Thursday, September 24, 2015

Banned Books Week 2015 Celebrates Young Adult Books

September 27 - October 3 is Banned Books Week, an event that celebrates the freedom to read by bringing attention to written works that have been banned, censored, or otherwise challenged in academic and library settings. The focus for this year’s celebration is young adult books, which is the most frequently challenged genre.

Banned Books Week 2015 poster

This year LITS will recognize Banned Books Week with a display of young adult books in the library atrium from September 28-October 2. On Wednesday 9/30 from 4-5pm we’ll also host a reception with snacks, button making, and the opportunity to take a shelfie (a photo of you with one of your favorite banned books!).

LITS Special Collections Archivist Debbie Richards with Annie On My Mind
LITS Special Collections Archivist Deborah Richards with Annie On My Mind
If you’d like to take and post your own shelfie on Twitter, be sure to include the hashtag #free2readmhc!

Want to know more about Banned Books week? Here are some additional resources for further reading:

Image credits: Event poster by Katie Longo, shelfie by Mary Stettner

Monday, September 21, 2015

Dust Bowl

This fall, LITS will be home to the American Library Association traveling exhibit Dust, Drought, and Dreams Gone Dry. The exhibit explores the Dust Bowl, one of the most significant environmental disasters in American history. The exhibit approaches the Dust Bowl from humanities perspectives that aim to engage its audience in a discussion on human and ecological impact of the Dust Bowl and similar phenomena. The exhibit drew its inspiration from sources including Oklahoma State University's "Women in the Dust Bowl", the film The Dust Bowl by Ken Burns, and a collection of papers written and collected by Mount Holyoke alum Caroline A. Henderson (class of 1901).

"Migrant Mother" by Depression Era photographer Dorothea Lange, featuring Florence Thompson and her children. LITS has several books on Lange including Dorothea Lange: The Crucial Years, curated by Olivia MarĂ­a Rubio (MH Stacks TR140.L3 P365).

Materials on the Dust Bowl available through LITS include films and a wide range of books. Books on the Dust Bowl available through LITS include:
  • The iconic Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck (MH Stacks PS3537 .T3234 G7 1939);
  • stunning photography collections such as Dust Bowl Descent by Bill Ganzel and Years of Dust by Albert Marrin (MH Stacks Folio TR820.5 .G36 1984 and Folio F595 .M343 2009 respectively);
  • firsthand accounts by girls and young women who lived through the Dust Bowl as detailed in Dust Bowl Diary by Ann Marie Low and Waiting on the Bounty by Mary Knackstedt Dyck (MH Stacks F636 .L92 1984 and F687 .H3 D93 1999 respectively);
  • sociocultural phenomena brought about by the Dust Bowl as detailed in Dust Bowl Migrants in the American Imagination by Charles J. Shindo (MH Stacks NX650 .L32 S53 1997); 
  • and the geological and agricultural background and implications of the Dust Bowl in Farming the Dust Bowl by Lawrence Svobida and The Dust Bowl: An Agricultural and Social History by R. Douglas Hurt (MH Stacks S451 .K2 S96 1986 and S441 .H92 respectively).
The exhibit will be running in LITS until late October, but the Caroline A. Henderson collection is available year-round here and through the archives. Don't forget to mark your calendars for this exhibit -- it is definitely one you won't want to miss!

*Image was obtained through the Creative Commons

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Senior Study Carrel Choosing Is Here!

It's that time of the year again--time for thesis-writing and other library-loving seniors to stake a claim on their favorite study spot on campus!  

Senior study carrel sign-up will take place this Sunday, September 20, from 10AM until 12 Noon.  

Starting promptly at 10AM, student supervisors from Access Services will hand out choosing numbers at the main entrance to Williston Memorial Library.  Carrel selection will then take place in the Whiting Alcove, which is located on the 6th floor landing that overlooks the atrium.

Have a scheduling conflict?  Don't panic!  You can assign a proxy to attend the sign-up for you. Proxy forms are available at the Circulation Desk, and must be presented at the time of carrel selection.

Carrels are assigned on a first come, first serve basis, so line up early and come prepared with a back-up selection or two in the event your first choice is taken.  

We have a limited number of accessible floors and height-adjustable carrels.  Please let us know if you need one of these when you sign up for your carrel.  We will do our best to grant your request, as space allows.

Happy studying, Lions!

Friday, August 28, 2015

New features in Moodle 2.8

Moodle was upgraded to version 2.8 in May 2015, and there are some great new features in it that we think you’ll like. For starters, you’ll find that the look and feel of Moodle has changed. The icons are a little different, and this new theme resizes very nicely for narrower screens. You can see how it resizes by making your web browser window more narrow; you’ll see things on the page move around to display best for different widths. The theme also works better with assistive technologies (for example, screen readers and magnifiers) used on campus.

Another new thing is the text editor interface. You will see this interface when you edit the heading of a section of your course, add a description of an activity, or write an answer to a quiz question, and other places where text needs to be edited. The first button in the controls for the text editor expands the controls to show the rest of the buttons. Here’s what the controls look like when collapsed and when expanded:

The new interface also autosaves your work, which is something we know many of you have been wishing for. If you accidentally close your browser or leave the page without saving, it will save your work for you until you come back.

There is also a new menu in the user interface that shows up under your name when you are logged in:

Note that the “messages” part only contains system announcements within Moodle; it isn’t linked to email and if a user is not logged in to Moodle they will not see a notification that they have a message until the next time they are logged in.

There have also been improvements made to the Moodle Gradebook in this new version.  One change is that the student names column in the Grader Report is now frozen so that you will continue to see their names even as you scroll far to the right - easier to keep track of who’s grades you are viewing!  Also, there is a new grade aggregation scheme called Natural Weighting  that makes the adding up and weighting of student grades easier and more flexible. If you are interested in using Natural Weighting in your Gradebook, ask your LITS Liaison for a quick introduction!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Faculty: Moodle events and getting ready for fall

This one's for all course instructors: here are things you'll want to know about Moodle as you plan for fall. 

We're offering drop-in Moodle help on a number of dates: 

  • 10:30 AM to 12:30 PM Wednesday August 5, Library 431
  • 10 AM to 11:30 AM Wednesday August 19, Library 431
  • 10 AM to Noon Tuesday September 1, Library 431
  • If you're a new faculty member, keep in mind that there will be an opportunity for Moodle drop-in help on August 24, as part of your new faculty orientation calendar, and you will hear about that from your LITS liaison soon if you haven't already.
At the drop-in sessions, we'll be on hand to help you import materials into your course sites and to answer any other questions you may have about setting up Moodle for fall. No RSVP needed, but we'd love to know who is planning to be there and what sorts of questions you will have. 

We're also offering a “Getting ready to grade” workshop August 25 from 2 PM to 3:30 PM in 619. In this workshop we will talk about the Moodle gradebook, what it's best at, and whether it's the right fit for your course and your assignments. If you do choose Moodle for some or all of your grading in your course, we'll show you some best practices, and there will be time to start setting up grading in Moodle, and to ask questions. We encourage you to RSVP if you'd like to attend this session.

Need to move stuff from an old Moodle course site to a new one?  We have a video tutorial about that:

If you can't make it to a drop-in session or you need help right now, don't hesitate to contact your LITS Liaison, or contact Research and Instructional Support at Want to learn at your own pace? See our moodle help pages for help with common tasks. 

Thursday, June 25, 2015


During your first semester, or four semesters into your college education you may find yourself riding the struggle-bus as you start a research paper. One of the best attributes of college is the opportunity to study new areas of interest. Especially at Mount Holyoke, you are in the position where you must write a paper that is outside your normal field.

Whatever background you have in research paper writing, LITS has the most amazing webpages to help you find sources and get started on your research paper. In my case, I had zero research paper experience. The AP style essay was the only form I came to Mount Holyoke with.

Introducing: LibGuides ~ A fantastic starting place when you don’t know where to begin.

LibGuides are created by LITS staff members from the department of Research and Instructional Support who specialize in different areas of research. You can start your research by finding your subject page.

My first experience brought me to the Music LibGuide. Never having written a research paper, let alone a music paper, using this guide to find resources made researching much less overwhelming.

What you will also find helpful on the LibGuides are the Writing & Citation tools. Citing sources properly and in the correct form is a very important part of writing a good research paper. Each subject guide has a different citation page because not all subjects have the same citation format. Before I came to Mount Holyoke, I did not experience citing sources such as journals. On the LibGuides, you will find instructions, formats, examples, and citation tools to ensure the proper citation of materials. LibGuides make researching and citing easy!

If you are still having trouble organizing your research paper, or you’d just like some help, don’t be afraid to reach out to the liaisons! They are here to help you! When I wrote my first paper, I emailed the subject liaison so I could talk with her one-on-one and get my questions and concerns resolved in person. After meeting with a liaison, you will feel organized and most of the anxiety about writing a research paper will be gone. Doing the actual work is up to you, but you will be equipped to do a wonderful job.

The next time you find yourself unable to make progress on your research assignment, take advantage of this wonderful tool tailored to your needs by our fantastic LITS staff.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Download older Moodle materials by June 22, 2015

In order to comply with copyright law, LITS must turn off student access to Moodle course sites a few weeks after grades are due.

If you wish to save copies of any Moodle materials from a Spring 2015 course site, please do so by Monday, June 22, 2015. If you have an extension and require access to a course site beyond this date, please contact the course instructor.

Image credit: opensourceway via Compfight cc