Chesnutt Library Blog

“Because it’s all about ‘U,’” the Chesnutt Library Blog is designed to promptly and efficiently provide timely news, inform of library events, books, databases and more for our students, staff and faculty. In our effort to enhance communication, the Chesnutt Library Blog will bring academic resources together in one place, with one click, with one purpose in mind - Educational Excellence - designed to enhance learning, guarantee access and promote scholarship.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Serving Educational Research With Our Digital Commons

The DigitalCommons@Fayetteville State University provides a way for faculty, staff and student research to be shared on campius, across the state, nationally and internationally. The repository is a service of the Fayetteville State University Library. Research and scholarly output included here has been selected and deposited by the individual university departments and centers on campus.

Highlight: Faculty Working Papers from the School of Education

In January 2012, Faculty Working Papers from the School of Education had 960 full-text downloads and 0 new submissions posted.

The most popular papers were:

High School to College Transition: A Profile of the Stressors, Physical and Psychological Health Issues That Affect the First-Year On-Campus College Student (147 downloads)

Health Behavior Patterns Among First-Year and Non-first-Year College Students Attending a North Carolina Historically Black University (141 downloads)

The Evolution of Quality Assurance in Higher Education (126 downloads)

Faculty Working Papers from the School of Education now holds 25 records, which have been downloaded a total of 26365 times.

Friday, February 17, 2012

African American Related Materials (Journals, Books, Videos)

Chesnutt Library Celebrates Black History Month!

Check out the following Book, Journal and Video Databases on African American related materials. You can access the following databases from our Database Finder Page

  • African American Music Reference
  • African American Poetry
  • African Arts from From MIT Press
  • American Slavery: A Composite Autobiography
  • Black Drama
  • Black Short Fiction and Folklore from Africa and the African Diaspora
  • Black Studies Center (includes Schomburg Studies on the Black Experience, Black Newspapers and Journals, and the Black Literature Index)
  • Black Thought and Culture
  • Black Women in America
  • Black Women Writers
  • Footnote History and Genealogy Archives: African American Archives
  • Oxford African American Studies Center (includes African American National Biography, Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience, Encyclopedia of African American History, 1619-1895: From the Colonial Period to the Age of Frederick Douglass and Encyclopedia of African American History, 1896 to the Present: From the Age of Segregation to the Twenty-first Century to name a few)
  • Race Relations Abstracts
  • Twentieth Century African-American Poetry

NEW Streaming Video Database: Digital Educational Video

Chesnutt Library invites you to check out a new online resource by Films on Demand called Digital Educational Video. Films are from several collecctions, among them are: ABC News, the BBC, CNBC, Films for the Humanities; Frontline; History Channel; NBC News; Nightline; Nova; PBS and Scientific American Frontiers to name a few. You may need to authenticate you are affiliated with Fayetteville State University in order to use this database.

The following are just a few of the streaming video titles and series: Race and Intelligence: Science's Last Taboo; John F. Kennedy, from The WPA Film Library; Data: Ethical Use and Storage; Future of English; The Facebook Obsession; Intervention (Television Show); The Guantanamo Trap; A TV in the Baby Bottle; Outbreak: Life after People; Linear Functions; Latin Music U.S.A.: Divas and Superstars; God in America: How Religious Liberty Shaped America; Bound and Buried: Life after People; and Greetings and Introductions: Espana Viva.

This is a great resource that provides thousands of streaming videos with a variety of topics that can be used by faculty and students to better understand a topic, supplement classroom instruction or use as an aid with the textbook. The subject areas are: Anthropology; Archival Films & Newsreels; Area Studies;Art & Architecture; Biology; Business & Economics; Careers & Job Search; Communication; Computers & Technology; Criminal Justice; Earth Science; Education; English & Language Arts; Environmental Science; Family & Consumer Sciences; Geography; Guidance & Counseling; Health & Medicine; History; Mathematics; Music & Dance; Philosophy & Religion; Physical Science; Political Science; Psychology; Sociology; Technical Education; and World Languages.

Chronicle of Higher Education Article: The "Undue Weight" of Truth on Wikipedia

February 12, 2012
The 'Undue Weight' of Truth on Wikipedia

Mark Shaver for The Chronicle Review
By Timothy Messer-Kruse

For the past 10 years I've immersed myself in the details of one of the most famous events in American labor history, the Haymarket riot and trial of 1886. Along the way I've written two books and a couple of articles about the episode. In some circles that affords me a presumption of expertise on the subject. Not, however, on Wikipedia.

The bomb thrown during an anarchist rally in Chicago sparked America's first Red Scare, a high-profile show trial, and a worldwide clemency movement for the seven condemned men. Today the martyrs' graves are a national historic site, the location of the bombing is marked by a public sculpture, and the event is recounted in most American history textbooks. Its Wikipedia entry is detailed and elaborate.

A couple of years ago, on a slow day at the office, I decided to experiment with editing one particularly misleading assertion chiseled into the Wikipedia article. The description of the trial stated, "The prosecution, led by Julius Grinnell, did not offer evidence connecting any of the defendants with the bombing. ... "

Coincidentally, that is the claim that initially hooked me on the topic. In 2001 I was teaching a labor-history course, and our textbook contained nearly the same wording that appeared on Wikipedia. One of my students raised her hand: "If the trial went on for six weeks and no evidence was presented, what did they talk about all those days?" I've been working to answer her question ever since.

I have not resolved all the mysteries that surround the bombing, but I have dug deeply enough to be sure that the claim that the trial was bereft of evidence is flatly wrong. One hundred and eighteen witnesses were called to testify, many of them unindicted co-conspirators who detailed secret meetings where plans to attack police stations were mapped out, coded messages were placed in radical newspapers, and bombs were assembled in one of the defendants' rooms.

In what was one of the first uses of forensic chemistry in an American courtroom, the city's foremost chemists showed that the metallurgical profile of a bomb found in one of the anarchists' homes was unlike any commercial metal but was similar in composition to a piece of shrapnel cut from the body of a slain police officer. So overwhelming was the evidence against one of the defendants that his lawyers even admitted that their client spent the afternoon before the Haymarket rally building bombs, arguing that he was acting in self-defense.

So I removed the line about there being "no evidence" and provided a full explanation in Wikipedia's behind-the-scenes editing log. Within minutes my changes were reversed. The explanation: "You must provide reliable sources for your assertions to make changes along these lines to the article."

That was curious, as I had cited the documents that proved my point, including verbatim testimony from the trial published online by the Library of Congress. I also noted one of my own peer-reviewed articles. One of the people who had assumed the role of keeper of this bit of history for Wikipedia quoted the Web site's "undue weight" policy, which states that "articles should not give minority views as much or as detailed a description as more popular views." He then scolded me. "You should not delete information supported by the majority of sources to replace it with a minority view."

The "undue weight" policy posed a problem. Scholars have been publishing the same ideas about the Haymarket case for more than a century. The last published bibliography of titles on the subject has 1,530 entries.

"Explain to me, then, how a 'minority' source with facts on its side would ever appear against a wrong 'majority' one?" I asked the Wiki-gatekeeper. He responded, "You're more than welcome to discuss reliable sources here, that's what the talk page is for. However, you might want to have a quick look at Wikipedia's civility policy."

I tried to edit the page again. Within 10 seconds I was informed that my citations to the primary documents were insufficient, as Wikipedia requires its contributors to rely on secondary sources, or, as my critic informed me, "published books." Another editor cheerfully tutored me in what this means: "Wikipedia is not 'truth,' Wikipedia is 'verifiability' of reliable sources. Hence, if most secondary sources which are taken as reliable happen to repeat a flawed account or description of something, Wikipedia will echo that."

Tempted to win simply through sheer tenacity, I edited the page again. My triumph was even more fleeting than before. Within seconds the page was changed back. The reason: "reverting possible vandalism." Fearing that I would forever have to wear the scarlet letter of Wikipedia vandal, I relented but noted with some consolation that in the wake of my protest, the editors made a slight gesture of reconciliation—they added the word "credible" so that it now read, "The prosecution, led by Julius Grinnell, did not offer credible evidence connecting any of the defendants with the bombing. ... " Though that was still inaccurate, I decided not to attempt to correct the entry again until I could clear the hurdles my anonymous interlocutors had set before me.

So I waited two years, until my book on the trial was published. "Now, at last, I have a proper Wikipedia leg to stand on," I thought as I opened the page and found at least a dozen statements that were factual errors, including some that contradicted their own cited sources. I found myself hesitant to write, eerily aware that the self-deputized protectors of the page were reading over my shoulder, itching to revert my edits and tutor me in Wiki-decorum. I made a small edit, testing the waters.

My improvement lasted five minutes before a Wiki-cop scolded me, "I hope you will familiarize yourself with some of Wikipedia's policies, such as verifiability and undue weight. If all historians save one say that the sky was green in 1888, our policies require that we write 'Most historians write that the sky was green, but one says the sky was blue.' ... As individual editors, we're not in the business of weighing claims, just reporting what reliable sources write."

I guess this gives me a glimmer of hope that someday, perhaps before another century goes by, enough of my fellow scholars will adopt my views that I can change that Wikipedia entry. Until then I will have to continue to shout that the sky was blue.

Timothy Messer-Kruse is a professor in the School of Cultural and Critical Studies at Bowling Green State University. He is author of The Trial of the Haymarket Anarchists: Terrorism and Justice in the Gilded Age (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011) and The Haymarket Conspiracy: Transatlantic Anarchist Networks, to be published later this year by the University of Illinois Press.