Category Archives: Events

Information on USMA Library events and events held in USMA Library facilities.

RS 100 Class Completes Poker Run in the Library

Information services librarian Celeste Evans and Information resources technician Latisha Taylor explain to cadets the help they can obtain at the information desk.

Celeste Evans, information services librarian, and Latisha Taylor, information resources technician, explain to cadets the assistance they can obtain at the information desk.

On 23 and 24 August, cadets enrolled in the Center for Enhanced Performance’s RS 100 course spent some very active time in the Jefferson Hall, finding their way from one service point to another and learning about Library resources, services, and staff along the way. The Library Poker Runs are designed to get cadets familiar with the people here at the Library who can help them in their studies, and with the resources they can use to complete the assignments they’ll have throughout their time at West Point.

Information services technician Sharon Gillespie speaks with cadets about how they can be helped at the welcome/circulation desk.

Sharon Gillespie, information services technician, speaks with cadets about how they can be helped at the welcome/circulation desk.

Cadets are given a checklist of locations (the Welcome/Circulation Desk, Info Desk/Reference Librarian/Print Stations, and the home of ourUnique Resources collection and staff – newly relocated to the West Point Room in Bartlett Hall North) and are directed to complete a task at each checkpoint.


Karen Shea, plebe experience librarian, shows cadets how to utilize Scout!

The tasks help the plebes learn a multitude of research-related skills, such as how to search within our collections using Scout! – the Library’s discovery tool; how to renew books online; what to do when the Library doesn’t have an article or book they need (hint: Inter-Library Loan!); and the difference between primary and secondary sources. A highlight of the Poker Run is a visit to the Unique Collections and USMA Archives in the West Point Room, where this semester they saw Custer’s demerits (all six pages of them!), the West Point Post Order book that included an account of Edgar Allan Poe’s court-martial, and Civil War-era maps by Jeremy Gilmer (USMA 1939).

Rare book curator, Elaine McConnell, share with cadets one of Jeremy Gilmer's Civil War era maps.

Elaine McConnell, rare book curator, shares with cadets one of Jeremy Gilmer’s Civil War era maps.


Rik Miller, systems technician, explains using the print stations located in the Library.

After completing each task, the cadets draw a card, and the cadet team with the best poker hand at the end of class wins a prize from their instructor. Over 100 cadets participated in these Poker Runs, and judging from discussions with them at the end of class, everyone learned something new that they felt would help them throughout their academic career at West Point.

Narrative by Laura Mosher, Cadet Engagement Librarian; photos by Barbara Maroney, Facilities Support Technician.

Banned Books Week is September 21 – 27, 2014

Banned_Books_WeekThis week libraries all over the country will be celebrating Banned Books Week, an event designed to bring national attention to the harms of censorship while highlighting the value of free and open access to information.

It’s easy to take a seemingly benign activity like reading for granted.  As Americans with a wide variety of opinions and beliefs, we are used to having access to books and other reading materials that offer just as many opinions and views.  However, this is the not the case for millions of people around the world where information is often censored or restricted by a government or regime.

Yet the basic right to read – explore ideas and express ourselves freely – are often at risk even in this country. According to The American Library Association, each year hundreds of books are either removed or challenged in schools and libraries across the nation. So the threat of censorship, or of the suppression of thoughts and differences of opinion, is not just a foreign affair, but something Americans need to be concerned about as well.

You might be surprised to learn that many of the books that have been banned over the years are considered classics.  The list includes: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, The Color Purple by Alice Walker and Ulysses by James Joyce.  (View the complete list here).  While clearly not every book is intended for every reader, it’s hard to imagine being denied the right to read any of these books because someone has deemed their content inappropriate.

While Banned Books Weeks traditionally focuses on public and school libraries, colleges and universities are not immune from efforts aimed at censoring materials. In South Carolina, two public colleges recently were the target of funding cuts from the SC Legislature based on books assigned as summer reading for incoming freshmen. The gay-themed books: the graphic novel Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel, and Out Loud: The Best of Rainbow Radio, a collection of stories first broadcast on a state radio program, were the subject of much controversy; while the funding to the two schools was ultimately restored, it was done so with the proviso that the schools use the reading program money to teach the U.S. Constitution and other key historical documents. Read more about this controversy here.

There are a number of ways that you can help commemorate Banned Books Week.  On Sept. 24, SAGE and American Library Association’s Office of intellectual Freedom will present a free webinar discussing efforts to un-ban books by visiting activists and speakers in London, Charleston, S.C., Houston and California.  ALA also invites anyone who is interested, to read from their favorite banned books by participating in the popular Banned Books Week Virtual Read-Out on YouTube.

The views expressed in this post are those of the authors and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government. No endorsement or recommendation of any specific products or services is intended or implied.

Contents contributed by reference librarians Karen Shea and Laura Mosher

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Traveling Exhibition “Fighting the Fires of Hate: America and the Nazi Book Burnings” Opens

USHMM ExhibitA traveling exhibition from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Fighting the Fires of Hate: America and the Nazi Book Burnings is now open for the West Point community and their guests on the second floor of the Jefferson Hall Library and Learning Center. This exhibition is sponsored by the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at West Point, in partnership with the U.S. Military Academy Library and will be at West Point until June 11, 2014.

Due to security and access restrictions in place for Jefferson Hall and the central area of West Point, the exhibition is not open to the general public.

On May 10, 1933, just a few months after Adolf Hitler came to power in Germany and a full six years before World War II, university students across Nazi Germany burned thousands of books in an ominous “cleansing” of the “un-German spirit” from German culture. Writings by scores of German and foreign authors, including Helen Keller, Ernest Hemingway, and Sigmund Freud, were consumed in spectacularly staged bonfires. Americans quickly condemned the events as hostile to the spirit of democracy and the freedom of expression. Their orchestrated book burnings across Germany would come to underscore German-Jewish writer Heinrich Heine’s 19th century warning, “Where one burns books, one soon burns people.”

The exhibition provides a vivid look at the first steps the Nazis took to suppress freedom of expression and the strong response that occurred in the United States both immediately and in the years thereafter. The exhibition focuses on how the book burnings became a potent symbol during World War II in America’s battle against Nazism and concludes by examining their continued impact on our public discourse.

“Americans were deeply offended by the book burnings, which were a gross assault against their core values,” said U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum Director Sara J. Bloomfield. “Their response was intense, in fact so strong that throughout the war the government used the book burnings to help define the nature of the enemy to the American public. Unfortunately, the systematic murder of Europe’s Jews was not seen as a compelling case for fighting Nazism.”

The exhibition concludes with the postwar years, exploring how the Nazi book burnings have continued to resonate in American politics, literature, and popular culture. It features postwar evocations of book burnings, including a McCarthy-era speech in which President Eisenhower urged Dartmouth graduates, “Don’t join the book burners”; films such as Pleasantville and Field of Dreams; episodes of The Waltons and M*A*S*H; the death threats against Salman Rushdie; and the public burning of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books.

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.