“Now It’s Personal!” : biographical research workshop tonight at 5:30

Biographical research is more than just discovering when a person was born. It’s also about exploring the impact that individual had on their community and even the course of history. I’ll be hosting a session of our “Refined Researcher” series tonight on how to conduct biographical research at UAH with our various databases, from 5:30 pm to 6:30 pm in the Salmon Library, Room 214. During this event, we’ll cover:

  • What constitutes biographical data
  • Types of biographical materials that are available in the library
  • Focus on The American National Biography and The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

We’ll talk about using our available resources to help you learn about the important people—the movers and the shakers—and the major trends they started that have shaped society into what it is today. And, of course, the little moments that make learning about history so much fun! Come learn how to research the historical figures who have made their mark on the world. Who knows? It may come in handy for your next research paper.

Information from last night’s talk on copyleft: The Left Side of Copy[right]

opening shot for the talk, showing a circle and the title "Left Side of [Copy]right"

As mentioned in the previous blog post, I held a talk about copyleft and issues surrounding it and copyright: “The Left Side of Copy[right]“. As I do, I felt it would be good to share the complete presentation here. The talk, and original the graphics involved, are all released CC-BY 4.0 International (something that will make sense to you  as you go through the presentation). Links to a zip file containing the graphics (as both PNG and XCF files) is down below.

Up next for me is the February 26th talk: Welcome to the Future History of the Book. Where I will simultaneously answer the question, “Is the book doomed?,” and demonstrate the problems with actually answering the question, “What’s a book?”. And no, I’m not being facetious.

Five Reasons to Come to My Upcoming Copyleft Talk

In just a few days (February 3, at 5:30pm, Salmon Library room 111), I am going to be giving a talk about copyleft. You can see more information about it on the event page: The Left Side of [Copy]right. A flyer is down below, click to get a big printable one.

Why should you attend? Here are just five reasons.

1. Copyleft is fun to learn about

What is it? Well, right now I am using terms like “copyright’s cousin” ; really,  though, it is a wide collection of ideals generally built around the notion that information works best when it is easier to share and to remix.

2. Copyright is not a perfect system

I personally like copyright, and recognize a lot of good that it has done. However, it is not a perfect system. At the talk, I will bring up some of its flaws, especially the ones that copyleft can help to solve.

3. Copyleft helps add to the share/remix aspects of culture’s dialogue

Culture can be thought of as a dialogue of shared ideas and remixed older concepts. Copyleft has built in notions for how to inspire more sharing and more remixing.

4. Open Access can help to all levels of academic research

While open access sometimes fails a purely-copyleft test, by making research information more freely available, and more available for follow-ups and wider peer review, it can help all levels of academic research from those publishing articles all the way down to students driven to find cutting edge research.

5. Where did the sort of silly name, “Left Side of [Copy]right” come from?

Well, that’s one I’ll save for the talk.

Some reminders. This is open to all. It is free. It requires no RSVP, but I like to have a “RSVP Form” you can fill in if you have questions you would like me to specifically answer

Upcoming Author Talk. John William Davis to discuss Rainy Street Stories: Reflections on Secret Wars, Espionage, and Terrorism.

On February 12, 2015, at 5:30, the Salmon Library will be hosting author John William Davis at a book talk about his own Rainy Street Stories: Reflections on Secret Wars, Espionage, and Terrorism. Come out to listen to his anecdotes, ask him questions, and enjoy some light refreshments. The talk will be in Library room 111.

Rainy Street Stories Event

From the publisher’s [Red Bike Publishing] website:

Rainy Street Stories is a composition of powerful reflections on today’s espionage, terrorism, and secret wars. These stories, essays, and poems by John Davis, a retired intelligence officer, take place from Europe, to Asia, and back to the Americas. He lived overseas for many years, where he served as a soldier, civil servant, and gifted linguist. Davis writes with a thoughtful, compassionate, and fair assessment of his lifetime lived during wars and conflicts which were his generation’s legacy from World War II. He recounts mysterious, sometimes strangely suggestive, even curiously puzzling tales. Each will cause the reader to think.

You can read reviews of the book from The SOHO Journal and from The Journal of Strategic Security. In SOHO’s review, D. Clark MacPherson writes:

Davis’s Rainy Street Stories does not gloss over lines with the novelist’s adroitness as does LeCarre, nor does he appear to draw upon the wealth of knowledge that Nigel West, the “Godfather of Intelligence,” draws upon as the acknowledged historian of the Intelligence field. Instead, the reader is drawn into a collaboration with Davis in understanding the moral dilemma and making the difficult philosophical decisions about how we proceed from here. Davis enables the reader to travel with him by using short essays and poems that evoke the feelings and experiences of fear, betrayal, pain and death that are intrinsic and inescapable elements of the secret and not-so-secret wars.

Those with questions can contact Dr. Belinda Ong at ongb@uah.edu or by phone at 256.824.6432.

Those who wish to buy a copy of the book can do so through Amazon, through Barnes and Noble, or [if they prefer to find a local brick-and-mortar that carries it], can search through IndieBound.

Interlibrary Loan Announces Holiday Deadlines

Faculty, staff and students wishing to use Interlibrary Loan services between the dates of December 12, 2014 and January 4, 2015 should take note of the following deadlines and plan research materials accordingly.

  • Book requests submitted after December 12, 2014 may not be processed until January 5, 2015.
  • Article requests submitted after December 16, 2014 may not be processed until January 5, 2015.
  • The Interlibrary Loan Department will be closed December 22. 2014 through January 4, 2015.
  • The Interlibrary Loan Department will resume normal operations January 5, 2015.

Extended Hours in the Library for Fall 2014 Finals

During Finals, many wish for just a few more hours in the day to squeeze in one more rewrite of a paper or to study one more chapter. And while the Salmon Library has very little power to add hours to the age-old day-night cycle, we can do our part and extend those existing hours of the day which we are open.

A 16 hour clock

From November 30, a Sunday, through December 9, a Tuesday, we will have extended hours. We will open on the normal times, but our closing times for those days are changed:

  • Sunday through Thursday: We’re open until 2am.
  • Friday: We’re open until 10pm.
  • We do not have extended hours on Saturdays.

The extended hours will include services such as the Info Arcade being open; printing, photocopying, and scanning; being able to check out study rooms and laptops; and of course the quiet study on the second and third floors.

The following calendar shows the extended hours and the Finals ReCharge events in case you want to plan around them:

Extended hours for the library, combined with finals recharge events. A visual representation of this and the Finals ReCharge posts.

As a note, as you are planning out your studying/writing/etc for Finals, the Student Success Center is now located in the Salmon Library, on the first floor, in the Charger Commons. If you need tutoring or writing help, they are a great resource!

If you want more information about the Salmon Library Hours, see our Hours Guide.

OneSearch at UAH is now set to search full-text by default: what this means for you.

Today, we made a change to the back-end of OneSearch so that it now when you search, it limits results to full-text by default.

OneSearch: Dozens of databases, thousands of sources, millions of articles. One Click.

Why did we do it? Many of our patrons using OneSearch are wanting something tangible and to dive into the information right away. While some are wanting a wider look at the field, most are wanting to see primarily what is in our collection. If the majority of our users are always clicking to turn the full-text limit on, then it makes sense to work with how our users search.

What does this mean? That the results you get will automatically be filtered to include only those for which you have immediate access. Rather than a mixed page of abstracts and full-text, you will have only those in full-text right away.

How will this impact your searching? If you are the kind of person who just wants to get a few articles that are immediately available – in PDF or HTML – then it speeds up your process by cutting out those articles for which we only have abstracts. If you are a little more of a power-searcher, and want to see all of what is available, or if you are searching for a topic where the articles are a little more obscure, you may need to turn off the “Limit to full-text” option to get a wider view.

OneSearch screen with the new options highlighted on the left side: Full Text and Library Collection

How do I turn these options off? See the graphic above. Click on the little blue/white Xs after “Full Text” and “Available in Library Collection”. This will remove those options and show you also articles without immediate full-text.

Will this affect other databases? For right now, the plan is to keep the other databases in their current configuration. Those going to databases like CINAHL or Business Source Premier are driving down to slightly more precise information, so the idea is that those users are more likely to want to powersearch. With that being said, keep in mind that databases like JSTOR and SpringerLink are already set to default to showing our collection.

Is this change permanent? We’ll keep an eye on usage and make sure people are getting what they want. If it turns out that this is not how people want to search, then of course we will change it back.

Whom should I contact if I get articles that show up in full-text searches but there is no full-text attached? You can call us at the reference desk at (256)824-6529, or email us at erefq@uah.edu. Or see http://libanswers.uah.edu for more options.

[a tad bit late, but] A Brief Write-up for From Lovecraft to the Thing from Outer Space: Science and Science Horror

This was meant to come out nearly a month ago, but here is a write-up of a talk I gave back on October 21, 2014: From Lovecraft to the Thing from Outer Space. It was a fun little talk, meant to combine a bit of Halloween fun with a serious discussion about the persistent bias against scientists in a particular flavor of science fiction and science horror.

Why did I want to talk about it (outside of the fun Halloween factor)? There has been a long series of events, generally kind of minor, where I would be reading some story or watching some show/movie, and the scientist type character would be just that tad more easily bent by the forces of evil than the noble military they were working with. Or the nerd would be dangerous element that lets down the team of good, wholesome jock types. Not in every case. I have not done a precise tally to see if it is even the majority – though I suspect so – but in many cases.

It came to full bear when I was doing some research on Lovecraft’s science and philosophy for a roundtable discussion on those things with the guys from the H.P. Lovecraft Literary Podcast. At the time, I was struck by the contradiction in Lovecraft’s personal philosophies about knowledge – complex as his personal stance might be on many things – and the way that knowledge and curiosity and reading always seemed to have negative consequences. An early version of the talk was entirely to focus on Lovecraft. Though I realized quickly into the process that it wasn’t just Lovecraft. There was a certain fascination with scientists as characters throughout pulp 20th century fiction and there was a continued notion of them as just a bit crazier than the average person, a bit more likely to bring about the end of the world, and even a bit dumber, if by dumb you mean “unable to realize the outcome of their own actions”.

This talk came out of that. As said at the thing, this is something more like a preliminary examination of the phenomenon. While some slides are less serious than others, the conclusion towards the end is something I would like to prove or disprove through further research. Have we created a fictional scientist archetype – and then applied concepts of a particularly virulent monastic archetype to it – and if we have, how far does this concept go? I have some ideas, and plan to start that next stage very soon.

Before I get to the slides, there are two things. First, I want to share a quote from James Turner’s introduction to Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos, [still one of the best many-in-one collections of stories about the extended mythos involved in Lovecraft's fiction], which is good to keep in mind as we examine some of the conflicts of science and science horror:

With…developments in relativity, quantum mechanics, subatomic particles, and the like, the universe no longer seemed so comprehensible. Just as Copernicus and Galileo had wrenched humanity from the center of creation, so too had modern man come to realize that not only is he not at the center of the cosmos, but that he is a singularity in the cosmos. The universe with its neutron stars and quasars and black holes is strange to us, and we are a stranger in the universe.

Secondly, what took so long to getting this up is because the slides used in this talk (and there were quite a few) were only part of the story. There was a lot of commentary and references. I mean a lot. It was a very full hour. There was also some active feedback and commentary of which I wanted to try and make note. Had it been fewer slides, I might have tried a list of slide notes. Instead, I took advantage of Google’s Spreadsheets note function and have added a note to roughly half or more of the slides. What this means is that as you view them, to get the full experience, you need to view the slides with slide-notes turned on. It’s not the best interface, but it is worth going through at least with them to see what’s up.

I have been asked if I will be repeating this talk. Likely not in its current form. While I can talk about Lovecraft (and his writings) for hours, and while I am seriously concerned about prejudices and biases towards and against scientists, this was sort of a wide-net approach to two topics that are not quite the same – Lovecraft’s love and “hate” of science is not necessarily the general public’s. Bits of this talk might show up again – there seems to be a ripe place for several of its sub-themes – just not this one. It was a joyous passion project, now comes the time to shape it to something a little more solid.

Finals ReCharge is Here, Again! or, The Fall 2014 Events

Finals time are approaching UAH, again (just in case you need,  you can see the schedule on this semester’s academic calendar). Which means that here at the Salmon Library, we are once again having Finals ReCharge: our varied events designed to help you relax as you study. As usual, we are going to be having a few old hats with a few new tricks.

Here is our schedule of events for this semester.

On December 1, through December 12, the Graffiti Wall will be going up. Never played with it before? We put a few huge sheets of white paper and then provide you with markers and let you write out your thoughts and ideas. Click the link, above, for some previous images. This will run the full time of Finals and tends to lead to rather…interesting…discussions.

Then, on the Study Day, Wednesday December 3, we will have Self-Serve Coffee. It is free, just stop by the library from 9am-12pm and pour yourself a cup. As a note, we might light this run for as long as supplies last, so keep an eye out for it even if you stop by to study even after noon.

This will be followed the next day, Thursday, December 4, from 10am to 12pm, by the Therapy Dogs. Come by and visit the dogs and pet and hang out with them. Therapy dogs provided by Therapy Partners. Again, click the link, there, to see some past pictures. These are always a big hit. [Note: Earlier versions of this post had the Therapy Dogs being from 10am-2pm. This was a typo.]

December 5th, from 9am to 11am, we will have Free Coffee and Donuts. Stop by and pick up some in the lobby and visit with a librarian (who will be serving them).

This wraps up the first week. The second will will have another round of Self-Serve Coffee on Tueday, December 9, again from 9am to 12pm.

The second week will also introduce our big new event: Games Blast! On Monday, December 8 and Wednesday, December 10, from 11am to 3pm. We’ll set up some games consoles and bring in a few board games and anyone wanting to stop by and participate can play for a bit. Snacks will be provided. More details coming very soon.

Finals ReCharge Fall Flyer

Note, from the later post about extended hours at the Library for finals, I’ve included this handy calendar to combine the hours and the events of Finals ReCharge:

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).