Great Library Blogs

The internet is a wonderful tool that allows users to access and share all kinds of information. Many people and organizations in our internet-savvy society turn to blogs to gather and share ideas or discuss issues of both a personal and professional nature. Libraries are no different. Blogs are a great way to meet new people, brainstorm, discuss issues within the library and information science field, share new ideas, and in some cases poke fun at our profession. For those looking for some great blogs to follow, here are just a few of the many great blogs sure to provoke much conversation among fellow librarians and information professionals:

Letters to A Young Librarian First up we have Letters to a Young Librarian where Jessica Olin and her guest bloggers impart advice to library science graduate students and newly minted professional librarians. This is a really great blog for those just starting out in the profession and provides the reader with some great real-life examples and a variety of topics ranging from strategic planning, to job hunting, as well as some overall career advice. For those still considering their specific path in libraries, Jessica provides the reader with a number of great interviews with practicing librarians.


For those contemplating a more artsy focus ARLISNAP is for you! This handy dandy blog is the gateway to all things art and supplies some great resources for students and new professionals looking to make their way into art librarianship. It’s also a perfect platform to share ideas pertaining to this particular library field. Content on this blog is provided by a variety of contributing professionals including IU’s own Jasmine Burns from the Fine Arts Library!

Library as Incubator Project

Speaking of art, for those seeking to gather creative ideas and learn more about the intersection between libraries and the arts, look no furthur than The Library as Incubator Project. This little gem of a blog promotes the creative collaboration between libraries and artists by highlighting the ways that libraries and artists have come together through various partnerships and collaborative projects.


Don’t worry, aspiring archivists, there’s a blog out there for you too. Try checking out ArchivesNext which provides some great content on the issues facing archives in the modern day. Topics include discussions on technology, professional identity, professional organizations, and other news and issues related to the archival profession.

Annoyed LibrarianNext up we have a blog that has garnered a lot of attention in the library and information science world. You’ll either love it or you’ll hate it. The Annoyed Librarian is probably one of the more hotly debated library-oriented blogs out there and draws quite a variety of reactions due to its counter-cultural nature and bitingly honest dialogue. While some condemn it for its pointed remarks about librarianship and somewhat grumpy and “insulting” tone, it certainly is an interesting read one way or the other.


Swiss Army Librarian

For those looking for a comrade in public services the Swiss Army Librarian is your man! Brian Herzog’s blog presents the reader with a plethora of experiences on a subject that is near and dear to any public services-centered employee here at the IU Libraries: the reference desk. Join Brian as he tumbles from one situation to another and experiences the joys and pains of working at a public library reference desk!

Lastly here are some suggestions to insert a little bit of fun into your life as a librarian. When you’re down and out and need a good laugh, hop on over to Fake Library Statistics, I Work at a Public Library, Awful Library Books, or glance at the daily Unshelved Comic Strip to brighten your day!


Shameless plug:
Also don’t forget that we have some great blogs here at IU Libraries!  Check out:

Indiana University Archives Blog
The Moving Image Archive Blog
GLBT Library Blog
E. Lingle Craig Preservation Lab
Wylie House News and Notes
ET2: Government Info, Maps, and Microform Services

And of course you can always follow us here at the Wells Reference Blog!

-Julia Kilgore

If you liked these blogs you might also like:
Mr. Library Dude
The Daring Librarian

Exploring Labor in Sheet Music

As the topic for this Themester, labor has been a focus for many undergraduates across campus. Courses explore the intersections of labor with race, gender, history, technology, the legal system, and art. I am sure each course takes a vastly different approach to this topic, but there is one resource that provides a provocative insight into how labor might have been viewed in the early twentieth century. While photographs and primary documents can be extremely helpful in understanding these intersections in a somewhat more objective manner, we can also look at the popular image of these issues through other relics of the time.

I’d like to introduce you to IN Harmony, a digital library project that provides access to popular American sheet music from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries held at the Lilly Library, the Indiana State Library, the Indiana State Museum, and the Indiana Historical Society. In their era, these pieces of music could be found in many homes throughout the country, bought both for their entertainment value in a time of limited sound recording and for their eye-catching covers. The combination of the colorful cover pages and the rather frank lyrics (along with the occasionally startling melodic turn) spurs thoughts about what these lyricists and artists thought would be topical and popular enough to sell. By examining the objects these creators thought would sell well, we can start to piece together what that era might have been like.

Images abound on topics of labor, and here are just a few.

Cover art to
“Why Shouldn’t They Be Good Enough Now?” Lyrics by Kate Elinore and Sam Williams, Music by William Tracey, Cover art from the Barbelle School. New York: Shapiro, Bernstein and Company, 1919.

The song “Why Shouldn’t They Be Good Enough Now?” highlights the fact that the role of women as workers while men were at war precedes the overshadowing discussion of the return of soldiers from World War II. Sample lyrics:

“If they were good enough before/To help us win the war,/Why shouldn’t they be good enough now?”

Cover to Cotton Time
“Cotton Time.” Lyrics by Earle C. Jones, Music by Charles N. Daniels, Cover art by the Frew School. New York: Jerome H. Remick, 1910.

In the song “Cotton Time,” plantation owners happily dance to the music of African Americans who sing while they pick cotton. The music is very syncopated and reflects a common stereotype of African American music. Sample lyrics:

“In cotton time, the love bells chime./Then you will be my honey in the sunny cotton time.”

Cover page to
“This Grand Countrie,” Lyrics by Mabel Ervin, Music by Ione T. Hanna, (Chicago: Clark Ervin, 1894).

“This Grand Countrie” celebrates Eugene Debs, a prominent American socialist who would go on to found the Industrial Workers of the World and would be the socialist candidate for five presidential elections. The hymn-like setting of the song celebrates the working man, and the poem envisions an America that benefits all its citizens. Sample lyrics:

“Behold a million working men, their banners lifted high!/You can see the fire of battle in each patriotic eye!/You shall hear their shouts of vict’ry in the coming jubiliee/For these men shall be the rulers of this grand countrie!”

Cover to
“College Life March and Two-Step,” Music by Henry Frantzen, Words by Jack Drislane (New York: F. B. Haviland, 1905)

Jack Drislane’s added words to Henry Frantzen’s popular, dance-able (and apparently whistle-able) two-step celebrating the leisure of college life as opposed to the work of the real world. Sample lyrics:

“Bring back the days of the golden past,/Those good old college days,/Those days we never knew a care or strife”

The length and purpose of this blog post doesn’t really permit me to examine any of these songs in depth, but each does beg several questions: When does entertainment become political? When does labor become entertainment? How might this sheet music have been used? Why would people be interested in hearing this kind of music?

Sheet music is often neglected in many studies, but it can provide an impetus to all kinds of questions about the relationships between entertainment and pressing subjects during different points in history. Hopefully this exposure to the treasures of popular sheet music will spur some new thoughts as to the uses of all kinds of documents.

– Bret McCandless

Further resources:

The Sheet Music Consortium

Holmes, Robyn., and Ruth Lee Martin. The Collector’s Book of Sheet Music Covers. Canberra, Australia: National Library of Australia, 2001.

Walas, Tony. Visions of Music: Sheet Music In the Twentieth Century. Milwaukee: Hal Leonard, 2014.

Wenzel, Lynn, and Carol J. Binkowski. I Hear America Singing: A Nostalgic Tour of Popular Sheet Music. New York: Crown Publishers, 1989.

IU-B African Studies Library: a Bountiful Research Collection


Are you someone who is interested in scholarly reference materials on Africa south of the Sahara? If so, look no further than your IU Bloomington Library! The 6th floor of the Wells Library has a vast collection of documents covering a great deal of historical information. Keep reading to get more information on our collection and how to use it.

What exactly is the collection about?
The African Studies Library Collection is a multi-reference research area that contains information about Sub-Saharan Africa, supporting research inquiries for undergraduate, graduate, and Ph.D. students alike. The collection has documented information dating back as early as c1500, including aspects of indigenous tongues, spirituality, culture, government, and more.

What does Sub-Sahara mean?
The Sahara is a geographical reference point spanning from far West Africa towards Egypt and then south towards the country of South Africa. The African Studies collection consists of multiple documents written in indigenous languages such as Zulu, Igbo, Xhosa, Ibibio, Afrikaans, Bambara, Fula, Kpelle, Sango, Somali, Swahili, Wolof, Twi (Akan), Yoruba, and many others. In addition, these documents can be extremely useful as primary resources!

Who should use the African Studies collection?
Anyone interested in learning more scholarship about Africa and all that it consists of will benefit greatly from this collection, which contains everything from manuscripts, academic journals, annual conference reports, newspapers, and language and linguistics manuals. You don’t have to stop there, though! Expand your realm of knowledge by exploring the IU Art Museum which has primary resources of African art and archaeological pieces of African tribes and culture south of the Sahara. Using the African Studies Library Collection interchangeably with other resources on the IU Bloomington campus can help you if you are not solely dependent upon the African Studies collection for scholarly reference materials.

african studies lib

If you’re looking to broaden your African Studies horizon even further, feel free to visit the library’s African Studies resources page. Browsing through these resouces can be helpful in obtaining information that the Wells Library may not have. For instance, Michigan State University currently carries one of the most comprehensive collections on the Amharic language of Abyssinia (Ethiopia). Since IU and MSU are part of the Big Ten conference library system, resources can also be researched through Worldcat. To request items that another library holds, you can submit an Interlibrary Loan (ILL) request.

Happy researching! As always, don’t hesitate to consult with a reference librarian in the Wells Library east tower for further research help!


National Poetry Month


In 1996, the Academy for American Poets established National Poetry Month to encourage people to read and write poetry and also increase the visibility of the art form. There are other online resources that offer information about poetic forms, poets and their works, poetry events, writing prompts and much more:

If you are feeling particularly creative and inspired, participate in National Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo for short)! Every April, participants try to write a poem every day. You can follow along at for prompt ideas and to see what other people are working on.

Also, check out these resources available at Indiana University Libraries:





Handbooks and Reference Guides

As always, if you have questions feel free to ask a librarian!


Researching Africa @ IU: Electronic Resources

The Africana collection at IU is among the strongest in the United States. It is particularly strong in the humanities and social sciences, and it covers Africa South of the Sahara at a research level and North Africa at a general level. Since the collection is quite large, it may seem a little overwhelming at first. Here are some tips to help you make the most of the collection of Africana at IU, with an emphasis on electronic resources.

To begin with, you’ve got to know how to get to the IU Libraries African Studies Resources web page, right? If you’re not familiar with the how to get to the site, watch a 15 second video tutorial, powered by Jing.

Once you’re at the IU Libraries African Studies Resources web page, here are a few places to start your research.

Africa-Wide NiPAD

Africa-wide NiPAD is essentially a massive collection of Africa-related information housed in one place so that you can easily search for academic articles related to your topic. Here you will find resources that date back as far as the 19th century to the present.

H-Africa Network Homepage

H-Africa is an excellent way to stay on top of the most trendy topics in African Studies. H-Africa’s homepage links to current and past discussion threads and forums and is fully searchable, so you can see what’s being said about your topic right now.

African Studies South of the Sahara: Selected Internet Resources

This site is a one-stop shop, so to speak. It offers an impressive list of links to sites dedicated to any number of Africa-related topics, and it is searchable by topic, country, or keyword/phrase. Have a look around, there’s bound to be something here related to your topic.

The three resources mentioned so far are just the beginning of what IU Libraries has to offer. If you want to explore some of the other resources, you should keep in mind that you can limit the databases that appear on the Resources page by clicking on the appropriate tab. The Social Sciences tab is singled out in this screenshot:

Additionally, while the African Studies Resources page is a good place to start your research, check out More Collection Resources and the Research Guides – there’s lots of useful information within each. The arrows in this screenshot will show you the way:

If you would like further assistance with your Africa-related research or any other research topic, do not hesitate to Ask a Librarian.

Happy Researching!


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!


National Novel Writing Month

Did you know November is National Novel Writing Month? Since the project’s inception in 1999, this online creative-writing program has grown from 21 participants to over 200,000! The project challenges writers to log at least 50,000 words of a new novel during the month of November on the program’s website. The website requires registration, but once writers are logged in, they can upload their work, connect with other writers, and receive advice and critiques on their proto-novels. The National Novel Writing Month accepts novels from all genres and languages and supports the goals of all writers; anyone who reaches the 50,000 word mark by November 30 receives a printable certificate that commemorates their accomplishment. So, if you have ever had a great idea for a story, this is your excuse to start writing! Check out the links below, and let the creative juices flow!

Online Resources about Writing:
National Novel Writing Month: The official site of the National Novel Writing Month project.

Writing on the Edge: An interdisciplinary journal that focuses on writing and the teaching of writing.

Issues in Writing: A semiannual journal devoted to writing across the disciplines.

Books about Writing:
The Author’s Handbook, by Frank Peterson

The Writer’s Compass : from Story Map to Finished Draft in 7 Stages, by Nancy Ellen Dodd

Unless it Moves the Human Heart: the Craft and Art of Writing, by Roger Rosenblatt

Architecture of the Novel : a Writer’s Handbook : Plot, Story, and the Mechanics of Narrative Time, by Jane Vandenburgh

Adventures in Pen Land : One Writer’s Journey from Inklings to Ink, by Marianne Gingher


Social Networking Benefits

For many undergraduates, social networking sites have been as much a part of their life as computers. With sites like Myspace and Facebook having been around for nearly a decade (Myspace was introduced in 2003 and Facebook went public in 2006), our profiles can feel as much a part of our lives as anything else.

Many college students are still not utilizing all the professional resources that are available to them via social networking however. The most popular and widely used professional social networking site is LinkedIn. This site allows you to list your educational and professional experiences and connect with individuals that have similar interests and backgrounds. Building up your social capital before you begin searching for jobs is highly beneficial to college students.

By connecting with future employers and coworkers early, you are constantly in their peripheral vision, so they are aware of your progress and achievements. They will be also be automatically notified on their wall that you have made changes to your profile. You can also link these accounts with your other social networking sites with a simple click of a button, allowing you to share across multiple platforms (like Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon, etc.) and with different audiences. If you don’t feel that LinkedIn is a good fit for you though, don’t despair. There are many professional development social networking sites out there. A list of 20 choices can be found at Site Point. So whatever networking site is the best fit for you, I hope you will start sharing!


Savor The Last Few Weeks of Summer Reading With Some Great Short Stories

With another academic year mere weeks away, the opportunity for summer pleasure reading is dwindling. Soon student will return to slogging through tedious textbook chapters and less-than-jaunty journal articles. All a part of higher education, no doubt.
So it’s definitely time to make the most of the reading freedom one has left. The short story is a form that doesn’t get enough love these days. While most stories do not have the rich depths and character development of novels, arguably many of the best elements of storytelling gets collapsed into these works that can be read in a single sitting—which is always good for one’s sense of accomplishment.
For short stories whose copyright has fallen into the public domain, visit online libraries Bartleby and Bibliomania to read classic tales from the 19th century, including Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Fall from the House of Usher” and Ambrose Bierce’s “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge.”
Probably the best sources for new stories are the literary journals published by many universities and arts organizations—among them the Indiana Review. Runs of some journals, such as The Kenyon Review and Ploughshares, are available through Academic Search Premier and JSTOR, which can be easily accessed through the “Resource Gateway” tab on the library’s home page.
Many of the greatest fiction writers were masters of the form, and you can find a number of excellent short story anthologies and collections by individual authors at the Herman B Wells Library.


A collection of carefully-chosen works, this outstanding selection of 130 stories represents a wide variety of subject matter, theme, literary technique, and style. International in scope, it contains fiction from the early 19th century to the present day.
A diverse collection of stories written in English and stories translated into English, this anthology represents writer from many African nations: Sudan, Mozambique, South Africa, Benin, Nigeria, Morocco, Ethiopia, and more.
A collection of more recent American short fiction that includes stories by Louise Erdrich, Rick Bass, and Stuart Dybek.

    Author Collections

D.H. Lawrence, Selected Stories
Perhaps most well-known for novels like Sons and Lovers and Women in Love, Lawrence wrote many excellent stories. Some of his best are included here, included “The Horse-Dealer’s Daughter,” “The Blind Man,” and “The Rocking-Horse Winner.”
Guy de Maupassant, The Necklace and Other Tales
Considered one of the fathers of the modern short story, Maupassant’s tales are characterized by clever plotting and stylistic economy.
James Joyce, Dubliners
Before he wrote his complex novels Ulysses and Finnegan’s Wake, Joyce penned this cycle of stories revolving around the city of Dublin. “Araby” and “The Dead” are two widely-anthologized classics.
Best known for her novels O Pioneers! and My Antonia, Cather’s short fiction is compassionate and moving without falling into sentimentality. “The Sculptor’s Funeral” and “Neighbor Rosicky” are two standouts.
Flannery O’Connor, The Complete Stories
With a distinctly Southern voice and a pantheon of strange and often eccentric characters (as well as a healthy dose of moral and religious underpinnings), O’Connor’s stories are very memorable. “A Good Man is Hard to Find” and “Good Country People” are two of the most well-known.
Credited with revitalizing the short story in the 1980s, Carver’s stories frequently focus on sadness and loss in the everyday lives of ordinary people.
A prolific and influential writer whose publishing career has spanned nearly fifty years, Oates’ stories rank among her best work.
Wendell Berry, Fidelity: Five Stories
Written with a deceptive simplicity, this collection of stories revolving around Berry’s fictional Kentucky town of Port William is memorable and beautifully rendered.
If you’re still stuck on what to read, check out Fiction Connection, a reader’s advisory resource through the Books in Print database which you can search by books you’ve read (or by author, topic, genre, etc.) to find other works of interest. Of course, you can always drop by the reference desk and ask our librarians what their favorites are, too!

Bursting at the Seams with Costume Resources

[Chicago Daily News ice carnival with woman wearing a patriotic costume and a man wearing a Middle Eastern costume]. Chicago Daily News, January 19, 1929. From American Memory, Library of Congress.
[Chicago Daily News ice carnival with woman wearing a patriotic costume and a man wearing a Middle Eastern costume]. Chicago Daily News, January 19, 1929. From American Memory, Library of Congress.

Have you ever looked at an illustration of the book The Great Gatsby, and wondered how to describe what the characters are wearing? Have you ever thought to look up how members of the Azande culture dress versus the Burundi culture? Or how one might costume a production of the eighteenth-century play She Stoops to Conquer? Or even brainstorming what to wear this coming Halloween?

Costume research is relevant to a variety of disciplines: from theater and drama, to fashion design, history, anthropology, folklore, English, and art history. Next time you are considering a research topic in the aforementioned areas, perhaps a topic in costume could fit the bill?

If so, IU libraries has you covered – we have all kinds of print and electronic resources designed to help you answer these kinds of questions and more.

Electronic resources


Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion

This is a magisterial resource, literally encyclopedic in its coverage. Remember, this database is available only on campus, so make a note to visit next time you’re on campus–otherwise you can find more information on downloading a VPN for your computer or device here.

eHRAF World Cultures (also known as eHRAF Collection of Ethnography)

A database devoted to world cultures produced by the research agency Human Relations Area Files. It has a great browsing function for ethnic groups. This database is a little complicated to search – make sure to capitalize on the help pages in order to use it most effectively.


A great resource for images across a variety of disciplines. Use the Advanced Search option to search or browse within the Fashion, Costume and Jewelry classification.


A consortium of art museums that brings together images of some of the finest works of art. For our purposes today, right on the main page is a link that will enable you to search within Costume and Jewelry.


American Memory

The Smithsonian Institution has compiled a huge and endlessly fascinating digital library from their permanent collections. Don’t stop at costume – look at photography, early film, folkways, and all kinds of amazing content!

American Periodicals Online

This resource is incredibly useful for all kinds of primary source research, as it compiles over a thousand serials, fulltext, with dates ranging from 1740 to 1900.

Great Britain

British Periodicals

Another great primary source database, this time for the British Isles. While you’re at it, check out Eighteenth Century Journals, C-19, and Nineteenth Century UK Periodicals!

VADS or Visual Arts Data Service

This is a great resource for all manner of visual arts. Major museums and archives throughout Great Britain have contributed their collections to this online archive, making it a rich and worthwhile use of your valuable research time.

London Low Life

This is a great resource, not only because it offers all kinds of primary source materials, but also because it is partially compiled from items held in the Lilly Library! Part of the digitization agreement stipulated that IU users could access this database free of charge – so go ahead, what are you waiting for?


IUCAT is where to go for books at IU. Remember that this searches all libraries in the Indiana University system (Bloomington, yes, but also Fort Wayne, Columbus, and South Bend, among others), so make careful note of where books are located.

One great way to find reference sources in print is to use the Reference Room Quicksearch – you can search for reference materials held only in the Reference Reading Room of Herman B Wells Library. A list of records with the subject term “costume” can be found here. Spending a few hours with these books will kickstart your research efficiently and effectively. Plus, you’ll always know they’ll be in the stacks, because reference room materials don’t circulate (unless you ask the staff at the Reference Desk nicely).

Here is a list of records held at Fine Arts Library with all books under the subject heading “costume.” Using Advanced Keyword Search, you can type in “costume” as your subject heading, while using other search terms to narrow your search – like “United States,” or “19th Century,” or what whatever you happen to be interested in. Use the keyword search if you are not sure how to phrase your search term.

And one final reminder about books – your field of knowledge is certainly not limited to local holdings. Simply use Worldcat to find many more sources about your topic. Each record has a link to request items using our Document Delivery/Interlibrary Loan Services, enabling you to request books from many different libraries.

A hot tips for your searching serendipity: remember to think of relevant synonyms for your search strategies. Many catalogs use the subject term “costume,” but others could use “dress,” “garb,” “clothes” or “clothing,” especially if you have delved into unmediated internet searching. If one search doesn’t work, try another related term to see if anything relevant returns.

Never forget – librarians are here to help! Ask now!!