Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Banned Books Week

This week is Banned Books Week. Join us in celebrating the freedom of speech and the freedom to read, rights we are promised in the first amendment of the Constitution. During Banned Books Week, we celebrate our ability to access and to read books (and other information) from a variety of viewpoints. This week also seeks to praise intellectual freedom and deter censorship (ALA, 2009).

If you're interested in finding out which books received the most complaints, check out this Web site. Have you read any of these books? What did you think about them? Just food for thought...

Monday, September 21, 2009

What Is a Journal Article?

Can you tell the difference between this article and this one? The first is a scholarly journal article; the second is a magazine article. What are the differences between the two articles? What makes a journal article scholarly, or peer-reviewed?

The first article has some distinguishing features that make it scholarly in nature. For instance, this article has both an abstract and references. (Two features that are typical for scholarly journal articles.) The author, M. R. Jalongo, is affiliated with Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and he is the one conducting research on this topic. Also, take a look at the format of the article; there are no pictures or catchy graphics.

Now compare that to the second article. Notice that this article has several photographs. The design of the page is more flashy and colorful. Where are the references? Who is writing the article?

The Cornell University Library does an excellent job of further explaining the differences between scholarly journal articles and magazines. To read a more in-depth comparison, just take a look.

Knowing the difference between scholarly journal articles and magazines will be helpful when your professor asks you to include these types of resources in your paper. Remember, scholarly journal articles present research done in that field of study or discipline; the article is published for academic purposes -- to further knowledge and encourage investigation. When writing a paper, it is those sources to whom you should look as support for your argument.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

What I'm Reading Now...

As I mentioned in my introduction, I read mysteries for fun. I rarely read anything else, honestly. To find good books, I start by browsing the library catalog. But sometimes a book comes to my attention because a lot of people write about it in critical sources like Library Journal or the New York Times Book Review.

One of those books is Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin. It is not only a popular success, but a critical success as well. The best mysteries and historical fiction usually test my idea of what would have been acceptable at that time. For example, the "detective" in Mistress of the Art of Death is a woman who performs autopsies and investigates causes of death. While that is perfectly normal to us now, in medieval times that was unheard of, not to mention frowned upon. It was so unusual, in fact, the detective has to pretend she's an assistant to a man while she investigates the brutal murders of the children of Cambridge.

Reading historical fiction, including mysteries, inspires me to find nonfiction books. I can learn about what life was really like when my favorite fictional detective was "alive." Luckily, I work in a library full of just those kinds of books, so when I'm ready to learn about women in medieval England, I'll have just the book: Women in Medieval England by Helen Jewell.

If historical fiction is your interest, you can see a list of books in that category by searching the "subject keywords" field for "historical fiction" in our catalog. If mysteries are your thing, you can search the "subject keywords" field for "mystery fiction" OR "suspense fiction." Take a look--you'll be pleasantly surprised by what the library has to offer in these categories. And if you have a favorite mystery author, please use the contact us link to let me know about him/her. I'm always looking for my next favorite author.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

You're invited... check out our newest library books. We've got something for every taste. The list of everything we've added over the last year is available in the New Books List on the home page.

Pay close attention to the drop-down options; there's a new choice: QEP. Selecting "QEP" from the list will locate books about teaching writing, the importance of writing and using rubrics in instruction.
Be sure to also stop by the library; browse the whole set of new books. Meanwhile, here are a few highlights:

For those of you who would rather do some light reading, check this post about our growing collection of graphic novels.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


How do you decide which sources to use for an academic paper? Have you ever cited Wikipedia in your paper only to have points taken off? You probably have experienced this, but perhaps you wondered why Wikipedia was not appropriate. Take a look at the Cornell University Library guide to Using Wikipedia. This guide specifically answers the question, "Why can't I cite Wikipedia in my paper?" Mostly, the guide discusses how Wikipedia works, who writes the articles and the ever-changing nature of the information on Wikipedia. These very qualities are some of the reasons why Wikipedia should not be used in scholarly research.

The librarians here at PVCC are always glad to help you with your research. If you have questions about any particular resource, please let us know. The quality of your sources greatly impacts the quality of your paper, so start off on the right foot. Learn about Wikipedia, and then ask yourself how this can apply to other resources you may find on your topic.