Books & e-books — preferences & benefits

Recently I attended a library orientation session where i overheard someone talking about their strong preference for books over e-books.  When the instructor noted that most of the libraries resources are online now, he sighed.  He clearly wished that he could access to more books in paper. One of our student workers shares that love of the physical book.
book happy
I imagine the person I overheard wouldn’t enjoy reading all of a book online.  He might be a little glum, like this student worker staring at the screen like she wished she were doing something else.
e-book unhappy
Like that student and like many of us, the experience of a book is a unique pleasure.  Touching the book, holding it, smelling it and, of course, reading it are all part of the pleasure.  It has many benefits. You can take it anywhere, read without a power source, you never have to wait for it to boot up, you can get right back to the page you left off at by just leaving it open, you can leaf through the pages to spot that section you liked and you know was on the lower right page — somewhere. My basement has shelves and shelves of favorite books that I go back to savor again and again. So I’m not anti-book, but why are we focusing on expanding the electronic resources?
I have to admit — I’m an administrator, so I think about cost.  A recent example of a decision we made was to add a new collection of electronic books.  The collection costs about $3,000 per year.  It has 125,000 book titles in it. So access to each of those books, for every Alfred University student, faculty member or staff member, costs about 2.5 cents a year. We bought it knowing that 75,000 titles overlapped with other collections we already owned.  So why did we buy it? Because we’re still getting 50,000 unique titles at a cost of about 6 cents a year. To put that in perspective, if we used that $3,000 and bought books in paper, assuming that the average cost of each book and its book processing at about $50, we could buy just 60 books, instead of getting access to 50,000.
The physical library is open quite a bit, 108 hours a week during the semester and library users can come in and browse to their hearts content.  But the electronic resources are available all the time, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.  If you want to work at 3 in the morning, or work from off campus, or are part of the downstate programs you will only be able to access our online resources. And most, thought not all, of the libraries’ online collections are available to multiple users, so that you don’t have to wait until someone returns the book you want. Here’s another of our student workers enjoying her access to electronic materials.
e-book happy
Books that patrons like will get used, and begin to wear out.  They can get dropped in the bathtub, or a mud puddle, they can get sticky pages from people eating and reading at the same time, they can drop pages out, and sometimes patrons tear them out.  Each new person who looks at an e-book gets the same fresh copy, and the pages of an online file can’t be torn, written on, or pulled out, although you can set up a person account and mark your own personal copy of the online book.
While you can’t browse an e-book in the same way you browse a paper book, you can search for specific words which you can’t do with a book. OK, you can do that with a book, it just takes forever. No, I’m not forgetting about indexes in paper books, but virtually all indexes are selective, and some of them are pretty quirky. Many of the databases provide citation tools that let you build your bibliography in a specific style sheet as you find each resource for your project.  You can e-mail links of books to other members of a study or class group for the project you’re working on.  Another one of our student workers is frustrated with looking through a pile of books, when he wishes he could search online.
book unhappy
Books will never entirely be replaced by online resources and we continue to have extensive collections of paper books. However, in the interest of providing the best service and most extensive collections possible to Alfred University both on campus and at branch locations, our online collections make sense for us.  We do continue to buy paper books, but online has become our major focus, for so many reasons.  So enjoy both at Herrick Library!
book and e-book happy
Please share your thoughts about this topic with Steve Crandall,, I’d love to hear from you!

And then there were two…


With all the votes in we have come down to the final two databases

JSTOR  &  Academic Search Complete

While we here at the libraries are tempted to say that these two databases are equals, awesome in their own right, and Goliaths of the search. Only one can hold the title of #1
Let’s take one last look at our competitors


Name: “The Non Profit”
Publishers: 900+
Disciplines Covered: 500+
Full Text Journals: 2,000+
Primary Resources: 2 Million+
Coach: Ithaca
Claim to Fame: “We Collaborate with the academic community”

Academic Search Complete

Name: “Coverage”
Temporal Coverage: 1887-Present
Indexed Journal Titles: 13,780
Full Text Journals: 9,000
Full Text Peer-Reviewed Journals: 7,850
Coach: EBSCOhost
Claim to Fame: “The world’s most comprehensive, scholarly full-text database for multidisciplinary research”
[polldaddy poll=8811706]

Herrick features local poets for National Poetry Month

Herrick Library is celebrating National Poetry Month in April by inviting local poets to share their work.
Juliana Gray, Associate Professor of English, has organized a display in Herrick’s entryway featuring poetry by Alfred University faculty and students. In addition to poems by Dr. Gray, you will find work by Emrys Westacott (Professor of Philosophy), Heather Hallberg Yanda (Senior Lecturer in English), Ben Howard (Professor Emeritus), and students Julianne Angie, Colby Cotton, and Laneisha McCauley.
Juliana Gray is the author of two full-length poetry collections. Roleplay, published in 2012 by Dream Horse press won the 2010 Orphic Prize and the 2013 Eugene Paul Nassar Poetry Prize. Her first book of poetry, The Man Under My Skin, was published by River City Publishing in 2005.
National Poetry Month was founded in 1996 by the American Academy of Poets and is celebrated in April. The goals of the celebration are to highlight the legacy and ongoing achievement of American poets, to encourage the reading of poems, to assist teachers in bringing poetry to their classrooms, to bring increased attention to poetry by national and local media, to encourage the publication and distribution of poetry books, and to encourage support for poets and poetry.
Please join us in supporting our own, local poets by stopping by to read and enjoy some of their work.
National Poetry Month

Taken by Storm

There is no other way to put it, YOU (whoever you are) have spoken!
Here are the winners of the first round…
Science Direct (by 7 votes)
JSTOR (by 11 votes)
Scopus (by 6 votes)
Academic Search Complete (by 10 votes)

Now for round 2!

Cast your votes and cast them soon because ONLY TWO can compete for the title of…. well…. I guess,


(that’s some serious schools spirit with the purple, even if it’s not grammatically correct)
Before you vote make sure to take a look at what these databases have to offer.
(seriously though we’ve got google analytics on this thing and I can tell)
JSTORScience Direct
Academic Search Complete
OK, it’s voting time!
[polldaddy poll=8783604]
[polldaddy poll=8783609]

"Harry Potter's World" Coming to Scholes Library

Illustration of an alchemy workshop;  Courtesy National Library of Medicine

Illustration of an alchemy workshop;
Courtesy National Library of Medicine

I’m pleased to announce that the Scholes Library will be hosting the “Harry Potter’s World: Renaissance Science, Magic, and Medicine” exhibit from the National Library of Medicine, from August 31st through October 10th! The exhibit will be accompanied by opening and closing receptions, contests, a series of lectures and events, and much more.
The Harry Potter’s World exhibit is a traveling piece that focuses on the Renaissance traditions–scientific, philosophical, and mythological–that influenced the magic and culture in the world of Rowling’s books. Including images of primary sources on topics from alchemy to botany and magical beasts, the National Library of Medicine’s materials will be supplemented by items from our own collection. Items such as the Magiae Universalis Naturae et Artis (as seen below), a 17th century text from special collections, will be on display, tracing the relationships between alchemy, metallurgy, and chemistry.
A page from the Magiae Universalis

A page from the Magiae Universalis

We’re planning an extensive program of activities to accompany and enrich the exhibit, and there should be something for everyone. (Butterbeer! Costume contest! Music! Chocolate frogs! Prizes!) For right now, though, we’d like to reach out to all of you, our patrons and readers, and open the door to your involvement in this event.
As part of the Harry Potter’s World Exhibit, the libraries are seeking professors, staff, and community members of all walks of life to come speak on a topic related to Harry Potter–or to put on a demonstration of a relevant skill, or lead a workshop, or almost anything else you can imagine. While lectures directly about Harry Potter are obviously welcome, this concept is very flexible, and we welcome all proposals and suggestions. Maybe you want to take your inspiration from Professor Sprout’s Herbology class and talk about medicinal herbs; maybe you have some insights into the history of witchcraft in England; maybe you’re feeling crafty and want to teach people how to make their own wands. It’s all open!
Several other institutions have held lecture series while hosting this exhibit. Here are just a few of their titles, to help inspire you:

  • “Magic, Illusion, and Ghosts: The Marketing of Science and Psychotropics,” Dr. Glen Spielmans, Metropolitan State University
  • “Quick Quotes and Quibblers: The Role of the Media in the Wizarding World,” Lola Burnham, Eastern Illinois University
  • “Magic, an Anthropological Perspective,” Dr. Don Holly, Eastern Illinois University
  • “Character, Structure, Perspective…and a Castle: A Medievalist Reads Harry Potter,” Dr. David Raybin, Eastern Illinois University
  • “Immortality,” Dr. Thomas Duffy, Yale University

Obviously this is just a tiny selection of the possible range! Let your imaginations run wild; we’re eager to hear your ideas. If you have an idea, a suggestion, a question, a full-fledged proposal, or you’d just like to get involved in some way, please send me an email to
Looking forward to hearing from you!

Trading Cards from Harry Potter’s World Exhibition Courtesy National Library of Medicine

Trading Cards from Harry Potter’s World Exhibition
Courtesy National Library of Medicine