Why use Primary Sources?

A Primary source is material created at the time of an historical event and provides a true account of that event or time period. They are a great way to expose students to multiple perspectives on past and present events and issues.

Identifying and finding primary sources can be a challenge, however, which may dissuade students from using them in their research. The video below, designed by librarians Sue Ann Brainard and Michelle Costello, introduces the plight of the Little Rock Nine and their integration struggles through the use of primary sources, such as images, oral histories, government documents and music.

Sue Ann Brainard – [email protected]

Michelle Costello – [email protected]

LittleRock9

What is the impact of textbook prices on students?

written by Tim Bowersox and Kate Pitcher

It is a commonly heard story on campus that students are feeling the pressure when it comes to textbook prices.  Anecdotally, librarians and faculty have heard about many students’ dropping or avoiding classes because they cannot afford the required texts — not because of content, interest or availability. Next week, Milne Library will be holding a series of events related to the open access movement and how we can redefine the impact of free and open resources on higher education.

How do textbook prices impact college students?

imageWe do know that nationally, students bear a high cost to attend college, but how much do textbook costs factor into these budgets?  In 2012, the Florida Student Textbook Survey was conducted by the Florida Virtual Campus (a network of public colleges in Florida). The researchers interviewed over 20,000 students from all 11 of Florida’s state universities.

Among the many survey goals, officials wanted to find out how much Florida students spent on textbooks during the Spring 2012 semester; the frequency with which students buy new textbooks; how students are affected by the cost of textbooks; what formats students prefer; and additionally, what students’ perceptions of the availability of textbooks in their institutions’ libraries actually is.

In brief, the researchers found several trends:

  • Textbook costs continue to take a toll on students financially and academically

  • Students use various means to reduce costs of textbooks, including purchasing books from a source other than the campus bookstore, renting textbooks, purchasing used books, selling their used books, and using copies on reserve at the campus library

  • Some institutions’ libraries provide textbooks for checkout, extending a lifeline to students who cannot afford to purchase a textbook

How Geneseo students feel about textbooks

Much of this was seen in our own informal polling of our students.  During the Spring 2012 semester, we conducted a brief survey to gage the attitudes of SUNY Geneseo students toward textbook prices. Though the response rate was small, we did receive some candid feedback:

“Sometimes, it makes me not want to take a class. I’m somewhat funding myself, so high costs of textbooks are a deciding factor for me.” — Sophomore

“Forced to get old outdated versions where the page numbers dont match up because buying the right/new version is too expensive.” — Junior

“I have to really think ahead and plan ahead to make sure I will have the money to buy my textbooks. There have been classes I haven’t taken because the cost of the textbooks has been too high for me to afford.” — Junior

“It is very expensive to buy textbooks. Generally my professors are honest about whether or not we will use the text during class, but sometimes I go through a whole semester without even opening it. Textbook buy-back stinks because I barely get a fraction of what I initially paid. Basically, it is an incredibly expensive addition to the already incredibly expensive cost of furthering my education. “ — Junior

“I had a work study job this year to cover various expenses, but with the costs of textbooks, I rarely had cash to spend. My parents are helping pay for my college education and they too are financially strained by how expensive the textbooks can be in addition to everything else we need to pay for.” — Freshman

Milne Library can’t do it alone

In an effort to mitigate some of the burden of purchasing textbooks, Milne Library has developed a Textbooks on Reserve collection. Currently, the collection consists of 787 unique titles — that’s roughly 72% of the unique titles assigned by faculty for the Fall 2013 semester. Although some of the titles were already in our collection, we rely heavily upon donations from faculty and students in order to stay current. Why? Because we simply cannot afford to buy the latest edition of each textbook every year.

FreeTextbookOur Textbook on Reserve collection also has limited reach. In order to ensure that as many students as possible can access the collection, students can only check out one book at a time for 4 hours. Since we often only have one or two copies of a book, not every student can access a copy when they need it most: often the night before an assignment is due.

Some students also try to borrow their textbooks through Information Delivery Services (IDS). However, this also has limitations. Many libraries do not allow us to borrow textbooks through interlibrary loan. We are often forced to borrow older or alternate editions. As with all materials we borrow from other libraries, due dates are often limited to 4-6 weeks — meaning students have to return the items before the end of the semester.

Where do we go from here?

We want to know your thoughts. Please respond to our blog post with your comments – how do textbook prices impact your educational experience at Geneseo?  What are some strategies or alternatives used to avoid buying a textbook?

Download and read the 2012 Florida Student Textbook Survey

Publishing student work openly: the GREAT Day Proceedings

GREATDayEvery year, GREAT Day (Geneseo Recognizing Excellence, Achievement & Talent Day) marks a college-wide symposium celebrating the creative and scholarly endeavors of our students.

For the past several years, SUNY Geneseo has published the conference proceedings of the GREAT Day presentations held every April.  The proceedings are designed to be a student-led publication, compiled and edited by a series of student editors and originally advised by Dr. E. Richie VanVliet of the Languages & Literatures department.  In 2011 the publication found a home in Milne Library when Dr. Van Vliet retired. Since the 2011 Proceedings, Milne Library has worked with two wonderful student editors, Stephanie Iasiello and Amy Bishop, to compile and edit the student work from GREAT Day presentations and poster sessions.  In the spring of every year, the Library publishes the edited proceedings of the previous year’s event.

Beginning in 2009, the Proceedings were published in print through the Amazon CreateSpace platform, and in 2011, the Proceedings were also made open access and freely available electronically through Milne’s journal publishing platform, Open Journal Systems (OJS).  http://ojs.geneseo.edu

Student submissions for the 2013 Proceedings are in the process of being reviewed  for publication — you still have time to contribute your paper!  Submitting is easy, and instructions are found on our website. Please contact the GREAT Day Proceedings journal managers (Daniel Ross, Academic Excellence Librarian [email protected] or Allison Brown, Editor & Production Manager [email protected]) for more information.

Scholarly Publishing across the Disciplines: Interviews with Geneseo Faculty

CostelloPeckInterviewThe Milne Library Scholarly Communications team and librarian liaisons for the campus academic departments interviewed 87 faculty members in one-on-one conversations during the academic year 2010-11 and part of academic year 2011-12.  The results of these interviews were analyzed and documented in a series of reports which will be issued over the next few months.

The interviews conducted with Geneseo faculty members were intended to be a survey of the current research and publishing practices on campus, giving us a glimpse of the issues affecting Geneseo faculty, including the changing scholarly publishing environment, digital and online scholarship, peer review, publishing with undergraduate researchers and open access.

faculty interviews wordle.SMThe first two reports in this series (both released today) document the issues and responses surrounding faculty and undergraduate students involved in research and publishing and the quickly changing environment surrounding digital scholarship and its value on campus and in the disciplines.  In particular, we look at ways in which the library may be able to meet the needs of new initiatives on campus.

To read the reports, please visit the Milne Library Scholarly Communications’ webpage at http://libguides.geneseo.edu/AcrossTheDisciplines

We welcome your feedback about the reports.  Send any comments or questions to Kate Pitcher at [email protected] or by phone at 585-245-5064.

Milne Library Scholarly Communications Team

 

“How Do I …” save time and frustration with research projects!

HowDoISo you’re new to campus and kinda new to the whole research paper thing.  Or you’re not new but just a bit rusty, and that library skills class you took seems so long ago.  Who can remember all that searching/citing/writing stuff anyway?

Just settle down, breathe deeply, turn on your computer, and bring up Milne Library’s homepage.  See that list over there on the right, called Quick Links?  About half way down is the one you want – “How do I …

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Click on it and you’ll find all you need to help you through your research project, no matter which stage it’s at. Just about everything is covered, from “Begin My Research” to “Edit and Proofread My Writing.”   Need help distinguishing scholarly from popular (or primary from secondary) sources?  There’s a guide for that! Need some guidance on which databases to use, and how to do a really great search? Yep – there’s a guide for that, too.

When asking a librarian is just not an option – whether because it’s 2 a.m. and you need help NOW, or because you’re more of a DIYer – Milne’s “How do I …” guides will help see you through the research, citing, and writing of your paper or project.  (But do try to ask a librarian, too, OK?)Start

Searching for picture books by reading level

CLCDSliderWhile you may not be able to search by reading level in Milne Library’s GLOCat+, we have access to a great resource where you can–the Children’s Literature Comprehensive Database (CLDC.)

This database allows you to search, not only by reading level–by age range, grade level or specific reading metrics like the Lexile Range–but by genre, interest level, and more.

FirstLet’s say you want to find picture books for 3rd or 4th graders about what where our trash goes or how we can reduce our trash. Put in your search terms, and then to the right specify an age range or a grade level. If you know exactly what reading level you need, look down to the bottom for the Reading Metrics.

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The other helpful thing about the CLCD is that most of the entries provide reviews to the books so you can get an idea of whether it might be helpful to you. Many records also provide the book cover to give you an idea of the style of illustrations.

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Once you find a book you think you’d like to use, scroll all the way to the bottom of the page and look for the WorldCat Record link. This will bring you to another database that will let you see whether Milne owns the book, or if not, where you can request it through IDS.

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In WorldCat you can use the “Search the catalog link” to see where the book might be in Milne Library, or click the “Get It” link to request the item through IDS.

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Other helpful features of the CLCD include being able to search award winners or reading lists, more specific subject searches, and the ability to search the reviews. Want an example of an unsuccessful book? Or a book that got rave reviews?

For more resources about searching for children’s literature or reading levels, check out the Lesson Planning LibGuide!

~  Written by Allison Brown, Evening and Weekend Manager ([email protected])

Go loco for local history!

Here’s a resource you probably didn’t know about, but really should — even if you’re just curious about Geneseo and its regional environs: the Local History Subject Guide.  It will lead you to all kinds of cool sources dealing with many aspects of the Genesee Valley region, including Livingston, Monroe, Wyoming, Genesee, Ontario, Orleans, Steuben and Allegany counties.

Geneseo Main St., looking toward Park St.

Geneseo Main St., looking toward Park St.

The Guide is a must-see first stop for students seeking a local take on their research topics, from American history to demographics, Native American studies, geology, business, education — you name it.  Milne Library’s own Genesee Valley Historical Collection, located on the lower level, is home to a wide variety of local historical materials, but the Guide also points to other collections, both online and physical, that are worth knowing about.  This is especially important since so much of the local history record is unique — i.e., original source materials held by single agencies.  Increased digitization of unique materials, however, is removing barriers to access, and libraries, historical societies, and museums are able to more easily share their treasures with everyone.  A great example, and one in which Milne Library has added some of its unique collections, is the New York Heritage digital repository.

So whether you’re a student on a research mission, a local history buff, genealogist, author, or simply someone a little interested in the area you’re calling home these days, check out Milne’s Local History guide and see where it leads you.

Primary Sources: Hands-on History!

Using primary sources is an excellent technique for exploring historical events or topics. Knowing what a primary source is and finding concrete examples however, can be challenging. The video below, designed by librarians Sue Ann Brainard and Michelle Costello, introduces the plight of the Little Rock Nine and their integration struggles through the use of primary sources, such as images, oral histories, government documents and music.

This video is intended to be an introduction to a set of tutorials on specific research tools and techniques used to locate and access primary sources, to be created over the next year or so.

Please feel free to contact us with ideas for content and to let us know if you are interested in designing or developing future tutorials.

Sue Ann Brainard – [email protected]

Michelle Costello – [email protected]

Need Some Help? We’ve Got It!

Help is Available! Photo Credit: Flickr user gruntzooki

Librarians are always available to help with your research and technology needs.

Working with a group?  We can accommodate. Sciences? Got it.  Business Stats? Yep.  Need help with web sites, podcasting, powerpoint or excel? For sure!  Music Media? You know it!   And that’s only a taste of the subject coverage available.

Want to contact a librarian right away?  Simply fill out a Consultation Request form telling us a bit about your project or research needs, and a librarian will contact you to set up an appointment.

If you still have questions, don’t forget that the service desk or IM a Librarian reference chat is always a great place to start.

Ruby Certificate Workshop

Becoming an Uber-Researcher

Becoming an Uber-Efficient Researcher

Becoming an Uber-Efficient Researcher 

Thursday, October 22, 2:30-3:30 pm

Milne Library Room 104

Learn about easy-to-use research tools that help you organize, share and automatically cite your research sources.  Walk-ins are welcome! Bring your own laptop or check out a netbook at Milne’s Service Desk!