Digital Services with a Human Touch

January is now over and, hopefully, you are starting to settle into your classes and schedules. As it is still early in the semester many of you are probably not yet worried about the big paper or project you have due at the end of the year. On the other hand, some of you began to worry the first day of class when you saw it on the syllabus. In either case, adding a digital element may ease some of your concerns. Enter the Scholar’s Commons.

The Scholar’s Commons is located on the first floor in the East Tower of the Herman B Wells Library. It offers many services provided by librarians to help you with that paper or project. Many of these librarians have scheduled times when they take walk-in questions on a wide range of digital topics, or you can schedule a time that works for you. You can get help with digitization services or digital project development as well as many other services. Aside from the long list of services offered, there are many workshops and events that are hosted in the Scholar’s Commons. Some of these are geared towards improving your writing skills, while others aim to improve your coding skills, like the Digital Brown Bag series or the TEI Coding Workshop, where you can learn to do the coding that helped create the Algernon Charles Swinburne Project which is pictured below:


However, if creating an interactive map is what you’re after, we have a workshop on February 18th from 1p-2p about using the free mapping tool CartoDB which was used to create this map here:


So whether you wish to do some text mining, map making, or anything in between, the Scholar’s Commons in the Wells Library is your one stop shop to add some digital pizazz to your term paper or project. So come on in now to get a head start, or procrastinate a bit (but not too much), and take advantage of the digital services provided in the Scholar’s Commons of the Wells Library!

-David Kloster

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Dragons in the Library!

Appreciate a Dragon Day was January 16th. Even if you missed this most joyous of holidays, it’s probably okay to appreciate a dragon at any time of the year. Fortunately, the Wells Library has some books featuring dragons to help you get in the spirit of the holiday.

One of the most famous dragons in Western literature is Smaug, the gold-hoarding dragon from The Hobbit: or, There and Back Again by J. R. R. Tolkien.

Painting of Smaug on a pile of gold

By J. R. R. Tolkien. From

Smaug has recently become more popular with the release of The Hobbit movie trilogy, in which he is played by Benedict Cumberbatch. The Hobbit is the prequel to The Lord of the Rings. It features some of the same characters and sets in motion key plot points. If The Lord of the Rings seems too long or dense to deal with in the midst of a busy semester, don’t worry–the book version of The Hobbit is a much lighter and easier read.

Another short and light book featuring dragons is The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley. The first half of the books shows Aerin, the main character, training herself to slay dragons. Her kingdom contains small dragons the size of dogs, which, while they sound adorable, are actually quite destructive and dangerous. Aerin practices on these pint-sized dragons to prepare herself to face a much larger version named Maur. Her battle with Maur is fast-paced and incredibly suspenseful. The dragon battles alone make the book worth the read.

One of the most classic dragons in Western Literature is the dragon from Beowulf. Many years after defeating the demon Grendel and Grendel’s mother, Beowulf must defend his kingdom’s people from a very angry dragon.

Painting of Beowulf fighting a dragon.

By J. R. Skelton. From

Beowulf is the oldest known epic poem in the Old English language. Unfortunately, Old English is a much different language than modern English, so you will likely need to read the poem in translation. The IU Libraries have several translations (like the ones here or here). If that still doesn’t sound like fun, Beowulf has been adapted into not one, but two graphic novels that are kept in the Education Library at IU. In addition to creatively telling Beowulf’s epic story in comic form, they have some gorgeous artwork.

If you are just looking for some general knowledge on dragons instead of a book featuring them as characters, Bloomington’s libraries can get you that information. There are several non-fiction books about dragons in IU’s collections. Dragons, Their History and Symbolism and Dragons and Dragon Lore both give a fairly short overview of how stories about dragons were created and evolved in human myths. Perhaps the most intriguing book about dragons that IU has is Dragons and Unicorns: A Natural History. This book in the folklore collection reads like a serious zoological textbook. You may choose to believe that this is evidence of dragons’ existence.

Dragon skull on a beach.

More unequivocal and definitely real evidence of the existence of dragons. From

Finally, Game of Thrones, the first book in George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, is currently the most high-profile book featuring dragons. Dragons play a major role in the events of the series– fifth book is even called A Dance with Dragons. Additionally, dragons figure heavily in the turbulent history of the Game of Thrones world that characters frequently refer to. Dragons were often used in battles and to hold power over entire kingdoms.

These are just some of the books in IU’s collections that can help you to fully appreciate a dragon, even if you did miss the “official” holiday. If you would like more books featuring dragons, you can look at this list of dragons in literature, or you can ask for assistance from any of the librarians in Wells Library in person or over chat.

– Michayla Sullivan

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Surviving Finals Week

With finals week fast approaching, if you’re at all like most of us, you’re probably wondering how you are going to survive the crippling stress of finals. Well, to reassure you that you can and will survive finals week, here are 5 tales of survival for you to take comfort in. Spoiler alert! The individuals from these stories all survived despite horrible conditions, which means you can surely survive finals week.

1. The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey
16101128 After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one. Now, in this must-read science fiction novel, it’s the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The aliens can take human bodies and they can look, speak and act exactly like humans – how can the human race win in this situation? How can they form alliances when anyone could be the enemy? With the Earth’s last survivors scattered, Cassie believes the only way to stay alive is to stay alone. Cassie is forced to choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.

2. 127 Hours
127hours2dIn April 2003 Aron Ralston, a 27-year-old hiker, fell and was trapped in a narrow crevasse, his right arm wedged against the rock wall by a boulder. Mr. Ralston’s ordeal was a struggle for survival and a profound existential crisis. He had gone to Bluejohn Canyon, Utah, for a rock-climbing weekend alone. Not telling anyone where he is going is part of the point: real freedom means getting a clean break from civilization and the burdens of family, friends, and other responsibilities. Finding himself stuck, he knows he can’t expect anyone to come to his rescue, which forces him to ruminate about his family, his ex-girlfriend, and the hereafter. As a trained engineer and a skilled–albeit somewhat careless–outdoorsman, he understands his predicament as a practical challenge, a technical problem. After struggling for more than five days, he makes an imminently logical decision about its solution. The movie is pretty extreme; it may be too disturbing to watch for some people, and you may need to turn away during parts of the film. So basically, it’s a must see.

3. Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster by Jon Krakauer
1898Into Thin Air–a highly recommended story–is a riveting first-hand account of a catastrophic expedition up Mount Everest. In March 1996, Outside magazine sent veteran journalist and seasoned climber Jon Krakauer on an expedition led by celebrated Everest guide Rob Hall. Despite the expertise of Hall and the other leaders, by the end of summit day eight people were dead. Krakauer’s book is at once the story of the ill-fated adventure and an analysis of the factors leading up to its tragic end. Written within months of the events it chronicles, Into Thin Air clearly evokes the majestic Everest landscape. As the journey up the mountain progresses, Krakauer puts it in context by recalling the triumphs and perils of other Everest trips throughout history. The author’s own anguish over what happened on the mountain is palpable as he leads readers to ponder timeless questions.

4. Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton
content An astonishing technique for recovering and cloning dinosaur DNA has been discovered. Creatures once extinct now roam Jurassic Park, soon-to-be opened as a theme park. Until something goes wrong…and science proves a dangerous toy.
Now, you might have seen the movie–it did go on to become one of the most popular movies of all time, grossing over a billon dollars, and changed the way we looked at special effects forever–but I highly encourage reading the novel. There are hundreds of pages of action that were not included in the motion picture, additional plot twists, new dinosaurs and other surprises to prove to all that Crichton’s original was sheer genius.

5. The Descent
MV5BMjA5NzQ1NTgwNV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNjUxMzUzMw@@._V1_SX214_AL_ In this British horror-thriller, six women meet in a remote part of the Appalcahians to go on a caving expedition in an unmapped cave system, which in hindsight might not have been the smartest move. Their adventure soon goes horribly wrong when a collapse traps them deep underground, and they find themselves hunted by troglofaunal flesh-eating humanoid monsters! They are literally fighting for their lives.

So besides the comfort of knowing others–even if some of them are fictional–have survived worse than IU finals week, what can we take away from these five titles that apply to your own survival?

  • Sleep is important. Don’t stay up all night.
  • Eat well. You need brain food (i.e. not Ramen on-the-go).
  • Drink plenty of water. It’s vital for staying healthy.
  • Maps are useful. You don’t want to be late to your final (or eaten by flesh-eating monsters).
  • Take regular, scheduled breaks. (Okay, most of the survivors in the stories couldn’t actually do this, so you should be even more comforted that you can.) Every 3 hours or so, take a break from studying and recharge. Your studying will be more beneficial if you take some time to do something invigorating or relaxing like exercising or reading/watching one of these 5 super fantastic survival titles!
  • Relax. You are going to make it through; the apocalypse hasn’t hit yet.

  • And one last tip from the most important survival book you will ever read, Max Brooks’ The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead:

    “Remember; no matter how desperate the situation seems, time spent thinking clearly is never time wasted.”

    -Krista K. Mullinnix

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    Winter Weather Reads in Wells

    Now that winter break is upon us, you might be looking for some fun reading material to relax with over the next few weeks. Why not read a wintery book to get into the season? Curl up with a warm blanket and a mug of hot chocolate and dive into one of these cold-weather classics today!

    Disney’s animated film Frozen is still wildly popular, even a year after it was released. If you want more stories from the land of Arendelle, you might think about reading the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale the movie was based on, The Snow Queen, a story in The Annotated Hans Christian Andersen.

    The Snow Queen illustration

    There’s no Elsa, but a flying ice sleigh does make an appearance. Source:

    The movie’s interpretation was admittedly a very loose one, but it still has many concepts in common with the original story. It is especially interesting to see how Disney took the villain of Andersen’s story and made her into a heroine in the character of Elsa.

    Like Arendelle, Narnia is fictional world that becomes frozen-over due to the actions of an icy queen. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis may be a children’s story, but it is still an entertaining read for people who are just kids at heart. If you enjoy this book, you will be thrilled to know that it is actually the first in a series of seven novels set in Narnia.

    If you want to catch up on some more recent books, here are some newer stories featuring wintery weather that are quickly becoming classics in their own right. American Gods by Neil Gaiman is a fantasy that highlights the history and social composition of America through a battle of mythological gods. A large part of the story takes place during the brutal winter season in a small Wisconsin town, where it is so cold that the townspeople have an annual contest to predict when a car will fall through the frozen lake when it starts to melt.

    Car sitting on ice

    Staring at this for months on end apparently counts as entertainment when it gets really cold in Wisconsin. Source:

    A TV series based on American Gods is currently in the works, so if you are a “book before the movie” kind of person, now is a good time to read it.

    Another winter weather fantasy book that has a TV show based on it is, of course, George R. R. Martin’s Game of Thrones. While a lot of the story takes place in warm climates, much of the plot revolves around the idea that “winter is coming,” which is an oft-repeated phrase in the series. In the Game of Thrones world, winter is worse than anything Bloomington can throw at us. There, winter can last for years and involves ice zombies.

    Pictured: worse than waiting for the bus in the snow.

    Pictured: worse than waiting for the bus in the snow. Source:

    Even if you have already seen the Game of Thrones TV series (or even if you haven’t), definitely pick up the books– there is a lot in them that the series just cannot cover.

    These books can be a great way to relax before next semester starts. However you spend your break, just know that everyone at Wells Library looks forward to seeing you when you get back. Or, if you are not leaving Bloomington, come see us at the library during our semester break hours! We can help you get ahead on the semester or just help you find even more fun wintery reads to relax with.

    -Michayla Sullivan

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    Using the RPS Libraries

    Do you live in the residence halls? Want to rent a movie, but don’t want to trek across campus (through the snow) to Wells? Guess what! There’s probably an RPS Library or Movies Music & More close to you! With 13 locations open in the evenings, we’ve got you covered! The RPS Libraries and MMM’s are located in thirteen residence halls across campus. While offerings vary by location, most of our centers carry movies, TV shows, and music, with select locations offering video games, books, and board games.

    RPS Locations

    So now you know about us, but how can you find what you’re looking for? Good news! You can search for items in your nearest center! Here’s how:

    After typing the item you want into the search bar on IUCAT, you can limit results to your nearest center by utilizing the drop down menus on the left hand side of the page. Simply click on the “Library” button and select your center. RPS Centers are listed under “Bloomington RPS Libraries.”


    RPS Libs List

    So say you live in Collins and want to watch Sherlock. Once you type Sherlock into the search bar in IUCAT and then limit your results to Bloomington RPS Libraries – Collins Living-Learning Center, this is what you should see:

    Results Page

    Suppose you want to check out season one. After clicking on the link, you’ll be taken to the item listing where you’ll be able to see if the item is available for checkout and where you might find the item. This information is all listed under the “Holdings” section at the bottom of the page and should look like this:


    Oh hey, it looks like we’re in luck! Sherlock: Season One is at Collins Library and waiting to be checked out!

    -Sarah Trew

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    The Auxiliary Library Facility: Only a Click Away

    The Ruth Lilly Auxiliary Library Facility (ALF) is a high-density shelving facility for materials from the IU Libraries. It houses almost 2 million books, manuscripts, and other materials! While 2 million books and other items seems like a lot, Herman B Wells Library currently houses over 3 million items! To fill the ALF completely, it would take more than twice the amount of materials in the Wells Library.

    Within those 2 million items currently in the ALF, you’re bound to find some pretty cool things! The Film Archive currently calls the ALF home. In this collection, you’ll find more than 55,000 films covering a variety of topics, including educational films on social guidance and productions from the U.S. Department of War. Stephen Spielberg’s first movie and John Ford’s home movies are also within this rare collection.

    Not interested in film? There are literally millions of books in the ALF that might interest you! This includes books in many different languages.

    Inside the ALF vault

    Inside the ALF vault

    The ALF consists of two vaults, with the most recent being completed in 2010. These vaults are kept at a temperature and humidity level that helps to preserve the materials inside.

    Even though the ALF is not open to the public, many of the materials within can be delivered by request to Herman B Wells Library or other IU Libraries. Requesting books from the ALF is easy! Once you find an item that you are interested in using IUCat, you’ll need to click the red button on the right hand side of the page that says “Request This.” This will prompt you to select “ALF Request”. (See picture below.)

    To request delivery from the ALF, simply select ALF Request.

    To request delivery from the ALF, simply select ALF Request.

    If you place a request before 12:00 pm (noon), it will be delivered by 5:00 pm on the same day! If you place a request after 12:00 pm, it will be delivered by 5:00 pm the very next day.

    You can find more information about the ALF here.

    Happy hunting!

    -Jessica Neeb

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    Bookmarking Results with the New IUCAT

    As you may know, the IU Libraries are launching a new version of IUCAT in December 2014. While the current version is certainly usable, the new version will be more compatible with mobile devices and will have new helpful features available for users with IU logins. These features include the ability to save searches and bookmark records for future use. These features can be extremely helpful to researchers (this author included!) who sometimes forget to write down which of their search terms yielded fruitful results. With these features, users will be able to seamlessly search for resources and create a bibliography in IUCAT.

    To bookmark a result, check the box marked “bookmark” next to the item you wish to save.
    bookmark searches - arrow

    Bookmarked results will be saved and viewable on a separate “bookmark” page shown here:
    bookmark page

    These saved results can be emailed to the user by clicking the “email” button on the left-hand side of the Bookmark page. One of the most helpful aspects of this page is the “cite” function which displays a citation for each bookmarked item in APA, MLA, and Chicago format:
    Citation page

    With the ability to bookmark results and save searches, the new IUCAT integrates several elements of research into one easy-to-use page while still offering the helpful limiters and search functions available in earlier versions of IUCAT.

    -Ryan Frick

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    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!


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    Classic Frights for Dark Autumn Nights

    Every year in mid-autumn, as the weather takes a turn for the cold and the leaves begin to fall, people become obsessed with the emotion of fear. They flood theaters to see the newest iterations of a crazy killer going wild. But some of the most truly satisfying scares come from classic stories–those that have been around for decades. With Halloween being today, it is a great time to get lost in some of these excellent heroes of horror.

    No one does it better than the original.

    For an entry to the dark mystery genre, you cannot look past the original: Edgar Allan Poe. There is a reason the annual award for most engaging mystery is named after him. His stories are so pervasive, they are seemingly eternal; chances are good you are familiar with some of his work. They remain popular today, over 150 years after his death, because they are so exciting. In the Wells Library, you can find his best works contained in The Portable Edgar Allan Poe, and even a lot of his stories online with Volume One and Volume Two of his tales. You can start with his most famous stories like “The Tell-Tale Heart” or “The Pit and the Pendulum.” “The Black Cat” and “The Masque of the Red Death” are also highly recommended.

    This guy.

    About fifty years after Poe’s death in the early twentieth century, the horror genre was further refined by another east-coast American writer, H.P. Lovecraft. Combining the terrifying aspects of Poe with the fascinating science fiction components of H.G. Wells, Lovecraft has been influencing modern fantasy and fear for decades now. Most famous for his creation of the titular monster in “The Call of Cthulu” (you can come face-to-face with it in Necronomicon), Lovecraft’s stories are always good at being eerie. His novella, At the Mountains of Madness, is also very much worth a read.

    'Here's Johnny!' in one of the most iconic scenes in film history.

    For more recent frightening authors, Stephen King has emerged as the obvious choice for contemporary-classic status. King launched into popular culture in the mid-seventies when several of his novels became hits in Hollywood, most notably The Shining. While his novels are certainly good fun, some of his most chilling work lies in his short stories. Particularly his first collection, Night Shift, features some highlights. I cannot, in good conscience, recommend that you read these in the dark.

    In a season where the theaters are dominated by terrifying films (and sequels…and sequels), some of the best scares can still be found in the pages of books and stories. There is something truly rewarding about being chilled by a classic piece of science fiction or mystery. Of course, these are just the three most famous writers; you could spend hours perusing lesser known authors and their forays into horror. Or if you are looking to save time, a quick search for “two-sentence horror stories” can satisfy your desires for the macabre. However you spend your Hallow’s Eve, whether it is going for a night bike ride through the woods or watching a movie about a homicidal scarecrow, all of us from the Wells Library wish you a fantastic and spooky holiday!

    –Joseph Wooley

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    The Best of the Bestiaries

    Let’s be honest: medieval Europeans were into some weird stuff. When they weren’t putting animals on trial for their misdeeds (because 16th century pigs could be downright rude), or wearing two foot long shoes, or determining whether or not some was actually, like, DEAD dead, they were filling gold-leafed pages with intricate drawings and fanciful accounts of some very wild beasts.

    "You have the right to remain sty-lent."

    “You have the right to remain sty-lent.”

    Once compiled together, these collections of animal tales were known as bestiaries. Although a handful of classical authors like Aristotle, Herodotus, and Solinus each published an early form of the bestiary, the literary craze reached the height of its popularity during the 12th century—most notably in England and France. Such manuscripts often described the varied species of animals native to Europe or any faraway land deemed “exotic.” Imaginary animals such as unicorns, dragons, and basilisks were also included, though some scholars argue whether or not Europeans actually believed in the existence of such mythical creatures.

    However, what makes a bestiary a bestiary is its heavy use of allegory in regards to Christian morals. For example, the eagle, which is known for its sharp eyesight, can stare directly into the sun without suffering any harm. Yet as the eagle “rejects any of its young that cannot stare unflinching into the sun, so God will reject sinners who cannot bear the divine light.” Other moral lessons involve the twisted desires of man (represented by a serpent), the rebirth of “new believers” (represented by a phoenix), and the need to look to a celestial presence for guidance (represented by the ostrich). While some of these fables are a bit heavy-handed, they represent important cultural, historical, and traditional beliefs during Middle Ages.

    Medieval cephalopod versus, you know, an actual cephalopod

    Medieval cephalopod versus, you know, an actual cephalopod

    Wells, the Lilly, and the Fine Arts Library all house bestiaries in varying formats. From microfilm to books to online resources, the following titles serve as excellent introductions to a literary genre that toes the line between informative and bizarre. Take a look when you have the chance!

    And, for good measure, this.

    And, for good measure, this.

    Online Resources:
    The secrets of Albertus Magnus of the vertues of herbs, stones, and certain beasts : whereunto is newly added, a short discourse of the seven planets, governing the nativities of children : also a book of the same author, of the marvellous things of the world and of certain things, caused of certain beasts (1681)

    The book of barely imagined beings a 21st century bestiary (2013)

    Brutes turn’d criticks, or, Mankind moraliz’d by beasts in sixty satyrical letters upon the vices and follies of our age (1695)

    A Peterborough psalter and bestiary of the fourteenth century (1921)

    Fictitious beasts; a bibliography (1961)

    A medieval book of beasts : Pierre de Beauvais’ Bestiary (1992)

    Bestiaries and their users in the Middle Ages (1998)

    -Delainey Bowers

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