Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Laptop Tagging Exhibit

-romel espinel, web services librarian

“Laptop Tagging: Evolving Art in the Library” is a digital exhibit of photos taken in the library showing how students personalize their laptops to create representations of themselves.

When you enter the library you notice the multitudes of people working, studying, or collaborating. Stevens, of course, is a place where Engineering, Science, Business, etc school students are banging out equations, wrangling algorithms, mixing chemicals and devising project plans. But how do our  students express their individuality?

As you walk around the library you will find students using the covers of their laptops as a canvas to celebrate their interests and express their personalities in colorful, systematic, or chaotic displays. Some collect stickers of their favorite movies or restaurants which may represent where they come from like the ubiquitous Surf Taco of South Jersey. Others sticker their laptops with organizations or teams of their school. Some even use duct tape or personalized skins.

I went around taking pictures of these collages of paper and glue and collected them for this display. It reminded me of days of drawing on notebooks and book covers of your favorite bands’ insignias or experimentations in typography.

On a more political bend to the idea of making space your own, the famous street graffiti artist Banksy credited his art as “a form of guerilla warfare. It is a way of snatching power, territory and glory from a bigger and better equipped enemy. [He] once characterised it as 'revenge.'“ From the introduction from "Banksy: You Are An Acceptable Level Of Threat". 

For better or worse computers have become a part of us whether we like it or not as we carry them around in our hands or whether we sit in front of them. Maybe in a small way we are taking control of how we want to be represented.

To see more visit, @scwlibrary on Instagram

Monday, November 11, 2013

Laptop and iPad Lending Comes to the Library

by Romel Espinel, Web Services Librarian

This semester the Samuel C. Williams Library is piloting laptop and iPad lending programs that we hope will help our community by providing access to the internet and tools for their academic success. While many of our students, especially the undergraduate population, may have laptops, a survey we conducted last year showed that many graduate students needed more access to computers than the desktop computers we have in the library.

Many commuter students will welcome these programs too because many times carrying around a laptop in you backpack can be laborious even if these computers were made to be light.

Lending out laptops and iPads are not new to libraries, especially academic ones. Libraries like North Carolina State University Library System has been lending out these computers for years now and are keeping up with technology trends by lending out the newest in technology.

We hope you will try out these laptops and make recommendations for what suits your needs and the rest of the Stevens Community.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Google’s Hummingbird takes flight

By Vicky Ludas Orlofsky

  In late September, Google announced that it had completely updated its search algorithm for the first time since the early 2000s. Code-named Hummingbird and set to coincide with Google’s 15th anniversary, the new algorithm brings the ability to recognize conversational queries, which had already existed in Google’s Knowledge Graph, to the whole search engine.

  Unlike the article databases here at Samuel C. Williams Library, which require very specific search terminology, Google’s conversational approach to search can be useful when you are looking for something straightforward: “how old is halloween,” for example (answer: the term itself dates to the 18th century). This is especially true if you’re speaking the search query through your phone, a major reason Google adopted the Hummingbird algorithm. But it works less well when you need something more specific to an assignment: “(green OR sustainable) energy AND financing” brings back companies that produce green products, not scholarly articles that discuss it. Google Scholar (which does not, as far as I know, use Hummingbird) helps in this case, and can link you to what we have available through Samuel C. Williams Library -- especially if you choose Stevens through the “Library links” option in Settings -- but if a document is not available online, then Google Scholar’s usefulness is limited. As Boeker et al. put it, “Google Scholar is dependent on the fundamental accessibility of scientific texts over the internet or the will of the publishers and libraries to cooperate and open their repositories for indexing” (2013 pre-print). Of course, whatever we do not have you can get via Interlibrary Loan/Document Delivery Service, which is handy.

  For more on Hummingbird and other recent changes in Google’s search tools, see the articles below. When you read these, remember to evaluate them using the C.R.A.P. test (Currency, Reliability, Authority, Purpose/Point-of-View), especially if it’s from a source with which you’re not familiar. Who is the author, and who is the intended audience? What are the author’s sources? How objective (or not) is the article?

Boeker, M.; Vach, W.; and Motschall, E. (2013). Google Scholar as replacement for systematic literature searches: good relative recall and precision are not enough. BMC Medical Research Methodology 13(131) [pre-print]. DOI:10.1186/1471-2288-13-131

Halloween. (2013, October 31). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved October 31, 2013, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Halloween&oldid=579633315.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

1st Decade of Women at Stevens -An Interview with Alum Eleni Coyle

Pictures of Eleni Coyle, her husband Jim Coyle, her roommate, and friends.

Part 2 of Ada's Legacy Series. This Friday the College of Arts and Letters will be hosting a conference, "An interdisciplinary Conference Celebrating the Achievements and Legacies of Ada Lovelace". The Library wants to celebrate the legacy of Ada Lovelace by posting blogs by Stevens Students written during Professor Lee Vinsel's, History of Stevens course last semester about the history of women at Stevens. The students researched the library's special collections to discover pictures and information about this important time.

By Dana Lyons & Devin Corson, Class of '13
 As women at Stevens in the new millennium, it would be really interesting to find out what life at Stevens was like in the very first decade women entered.  Eleni Coyle entered the Stevens community in 1979 and graduated in 1983 with her Bachelors and Masters in Chemical Engineering.  She was able to give us some perspective on the end of this first decade of women at Stevens.

The journey of being a woman at Stevens begins before freshman year—the women must be brought up strong and confident.  In Eleni’s case, her father was the role model in her life that made it possible to earn her degree.  Reflecting upon her fond memories Eleni notes, “When I was a teenager he had instilled in me that I could have the same career goals as my brothers, if I wanted to, and that a good career is fundamental to a secure future.  He had instilled a love of math to me and he had also brought me with him to various factories where I became curious as to the operation of machinery etc., leading me to study engineering.”

The professors at Stevens welcomed the idea of women attending with open arms, as far as Eleni could tell.  With a bit of a smirk she stated, “My professors were fair minded people.  Having said that, I will never forget the rare exception to my previous statement, where even though I was sitting in the front row, a certain professor insisted in greeting the class as "Hello gentlemen".  I heard that he later transferred to NJIT :)” Eleni was offered the position of Head Physics proctor, and later when she was studying for her masters at Stevens she received a Fellowship from the Plastics Institute of America.

The class sizes were smaller then, and the women in each were definitely in short supply.  She mentioned that there were only 5 women who graduated with her in the Chemical Engineering department in ’83.  However, she and the women around her did not feel hindered in any way due to their gender.  They felt like they could do anything.  Even as few as they were they made their presence known and made a huge splash both in and out of the classroom by joining extracurricular activates.  Eleni even cofounded the Philosophy Club. Eleni went on to work at various companies doing chemical engineering, but eventually found her passion teaching high school seniors Chemistry and Physics.

To wrap up her feelings about her stay at Stevens she said, “My overall experience at Stevens was outstanding and that is why I was very happy when three of my four sons decided to attend Stevens.  Academically it prepared me with a rigorous curriculum. It empowered me to know that I could handle any job.  Personally, I met my husband there so that was an added perk :)” Side note: she and her husband were freshman chemistry lab partners.  We will leave you to enjoy how ironic and the endearing that fact is.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Ada's Legacy: Women at Stevens

This Friday the College of Arts and Letters will be hosting a conference, "An interdisciplinary Conference Celebrating the Achievements and Legacies of Ada Lovelace". The Library wants to celebrate the legacy of Ada Lovelace by posting blogs by Stevens Students written during Professor Lee Vinsel's, History of Stevens course last semester about the history of women at Stevens.

By Dana Lyons & Devin Corson, Class of '13

Overview of Women at Stevens
This series of entries is intended to tell the reader a story about what it was like to be a woman at Stevens over the last four decades.  It will showcase the experiences of four incredible women, one from each decade, intermingled with key implementations focused on women at Stevens. 
Stevens was one of the last engineering schools to begin accepting women into the student body.  All female applicants would receive what was called a “no tomato” letter from the Stevens admissions office, sarcastically declining their admission.   The 1971 the Stevens Indicator released the results of a poll taken before the co-ed change that showed a high majority of students favored having female undergraduates on campus.  Out of 861 responses, 651 said yes, 179 said no, and 31 had no opinion.  Sure enough in 1971, 19 females were admitted into the incoming class of 387 members.  Lenore Schupack (below) entered Stevens with this first female class, earned her degree in just three years, and became the first female to graduate in 1974. 

The women were housed on the third floor of the “relatively luxurious” dormitories called the Married Student Apartments (now the Castle Point Apartments).  When asked by administrators if they wanted to be segregated or randomly mixed among the men, the women opted to be equals and were scattered into the same classes, overwhelmingly outnumbered by men.  By 1974, the women’s fencing team was in full swing, being the first women’s Varsity team at Stevens that was also coached by the Duck’s first female coach, Linda Uallhammer. 

In 1977, the Office of Special Programs for Women was implemented, which worked to increase the numbers of young women in pursuing careers in engineering and science.  This office presented several major programs to the women in the Stevens community, including the Society of Women Engineers chapter; residential Women in Engineering Summer Program for high school women; Women in Engineering Symposia for students, teachers, and administrators; and the Women in Engineering Network for young women considering careers in engineering.  The first national sorority, Phi Sigma Sigma, came to Stevens in 1982, followed by the second national sorority at Stevens, Delta Phi Epsilon, in 1985. Soon afterwards a local sorority, Omicron Pi, was formed and eventually become the third and final national sorority at Stevens, Theta Phi Alpha.   Read along with us as we trace the journey of a few strong and influential women at Stevens throughout the decades.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Archives Reveal Lots of Hot Air: The Airship Collection

By Carolyn Foyle, Archives Intern 

Have you ever wanted to learn about airships and balloons? Well, you are in luck because I have had the opportunity to intern here at Stevens over the summer and process a collection about airships and balloons. The collection contains hundreds of photographs and newspaper articles about airships and balloons that were used for the military and entered in balloon races. While processing this collection I learned a lot about the successes and failures of these products as well as a comprehensive history and other interesting pieces of information.

In 1911, the airship industry was developed and Goodyear was one of the first known companies to develop them in Akron, Ohio. Goodyear’s main purpose was for the Army and Navy during World War I. After many successful creations of airships, they began to produce other products like balloons and various types of boats. Goodyear began to compete in balloon races throughout the United States and Europe. The company faced many hardships because of disastrous airship and balloon crashes. By the late 1940s, the use of airships began to decline because better technology was being developed for airplanes.

When I was given this project, little was known of the donor of this collection, but I was able to put on my researcher hat and investigate this more! During my investigation, I found many postcards addressed to a V.N. Braden. I even found a picture of the man, but wanted to find more information on him. This is when the investigation became interesting--I searched through various ancestry websites for a V.N. Braden and learned that his initials stand for Vally Nicholas and I also learned that he was born in Ohio in 1891 and died in 1980 here in Essex, New Jersey. I kept searching for more information and finally found Braden mentioned in a Goodyear Annual Report. He was the manager of the Factory Aeronautical Department of Goodyear for many years before he moved to New Jersey. The photo above shows Braden (second from left) with his fellow Goodyear employees.

I came across many interesting materials such as operating manuals for airships and boats, and there is even an actual bullet contained in this collection! Also, there are many photographs of balloons that were used in Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade that were stored in warehouses right here in Hoboken until it was time to bring them into New York. I had the opportunity to digitize some great photos from this collection, which will be available soon through Steven’s special collection site. Over the course of the summer, my internship experience here at Stevens has been great. Hopefully you will get an opportunity to come check out this awesome collection! For more information or to schedule an appointment to view special collections click here

Carolyn Foyle is a MSLIS candidate at Pratt Institute's School of Information and Library Science.