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Research & Scholarship

Celebrating Open Education Week 2017

April 10th, 2017 by Anne Rauh

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This guest post was authored by Taylor Davis-Van Atta, Graduate Assistant, Syracuse University Libraries

Last week I had the good fortune of attending the Library Publishing Forum and the Association of College and Research Libraries Conference in Baltimore, two gatherings that drew into focus the many ways academic libraries are helping to define and optimize the benefits of creating and adopting free, openly licensed course materials in higher education classrooms. The conferences happened to lead up to international Open Education Week 2017 (March 27-31), which aims to “raise awareness about free and open educational opportunities that exist for everyone, everywhere, right now.” While I have been paying close attention to the Open Access Movement as well as the creation and use of open educational resources (commonly referred to as OER) at community colleges, liberal arts schools, and universities for several years, it was inspiring to hear from academic librarians and faculty who are on the front lines of these efforts, collaborating with one another and their campus administrators to create innovative programs and new sets of resources that are transforming the ideals of Open Education into tangible and positive realities for their institutions and communities.

What are open educational resources? The Hewlett Foundation, a leading advocate and funder of open education initiatives for the past 15 years, defines OER as “teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use and re-purposing by others.” OER may include everything from a single article or textbook, video, podcast, or lesson plan to a complete online course or curriculum, and may also include the tools or software platforms needed to create, change, and share the materials. These open resources are typically offered to and utilized by educators in piecemeal fashion—a book chapter here, a lab manual there—and are used to fill in holes in their curriculum or more often are being adapted to suit the exact needs of a course or lesson. Other open resources are developed by instructors who are frustrated with the existing set of teaching resources available in their particular field. In some K-12 school systems, organizations and state and local education agencies are creating high-quality openly licensed resources that they hope will meet system-wide needs for curricula that cover entire subjects and grade levels. OER adoption is fairly common practice at community colleges as well, usually an effort to cut student textbook costs, and is a growing priority among major research universities.

In Baltimore, librarians and faculty testified to the powerful benefits that even small, pilot initiatives into OER creation and adoption have brought to their students—and to their instructors’ pedagogical practices. Not only are open textbooks and open course materials significantly lowering student costs, allowing them the freedom to choose their courses without concern over unaffordable textbooks, open course design models are allowing instructors to teach the way they want to teach by customizing course packets through the reuse, revision, and remixing of high-quality online materials. Each faculty member who presented discussed the joy of no longer being restricted to teaching from commercially available textbooks that did not suit the curriculum they wished to teach, and/or did not fit their needs as course designers. In some cases, librarians have helped faculty to create new open textbooks from scratch or through the compilation of OER; in others, instructors and libraries are collaborating to discover, vet, and modify open resources to best suit the exact needs of a particular course.

While most of these initiatives are still being piloted, in each case the presenters shared early indications of benefits for both faculty and students. Measures for student retention and engagement show improvement when OER are introduced in classrooms, but perhaps more exciting are the opportunities for students to directly engage with broader scholarly conversations while learning about the processes and principles that underpin the development and exchange of research, allowing them early entry into the professional practice of producing scholarly materials. When undergraduate and graduate students are introduced to OER as their primary course materials, they are being asked to think critically about the source and validity of the resources as well as how those resources have been made available for their use, including copyright, fair use, and licensing terms. For many students, this differs dramatically from the expectations they are accustomed to as consumers of traditional textbooks and articles, and placing information and digital literacy as the heart of course design is, for many instructors and institutions, a vital component of pedagogy in our era of “fake news” and the proliferation of misinformation. For this reason, information and digital literacy are often foundational elements of open course design and open education models. Further, in courses where students are encouraged to reuse and remix these resources as part of “open assignments,” they encounter many of the decisions that professional researchers face at the start of a new project: how am I allowed to incorporate given resources into my work? If a Creative Commons license is attached, how does that license dictate how I reuse that resource? What format might my final project take, and what digital platforms or venues exist that are capable of publishing the project? How will licensing decisions affect the potential use of my project once it is out in the world? Answering each of these questions gives students a new kind of agency and responsibility that they may not have encountered before.

The incorporation of open resources into course design often leads to student-led publishing projects that expose students to the complexities of copyright agreements, open publishing venues (typically their institution’s open repository), and basic issues around author rights. This work allows students to see their coursework and research not as a step-by-step process but as a long-term and evolving process that can engage others who are far beyond the walls of their classroom. Likewise, faculty spoke to their enjoyment of finding themselves engaged in producing legacy projects as their open courses generate new and dynamic sets of resources which, in turn, can be shared and further developed by future student cohorts. The result can be a living and evolving scholarly record, with the potential to be accessed and built upon by other researchers and apprentice scholars from anywhere around the world.

Presenters on their Open Education initiatives cited how their early programs were helping to advance institutional priorities, many of which included critical pedagogy, digital literacy competencies, and providing experiential learning opportunities for students. None of these collaborative efforts came without a fair amount of unanticipated challenges, frustration, and advocacy. An agile approach is required for even modest open education initiatives, as is a lot of planning among partners, but the creation and incorporation of OER into courses offers opportunities for faculty, students, and librarians to become deeply engaged in various steps of the research cycle together and in new ways, and to learn from one another’s expertise and experience.

Open Education and OER adoption on university campuses is in its infancy but the results seen by early adopters across the country are very encouraging. Not only does OER development and use help democratize education and knowledge on a global scale, it is helping define a new culture of teaching and learning that is now possible in the digital age.

The Love of Libraries

April 7th, 2017 by Anita Kuiken


“How do you know you’re alive?” cried The Flying Busman on the Centro shuttle bus from South Campus/Manley Parking Lot a few weeks ago. That day he had something more to share than just one of his poems. It’s the extent at which you wonder and marvel at the world (M. Mahan, personal communication, March 2017). I like that guy. He’s a real spark in this world. Mickey Mahan, The Flying Busman may not be new to you, but he’s new to me. I consider it a lucky day when I alight the shuttle steps to his crackling “good morning” and listen to him sing the stops as we approach each one. What fills me with wonder in this world? What makes me feel alive? There are so many things! The most consistent, though, has always been libraries – libraries do!

I’ve been working in libraries for nearly 16 years, but this love affair started when I was a kid. I remember many happy moments, crawling around on the floor of the young adult section at the county library looking for my next adventure. Decades later, not much has changed. If I’m not crawling around on the floor, I’m online. I’m always on the hunt. These days, the adventure is more about looking for evidence for a research question or finding great new resources for our collection. The thrill of the hunt is not just about finding the answer; it’s more about the journey. Reading and research feed curiosity, passion, and outrage: histories, stories, poems, ground-breaking scientific evidence, you name it. Scholarly conversations bound in print or embodied in artifacts readily accessible on shelves, in databases or stored in special collections and archives are like pieces of otherworldliness waiting to be discovered and discussed.

The contents of libraries stretch our minds by fostering learning, empathy, understanding and new ideas. They make you feel – feel alive. When faced with moments where you know not where to turn, are filled with wonder or curiosity, or have found an idea contrary to what you know, you have happened upon the precipice of a new adventure. You’re in uncharted territory; it’s an opportunity to learn. Come! Come wonder and wander in Syracuse University Libraries.

Not a natural library goer? Hook up with your subject librarian (you have one!) and let us help you feel alive! “A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us.” Franz Kafka, 1904 (as cited in Winston 1977)

Winston, R. & Winston C. (1977). Letters to Friends, Family, and Editors. New York: Schocken Books.

Spotlight on Emily Hart

April 5th, 2017 by Anne Rauh


Name: Emily K. Hart

Title: Science & Engineering Librarian

Role in the Libraries? My focus is supporting research at all levels, from undergraduate projects to the scholarly publishing pursuits of faculty. I strive to be an expert communicator and researcher, and to develop meaningful partnerships between the library and academic departments on campus. I support students, faculty, and staff in the College of Engineering & Computer Science along with several science departments including Biology, Chemistry, Communication Science & Disorders, Forensic Science, Astronomy & Physics, and Neuroscience.

My interactions with students, faculty, and staff often include one-to-one research consultations, or classroom sessions focused on developing student research skills, utilizing appropriate resources, or citation management techniques. I stay abreast of the library’s science and engineering resources making sure researchers are aware of what’s available and assuring they have the appropriate skills to leverage these resources. I advocate for the research needs of my departments by collaborating with the library to procure desired resources.

Advice for first time library user? Librarians LOVE to help people. If you’re just arriving on campus, connecting with a librarian is a must. Once you make that connection you’ll have a go to person for all your research needs, the entire time you’re at SU!

What is your favorite part of being a librarian? I truly enjoy helping students and faculty with their research. I love the challenge of digging through resources to find the perfect one. I have a knack for helping people articulate and organize their research questions and goals, helping them shape their unique research story, and contextualizing the importance of their research to others. Over the years I have developed techniques in active listening, open ended questioning, and empathy to connect with people and have meaningful conversations about their information needs. It’s also a privilege to work at a university that has access to so many specialized resources, such as cutting edge biomedical and engineering journals.

Find Open Research with SHARE

February 28th, 2017 by Mary Decarlo

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Ever wish you could easily search across numerous open access repositories and publishers to find not only preprints, but also published research and other creative work? Now you can use SHARE to discover research in multiple repositories that is freely available to all.

SHARE is an interdisciplinary science and social sciences initiative. Its aim is to make research widely “accessible, discoverable, and reusable” by sharing research activity across the life cycle and to encourage collaboration and discovery. Creative works include (but are not limited to) data sets, software, as well as more traditional works, such as preprints, published articles, dissertation and theses. All are freely available.

Sources for the research work in SHARE includes university repositories, preprint archives, publishers, and government agencies.

Using the Advanced Search will allow you to search and filter your results by type of output. This may be particularly helpful if you are looking for data, software, or a particular type of publication. You may also look up research by author. There is much to explore in SHARE.

Please visit the FAQ page for more information on using SHARE.

SHARE is a partnership between the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) and the Center for Open Science (COS).

Fake News

February 20th, 2017 by Michael Pasqualoni

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Defining Fake News:

“Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed: Everything else is public relations.”

George Orwell wrote that. Except that he did not. Source attributions linking the statement to Orwell are omnipresent across many websites, and even within some academic journals. Yet, a connection is not established to Orwell having ever said or written it. The confident repetitive alignment of the quotation with Orwell is itself emblematic of the type of inauthenticity, reinforced by viral digital repetition, that typifies the fake news problem so dominating our headlines and airwaves these days. We see a new U.S. Presidential administration weaponizing the very phrase itself, ‘fake news.’ And doing so with boldness that seems intent on devaluing that intellectual property, or, at minimum, perhaps encouraging all to see the news-scape as a hopelessly overgrown thicket of weeds, past its prime or bound to slip into foreclosure.

Is this emergence of fake news we see bouncing around social networks all that unexpected? Perhaps it as likely as the seasons in a world where earlier forms of news, New York based late 19th Century yellow journalism for example, had profited by its approach to mixing fact and folly, or where supermarket tabloids in the U.S. have had loyal readerships for well over half a century, or where in radio Mr. Orson Welles in 1938 with his War of the Worlds radio show hoax showed how genuine fakeness can seem, when crafted by theatrically adept broadcast artisans tapping into America’s primal fear of aliens.

Newhouse School Professor of Newspaper & Online Journalism, Tom Boll, discusses a definition of fake news, referring to it as aimed at persuading people to adopt a particular point of view—or reinforcing that view—through deliberate lies and manipulation, which is, as he reminds, propaganda. Tom’s teaching responsibilities at Syracuse University include the course COM 337: Real News Fake News. In reply to the question of how news consumers can distinguish real from fake news, Tom Boll advises that we can ask questions as we probe our reading of that type of news reporting, such as: Does the author tell us how they know what they are telling us? Who are the people they’ve talked to? Do they identify them and give their credentials and are these people—sources—qualified to speak about the topic? And do these sources support their statements with facts? Does the story provide multiple perspectives or just one viewpoint? Is the information presented impartially or is it slanted? Are reputable news organizations reporting this also?

Tyrone Heppard, writing for the Cortland Standard newspaper in December of 2016 offered a concise graphical table regarding assessing a news story’s credibility. Tyrone shares wise news reading advice such as: Get past the headline (aka: Read articles in full!), identify ‘who wrote this?’, make sure sources are reliable (Does the news report indicate sources for its information?), look for bias in the choice of language and written point of view in the news report, double-check other media’s coverage of identical facts, and remember that fact-checker services do exist, such as or

Last December, Colorado Patent Attorney, Vanessa Otero, used her Facebook account to share a widely commented upon news sources visualization table, cross referencing measures of publication partisanship on one axis against standards of professional journalistic quality on another, presenting a fascinating view of the range of information sources with which readers contend, extending from longstanding mainstream sources like New York Times, Associated Press or the BBC to sensationalist or other clickbait driven outlets like Breitbart News or Infowars:

Vanessa Otero 2016 News Sources Chart

Source: Vanessa Otero 2016 News Sources Chart, via Facebook, Used under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License. Note: Version depicted is edited slightly in comparison to original, as explained on author’s wordpress site. See also author’s post entitled the reasoning & methodology behind the chart.

Avoiding an Advertising Response to Fake News:

“I don’t know how to run a newspaper, Mr. Thatcher; I just try everything I can think of.”
– Charles Foster Kane – dialogue from Citizen Kane (1941)– motion picture written and directed by Orson Welles. Visit the YouTube clip from Citizen Kane- How to Run a Newspaper (2 mins).

Otherwise well-meaning work on the topic of fake news one sees flowing from the learning environments of schools, universities and libraries risks missing the point, if, for example, a chief reaction to what is often a mixture of insurgent half-truth and downright disinformation campaigning, falls back purely upon a defensive advertising response. And by defensive advertising response, I refer to libraries and other educational institutions using these legitimately troubling dust-ups over news authenticity as opportunities less for introspection and probing analysis, and more so for trotting out formal and informal advertising keen on making students and faculty aware that the informational broccoli and spinach can be found in abundance at your local library. An abundance of riches in the form of well-established sources of news reporting that sprout from well curated library databases, archives, shelves and microfilm reels.

Do not misunderstand. Libraries should use this opportunity of surges in zero calorie junk food news reporting to remind, and reminding some for the first time perhaps, of our long association with collecting, curating and preserving, in both print and digital form, vast quantities of current and historical newspaper journalism. But let’s be clear. And our historians know this well. These so-called first rough drafts of history that are our news pages are referred to as such for good reason. Those who panic over some of the more egregious instances of “fake news” we all have endured recently should avoid transmogrifying sets of competitor publications, flawed and human chronicles, into precious museum pieces of almost religious stature. This has long been one of the risks inherent in cultural institutions whose mission is preservation and emphasis on the “artifact.” It is the risk of abstracting even the most high quality cultural expressions away from complex lived experience and into various corridors of the museum of things, each with their well-mounted explanatory caption.

Shall We Collect Fake News? and Risks of Lists:

“Nothing but a newspaper can drop the same thought into a thousand minds at the same moment.” – Alexis De Tocqueville, Democracy in America – Chapter VI, Of The Relation Between Public Associations and the Newspapers.

My own efforts, together with colleagues, to make our campus aware of some wonderful digital NY Times access available for free to Syracuse University students and faculty or to news databases every student should know has certainly seemed spurred onward in this heated environment, which wrestles with the subject of fake news. But the response of thoughtful scholars, journalists, and citizens really should not be limited to commercial style endorsements of specific news titles alone. Frankly, I think we should spend at least co-equal time probing the literal disinformation flow itself, delving into the content, sources and cultures that have buoyed this recent spate of inauthentic news. Something along the lines of Ms. Otero’s analysis seems a promising track. Particularly true, because some of the individuals associated with organizations Otero’s chart presents as highest on the disreputable scale nonetheless wield significant influence. Thus, one of the immediate challenges for librarianship on this topic of fake news is: Will we collect it? Should we collect it?

Using current discourse about so-called “Fake News” to mount advertising responses that spread the word about access points at nearby libraries to various established journalistic sources of information is noble, but it also may be a good way to obscure tougher explorations into why some at times quite sensationalized information sources have taken hold with such large percentages of the citizenry. What perhaps worries me most about the bibliographic tendency to respond to such complex social problems with pat lists of our advertised “specials,” is that can oversimplify some of the critical thinking capacities we would otherwise like to be encouraging in students, and in all citizens. In library environments especially, let’s promote concepts like compare, criticize, and curate as much as we enable our typical urge to want to catalog. To encourage informationally and digitally literate citizens to thrive in our society, we can indeed go beyond a “required reading list” approach. Mind you, I make that claim knowing full well that I recall a former Library dean of mine telling his staff that any librarian worth their salt should religiously read two publications, The Chronicle of Higher Education and the New York Times.

Advertising a checklist approach to source evaluation runs the risk of creating drones and not deliberate citizens. That’s the faculty member, librarian, or student who upon grading some references to outside source material goes thru a process of indicating: Article is sourced from the Washington Post? Check for the good. Author has been a journalist with that publication for twelve years? Check for the good. Article is sourced from a Skateboarder’s Blog? Perhaps check for the not so good. Librarians know such source evaluation checklists well. Too well. We should strive to insure students do not see them as sufficient for higher order thinking.

So in this effort not to let the struggle against fake news have us turn “real” news into precious angelic artifacts, while honoring our esteemed sources, we need to, as further example, keep the focus on teaching our students to pay attention to what those venerable platforms edit out. The stories that are not told. That advice can apply as equally to scholarly journal publications as it does news publications. It can apply to the “real” news we collect, and likely also to “fake” news we collect as well. Surely, higher education has a long track record of studying propaganda. And difficult at times as this may be to confront, there are moments when a great many of us actually produce it.

Even though the specific context is helping undergraduate students assess websites in general, I recommend taking a look back at the 2004 Portal article by Marc Meola called “Chucking the Checklist,” which continues to be timely in an era of assessing fake news outlets. 2004 was the cusp of Google’s initial public stock offering and its use of the catchphrase “Don’t Be Evil” figured as important in those documents. It is also the year Facebook launched, followed in quick succession in the two subsequent years by launches of YouTube and Twitter respectively. What is essential in what Meola is urging us to do, is not only promote our high quality broccoli-like news sources available at libraries, because they are on “best” lists we can advertise, but to encourage students to consider context “outside” of any source being evaluated. Meola emphasizes getting beyond checklist only approaches by going to other sources and engaging in acts of information comparison and corroboration. All that as a technique for assessing the news that one reads or views, sounds awfully similar to steps highly skilled professional news reporters go thru when gathering news content in the first place. It is excellent advice.

One of the tougher elements of the notion librarians call information literacy is, for example, helping readers and researchers understand how to use less than reputable sources to pull out facts, leads and related information that may be quite revelatory, or sometimes bridges to similar reporting in more standard sources. I think those trained in investigative journalism are more steeped in such habits than are some scholars, unfortunately, because of the tendency of the latter to treat some methods and sources as virtual sacred objects (e.g., too much unquestioned preeminence of the peer reviewed scholarly article; too much preeminence accorded to the NY Times; or the unquestioned preeminence of a main textbook as a syllabic canon). None of that veneration is negative on its face, and in Otero’s fascinating news source visualization we do see a sense of helpful ranking. Perhaps the enhancement that table needs is some added visualization conveying that for the student, scholar or citizen, the various sources, ranging from Associated Press thru Fox News and CNN into Vox, the Guardian, Wall Street Journal or The Economist, over to InfoWars or Breitbart, need not necessarily be encountered in sealed off hermetically closed isolation.

One of the greatest weaknesses of many librarian generated source evaluation checklists is merely the failure to consider the role that primary sources play in the research process, including, often times, the most seemingly highly disreputable or utterly fake primary source materials. And if growing segments of the citizenry are attracted to inauthentic journalism and incorrect reporting, or maybe inclined to believe a statement of a political leader despite hard evidence to the contrary (e.g., extent of misreports about President Trump’s electoral vote victory when viewed in historical perspective) there is a responsibility to investigate why this is so.

We shall not be heading down these roads for the first time. In the past, U.S. political rhetoric has had a way of unmooring the populace from what the data tells us. One thinks of the so-called “missile gap” between America and the Soviet Union in the early Cold War (a gap sold to the public as a dangerous U.S. disadvantage, when in actuality American atomic fire power was well in advance of the Soviets), or the reputation of Teddy Roosevelt as the great “trustbuster.” (True enough, but Roosevelt’s successor, William Howard Taft, actually initiated a greater number of anti-trust actions).

What George Orwell writes about below, in a context far separated from modern notions of U.S. elections or information and news literacy, nonetheless emphasizes social and political contexts of the language we use, as authors, readers, listeners or viewers. His comments may take on added relevance the next time one hears the U.S. President utter a phrase like, “failing New York Times.” To focus solely on accuracy or lack of accuracy of the literal statement is to see only part of a picture. It risks ignoring an analysis of rhetoric in reference to the administration’s wider tugs of war with news organizations, a process not only about seeking of truth but also about persuasion, and in the end, about the struggle for power, which is the essence of politics.

Excerpted from George Orwell essay, Politics and The English Language: Now, it is clear that the decline of a language must ultimately have political and economic causes: it is not due simply to the bad influence of this or that individual writer. But an effect can become a cause, reinforcing the original cause and producing the same effect in an intensified form, and so on indefinitely. A man may take to drink because he feels himself to be a failure, and then fail all the more completely because he drinks. It is rather the same thing that is happening to the English language. It becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts.

References and Further Reading:

Campbell, W.J. (2001). Yellow journalism: Puncturing the myths, defining the legacies. Westport, CT: Praeger.

Eisenberg, M.B., Murray, J. & Bartow, C.  (2016). The Big6 curriculum: Comprehensive information and communication technology (ICT) literacy for all students. Santa Barbara, CA: Libraries Unlimited.

Heppard, T.L. (2016, December 16). Experts: Media literacy combats fake news. Cortland Standard.

McChesney, R.W. & Pickard, V. (2011). Will the last reporter please turn out the light: The collapse of journalism and what can be done to fix it. New York: New Press

Meola, M. (2004). Chucking the checklist: A contextual approach to teaching undergraduates web-site evaluation. Portal: Libraries and the academy, 4(3), 331-344

Mihailidis, P. (2012). News literacy: Global perspectives for the newsroom and the classroom. New York: Peter Lang.

Mintz, A.P. (2012). Web of deceit: Misinformation and manipulation in the age of social media. Medford, N.J.: Cyberage Books.

Moritz, C. (2017, January 24). Newhouse professor explains fake news. Syracuse University News.

Morton, P.E. (2009). Tabloid Valley: Supermarket news and American culture. Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida.

Orwell, G. (1954). Essays. Selections. Garden City, NY: Doubleday. Open access copy of essay, Politics and the English Language.

Schwartz, A.B. (2015). Broadcast hysteria: Orson Welles’s War of the Worlds and the art of fake news. New York: Hill and Wang, a division of Farrar, Straus & Giroux.

Seife, C. (2014). Virtual unreality: Just because the Internet told you, how do you know it’s true? New York: Viking.

Spencer, D.R. (2007). The yellow journalism: The press and America’s emergence as a world power. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press.

Syracuse University Libraries Subject Guide: A dozen news databases that every SU student should know.

Syracuse University Libraries Subject Guide: New York Times.

Tocqueville, A.d. (1964). Democracy in America. New York: Pocket Books.

Vanessa Otero 2016 News Sources Chart, via Facebook, Used under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License.

Welles, O. (Director). (1941). Citizen Kane [Motion picture]. RKO Radio Picture.

Musings about Rubrics

February 8th, 2017 by Natasha Cooper

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Recently, I have increasingly heard, and used, the word rubric, and have been thinking about use of rubrics in collection development. As I started writing this blog post, I realized I wasn’t sure exactly what rubric meant, so I took a quick look in the Oxford English Dictionary and found, to my surprise, that rubric can be used as a noun, adjective, and verb. The definitions are varied and quite fascinating and I encourage you to take a look. The definition that comes closest to what I had in mind is A.1.b., which refers to setting rules (a word I also looked up). For the purposes of this blog post, I am thinking broadly about a rubric or something similar – perhaps a checklist – as an organized setting of priorities and framework for evaluation.

How does this apply to collection development or more exactly, collections at Syracuse University Libraries? Collection development is made up of (among other things) a steady stream of decisions— whether to acquire a specific title, or bundle of titles, or whether to renew a subscription or add a subscription, whether to buy one resource or another. There are way too many available titles to add them all, so decisions have to be made about which ones. How to decide? Sometimes there are compelling reasons, such as price, which make decision making somewhat easier. But absent the question of price, what criteria best inform decision making— to ensure we are making good choices and meeting needs of the user community? Further— do the criteria differ depending on the format or discipline? In other words, would the criteria we use to evaluate and prioritize, for example, journal subscriptions differ from the way we would evaluate news sources, or video, audio, data, or digitized primary sources (to name a few examples)? I suspect the answer is yes.

With so many interesting digitized historic documents, news sources and other materials becoming available, we are faced with the question of how to choose just a few, as well as the question of whether new resources are better than ones to which we currently subscribe— in other words, are there titles we should cancel in the interests of newly available ones? And if so, which can we do without? In the ideal world, something to help with complex decisions would be useful— something that takes into account university research, curricular needs, initiatives, and user experience, as well as information about current subscriptions and resources we want to consider.

I appreciate the work of Duncan and O’Gara, whom I heard at the 2015 Charleston Conference, and who write about decision making and development of a collections-related rubric in a 2015 Performance Measurement and Metrics article, Building holistic and agile collection development and assessment. Duncan and O’Gara’s work shows the challenges and complexity of gathering meaningful data to inform decision making. Their work includes incorporating information about their university into the decision making process.

I can envision a 3D checklist or other framework for collections decision making across formats and subject areas. I welcome your thoughts about what might be on each of the dimensions— in other words, what criteria you find important. I appreciate the thoughts I have heard so far from Department of Research and Scholarship colleagues who have worked on evaluative criteria for ebooks, videos, and news sources (especially Michael Pasqualoni for the latter) and who have contributed thoughts via casual conversations. In one recent discussion with colleagues Bonnie Ryan and Lydia Wasylenko, we talked about a dream world in which we had more flexibility to try new resources beyond a typical trial period and with numerous vendors, in order to meet some short term needs and explore more content in the long run. We realize that doing so creates challenges in terms of licensing, and technical set up – and we would need a flexible spending pool of funds. Perhaps there are other creative solutions— whether related to rubrics or not. I welcome your ideas and thoughts about what is important to you in evaluating existing or possible collection additions.

If you want to read more about rubrics, you might try Sage Research Methods Online and if you want to read more about decision making in collection development, you can find articles in Library, Information Science and Technology Abstracts, Library and Information Science Abstracts, among other sources.

Rubric away!


Duncan, C. J., & O’Gara, G. M. (2015). Building holistic and agile collection development and assessment. Performance Measurement and Metrics, 16(1), 62-85.

“rubric, n. and adj.” OED Online. Oxford University Press, December 2016. Web. 12 February 2017.

“rubric, v.” OED Online. Oxford University Press, December 2016. Web. 12 February 2017.

Addressing the Needs of the Comprehensive Design Studio

January 19th, 2017 by Barbara Opar

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The introduction to the syllabus for Architecture 409: Integrative Building Design Studio states “ARC 409 aspires to address the deployment of building systems, materials and processes in ways that express a coherent set of values and objectives achieved through architecture and its effects, as well as optimally perform their technically measurable tasks.” As such, this class requires a deeper understanding of technical resources and Syracuse University Libraries is committed to making the necessary tools available in print or online. But the Libraries’ architecture resources are diverse and growing, so students may not have used them all. However, during the course of this studio, faculty will be suggesting a range of resources from the essential like the Avery Index to Architectural Periodicals to new additions like CSI MASTERSPEC. Those teaching or studying engineering will also find many of these database resources helpful.

Here are the recommended databases. Some are full-text; some like the Avery Index to Architectural Periodicals have limited full-text but direct you through SULinks to specific journal content. Only use of CSI MASTERSPEC is restricted to campus.

Applied Science & Technology Full Text  is the most general technology index and an important tool for ARC 409 as it addresses building systems, processes and materials. It provides full-text content and in-depth indexing and abstracts from leading trade and industrial journals, professional and technical society journals, specialized subject periodicals, buyers guides, directories and conference proceedings. This index is does not routinely profile the work of specific architects or masterworks- for that, use the Avery. However, Applied Science provides specialized information on smart materials and includes articles on façade design and processes like harvesting rainwater. This part of the database begins in 1983; the earlier retrospective database begins in 1913.

Avery Index to Architectural Periodicals  (CORE-but Not full-text) remains the best all- around architectural database. It focuses on architects, specific projects, and building type, making it the essential starting point for research. The Avery Index to Architectural Periodicals indexes more than 2,000 periodicals published worldwide on archaeology, city planning, interior design, and historic preservation, as well as architecture. Coverage is from the 1930’s (with selective coverage dating back to the 1860’s) to the present. The Avery Index to Architectural Periodicals is updated daily. Use SULinks to locate SUL holdings. Most backsets of the architecture journals are on the 4th floor of Bird Library. Certain titles may be off site but can be requested. Use InterLibrary Loan to obtain copies of the resources not available in SUL.

Birkhauser Building Types Database provides online version of the Birkhauser manuals and access to works on architecture design, including building plans and photos, and articles, covering 2002-2016. The content comes ONLY from Birkhauser publications which have been digitized and indexed. Content includes building information, a brief bibliography, drawings and plans.

MASTERSPEC allows the user to produce product specifications. This tool currently is on campus access only and can be accessed on the three public workstations in the ARR as well as the Slocum computer labs. Once you have logged in, launch Word and enable content.



DETAIL Inspiration is a subscription database featuring online access to over 3000 projects from the all print versions of Detail, including the German/English/French edition, the newer English edition and Detail Green. This resource provides access to the most popular features of the journal issues with photographs and drawings. The publisher did not obtain rights to publish certain content so this database is not a total duplication of the print journals.

MADCAD is a subscription based, online reference database that contains cross-referenced collections of building, electrical, mechanical, plumbing, fire, and maintenance codes. Syracuse University Libraries subscription provides full-text of the current International and New York State codes. In November 2016, NY State adopted the 2015 ICC Codes with state amendments. Unlike the previous code cycle, there is no integrated state code. It is the 2015 ICC Codes with state amendments. 2015 ICC Codes are already available in the SUL account. Supplements are added to MADCAD free of charge so the 2016 Uniform Code Supplement and 2016 Supplement to the New York State Energy Conservation Construction Code are included on the site. As of February 2016, Wiley notified MADCAD that they will no longer be offering AGS through The Residential, interior and landscape graphic standards remain on the site. SUL has increased the number of concurrent users to 15 for the ICC and NYS materials from February 1 to May 1.

Material Connexion provides a quick global view of the latest innovative and often cutting edge materials. Designed to serve the design disciplines broadly, Material Connexion offers easy keyword searching options. Users can locate detailed information about specific products and manufacturers. Material Connexion highlights products that defy conventional notions of strength, weight, and density. Sustainable products are emphasized.

SU ARR Materials Collection includes samples that circulate for one day. Requests for new materials are encouraged.

ULI Development Case Studies provides access to more than 300 detailed case studies of completed projects ranging from low-income housing to mixed-use downtown developments to commercial and industrial projects. The case studies provide photographs and site plans, information on costs and rents, innovative features and strategies of the project, and an explanation of the entire development process. It covers projects from 1985 to the present. Thirty new case studies are added every year.

Art in the Library

January 13th, 2017 by Ann Skiold

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…” the best way to capture the imagination is to speak to the eyes.” – William Playfair

John Cotton Dana (1856-1929) served dual roles as librarian for the Newark Library, and as the director of the Newark Museum, both of which were housed in the same building. Dana worked in a public library but in time “academic libraries are increasingly being called upon to manage and supervise art collections for their campuses” (Kemp, 162). Libraries and museums have similar missions. Both are collecting institutions, leaders in information management, dedicated to education, uphold preservation and conservation and circulate the work. However, with the proliferation of academic university libraries it has become increasingly difficult time and budget wise, for librarians to care for the art collection while serving as librarians as well. Today it is the norm for most well-endowed universities to have a separate art museum on campus. The need for accessible visual art on campus harks back to the pioneering courses of theory and history of art first being taught in the 1870’s.

Art in libraries was and still is a “natural and common practice” (Cirasella and Deutch, 2). Each library has dealt with their own interiors such as sturdy and functional furniture which today has been replaced by intelligent, functional and flexible furnishings that serve the patrons’ needs and is aesthetically pleasing. The stacks have also been upgraded to code and purpose. The wall spaces however often have been left unadorned or haphazardly decorated in many libraries, including Syracuse Libraries. There exists no standard code or best practice to what, where or how to display art in the library. It has been left to chance of well-meaning staff and librarians where the displays at times are a mélange of mismatched posters, art work and the like. Syracuse University Libraries to date has no display policy for Bird Library.

This space could use a little art...

This space could use a little art…

Late last semester 2016 Syracuse University Libraries created the working group BBB (brighten, beautify and brand) public areas of Bird Library with a mission of displaying various types of art, long and short term, in a professional fashion. Our team walked through the various areas and floors and early on we agreed that it would be nice to display art on each floor that reflected the Library of Congress disciplines housed there.

As an aside, I have for several years been in charge of a small gallery/ study space, Biblio Gallery, in the library that showcases Syracuse University student art work. I educate the student in how and what is expected when curating and hanging a successful exhibition as if in a commercial gallery.

From a series of pen and ink drawings by Hesam Fetrati that hung in the Biblio Gallery

From a series of pen and ink drawings by Hesam Fetrati that hung in the Biblio Gallery

When I was looking for more information regarding how other academic libraries have handled the task our working group had been asked to study, I came across the wonderful case study written by Professor Jill Cirasella and Professor Miriam Deutch, both at Brooklyn College recording their pioneering journey titled “From Art on the Wall to Something for All: How an Academic Library Turned its Art Collection in to a Campus Attraction.” Syracuse University is fortunate to have a separate museum (Syracuse University Art Galleries) and art loans are frequently granted from their collection. There are many in-house sources that can also be considered for loan or reproduction of visual art material such as special collections and archives, not to forget faculty, student and alumni art. After all, “…academic libraries look for ways to spark students’ curiosity and creativity” (Cirasella and Deutch, 3).

The authors of this paper had the foresight to document each art exhibit in an online catalogue, as well as advertising the exhibitions and holding contests. Some venues worked and others were overly ambitious and failed. Yet, their efforts were rewarded in many ways at the Brooklyn College Library.

Suzanna Simor beautifully sums up the benefits of art in the library: “Exhibitions become a library’s new, powerful resource that educates, enriches, strengthens the mind and senses, inspires, delights, renews and refreshes. Exhibitions are a library’s powerful public relations tool” (Simor, 139).


Cirasella, Jill, and Miriam Deutch. “From Art on the Wall to Something for All: How an Academic Library Turned Its Art Collection into a Campus Attraction.” Journal of Library Innovation 3.1 (2012): 1-19.

Kemp, Jane. “Art in the Library: Should Academic Libraries Manage Art?” The Journal of Academic Librarianship 20, no. 3 (1994): 162–66. doi:10.1016/0099-1333(94)90010-8.

Simor, Suzanna. “Art Exhibitions in Academic Libraries: A Necessary (?) Luxury (?).” Art Documentation: Journal of the Art Libraries Society of North America 10, no. 3 (1991): 137-39.

“Student Art Competition | MSU Libraries.” Accessed January 13, 2017.

What Are Your Librarians Reading?

December 20th, 2016 by Stephanie McReynolds

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From a previous post, we hope you got a better sense of what librarians do all day. To those of you who missed that post: Spoiler alert— we do not sit in the library and read books. However, many of us do find the time for leisure reading when we are not “on duty.” Below is a glimpse into what a few of us have been reading and/or would recommend that others read as well, followed by our book list recommendations.

Bonnie Ryan, Librarian for Social Sciences:

photo of Bonnie

 Books I’ve read in 2016:

Between the world and me (2015) New York: Spiegel & Grau by Ta-Nehisi Coates.

Description: Coates letter to his son about being a black man in today’s United States. Read and loved it!

Between the World bookcover

Americanah: a novel (2013) New York: Alfred A. Knopf by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

Description: Novel about Nigerian immigrants to America and back again to Nigeria.

Americanah bookcover

The next books were escapism reading from the current political and social climate:

The little Paris bookshop: a novel (2015) New York : Crown Publishers by Nina George.Little Paris bookcover

Description: Little novel about a Paris owner of a bookshop located on a boat (the Lulu) moored on the Seine, and the owner’s adventures finding his lost love. His bookshop is called the “Literary Apothecary” is a kind of pharmacy of books that can help to cure any physical or emotional ailment: For example to one lovelorn customer: “… You need your own room. Not too bright, with a kitten for company, and this book (Elegance of the Hedgehog, btw-bcr), which you will please read slowly, so you can take the occasional break. You’ll do a lot of thinking and probably a bit of crying. For yourself. For the years. But you’ll feel better afterward…” Read it twice, and will read it again when I need spiritual rejuvenation, with a kitten for company, in a quiet room…

The elegance of the hedgehog (2008) New York: Europa Editions by Muriel Barbery.

Elegance of Hedgehog bookcover

Elena Ferrante books on two girl friends from Naples:

  • My brilliant friend
  • Those who leave and those who stay
  • Story of the lost child
  • Story of a new name

    My Brilliant Friend bookcover

Books by Fredrik Backman:

  • A man called Ove
  • My grandmother asked me to tell you she’s sorry
  • Britt Marie was here

    Man Called Ove bookcover

Books I plan to read:

The underground railroad: a novel (2016) New York : Doubleday by Colson Whitehead.

Undeground Railroad bookcover

Valiant gentlemen (2016) New York: Grove Press by Sabina Murray.

Valiant Gentleman bookcover

Jennifer Jeffery, Graduate Assistant:

photo of Jennifer

Trace: memory, history, race, and the American landscape (2015) Berkeley, California: Counterpoint Press by Lauret Edith Savoy.

Trace bookcover

Description (from author’s page): “Sand and stone are Earth’s fragmented memory. Each of us, too, is a landscape inscribed by memory and loss. One life-defining lesson Lauret Savoy learned as a young girl was this: the American land did not hate. As an educator and Earth historian, she has tracked the continent’s past from the relics of deep time; but the paths of ancestors toward her—paths of free and enslaved Africans, colonists from Europe, and peoples indigenous to this land—lie largely eroded and lost.

In this provocative mosaic of personal journeys and historical inquiry across a continent and time, Lauret Savoy explores how the country’s still unfolding history, and ideas of “race,” have marked her and the land. From twisted terrain within the San Andreas Fault zone to a South Carolina plantation, from national parks to burial grounds, from “Indian Territory” and the U.S.-Mexico Border to the U.S. capital, Trace grapples with a searing national history to reveal the often unvoiced presence of the past.”

This book was assigned for my geography class Visual Storytelling, but I would recommend it for leisure reading as well. I am going to read it again and give it as gifts. It is a profound book and it makes connections to our past and how to go forward into the future. She connects language, geology, personal history and our country’s racial history and classic humanities texts across time. What is cool about it is these connections are her voice, so they are not forced or obvious. Also won/nominated for these awards:

Population, 485: meeting your neighbors one siren at a time (2002) New York : HarperPerennial by Michael Perry.

Population 485 bookcover

Description (from Amazon book review): “Welcome to New Auburn, Wisconsin, where the local vigilante is a farmer’s wife armed with a pistol and a Bible, the most senior member of the volunteer fire department is a cross-eyed butcher with one kidney and two ex-wives (both of whom work at the only gas station in town), and the back roads are haunted by the ghosts of children and farmers. Against a backdrop of fires and tangled wrecks, bar fights and smelt feeds, Population: 485 is a comic and sometimes heartbreaking true tale leavened with quieter meditations on an overlooked America.”

This book was well written and hilarious, especially if you grew up or live in a rural area. I like it because it reminds me of my home town and he is a gifted creative non-fiction writer. He mixes history of the firefighting in with the local characters of his home town.

Born a crime: stories from a South African childhood (2016) New York: Spiegel & Grau by Trevor Noah.

Born a Crime bookcover

Description (from WorldCat): “Noah’s path from apartheid South Africa to the desk of The Daily Show began with a criminal act: his birth. Born to a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother, at the time such a union was punishable by five years in prison. As he struggles to find himself in a world where he was never supposed to exist, his mother is determined to save her son from the cycle of poverty, violence, and abuse that would ultimately threaten her own life. With an incisive wit and unflinching honesty, Noah weaves together a moving yet funny portrait of a boy making his way through a damaged world in a dangerous time.”

I watch the Daily Show and I like Trevor Noah’s perspective because he is in our country but also an observer because he grew up in a different country. The title alone, Born a Crime, was what hooked me initially.

Lydia W. Wasylenko, Librarian for Citizenship and Humanities:

Lydia Photo cropped

Bridge of Sighs (2007) New York: Alfred A. Knopf  by Richard Russo.Bridge of Sighs bookcover

Description: This novel covers the entire life of 60-something protagonist Lou C. Lynch, who is deeply attached to his hometown of Thomaston, fictional but no doubt modeled after other towns in the “rust belt” of upstate New York. The author weaves together decades-spanning, complex stories of a multitude of characters, the majority of them quirky to highly eccentric, developing a vivid portrait of the extended Thomaston community. There is much adversity and a good bit of sadness, but Lou C. Lynch is an optimist, so hope always seems to prevail.

Why did you read this book? Came across this novel by chance in a Cambridge, MA bookstore and was intrigued by the New York State regional connection. Had heard about Richard Russo (who grew up in Gloversville, NY and who won a Pulitzer Prize for another novel, Empire Falls, in 2002), so decided that it was time to read one of his works.

A favorite passage: “Perhaps what’s most remarkable about my life is that I’ve lived all of it in the same small town in upstate New York, a thing unheard of in this day and age. My wife’s parents moved here when she was a little girl, so she has few memories before Thomaston, and her situation isn’t much different from my own. Some people, upon learning how we’ve lived our lives, are unable to conceal their chagrin on our behalf, that our lives should be so limited, as if experience so geographically circumscribed could be neither rich nor satisfying. When I assure them that it has been both, their smiles suggest we’ve been blessed with self-deception by way of compensation for all we’ve missed. I remind such people that until fairly recently the vast majority of humans have been circumscribed in precisely this manner and that lives can also be constrained by a great many other things: want, illness, ignorance, loneliness and lack of faith, to name just a few.”

Michael Pasqualoni, Librarian for Communications and Public Affairs:

photo of Michael

America at War With Itself (2016) San Francisco, CA: City Lights Publishers by Henry A. Giroux.America at War bookcover

(On order for SU Libraries collection. See links to this title in WorldCat & City Lights Booksellers Publisher Website.)

Description: As publisher City Lights describes America at War With Itself, “From poisoned water and police violence in our cities, to gun massacres and hate-mongering on the presidential campaign trail, evidence that America is at war with itself is everywhere around us. The question is not whether or not it’s happening, but how to understand the forces at work in order to prevent conditions from getting worse. Henry A. Giroux offers a powerful, far-reaching critique of the economic interests, cultural dimensions, and political dynamics involved in the nation’s shift toward increasingly abusive forms of power.”

As political science librarian, I find Giroux a thoughtful critic, concerned about what he often refers to as dangers inherent in the “punishing state.” I have also been drawn to his ideas because of his emphasis on critical pedagogy, including his probing into risks inherent in overlaps between prison culture and environments of teaching and learning within our schools. That connection relates too with the 2011 book by journalist, Annette Fuentes I have previously highlighted as a librarian pick, Lockdown High:  When the Schoolhouse Becomes a Jailhouse.

Pervert’s Guide to Ideology British Film Institute and Film4 (2014) New York: Zeitgeist Films {DVD, 136 min}

Guide to Ideology DVD coverSee the movie trailer on YouTube and background information via the  publisher website at Zeitgeist Films.

Description (from Zeitgeist Films): “Cultural theorist superstar Slavoj Zizek re-teams with director Sophie Fiennes (The Pervert’s Guide to Cinema) for another wildly entertaining romp through the crossroads of cinema and philosophy. With infectious zeal and a voracious appetite for popular culture, Zizek literally goes inside some truly epochal movies, all the better to explore and expose how they reinforce prevailing ideologies. As the ideology that undergirds our cinematic fantasies is revealed, striking associations emerge: What hidden Catholic teachings lurk at the heart of The Sound of Music? What are the fascist political dimensions of Jaws? Taxi Driver, Zabriskie Point, The Searchers, The Dark Knight, John Carpenter’s They Live (“one of the forgotten masterpieces of the Hollywood Left”), Titanic. Kinder Eggs, verité news footage, Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” and propaganda epics from Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia all inform Zizek’s stimulating, provocative and often hilarious psychoanalytic-cinematic rant.”

As a librarian whose subject responsibilities cross between media studies and politics, this title is up my alley. And besides, as much as Zizek can be provocative, at times politically incorrect, he’s a philosopher in touch with pop culture’s mainlines and faultlines, one not disinclined from puncturing sacred cows on every end of the political spectra.

Patrick Williams, Librarian for Literature, Rhetoric, and Digital Humanities:

photo of Patrick

Censorship now!! (2015) Brooklyn, NY: Akashic Books by Ian F. Svenonius; compiled with the assistance of the Committee for Ending Freedom.

Description: A collection of essays by famed underground musician and dancer Ian Svenonius.

A favorite line: Note: the backward messages contained in this volume do not necessarily reflect the views of the book or its author.

Censorship Now bookcover

Salt is for curing: poems (2015) Sante Fe, NM: Sator Press, by Sonya Vatomsky.

Description: Vatomsky’s first collection of poems, structured like a meal.

A favorite line: To bring yourself back from the dead you need flour, to start.

Salt is for Curing bookcover

Stephanie JH McReynolds, Librarian for Business, Management, and Entrepreneurship:

photo of Stephanie

I’ve joined a local book club this year, which has been great for getting books I wouldn’t have picked up otherwise into my hands. I highly recommend joining a book club for this very reason.

Trigger warning: short fictions and disturbances (2015) New York: William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers by Neil Gaiman.Trigger Warning bookcover

Description (from the author, included in the book’s introduction): “And what we learn about ourselves in those moments, where the trigger has been squeezed, is this: the past is not dead. There are things that wait for us, patiently, in the dark corridors of our lives. We think we have moved on, put them out of mind, left them to desiccate and shrivel and blow away; but we are wrong. They have been waiting there in the darkness, working out, practicing their most vicious blows, their sharp hard thoughtless punches into the gut, killing time until we came back that way.”

I wouldn’t say that I particularly enjoyed this book. It isn’t a book to be enjoyed in the way that you enjoy a good meal or the company of a close friend, as you might have guessed from the description above. But, the stories take you away (sometimes to somewhere you’d rather not be) and stick with you.

A favorite line: “Thank you for coming. Enjoy the things that never happened. Secure your own mask again after you read these stories, but do not forget to help others.”

A delicate truth (2013) New York: Viking by John le Carré.

Delicate Truth bookcoverDescription: I listened to the audiobook version of this, which is narrated by the author, and really enjoyed the humor and dialogue, which may have been brought more to the forefront by the author’s own voice. You can read more about the book and listen to an excerpt from the audiobook on the author’s website.

A favorite line: “[Character’s name] was your normal, rootless, amoral, plausible, half-educated, nicely spoken frozen adolescent in a bespoke suit, with an unappeasable craving for money, power and respect, regardless of where he got them from. So far, so good. He had met embryonic [name of character] in every walk of life and every country where he had served.” (Name of character omitted so as not to spoil any surprises, if you choose to read the book.)


Uprooted (2015) New York: Del Rey by Naomi Novik.

Uprooted bookcover

Description: This is a tale of healing and deep roots.

A favorite line: “I had a feeling the Summoning wasn’t really meant to be cast alone: as if truth didn’t mean anything without someone to share it with; you could shout truth into the air forever, and spend your life doing it, if someone didn’t come and listen.”




The Martian: a novel (2014) New York: Broadway Books by Andy Weir.Martian bookcover

Description: This is my current audiobook. It is particularly soothing during this turbulent post-election reality to focus on the struggles of one person who has one simple goal: survival. So far, I am enjoying the not-at-all-subtle humor throughout the story. Here’s hoping it continues to be my own personal escape route.



The myth of the strong leader: political leadership in the modern age (2014) New York, NY: Basic Books by Archie Brown.Myth Strong Leader bookcover

Description (from “My Favorite Books of 2016” by Bill Gates): “This year’s fierce election battle prompted me to pick up this 2014 book, by an Oxford University scholar who has studied political leadership—good, bad, and ugly—for more than 50 years. Brown shows that the leaders who make the biggest contributions to history and humanity generally are not the ones we perceive to be ‘strong leaders.’ Instead, they tend to be the ones who collaborate, delegate, and negotiate—and recognize that no one person can or should have all the answers. Brown could not have predicted how resonant his book would become in 2016.”

I always have good intentions of reading more business books. This study of leadership, which Gates also calls “a taxonomy” of “the traits and tendencies leaders exhibit, and the categories they fall into, as a way of understanding the egos, motivations, and behaviors responsible for so much progress, and so much suffering, in the world” seems like an appropriate book to begin the new year.

Reading Lists Recommendations:

Along with reading book reviews and noting titles and authors mentioned and interviewed in the media (New York Times, Wall Street Journal, NPR, etc.), discovering books serendipitously by browsing in bookstores and libraries, many of us seek out “best of,” bestseller lists, “notable books of the year” and other book lists. Below are a few lists (including some Syracuse University Libraries’ lists and book review resources) that may be helpful to peruse as you contemplate what to read over the winter break and in the new year.

#BustleReads Challenge 2016 Encourages You To Read Women And Writers Of Color

“Rules are loose, but it is asking people to challenge themselves to read things that are not part of the mainstream, dominant culture. This is 2016’s list, they published it on December 23, 2015. Hopefully they will put out a new one, but this one is a good one too.” —Jennifer Jeffery

Book Awards and Media Awards Lists from ALA’s Booklist

New York Times Bestsellers

NPR’s Book Concierge: Our Guide To 2016’s Great Reads

Small Press Distribution’s Recommended & Bestsellers Lists

Syracuse University Libraries’ Databases of Reviews of Books & Media

Syracuse University Libraries Learning Commons Book Lists on Pinterest

Syracuse University Press

GuideStar Pro

December 19th, 2016 by Anne Rauh

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GuideStar Pro is now available through the Syracuse University Libraries.


Information about U.S. nonprofit organizations from Internal Revenue Service Form 990 financial statements and the organizations themselves. Searchable by multiple fields with options to download data in categories and quantity not available on GuideStar’s free website.