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.

Workaround Information for Database Connectivity Issues

Unable to connect to Library databases and journals with links beginning with 0-*** ?

There’s a workaround to be used while we complete networking changes required by our server migration.

For example, instead of:


This is not available for off-post users (unless using West Point VPN).

We regret this inconvenience and hope to correct it soon.

USMA Library 2014 Holiday Hours

USMA Library will operate the following hours during the holiday break:

Monday 15 – Friday 19 December 0700-2315
Saturday 20 December 0700-1900
Sunday 21 December CLOSED
Monday 22 – Wednesday 24 December 0700-1630
Thursday 25 – Sunday 28 December CLOSED
Monday 29 – Wednesday 31 December 0700-1630
Thursday 1 – Saturday 3 January CLOSED
Sunday 4 January 1100-2315
Beginning Monday 5 January – Regular Academic Term Hours Begin

Full hours are available on our website.

The Library Reads – Ike and Dick: Portrait of a Strange Political Marriage by Jeffery Frank

Author Jeffery Frank Ike_and_Dick_covercomes up with superlative portraits of the two politicians, concentrating on their personal relationship over the years. It’s a balanced, warts-and-all view of both men, and one even tends to feel sorry for Nixon considering how often his mentor Eisenhower slighted and snubbed him. Eisenhower comes across as considerably less jovial than the public perceived him to be. The most likeable person to appear in the story is Julie Nixon Eisenhower. By falling in love with and marrying Ike’s grandson, David, Nixon’s daughter sealed the two families by blood. Ike and Dick is just a great read for anybody interested in American politics at mid-century. Highly recommended, especially for those fascinated by Nixon’s long descent into Watergate and where it all began.

Ike and Dick: Portrait of a Strange Political Marriage by Jeffery Frank (Simon & Schuster, February 2013)

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.

Content contributed by Michael G. Arden, Audiovisual Librarian

Flirtation Walk

The lower pathway from Kosciusko’s Garden leads the visitor on a delightful walk to Gee’s Point. (image courtesy of USMA Library’s Special Collection and Archives Department)

The lower pathway from Kosciusko’s Garden leads the visitor on a delightful walk to Gee’s Point. (image courtesy of USMA Library’s Special Collection and Archives Department)

Order No. 32 of the Academic Regulations, dated May 6, 1843, extended the prescribed geographic limits for cadets “to include the new walk commencing near the flag staff, thence descending in the rear of the chain battery, by Gee’s Point thru Kosciusko’s Garden and joining the road to the Hospital opposite the south end of the Academy Building.  The Superintendent hopes he may not have occasion to withdraw this indulgence in consequence of any improprieties – and that all will exert themselves to secure this recreation to the Corps by effectually arresting any attempt to evade the regulation of the Academy.”

In the 1840’s this pathway was referred to as the ”hanging walk” to Kosciusko’s Garden, a pleasant place for strolling and dreaming and chatting about furlough plans. Perhaps a more appropriate name was “Chain Battery Walk,” for it led down to the site of the old battery guarding the chain which stretched across the Hudson River during the Revolutionary War. To cadets, whose exclusive preserve it was, the area became known as Flirtation Walk, a place of relative privacy on a crowded post.

In 1934 a commercial film entitled Flirtation Walk was released. It starred Dick Powell as a soldier in love with a general’s daughter, played by Ruby Keeler.  You can check out a copy of this film from the Library’s media collection and read more about this film and others regarding West Point here.

Contents contributed by Alicia Mauldin Ware, Archives Curator.

Ghostly Apparitions at West Point

Basement in Quarters 100.

Basement in Quarters 100, which is purported to be inhabited by the ghost of Thayer’s Irish maid, Molly. (Photo courtesy of Special Collections and Archives Department of USMA Library ca. 1965.)

Sleepy Hollow isn’t the only place in the Hudson Valley with sightings of ghostly apparitions and stories of otherworldly beings. According to legend, the old Morrison House (Quarters 107B) on Professors’ Row is sometimes inhabited by the ghost of a woman. One story claims that two servants who lived in the house in the 1920s became so frightened that they ran screaming from their room in the middle of the night. Father O’Keefe was called in to do an exorcism which reportedly sent the ghost to live under a railroad bridge on the east side of the Hudson.

Colonel Thayer’s quarters, in what is the current basement of Quarters 100, are also purported to be inhabited by the ghost of Thayer’s Irish maid, Molly. This female specter is said to muss the bedcovers in the “orderly room” and has even been accused of “borrowing” items and moving guests’ possessions. Perhaps she is unhappy about having extra visitors in the house.

In October of 1972, husband and wife team, Ed and Lorraine Warren, visited West Point to lecture on the supernatural. During that same visit the Warrens were asked to visit the Superintendent’s Quarters to investigate some unusual activity. Following the evening lecture the Warrens and a small group of officers and spouses returned to Quarters 100. Lorraine Warren closed her eyes and felt the presence of the ghost of a nineteenth-century soldier named Greer.

During this same month two first-year cadets, O’Connor & Victor, living in room 4714 in the 47th division, felt the presence of a phantom they described as a thin soldier, perhaps 5’ 6” in height, wearing a frayed full-dress coat and carrying a musket. On a subsequent evening upper- classmen slept in the room, and they too reported feeling the sensation of something otherworldly. The temperature of the room dropped from 27C to -18C. First Captain Joe Tallman and Deputy Brigade Commander Gary Newsom, who spent the night of November 6th in room 4714, were unmolested by the spirit. However, Cadet Jim O’Connor reported seeing the ghost on the wall of the room where he was staying. Perhaps the ghost was spooked by the upperclassmen.

Naval Academy Midshipman, William Gravell claimed responsibility for the ghost, saying he had created it using a slide, cheese cloth and a flashlight. West Point Cadets were not convinced by Gravell’s story. What do you think?

Content contributed by Elaine McConnell, Rare Books Curator

Staff Profile: Barbara Maroney-French

barbaraBarbara Maroney-French joined the United States Military Academy Library staff in June of this year, as Facility Support Assistant in our Administration Services Division.

This is Barbara’s second “tour” at West Point. Her first tour lasted 23 years, from 1977-2000, during which she progressed from a clerk-typist position in the USCC to Publications Coordinator/Editorial Advisor in Cadet Activities. It seems West Point is in her blood. Her parents met while working in the same office at West Point before getting married. Later, her mother was assigned to the Law Department which was located in the West Academic Building (now Pershing Barracks). Her dad held many supply/maintenance-related positions retiring as maintenance officer at the motor pool. Barbara’s maternal grandparents worked here as well–her grandmother, as a seamstress in the uniform factory and grandfather as a mechanic. She spent summers swimming in Delafield Pond with her best friend, whose father was a retired Air Force officer, and tagged along on trips to the commissary (then housed in Building 667). Her brother currently works on the Garrison side as a management analyst and his two sons were summer employees in DPW. Barbara’s husband of 17 years, Richard, now works at Association of Graduates as Vice President of IT.

In 2000, after the birth of her son, Barbara made a difficult decision to leave West Point, taking time to raise her children and work various jobs closer to home. Once her daughter and son were in school, she volunteered at her church and the kids’ elementary school PTA and worked part-time nearby. She wore many hats at two not-for-profit organizations: from 2005 until 2012 she was the Box Office Assistant and Development Assistant at the Paramount Center for the Arts; from 2007-2014 she worked as Administrative Manager for Copland House, Aaron Copland’s home, located in Westchester County.

During the last 14 years, working jobs outside of the government, Barbara honed her customer service skills and polished her website design and social media skills.

In her free time, Barbara loves doing family activities, working out, cooking and baking, photography, gardening, volunteering at a local animal shelter, and sewing.

Barbara says, “I know I made the right decision to stay home with both my children during the formative years.” And we’re glad she has returned to West Point. You’ll probably see her around the library making sure the Haig Room and collaborative classrooms are in tip-top shape for the next event, camera in hand, with a post on the library blog soon to follow.

Contents contributed by Manja Yirka, Continuing Resources Librarian

Access to Available through USMA Library

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 2015). Access beyond September 2015 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:

  • You need to have a valid email address and access to that email account.
  • You must log in to or create an account with your email address. Registration FAQ.
  • You cannot claim an Academic Pass if you are already a digital access subscriber.
  • Visit the website: 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 2015).

Please let me know if you have any questions or issues.

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

App of the Week – Trello

trelloWelcome to a new academic year USMA cadets, faculty, and staff! With the new year brings new technology–in the form of 4,000+ cadet iPads! Since USMA Library staff members are always looking for the best resources to recommend to our users, we are starting a series called App of the Week, wherein we recommend the best apps to support the academic experience. Please let us know what you think, and feel free to provide suggestions for apps we should review.

Trello – Task Management

If you are a visual person when it comes to task management, Trello is an online tool that can help to bring some order out of to-do chaos either for a single person, or for teams. For me, if something is out of sight, it really is out of mind. Most other task/project management tools tend to show you things that need to be done now, while obscuring things that may need to be done later, or that aren’t requiring specific action right now, but that you want to keep track of. Trello’s model of lists and cards allows for a variety of different topics (to-dos, delegations, ideas, etc.) to live side by side in a way that can be easily scanned and reviewed.

Brainstorming is also easy to do in Trello, and with some features like voting on individual cards, could provide another effective way to gather input from groups in a collaborative, visual way. We have not yet tried this in the library, though we may do so in the future.

Personally, I keep two main boards, one that I try to keep all my own activities tracked on, and another for the Library generally (Library staff have access to the latter. Those without accounts can let me know and I can set them up). I have a number of other boards for smaller projects, as well as one board shared with each team leader in the library. The Communications Team has used Trello for some time to plan out and track social media/blog posts.

Perhaps one of the best features of Trello is that the basic product is free to use, even in a team setting. There is a paid tier that offers greater customizations and control for organizations, though the basic product is quite robust for general use. Perhaps the biggest issue in my mind is poor printing support. So if someone does not have access to a screen and is linked into your board, it is difficult to share it with them. Trello does not run so well on our approved versions of Internet Explorer. Current versions of Firefox or Chrome are the best tool, along with good iOS/Android apps.

For more in-depth feature and product reviews on Trello, check out the following online articles:

by Christopher D. Barth, USMA Librarian with some content contributed by Lauren Dodd Hall, Circulation Librarian.

RS 100 Classes Complete Poker Runs in the USMA Library

Librarian Darrell Hankins helps Plebes learn to search the Library’s resources with our Scout! Search tool.

Librarian Darrell Hankins helps Plebes learn to search
the Library’s resources with our Scout! Search tool.

On 25 and 26 August, cadets enrolled in the Center for Enhanced Performance’s RS 100 course got a chance to spend some very active time in the Library, 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.

Rare Book Curator Elaine McConnell tells cadets about some of the unique resources in the Library’s Special Collections and Archives Division.

Rare Book Curator Elaine McConnell tells cadets about some of the unique resources in the Library’s Special Collections and Archives Division.

Cadets are given a checklist of locations in the Library (Circulation Desk, Reference Desk, Reserve Room, and Special Collections & Archives Reading Room) and are directed to complete a task at each checkpoint. 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 Special Collections and Archives Reading Room, where this semester they got to see Custer’s demerits (all six pages of them!) and hand-drawn plans (dating back to the 1870s) for the construction of the railroad tunnel underneath the Plain.

Librarian Michael Arden advices cadets as they search for books and  journal articles using the Library website.

Librarian Michael Arden advices cadets as they search for books and journal articles using the Library website.

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. Almost 100 cadets participated in this round of Poker Runs, and judging from discussions with them at the end of class, a fun – and educational! – time was had by all.

Narrative by Laura Mosher; photos by Barbara Maroney