Category Archives: Good to Know

Useful or interesting things to know about the USMA Library, libraries, higher education, technology or other fields related to the information service profession.

Soldier Elvis!

Army_Elvis (1)On 24 March 1958, Elvis Presley was admitted into the U.S. Army. He signed up at the induction station in Memphis, TN, and eventually arrived at Fort Hood, TX for training. Presley left Fort Hood September 19, 1958 to join the 3rd Armored Division in Germany, where he completed his required two years of active duty.

The Library Reads – “When the Snow Comes, They Will Take You Away” by Eric Newby

When_the_Snow_Comes_COVER“When the Snow Comes, They Will Take You Away” by Eric Newby is a vivid first-person account of adventure during WWII. The author Eric Newby, as a very young British officer, was a prisoner of war in Italy. He escaped in the chaos following the Italian surrender in the late summer of 1943, and spent the winter on the run from the Germans. The humanity and compassion of the Italian peasants is unforgettable, scratching for a living while stashing away food for a lone Englishman at grave risk of Nazi retaliation, yet revealing an uncanny intelligence beyond fiction at several turns. This book depicts an unusual currency in human affairs, where the dollar holds no sway to common decency and suffering in the most barren regions. The book is a thriller, a love story, and a tribute to the brave generosity of the many local partisans who helped Newby survive.

When the Snow Comes, They Will Take You Away by Eric Newby (Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1971)

The views expressed in this post are those of the author 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 Susan Lintelmann, Manuscripts Curator

USMA Library Holiday Hours – 2015

USMA Library 2015 Holiday Hours
USMA Library will operate the following hours during the holiday break:

Monday 14– Friday 18 December 0700-2315
Saturday 19 December 0700-1900
Sunday 20 December CLOSED
Monday 21 – Wednesday 23 December 0700-1630
Thursday 24 December 0700-1200
Friday 25 – Sunday 27 December CLOSED
Monday 28 – Thursday 31 December 0700-1630
Friday 1 – Saturday 2 January CLOSED
Sunday 3 January 1100-2315
Beginning Monday 4 January – Regular Academic Term Hours Begin
Full hours are available on our website.

Discover a Database – Cambridge Histories Online

CHOheaderThe USMA Library recently added a new resource to its offerings called Cambridge Histories Online. While this may sound like it’s just for those taking history classes, it is actually interdisciplinary; covering the history of a wide range of topics from foreign relations to music, literary studies to philosophy. This resource also includes several volumes on the history of warfare.


  • Over 300 volumes published since 1960
  • Covers 15 different academic subjects
  • Each chapter is a separate, searchable PDF
  • Search or browse the titles
  • Complete index and bibliography for every volume

Who should use this resource?

Cadets in any humanities class will find this to be an invaluable resource. Cadets in science classes may also find utility in the 6 volume Cambridge History of Science.

Here’s a sampling from the series on Warfare, which Military History instructors and students will certainly find of value.



Tips for searching Cambridge Histories Online

  • Use the search box at the top of the page for a quick list of results based on keyword
  • Use advanced search to combine keywords or authors, or choose specific subject areas

As always, ask a Librarian for help if you have any questions about any of our research products!

The views expressed in this post are those of the author 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 G.J. Corey Harmon, Circulation & Reference Librarian

Library Service Announcements – Fall 2015


Full-text indexing and citations for the contents of the HathiTrust Digital Library were integrated into Scout, our discovery service. The enormous size of the HathiTrust collection means that Scout is now a de facto index to a very large proportion of the world’s books and serials. It also provides direct access to the complete texts of over five million volumes.

We added Books at JSTOR to our collection – scholarly ebooks on the familiar JSTOR platform, easy to read online with no limit on the number of readers, and easy to download as unlimited-rights PDF to the device of the reader’s choice.

We also added AccessEngineering, an online collection of engineering reference material providing access to technical books, manuals, handbooks and more, enriched with instructional videos, interactive tables and charts and personalization tools.

Cambridge Histories Online, collecting nearly 350 of the various Cambridge Histories in a single platform allowing concurrent access for unlimited numbers of users.

All of these materials are available via the Library website (


You may have noticed our new staffed service location at the top of the stairs on the second floor. From that location, we can offer assistance regarding any services available in Jefferson Hall from research and reference assistance to printing questions and everything in-between. The West Point Writing Center has also relocated to the far northeast corner of the second floor for their operations. We are continuing to plan additional upgrades to collaborative work areas on the second floor.

The library printers are now on an upgraded print server and should appear as an available printer on your computer. Look for \\usmasvdzpaper\USMAPRLIBREF to send jobs to the release station located on the 2nd floor of the library.


This summer the Library published our annual program review which includes information about our activities during the 2014-15 academic year as well as a look ahead at our goals and objectives for the coming academic year. The review is available for download on the USMA Library website at:


Elevator – Cadets are now authorized to use the elevators after the academic duty day is complete on weekdays and on weekends. This harmonizes use policies with other academic facilities.

Access – Visitors to Jefferson Hall must be in uniform or displaying their CAC/DoD ID on a lanyard for access. Anyone else must be accompanied by authorized individuals. CACs on lanyards are also required when wearing cadet casual. Force protection while in Jefferson Hall is a top priority. Please help us maintain a secure and safe environment.


Can’t live without the latest when it comes to critical defense-related news like cadet pillow fights? We now have a site license to available for cadets, faculty, and staff with USMA email addresses. Below is information on how to set up access. You may also view a brief video tutorial on setting up an academic pass (

What is included:

  • Unlimited access to current content posted to
  • Unlimited access to archived content published prior to 1923 and after 1980.
  • Five free articles per day published between 1923-1980 (Please note that USMA Library has complete, unlimited archival full-text access to the New York Times separate from the website).
  • Access to the New York Times via Smartphone app (iPhone, Blackberry 10, Windows Phone 7, Android-powered phones).
  • Access to these services for the life of the contract (until the end of September 2016). Access beyond September 2016 is subject to funding and contract renewal.

What is NOT included:

  • Tablet apps (iPad, Kindle Fire, Windows 8 Desktop and Tablet, Android-powered tablets – You may view all website content while logged in through the browsers on these devices).
  • E-Reader editions.
  • Premium Crosswords or The New York Times Crosswords apps.
  • Any other premium/subscription-based New York Times apps.
  • Times Premier.
  • The ability to share your Academic Pass digital access with others.

Program eligibility:

  • Anyone with an active email address can enroll in the program licensed through USMA Library.
  • Employees, contractors, graduates, and other affiliates without email addresses are not eligible.
  • Family members and other dependents are not eligible.

How to enroll:

How to use the pass:

  • After activating a pass, you need to be logged in to your account on the device you are using to read New York Times content. While logged in, you can access unlimited content from any network or location for the duration of your pass (late September 2016).


We’d love to keep you up-to-date throughout the year on library news and programs. You can follow our blog:, like us on Facebook:, or follow us on Twitter:

The Library Reads – “The Book Thief” by Markus Zusak

book_thiefI have to admit that I was reluctant to read The Book Thief due to its subject matter. After all, the book is narrated by death and takes place in Germany during Hitler’s rise to power. But after holding the best seller list for over four years and being made into a movie, it seemed to warrant a read. The Book Thief is categorized as a young adult book for ages fourteen and up but is by no means childish. Told from the perspective of a nine year old German girl named Liesel Meminger, the book provides a sympathetic glimpse into what life might have been like for the German populace as the Nazi regime took hold. One of things I found most intriguing about this book was the humanization of the German citizenry. Many of the characters are lovable and you witnesses how their world is torn apart by the impending war and how they themselves are victims of the Nazi regime. I recommend The Book Thief because books provide both nourishment for mind and soul – in this story and in real life.

The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak (Alfred A. Knopf, 2007)

The USMA Library has the audiobook and the DVD of The Book Thief

The views expressed in this post are those of the author 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 Karen Shea Reference & Liaison Librarian


The Library Reads – “Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy” by Karen Abbott

LiarTemptressSoldierSpy“Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy” by Karen Abbott tells the little-known story of four women who were spies during the Civil War. While this book is non-fiction, it reads like a thrilling espionage novel. Thoroughly researched with an impressive list of documentation by the author, it tells the compelling stories of four courageous women—Rose O’Neal Greenhow, a widow and Washington socialite; Belle Boyd, a small town girl from Martinsburg, Virginia (later West Virginia); Sarah Emma Edmonds, a Canadian farm girl; and Elizabeth Van Lew, a Virginia abolitionist.

Greenhow was a strong supporter of the Southern cause. She charmed top military leaders and senators to glean information and send it to her friend General P. G. T. Beauregard (USMA 1838). She was credited by confederate authorities for providing the key information which allowed First Manassas to be a victory. Eventually, Greenhow and her young daughter, who was involved in her spying activities, were arrested by the North and became some of the first women detained during the war.

Boyd, loyal to the Southern cause, coaxed many Northern politicians into divulging secrets. With sheer determination, she served as a courier by carrying intelligence to her hero Stonewall Jackson (USMA 1846). When Jackson was about to attack Front Royal, Virginia in May of 1862, she ran onto the battlefield to provide the General with last minute information about the Union troop dispositions. Boyd was arrested six or seven times, and was far from being a model inmate: she waved Confederate flags from her window, sang Dixie, and devised a unique method of communicating with supporters outside.

Edmonds, who cut her hair off and passed herself as a man, served the North as a soldier/spy in some of the bloodiest battles of the war. Edmonds signed up as a male field nurse in the Second Volunteers of the United States Army under her alias Franklin Flint Thompson. In March 1862, she was reassigned as a mail carrier for her regiment. A few months later, one of General George McClellan’s (USMA 1846) spies was caught and executed by the Confederate Army; Edmonds volunteered for the open position. In the spring of 1863, Edmonds developed malaria. Out of fear of being discovered as a woman, she deserted. While Frank Thompson was listed as a deserter, Edmonds resumed worked as a nurse in war- torn Virginia for the remainder of the Civil War.

Van Lew lived in Richmond yet remained loyal to the Union. Her efforts at assisting Yankee soldiers escaping from Confederate prisons, and runaway slaves from their masters were no small feat during war time. Her neighbors, as well as the government, suspected her of such treason but were never able to catch her in the act. One of Elizabeth Van Lew’s loyal servants, Mary Bowser, served as a slave in the White House of the Confederacy. Because of Mary’s photographic memory, she able to provide extremely important information based on what she heard and read in Jefferson Davis’ (USMA 1828) Confederate White House.

A note regarding how the book is laid out: the author choose to chronicle the characters, moving back and forth between the figures, to tell the entire saga in accordance with the timeline. Initially I started reading “Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy” on an electronic device, however, I found it difficult to go back and review previous entries about a character. Thus, I personally found reading this in traditional print form more desirable.

“Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy” is beautifully written and a real page-turner. The book serves as a reminder that the heroes of our history are often found in the most unexpected places.

Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy, by Karen Abbott (Harper, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, 2014)

The views expressed in this post are those of the author 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 Barbara Maroney-French, Facilities Support Assistant

USMA Library Transitions to Summer Hours

Effective, Friday, June 12, 2015, USMA Library is operating on our summer hours. This means the library will close at 1630 on most days and will also remain closed on Saturdays and Sundays. There are some exceptions to these hours. For specific hours for any day, please see our Hours page.

We will resume extended hours to support the Fall Term on Monday, August 10, 2015.

Alexander Nininger, 1st WW II Medal of Honor Recipient

NiningerAlexander Ramsey (Sandy) Nininger, USMA 1941, is a name known to many at the Military Academy. Alexander Nininger became the first World War II Medal of Honor recipient, as well as the first casualty in his class, dying on January 12th 1942 just seven months after graduating from the Academy.

Nininger’s Medal of Honor Award reads in part: [He] voluntarily attached himself to Company K, same regiment, while that unit was being attacked by enemy force superior in fire power. Enemy snipers in trees and fox holes had stopped a counter-attack to regain part of [the] position. In hand-to-hand fighting which followed, Lieutenant Nininger repeatedly forced his way to and into the hostile position. Though exposed to heavy enemy fire, he continued to attack with rifle and hand grenades and succeeded in destroying several enemy groups in fox holes and enemy snipers. Although wounded three times, he continued his attacks until he was killed after pushing alone far within the enemy position. When his body was found after recapture of the position, one enemy officer and two enemy soldiers lay dead around him.

Nininger Hall, which houses the Simon Center for the Professional Military Ethic in the center of the Cadet Area, provides a daily reminder to cadets and faculty of the core values of the Academy and its graduates.  In addition to Nininger Hall, we remember Alexander Nininger with a collection of books and pamphlets on Bataan and Corregidor housed within the Library’s Special Collections and Archives Division. These materials, collected by Nininger’s nephew, John Patterson, are for use by cadets, faculty and those interested in the study of World War II in the Pacific. (A complete listing of the Nininger Collection is available via the Library Catalog.)

Contents contributed by Elaine McConnell, Rare Book Curator

Spring 2015 Service Announcements


The new Welcome and Circulation desk is now operating on the first floor of Jefferson Hall. Library users may now check out and return materials in the rotunda. This new service point has been designed to provide better security for both visitors within Jefferson Hall and materials held by the Library. We will be continuing to adjust our security and access policies over the coming semester. Please remember that our current force protection policies require that all visitors to Jefferson Hall be in uniform, or have valid DoD identification displayed at all times. Outside guests should be accompanied by West Point personnel at all times.

Our statewide library consortium, ConnectNY has entered into a partnership borrowing arrangement with NExpress, a regional library consortium in New England to allow direct user borrowing across consortia. This partnership now brings more than 7 million new titles available directly to USMA Library users. New partner libraries include Bates College, Bowdoin College, Colby College, Middlebury College, Wellesley College, and Williams College. For more information on borrowing materials from our consortial library partners, see

New exhibit cases are now installed on the second floor of Jefferson Hall containing featured materials from the USMA Library collections. Currently on display are materials from the manuscript collections of COL Donovan Swanton USMA April 1917. In particular, this exhibit profiles letters written one hundred years ago by then Cadet Swanton describing life at the Academy during the build-up to the American entry into World War I. New letters will be placed on exhibit throughout the spring semester.

Looking for good iPad apps? Check out our series of profiled apps on the USMA Library Blog. New profiles are posted regularly. To access the archives, visit:

Hours for operation for USMA Library and Jefferson Hall are always posted on our website at: Please note that there can be adjusted hours based on the schedule for the Corps of Cadets.

We’d love to keep you up-to-date throughout the year on library news and programs. You can follow our blog:, like us on Facebook:, or follow us on Twitter: