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The Dust Bowl

November 14, 2012

I’ve always been interested in the Dust Bowl. My grandmother kept a book with a dust bowl story at our summer cabin in Colorado and I must have read it every summer. I was fascinated by the stories of people getting lost in their front yards, farmers digging down to find their fence posts, children setting the table with the plates upside down over the silverware to keep the dust off them until it was time to eat.

So… at 7:00 in the evening on November 17 & 18, I’ll settle in to watch Ken Burns’ documentary on the Dust Bowl.

For a little background information, take a look at this short article in the Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History & Culture.

Or, read John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, Of Mice and Men or In Dubious Battle. Steinbeck drew on the conditions he had seen in the course of his investigations for a 7-part series he wrote on the migrant camps for the San Francisco News. Public response to The Grapes of Wrath was extreme. It was banned and burned, but everyone read it – it was an immediate bestseller.

For more, take a look at one of the dust bowl photo archives like the Wind Erosion Multimedia Archive housed at K-State, or listen to oral history interviews at Farming in the 1930s (Living History Farm in York, NE), or watch this footage made in 1934 by the Kansas Emergency Relief Committee. posted on UTube by the Kansas State Historical Society.

Don’t have time for any of the above? Well, come by the library to see the display on the dust bowl with photos and snippets from diaries and newspaper clippings.


Research the Presidential Candidates

October 23, 2012

Monday night was our last opportunity to see Barack Obama and Mitt Romney debate each other before the November 6th election. The pundits are having a great time telling us who won the debate and which one line zingers are going viral. They are also giving us the latest polling data about which candidate is ahead in the polls. While all of their information is interesting, it can be overwhelming. The library can help you sift through all the information coming your way. We have a new display with information about the candidates’ platforms, their official websites, and books written by and about the candidates. There are also online quizzes that can help you discover which candidate you side with most often on key issues. Two of these quizzes can be found at and As always, the librarians want to encourage you to do your research and make a wise and informed decision.

How to Take Full Advantage of Baker’s eBook Collections

October 21, 2012

Whether you are researching the plague, social media, evidence based medicine, or some other topic, you probably noticed at least one result that displayed an “Online Content” button in the library catalog (if not many).   With the addition of nearly 80,000 eBooks to the collection this fall, the library collection now has more eBooks than print books.    Our eBook collection consists of three sub-collections: the EBSCO eBook Collection (9,000+ eBooks from the 1990’s encompassing a wide variety of topics), the ACLS Humanities eBook Collection (3,700+ of the top publications of various learned societies from 1850 to the present), and the ebrary Academic Complete Collection (an 80,000+ eBook collection spanning all areas of academic research, mostly from the 2000’s to the present).  In addition to searching each platform for the perfect eBook for your assignment, you can also find each of our eBooks using the search boxes on the catalog tab of the library homepage.  Since the ebrary collection makes up the vast majority of our eBook collection, you should become acquainted with some of the important features of the product.  While authenticated users (who are either on campus or logged in using your library ID and PIN) can search and view the entire collection, ebrary has provided a number of tools that are useful for researchers.   To take full advantage of these tools…

  1. You will need to create an ebrary account using the Sign In link in the upper right corner of the ebrary platform.
  2. You should review the Quick Start Guide, which provides an overview of the searching, navigation, highlighting, note taking, and other features of the platform.
  3. You can review the Printing and Downloading eBooks handout to learn how to print, download, and check out eBooks to a personal eReader or IOS device.
  4. You can watch tutorials regarding the ebrary platform from ebrary’s YouTube playlist.
  5. You can search for an answer to your question using the ebrary knowledgebase.
  6. You can ask a librarian to assist you through your preferred means of communication (in person, over the phone (785.594.8414), online chat, text message, or by email).

Are you intimidated by US Copyright Law and the Public Domain?

October 8, 2012

As students face the dilemma of making sure they give appropriate credit to all their sources when writing research papers, other questions remain open to discussion among researchers. One question is, “What is really in the Public Domain?”

Cornell University publishes a splendid chart on their web site that tries to explain how you can figure out if something is, or is not, in the public domain in the US. In spite of that chart, it is still incredibly difficult to figure out if something is in the public domain.

A few years ago, there was research that suggested that the song “Happy Birthday” remains covered by copyright.  That seems strange since the music is from the 1800s and the lyrics were published in books starting in 1912. As the Cornell chart notes, works published prior to 1923 aren’t supposed to be subject to copyright. But.. it’s not always that simple. Researchers are now saying that the early publications were unauthorized and the first authorized publication of the lyrics to “Happy Birthday” occurred in 1935. Therefore, copyright should run from that date. So, if you digitized a book from the 1912 volumes, you would be infringing on copyright.

But that’s not the only crazy case. A letter written by John Adams addressed to Nathan Webb in 1755 is still copyrighted, 300 years after it was written. The letter had been transferred to the Massachusetts Historical Society in 1956. At that time, the Society published a microfilm edition of the correspondence, registered it with the Copyright office, and then renewed the copyright in 1984. That means that copyright in the Adams letter will expire on Jan. 1, 2052, almost 300 years after it was written.

There are a number of other crazy examples as well. Take, for example, arguments over whether or not a work is “published” or “unpublished.” Merely broadcasting a TV show wasn’t considered “publishing.” So, TV shows like the first episode of Star Trek don’t have their copyright clock start until nearly a dozen years after it was first broadcast, because that’s the first time it was “offered for sale” rather than just broadcast.

As one blogger posted, “Does this mean that there is no effective copyright on a TV show UNLESS it’s offered for sale to the public? IE: If a show airs on TV tonight but is not offered for sale, can it be copied because the copyright clock hasn’t started yet?”

In 1976, we had the equivalent of a “Yellow Pages” of copyrighted works. That no longer exists, due to a lack of funds to keep the list updated. As another blogger noted, “There was almost no file sharing happening in 1976! No hordes of internet pirates wantonly stealing the precious intellectual property! There was no Pirate Mike back then, either. No Pirate Party! No Pirate Bay! Quick, call up our lobbyists, we can solve piracy by changing the law back to what we had before 1976!”

Reading through all of the examples, do you have any solutions to these enigmas?

Anyone willing to take on copyright law as it stands today, especially with regards to the public domain?

Adapted from:

Masnick, Mike. “What Public Domain? Why A Letter Written In 1755 Is Still Covered By US Copyright Law”. Tech Dirty. Tech Dirt Blog, 19, September, 2012. Web. 08, October, 2012.

Mark Your Calendars: Library Releases October Workshop Schedule

October 8, 2012

The library will be offering the following workshops this month:

  • Counting on the Census
    • Wed, Oct 17, 6:30 ~ 7:30, LI 312
    • In need of demographic statistics for your LA 401 or capstone paper? This workshop focuses on using the American FactFinder, Historical Census Browser, and NHGIS to add statistics to your next research assignment.
  • Copyright in Motion ~ Mobile Technology
    • Wed, Oct 24, 1:00 ~ 2:00, LI 218
    • People are using tablets, mobile devices, social media and many other technologies to find, store and share content.  This information is easily accessible and easily re-used.  Understanding the copyright implications is critical.
  • Stumped by Stats?
    •  Thurs, Oct 25, 7:00 ~ 8:00, LI 312
    • Are you discouraged by data? Nagged by numbers? Learn to make effective use of SPSS, software that allows you to import/input and analyze it, create graphs and produce reports. Plan to attend if you’re majoring in one of the sciences or social sciences or if you just like numbers. Join us and get fit with figures!
  • Cite it Right!
    • Mon, Oct 29, 4:00 ~ 5:00, LI 312
    • Are you having problems with citations? Bring your questions and assignments to the workshop. Together we will find the solutions and take the mystery out of citing sources. We will also learn about the citation management tool Zotero that can help you save, organize and cite sources.

Area 51, Ghost Bombers, Operation Paperclip and more!

October 3, 2012

It’s no secret — I love October. It’s my favorite month of the year. Apples are in season, festivals abound, and Halloween ends it with a bang. Pretty great if you ask me. It’s also a time for ghost stories, tales of the paranormal and spooky stuff in general. If you go for that sort of thing, you could do a lot worse than to check out one of our newest reference items: Conspiracy Theories in American History. CTiAH, “The first comprehensive history of conspiracies and conspiracy theories in the United States. Contains conspiracies from A (Abolitionism) to Z (ZOG)”, is a part of our large reference collection, Credo Reference. It’s easy to search and contains an amazing variety of conspiracy-related topics — from bizarre, likely frauds to paranoid manifestos to well-substantiated government programs — all of which make for interesting reading. Since it is in Credo, it even has a feature allowing you to search the library catalog and some of our larger, multi-disciplinary databases with a single click! I know what you’re thinking…

So check it out.

Documents missing from the ERIC database

September 25, 2012

Please note, before you read further, that ERIC contains citations to both documents and journals. This post concerns only the documents.

In August the Department of Education, which is responsible for the ERIC database, disabled access to the fulltext content of ERIC documents. The fulltext icon remains in the citation, it just doesn’t work. This is a temporary move. Their concern was that some of the documents contained information that has potential for abuse.

Let us explain. ERIC includes locally produced guidelines, handbooks and case studies going back to 1966. At that time laws regarding privacy were less stringent. Furthermore the documents were published on microfiche which limited access to the information. However, the Department is digitizing the documents, making the content search-able and increasing the risk that the personally identifiable information might be abused.

Each document is being examined and access restored whenever possible. We have received word that about 20,000 documents out of 340,000 are now available online.

This is likely to be a long process! To be responsive to the needs of students and researchers, the Department of Education has established a “request line” — If you need a particular document, email the document number (it looks like ED######) to this address and it will be put in the priority queue for early release. We don’t know how quickly a requested item can be reviewed and returned to the database.

If you are experiencing any difficulty with this or just have questions, please don’t hesitate to contact the Baker Library staff by phone, email, chat or text. See the library website for details.