People

Meet new Social Sciences Data Librarian and Sociology Librarian Elizabeth Foster

Elizabeth Foster joined the Library as the Social Sciences Data Librarian and Sociology Librarian.  Elizabeth comes to Chicago from Georgetown University Library where she was the Public Policy and Social Sciences Librarian, providing reference, research and outreach services, workshops and orientations, as well as developing collections in several subject areas.  Elizabeth has a Masters of Information Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science with a minor in Sociology from Kenyon College in Gambier, OH.

Elizabeth Foster

Elizabeth Foster (Photo by John Zich)

Barbara Kern interviewed Elizabeth to find out how she plans to work with faculty and students.

Elizabeth can be reached at ehfoster@uchicago.edu, 773-702-8699, and Regenstein Library Room 261.

Q: How did you become interested in social sciences data?

A: I’ve always been someone who wants to know the details. Data allows you to see information at a really granular level. Throughout my career, I’ve worked with a lot of library users who want to research contemporary social problems. Data lets them take a look behind the scenes and develop their own conclusions.

Q: What are the greatest opportunities and challenges in working with research data?

A: Research data is available in a variety of formats—print, online, and disks—and none of it is consolidated in one place; it is easy to miss something valuable if you don’t know where to look. There’s an opportunity to make data discovery more seamless. In addition, the process of organizing, preserving, and sharing data and research workflows can be complicated. There are a lot of great tools that can help researchers open up their data, methods, and findings to new audiences.

Q:  What are some of the highlights of your work with the sociology faculty and students at Georgetown University?

A: I worked closely with two sociology faculty members to provide instruction to their students. In their sophomore year, they would come to the library and get an introduction to social sciences literature. In their senior year, they would return to learn more about research skills and subsequently apply them to their thesis projects. It was a great chance to work with students throughout multiple courses and help them produce original research.

Q: How will you work with social sciences faculty and students at University of Chicago in your new role?

A: I will help social sciences faculty and students discover, evaluate, and use datasets and other information resources. I will also help researchers manage and share their original data using various tools and technologies, such as the DMPTool and Knowledge@UChicago. I plan to offer consultations and workshops on data topics and social sciences resources.

Q: What was a particularly interesting project you have worked on with social sciences data?

A: I helped a student find information in Factiva to update a World Bank dataset on food price riots. We followed the authors’ methodology and found sources so she could tag them with prescribed codes and add them to the dataset.

Q: What is your favorite thing about the city of Chicago so far?

A: I love the lakefront. I grew up near Lake Erie and it is great to have access to a lakefront again. I also enjoy the museums, the food scene, and the architecture.

Digitizing the ‘New World’

An intern discovers and shares the works of early modern mapmakers

Jose Estrada head shot

Jose Estrada, Ph.D. candidate, Romance Languages and Literatures

The encounter in 1492 between Europeans and Amerindians initiated a centuries-long inquisitive and nautical quest by Europeans to know more about the American continent and its inhabitants. How did Europe make sense of these lands and their people? How did it fit within their cosmos?

Although there are many ways to approach these questions, I have come to realize that maps, as representations of space, can provide an understanding of the cartographers’ perspective. Therefore, when Andrea Twiss-Brooks, the Library’s Interim Co-Associate University Librarian for Research and Learning, offered me the opportunity to work with early modern maps over the summer, I knew the experience would provide insight about the depiction of the “New World” in this period. As a Graduate Global Impact Pitch Intern, I collaborated with University of Chicago Library staff members to digitize early modern maps of the Americas and make them accessible to the academic community.

Willem Janszoon Blaeu, “Americae nova Tabula” (1635). In Atlantis Appendix.

The project entailed investigating maps in both the Map Collections and Special Collections, researching online databases, scanning selected maps that had not yet been digitized, enhancing the Library Catalog records for the maps, and uploading them to a repository or image server for public access. The different layers of the project require close collaboration with the Library’s experts in preservation, scanning, metadata and GIS mapping technology among others.

My research as a doctoral candidate has provided me with some background in the relationship between Spain and the Americas, but my previous experience was limited to literature and theater. Cartographic research in the Map Collection and Special Collections has allowed me to work with specialists in different areas within the Library and widen my perspective regarding maps. Willem Janszoon Blaeu’s Americae nova Tabula (1635) serves as an example. In addition to considering the political, anthropological, and topographical uses of this map of North and South America, I have come to learn that the careful light color washing not only pleases the beholder’s eye but also highlights the fine detail in the Dutch engraving technique.

While this project provides a new angle for studying the influence of the Americas in European cosmology, scanning and uploading these maps is also a refreshing way to combine the humanities and technology. Once the images are available online they can be displayed and layered in multiple ways, enabling new research endeavors. Acquainting myself with these tools is a skill that will have long-lasting value in my career as a scholar of early modern studies.

A map of the world

Willem Janszoon Blaeu, “Nova Totius Terrarum Orbis Geographica Ac Hydrographica Tabula” (1635). In Atlantis Appendix.

Featured Library technologist: Emma Boettcher

Emma Boettcher is the University of Chicago Library’s User Experience Resident Librarian. She has a Master of Science in Information Science from University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and joined the Library in 2016 as part of a residency program that brings top recent graduates to Chicago.  Denizens of Regenstein may recognize Boettcher as the librarian who frequently conducts user testing in the lobby. Elisabeth Long talked with Boettcher about how her work enables faculty and students’ research in a changing environment.

Q: Tell us about a project you’ve worked on that has affected a website or tool that faculty and students are using today.  What was your role?  How did you contribute to the final product?

Emma Boettcher

Emma Boettcher (Photo by John Zich)

A: This past spring we launched a new streamlined process for requesting a book through Interlibrary Loan. We knew that this new service would address many of the frustrations our patrons experienced when requesting books through our legacy Interlibrary Loan services, but we also knew that it would represent a major change in patrons’ workflow.  My role was to do testing that would inform the design of the service so that these changes would be easy for patrons to understand. This included everything from labeling to page organization to visual cues that guide the patron toward the best option.

Our designer put together a set of prototype options, and I developed several research scenarios that linked the prototypes with live data so that I could watch testers try to accomplish some common tasks and see where they ran into problems, took circuitous routes, or performed actions that we weren’t expecting. The findings were used by the development team to make the service easier to navigate.

Q: What is one of your favorite projects, and what did you like about it?

A: I am currently working on a wayfinding project to study the maps and signage in Regenstein.  We are concentrating not just on how a patron finds a book in the Library Catalog but also on how they then go about finding the book itself, whether it lives in the bookstacks, a reading room, or in a reference collection.  What I like about this study is that it shows that user experience testing is not just about online experiences. It covers the much wider context of all the things people might be doing in our library.

Q: What are you working on now? 

A: Although a lot of my work focuses on faculty and students’ experiences of our library services, librarians themselves are also major users of our library systems. I am currently involved in a national and international open source project to develop a next generation library management system.  I use my user experience skills to study how different librarians across the project want the system to function.  It is fascinating to see where librarians from UChicago, Duke, and Germany, among others, have different ideas about workflows they need to support and where their needs converge.  I work with librarians from across the partnership to define specific interactions, such as what actions need to happen when a book is checked out to a patron, and then my job is to act as the translator between them and the developers who are building this open source system.

This interview is the first in a series on Library technologists.  Watch the Library News site for more such interviews.

Apply for the Library Student Advisory Group

Mansueto and Regenstein

Mansueto and Regenstein libraries (photo by Tom Rossiter)

The Library Student Advisory Group serves as a formal channel of communication between students and the Library administration. The group discusses matters related to all six campus libraries, including collections, spaces, and services, along with issues relating to the present and future needs of the student community.

The Library Student Advisory Group meets once a quarter and representatives serve for two-year terms with an option to renew.

We are looking for student representatives from the following schools and divisions:

  • College (Class of 2022)
  • Biological Sciences Division
  • Booth School of Business
  • Harris School of Public Policy Studies
  • Physical Sciences Division
  • Pritzker School of Medicine
  • Social Sciences Division
  • School of Social Service Administration.

Please complete our online application by October 26, 2018.

For more information about the Library Student Advisory Group, or the application process, please contact:

Rebecca Starkey
Librarian for College Instruction & Outreach
773-702-4484
rstarkey@uchicago.edu

Get to know Margaret Schilt, Associate Law Librarian for User Services

As a continuation of the D’Angelo Interview Series that we began last year, Scott Vanderlin took a moment to pick the brain of Margaret Schilt, Associate Law Librarian for User Services.  Margaret gives us a glimpse at her career at the University of Chicago, her day-to-day life, and her interests outside of law librarianship.

How long have you been at the D’Angelo Law Library?

I started as an intern in January 2000. In August of that year, I was lucky enough to become the Faculty Services Librarian.

In the time you’ve worked in the law library, what is the most memorable event you’ve attended?

There have been so many memorable events. President Obama’s appearance here in 2017; Geof Stone, doing a Chicago Best Ideas talk about the history of the Vietnam War and the antiwar movement in this country; and many Thursday faculty Work in Progress lunches.

What activities consume most of your time as a law librarian?

One of the best parts of my job is that it is so varied. One day I might be working on library statistics; another day advising faculty on learning management software issues; handling reference and research requests; coordinating the work of the departments I’m responsible for, teaching legal research in the Bigelow program and in the writing and research course for the L.L.M. students. Each day has its own priorities.

What are some of your interests outside of law libraries?

I am a quilter/fabric artist. The quilts I make range from small wall hangings to bed-size quilts, using traditional and modern techniques. I am also a singer – have sung in the DePaul Community Chorus for many years – and a hockey fan. I’m grateful that it’s hockey season again and hope the Hawks do better this year!

What’s the best thing you watched, listened to, and/or read recently?

The best things are two podcasts I have been listening to: The History of English, and the History of England. It’s the only way to cope with Lake Shore Drive construction! Both are obsessively detailed (I’m barely up to Chaucer after 113 episodes in History of English) and David Crowther in the History of England has a rollicking sense of humor. Making the Plantagenets very entertaining…

D’Angelo librarians honored for leadership and service in ‘Celebrating Diversity’ publication

Two D’Angelo librarians, Todd Ito and Lyonette Louis-Jacques, along with retired D’Angelo librarian Lorna Tang, have been honored for their leadership in the American Association of Law Libraries. Each was profiled in an organization publication, “Celebrating Diversity: A Legacy of Minority Leadership in the American Association of Law Libraries.”

Ito, a lecturer in law and the D’Angelo’s head of instruction and outreach, has been involved in numerous AALL committees, including as chair of the AALL Placement Committee. He also has been a leader in AALL’s regional chapter, the Chicago Association of Law Libraries (CALL) and has served on that organization’s executive board as an at-large director and as its president. Ito has also worked as the coordinator of the Illinois State Working Group for AALL’s National Inventory of Primary Legal Materials. He first became interested in working as a law librarian when he was a student reference assistant while in law school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Louis-Jacques, a lecturer in law and the D’Angelo’s foreign and international law librarian, has been frequently recognized as one of the most respected foreign, comparative, and international law (FCIL) librarians in the country. In 2014, she received the Dan Wade Outstanding Service Award, which honors contributions in the FCIL area, and in 2015 she received an award for co-authoring the book International Law Legal Research. She is a prolific author and speaker, and has been active in numerous organizations, including the International Association of Law Libraries, the Chicago Association of Law Libraries, the Chinese and American Forum on Legal Information and Law Libraries, the American Society of International Law, and AALL. She served on AALL’s executive board for three years, and has been a mentor to other FCIL librarians.

Tang, the D’Angelo’s former associate law librarian for technical services, has been active in both AALL and CALL, serving on nearly two dozen committees over the past five decades. Tang, who retired in 2015, guided the D’Angelo’s technical services department through two major building renovations. She has published numerous articles on technical services, cataloguing, electronic resources acquisition, and vendor relations and received CALL’s Outstanding Lifetime Achievement in Law Librarianship Award.

“The service to our profession from these three librarians has been extraordinary,” said Sheri Lewis, director of the D’Angelo Law Library. “Involvement in associations is not only personally fulfilling but contributes to our library’s success supporting the University of Chicago community.”

Crerar Librarians

Crerar reference librarians are now temporarily located in the 3rd floor of the renovated Crerar Library.   Deb Werner is in 315 and Jenny Hart in 313.  We will be here until our new office space is constructed on the north side of the first floor.

Our phone numbers remain the same.  If you have any questions feel free to give us a call or email us.  We are happy to set up an appointment to meet with you!

 

June Pachuta Farris, Bibliographer for Slavic and East European Studies, 1947-2018

June Pachuta Farris was valued and recognized by scholars and librarians throughout the world for her expertise as a bibliographer in Slavic and East European Studies and for the generosity she demonstrated throughout her decades of service to the profession.  She died on July 27 after a short illness at age 70.

June Pachuta Farris
(Photo by John Zich)

June served the University of Chicago for more than three decades, most recently holding the title of Bibliographer for Slavic and East European Studies and General Linguistics.  “We are deeply saddened by June’s passing,” said Brenda Johnson, Library Director and University Librarian at the University of Chicago.  “June was a dedicated librarian who built one of the finest Slavic and East European Studies collections in the world.  She was a wonderful colleague, both to us at Chicago and to the Slavic librarian community.”

In 2012, the Association for Women in Slavic Studies (AWSS), an affiliate of the Association for Slavic, East European & Eurasian Studies (ASEEES), recognized June with its Outstanding Achievement Award. “The entire profession has been enriched by June’s unassuming yet dedicated commitment to helping scholars wherever they work—whether formally, through her many published bibliographies on subjects as diverse as Dostoevsky and Czech and Slovak émigrés, or informally through her willingness to respond to countless queries from individuals,” the Association noted.  June was widely known for her quarterly and annual “Current Bibliography on Women and Gender in Russia and Eastern Europe,” which began appearing in the AWSS newsletter in 1999.  She also collaborated with Irina Livezeanu, Christine Worobec, and Mary Zirin, on a two-volume publication, Women and Gender in Central and Eastern Europe, Russia, and Eurasia: A Comprehensive Bibliography (2007), considered an invaluable resource in the field. Earlier this year, June learned that she is to be further recognized by the ASEEES at its December meeting as the 2018 recipient of the Distinguished Service Award from its Committee on Libraries and Information Resources.

June earned a BA in Russian and French from Case Western Reserve University; an MA in Russian Language and Literature from Ohio State University, writing a thesis on “The Concepts of Metaphysical Rebellion and Freedom in Dostoevsky and Camus,” and an MA in Library Science from University of Denver.  She served as Slavic Reference Librarian and Assistant Professor of Library Administration at the University of Illinois, before coming to Chicago in 1986.

June spoke French, Russian, and Czech fluently and was conversant with most Slavic languages as well as Greek.  She also had a great love of musical theater and had memorized all the lyrics to a large number of shows, both old and new.

Sandra Levy, Associate Slavic Librarian, who worked closely with June for the 28 years since she was hired at Chicago in 1989, first met June even earlier, in the 1970s, when Sandra was a graduate student visiting the University of Illinois, where June was beginning her library career.  June began answering reference questions and mentoring Sandra even then.  “It’s who she was,” Sandra said.  “It wasn’t just that she was a mentor to me—she was a mentor to everyone.”  Sandra has received an outpouring of tributes from Slavic librarians who shared this experience: “June would tackle each and every reference question as if it were the most important question in the world.”

Colleagues are invited to send tributes and stories about June and her impact to junefarrismemories@lib.uchicago.edu.  These will be collected, shared with June’s family, and deposited in the University Archives.

Meet new GIS and Maps Librarian Cecilia Smith

Cecilia Smith joined the Library as the GIS and Maps Librarian.  Cecilia comes to the University of Chicago from Texas A&M University where she was the Geospatial Librarian, Clinical Assistant Professor at the Evans Library. At Evans Library, Cecilia developed the GIS program, including services, spaces, and support.

Cecilia Smith

Cecilia Smith, GIS and Maps Librarian

Cecilia has an M.A. and Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Illinois at Chicago, an M.S. in GIS and Spatial Analysis in Archaeology, with honors, from the University College London and a B.A in Archaeology, Boston University.

Barbara Kern interviewed Cecilia to find out how she plans to work with faculty and students, and what she sees as emerging trends in GIS and Map Libraries.

Cecilia can be reached at ceciliasmith@uchicago.edu, 773-702-8761, Regenstein Library Room 371.

Q: What originally got you interested in Maps?

A: I became interested in maps when I realized how powerful they are—a map can show the shifting boundaries of the Roman Empire, explain the progression of a cholera outbreak, or get you safely home from your hike. They give you the ability to see the world and manage to do it using a single piece of paper.

Q: What originally got you interested in GIS?

A: I learned about geographic information systems (GIS) as an undergraduate researching the development of Mediterranean residences of the Bronze Age. It was a challenge to organize the many variables related to the structures’ location, orientation, and layout. GIS solved my need for a geographic database, and turned out to be so much more. I quickly developed an interest in using the technology to help with spatial analyses and to create visualizations of research results.

Q:  How have you worked with faculty at Texas A&M?

A: I worked with faculty at Texas A&M in three ways: collaborating on research, providing consultation on GIS related projects, and sharing resource information with their classes. The Early Modern Shipwreck project (http://modernshipwrecks.com/) is a good example of one of my collaborations with faculty in which I provided geospatial expertise.

Q: How will you work with faculty and students in your role?

A: I will focus on providing services and resources that enable faculty and students to discover, explore, visualize, and curate geospatial information. Geospatial information can take different forms, such as traditional paper maps or GIS files. I will offer consultations and workshops on how to work with different data types.

Q: If you could summarize your PhD research in a few sentences, what would you say?

A: My PhD research focused on changes to indigenous Philippine economies during Spanish colonization. I used GIS technology to analyze archaeological survey and excavation data in the Bacong Municipality of Negros Oriental. I found that the rugged geography of the study area significantly contributed to the indigenous populations’ ability to thrive while Spanish forces focused their resources on more accessible ports.

Q: You previously lived in Chicago.  What do you enjoy most about the city?

A: It’s hard to choose just one thing! I love the great food and the lakefront. One of my favorite places is the Lincoln Park Conservatory. I was also a researcher at the Field Museum, so Museum Campus is a favorite, too.

D’Angelo librarians receive innovation award

D’Angelo Law librarians Todd Ito and Scott Vanderlin received the Innovation Tournament Award and a monetary prize on July 17 from the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL). The prize will support the development of a tool that will make research on statutory law more efficient.

The proposed tool, SuperSeed, will address a challenge for legal researchers reviewing court opinions or other legal sources. Currently, legal research platforms provide links to the most recent text of a statute rather than the version relied upon by a court. SuperSeed will alert the researcher to amendments in statutory law and provide a link to the version of a statute discussed at the time a case was decided. This innovative tool will eliminate the cumbersome process now necessary for lawyers and law students to locate the correct version of a statute referenced in a court opinion.

Todd, Head of Instruction and Outreach, and Scott, Student Services Librarian, won the AALL Innovation Tournament at the Association’s annual meeting and conference, which brings together law librarians from academic, private, and government institutions nationwide. Their project proposal was chosen for the award by an overwhelming vote of librarians in the audience at the event. The AALL Innovation Tournament Award includes a monetary prize of $2500, which will be used to develop SuperSeed.

Todd Ito (left) and Scott Vanderlin accept the Innovation Award and a monetary prize at the American Association of Law Libraries Annual Meeting and Conference.

Todd and Scott created the concept for SuperSeed with D’Angelo colleague and Data and Scholarship Librarian Thomas Drueke. Congratulations to these talented law librarians on this award and AALL’s recognition of their creativity and innovative project!