January 2009


There’s a new online community in town!

GradShare, currently in beta format, is a free site that has been developed specifically to address the research needs of graduate students. It was created and is sponsored by ProQuest. Members can explore GradShare by field of interest (i.e. humanities, engineering, etc.) and can link into their institution’s resources. (A college or university can join the network and then make its resources available to students via the site). The site is easily navigable, and has a useful Q & A format. There is tabbed section called “Expert Advice,” which “provides explanations and insights relating to graduate school topics from experienced professionals such as faculty members and administrators.” Examples of topics from this section include “Writing for Conferences, ” “Finding Post-Doctoral Fellowships” and “How to Pick a Thesis Topic? The Conceptual Conversation.”

According the website, “GradShare is a community of graduate students seeking a better experience in graduate school and beyond through the sharing of questions, answers, and links. If you’re a graduate student, a librarian who serves graduate students, or a graduate program administrator, we’re interested in having you participate in the GradShare community.”

The curent New York Review of Books includes an interesting article called “Google & the Future of Books,” in which author Robert Darnton asks “If Google makes available, at a reasonable price, the combined holdings of all the major US libraries, who would not applaud? Would we not prefer a world in which this immense corpus of digitized books is accessible, even at a high price, to one in which it did not exist?” Perhaps, but take a look at the article to understand the complexities of the siutation.  The isssue is more urgent and compelling than ever, due to what Google calls a “groundbreaking agreement with authors and publishers.” While you’re at it, check out Google Books to see what all the fuss is about.

Murray Goldberg, founder of WebCT Educational Technologies, has created a new social bookmarking and networking site called Brainify. The beta version was launched last week. Is this just another Web 2.0 tool, or does Brainify have something new to offer?


Brainify is a social bookmarking and networking tool geared toward college and university students and faculty. It is restricted to users who have a “.edu” email address and is designed particularly to be used by the higher education community. Bookmarking is limited to academic sites.  Students and faculty who use the site are able to rate, tag and create a user-based taxonomy which could incorporate hierarchical tags for more effective searching and browsing of web-based academic sites. Networked groups of students with similar class loads will be able to share information about classes, resources and topics. An article that appeared The Chronicle of Higher Education yesterday notes that users will be able to browse bookmarks by academic subjects. A short video introduction to Brainify can be found on YouTube.

Critics of the new site liken Brainify to Wikipedia and opposed it’s email restricted access policy.


The merger JSTOR and Ithaka, two not-for-profit organizations founded by Kevin  Guthrie and dedicated to serving the scholarly community, was announced in a press release dated January 25, 2009.The newly combined organization, to be known as Ithaka, will include JSTOR, Portico, and NITLE.


New seating area in the Library
New seating area in the Library


For those in the St. John’s community who haven’t visited the renovated library, we invite you to come over to St. Augustine Hall.  Reference services and the Circulation Department are now on the third floor adjacent to the elevators.  Here, you can ask a reference question, check out a book, request an item on reserve, or pick up an interlibrary loan.  Our Media Center and the Instructional Materials Center (IMC) are on the 4th floor.  A quiet study area, open around the clock most days, is available on the first floor.  The Library also has impressive new seating areas and an increased number of public computers.  We hope to see you soon.

Higher education is not limited to the classroom environment, and as the new semester starts up, the library is working with folks–inside and outside of St. John’s– to offer programs that enhance learning in different ways. The events calendar for the first week in February offers a film, a Jeopardy Contest, and a workshop on Finding Scholarly Articles. 

first_film1The film series on “Law, Liberty and Moral Responsibility”  is co-sponsored by the Honors Program and the Library, and facilitated by Dr. Doug Rasmussen of the Philosophy department.  “This film series will explore the various ways laws, liberty and moral responsibility are related in …four films.”   The first film in the series will be “Judgment at Nuremberg,” screening on Monday, February 2nd, from 7:00 – 10:30 pm in the Honors Commons.  Everyone is invited  to watch this film depicting  judges in Nazi War crimes trials and to join the conversation about the nature of law. 

Got the right stuff for Jeopardy?  The library will sponsor a game of IL Jeopardy during Common Hour in Room 307, Thursday, February 5th.  Questions will focus on research, information & technology literacy.  Unfortunately, we can’t give away the BIG bucks like Alex Trebek can, but gift-card prizes will be awarded to 3 players and 3 audience members.  Join the fun and brush up on a little information and communications technology literacy to boot!

Worrying about that assignment that asks for Scholarly Research (and forbids Wikipedia and common websites)?  Come to a Library Instruction session on how to go about searching for scholarly articles, and how to evaluate the scholarly merit of  web resources. Workshop held during common hour on Thursday, February 5th in room 308, Library  Instruction Lab.

The main library website was revamped as part of the University-wide website upgrade: making the most of some of these improvements will be intuitive (such as search boxes built-in to the main page),  but a big change to the “Browse Resources by Subject” link is worth further explanations.  
Libguides screen

Libguides screen

We now host the Resources by Subject pages in a platform called LibGuides.   This web-2.0-friendly software allows each subject librarian (or pictured Guide) to update their resource page on-the-fly and also allows these librarians to collaborate with faculty to create specialty guides or course-specific resource pages.  Additionally, the search box, tags and cross-referencing features mean that users can find a number of cross-disciplinary resources more quickly when browsing by subject, author or keyword.   The software also allows us to display RSS feeds and embed some videos as well. Many guide boxes are set up to allow users to comment, offer feedback on helpfulness of  a resource (e.g.: 4 out of 5 stars), or suggest a link for inclusion in a guide.  So take a peek and let us know what is helpful!

As always, feel free to contact the Subject Guide librarian or use the AskUs service for more help!