In the Stacks: A. J. Baime’s Arsenal of Democracy

A. J. Baime’s 2014 book The Arsenal of Democracy: FDR, Detroit, and an Epic Quest to Arm an America at War is a work of historical non-fiction, highlighting one specific aspect of the development of the US military industrial complex during the second World War: the efforts by the Ford Motor Company to build B-24 Liberator bombers.

Arsenal of Democracy bookjacket

SPOILER ALERT:  Ford Motor Company provides the setting for Baime’s book, starting off with the story of Ford as an early leader in automobile production, and efforts under new management (Edsel Ford, son of founder Henry) to expand into the burgeoning aviation market – efforts which were initially unsuccessful.  A central tenet of this book is the importance of military airpower during World War II and in the pre-war years (and the need to increase production for military aircraft); the author hails heavy bombers – specifically, the B-24 Liberator – as the key to winning the war.  Thus, the war provides Edsel with an opportunity to try again.  In the early years of the war, Edsel & his team propose a plan to construct B-24s by applying assembly-line manufacturing processes, and they set the audacious goal of turning out one bomber per hour.  Their efforts (including the construction of the mammoth new Willow Run factory in Michigan) reveal the naiveté of the initial goal, and the challenges of both meeting that goal & overcoming the doubts of other people.

 

It may sound trite, but this book has something for almost everyone.  This is not a traditional military history, although there is an engaging description of Operation Tidal Wave, to bomb the oil fields in Ploesti.  (If you expect this to be the same as Rick Atkinson’s Liberation Trilogy, you may be disappointed.  Perhaps a better comparison is to Michael Beschloss’ The Conquerors, which provides perspective on the wartime presidents Roosevelt & Truman.) This is not a work of historical drama, although the book depicts the complex relationship between automotive icon Henry Ford and his only son Edsel.  This is not a history of the civil rights movement or of labor relations, although the book paints a picture of the growing industrialization of Detroit, tells of the influx of transplanted workers from rural America, and describes the painful (and sometimes bloody) multi-sided labor conflicts at the Ford factories.  It tells a story set during wartime – and the war cannot be ignored.  The appearance of several unexpected cast members (thugs of questionable authority, suspected Nazi sympathizers, and even Charles Lindbergh) all serve to keep the reader engaged.  Scholars will appreciate the comprehensive endnotes and index.

 

This is a lease book at the UAH Salmon Library, and the UAH copy can be found with the call number HD 9710 .U54 B35 2014 in the coffeeshop reading area of the first floor.  You can see more information on the Goodreads page for the Arsenal of Democracy. That page has reviews and links to buy a copy if you want.

 

Spotted a book that should be in a future In the Stacks feature? Just tell us at doug.bolden@uah.edu and/or ron.schwertfeger@uah.edu, and we’ll look into it. Questions about this book or any of the others we have?  You can also email us (or the reference desk at erefq@uah.edu).

This Is The EndNote / introductory session (Refined Researchers Series)

We are happy to announce the third event in our Refined Researchers series of workshops this fall. (Missed that memo?  See our earlier blog post here.)

Refined Researcher Endnote Flyer

Refined Researcher Endnote Flyer

On October 6th, I will lead a short, hands-on workshop on the EndNote citation management software (see the Thomson Reuters webpage here).  EndNote – like other types of citation management software – can be used to store & manage your citations as you work on your academic research, including adding those references to your papers & assignments.  This session will focus on the “full” version of the EndNote software (available for a free trial period, and for a cost after that), but we will also discuss of features that are available through the online interface http://myendnoteweb.com

Please tell me if you can join us; more information about the session (& my email address for an RSVP) is available on the library calendar of events.

 

Classroom Copyright Caper – Slides and Workshop Highlights (Refined Researchers Series)

This past Tuesday, as part of our Refined Researchers series, I gave a workshop on copyright with an emphasis about how it interacts with the classroom (and some other ideas, all generally meant to help with knowing how to best use it and ask about it). It was a good time from my presenter’s viewpoint, with plenty of attendees from all walks of campus life – faculty, grad, undergrad, and guests – asking good and interesting questions and I hope they enjoyed themselves and learned something. It was a fair number of slides, 90+, with information ranging from copyright history to getting permission to use something, so it would be hard to sum up here. Instead, I am going to include the slides below as a slideshow, and you can download the current draft as a PDF (note, right at 10mb). I am releasing the whole thing Creative Commons 4.0 “With Attribution”, so if you would like to use any of the information or my top-notch fancy drawings in a class, or wherever, feel free. Did I say fancy drawings? Sure did, here’s a quick sample for you:

Try and not be too amazed. Due to something like a fluke, I ended up using a blue trapezoid to represent copyrighted work, with a red one to represent transformed versions, and green circles to represent uses by others. Hopefully simple iconography will help. If any of the diagrams are confusing, though, just email me and I’ll explain a little bit better.

The version below is slightly different from the version presented. There were some attendee submitted questions (and a couple of frequently asked questions) that I had worked into the slides as answer prompts. Those have been omitted due to them needing full context. I’ve made sure to double check a few facts, and have worked in a few attributions better. I have included a section on Distance Learning that had to be cut. I’ve also cleaned up a couple of bits of confusing language, and changed, slightly, the slide order to make sub-sections a little more consistent. As a heads up, there are a few slides where the slideshow makes the formatting funny. I am unsure why, but most are still readable even with the unexpected line breaks.

Classroom Copyright Caper PDF (note, this resizes it to smaller than Google Drive’s method, which makes it several times larger)

You can also access it as a Google Slides document if you think you would like to see it as such. You should be able to save it to your Google Drive account or download it as PPTX file and edit it (you can also click the gear icon on the slide show above for some of these options).

Just reminder, there are currently four Refined Rearchers workshops left in this semester. Click that link to learn more.

So, Just What IS a Roving Reference?

Next week, and for three more weeks planned so far for the Fall semester, some of the reference librarians will be out in other buildings, sitting behind a-table-made-into-a-desk, and calling it the “Roving Reference Desk”. What’s that about?

Well, it is pretty simple. We are the librarians for the campus as a whole. Our resources, ranging from old classic books to cutting edge pre-print research papers, are for the entire UAH community. While our base of operations is the Salmon Library, off slightly to the North side of the campus, our function is serve each and every student, faculty, staff, and guest at UAH by answering questions, helping with research, helping with resources, and generally trying to connect whoever asks us for it with the information they need. And while you are always more than welcome to visit us, we appreciate that classes and meetings and clubs and homework and jobs all take time and sometimes there isn’t enough of it in the day to have more destinations. For a few weeks in the Fall, we’ll do the best we can to help, by being in some of the buildings where you go to class or grab lunch, and hopefully in the Spring we can be in even more places.

You can stop by and talk to us in person. Ask us about library resources. Ask about finding information about [you name it]. Talk to us about what you think of the library. As we say, ask us anything.

This is on top of the various ways you can talk with us via digital and more traditional reference: we have chat, email, phone (256.824.6529), or you can catch us on Twitter or Facebook. Any of those ways. OR, you can visit us at the library. OR, you can stop by on the dates below and talk to us at the Roving Reference Desk. Whichever works best for you.

The first two weeks will be
September 15 through 18 and
September 29 through October 2

We will be in Morton Hall on Mondays,
in the Business Building on Tuesdays,
in the Shelby Center on Wednesdays,
and in the Charger Union on Thursdays.

These will be 11am to 1pm. More specific details, and further sessions, to be announced.

Come and join us for our new Refined Researchers workshops, open to all!

As part of a new initiative, the Salmon Library will be hosting six workshops on a variety of topics throughout the Fall 2014 semester. The focus of the workshops is on information and using information, as well as the way information is observed and used and manipulate [in one], with a mixture of hands-on demonstrations and fun lectures. While I cannot guarantee that there will be no math, don’t worry about any pop-quizzes. These are entirely designed around you being able to relax and learn something useful.

These workshops are open to everyone: students, faculty, staff, alumni, and guests. No RSVP is required, but it can helpful to have a rough judge of potential headcount, so one is appreciated. You can either contact the individuals below, or the reference desk at {(256)824-6529 | erefq@uah.edu}. Also feel free to contact us if you have suggestions for future workshops (or would like to request a different time of day, we’re trying out a couple of time slots now but are game to expand this to more as it goes on).

The Workshops

As you can see, we have a range of workshop topics, with most of these initial six based on a mixture of requests we’ve received and personal interest.

The Mark of Zotero (event page)
September 10, 2:00pm-2:45pm. Library 214.
Ron Schwertfeger will guide you through using the free and useful Zotero citation management software in a hands-on workshop. Of special interest to those who have to handle a lot of references for a big project. Since Zotero is free, you can show up and learn about it and then be using it that very night.

The Classroom Copyright Caper (event page)
September 23, 5:30pm-6:30pm. Library 111.
Doug Bolden will talk about copyright and fair use and how they impact the classroom and the campus environment as a whole and where specific numbers rule the day versus general guidelines.

This Is the Endnote (event page)
October 6, 2:00pm-2:45pm. Library 214.
Ron Schwertfeger is back, this time looking at Endnote, one of the premier commercial citation management programs. He will talk about its many features—from sharing with other users, backing up data, and auto-importing information—and the free web version. Again, this one will be hands-on with practical training.

From Lovecraft to the Thing from Outer Space (event page)
October 21, 5:30pm-6:30pm. Library 111.
Doug Bolden, in something a little different, is going to do an overview of science horror from the 20th century and the way that it took advantage of scientific advancement while painting science as ticking time bomb (often, literally), starting with pro-science but narratively anti-information H.P. Lovecraft, and moving forward.

We Need to Go Deeper (event page)
October 23, 2:00pm-2:45pm. Library 214.
Seth Porter will be teaching you how to find a wealth of free information about business and demographics using just a web-browser and publicly available sites, information already out there but somewhat hidden from casual searches.

OneSearch to Rule Them All (event page)
November 13, 2:00pm-2:45pm. Library 214.
Michael Manasco will finish off our first semester by looking at the OneSearch front end for Ebsco’s Discovery Service. He will show you to get the most out of it, with tips on advanced searching and Ebsco accounts and ebooks and getting primary sources and a whole toolbag of tricks.

Special note: The original date of the EndNote session was October 9. It is now October 6.

In the Stacks: Edogawa Ranpo’s Japanese Tales of Mystery & Imagination

Our In the Stacks this time is similar to our last in that it is a collection of mystery stories written in tribute to another writer, but while Solar Pons is largely a Sherlockian pastiche that took off on a life of his own, Edogawa Ranpo’s collection of somewhat Poe inspired stories, Japanese Tales of Mystery & Imagination, is a classic of psychological mystery.

Ranpo, born Hirai Tarō, took his pen name in tribute to Poe (as you say Edogawa Ranpo, note that it is a phonetic play on Edgar Allan Poe) and some of his stories definitely fit into Poe’s elements of gothic sensibilities, psychological underpinnings, and a sense of puzzle and play. Ranpo, though, largely avoids the floridness that was one of Poe’s greatest strengths and weaknesses, making him quite readable while retaining the thrilling energy of old estates and city streets and people who sneak around in the night [how much this is owed to James B. Harris, the translator, is unknown to me but fans of the original language version can feel free to comment below].

Tales of Mystery and the Imagination Cover

Notable stories in Japanese Tales include

  • “The Human Chair”, about a man who hides out in a fancy chair feels – note, this is exactly as it sounds – and listens in [and eventually falls in love] with the people who sit on him;
  • “The Psychological Test”, about a Raskolnikov-wannabe who is overcome partially by his own sense of superiority; and
  • “Two Crippled Men”, about a man who has dealt with a fear of his sleep walking and the horrors he had done, not knowing that other forces might be at play.

Most of these are about the psychology of the crime more than the crime itself. A couple, “Hell of Mirrors” and “The Traveler with the Pasted Rag Picture”, are actually closer to weird fiction more than mystery, but make for some nice spice in the mix.

Our copy is up on the third floor, north side, with the call number, PL826 .D6 J3 1956. It is the sixth printing of the 1956 Tuttle edition. You can see more information on the Goodreads page for Japanese Tales of Mystery & Imagination. That link has reviews and some edition notes and links to buy a copy if you want.

As a note, his pen name is most often romanized as Ranpo, now, but earlier romanizations (including the one on the cover of the book, though not the book’s record) is Rampo, with an “m”.

Spotted a book in our stacks that you think is worthy of being brought up in a future In the Stacks feature? Just let me know at doug.bolden@uah.edu and I’ll look into it. Questions about this book or any of the others we have, then email me or the reference desk at erefq@uah.edu.

Five Misconceptions About Plagiarism as Highlighted by Certain Recent Events

There have been a couple of big plagiarism news pieces lately, including one that hits my personal weird fiction interests: a recent claim by Mike Davis (of Lovecraft Ezine) and Jon Padgett (of Thomas Ligotti Online) that some quotes from the show True Detective were outright plagiarism of Thomas Ligotti’s book, Conspiracy Against the Human Race. I am not here to talk about my personal feelings on the truth or untruth of this claim, nor even my professional assessment, I’ll reserve that for my personal discourse, but as a librarian I have noticed a number of misconceptions cropping up about plagiarism in online discussions about this issue and the others, such as a Reddit thread on r/TrueDetective about the article. I feel those are worth discussing because there are many confused by what plagiarism means and what its impact can be. There are more than five misconceptions – by the far the biggest one encountered in the Academic World seems to be, “If I found it online, it’s not plagiarism!” – but these five seem most germane to the current debates being waged in comment sections around the internet.

At the onset, my plan was to take specific posts from the Reddit thread, the Facebook thread, some of the Twitter comments, and so forth, but I found this troublesome because some of these problems are spread throughout multiple poster’s comments but some of the more egregious offenders have since deleted or edited their posts – or had their posts buried under a flood of other posts – and I am not quite comfortable with calling specific people out. I am trying to inform, not embarrass. To that end, I’ve decided to generalize a little bit, to synthesize and to analyze a little bit, and to use these misconceptions in a big picture light. If I do actually reference a specific claim from a specific person, I’ll go ahead and let that be known, because, you know…plagiarism.

A disclaimer, right off, none of these are an attack, and especially not upon the parties discussed in the source article.

Misconception: Plagiarism has fair use.

Plagiarism and copyright infringement are cousins, not identical twins. “Fair Use” is a concept better suited for copyright questions. Many of its tenants – transformative use and quantity used – are poor fits for plagiarism analysis. I can take, say, a paragraph from a book and use it in a paper and consider that use fair, especially for education reasons, but this does not excuse me from the needs for proper citation and making distinct which words/ideas are mine and which ones are not. If the ideas/words are not mine, then I need to acknowledge this at some level: citation, author’s note, credit, in-text acknowledgement, or so forth. This ties in closely with the next point…

Misconception: Plagiarism is negated by works in the public domain.

This is false. Whether or not a work is in the public domain, it does not impact the fact that someone lifted words or ideas from another source. Plagiarism is about whether or not something is from someone else, not about whether it is actionable on copyright grounds. You can argue that once a work achieves a degree of general knowledge that plagiarism becomes less possible, but then it behooves you to try and use exact quotes so that there is no doubt of the source. For instance, if I were to say, “All the world’s a stage!” in a paper about social perceptions of job titles, I could reasonable assume that the reader would recognize the Shakespearean origin, but it is still more more polite to acknowledge.

Misconception: Since X got his ideas from Y and Z, you cannot truly be said to be plagiarizing X.

Some discussions about Ligotti coming up out of this have correctly noted that his book is influenced by a number of pessimistic and antinatalistic authors. There are two points to look at here, though. First, Ligotti’s book has extensive references to those authors from whom he is deriving his arguments, so saying that Ligotti is borrowing – and in some cases commenters have actually used the claim of plagiarism against Ligotti for clearly citing the works of other- in the same way is fallacious. Second, even if many of the ideas are unoriginal, there is an aspect of his wording and his synthesis and his analysis that forms a unique take upon the field. There are cases of “soft” plagiarism where synthesis provided by one author – say as part of a literary review – is taken without credit. Maybe John Smith’s comparison of experiments involving  peanuts uses only old data to make his point, but if I have used Smith to get an understanding of the field, I need to be citing Smith. Not to mention I would be forced to trust Smith’s interpretation of others data, which is additionally problematic.

Misconception: Plagiarism is negated/tested by pecuniary remuneration.

Basically, some have said that this is not plagiarism because it helped to spread the word about Ligotti through the fame of the show while some have said that it is only plagiarism if Ligotti takes it to court as such. The latter seems to be confusing plagiarism with trademark dispute – where active legal defense against infringement is required in order to hold status – while the former is practical but generally beside the point. If a professor steals another professor’s research and only admits such after the accolades, it does shed some fame back on the source, but it could have done so much better had proper acknowledgement been given at the start. Besides, even if I give you permission to use my work, it is still plagiarism if you do not cite your sources. I’ll leave aside, for now, the very tricky aspects when it comes to stuff like works-for-hire and when WfH-A uses WfH-B and etc etc.

Misconception: Plagiarism and homage are really difficult tell from one another.

This is the hardest one to nail down, and is less relevant to the sort of plagiarism that goes on at college campuses, but I would contend that there are lines. If I were to take a fountain and flip it upside down and call my piece “The Urinal” then it feels much more like an homage [see below where I debate myself briefly on this, though] than if I were to take an entire scene from Tracy Letts’ “Bug” and pass it off. In general I would say that homages should optimally be

  • slight [maybe, though I guess my "urinal" above would be anything but so maybe it would not be homage]
  • respectful, and
  • obvious [which can mean different things in different fields and media and genre...obviously].

Bolden’s Razor

It is gauche to name such a thing after myself, I know, so don’t worry, I am not really [to respond to a comment, below]. You can call this whatever you like [I recommended you call it the "Why I Should Just Cite Rule"], even though if you have the pleasure of a library instruction session with me I might still put my own name in and/or some odd literary reference…50/50. I am making a play upon Hanlon’s Razor, which is itself potentially a reference to a number of older phrases and shows, indirectly, the trickiness of knowing the source of something even when it has a name and a ready-at-hand defining characteristic. Rather than, “Never assume malice when ignorance suffices,” I would say,

“Never avoid acknowledgement of a source when acknowledgement is possible. Always be respectful and acknowledge the dialogue between yourself and those who came before you. Go beyond minimum requirements.”

As said at the end, this is beyond “If you use it, cite it,” which is something you will be held to as a student (and otherwise) here at UAH. Acknowledge where you got your ideas from, in whatever way works best for the medium and the topic. Be respectful to those who came before you. Do not make it a letter-of-the-law issue when spirit-of-the-law suffices. As a academic or a student, it is quite actionable to plagiarize, but more than that: when you enter in a field it is good to be in a position where you can say you have treated that field well. As a librarian, provenance of information is immensely important, but even beyond that it is fascinating to look back on those old stories and those old essays and those old papers and to see them as part of a whole, not as something trying to stand singular.

How about you? Any weird misconceptions about plagiarism you want to bring up? Any questions? You can feel free to comment below or drop me a line.

Update: I have edited the wording of the Razor to be a little more definite, in response to a comment below, and also strove to make it clear that I am not trying to get people to refer to it by my name is a egomaniacal march to claim majority rule over internet aphorisms.

Salmon Library Open House 2014! Activities, Door Prizes, Food, and a Chance to Meet the UAH Librarians

On Tuesday, August 26, 2014 (about a week into the Fall 2014 semester), we are going to be holding our annual Salmon Library Open House from 9am to 1pm and would love for any and all students, faculty, or staff from UAH to attend. Whether you are an old hat at our services or new to them, we’ll have things for you to do. There will be door prizes for students who complete some of our activities, and food and snacks throughout the event.

Activities planned at this time include a photo scavenger hunt and a self-guided library tour. People who complete these activities will be eligible to win door prizes: a series of Amazon gift cards. There may be more opportunities to win, so you should stop by and see what crops up!

You can stop by and ask us questions about our services or resources, and there will be librarians that can help on the tour if you need [yes, I know, we can argue the semantics of "self-guided" if you want]. If you just want to take a look at what we’re doing, that’s fine, too. It doesn’t have to be a formal visit.

From 9am to 11am, there will be coffee and donuts. From 11am to 1pm, there will be pizza and drinks.

Want to see some pictures from Fall 2013? Here you go!

Summer 2014 B.E.S.T. Meeting Notes, Including the Full-Text of our “Where Feedback Fears to Tread” Talk

This past Tuesday, July 29, 2014, we had the honor of hosting the Summer B.E.S.T. meeting where librarians from all types of institutions around the Huntsville area visited and talked about plans and swapped conference stories and ideas and asked questions about related services and so forth. It was a delight, and we look forward to the next one.

Michael Talks about Cost as a Factor of Risk

As part of the meeting, Michael Manasco and I (me = Doug Bolden) gave a presentation about feedback loops with the twist of looking at how it can be personal. What does good versus bad feedback mean to us as professionals? How is it that sometimes negative feedback can be a good thing while positive feedback can be bad? What are the biggest dangers to consider? What are the strengths or weaknesses of some feedback systems? That sort of thing. And then we talked about a few of the basic case studies that we have personally dealt with, along with some discussion questions that hopefully helped to broaden the topic and see a few perspectives. We had a good discussion about some of the factors of the talk…even if we went a smidgen over time.

Doug [that's me!] Describes the Jabberwock, aka Confirmation Bias

For those who attended, and for those who did not, our presentation is below. Feel free to read and comment upon it!

You can download a PDF of “Where Feedback Fears to Tread” and use as you wish. We have released it under Creative Commons 4.0 International License (i.e. cc-by). Yes, this means you can feel free to adapt portions of it and to share it. We promise we don’t mind. If you do use it, you can drop us a line to let us know how, but that’s just so we can see how people respond to it. Note, a couple of the slides have been slightly altered to help put them into context outside of the vocal portion of the presentation. The gist is still the same in all cases, though.

For those into such things, we also have a few pictures from the event (you can see a couple in this post already). Browse the slideshow below for more. If you were there, and have some pictures you would like to share, you can send them to me at doug.bolden@uah.edu. I can add them to our gallery, below, and credit you are or I can not, as your preference.

Salmon Library is now offering Onshelf Holds

The Salmon Library User Services Desk has now started offering onshelf holds. What this means for you is that you can browse our catalog after signing into your account, find the book you want, and then place it on hold. You can mark up to five titles as such, and they will be held for up to five days. You will receive an email when the hold is available at the desk.

There are a number of factors that can impact how long that takes, including if the book is currently checked out (in which case, it will be held when it gets brought back). If the held book is on the shelf when the hold is placed, it will be brought down to User Services the next day. If you need a book more immediately, you are of course welcome to skip the hold and to grab the book off the shelf and check it out right away. Onshelf holds are meant more to reserve a book you plan to pick up in a day or two.

For information, see Placing Holds and Recalls, which includes a .docx file showing the steps. You can also call User Services at (256)824-6530.

Putting a book on hold.

What to look for if you are placing a hold.