Tag Archives: Crerar Kiosk

Use natural language to find sequence data

NCBI Labs now offers a natural language search option for finding sequences.  So, the next time you need to search for a gene, transcript, or genome assembly for an organism, give it a try!

The new and improved search addresses three types of queries that commonly fail in NCBI searches:

  • organism-gene
  • organism-transcript
  • organism-assembly

logo of NCBI Labs

Read more on NCBI Insights.

Library receives medals, papers of Nobel laureate James Cronin

The University of Chicago Library has received the medals and academic papers of Nobel-winning physicist James Cronin, SM’53, PhD’55, the late UChicago scientist who made defining contributions to physics and astronomical observation.

James Cronin at chalkboard

James Cronin at the chalkboard. Special Collections Research Center, The University of Chicago Library.

Cronin’s children, Emily Cronin Grothe and Daniel Cronin, donated six medals that recognize his extraordinary achievements, including the 1980 Nobel Prize Medal for Physics and the 1999 National Medal of Science. His widow, Carol Cronin, donated his professional papers, including lab reports, articles, lectures, speeches, teaching materials, correspondence and other items.

The two gifts join archival collections at the Library’s Special Collections Research Center containing the papers or medals of 20 other Nobel laureates, including UChicago-associated physicists Niels Bohr, Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, Arthur H. Compton, Enrico Fermi, James Franck, Albert A. Michelson, Yoichiro Nambu and Eugene Wigner.

Nobel Prize medal in a gloved hand

James Cronin’s Nobel Prize Medal. Special Collections Research Center, The University of Chicago Library. The Nobel Prize medal design mark is the registered trademark of the Nobel Foundation. (Photo by Jean Lachat)

“I am deeply grateful to the Cronin family for their invaluable gifts to the Library,” said Brenda Johnson, Library Director and University Librarian. “Making James Cronin’s papers and medals available to researchers and students not only helps us to understand the achievements of the past—it also fuels the rigorous inquiry of faculty and the transformative education we provide students. That is why the University of Chicago Library is committed to being the home of Nobel Prize winners’ research.”

Cronin earned his master’s degree and PhD in physics from UChicago in the 1950s. While conducting research in the 1960s at Brookhaven National Laboratory, he and colleague Val Fitch studied subatomic particles coming off collisions between protons and atom nuclei and found the first example of nature’s preference for matter over antimatter. It was the first observation of a mystery that had baffled scientists for decades, and the breakthrough would earn them the Nobel Prize in 1980.

This finding was later used to provide support for the Big Bang theory, explaining why the explosion would produce more matter than antimatter—leaving remnants that would eventually became stars, planets and human life.

Studying the origin of cosmic rays

Cronin joined the UChicago faculty in 1971 as University Professor of Physics. He soon shifted course to study the origin of cosmic rays: mysterious, highly energetic particles that strike the Earth from elsewhere in the cosmos. To search for them, he co-founded the Pierre Auger Observatory in Argentina—a massive international collaboration to build a system of giant water tanks spread over an area ten times the size of Paris. It took its first readings in 2005, and just last year discovered extragalactic origins for some of the cosmic rays that strike Earth.

James Cronin (left) with apparatus and colleagues

Photo of James Cronin (left) with apparatus and colleagues. Special Collections Research Center, The University of Chicago Library.

Cronin saw himself as part of a long lineage of UChicago physicists. In 2001, he organized a symposium marking the 100th anniversary of Fermi’s birth and edited the book Fermi Remembered. Published by the University of Chicago Press in 2004, it explored the enduring significance of Fermi’s work.

“In his first year as a graduate student at the University of Chicago, Cronin studied with Enrico Fermi and developed a great respect for him,” said Daniel Meyer, director of the Special Collections Research Center. “When he was working on the Fermi centennial and publication, Cronin came to Special Collections frequently to do his own research in the Fermi papers. He examined all of Fermi’s original laboratory notebooks and located key letters and documents from Fermi’s career.”

Emily Cronin Grothe, LAB’78, said the University of Chicago Library was the right home for her father’s medals and papers.

“Our family has a long history with the University of Chicago, with my grandfather, father, mother, uncle and daughter all receiving advanced degrees from the institution,” she said. “Given that, and how proud my father was to be associated with the University and its remarkable approach and achievements in science, my brother Dan and I never wavered in our commitment to house my father’s papers and medals with The Library.”

Selected medals, awards and honors of James W. Cronin, including (left to right) the 1976 Franklin Institute John Price Wetherill Medal, the 1977 United States Department of Energy Ernest Orlando Lawrence Memorial Award Medal, the 1999 National Medal of Science, the 1999 Collège de France Service Medal, the 1980 Nobel Prize Medal for Physics, and the 1999 French Légion d’Honneur Chevalier Medal. Special Collections Research Center, The University of Chicago Library. Photo by Jean Lachat. The Nobel Prize medal design mark is the registered trademark of the Nobel Foundation.

From Sausage to Hot Dog: the Evolution of an Icon – new web exhibit

A web exhibit of the 2013 Crerar exhibit From Sausage to Hot Dog: the Evolution of an Icon is now available.  The original exhibit was shown in the atrium of Crerar Library from October 29 — December 31, 2013.

Description: The hot dog is an American creation, and Chicago even has its own style. But where did this popular food come from and how did it develop? This exhibit looks to the hot dog’s origins in sausage-making practices brought by European immigrants to the Midwest. We consider techniques used in neighborhood butcher shops and the rise of industrial meat production. Homemade recipes and artisanal makers past and present are also examined.

Obtaining items from Crerar Library Lower Level bookstacks during construction

Beginning Monday, April 23, access to Crerar Library’s Lower Level Bookstacks will be temporarily closed due to construction activity. Until the area reopens, Crerar staff will page any materials needed from the stacks. To request a book, use the “Can’t Find It” link on the Catalog page.  Library staff will pull requested items the same weekday or by the morning of the next weekday.

You can also visit the Crerar Circulation desk for help during our normal hours, or contact circulation online with any questions.

We apologize for the inconvenience.

 

Streamlined Interlibrary Loan request process combines UBorrow, BorrowDirect and Recall in one service

The Library is now offering an improved Interlibrary Loan service that provides a streamlined way for UChicago faculty, students, and staff to request materials from a wide range of other libraries.

Previously, Library users had to decide among several services to obtain needed material:

  • BorrowDirect for obtaining material from the Ivy Plus libraries;
  • UBorrow for obtaining material from the Big Ten Academic Alliance libraries;
  • Traditional Interlibrary Loan for material held in other libraries; or,
  • Recall for University of Chicago Library copies already on loan.

Click the “Request via Interlibrary Loan” link on the FindIt! page to use the streamlined service.

Now you will use a single Interlibrary Loan service that automatically gets you what you want in the best and fastest way. Big Ten and Ivy Plus partners will continue to provide expedited delivery in roughly 4-5 days. Items will usually be obtained from other libraries, but local copies will still be recalled if needed material is not rapidly available via interlibrary loan.

To use the new Interlibrary Loan service:

There is no need to search UBorrow and BorrowDirect individually anymore to make a request, as the improved Interlibrary Loan service will do that for you. However, the UBorrow and BorrowDirect search pages are still available from the Library’s home page if you want to use them.

Handing a student a book at Eckhart Library

New Harry Potter book display and research guide

Harry Potter Book Display

Display of books about the Harry Potter series. Photo by Rebecca Starkey.

Do you need a little bit of magic during reading period and finals week? Take a break from studying by visiting our new display of Harry Potter materials on the 1st floor of Regenstein (near the Dissertation Office). This one-case display highlights just a few of the items available at the University of Chicago Library about the Harry Potter series, including translations, critical studies, and parodies.

For more Potter-related materials in our collections, visit our accompanying Harry Potter and J. K. Rowling Research Guide which includes links to ebooks, reference sources, music, and more.

Remember, if you need help locating research materials on Harry Potter, J. K. Rowling, children’s literature, or just need help with your final paper, Ask a Librarian!

“Because that’s what Hermione does,’ said Ron, shrugging. ‘When in doubt, go to the library.” – Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Library digitizes maps for study of kelp in a changing climate

“Kelp are habitat for hundreds—probably thousands of species: fishes, invertebrates, etcetera,” explained Cathy Pfister, Professor in University of Chicago’s Department of Ecology and Evolution. “They are a natural habitat, just like a coral reef, that is the only place where some animals survive.”

Concerns have been raised about downward trends in kelp’s abundance worldwide. Seeking more information about long-term changes in kelp abundance, Pfister discovered that the University of Chicago Library holds rare World War I-era maps showing the location of kelp forests in the Pacific Northwest. At her request, the Library’s Preservation staff digitized these maps, and Pfister and her collaborators compared the early 20th-century survey findings to aerial censuses of two canopy kelp species in Washington State waters from 1989 to 2015.

Surveying kelp beds in anticipation of World War I

The maps in the UChicago Library’s collection were made in anticipation of international conflict rather than global warming. In the early 1900s, the U.S. Department of Agriculture recognized a problem. The United States relied heavily on fertilizer to grow crops and support its burgeoning economy, yet a crucial ingredient for fertilizer — potash, a mixture of potassium and salts — was mined almost exclusively in Germany. German mines supplied nearly the entire world’s supply of potash, and at the time the U.S. used about a fifth of its output.

Seeking ways to ease this dependency—and possibly aware that potash is also an ingredient in gunpowder—the USDA commissioned several surveys of an alternative source of potash: kelp beds in the Pacific Northwest. The large, hardy seaweeds are a natural source of potassium, nitrogen, and salts, and kelp worldwide have been used historically as fertilizer. If kelp could be harvested and processed in large enough quantities, it could be a viable source of potash to offset German imports.

So, the USDA sent surveyors — including George Rigg, an ecologist from the University of Washington — to map the kelp beds along the coast of California, Oregon, Washington and Alaska. Rigg set out in a yacht with a 40-horsepower motor and mapped the Washington coastline in 1911-12.

One hundred and five years later, Pfister was made aware of the maps and was surprised to see a folio listed in the University of Chicago Library Catalog. With a few keystrokes, she had them retrieved by the robotic cranes in the Joe and Rika Mansueto Library’s automated storage and retrieval system. Delivered into her hands were large format maps bound inside 27 x 21-inch covers. Recognizing the value and fragility of the material, and wanting to use and archive digital copies of the maps for her analysis, Pfister contacted Preservation Librarian Sherry Byrne for help.

Conservation staff used Japanese paper to stabilize the brittle maps at the folds.

Conserving and digitizing the maps

The Library’s Preservation team was happy to digitize the extensive collection of maps from Alaska to California and had the expertise to do so without causing damage to the brittle, 100-year-old paper they were printed on. Especially large maps that had been folded to fit inside the book’s covers were starting to tear at the folds, so Library staff reinforced those sections of paper with Japanese tissue and wheat starch paste to keep the sections of the page from separating during handling. They then built a set-up to support the large volume while opening the folded maps for digitization. Photographer Michael Kenny and Head of Digitization Kathleen Arthur captured high-resolution images and posted PDFs that are now freely available to researchers worldwide through the Library Catalog.

“Library staff members with expertise in conservation and digitization are here to enable research that requires the digitization of print and other non-digital materials,” said Byrne. “We encourage faculty, students, and other researchers to contact us to discuss the possibility of digitizing materials in our collection.”

Professor Cathy Pfister points to a kelp map in the Library’s Digitization Laboratory. Image courtesy of The Forefront.

Research findings

With digitized copies of the Library’s 1911-12 maps in hand and aerial censuses from the last 26 years, Pfister and colleagues at the Washington Department of Natural Resources were able to determine the persistence of kelp cover over the past century and compared kelp dynamics with likely environmental drivers such as local environmental variables and ocean indices for the region.

What they found is a relatively rare positive story when it comes to ecological studies in a time of accelerating climate change. The abundance of most modern kelp beds along the Washington coast has remained constant over the last century despite a seawater temperature increase of 0.72 degrees Celsius. The few exceptions are kelp beds closest to Puget Sound, Seattle and Tacoma.

“Kelp are a robust and resilient structure. You can see that in the data, as long as they have access to good water quality and waves flush through them, then they persist,” Pfister said.

Pfister and her team also studied the competition among kelp species in the area. While the kelp beds were persistent over the decades, their populations could fluctuate greatly from year to year. There are two dominant species — the annual bull kelp and the perennial giant kelp — and they fluctuated similarly, meaning that if one was abundant in a given year, so was the other. And good years, it turns out, are associated with colder seawater temperatures, an unfortunate preference for kelp as ocean temperatures continue to rise.

The study by Pfister, Helen D. Berry, and Thomas Mumford, “The dynamics of Kelp Forests in the Northeast Pacific Ocean and the relationship with environmental drivers,” was published Dec. 18, 2017, in the Journal of Ecology.

The Library and research on climate change and ecological history

“As ecologists, we’re realizing that libraries and museums have incredible archival information about how our ecosystems used to look before we really were recording it very well,” said Pfister. “So instances like this where there was an expedition that really quantified how much kelp was there are incredibly important in helping us to understand where we’ve been in these ecosystems and potentially where we’re going as the climate changes.”

The Library has a wide variety of materials that may be useful to scientists exploring ecological history, including reports, maps, and data on ecological communities and environments that have changed or disappeared due to urbanization, climate change, and other forces. One particularly well-known collection of 4500 American Environmental Photographs was created between 1891 and 1936 by UChicago faculty members and students and is fully digitized and available online. The Library’s extraordinary Map Collection is well described and discoverable in the Library Catalog, and additional maps can be found in books and other materials.  For research assistance in this area, contact us at Ask a Science Librarian.

New research guide for Molecular Engineering

A new guide is now available for Molecular Engineering: http://guides.lib.uchicago.edu/molecular.  This guide shows how to find the most useful information resources and services available for molecular engineering.  It includes links to article databases that focus on engineering, information about how to access resources easily from off campus, and document delivery options for book chapters and articles not available electronically.

We also offer research guides for all major disciplines in the sciences and guides for Digital Scholarship issues including:

Author and Research Identifiers (such as ORCID IDs)
Data Management
Data Repositories
Open Access

Zar Symposium, “Open Data: Science, Health, Community,” available online

Video recordings from the 5th biennial Kathleen A. Zar Symposium, “Open Data: Science, Health, Community” are now available online.  The symposium featured speakers from Mozilla, the National Library of Medicine, the City of Chicago and more, who provided insight into open data projects and initiatives which have an impact on science, health, or community.

Read more in the full program schedule.

This project has been funded in part with Federal funds from the National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, under Grant Number 1UG4LMO12312346-01 with the University of Iowa.

Enrico Fermi and the nuclear chain reaction

page from Fermi's Notebook D14,"Numerical Calculations"

A digitized page from Fermi’s Notebook D14,”Numerical Calculations,” from November 12, 1943, to May 27, 1944. (Fermi, Enrico. Collection, [Box 42, Folder 3], Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library.)

In addition to the activities that have taken place on campus to observe the 75th anniversary of first nuclear reaction, the Library holds many complementary resources.  Visit the Enrico Fermi and the Nuclear Chain Reaction library guide for more information, including links to digitized materials.

Read more about Enrico Fermi and the first nuclear chain reaction:

Book cover, Enrico Fermi, Physicist

Enrico Fermi, Physicist (1970) by Emilio Segrè.

Book cover, The Pope of Physics : Enrico Fermi and the birth of the atomic age

The Pope of Physics : Enrico Fermi and the Birth of the Atomic Age (2016) by Gino Segrè and Bettina Hoerlin