Thursday, November 13, 2014

Representing World War I: Perspectives at the Centenary

On October 30, 2014, Kathelene Smith, Jennifer Motszko, and I traveled to Toronto to present at an international conference on the centenary of World War One.  Upon our arrival at our downtown hotel, we were met with cool fall temperatures, overcast skies, and Canadians wearing red poppies on the lapels of their winter jackets.  It was a somber sight.  But, it was also a striking reminder of how Canada and the other member states of the Commonwealth of Nations commemorate and mourn the fallen of the “Great War” and subsequent conflicts.  We were struck by this very public and collective act of remembrance.

The three day conference, Representing World War I: Perspectives at the Centenary, was jointly sponsored by Toronto’s International Festival of Authors and the Humber School of Liberal Arts and Sciences.  The conference drew historians, political scientists, literary scholars, and archivists from France, the United Kingdom, Germany, Hungary, Canada, Australia, and the United States.  Presentation topics addressed such issues as: war and national identity, life on the home front, state propaganda, gender and armed conflict, race relations and modern warfare, memorialization and mythmaking, and European colonies and their role in a global war.  With a field of inquiry long dominated by military historians, it was refreshing to see how new research questions and methods have broadened the scholarly discussion of this bloody war.

Each day of the academic conference began with a keynote speaker who pointedly addressed emerging research trends and ongoing scholarly debates.  These opening sessions sparked a great deal of discussion amongst attendees.  The first keynote speaker, Dr. Michael S. Neiberg, challenged the way scholars have explained and taught the causes for the outbreak of the war in Europe in 1914.  Neiberg argued that the scholarly focus on a small number of decision-making elites is terribly misplaced.  While acknowledging the influence of military alliances and critical political decisions, Neiberg provocatively suggested that most Europeans did not blindly follow their leaders nor did they desire war.  The keynote speaker for the second day, Dr. David Stevenson, addressed the origins of World War One through the lens of a prewar arms race and a breakdown of international diplomacy.  Additionally, Stevenson explored the “war aims” of each of the combatant countries.  Through this study of war aims and their impact on the postwar settlement, Stevenson sought to draw connections to the outbreak of World War Two, and the development of the Cold War, as well as the current military tensions in Europe.

Drawing on the rich holdings in Special Collections and University Archives at UNCG, Kathelene Smith, Jennifer Motszko, and I assembled a panel on American women and propaganda during World War One.  We were the sole panel that was made up exclusively of archivists.  In her talk entitled “We Need You: Portrayals of Women in World War I American Red Cross Posters,” Jennifer discussed how women were being actively recruited for service with the Red Cross.  Through an examination of the visual imagery in wartime Red Cross posters, Jennifer argued that the posters themselves reflected the changing position of women in society, from supplicant to participant.   

In the presentation entitled “Every Girl Pulling for Victory: Sacrifice and Social Consciousness during the Great War,” Kathelene examined the ways students and faculty at the State Normal (now UNCG)  responded to the American declaration of war and the mobilization of the home front.  Students took an active role in buying liberty bonds, sewing socks, preserving food, and meeting a labor shortage.  Additionally, Kathelene discussed how the experience of the war energized and rallied students around the issue of suffrage, a natural consequence of the war effort. 

My presentation was based on the large World War One pamphlet collection that resides in Special Collections and University Archives.  Specifically, I was very interested in how American propaganda mobilized women to assist in the cultivation and preservation of food.  The title of my presentation was “’Doing Their Bit’: Food, Propaganda, and the Mobilization of the American Home Front.”   I explored how gender specific representations of “patriotism” and “duty” were used to mobilize women in the private and public spheres that constituted the home front.  I looked at pamphlets that promoted the cultivation of “war gardens,” the preserving of food, and the adoption of new recipes to address wartime shortages of wheat and meat.  I also looked at the state’s efforts to recruit women for commercial agricultural work through the Woman’s Land Army. 

Our session was well attended.  There was a lengthy question and answer session.  Audience members were very interested in how race and class may have impacted American propaganda efforts on both the national level and local level. 

As we were preparing to return to North Carolina, I was listening to a news commentator discuss the upcoming Remembrance Day activities in Canada.  While noting the centenary of the outbreak of World War One, he declared that this year’s commemoration (and the wearing of a poppy) took on extra meaning due to a recent terrorist attack at Canada’s National War Memorial and to the fact that the nation was beginning airstrikes on the Islamic State in Iraq.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Society of Georgia Archivists annual meeting

The annual meeting of the Society of Georgia Archivists took place November 6-7 in Athens, GA. The meeting theme was "Plans and Strategies for the Future of Archives." A primary focus of the meeting was discussion of issues related to born-digital archival records. There were small group discussion sessions and formal paper sessions focused on the challenges of acquiring, managing, and providing access to these types of records.

As part of this focus, Richard and I presented a poster and product demonstration for BDRM (born-digital records management system). We discussed our development workflow, user training, and product specifications.

Interestingly, many at the meeting were particularly interested in how we got the development project started in the first place -- the internal advocacy and planning we did that ensured a sustained collaboration across departments.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

ACRL ULS Members - online discussion on student success!

Members-Only Online Discussion: Student Success
brought to you by the ACRL-ULS Committee on the Future of University Libraries
The ULS Membership Committee is pleased to provide a free online discussion for ULS members on Thursday, November 20 from 3-4 pm EST. To register, go to:
Assessing How Libraries Contribute to Student Success
Feeling pressed to prove that your library contributes to student success?  Are administrators demanding evidence that funding the library helps retain and graduate students?  While it may seem obvious  to librarians that students would not succeed without the library, demonstrating that can be a challenge.
Read short descriptions of ways three libraries have effectively assessed their contributions to student success, and then join this online discussion, where assessment librarians will encourage discussion of various ways to measure and demonstrate how your library helps students succeed.
Eric Ackermann (Head of Reference Services and Library Assessment, Radford University) will speak on how his library has tracked how the library’s participation in freshman orientation and core courses has affected retention.

Jennifer L. Jones (Assessment & User Experience Librarian, Georgia State University) will explain how her library followed three cohorts of undergraduates to assess the effect of using library workstations, study rooms, and research clinics.

Shane Nackerud (Technology Lead for Libraries Initiatives, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities) and Janet Fransen (Engineering Librarian, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities) will discuss the big data model the library used in partnership with the university’s Office of Institutional Research to assess the library’s contribution to student outcomes.
The speakers have prepared background stories to help you prepare for this discussion.  Find the descriptions of their successful projects at

Monday, October 20, 2014

2014 Conference for Entrepreneurial Librarians report

I posted a recap from the 2014 Conference for Entrepreneurial Librarians at . There's a focus on the business librarians there (given the nature of my blog).  --Steve

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Ebola Outbreak: Managing Health Information Resources - recorded webinar

Ebola Outbreak:  Managing Health Information Resources. October 9, 2014
Speaker:  Cindy Love, Disaster Information Management Research Center (DIMRC), National Library of Medicine (NLM)
In this webinar, Cindy Love, specialist in public health information management with the NLM, discussed the nature of information flow during an infectious disease outbreak, with a special focus on Ebola-related resources from the NLM. Recording:

This was a great webinar by a librarian at the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

The primary target audience was librarians, so more our speed than the information that I posted earlier this week.
  • Good info resources
  • Common sense advice to librarians in different settings
  • During Q&A, great responses to questions that a librarian might get: "Will Ebola become a pandemic?"  "What will the international security response be to the Ebola patient in Dallas?"

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

CDC, Johns Hopkins webinars about Ebola context, response lessons learned

FYI for others who like to get close to the source with health news.

Sorry for the lack of notice. Darn the digest setting on my listserv.

***Webcast: Dean’s Symposium on Ebola: Crisis, Context and Response***
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
Date: Tuesday, October 14, 2014 
Time: 9:00 am – 1:30pm (EDT)
The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health is hosting a symposium on the Ebola epidemic on Tuesday, October 14; the symposium will also be live streamed. Speakers will discuss the impact of the West Africa epidemic, current and future response, the status of vaccines and possible pharmacologic therapies, recommendations to prevent spread of the disease outside of West Africa, and other issues.
Webcast link:

***Preparing for Ebola: What U.S. Hospitals Can Learn From Emory Healthcare and Nebraska Medical Center***
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Clinician Outreach and Communication Activity
Date: Tuesday, October 14, 2014 
Time: 2:00 - 3:00 pm (EDT)
Dial In Number: 888-603-9630 (U.S. Callers); 630-395-0291 (International Callers)
Passcode: 9976995
The Ebola outbreak in West Africa has increased the possibility of patients traveling from the impacted countries to U.S. hospitals. A few patients with Ebola virus disease have been medically evacuated to receive care in U.S. hospitals. Recently, the first case of Ebola virus disease was diagnosed in the United States in a person who traveled to Dallas, Texas from West Africa; this patient passed away on October 8, 2014. CDC and partners are taking precautions to prevent the spread of Ebola within the United States. During this COCA Call, the presenters will focus on healthcare systems preparedness, and participants will learn how Emory Healthcare and Nebraska Medical Center prepared for patients with Ebola and the lessons learned. To help presenters communicate content that is most important to clinicians, please submit your questions before the call to Please note: the focus of this call will be healthcare systems preparedness, not clinical management of the patients with Ebola.