Monthly Archives: October 2013

Liaison Librarians Partner with Faculty for Cadet Success

The Librarians in the USMA Library are investing new energy in a traditional role: that of the “Liaison Librarian.”  Liaison Librarians create partnerships with faculty to build strong connections between the USMA Library and the various Academic Departments here at West Point.  This is not a new idea; all the librarians at the USMA Library have traditionally had liaison assignments. However, our current efforts to build the liaison librarian program are more formal and focused than ever before.  The liaison program matches a subject specialist with each academic department in an effort to better meet our cadets’ information needs relative to their academic assignments.  How do we do this?  By meeting with faculty to understand the research required for specific assignments, and then designing Research Guides, recommended reading lists, and instruction sessions targeted at subject-specific research skills.   We work with faculty throughout the Academic year to offer assistance wherever (library or classroom) and whenever (lab periods, paper prep sessions) it best fits into the course. We also conduct evening clinics and daytime library information sessions to ensure that we are meeting the needs of all our patrons, on topics ranging from the general (using Scout for searching for Library resources) to the specific (the best resources for SS 307 papers).

Faculty members are encouraged to contact their Dept. Liaison Librarian to explore ways to incorporate library instruction in their classes. Cadets seeking help with a research paper should stop by the Reference desk and ask to see their department’s library liaison for help targeted specifically at the subject and assignment on which they are working. Patrons can also look up our liaison librarians on the Library website, and make an appointment via phone or email for research assistance at a mutually convenient time.  Having a liaison librarian in your academic corner means having a personal information specialist who will be a force multiplier on your road to academic success!



Week in Review – 25 October 2013

Statistics Review: Library Services

At the beginning of the 2012-13 academic year, USMA Library began a more concerted effort to track various metrics regarding our services and some internal functions. With now more than a year of data collected, we can begin to do a little more analysis to understand both the cycles of services, as well as the relative change over time. Below are three graphs that look at different types of services provided by USMA Library, 1) the number of items circulated, 2) the number of general reference inquiries received, and 3) the number of Special Collections & Archives inquiries received.

Items circulated by the USMA Library  since August 2012 (click to embiggen)

Items circulated by the USMA Library since August 2012 (click to embiggen)

The first chart looks at items circulated. This captures a traditional, though increasingly small slice of library use. Once upon a time, use of the physical monograph collection was the only indicator of library collection use. Today, monograph use is a relatively small percentage of overall use given the strong move toward digital content. Overall, we are seeing a somewhat significant reduction in number of items circulated during Fall 2013 over Fall 2012. The exact cause of the drop is not apparent from the data, although our website change and introduction of our new discovery tool Scout may play a role here. Prior to this fall, users searching from our library home page searched our library catalog and therefore only received results from our cataloged print and digital collection. With the introduction of Scout, now users are searching a much broader set of resources, of which our print holdings are only a part. Thus, many searches for information may be quickly satisfied through Scout without consulting physical materials (just a hypothesis).

General reference inquiries to USMA Library since August 2012 (click to embiggen)

General reference inquiries to USMA Library since August 2012 (click to embiggen)

The second chart above looks at general reference inquiries, which unlike our circulation statistics are stronger this fall than last. Of our services, traffic for reference assistance is the most volatile based upon time of year as noted by the high peaks and low valleys. It is not difficult to spot Spring Break on this chart.

Special Collections & Archives reference inquiries to USMA Library since August 2012 (click to embiggen)

Special Collections & Archives reference inquiries to USMA Library since August 2012 (click to embiggen)

The third chart above looks at reference inquiries to our Special Collections & Archives division which has its own unique rhythm of service. Generally inquiries here are much more steady throughout the year as a significant portion of these inquiries are from external researchers not affiliated with USMA and therefore not tied to our academic calendar. The great Special Collections and Archives move of 2013 is clearly visible on this chart where we closed to researchers. These requests are also lower so far this fall, partly due to the ongoing federal budget challenges which impacted our ability to respond to some inquiries from outside researchers.

Periodically, we’ll look at more of these metrics year-over-year as we work to understand what drives them and how the USMA community uses our services and collections. As always, weekly statistics are included each week in the Week in Review.

Library Resumes (Mostly) Normal Operations

With the passage of a continuing resolution through January, we have been working to restore full library services, including the resumption of interlibrary loan services. Patrons should be able to request materials as necessary. We continue to work toward a solution to make interlibrary loan services in particular more resilient to funding interruptions.

USMA Library Events

The events below will likely affect USMA Library and Jefferson Hall operations in the coming week.

Date USMA O/DEAN USMA Library Jefferson Hall Hours
25 October 2013
Week in Review 0700-2100
26 October 2013
27 October 2013
28 October 2013
Opera Forum 0700-2315
29 October 2013
Division Heads  Philosophy & Literature Event 0700-2315
30 October 2013
SCUSA SCUSA 0700-2315
31 October 2013
 SCUSA  Dean’s Staff Meeting  Library Committee SCUSA 0700-2315
1 November 2013
 SCUSA Week in Review SCUSA 0700-2100

USMA Library Metrics

USMA Library tracks a number of key statistics to measure service levels. These are their stories …

Access Services
Items Charged Out 655 589 904 936
Gate Count n/a n/a n/a n/a
ILL Article Requests 27 2 23 28
ILL Book Requests 14 2 19 10
Administrative Services
DV Tours 1 0 0 0
Significant Events Hosted 0 2 1 2
Events/Meetings Attended 20 12 19 15
Information Gateway
Reference Questions 82 38 94 88
Library Instruction Sessions 8 7 1 2
Cadets Attending Sessions 116 113 10 27
Materials Processing
Items Added – Books 41 7 40 139
Items Added – Digital 0 0 10 3,410
Items Added – GovDocs 91 0 0 89
Items Added – Other 41 0 0 72
Continuing Resource Check-Ins 78 63 0 194
Special Collections & Archives
Reference Inquiries 39 33 40
Research Visits < 1 hour 10 1 10
Research Visits < 1 day 5 0 0
Research Visits > 1 day 0 0 0
Instruction Sessions 8 8 0
Cadets Taught 128 123 0
Systems Management
Library Home Page Visits 3,508 3,849 4,824 4,096
LibGuides Visits 575 599 813 683
Digital Collections Visits 243 256 278 257
Facebook Visits 44 47 30 40
Public Printer Prints 5,409 5,024 5,749 4,724
Public Printer Copies 345 242 532 301
Public Printer Scans 301 35 243 93

Food for Thought

A few quotations from the past week about libraries, information, technology, and the future

  • “The public library was often viewed as the ‘university of the people.’ This is still a good metaphor; it is one that needs to be put on steroids. Public libraries are now centers for social workers, entrepreneurial incubators, literacy classes, maker spaces, puppet shows, and hacker labs as well as places for books, magazines, and videos” – Michael Ridley (quoted), Surprise! It’s the Golden Age of Libraries
  • “The internet has replaced the importance of libraries as a repository for knowledge. And digital distribution has replaced the role of a library as a central hub for obtaining the containers of such knowledge: books. And digital bits have replaced the need to cut down trees to make paper and waste ink to create those books. This is evolution, not devolution.” – The End Of The Library | TechCrunch
  • “For example, if two men were caught on camera at the port stealing goods and driving off in a black Honda sedan, Oakland authorities could look up where in the city the car had been in the last several weeks. That could include stoplights it drove past each morning and whether it regularly went to see Oakland A’s baseball games. For law enforcement, data mining is a big step toward more complete intelligence gathering. The police have traditionally made arrests based on small bits of data — witness testimony, logs of license plate readers, footage from a surveillance camera perched above a bank machine. The new capacity to collect and sift through all that information gives the authorities a much broader view of the people they are investigating.” – Privacy Fears Grow as Cities Increase Surveillance –
  • “Access to a world of infinite information has changed how we communicate, process information, and think. Decentralized systems have proven to be more productive and agile than rigid, top-down ones. Innovation, creativity, and independent thinking are increasingly crucial to the global economy. And yet the dominant model of public education is still fundamentally rooted in the industrial revolution that spawned it, when workplaces valued punctuality, regularity, attention, and silence above all else.” – How a Radical New Teaching Method Could Unleash a Generation of Geniuses | Wired Business |
  • “There are undoubtedly more books available to read than ever. Self-publishing has also surged. A report last week from Bowker, which tracks the output of titles, said that in 2012, a whopping 391,000 books were released by companies specializing in works whose authors pay fees for having the copies produced either in print or as e-books. (In 2011, the number was 235,000.) Only a very small number of these books have broken through to the commercial marketplace, but there clearly are a great many people with the urge to write in genres of all kinds—in the hope that readers will find them.” – Why Book Publishing’s Doomsayers Are So Wrong – Peter Osnos – The Atlantic
  • “The simplest way to make sure that we raise literate children is to teach them to read, and to show them that reading is a pleasurable activity. And that means, at its simplest, finding books that they enjoy, giving them access to those books, and letting them read them.” – Neil Gaiman: Why our future depends on libraries, reading and daydreaming | Books |
  • “The underlying problem is that government technology procurement is the province of a handful of big contractors and a handful of officials at the agencies who do the buying, and neither side has any real incentive for things to change.” – Bad Government Software | The Baseline Scenario
  • “Mr. Vogel, a professor emeritus at Harvard, said the decision to allow Chinese censors to tinker with his work was an unpleasant but necessary bargain, one that allowed the book to reach the kind of enormous readership many Western authors can only dream of. His book, “Deng Xiaoping and the Transformation of China,” sold 30,000 copies in the United States and 650,000 in China. “To me the choice was easy,” he said during a book tour of China that drew appreciative throngs in nearly a dozen cities. “I thought it was better to have 90 percent of the book available here than zero.” – Authors Accept Censors’ Rules to Sell in China –
  • “Wild exploration is increasingly entering the lives of our institutions, whether schools or libraries,” Ito said, noting that, although schools do have a strong role to play in connected learning, “libraries are at the center between formal and informal learning….Libraries by mission are all about self-directed learning.” – Libraries Play A Central Role in Connected Learning | The Digital Shift 2013 – The Digital Shift
  • “About 40 percent of faculty members used social media as a teaching tool in 2013, an increase from 33.8 percent in 2012, according to a report by the Babson Survey Research Group and Pearson Learning Solutions. Likewise, more faculty members used social media for professional communications and work in 2013 (55 percent) than in 2012 (44.7 percent). In both years, faculty members most often used social media for personal purposes.” – More professors using social media as teaching tools | Inside Higher Ed
  • “What Amazon is trying to do is raise my expectations so that I’ll eventually buy everything from it,” Mr. McFarland said. “At some point it won’t have any more competition, and I won’t know if prices are being raised because I’ll have nothing to compare it to.” – Sales Are Colossal, Shares Are Soaring. All Amazon Is Missing Is a Profit –
  • “We are alarmed at the negative impact of excessive school testing mandates, including your Administration’s own initiatives, on children’s love of reading and literature,” reads the letter. “Recent policy changes by your Administration have not lowered the stakes. On the contrary, requirements to evaluate teachers based on student test scores impose more standardized exams and crowd out exploration.” “Our public school students spend far too much time preparing for reading tests and too little time curling up with books that fire their imaginations,” the letter continues.” – Too much testing is killing kids’ love of reading, authors tell Obama –
  • “Technology, it would seem, is the great change agent at work in libraries in recent decades,” she said. “Way back in 1998, when we were working on a strategic plan for my library, the word ‘technology’ came up constantly. What changes would we see? Were we prepared? Could we possibly keep up? But when we held focus groups with faculty, that wasn’t what they cared about. As one professor put it—and this made a huge impact on the way I think about these things—he said, ‘It’s not about technology, it’s about pedagogy.’ For him, the greatest challenge and the greatest role the library could play was to help students learn and to help faculty teach in a world that is changing around us.” – Tech Doesn’t Change Research Habits, but MOOCs May Yet Change Teaching | The Digital Shift 2013 – The Digital Shift
  • “If it had ever been simply about housing books, the great libraries of the world would have been warehouses, not beautiful icons of learning and research.” – The university library of the future – The Globe and Mail

Excerpted from Infoneer Pulse, a digital commonplace book curated by Christopher Barth.

Library Offers Evening Research Clinics for Cadets

The library is offering several additional evening clinics this fall for cadets focusing on particular major academic assignments, and our new discovery service Scout. See the full list of dates and locations below. Sessions begin at 2000.

  • Wed 23 Oct – Mil Art Research Tips – Mr. Dacey (JH 401)
  • Thu 7 Nov – Scout Research Tips – Mr. Hankins (JH 514)
  • Wed 20 Nov – SS307 Policy Paper Gov Docs Research Tips – Ms. McConnell (JH 514)

Need some individual research assistance? Just stop by our reference desk anytime in the evening to get your own customized research clinic.

Jefferson Hall Coffee Shop Reopens!

The Library does not run the coffee shop on the first floor of Jefferson Hall, so the sound of the espresso machine was like music to our librarian ears when it reopened a few weeks ago.  Open Monday – Friday from 700 – 2100, the shop is now selling Starbucks coffee and tea along with a host of other new products. 

That said, now seems like an appropriate time to review the types of food that can and can’t be brought into the Library.  For guidance, we’ve reviewed the guidelines set forth in the Dean’s Policy and Operating Memorandum 08-1.  This policy states thatLight snacks may be consumed in the Library….defined as finger food served at room temperature.”

To be more specific, we’ve created the list below of YES and NO foods (as in yes you can bring them into the Library and no you can’t), to help define exactly what can be brought up the stairs and eaten on floors two – five.  


With regard to beverages, an easy way to check what is permissible is to simply remember that that ALL drinks must have a screw top or be in a covered container.  No open cans or cups are allowed.

If you have a question or are unsure about what you can or can’t eat or drink in the Library, feel free to check with someone at the Circulation desk.  And one more thing…. please remember to clean up your garbage when you are finished.  Keeping the Library clean benefits all of us, saves time and money, and helps to preserve our facilities for future members of the Long Gray Line!


Library technician Kim Miller enjoys a beverage from the coffee shop during her break.


Week in Review – 11 October 2013

Shutdown Saga of 2013 Continues

This week, we were pleased to bring back our library staff from the shutdown furlough that began on October 1st. We are very appreciative for the professional assistance of the West Point Band who stepped in to provide primary library staffing while our staff was furloughed. With their help, we were able to maintain our regular facility hours, and provide a base level of service to support our academic mission.

While our staff has returned, due to the ongoing lapse in appropriations, not all services are returned to normal. We are able to borrow and lend materials through our statewide consortium ConnectNY. Requests for interlibrary loan materials that do not require shipping or copyright clearance are also being filled. Because we cannot incur any fiscal obligations until the government reopens, we have paused services that require funds to operate.

All databases should continue to be operational, and other services remain available for our cadets, faculty, and staff.

Evening Library Skills Clinics Planned

Last year, the library began preparing a series of evening clinics designed to support both specific academic assignments as where improving library research skills would be useful as well as general library skills. This fall we are bringing back this series with the events listed below. Sessions generally last 20-30 minutes and are open to anyone interested..

  • Wed 9 OCT, SS202 Research Tips – Mr. Arden (JH514)
  • Tue 15 OCT, SS307 “Sosh Paper” Research Tips – Ms. Mosher (JH401)
  • Thu 17 OCT, Scout Research Tips – Mr. Hankins (JH514)
  • Wed 23 OCT, Mil Art Research Tips (Latin American History) – Mr. Dacey (JH401)
  • Wed 6 NOV, Mil Art Research Tips (Battle of Gettysburg) – Mr. Dacey (JH514)
  • Wed 20 NOV, SS307 Policy Paper Gov Docs Research Tips – Ms. McConnell (JH514)

Faculty interested in offering library instruction for their cadets can be in touch with the liaison to arrange either in-class or evening sessions tailored to the specific needs of the course.

USMA Library Events

The events below will likely affect USMA Library and Jefferson Hall operations in the coming week.

Date USMA O/DEAN USMA Library Jefferson Hall Hours
11 October 2013
Week in Review 0700-2100
12 October 2013
Beat Eastern Michigan (Home) 1530-2100
13 October 2013
14 October 2013
 Columbus Day – Classes Held 0700-2315
15 October 2013
Division Heads 0700-2315
16 October 2013
Dean’s Staff Meeting Liaisons 0700-2315
17 October 2013
Thayer Award 0700-2315
18 October 2013
Week in Review McDonald Leadership Conference 0700-2100

USMA Library Metrics

USMA Library tracks a number of key statistics to measure service levels. These are their stories …

Access Services
Items Charged Out 570 665 655 589
Gate Count n/a n/a n/a n/a
ILL Article Requests 18 23 27 2
ILL Book Requests 8 11 14 2
Administrative Services
DV Tours 0 0 1 0
Significant Events Hosted 1 0 0 2
Events/Meetings Attended 21 17 20 12
Information Gateway
Reference Questions 48 57 82 38
Library Instruction Sessions 8 3 8 7
Cadets Attending Sessions 132 64 116 113
Materials Processing
Items Added – Books 41 53 41 7
Items Added – Digital 2,314 8 0 0
Items Added – GovDocs 156 8 91 0
Items Added – Other 0 25 41 0
Continuing Resource Check-Ins 63 159 78 63
Special Collections & Archives
Reference Inquiries 36 39 39 33
Research Visits < 1 hour 16 12 10 1
Research Visits < 1 day 17 1 5 0
Research Visits > 1 day 0 0 0 0
Instruction Sessions 8 1 8 8
Cadets Taught 114 6 128 123
Systems Management
Library Home Page Visits 3,316 3,578 3,508 3,849
LibGuides Visits 544 578 575 599
Digital Collections Visits 227 245 243 256
Facebook Visits 40 25 44 47
Public Printer Prints 5,468 3,926 5,409 5,024
Public Printer Copies 1,080 445 345 242
Public Printer Scans 350 13 301 35

Food for Thought

A few quotations from the past week about libraries, information, technology, and the future

  • “Anyone who has conducted or been involved with e-discovery realizes how much personal, privileged, and confidential information is stored on our devices. When you “delete” files and documents from your computer, they do not go away. They remain embedded in the hard drive; they may become difficult to find, but they’re there. Odds are, someone can access them. Even encrypted files can be traced back to the very encryption keys that created them. E-discovery has been used to uncover registries and cache data showing that murderers had been planning their crimes, spouses had been cheating, perverts had been downloading illegal images, and employees had been stealing or compromising sensitive company data or destroying intellectual property. Computer forensics were even used to reveal medical documents from Dr. Conrad Murray’s computer during the so-called “Michael Jackson death trial.” – Is Hacking the Future of Scholarship?
  • “So when it comes to googling information in a crowded room, what we’re doing is something we’ve always done, just with a computer network, rather than a person, as our partner. What this implies is that we’re not getting dumber, or more dependent on technology to remember things for us (if you count paper as a technology). We’re simply getting less reliant on each other for that information.” – How Much Do You Remember the Old-Fashioned Way, Sans Google? – Facts So Romantic – Nautilus
  • “IKEA engages its own designers to create furniture kits that customers can retrieve from the warehouse, take home, and assemble themselves, without having to wait for delivery. IKEA designs furniture that is explicitly meant to be temporary, not to become heirlooms. IKEA offers child care because unfettered concentration on furniture purchases is an important experience. And it positions an affordable cafeteria in the store so customers can refuel. Although IKEA has been slowly rolling out across America for 30 years, even though its “formula” is open for all to inspect, and despite the fact that its owner is one of the wealthiest people in the world, nobody has copied it. Nobody. The reason? We believe that because other furniture retailers think about their market through the lenses of product category and price point, they don’t even see the need to integrate differently, and they therefore rarely are hired to do IKEA’s job. As a result, IKEA just sits there, neither disrupted nor disrupting. Were it to someday decide that it wanted to diversify and optimize itself for other jobs, it would need to set up separate business units in order to achieve the integrated structure required to provide the experiences appropriate to those jobs. The evidence appears to be that if an organization aligns itself around a specific job to be done, then it obviates the need to disrupt others, and it causes others not to be able to disrupt it.” – How Disruption Can Help Colleges Thrive – NEXT: The Future of Higher Education – The Chronicle of Higher Education
  • “For the second time, the department also formally released default rates for federal student loans measured over a three-year window: 14.7 percent of borrowers who entered repayment during the 2010 fiscal year defaulted within three years, up from 13.4 percent who entered repayment during the 2009 fiscal year. Proprietary institutions had the highest average three-year default rates, at 21.8 percent, down slightly from the previous rate of 22.7 percent.” – Default Rate on Federal Student Loans Climbs Again – The Ticker – The Chronicle of Higher Education
  • “If you’re between 8 and 18, you spend more than 11 hours a day plugged into an electronic device. The average American teen now spends nearly every waking moment on a smart phone or computer or watching TV. This seismic shift in how kids spend their time is having a profound effect on the way they make friends, the way they date, and their introduction to the world of sex.” – What Facebook, Twitter, Tinder, Instagram, and Internet Porn Are Doing to America’s Teenage Girls
  • “If your reading material consists only of chick lit and Amazon bestsellers you’re probably not a very empathetic person. A new study by psychologists from the New School in New York, published this week in the journal Science, concludes that people who read literary fiction have the ability to navigate complex social relationships, identify and understand others’ subjective states and form empathic responses to them.” – It’s official: Reading literary fiction makes you a better person – Quartz
  • “Ocorrafoo Cobange, a biologist at the Wassee Institute of Medicine in Asmara, recently had an article about the medical properties of a chemical extracted from a lichen accepted for publication — by more than half of the 304 open-access journals he submitted it to. Of course, Cobange is not real, and neither is the Wassee Institute. They are both inventions of John Bohannon, the Harvard University biologist and writer who documented the study in this week’s edition of Science. “Acceptance was the norm, not the exception,” Bohannon wrote. Not only did the Journal of Natural Pharmaceuticals see the article fit for publication, but so did journals “hosted by industry titans … prestigious academic institutions … [and] journals for which the paper’s topic was utterly inappropriate.” The culprit — a lack of a rigorous peer review process. Bohannon estimates 60 percent of the accepted submissions showed “no sign of peer review,” and that even among the journals that reviewed the article, 70 percent accepted it anyway.” – Open-access journals confuse contributors as they experiment with peer review models | Inside Higher Ed
  • “Only one-fifth of physics Ph.D.’s in this country are awarded to women, and only about half of those women are American; of all the physics professors in the United States, only 14 percent are women. The numbers of black and Hispanic scientists are even lower; in a typical year, 13 African-Americans and 20 Latinos of either sex receive Ph.D.’s in physics. The reasons for those shortages are hardly mysterious — many minority students attend secondary schools that leave them too far behind to catch up in science, and the effects of prejudice at every stage of their education are well documented. But what could still be keeping women out of the STEM fields (“STEM” being the current shorthand for “science, technology, engineering and mathematics”), which offer so much in the way of job prospects, prestige, intellectual stimulation and income?” – Why Are There Still So Few Women in Science? –
  • “So how would a hacker do something as large as moving a train? For starters, through a supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system. SCADAs are widely used to monitor and maintain everything from air conditioners in a corporate building to nuclear enrichment centrifuges in Iran. They’ve been popular since the 1960’s but as common as they are, SCADAs are still vulnerable to exploitation much like their simpler IoT counterparts. The CTA implemented their SCADA system in 2009 after getting a grant from Homeland Security (pdf) to do so. Many SCADA systems more or less put all data, monitoring and administrative controls into one interface, and it is systems like SCADA that make smartphone apps like the CTA Train Tracker possible. CTA’s current SCADA system, implemented by California-based company LightRiver Technologies after October 2012, includes video surveillance. Hacking into the CTA’s system then, would certainly explain why the ghost train was able to remove its brakes at the Forest Park train yard, maneuver the curves without crashing into anything while there, and even bypass the CTA safeguards and disable the cameras that should have recorded the beginning of the incident.” – The Great Chicago Ghost Train Mystery | Motherboard
  • “The greatest form of luck, at least for me, is the opportunity to be of service and to help others. When you’re presented with the opportunity to improve someone else’s life, to help them go through a particularly difficult challenge, to engage with great comrades and achieve a noble mission-;what could be luckier?” – The Re-Education of Jim Collins
  • “Everyone’s fascination with digital nativism in the U.S. or, say, Scandinavia is fine, but the places where this phenomenon probably has the most impact is low-income countries in Africa or Asia,” Dr. Best said. “The places where it is most salient are those where the least amount of attention has been paid to it.” – Young People Are Not as Digitally Native as You Think –
  • “According to Locket’s data, on a given day, the average user checks his or her phone 110 times per day, with its highest frequency users unlocking their home screens many times more.” – Here’s The Cold, Hard Proof That We Can’t Stop Checking Our Phones
  • “In fact, digital is a huge conceptual change, a sociological change, a cluster bomb blowing apart who we are and how our world is ordered, how we see ourselves, how we live. It’s a change we’re in the middle of, so close up that sometimes it’s hard to see. But it is deeply profound and it is happening at an almost unbelievable speed.” – Going digital isn’t just an upgrade — it’s a complete transformation in the way journalism is done — paidContent
  • “The bottom line is that federal IT programs’ success is measured by things that have nothing to do with how successful they are or by the metrics most of the world uses. While the business world (and Web companies in particular) now monitor user experience and productivity as a metric for IT success, the government keeps throwing out numbers that mask the truth: the only people who would use their systems are the ones that are forced to. Like people who need health insurance.” – Why US government IT fails so hard, so often | Ars Technica
  • “Talk of digital revolutions and bookless libraries notwithstanding, academic libraries around the country are feeling the squeeze as legacy collections outgrow shelves, and shelves give way to learning commons and shared study areas. Those twin pressure points—too many print books plus new demands on library real estate—have spurred academic libraries to try a set of state and regional experiments to free up library space to suit modern learning styles and still make sure that somebody, somewhere, hangs onto books that make up part of the intellectual record, even if those books haven’t circulated in years. For such experiments to succeed, librarians say, they should build off existing relationships among libraries, and they should draw on solid data—on persuasive and detailed analyses of what’s in a collection and how it’s used and whether those books are available somewhere else. The streamlining of collections has to be handled in a way that doesn’t enrage faculty members who still cherish access to physical books. Many disciplines, especially the sciences, favor electronic resources, but print still holds powerful appeal for a lot of scholars.” – Short on Space, Libraries Look to One Another for Solutions – Technology – The Chronicle of Higher Education

Excerpted from Infoneer Pulse, a digital commonplace book curated by Christopher Barth.

Library Poker Runs: Active (and fun!) Learning in the Library

By Laura Mosher, Reference & Liaison Librarian

Earlier this semester, patrons may have noticed groups of plebes moving quickly through the Library, stopping at various places and engaging in conversations with Library staff members, before zooming off to another location within the building. If you were one of those patrons, you encountered plebes taking either RS 100 or RS 101, the Reading and Study Skills course offered by the Center for Enhanced Performance. As that name implies, these classes help plebes adapt to the fast-paced, highly demanding academic world of West Point with instruction in time management, note-taking, reading comprehension exercises, and tips on coping with stress. One very important aspect of these courses is a Library-oriented lesson, which introduces many of the services and resources the Library offers, and gives the plebes a chance to meet our staff members who are eager and able to help with their research needs throughout their cadet career.

Modeled on motorcycle Poker Runs that are a popular fund-raising activity, the Library Poker Runs call for cadets to team up and visit five checkpoints within the Library, and perform a task at each one. The checkpoints are places where important Library activities take place, such as the Circulation and Reference Desks, or places that highlight collections or functions that all cadets should know about, such as our Special Collections and Archives Reading Room and the Reserve Room. Additionally, one checkpoint provides each cadet team with a Librarian focused on introducing them to the Library’s web page and new single search tool Scout.  After completing their assigned task, each team draws a playing card, and moves on to the next checkpoint, assembling (they hope!) a winning poker hand, and walking away with a prize, courtesy of their Instructor.

Over approximately two weeks’ time this August, September, and October, nineteen sections of RS 100 & 101 were taught in the Library, to a total of 312 cadets! With the dedicated help of almost two dozen staff members from four Library Divisions”, the five checkpoints became places where plebes learned: how to use the self-check machines to borrow books; what to do if they need an item that’s not in our collection; how to use search limiters and subject terms to find materials on their chosen topics; what kinds of primary source materials our Special Collections and Archives Division has to make their history papers more engaging; and how to find the materials that specific Instructors place on Reserve in the Library for the use of all the cadets in their classes.

Instructors and cadets alike have told us that the Poker Runs provide a competitive and highly interactive method of introducing plebes to essential library resources and services, and they enjoy both the learning and the competition –and the prizes!  So the next time you stop in the Library early in the semester, and notice groups of plebes busily moving from place to place with playing cards in their hands you can rest assured that they are not gambling, but learning how the Library can help them with their studies.



Updates on Microform Reader-Printers and New Scanner

After some maintenance work performed last month on one of our Minolta microform reader-printers, we now have three functioning machines set up on the second floor of the Library’s Periodical Room. Two of the readers have printing capabilities and the third is the spill-over unit of last recourse, which doesn’t print (and sometimes buzzes loudly when powered on) but is usable as a reader.

The two units that print can handle both microfiche and microfilm reels, and the middle unit with a lens change to 87X can also read our old Library of American Civilization cards, although many of the articles have been digitized, and that, of course, is the preferred format.  Thanks to that friendly Masked Man from Moore Wing days, who knew exactly where the burnt out bulb was to be found in the unit that conked out!

 By the way, we now also have a new ScanSnap scanner set up by the west window in the Reference Collection (soon-to-be Display area) on the second floor.  It’s very user friendly – just follow the posted directions in the folder.  One very helpful feature is the capability to scan an original directly to Word so it becomes a writable document.  Check it out when you get a chance.

Michael Arden


Some Interlibrary Loan Services Paused

While we have been able to recall staff back to work prior to passage of FY14 appropriations, we are not yet able to incur financial obligations to support services such as interlibrary loan. As a result, requests that involve physical shipment of materials, or copyright clearance fees are currently on hold until appropriations have been passed by Congress and signed by the President.

Interlibrary loan requests that can be filled electronically without cost will continue to be processed.

Borrowing through ConnectNY is once again available and materials requested through that system will be delivered for use as requested.

Furlough Operations Update – 6 October 2013

As of this morning (Sunday 6 October), there are no changes to USMA’s furlough operations, though we are aware of the revised guidance regarding furloughs from Secretary Hagel for DoD employees. There is a conference this afternoon with HQDA which should result in some specific implementation plans for USMA. Once those are received, that information will be shared through USMA’s furlough information page (, and through the library blog and social media channels.