InfoSavvy Archive

Banned Books Week: Experiencing the comic (InfoSavvy)

Banned Books Week logo

Artwork courtesy of the American Library Association

This year’s Banned Books Week (Sep. 21-27) features comics and graphic novels.  Ironically I covered comics last year.  This time I’ll discuss one graphic novel, Riyoko Ikeda’s The Rose of Versailles.

Oscar is a girl raised as a boy and trained as a soldier.  As Commander of France’s Royal Guard she faces both scheming nobles and a naive Marie Antoinette.  All the while revolution looms (Dezaki et al., 2013).

Though I had only heard about the novel, I thought it could engage some history students (Perry, 2006).  Recently I viewed the easier-to-borrow animated series (Dezaki et al., 2013).  Viewers could compare its plot and characters to real events and people.  We could say the same about other forms of storytelling: let’s not ignore this form.

Banned Books Week celebrates our right to experience books and related media.  Now I have experienced The Rose of Versailles for myself.


Dezaki, O., & Nagahama, T. (Directors), Ginya, S., Katoì, S., & Gero, K. (Producers), & Ikeda, R. (Original creator). (2013).  The rose of Versailles, Part 1 [Television series]. Grimes, IA: Nozomi Entertainment/Right Stuf.

Perry, M. (2006). In defense of comics and connected habits of mind. Unpublished manuscript, Department of Adult & Higher Education, University of Southern Maine, Gorham, ME.

P.S. At press time I didn’t find specific challenges to The Rose of Versailles.  Still, manga are often challenged.

P.P.S.  Thanks to our interlibrary loan staff for the amazing turnaround time on my DVD request!


Posted by on September 18th, 2014 Comments Off

Checklists: Information in use (InfoSavvy)

Pre-trip checklist

By Oregon Department of Transportation (Pre Trip Checklist  Uploaded by Smallman12q) [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Atul Gawande’s The Checklist Manifesto illustrates through several case studies the power of checklists.  More importantly it offers advice on harnessing this power.

The book (Gawande, 2010) describes what makes a good checklist: it should contain only the key items and meet the needs of actual users (p. 120).  In other words the checklist needs to suit its real-life context.  Context matters in information literacy overall (ACRL, 2014, pp. 7-8).  In Gawande’s work as a surgeon, a good checklist saves lives (2010, p. 155).

Gawande (2010) also models how checklists improve with refinement and testing (pp. 136-157).   This process mirrors the research process.   In fact the author notes how he researched other checklists (p. 114).

Information literacy is about more than finding information: it involves using information effectively and ethically.  The Checklist Manifesto shows information in use.


Association of College & Research Libraries (2014). Framework for information literacy for higher education: Revised draft.  Retrieved from

Gawande, A. (2010). The checklist manifesto: How to get things right. New York, NY: Metropolitan Books.


P.S. The mention of saving lives is appropriate on September 11.  Here’s to first responders and the lifesaving work they do year-round!

Posted by on September 11th, 2014 Comments Off

Back for the new semester (InfoSavvy)

Turning leaf

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Welcome back!  I hope the summer has treated you wonderfully!  It has been an exciting summer for the libraries.

We have added more materials to the Digital Commons.  If you have any updates for your Selected Works page, please contact your liaison librarian.  We’re happy to give your work the attention it deserves.

We have also migrated to a new version of our LibGuides.  Check out the Subject Guides page (and any of the guides) to see the new look.  Beyond looks the new version allows for greater customization.  We can make your course guides better reflect the actual course assignments.

As always we are happy to visit your classes and/or meet with individual students.   Together we can find solutions that best fit your class needs.

Posted by on September 4th, 2014 Comments Off

Not a solo act (InfoSavvy)

Words about collaboration

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As group work becomes more common in our classrooms, how do we support team projects?  One way is to educate ourselves about the collaborative features and limitations of some common tools.

I started practicing with the Comments and Track Changes features of Microsoft Word.  Thanks to Student Assistant Sonya Clifford for her help.  I could see these features as useful for giving and acting upon individual feedback.

Then I tried editing and sharing documents on Google Drive.  I thank Professor Dan Stasko and Student Assistant Shikara Nugent for their help.  Google Drive would work well for a project with multiple drafts and/or multiple participants.  Outside of class you could use it to crowdsource meeting minutes (assuming–of course–that no highly sensitive information is included).

These are not the only tools available (I haven’t even discussed creating a group bibliography with Zotero, for example.), and neither one is right for all situations.  Still, they reflect the social nature of information (ACRL, 2014, p. 23).  After all, information literacy is not a solo act.


Association of College & Research Libraries (2014). Framework for information literacy for higher education: Revised draft.  Retrieved from

Posted by on August 28th, 2014 Comments Off

Building on information needs (InfoSavvy)

Cell phone on top of address book

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Last year I downsized my work office.  Now I am downsizing my home office.  The project makes another point about info lit.

When I found that the existing shelves did not hold books very well, I adjusted my initial plan to include a bookcase.  To make room for the bookcase I need to haul out some furniture.  That process, in turn, will mean calling my helpers.

The ACRL Information Literacy Framework (2014) describes information seeking as “non-linear and iterative” (p. 10).   I am describing environmental information (the size of my study, the weight of the furniture, etc.), instead of academic information.  Still, information needs change, and one need builds upon previous needs.


Association of College & Research Libraries (2014). Framework for information literacy for higher education: Revised draft.  Retrieved from

Posted by on August 21st, 2014 Comments Off

InfoSavvy on vacation

Placid lake

I have been enjoying a week off.  On Thursday I shall return with a new post.  In the meantime, enjoy your week, too!

Posted by on August 17th, 2014 Comments Off

Researching the romance (InfoSavvy)

Living room with pink furniture

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In the summer we set aside more time for leisure reading.  Pleasure reading time is at the heart of Janice Radway’s classic Reading the Romance.

Radway had interviewed romance readers about the role this practice plays in their lives.  Many of the respondents saw the reading as a respite from the demands of caring for others.  The readers were setting aside a time and space to attend to their own emotional needs (1984/1991, p. 93).

I oversimplify Radway’s findings.  Radway herself (1984/1991) discusses developments that took place since the original 1984 printing  (pp. 1-18).  All the same the work takes seriously something commonly dismissed–leisure reading, especially romance reading.

I have described leisure reading as a reflection of academic research.  I have described it as a springboard to academic research.  This year I celebrate it as the topic of academic research.


Radway, J. A. (1991). Reading the romance: Women, patriarchy, and popular literature. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press. (Original work published 1984)

Posted by on August 7th, 2014 Comments Off

The info lit of postcards (InfoSavvy)

Postcard of steamer on Chautauqua Lake

Image from New York Public Library Digital Gallery

Do you collect postcards?  If so, you know how this hobby involves multiple types of information.  As I sort through a box of family postcards, I’m learning firsthand about these sources.

I started with what I know best–library resources.  The URSUS catalog yielded the books you see on the References list (Though dated, the price guide can serve as a starting point.).  I found the articles in the America: History & Life database (I would recommend Hobbies & Crafts Reference Center as well.).

These readings will inform my conversations with the appropriate people.   For the cards I wish to donate I will need to contact people from various historical societies and special collections.  For the cards I wish to sell I will need to consult collectors and dealers.  These people are information sources, too, after all.


Allmen, D.  (1991). The official identification and price guide to postcards. New York, NY: Ballantine Books.

Getty, R. (2012). Memories for a dime. Alberta History, 60(3), 64–71.

Range, T. E. (1980). The book of postcard collecting. New York, NY: Dutton.

Sprague, S. S. (1979). Old postcards: A look at your ancestors’ world. Family Heritage, 2(4), 100–105.

Vallerand, J. (2013). La carte postale nous raconte [Postcards tell a story]. Canadian Rail: The Magazine of Canada’s Railway Heritage., (557), 265–269.

Wood, J. (1995). The collector’s guide to post cards (Rev. ed.). Gas City, IN: L.-W. Promotions.

Posted by on July 31st, 2014 Comments Off

Rock and roll info lit (InfoSavvy)


Rock concert audience

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Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page told an interviewer a story about misinformation.  Someone had insisted that a song from one LZ album was actually from another.  When Page asked him about his sources, the person mentioned an inaccurate website and notes from a pirated disc.  “Voilà,” ends the story, “comment l’histoire est réécrite! [That is how history is rewritten!]” (Page, 2014, p. 26).

Authority may be contextual, to invoke the ACRL Information Literacy Framework (2014, pp. 7-8), but standards exist.  Page cited the authority of both the official album and his own firsthand knowledge.  In other words he was promoting information literacy–rock style.


Association of College & Research Libraries (2014). Framework for information literacy for higher education: Revised draft.  Retrieved from

Page, J. (2014, May 28). Mes années Led Zeppelin [My Led Zeppelin years; Interview by Sacha Reins]. Paris Match, 3393, 26-27.

Posted by on July 24th, 2014 Comments Off

A refresher on database searching (InfoSavvy)

Iced tea

By Renee Comet (Photographer) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

What does iced tea have in common with database searching?  Good tea recipes and good search strategies both come from careful refinements.

I had blended two types of tea.  When the resulting batch tasted too much like one of them, I used less of that tea–and more of the other–in my next batch.

Likewise an initial search may not be spot on, but we use the results to shape our next search.  Did we get too many hits?  We can use tighter limits or narrower search terms.  Did we get too few hits?  We can loosen the limits or try broader search terms.  We can even add or remove search terms.

Also, I had chosen the two teas based on my experience that they should go well together.  Background knowledge helps us choose initial search terms as well.

I can use the recipe analogy the next time I talk about database searching.  In the meantime I’ll pour myself a glass of iced tea.

P.S.  For those of you who are into tea, the successful blend was 8 bags of Earl Grey  and two bags of a lavender green tea.

Posted by on July 17th, 2014 Comments Off