give real insight into Cohen’s thought process, and his process as an artist, “Groover says. “He’s really emerging as a self-confident, occasionally petulant, Canadian writer. This is really Cohen as he’s discovering the full strength of his powers as a writer.”
Filed under Library News: Archives & Research Collections
John Dorsey (pictured), son of McMaster alumnus Lieutenant Robert (Bob) Dorsey, holds a “wee small tam” and a pair of woollen mittens sent home by his father- a gift to the son he would never meet. These items are now part of a special archive donated by the Dorsey family to McMaster University Library.
I stood beside a graveside and tears came to my eyes
Tears I didn’t know I had
For a man I didn’t know with the same last name
First time I stood beside my dad
I really wish that I had known him
Only 23 and gone
He never got off the beach in Normandy
But he left me to carry on.
These words were written by John Dorsey, lyrics to a song about his father, McMaster alumnus, Lieutenant Robert (Bob) Dorsey, who died in World War Two– a father he never met.
John, a teacher and a musician, wrote the song after visiting his father’s grave in France for the first time 30 years ago, a fitting tribute to his father, who by all accounts, shared his son’s love of music.
John was three months old when his father was killed in France on June 7, 1944– his life, and those of 19 others, claimed when a German aircraft strafed their position as they dug in on the beaches of Normandy.
“I never thought I had feelings for my dad because I never knew him, but when I was in France, I found myself standing beside the grave and crying,” says Dorsey. “You can’t escape these things- he’s part of me and I’m part of him, that’s why I wrote the song– I distilled my feelings into that.”
Bob Dorsey embarked for England in 1943, not knowing at the time that his wife Florence was expecting. But after hearing of his son’s birth, an excited Bob bought “a wee small tam,” and a set of tiny mittens, purchased while on leave in Scotland, and sent them home to Florence– a gift from a proud father to his son.
Now these items, along with a collection of photos, mementos and documents that shed light on Bob’s life, are part of an archive recently donated by the Dorsey family to McMaster University Library’s William Ready Division of Archives and Research Collections.
“(The collection) helped me to learn about who I came from– it helps me understand my dad,” says Dorsey who, over the years, heard stories about his father– about his outgoing and fun-loving nature, and how he would often lead his regiment in song, earning him the nickname, “Tommy Dorsey."
Included in the collection is a number of family photos, as well as a stack of publications known as the “The Rocket,” a regimental newspaper co-founded by Bob that was full of cartoons, jokes, editorials and news from the front– it was intended to be a source of information, but also to help boost morale among the troops.
“We are grateful to receive this generous gift from the Dorsey family,” says Wade Wyckoff, Associate University Librarian. “This collection contains unique materials that will serve as a valuable resource to scholars seeking to learn about the lives and experiences of Canadian soldiers during World War II. We are proud to preserve this collection and to make it available to future generations of scholars.”
The Dorsey archive is part of a special Library initiative inspired by McMaster’s World War II Honour Roll project, led by Dr. Charles M. Johnston (class of 1949), professor emeritus of history, with the support of McMaster’s Alumni Association.
As part of this online project, Johnston researched and wrote comprehensive biographies of the 35 McMaster alumni who died in World War II, the names of whom are listed on the Honour Roll plaques housed in Alumni Memorial Hall.*
Johnston’s biography of Bob Dorsey provides many details and insights into his life, military service and student activities, painting a picture of a man who, while at McMaster, was an active and enthusiastic member of the Chess Club and of McMaster’s Political Economy Club and who also exceled at numerous sports, winning both tennis and badminton championships as a varsity athlete, and dubbed “a leader on the field” by the Silhouette for his contributions to McMaster’s championship-winning soccer team.
Read Lt. Robert Dorsey’s biography written by Dr. Charles Johnston, part of McMaster’s WWII Honour Roll project.
“The Library’s archive project compliments the comprehensive and meaningful work of Dr. Johnston intended to bring to life the stories the McMaster alumni who served and died in the Second World War,” says Director of Alumni Advancement, Karen McQuigge. “The Library’s archive initiative will help deepen our understanding of the contributions, and sacrifices made by the McMaster graduates who didn’t returned home from that tragic conflict.”
* Alumni Memorial Hall was named in honour of McMaster’s fallen soldiers from World War I and World War II. Each year the names of these graduates are read aloud during McMaster’s annual Remembrance Day ceremony.
The Lewis & Ruth Sherman Centre for Digital Scholarship* has announced the recipients of the 2016/2017 Sherman Centre Graduate Fellowship.
The fellowships are awarded to emerging scholars who are interested in using digital tools, techniques and methods to advance their research.
"We received a number of high-caliber applications from graduate students across McMaster this year, which is indicative of the continued growth and interest in digital scholarship and the digital humanities on campus,” says Andrea Zeffiro, academic director of the Sherman Centre. “We look forward to working with these talented, innovative scholars and to seeing their imprint on the growing community of Sherman researchers.”
The fellows will each receive a $1500 stipend as well as workspace in the Centre for the coming academic year.
Learn more about this year’s Sherman Centre Graduate Fellows:
Mica Jorgenson, Doctoral Candidate in History
This Sherman Centre Fellowship project supplements my doctorate research on the environmental history of nineteenth century global gold rushes. My in-progress dissertation argues that international influences affected Canada’s relationship with nature during the industrialization of the primary resource industry. I use the Porcupine gold rush in northern Ontario as a case study to show how transnational forces can effect local environments. The current project is a flow map of people, goods, and ideas moving around the world between 1848 (the first gold rush in California) and 1909 (Porcupine). Using a database of moved objects compiled during primary research, the flow map project seeks to identify directional and thematic trends in overseas movements associated with the gold rush. The current project builds on previous mapping projects in which I overlaid historic maps onto modern satellite imagery to show changes in claim boundaries and waterways over time. By treating the gold rushes as linked international events, this work (and my dissertation as a whole) challenges the dominant trend in the historical discipline toward national research constrained by political borders. Learn more about Mica’s research.
Kelsey Leonard, Doctoral Candidate in Social Policy
This digital scholarship project will develop on an online toolkit, or data portal that consolidates available data on water security issues affecting Indigenous Nations in the Columbia River Basin (CRB) and Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Basin (GLSLB). Indigenous Nations are increasingly experiencing the effects ofclimate change and taking steps to adapt to current and future environmental risks. In response to ecological changes and altered human activities, First Nations in Canada and the United States are creating climate change adaptation programs for water security. The management of water resources by First Nations is inherently transboundary as those nations existed prior to modern border delineations. The digital scholarship project highlights First Nation strategies from the CRB and GLSLB to enhance equitable and responsible management of Indigenous water resources. Highlighting the Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) of First Nations and advancing innovation pathways through Indigenous mapping using story maps and geospatial data.
Samantha Stevens-Hall, Doctoral Candidate in History
The proposed project is a public access online database of primary source and supplementary materials in African intellectual history. The materials incorporated come from my archival work for my dissertation. This database would bring together these scattered sources into one easily accessible online resource. The database will initially have three portfolios of Uganda intellectuals from the period of transition to British colonial rule in Uganda in East Africa. These portfolios will be comprised of short biographies, no more than 500 words, written in an encyclopedic style and accompanied with a few excerpts from their written works, no more than five pages each. The excerpts will be selected to show the dynamic character and variety in their writing as a means to support the key arguments in my thesis that these men were multidimensional figures engaged in a vibrant culture of knowledge exchange and debate over representations of the past. Learn more about Samantha’s research
* The Sherman Centre, which is a part of McMaster University Library, provides consulting and technical support to faculty and graduate students with all levels of technological experience. The Sherman Centre consults on any stage or aspect of a digital scholarship, or pedagogical project to help determine the digital tools, techniques and methods that best suit the project, big or small.
With the help of the Lewis and Ruth Sherman Centre for Digital Scholarship, PhD student Melissa Marie (emmy) Legge, pictured here with therapy dog Boom, has built an electronic sensor package to help better understand the experiences of therapy dogs.
When Melissa Marie (emmy) Legge first started as a graduate fellow in the Lewis and Ruth Sherman Centre for Digital Scholarship* a little over a year ago, the McMaster student and PhD candidate in Social Work had no idea how a computer processor works, let alone how to program one.
Now, with help from the Sherman Centre, Legge has not only learned electronics and coding skills, but has used those skills to build a specialized sensor package, which has become a key part of Legge’s dissertation research.
“In Social Work we don’t really work with technology but there’s so much potential, especially in research,” says Legge who will use the sensor to gather data aimed at better understanding the experiences of therapy animals while they’re working.
Legge recently came to the Sherman Centre, located in Mills Library, to talk to the Daily News about this research and to demonstrate how the sensor works:
Tell me about your dissertation research
I grew up as an animal activist. I had always had pets and worked with animals and so I was really excited about the increasing popularity of that kind of social work, but once I got involved in it myself, I found that it was more complicated than I thought. Just because a dog is suited for therapy work, it doesn’t mean they’ll be comfortable in every environment– every dog is different.
I wanted to get an idea of what it’s like for the animals that do all this work for us. What do they see, or hear while they’re working? I wanted to find ways to collect both qualitative and quantitative date about the animal’s experience– hopefully the sensor will paint a picture of what the animal is experiencing.
What does the sensor package do?
I built the package using an Arduino– a little computer that you program and give instructions. It has a number of sensors plugged in. My package measures things like heart rate and breathing rates. But I also wanted to get more nuanced data, so there’s a sensor that measures the volume levels of the (ambient) noise, and a video camera mounted on a go-pro harness, which is great because you can see where the animal is looking, and because the animal’s head is in the shot, you can see whether their ears go up and down.
I’m also hoping to put a sensor on the tail because when dogs are happy they really express that physically.
You don’t have a technical background– how did you learn these skills?
I had never done anything like this– literally zero– before my fellowship. I had done basic programming in high school which is pretty obsolete now, but that was it.
I worked at the Sherman Centre and a makerspace in Toronto and I asked a lot of questions. I found that the first steps were the hardest in the learning process, but once I got going I found there were lots of resources available. People here in the Sherman Centre provided me with support, education and space to work. It’s so valuable to have a space where you can sit and make a mess and, if you get totally stuck, have people around to help. So many people here have a wealth of knowledge.
Anything you want to add?
I feel in so many ways that I didn’t understand what could be done in research with digital technologies before I started working in the Sherman Centre–I think not everyone in every discipline knows what’s out there. It’s been really exciting– I have more enthusiasm for research now after having been here for a year, it’s such a valuable resource.
* The Sherman Centre, which is a part of McMaster University Library, provides consulting and technical support to faculty and graduate students with all levels of technological experience. The Sherman Centre consults on any stage or aspect of a digital scholarship or pedagogical project to help determine the digital tools, techniques and methods that best suit the project, big or small.
Filed under Library News: Maps, Data, GIS
McMaster map expert, Gord Beck is featured, along with numerous maps from McMaster’s renowned World War One map collection, in the documentary Drawn to Victory: The Revolution of Mapping in World War One airing on Sunday Oct. 30 at 9:00 p.m. on CPAC.
Beck, a Map Specialist in McMaster University Library’s Maps, Data and GIS Department, served as a consultant, and also appears in the documentary, which focuses on Canada’s contribution to the evolution of aerial mapmaking and examines the impact of new mapping standards and techniques developed by the Allies during WW1.
McMaster’s Lloyd Reeds Maps Collection contains more than 1500 maps and 600 aerial photos from World War One, making it one of the largest WW1 map collections in Canada and the largest collection of digitized WW1 maps in the world.
Maps from the collection were used both in the documentary and to create educational resources for teachers including:
Drawn to Victory was sponsored by the Royal Canadian Geographical Society, Canadian Geographic Magazine, the Canadian Heritage Ministry and CPAC (Canadian Public Affairs Channel).