Monthly Archives: May 2010

Competing with Google

Our students have grown up believing that just about any information they need can be obtained quickly and easily using Google and Wikipedia.  They are not alone, since several recent studies that have determined that about 75% of college students begin their academic research assignments using Google.  At the OWHL, we want to make sure that our students learn to identify, locate, and use a wide range of scholarly sources, most of which are not available on the free Internet.  But to convince busy students to use those sources, we have to make them quick and easy to find.

Last fall the OWHL purchased a new tool to help us achieve this goal.  This relatively new product, called LibGuides, has quickly become very popular in academic libraries.  Our version is dubbed OWHLGuides, and it helps us build web pages to organize and promote the electronic resources that we pay for along with the best of the free Internet.   Individual OWHLGuides are created for specific assignments, and are typically organized by source type.   In addition to links to books, reference sources, images, and materials in other media, they contain citation support and link to a comprehensive discussion of the Research process.

Are OWHLGuides working? They are certainly getting used.  We currently have 49 “published” guides, in support of seven academic disciplines.  The top ten guides have a total of 13,133 hits! As an illustration, the two guides that we made in support of the BIO 100 Disease Project have been viewed by the students taking BIO 100 4,160 times.  These numbers suggest that the students are finding the OWHLGuides helpful, and are returning several times over the course of their research to find additional information.  We will continue to monitor the use of the OWHLGuides, and will continue to improve our existing guides, and create more.  If you are a PA teacher, we’d be happy to create one for your class.

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Who is this Phantom student?

Can you go to PA if you don’t exist?  Apparently you can, at least if you are J. Montague Fitzpatrick.  Roger Corman Kiley, a member of the Class of 1940, invented Fitzpatrick in 1936 and he became a phantom honorary member of the class.  Kiley gave the fictional student his name, and then set out to weave a life for him.  His fabrication was quite elaborate, and included the submission of papers for classes he was supposedly taking.  Kiley also diligently produced fake cut slips for classes missed and excused absences for missing athletics because of a conflict with band practice.  He even went so far as to fabricate letters which he mailed to the school that were supposedly from Fitzpatrick’s mother wondering why her beloved J. Montague was not writing home.  Fitzpatrick was the subject of many Phillipian articles and appeared in various other school publications.  Several versions of the fictitious student (with various attributed graduation years) appear on the Internet on Classmates.com.  If you are interested in learning more about him or his creator, stop by the Archive and ask for him by name.

Resource of the Week: Accessible Archives

The OWHL is pleased to announce that we have recently purchased Accessible Archives, a new electronic database filled with primary sources that “contain the rich, comprehensive material found in leading historic periodicals and books.”  Search this resource to find “eyewitness accounts of historical events, vivid descriptions of daily life, editorial observations, and commerce as seen through advertisements and genealogical records.”  Accessible Archives includes the full text of many well-known publications including Godey’s Lady’s Book, The Liberator, The Pennsylvania Gazette, The Virginia Gazette, and other 19th century African American newspapers.  Visit the OWHL A-Z e-Resources page or go directly to Accessible Archives