Wednesday, December 9, 2015

The Stevens tradition of Cremating Calculus

by Leah Loscutoff, Archivist and Special Collection Librarian

                                     Calculus Memoriam, Link yearbook 1890.
With finals coming soon and the fall semester in its final weeks, I’m reminded of one of Stevens’ more humorous traditions from the past, the “Cremation of Calculus.” The Cremation of Calculus was first started by Stevens students in 1889. This annual tradition of putting Calculus on trial stayed popular until the early 1960s. The exact date of when this beloved tradition ended can’t be clearly determined, but after 1961 it is difficult to find any mention of the Cremation of Calculus as a campus festivity. The premise was to put their most loathed class on trial, convicting it accordingly. The loathsome class that was unanimously despised by Stevens students was good old Calculus, often referred to as “Old Man Calculus”, “Charlie Calculus”, or just “Calc.”
As stated in a Link yearbook from 1917, “the C.C.C (Calculus Cremation Committee) worked long and hard devising the most horrible death for Calculus.”  Below is one of the proclamations made by the committee in 1907.
The case was tried in front of an audience, and there were even attorneys chosen to represent each side: the graduating class of that year versus Calculus. Faculty members were good sports during this annual custom, and prominent professors helped serve as jurors. Poor Calculus did not fare very well in these trials, and the judgment was always murder in the first degree. Calculus, the students’ wily and troublesome captive, was sent to its death on a yearly basis.  
Calculus Cremation Trial, Link yearbook 1924.  

During some years, a parade would ensue down Washington Street after the judgment was reached. The students would always burn an effigy of Calculus, dancing around the flames in celebration. In part this annual festivity was also a way for the students to vent out any frustrations from their strict courseload. The Cremation of Calculus always occurred at the end of the semester, when the hard work was completed and “Old Man Calculus” hopefully defeated.  

If you could put any class on trial today, which one would it be?  

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

New York Times Historical: Database Highlight

by Courtney Walsh
In my previous blog post about the recently released movie The Walk, I used several databases to retrieve information about the infamous protagonist of that movie, Philippe Petit. I enjoyed finding out what books he has authored and what others have written about him, but his story really came to life when I realized that I could easily retrieve information from the Library’s subscription to the New York Times Historical database.  Using this database, I was able to see the front page of the New York Times as it appeared on August 8, 1974, the day after his high wire-walk between the two towers of the World Trade Center.
As we all know, access to the New York Times online is limited by whether or not we are subscribers. Without a subscription, we can only access a certain number of articles per month for free. Additionally, free access goes back only as far as 1987. Some articles are available for free between 1851-1922 while articles between 1923-1986 are available for purchase.
Here at Stevens, the Library subscribes to the daily print version of the New York Times (you can request it at the Circulation Desk). For research purposes, however, you may find that electronic access is preferable due to the ease of the search capabilities that are embedded in its design. We have access to the current daily New York Times electronically via two databases, LexisNexis and ProQuest. Our subscription to New York Times Historical within ProQuest allows us to view the paper as far back as 1851.
Stop and think about that for a moment! We can literally look back in time using New York Times Historical. Scholars usually utilize a combination of primary, secondary, and tertiary sources when conducting research. Depending on the context of the research, newspapers may be considered either primary or secondary resources. An article about the Civil Rights Movement could be considered a primary source if it was written during the Movement itself, or a secondary source if it was written more recently with a more analytical or interpretive angle. For an excellent summary of the differences between primary, secondary, and tertiary sources, see this useful website from Ithaca College Library. For an excellent overview of the ways in which newspapers can be used for historical research, please see “Newspapers”, by Anne Rubenstein (York University), published on the website of the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University.
When you are feeling inspired to research the people, events and ideas that you’re learning about in class, have read about, or seen depicted in movies, open up New York Times Historical, available in our Databases A-Z list (you’ll need to log in via myStevens if you are off-campus).
Once you have the database open, you have a variety of options in which to construct your search. As with all databases, there are some useful tips that can help as you start to locate information:

Keyword searching

Brainstorm a variety of keywords related to your search. Include synonyms and remember that the terms that we use now may not have been used during the time they occurred (e.g. World War I). Review other keywords, phrases and any other important information that appears in the article. Add them to a working list of terms that you can use to further expand or narrow your search.

Phrase searching

Put phrases in quotes to ensure you find the terms together in the document (e.g. “Hillary Clinton”, “Stevens Institute of Technology”, “artificial intelligence”)

Boolean searching

Boolean operators (AND OR NOT) are built in to the advanced search mode of New York Times Historical. Use these terms to connect your search terms rather than searching a long string of words (e.g. “Bill Gates AND philanthropy”, “mechanical engineering” OR “electrical engineering”, apple NOT fruit)

Wildcard searching

Brainstorm all the iterations of your keywords and search terms. Use wildcards to search all terms at once (e.g. psycholog* searches psychology, psychologist, psychologists, psychological).
Most databases offer simple ways to refine or limit your searches so it’s also useful to review the options available in New York Times Historical:
Basic Search

Screenshot from New York Times Historical database (ProQuest)

Advanced Search (add rows and use Boolean operators as needed to refine or narrow your search):

Screenshot from New York Times Historical database (ProQuest)
Publication Date (search on, before, or after specific dates or a within a range of dates):

Screenshot from New York Times Historical database (ProQuest)

Document Type (e.g. articles, classified ads, comics, editorials, obituaries, etc. ):

Screenshot from New York Times Historical database (ProQuest)
Below are some screenshots of articles and images about notable events that are available via New York Times Historical:
An article about the Beatles published January 4, 1964, the day after their first appearance on American television:

An article published the day after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated:

Screenshot from New York Times Historical database (ProQuest)
An excerpt of an editorial article published April 15, 1865, the day after President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated:

Screenshot from New York Times Historical database (ProQuest)
The wealth of information about our world that is available through New York Times Historical is staggering. I hope that this short piece about one of our unique databases has inspired you to visit the New York Times Historical database to investigate the person or subject of your choosing! What will you look up?
A note about citation: Like all ProQuest databases, tools for a number of citation styles (APA, MLA, Chicago, Turabian, among many others) are provided to help you construct appropriate citations. In using screenshots of articles from the database above please note that I have provided an informal citation showing the source of the images (screenshots that I created myself). The works contained within the New York Times Historical database are copyrighted, even those articles that are outside of standard copyright protection. Fair use for educational purposes is allowed, but proper citation is a must. For more information on citing images, please visit our How to Cite Your Sources research guide.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

National Cookbook Month & Interlibrary Loan

 by Mary Ellen Valverde (

Note to reader: although I wrote this blog post in October, I soon realized my post would not be up until hopefully you don’t mind I’m still going to talk about cookbooks especially seeing as Thanksgiving is coming up and the holiday is all about food.  

While I was deciding on my next blog topic, my co-workers informed me that October was National Cookbook Month and I got really excited. Who doesn’t love cookbooks? Okay maybe not all college students do - I don’t think I did much cooking either now that I think about it as I only had enough money to make ramen noodles every night in college. But I’m hoping maybe you’d want to check out some cookbooks and maybe try a few recipes at home for Thanksgiving when your parents are buying the groceries or when you get great jobs and make tons of money.

There’s just something about cooking from scratch that gives me a sense of accomplishment once the meal is finished. Plus, cooking for yourself insures you have the quality of ingredients that you want as well as any substitutions that you may need. Being vegan, sometimes finding a cookbook I can use can be a bit more difficult. I don’t eat any animal products (including dairy and eggs) so I like to find cookbooks that use only the products I do eat. While searching our catalog, I found that our library only owned one vegan cookbook - which wasn’t surprising to me as mine is a very specific topic.

The good thing about our library’s catalog is that besides those from Stevens, it also shows books from other libraries around the country which you can request through Interlibrary Loan. I found a few books that looked interesting and decided to do an Interlibrary Loan to check them out before committing to buy one. One book that I found and heard great things about is Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz -
it’s supposed to be one of the staple cookbooks for vegans. I also am thinking of checking out
Vegan Cooking for Carnivores by Roberto Martin to make a few things over the holidays that some of my meat eating family members might enjoy as well.

Finally, don't forget that now is the time to get a book or article from Interlibrary Loan or your final papers. We stop taking new requests by the second week of December in order to ensure delivery, so the sooner you get your request in, the better! Have any questions about ILL? Feel free to contact me!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

New exhibit: RCA’s Fabulous 45s

By Alex Magoun, IEEE History Center
Whether you grew up downloading MP3s, loading CDs, playing cassettes, or stacking records, you'll want to check out "RCA's Fabulous 45s," the colorful new exhibit on the Library's first floor this fall.  An expanded version of one staged at the David Sarnoff Library in Princeton over ten years ago, it's based on a productive collaboration between Alex Magoun of the IEEE History Center here at Stevens, and Phil Vourtsis, retired engineer and the world's leading collector of 45-rpm record changers.

Vourtsis's wonderful book on the subject contains Magoun's dissertation chapter on the 45-rpm record, a topic he pursued because of his record collecting and DJ activities.  The subject is ideal for Stevens because the innovation of the 45 record and changer system involved mechanical, electrical, and chemical engineers as well as marketing, music, and executive managers.  The story shows how innovation is shaped by market demand, inventive choices, unexpected events, competition from established and new alternatives, corporate promotion, consumer response, and popular culture.  It also involves a practically infinite array of music, a tiny sample of which from the 1940s to the 2000s is also displayed through records and picture sleeves.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Part 5: OA Spotlight: Public Library of Science (PLOS)

by Vicky Ludas Orlofsky

To mark Open Access Week 2015, this week you’ll see a series of posts about different aspects of the Open Access movement in publishing.

PLOS, established in 2001, has emerged as a strong proponent of OA publishing for scholarly material through its range of gold OA journals (all published under the CC BY license; see more about Creative Commons licenses in part 2). While PLOS ONE is their “megajournal,” in that they do not limit themselves to one discipline but instead publish whatever scholarly work they feel is important and should be published, PLOS has a number of more discipline-specific journals:

All PLOS journals are peer-reviewed.

To publish in a PLOS journal, authors must pay an Article Processing Charge (APC), which range from $1,495 for PLOS ONE to $2,900 for PLOS Biology and PLOS Medicine. They do offer assistance for scholars from developing countries as well as authors who show financial need.

PLOS has been a big proponent of altmetrics, which track the impact of a work through means beyond citations. Every article published in a PLOS journal includes Article-Level Metrics, which shows how the article has been Viewed (on PLOS and PubMed, in which all PLOS articles are deposited), Cited (as pulled from Google Scholar), Saved (on Mendeley and CiteYouLike), and Discussed (Wikipedia, Twitter, Facebook, and others). For an example of Article-Level Metrics, see Walking Like Dinosaurs: Chickens with Artificial Tails Provide Clues about Non-Avian Theropod Locomotion*, one of PLOS ONE’s most viewed articles of all time.

Finally, as mentioned in part 2, PLOS and SPARC (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) have created the How Open Is It? Open Access Spectrum guide by which you can determine how open a particular journal is based on its author and reader policies:

Questions? Comments? Contact Vicky Ludas Orlofsky.

* Grossi B, Iriarte-Díaz J, Larach O, Canals M, & Vásquez RA. (2014). Walking like dinosaurs: Chickens with artificial tails provide clues about non-avian theropod locomotion. PLoS ONE 9(2): e88458. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0088458

Part 4: OA Spotlight: Engineering Research

by Vicky Ludas Orlofsky

To mark Open Access Week 2015, this week you’ll see a series of posts about different aspects of the Open Access movement in publishing.

There is a range of material available open access in Engineering. This includes journals and ebooks as well as reference sites, government information, and even online courses.

Journals and Articles
The Directory of Open Access Journals includes more than 10,000 international OA journals in a variety of academic subjects. You can browse by subject or search for journal or article title keywords. The Engineering (general) subject includes 211 journals from all over the world, including many of the journals listed below.

A number of prominent traditional academic publishers have also started OA engineering journals, all thoroughly peer-reviewed. IEEE has seven gold OA journals, including IEEE Journal of the Electron Devices Society, an OA megajournal (IEEE Access) and more than 100 hybrid OA journals, all found at IEEE Open.

The Nature Publishing Group publishes the multidisciplinary journal Scientific Reports (narrowed to Engineering). A list of all NPG OA and hybrid journals can be found here.

Cogent OA from Taylor & Francis publishes Cogent Engineering.

Elsevier publishes a number of OA and hybrid journals, including many in engineering, including Ain Shams Engineering Journal, Case Studies in Construction Materials, and Engineering Science and Technology, an International Journal, among many others. Find the full list here.

Springer publishes several OA journals in engineering, such as Advanced Modeling and Simulation in Engineering Sciences, Friction, and Mechanics of Advanced Materials and Modern Processes, among others. See the full list here.

Wiley Open Access includes journals like Energy Science & Engineering and others; see the full list here (unfortunately not searchable by discipline).

MDPI, or the Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute, is a dedicated OA publisher with a long list of simply named engineering journals, including Biosensors, Micromachines, and Water. Find the full list here.

You can find 549 ebooks in engineering at InTech: Engineering. InTech lets you narrow down to the most cited books (as cited in Web of Science), most cited chapters (Web of Science and Google Scholar), and most downloaded chapters.

Reference websites
iCrank is a collection of mechanical design engineering resources like apps for thread designers, screw data, and bolt torque charts, links for patent searches, materials information, and jobs listings, and vendors of use.

eFunda stands for “engineering fundamentals” and includes information on materials, design, formulas, processes, unit conversions, math, and much more.

Government information is the portal to all available government information. Always worth doing a search here to see what turns up. For more specifical science results, try, which is essentially narrowed to federally funded science research.

The National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics includes "data on research and development, the science and engineering workforce, the condition and progress of STEM education, and U.S. competitiveness in science, engineering, technology, and R&D.”

The National Institute of Standards and Technology Data Gateway provides access to NIST’s scientific and technical data.

Finally, check out the Online Engineering Courses from Open Culture.

Open access means making information more available to all who can benefit from it. The journals, ebooks, and wide variety of other information listed here can be of use to you whether or not you belong to an institution like Stevens, now and in the future.

More information can be found at the Library’s Open Access Research Guide.

Questions? Comments? Contact Vicky Ludas Orlofsky.

Next: a look at a prominent OA publisher.