The New and Improved Reference Desk

Christmas came early at the reference desk! The desk has finally been remodeled to make our presence in the Scholars’ Commons a little more welcoming and approachable. Gone are the days of patrons awkwardly towering above us or shouting for more staples from behind the printing bar! The taller counter and chairs accommodate for sitting or standing at eye level with patrons, and we can easily rotate the computer monitors toward them. It’s also easier to relinquish the keyboard and walk around to the other side, putting the patron in control of learning and discovering library tools. While the new desk has improved on a practical level, it’s also symbolic of our relationship to patrons–we’re on the same level. In the past, reference librarians were seen as “experts” responsible for retrieving the best and correct answer for the patron. However, this is problematic for a number of reasons as it relies on the librarian’s privileged assumptions and biases. Instead, we strive to guide and empower patrons, listening to their needs and helping them meet those needs.

But, the new desk doesn’t necessarily solve the problem of getting patrons to come to us at all. For the past few years, libraries across the country have been reevaluating the traditional reference desk and coming up with innovative ways to best serve patrons’ needs. Norwich University adopted a similar service point in 2011 that included seating for patrons for extended questions and research help (Ahlers & Steiner, 2012). Other libraries have introduced even more radical strategies, such as the “Help Zone” at the University of New South Wales. With no reference desk at all, this “one-stop shopping” experience seems a little more like a supermarket, but it does allow patrons to go to one prominent place for a variety of questions, and encourages patrons to learn and discover on their own, with staff serving as guides instead of experts (Fletcher, 2011). While I was working in the Reference department during undergrad at the University of Louisville, their main library also opted to demolish the desk and switched instead to a consultation model. Here, patrons could walk in and sit with a librarian or reference assistant for in-depth help. Not only did the new model cut down on the directional questions we were constantly getting at the reference desk (my particular favorite being, “Where’s the stapler?”), but it also focused the purpose of the reference desk on individual research help.

While the consultation model worked well for a smaller institution, every university is different, and the reference desk should serve the unique needs of its campus. At Wells, I think the most important reason for retaining a physical reference desk is visibility and approachability. Wells can seem like a giant, impenetrable tower meant to confuse and bewilder freshman, as well as students who have been here for several years. Even if we’re answering simple questions like how to look up books in the catalog or showing people where the nearest water fountain is, it’s important to make the reference desk the place where anyone feels comfortable asking for help. Hopefully the new desk, along with the ever-helpful reference librarians and assistants who staff it, will contribute to creating a more welcoming environment. The more we as librarians can be seen and give students a positive experience with asking for help, the more likely they are to come back.

–Tessa Withorn


Fletcher, J. (2011). Breaking down the barriers – The no desk academic library. 

Ahlers, D., & Steiner, H. (2012). The approachable reference desk: How Norwich University Kreitzberg Library’s desk got a new look. College & Research Libraries News, 73(2). 70-73. 

Scholars’ Commons is Underway!

Construction at the Herman B Wells Library is finally underway! You may have noticed that since the beginning of the semester, the first floor of the East Tower has been stripped down to just about nothing. This has been in preparation for the new Scholars’ Commons renovation project, which is set to be completed in July.


It’s no secret that the Wells Library is a vast place that can be very overwhelming at times—with or without construction! While construction is happening on the first floor of the East Tower, here are a few things that can help make navigating the library easier:

• A few public computers have been moved into the Reference Reading Room (located on the first floor of the East Tower). Two scanners, a public printer, and two IUCAT express workstations have also been moved there.
• Copy machines are not located on the second floor of the East Tower.
• The current periodicals and the library’s reference collection will remain in the Reference Reading Room.
• During construction there will be a small circulation desk near the entrance. The circulation desk on the second floor of the East Tower will still continue to serve library users, as well.

For more information about the Scholars’ Commons renovation, check out this library webpage and don’t forget to follow the Wells Library on Facebook and Twitter!

-Keila DuBois

Election Season is upon us!

The election season has started and it’s time again to start thinking about all of those political issues that we normally try to forget. Voting can be a daunting task for people, especially first-time voters. There’s no need to stress, though. There are a lot of impartial resources available for people to use in order to make an informed decision. Whether you are voting for the congressional or the presidential election, there is a resource that can give you information on the nominees. One of the best websites available is run by Project Vote Smart. It lists all of the major issues that are being discussed, and all you have to do to find the candidate that best matches your viewpoint is go through the list and enter your positions.
 It’s also fun because you get to watch the candidates move around in position as you enter in your information. The candidate at the front after you have entered your position in every slot is your political solemate. If you are interested in using this resource for the congressional elections, it also provides information on all of those candidates.

If you would also like to use a more traditional source of information, NPR or National Public Radio is a great provider that is politically impartial.  If these resources feel a little to stuffy though for your taste, you can always visit the HeadCount Organization Website. HeadCount is an unbiased grassroots organization that focuses solely on utilizing music to get people to vote.  Volunteers go to concerts and music festivals and help people sign up to vote. The website also provides information on a variety of issues.

Who you vote for isn’t important to us. Making sure that you make an informed choice and that you get out and vote is what we care about.
Here are important dates to mark on your 2012 calendar for the upcoming Presidential Election:

      January 12-Republican debate in Iowa
      January 30 – Republican debate in Iowa
      February 6 – Iowa caucuses, first contest in presidential nominating race
      February 14 – New Hampshire primary
      February 18 – Nevada caucuses
      February 28 – South Carolina primary
      March 6 – “Super Tuesday” primaries in 14 states
      August 27-30 – Republican convention in Tampa
      September 3-6 – Democratic convention in Charlotte, North Carolina
      November 6 – Election Day

Happy voting!


The Social Library

You probably use Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr or Foursquare all the time. You find events, friends, information and maybe some laughs. But are you connected to the Herman B Wells Library?

The Wells Library and many other libraries on campus are using social media to connect to you. These accounts post information about upcoming campus events, special exhibits, items in the library collection, and IU or library related news. Connect online today to some of these profiles:

Herman B Wells Library
Herman B Wells Facebook
Read updates, share photos, check-in, and RSVP to upcoming events.
@HermanBWells Twitter
Tweet what you are doing at the library using #HermanBWells and tweet us your thoughts @HermanBWells. Stay up to date with the latest helpful tips and notable library materials.
Herman B Wells Flickr
Browse albums of images from recent and past library events. These images can be downloaded for your personal use.
Herman B Wells Foursquare
Check-in to let your friends know where you are. Foursquare accounts can be linked to Facebook and Twitter.
In addition to specific accounts, IU libraries have a few general profiles:
IU Libraries YouTube
Watch tutorials, orientation guides, interviews, and more.
IU Libraries Facebook
Connect to information about events, workshops, and library services.
@iulibraries Twitter
Discover tweets from a variety of library, campus, news, and education related topics.
So connect with us today on your favorite network. The library is your friend.

Finding Newspapers at IU

 It is not always easy to know what resource to use when trying to write a paper or do a project. Often professors want a variety of resources, not just books or articles. One excellent resource to use is newspapers. The Herman B Wells Library has newspapers from all over the world, with some being in print, others in microfiche, and still others available online. Due to the fact that newspapers come in a variety of formats, it is sometimes difficult to know where to begin a search for a specific newspaper. Hopefully this blog will help you to find the information that you want.

One great place to start is IUCAT, which is the libraries online catalog. One can search for newspapers in a couple of ways. One way is to search for the specific title of a newspaper. For example if you type: Indianapolis Star into the Title box, one of the results will be “The Indianapolis Star [electronic resource]” and another will be just “The Indianapolis Star”. (To limit your results even further it best to choose the Periodical Title Search from the right side of the screen before starting your search.) The electronic resource version has some of The Indianapolis Star papers, but not all. To find all the printings of The Indianapolis Star you would need to look at the physical copy, which is on microfilm in the East Tower 2nd Floor.

Another method for searching for newspapers is by the city in which the newspaper was published. This is a great tool if you want to find a newspaper from a specific place but don’t know the exact title of the newspaper. In this case, you would do a keyword search and type the name of the city you are searching for and then add {752} to specify newspaper format. An example would be Indianapolis{752}, which will show you more newspapers than just The Indianapolis Star.

Another place to start is the Foreign Broadcast Information Service Daily Reports 1941-1996 or FBIS-World News. FBIS Daily Reports was issued by the U.S. Government and contains translations of broadcasts, news agency transmissions, newspapers, periodicals, and government statements from nations around the world. It only goes to 1996, so if you would like to see current reports use World News Connection.

The Wells Library also has newspaper library databases which are another great place to search for newspapers or specific newspaper articles. Some databases include The ProQuest Historical Newspaper database, the World Newspaper Archive, the Hispanic American Newspapers, 1808-1980, and the African-American Newspapers: The 19th Century to name just a few. Feel free to browse through the Wells Library’s resources page to find more databases that could be useful to you.

If you only want newspapers from around the state of Indiana, you should check out the Libraries’ page: Microform Guide: Newspapers: Indiana. It has an alphabetical listing of newspapers from around Indiana that the Wells Library owns.

If you still have questions regarding newspapers or other resources, feel free to stop by the reference desk or use any of the options available through Ask a Librarian.


Current Events Information: Beyond Free Online News

If the current unrest in various countries around the world has caught your attention, you should know that the library can meet many requests for information about current news and detailed information about foreign countries. Using news sources such as those you find freely available online is only one way of getting information about current events or foreign news; if you’re doing research for a paper about such a topic, you’ll need to consult more varied and in-depth sources.

Fortunately, for online databases with content about current events, Herman B Wells Library has prepared a special page that you can access here.

Wells Library Current Events Resources Web Page
Wells Library Current Events Resources Web Page

If you’re interested in news from foreign sources, be sure to consult these two databases: World News Digest and World News Connection. World News Digest covers material from 1940 to the present and provides summaries of world news stories. Many articles include maps, charts, graphs, or historic photographs that may be useful in any assignments you may be completing. (Be sure to cite your sources; World News Digest provides pre-written MLA and APA citations for all content.)

The navigation of World News Digest is simple and can lead to finding unexpected trails of research. Once a search has been performed using the search box at the left side of the screen, the returned results are divided into four tabs. These will help you focus in on what you’re looking for.

WND Search
WND Search
WND Results
WND Results

World News Connection provides full-text English translations of foreign news supplied by the Foreign Broadcast Information Service (a former division of the Central Intelligence Agency). The search feature uses buttons that allow you to construct searches using the operators AND, OR, NOT, and NEAR with your keywords. Another helpful feature of World News Connection is the title list. You can browse all the titles indexed in the database from the “browse titles” tab at the top of the screen. They have a large selection of newspapers from North Africa and the Middle East going back at least to 1995 and, in many cases, back to 1974.

WNC Browse
WNC Browse
Search 1
Search 1
Search 2
Search 2

Another fine database for use when researching general current events or basic information about other countries is Current Issues: Reference Shelf Plus. This database is not the easiest to use, but there is quality content for those willing to navigate around. After taking the link from the library’s page, users must check the appropriate box in order to search Current Issues: Reference Shelf Plus. After that, you can use a collapsible sidebar to navigate around topics or use a graphical guide to sort through articles about various topics.

CIRSP Sidebar
CIRSP Sidebar
CIRSP Graphic Interface
CIRSP Graphic Interface

If you use Current Issues: Reference Shelf Plus, be sure to notice the ‘Print Email Save’ link at the bottom of every page. This allows you to do just what it says. You’ll be able to keep track of what you found and organize your research with this feature.

Print Email Save
Print Email Save

If you’re doing research or just reading for recreation, challenge yourself to go beyond those basic online news sources. The time put into utilizing the library’s current events databases is well worth it. If you want more information, don’t forget that you can contact librarians by chat; or, come and speak with us about your research in both the East and West Towers of Wells Library.


Have a Few Minutes to Kill?

Psst! Have you got a few minutes?

Or an hour between classes with nothing to do? Waiting to meet friends? Need a break from studying? Or a break from staring at your computer screen? If you answered yes to any of these questions, consider the following:

There is a place in the library full of entertaining and informative reading materials that are easy to pick up and put down, that have beautiful illustrations and photographs, and that don’t require a dictionary to decipher or a wireless connection to access. Here you will find articles that don’t require a reading response and won’t be covered on a pop quiz.

“Where is this magical place?,” you ask. On the second floor of the Herman B Wells library in Government Information & Kent Cooper Services. Here you will find ten aisles comprising the library’s current periodicals collection and an additional two aisles housing local, national, and international newspapers. Yes, it’s true that articles from periodicals are often assigned as homework. And yes, you may have to visit this floor to conduct research for a project, but current periodicals also include fun and light reading.

Interested in music? Why not check out Billboard and Rolling Stone?

Hankering for some news or an update on current events? How about The New Yorker or The Economist?

Looking to organize your life and your living space? Perhaps Better Homes and Gardens or Good Housekeeping could be of use to you!

Interested in the world of business or technology? Fortune or Wired are right up your alley.

Wondering about the latest news in professional sports? What better place to start than Sports Illustrated?

Trying to decide what to wear on a Saturday night? Or to your cousin’s wedding? Why not check out Glamour or Elle?

Wishing you could abandon your homework and take a flight around the world? Get lost in a National Geographic and maybe, just for a moment, you might forget how cold your toes are.

If none of those ideas tickled your fancy, there are still plenty more options. Included on the shelves are journals and magazines that cover diverse topics such as photography, cinema, poetry, fiction, folklore, economics, history, language, culture, (and much more)!

Wait, you say you’re never near the Wells Library? Never fear, periodicals are spread across campus in many of the other libraries on campus, as well.

But listen, you’ve got to be careful. Before you know it, you just might learn something new!


Got African News?

In light of the recent events in Egypt, it is as important as ever that we stay up-to-date on the current events of our world.  No matter how you get your news (and there a plenty of formats these days), chances are the coverage of happenings around the world – that is, events occurring outside of the United States – is severely lacking.  Moreover, what little world news coverage exists is often brief and incomplete.  As you may have already guessed, I want  to introduce you specifically to a few Africa-based news sources that give the continent its fair share of coverage.  At the same time, however, my hope is that, by introducing you to a few alternative/local African news sources, you will be encouraged to explore alternative news sources from around the world.

As always, the library makes it easy!

If its African newspapers you want, then look no further than the African Newspaper Subscriptions page.   Here, you can find the print version of many African newspapers, as well as links to African newspapers with free web access.

If you prefer all-purpose news coverage of Africa, here are a few of the best websites with free access:

allAfrica is the premiere African focused news website. It posts over 1,000 stories daily in English and French.

afrol News is another useful Africa-dedicated news source.  Since 2000, it has focused exclusively on Africa in English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese.

Inter Press Services (IPS) Africa has more than 100 writers reporting about Africa from nearly 50 countries.  This site is available in English, French, Portuguese, and Swahili.

I also recommend the English language version of  While it is not African based, it is an excellent resource for non-Western news coverage, especially the Middle East and North Africa.

Also, the African Studies Collection at the Wells Library has created a very handy toolbar that can be downloaded to your browser.  The toolbar (click here to download) has a nice live Africa-focused news feed, so you can always be up-to-date on events shaping our world.  There are added benefits to having this toolbar.  For example, you can access IUCAT as well as many Africa-focused databases, among many other benefits.

Here’s to you, informed citizen of the world!


Latin America | In the Headlines, behind the Headlines

 Latin America has certainly been in the headlines lately, from the dramatic rescue of Chile’s 33 miners to the Nobel Prize for Literature, awarded to Peru’s Mario Vargas Llosa. The region’s surging economies have also been in the spotlight: the cover story of the September 11th-17th issue of The Economist, for example, titled “Nobody’s backyard,” discusses Latin America’s recent economic boom.

If you’re looking to keep up with news from Latin America—and improve your language skills while you’re at it—be sure to check out the international newspapers available through LexisNexis Academic.

If you already know of a newspaper you’d like to read, you can type its name into the “Source Title” box from the “Easy Search” screen. If LexisNexis finds a match, it will appear automatically. For example, if you wanted to follow coverage of the miners in El Mercurio, Chile’s newspaper of record, you could simply type “mineros” into the search box and use “mercurio” as your “Source Title.”

 If you don’t have a particular newspaper in mind, LexisNexis lets you limit your news search to sources in Spanish or Portuguese, including major European papers such as El País. Just remember, if you want to search for stories about the miners in Portuguese, be sure to type “mineiros chilenos” instead of “mineros chilenos”!

For in-depth research about Latin America, however, you will ultimately want to go behind the headlines. Here are two resources to help you do just that.

The Handbook of Latin American Studies (HLAS), a project of the Library of Congress, has been called “the oldest and most prestigious area studies bibliography in the world.” Although the online version of HLAS provides information that is somewhat more up to date, its user interface is a bit of a nightmare. The print version of HLAS, available in the Wells Reference Collection (call number Z1601 .H2), provides a much better overview of recent scholarship. Every year, an international team of scholars carefully selects over 5,000 books, journal articles, and electronic resources for inclusion in the Handbook, which is organized by academic discipline. Each section begins with a contextual essay discussing recent trends in the field, followed by an annotated bibliography of noteworthy publications. Although HLAS is published annually, its volumes alternate each year between the humanities and social sciences.

 Researching Brazil/Pesquisa no Brasil is an exciting in-house resource developed by IU’s own Latin American studies librarian, Luis González. For those looking to find their bearings in the field of Brazilian studies, especially Brazilian history, this is an essential tool. The Researching Brazil bibliographic database includes over 80 academic journals published in Brazil, many of which are not indexed elsewhere. The site also features a Google Custom Search box that zeroes in on the latest scholarship from Brazil (which has become a world leader in open-access journal publishing).

¡Hasta la próxima! / Até a próxima! And happy researching!


Gotta have a J-O-B…

Are you graduating soon? Beginning your job search? Deciding on a major or career?

The library’s Career Reference webpage & print collection has resources to help you every step of the way. 


Do What You Are: Discover the Perfect Career for You Through the Secrets of Personality Type. By Paul & Barbara Tieger (Call number BF698.9.O3 T54 2001)

How to Find Your Mission in Life. By Richard Nelson Bolles (Call number HF5381 .B635 2005)

I Don’t Know What I Want, But I Know It’s Not This: A Step-by-step Guide to Finding Gratifying Work. By Julie Jansen (Call number HF5384 .J36 2003)

What Should I Do With My Life? By Po Bronson (Call number BF637.S4 .B79 2003)

Career One Stop

Occupational Outlook Handbook


The Job Hunting Guide: Transitioning from College to Career. By Ronald & Caryl Rae Krannich (Call number HF5382.7 .K6933 2003)

Wet Feet



Career Builder




How to Say It On Your Resume: a Top Recruiting Director’s Guide to Writing the Perfect Resume for Every Job. By Brad Karsh & Courtney Pike (Call number HF5383 .K378 2009)

Same Day Resume: Write an Effective Resume in an Hour. By J Michael Farr (Call number HF5383 .F322 2004)

Your First Resume: For Students and Anyone Preparing to Enter Today’s Job Market. By Ronald W. Fry


The Owl at Purdue