Monday, January 13, 2014

Volume 1 issue 6

The library would like to wish you a happy and prosperous New Year! As we look forward to the new year and the upcoming Spring Semester, there are some changes being made that will help serve you better. Our hours have been updated, there are new features in some of our databases, and we are highlighting some services that you might not be aware of. In addition, this blog will now feature articles with links to the source that will, hopefully, entertain and enlighten you. With every new year comes change and the anticipation of what's to come. Let's embrace this with excitement, enthusiasm, euphoria and get 2014 off to a great start.

Library Hours
The library is open before the semester begins on January 21. Please see the schedule below for complete opening times.

8:00 am-6:00 pm Mon-Thur
8:00 am-5pm Friday
CLOSED Saturday

The hours for the library at Mid-City in the spring will be as follows:

Mon-Tues 7:30am-9pm
Wed-Thurs 7:30am-7pm
Fri 7:30am-5pm
Sat 8am-12pm

Library Display

New Year/New You display
As you enter the Magnolia Building from the South entrance you may have noticed the library displays. These displays are changed monthly and are based on a particular theme. This month we are working with New Year/New You.

Each of the items on display address this idea. There are books related to self-improvement, improvement of your teaching style, and even how to create a more positive and improved work environment.

These materials may be checked out, so why not stop by and  see what the library has that can help with your New Year's Resolutions?

Full library display addressing the theme New Year/New You

LexisNexis Update

Heading in to the new semester, you may have noticed a change in our LexisNexis database. They have updated their user interface and to help you navigate the new system, the team at LexisNexis has put together a video demonstrating some of the changes. The video is a little over eight minutes and covers everything you will need to know about using this database. If you have any questions regarding the use of this database, or would like a demonstration of the new features call the library (216-8555).


This month we are featuring our Libguides. LibGuides is our Content Management System that is used to curate knowledge and share information through online Guides on any topic, subject, course, or process happening in Magnolia Library. With over 50 Libguides, many of which are subject specific, we are sure to have a Libguide that's right for you and your course! Some of the content found in our Libguides has been based on feedback from instructors, so if there is something you believe should be included contact your librarian liaison.

To access our libguides from the library Web page, simply click on the Libguides navigation button on the left hand side of your screen. The image to the left illustrates where to locate this link. You can also click the link here.

From the Libguides page, you will be able to select the information most pertinent to you. The full list of Libguides includes:





















































The lives and deaths of academic library staplers

  1. Jason Vance
+ Author Affiliations
  1. Jason Vance is information literacy librarian at Middle Tennessee State University’s James E. Walker Library, e-mail:
We have experienced 15 deaths in my library this semester. Three victims were decapitated. The bodies of two other victims were never found. Others were abused and left for dead. My library is facing a crisis. Staplercide—the murder of library staplers—is at an all-time high.
The average life span for a stapler at my library’s reference desk this past semester was 15.3 days. The most common cause of stapler death was exhaustion. An exhausted stapler would staple once, and then jam, entering a state of nonresponsive “stapler shock.” After a librarian valiantly unjammed it, the stapler would muster one more staple before collapsing again. Often we were not able to intervene before a frustrated student began assaulting the jammed stapler. One should not beat a dead stapler.1
View larger version:
    Stapler 9 is dead at the age of 36 days.
    Like many seasoned reference librarians, experience at the reference desk has turned me into a self-taught stapler triage nurse. Armed with the tools of our trade—screwdrivers, tweezers, and pliers—reference librarians around the world tend to injured and abused staplers and bring them back from near-death experiences. This semester, however, as the carnage raged at my library, I felt more like a coroner than a nurse.
    In January 2013, curiosity and concern drove me to begin documenting the rampant destruction of staplers at my library’s reference desk.
    With help from my colleagues, I discreetly numbered each stapler and noted the date as we put it out for public use. I photographed each stapler and documented it on a Tumblr page I created for this project.2 When each stapler died, I recorded the date and calculated its age in a spreadsheet. Later I added the results of my stapler autopsy and indicated the cause of death.
    Some staplers lasted no more than one day. The longest living stapler succumbed at the age of 45 days. May they all rest in peace.
    We have tried buying different staplers. The staplers we now purchase are Swingline’s Commercial Desk Staplers (Model No. S7044401). The list cost is $25.77. These are nice, high-quality staplers. We buy this model because they last longer than the others we have tried in the past. Plus, Swingline offers a “limited lifetime warranty” on its products. If a customer returns a dead stapler that died with no signs of foul play (my words, not theirs) accompanied by a receipt or proof of purchase, Swingline will send the customer a replacement stapler. To save on shipping costs, I began collecting dead staplers on my desk. My office quickly became a cemetery.
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      A dead stapler funeral pyre.
      We also tried offering our students an electric stapler. Shortly after it was put out for public use, one of our librarians found it with its electrical cord severed. She described a grisly scene. The stapler lay lifeless on the counter, while its ripped power cord was still plugged into the wall. Its naked wires were left exposed as it lay abandoned by the perpetrator. No one knows what happened. Perhaps it was an errant swipe of the neighboring paper cutter blade? Or maybe some anti-technology campus radicals were using violence to make a political statement? Either way, it was an expensive piece of machinery and was not replaced. The suspected foul play voided the terms of the manufacturer’s warranty.
      At this point, you must think our students are savages. Perhaps they are. But evidence suggests that we are not alone. As word of my morbid investigations began to spread via social media, letters of support and sympathy poured in from other libraries.
      Further evidence of this pandemic can be found in the October 2000 issue of Indiana University’s law library newsletter, “Res Ipsa Loquitur.” The library’s associate director described scenes where law students were observed placing staplers on the floor and “using their feet to push the levers.” She added, “We cannot continue to use Library resources to purchase staplers that are going to be abused. The solution is in your hands—take care of the staplers, use them properly, and we will continue to provide them.”3 Res ipsa loquitur, indeed.
      Sometimes frustration can spark creativity. Working in an office filled with dead staplers, I had a flash of inspiration midway through my study. I asked myself, “Why not build a new working stapler using spare parts from dead staplers?” Like a mad scientist in a tower laboratory, I used a quiet spring break week at my university to work on my new top-secret project. The sounds of clanging metal, unbound springs, and incessant hammering emanated from my closed office door. All that was missing was a thunderstorm and a bolt of lightning.
      Finally, when my project was complete, my maniacal laughter was followed by my cry, “It’s alive! It’s alive!” I dubbed my creation, “Frankenstapler,” and released it at the reference desk.
      To quote Robert Walton from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, “What can stop the determined heart and resolved will of man?” As if in answer to this question, our library patrons destroyed my Frankenstapler after only 27 days.
      Another creative venture borne of this staplercide crisis came from William Denton, Web librarian at York University and a fellow library stapler activist.
      We can replace the word library with library stapler in our professional conversations and joke about the American Library Stapler Association. Or we imagine ourselves reading the latest issue of College & Research Library Staplers News. Or how about studying Ranganathan’s Five Laws of Library Stapler Science? The possibilities are endless.
      View larger version:
        Tweet from a library stapler activist.
        Springshare, purveyors of the popular LibGuides product, also got in on the stapler humor action. They announced a fake product, the LibStapler, as an insensitive April Fools’ joke. Billed as the “Smart Stapler for Libraries,” the LibStapler purported to offer stapler usage statistics, SMS text alerts when staples were running low, diagnostic alerts, and a built in security camera to “catch that person trying to staple more than 20 pages at a time.”4 If this product were real, libraries would pay top dollar for it. But libraries can’t buy a nonexistent product, so the joke is on you, Springshare.
        With no actual American Library Stapler Association and only the dream of a smart LibStapler, what are reference librarians to do?
        Librarians must celebrate the lives of library staplers, however short, and mourn their deaths when they pass. Staplers are destroyed primarily because they are used. Despite the New York Times’ assertion that staplers are dusty and unused in this digital age of PDFs,5 reference librarians know that each of our dead academic library staplers is going down in a blaze of glory. And when a student kills one of our staplers, another one will rise up to meet the fastening challenges of the day.
        However much we want to protect our staplers from our patrons, we must remember the first of Ranganathan’s Five Laws of Library Stapler Science: “Staplers are for use.”


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        Financial literacy

        Why students need librarians to get involved

        1. Adi Redzic
        + Author Affiliations
        1. Adi Redzic serves as the executive director of iOme Challenge, a national think tank on financial literacy and empowerment of young people. For more information about Redzic and iOme Challenge, visit
        ACRL President Trevor A. Dawes’ note: This month, I invited Adi Redzic to write this column to highlight the student’s perspective of why librarians should be involved in financial education. Adi is a recent graduate of Loyola University Chicago and completed his undergraduate degree at St. Norbert’s College in Wisconsin. Having to fund his education primarily on his own, Adi was the founding director of the iOme Challenge, and currently serves as co-chair of my president’s program planning committee. Adi will be the featured speaker at a forum on financial literacy at the 2014 ALA Midwinter Meeting in Philadelphia.
        In the midst of a governmental shutdown in October 2013, political impasse and partisan bickering in Washington D.C., sky-rocketing student and credit card debts, and an impending default on the national debt, the Millennials—those born between 1980 and 2000—cannot help but wonder, what about us?
        Growing up, we have been promised secure futures, well-paying jobs, medals for the job well done, and a slew of other accolades. Go to college, work hard, and you will live an “American Dream,” the storyline went. Now, as some of us have graduated college, 43 percent1 are very concerned about our personal financial situation, with 28 percent only moderately concerned. This reflects the high unemployment rate among our generation. This also reflects the debt we (and our families) have accumulated to pay for college. Is college worth it? The majority of us still believe it is. What we do not believe is that politicians can resolve our financial issues, both individual and collective.

        So what does this tell us?

        It tells us that the fairy tale we had been promised was just that, a tale told by hopeful parents. It also tells us that we, as a generation, will be faced by major financial problems that our elected officials may not necessarily resolve. As the largest generation in the last 100 years (about 80 million strong), we will be responsible for solving the problems that our parents, grandparents, and the system as a whole—including situations beyond any one person’s control—have left for us. It also tells us that these problems, and our obligations to our grandparents, parents, and to our children, will be large—and very, very expensive.
        Solving problems is now a part of the American ethos—that “can-do” attitude. And we have that covered. We also have the “hard-work” covered, regardless of what some pundits would have you believe about “these lazy, young Millennials.” We just do thing differently; we do them together, we tap into our creativity rather than follow old patterns, and we have the audacity to hope.
        However, what we do not have—and what we desperately need—are the tools that will help us solve the problems and therefore secure a great financial future or, more specifically, financial education. In other words, we face a serious, and dangerous, gap in our financial literacy.
        Unlike today, 100 years ago, talking about money wasn’t taboo. Books on financial management were written and widely distributed. I am not talking about high-end pieces that most of us cannot understand; those still exist today, and their authors are wealthy. Rather, I am talking about fundamental financial literacy education resources. Some people would argue that this basic financial education should come from home, from our parents, discussed at a kitchen table. But you see, this is not how things work today. We live in a very different world, where both parents work and they work a lot more hours to secure a lot lower purchasing power than they did 50 or 60 years ago. But even if things were the same, rearing responsible and literate citizens—those who can face the challenges that the entirely new, globalized world presents—is everyone’s responsibility. We don’t leave to the parents the responsibility of teaching language literacy or how to form an argument or how to do basic math equations, do we? We go to school to learn this. So, how come we don’t learn about money in school, too?
        In some places, we do. But expecting an elementary-aged, or even a high-schoolaged, student to think about their retirement, or savings, or government debt—and have those lessons stick—is a bit of a stretch. Now, in college, the story is significantly different. Everything about the college experience is supposed to prepare us for the future: we are often on our own for the first time, we learn about ourselves, we study something that can turn into our profession, we make lifelong relationships, and so on. You get the point.
        During our college years, be it at a community college, four-year school, or in a pursuit of a graduate degree, we also spend a lot of time in a library. But how come librarians and libraries—arguably, the epicenters of an academic life and depositories of knowledge—do not actively offer financial literacy education resources? If they don’t, I believe they should.
        And not because I believe that librarians have nothing else to do. Quite to the contrary, I believe that libraries—and especially, college and research libraries—are uniquely positioned to fulfill this role. Unlike financial institutions and the government at-large, librarians are generally trusted to bring unbiased, well-researched knowledge. And, very importantly, they are also able to connect other campus stakeholders, from the faculty to student life to the larger community and everyone in between in order to deliver a service to students. They are poised to serve as a hub of resources and literacy, a hub that has a potential to impact the lives of millions, and the nation as a whole.
        It is my hope that this column and this year’s ACRL presidential initiative, as well as the work of the Reference and User Services Association is about to embark upon, is only a tip of the proverbial iceberg of the work that will be done in this realm in the future. The responsibility to teach financial literacy falls on all of us, but without the involvement of college librarians, those they are meant to serve—the students—will suffer the most. I hope you will join the cause.


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