UMD Library Newsletter for the Composition Department

January, 2006

Welcome back. I hope everyone had a relaxing Winter break.

Library Resource News

DVD and Video list

Many people have expressed an interest in getting a list of all the DVDs and Videos available in the UMD Library. We now have a page on the library website that can give you a list of DVDs and Videos, or just a list of DVDs or just videos, or let you search the DVD/Video collection itself by keyword, subject term, or title word. This is a very handy page, and it's at:

Expanded Access to Digital Dissertations

You and some of your students may be interested in know that the UMD Library now has expanded access to digital dissertations for UMD faculty, staff & students. As part of an U of M system wide agreement, our users may now get the full text of University of Minnesota dissertations and the dissertations from other CIC institutions (University of Michigan, Michigan State University, Pennsylvania State University, Purdue University, Indiana University, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, University of Illinois-Chicago, University of Chicago, Northwestern University, University of Iowa and University of Wisconsin, Madison) from 1997 to date. You may download the full-text in a PDF without charge. To access Digital Dissertations, go to:

New Resource: Literature Online (LION)

Literature Online has been newly added to the library's collection of online databases. It is a fully searchable library of more than 350,000 works of English and American poetry, drama and prose, 175 full-text literature journals, and other key criticism and reference resources. It's clearly most useful to the English Department, but it may be useful to Composition on occasion as well. I encourage you to take a look at it:

Google Scholar

Some of you may have heard of Google Scholar. If you've got students whom you have trouble weening off of Google, you might want to direct them, as one option, to Google Scholar, which is Google's answer to a library database. It's not as good as our library databases, for a variety of reasons (especially because it really focuses on sci/tech topics), but there's been a development in the library that makes it more useful to our students who want to use it. We've worked with Google to implement our "Find-It" feature in Google Scholar, which means that students can find references to an article in Google Scholar, click on the link, and get access to the actual article via one of our own subscription databases. So far the feedback on this from early testing, mainly with the Business Dept., has been very positive.

Give it a try. Google scholar is at:

A word about Interlibrary Loan

I want to make sure all of the faculty are aware of what you can do with our interlibrary loan (ILL) services. Our library has about a half a million books, a few thousand videos, and access to about 20,000 periodicals, which makes it a medium-sized academic library. Very often, if you are doing some research on something specific, we won't have very much immediately available on your topic. But by using any of our databases to get abstracts of journal articles, or by using WorldCat to find out about books, you can identify items to order by Interlibrary Loan. For undergraduates, our ILL department generally doesn't look outside of Minitex (a Minnesota network) to fill requests, but for faculty and grad students they will order items from just about any library in the world that is willing to lend it. That means that there is practically no limit to what you can access for your research. This includes rare books or media items of which there may be only one or two copies held in libraries anywhere.

If you would like me to come to your office to show you how to use our databases or WorldCat and place Interlibrary Loan requests, just let me know.

Instruction Sessions

I've been doing some instruction sessions for Composition classes, getting the students reoriented to the library and how to find what we have here. It's been going well.

I do want to make sure one thing is well-understood about our instruction sessions. If we schedule a class session in one of the library instruction labs, there is no charge to your department for it. The room is paid for by the library. This may be a change from prior practice - I don't know. But there is no charge to your department if we do an instruction session in the library.

Feel free to contact me if you feel it would be useful to devote some class time to library resources. Among the things I can cover are:

  • Library Databases (journal articles, etc., focusing on databases specially selected for your class)
  • Library Catalog (including Inter-Library Loan)
  • Reference Collection (showing off useful reference books)
  • The Stacks (showing them where to go to browse the stacks and what they can find there)

These sessions can improve your students research habits by making them realize the breadth and depth of materials out there that they can use, instead of stopping with Google. As a result, their research is better and they end up approaching their work with a better informed persepective. I want to encourage you to schedule some instruction sessions with me if you think it would be useful.


There is another deadline coming up for ordering materials: Friday, February 10th. I will be communicating with your department's liaison to the library about the specific dollar amount that should be spent by then.

I'm getting requests from a number of faculty to be updated when materials they have ordered are available to check out or place on reserve. Creating a good system to do this is one of my top priorities. I'll give you an update through your liaison person as soon as I have something ready. In the meantime, if you have asked me to let you know when a specific item has come in, please contact me to remind me. Soon I hope to share a "recent acquisitions list" for your department.

Some of you may be interested in knowing a little bit more about the acquisitions process. When I receive requests from your department, 90% of the time I pass them along to our acquisitions staff, who place the orders with a vendor. Occasionally I withhold an order. Possible reasons for that might be that we already have it in the library (happens more often than you might think); that it hasn't been published yet (in which case I keep a record of it to order it later); to prioritize remaining funds for other items that support the curriculum more directly (when we're near the end of our fund for the fiscal year); or, on rare occasions, because the item is likely not to be used by anyone other than the requestor. In those cases, I communicate the reason to the liaison or the requestor.

The acquisitions staff work with a number of vendors who specialize in the library market. Discounts from these vendors result in per-unit prices that are usually a bit better than Amazon. We can order out-of-print books from well-established vendors with a good track-record, but the acquisitions department avoids using very small, hard to trace vendors for out-of-print books. We want to use vendors who are reliable, and, most importantly, have a good return policy. This ends up ruling out some sellers that can be found on Amazon's marketplace or via Don't let that deter you from requesting out-of-print books, but don't be surprised if our acquisitions department considers an item unavailable that you know you could buy for yourself. It can be a frustrating policy from the point of view of a faculty member, but it saves a lot of pain and frustration (and $) within the library over time.

One thing worth knowing about when you order an item is that it is possible to give a request a "rush" status, which puts it at the top of the pile. One good reason to do this would be if you want to put an item on reserve for a class that starts in a month or two, and you want to make sure it arrives in time. I have not had to ask faculty for justifications for a request for "rush" status, because it hasn't been used much, but if everyone starts giving things a RUSH status then I will have to start asking for justifications.

Items that are very unusual and require originally cataloging by our technical services department are going to take longer to find their way to the shelves. Consider giving such items a "rush" status if you are going to need to access them fairly soon.


As a reminder, here are some things I've talked about in previous newsletters, that you can feel free to contact me about:

  • Linking from WebCT to Library resources
  • The Library website's Research Guides for students, by broad subject area
  • The library's "Course Guides" service - resource lists for specific courses
  • The Ask Us! service, which students can use to get research assistance from home
  • Course reserves
  • Requests for your syllabi
  • RefWorks - web-based citation-management software

The Composition Department's page for the library is at

The students' resource pages are at the following locations:

Resources for Journalism Students:

Resources for Professional Writing and Communication:

Resources for Information Design:

Resources for Linguistics:


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