March 2021 Archives

March 25, 2021

Nota Bene, Yale Library’s much-loved newsletter since 1987, has been reborn in digital form. The inaugural online issue features stories of how the library has thrived in spite of pandemic challenges. In one, a faculty member partners with library staff to help students tackle social justice projects with GIS technology. There is a slideshow of the newly renovated Yale Film Archive in Sterling Memorial Library, and news of an important gift to preserve digital collections. And you can see how library exhibit staff helped a student curate an online exhibition on Edith Wharton.

When Nota Bene debuted in 1987, then University Librarian Penny Abell said it would “foster a general awareness of the library’s great strengths.” This new digital format, to be published monthly, aims to continue the legacy. Subscribe online, selecting “Yale Library News.”

Post on March 25, 2021 - 11:44am |

March 24, 2021

photo of Larry Krasner in an office surrounded by advisors

Join us online for a free Indie Lens Pop-Up screening and discussion of Philly D.A.

In 2017, Philadelphia had one of the highest incarceration rates of any major city on the United States. When civil rights attorney Larry Krasner mounted a long-shot campaign to become District Attorney—and won—he pledged to end mass incarceration by changing the culture of the criminal justice system. With unprecedented access to Krasner's office, Philly D.A. explores the most pressing social issues of our time—police brutality, the opioid crisis, gun violence, and mass incarceration—by focusing on the efforts of one man attempting a fundamental overhaul from within the system.

Panelists
* Larry Krasner, Philadelphia District Attorney
* Mike Lee, Assistant Philadelphia District Attorney
* Mark I. Bernstein, Retired Judge, Philadelphia County
* Ted Passon, Director, Philly D.A.
Moderator: Karen Thompson, ACLU Sr. Staff Attorney

7 p.m. Wednesday, April 7

Register Here

Watch the Trailer

What is Indie Lens Pop-Up?
Featuring upcoming documentaries from the Peabody Award-winning PBS series Independent LensIndie Lens Pop-Up brings people together for film screenings and community-driven conversations. This Indie Lens Pop-up event is presented by the Teaneck International Film Festival, the Yale Film Archive, CPTV, and PBS's Independent Lens.

Post on March 24, 2021 - 5:31am |

March 22, 2021

Amnesia game cover man in top hat with cityscape behind

Yale University Library has received its first-ever gift to establish an endowed fund to support digital preservation. The $100,000 gift comes from an anonymous 2008 graduate of Yale College, now a historian of modern warfare.

Library leaders hope the new fund will also draw attention to digital preservation as an area of ongoing need and rising importance. Increasingly, Yale Library collections extend far beyond print books, physical manuscripts and other tangible objects to “born-digital” content created and existing only in digital form. Yet, even as digital content proliferates, its existence is threatened by obsolescent technologies, expensive data storage, and degradation of hardware and software.

“Our first endowed fund for digital preservation is a significant milestone,” said Christine McCarthy, the library’s director of Preservation and Conservation Services. “Safeguarding digital assets is directly analogous to our work preserving physical objects, but the challenges of digital preservation are less widely understood. We are grateful for the donor’s vision in choosing to help us meet this important and expensive need.”

Library collections now commonly contain materials like videotaped interviews, massive data sets, manuscripts drafted on early word processors, and much more. Digitization is also an increasingly important way to expand access to physical materials, particularly for scholars and community members who cannot travel to see the materials in person. The challenge is not only how to preserve these materials, but also how to make them accessible to current and future researchers.

New approaches to digital preservation

Yale Library, with funding from the Mellon and Sloan Foundations, is leading the development of emulation technology, an innovative preservation approach that allows users to replicate the environment and experience of outmoded software and hardware on a modern computer.

For example, the papers of the science fiction author Thomas M. Disch, acquired by the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library in 1991, include ten floppy disks containing multiple versions of Amnesia, a text-based video game Disch published in 1986. In an early proof-of-concept, the emulation team made Amnesia accessible by emulating the legacy Commodore 64 environment, one of three operating systems for which the game was designed.

 Image of Central vervous System cells from the Biochemistry CD-ROMIn another academic realm, Basic Neurochemistry: Molecular, Cellular and Medical Aspects, an influential textbook published in 2006 and used worldwide, was accompanied by a CD-ROM containing hundreds of related images. Those images, as well as the content of many other CD-ROMs in the library’s collections, will soon be available through Yale Library’s new CD-ROM emulation environment.

These and other advances by the library’s preservation team influenced the donor of the new endowed fund.  “I’ve seen firsthand how important digital sources are and how difficult they can be to access,” the donor said. “I’m proud of Yale Library’s leadership in digital preservation and pleased that I can support this critically important work.”

Images: Above left: Cover of Amnesia, a text-based video game. Below: Cell image from CD-ROM published with Basic Neurochemistry: Molecular, Cellular and Medical Aspects (2006) 

Post on March 22, 2021 - 4:20pm |

March 18, 2021

The Harvey Cushing/John Hay Whitney Medical Library has been selected as the recipient of the 2021 Research Advancement in Health Sciences Librarianship Award from the Medical Library Association. This award recognizes organizations “whose exemplary actions have served to advance health information research and evidence-based practice in health sciences libraries… and have created and sustained a culture of research that… has contributed significantly to clinical, educational, research, or administrative outcomes in their institutions.”

Located in the heart of the Yale School of Medicine and Yale New Haven Hospital medical campus (and on web browsers worldwide), the Medical Library is vital in supporting the research, clinical, and educational missions of its community.  “This tremendous achievement recognizes the outstanding work of the medical library staff. The need for their expert, timely research support has never been greater,” said Barbara Rockenbach, Stephen F. Gates ‘68 University Librarian. “The medical library is a center of excellence for both the Yale medical community and Yale University Library.” Read full story on the Medical Library website.

Post on March 18, 2021 - 10:58am |

March 16, 2021

Last fall, when the COVID-19 pandemic moved her introductory biology laboratory to Zoom, Maria Moreno, senior lecturer and research scientist in Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, saw an opportunity to try something new.

Working with GIS Librarian Miriam Olivares and Life Sciences Librarian Lori Bronars, Moreno developed Yale’s first Geospatial Learning Accelerator for undergraduates, a six-week course module that gives students an intensive introduction to Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology.

GIS provides a structure for assembling, analyzing, and visualizing any kind of data together with spatial location data. The technology is particularly effective for revealing social, economic, and health disparities.

The new instructional module was one of five within Moreno’s course, Laboratory for Foundations of Biology, and the first of its kind for Yale undergraduates.

Moreno’s 64 students were organized into 15 teams, each charged with researching a topic and presenting their findings using StoryMap, a GIS tool licensed by Yale Library that translates complex concepts into visual stories with text, interactive maps, images, and other multimedia content.

The students’ final StoryMap projects, published in the Esri Teach with GIS hub, vividly explore a wide range of pressing health issues, including the impact of the pandemic on air pollution, health inequities in marginalized communities, college and university responses to COVID-19, and the relationship between racial segregation and health disparities. About half the teams chose to analyze issues related to COVID-19.

“In just six weeks, the students rose to the challenge of putting into practice new analytical, collaborative, and writing skills, and successfully transferred these skills into a real-world application outside the confines of the laboratory,” Moreno said.

During the first two weeks of the Accelerator, Moreno and Olivares led an ideation process to help students develop their proposals. The students learned foundational GIS concepts, critiqued StoryMaps by other authors, and learned how to map tabular data, creating interactive maps and apps using the Esri ArcGIS Online platform. In the following weeks, three ArcGIS instructors from the Esri LEARN Team joined the Accelerator to assist students.

For more complex geospatial processes such as building dashboards or calculating spatial indexes, students booked outside-of-class consultations with Olivares or T.C. Chakraborty, a Ph.D. candidate in the School of the Environment and GIS consultant to the library.

Currently, the majority of students using library-licensed GIS technology are graduate students, but Moreno hopes that will change. She is exploring opportunities to incorporate the Accelerator module for other large undergraduate classes. “In my view, this is an essential part of the technology literacy that our students should be able to acquire, or at least be exposed to, while at Yale,” she said.

Moreno is also incorporating a smaller version of the Accelerator in her teaching during Yale’s Science, Technology and Research Scholars Program (STARS) program to support women, minority, economically underprivileged, and other historically underrepresented students in the sciences, engineering and mathematics.

This is not the first time that Moreno has tapped library expertise to support her teaching. She frequently draws on the resources of Marx Science and Social Science Library and the library’s Stat Lab. Pre-pandemic, she developed a workshop on navigating the scientific research primary literature with Bronars.

“It’s important for students to understand the full scope of the academic toolkit available to them through the Yale Library,” Moreno said.

Read more about Yale Library’s GIS resources.

Image: Chicago map from Effect of Redlining on Covid-19 Spread, by Alan Zheng, Zade Akras, Fiker Mekonnen, December 2020. 

Post on March 16, 2021 - 4:17pm |

March 3, 2021

Join us online for a free Indie Lens Pop-Up screening of Coded Bias, a new documentary by Shalini Kantayya, followed by a discussion with the film's stars.

When computer scientist Joy Buolamwini of the MIT Media Lab discovered that most facial-recognition software does not accurately identify darker-skinned faces or the faces of women, she delved into an investigation of widespread bias in algorithms. As it turns out, artificial intelligence (AI) is not neutral. From the facial scanning used in policing and surveillance to automated HR systems that mirror and magnify workplace prejudices, these technologies are often created with fundamentally biased building blocks. Coded Bias explores the findings of Buolamwini and her pioneering colleagues, revealing the underlying biases in the technology that shapes our lives and threatens our democracy.

7 p.m. Thursday, March 18

Register Here

Watch the Trailer

What is Indie Lens Pop-Up?
Featuring upcoming documentaries from the Peabody Award-winning PBS series Independent LensIndie Lens Pop-Up brings people together for film screenings and community-driven conversations. Indie Lens Pop-up is presented in Connecticut by the Yale Film Archive, CPTV, and PBS's Independent Lens.

Post on March 3, 2021 - 12:39pm |

March 2, 2021

Graphic with text reading Yale Library Online Library Prizes

Yale University Library is seeking submissions for three annual prizes for outstanding senior essays. Each carries a $500 award and is presented during Commencement ceremonies at the recipient’s residential college.

Based on quality of submissions, the library may name more than one winner (or alternately, none) for any of the awards. Winning essays are published on Eli Scholar. Senior essays submitted to a Yale academic department at any point during the 2020-21 academic year are eligible for consideration for 2021 prizes. Submissions are open now for these three prizes:

The Harvey M. Applebaum ’59 Award is for a senior essay using materials from any of the government depository collections. The collections encompass government documents and information for the U.S., European Union, Canada, the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and the United Nations. In 2020, first prize was awarded to William Horvath, Berkeley College, for The 1950s “War on Narcotics”: Harry Anslinger, The Federal Bureau of Narcotics, and Senator Price Daniel’s Probe. Second prize was awarded to Stephanie Higginson, Morse College, for Against Executive-Controlled Administrative Law Judges. Essays may be submitted for consideration by the student author or their faculty advisor no later than Thursday, May 13, 2021, at 11:59 p.m. Applebaum Award Submission guidelines.

The Manuscripts and Archives Diane Kaplan Memorial Prize is for an essay based substantially on research in any Manuscripts and Archives collection. In 2020, Kaplan Prizes were awarded to Steven Rome, Grace Hopper College, for  The Apostle of Dissent: J. Hendrix McLane’s Fight Against History in Post-Reconstruction South Carolina, and to Sahaj Sankaran, Silliman College, for Ambassadors Extraordinary: Chester Bowles, B.K. Nehru, and Ambassadorial Agency in Indo-American Relations, 1961-1969. Submission deadline is Friday, April 23, 2021, at 5 p.m. Faculty and others may encourage submission, but students must submit the essays themselves to be considered for the prize. Kaplan Prize submission guidelines.

The Library Map Prize is for the best use of maps in a senior essay or its equivalent. In 2020, first prizes were awarded to Heidi Katter, Silliman College, for Railroad Ties: Tracks to the White Earth and Red Lake Ojibwe Reservations, 1860s-1910s, and to  Soledad O. Tejada, Davenport College, for The Public and the Personal: Mapping the NYC Subway System as an Urban Memoryscape. An honorable mention was awarded to Peter A. Luff, Jonathan Edwards College, for Social Agglomeration Forces and the City. Essays may be submitted for consideration by the student author or their faculty advisor no later than Thursday, May 13, 2021, at 11:59 p.m. Map prize submission guidelines.

Post on March 2, 2021 - 6:36am |

March 1, 2021

student back to camera seated in chair,  book in lap, in front of courtyard windows

Bass Library has reopened, after a month of cleaning and repairs to address damage from a flood. Also as of March 1, night and weekend hours have resumed in both Bass and Sterling. The new hours for both libraries are now10 am -10 pm Monday through Thursday, 10 am - 5 pm on Friday and Saturday, and noon - 6 pm on Sundays. Bass Library media equipment loans and room reservations will also resume this week.

See all library hours.

The flood in Bass was precipitated just after closing on a frigid Friday evening in late January when a frozen sprinkler line in the upper-level ceiling burst.  Water poured down and flowed in all directions before the leak was discovered by a custodian and the water could be turned off. The water filled the conduits that carry electrical and internet cables beneath the floor and leaked from there to the lower level, said John Clegg, director of Building Operations and Security. More water cascaded down the stairs. 

A disaster recovery company was called in the same evening to pump out water and begin drying out the space. Massive heaters, fans, and dehumidifiers had to run for several days, leaching moisture out of the air, before the damage could be fully assessed. Now, contractors are replacing sections of ruined wallboard, ceiling, and wood paneling; shampooing carpets; and cleaning stonework. 

The impact on the library’s 65,000-volume collection was fortunately minimal. About 730 books were shipped off-site for drying and further evaluation. No rare or difficult-to-replace items were affected.

Originally opened in 1971 as Cross Campus Library, the underground library was reimagined as the Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Library in 2007. Decorative elements, including the entry pavilions on Cross Campus and the tile frieze at the end of the tunnel from Sterling Library, were designed to visually connect the renovated space with Sterling Library’s Gothic motifs. In 2019, Bass was again renovated to expand study space and increase the flow of natural light from the building’s sunken courtyards. At that time, the collection was substantially renewed and consolidated on the lower level.

Photo: Mara Lavitt

Post on March 1, 2021 - 8:10am |