Posted onOctober 29, 2018byRebecca Starkey, Librarian for College Instruction and Outreach, and Elizabeth Edwards, Assessment Librarian at the University of Chicago Library
In an era of social media, disinformation, and fake news, helping students learn how to evaluate information is more important than ever. While the University’s Core Curriculum teaches undergraduates to critically examine texts, survey responses indicate that students also need help learning to identify, assess, and use sources beyond the syllabus. Librarians are available to work with faculty to design tailored assignments and resources that teach research skills that meet course-specific objectives.
Survey results indicate the value of Library instruction
Rebecca Starkey, Librarian for College Instruction and Outreach (standing), works with students to enhance their research skills. (Photo by Jason Smith)
In 2017, the Library conducted a survey of undergraduates in order to learn more about their experiences at UChicago. Results demonstrated that students expect to have opportunities to conduct original research while at the University and believe that the research skills developed at UChicago will be essential for their future careers. Once here, however, respondents were uncertain who on campus had responsibility for helping them develop the skills needed to successfully find and use information.
Fortunately, survey responses clearly indicated that Library instruction positively affects students’ perceptions of their research skills. While only 38% of survey respondents reported having attended a library program or orientation, those who received this instruction consistently gave higher ratings to their abilities to evaluate academic sources, make ethical use of information, and form evidence-based conclusions than did those who had not received such training. Respondents who had participated in Library programs were also less likely to start their research with general search engines and nearly twice as likely to begin at the Library’s website.
Librarians create course-specific resources for faculty
University of Chicago librarians have experience collaborating with faculty and instructors to design programs, assignments, or course-specific resources that help students meet learning objectives while improving their research skills. Below are some examples of ways the Library can help:
Humanities students are asked to locate a review article about an art exhibition, theater performance, or film. A librarian teaches students how to locate review articles, highlighting the differences between academic sources with those in newspapers and magazines. The class also learns how to critically evaluate arts blogs and websites.
For a public policy class studying immigrant communities in Chicago, a librarian teaches students how to find U.S. Census data for neighborhoods.
For a psychology course focusing on adolescent mental health, librarians create an online guide to help students locate studies on the impact of anti-bullying programs on teenage suicide.
If you are interested in exploring options for your course, contact Rebecca Starkey, Librarian for College Instruction & Outreach at email@example.com.
Join Dr. Mindy Schwartz, Professor of Medicine and Associate Program Director for Internal Medicine at the University of Chicago, in the Special Collections Research Center for a special pop-up display of rare medical history collections.
Library Adventures in a Digital Age: Chicago Connections
Friday, October 26, 1:00 – 4:30 p.m.
Special Collections Research Center
Regenstein Library, 1st floor
View a selection of books and objects from our collections that enhance our understanding of the history of science and medicine, and learn how they can be used for research and teaching. A resource guide will be available.
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:
University of Chicago users of ChemDraw Prime may now download the most recent version of the software for use. The process requires use of an @uchicago.edu email address and an in-software activation using a code provided to registered users. Instructions for download and activation are available on the Chemistry LibGuide as a PDF file . Users encountering any difficulties in downloading or activating the software may contact Andrea Twiss-Brooks, firstname.lastname@example.org or 773-702-8777 for assistance.
Posted onSeptember 21, 2018byThe University of Chicago at the University of Chicago Library
The Library offers a number of orientations, tours, and special programs during the first weeks of the quarter for College students and their families. Below are some of the upcoming orientation opportunities. Click on a session to view details.
Welcome to the University of Chicago Library Saturday, September 22, 2 p.m. – 4 p.m., Regenstein 122
New students and their families are invited to take a break at the Library’s welcome reception. Enjoy light refreshments and meet with our librarians, who can provide information about the Library’s many resources and services available to support students’ academic achievement. Visit the Special Collections Research Center’s newest exhibit, plus enter a drawing for an underground tour of Mansueto Library.
Library Boot Camp: Regenstein Open House Wednesday, September 26, 2 p.m. – 5 p.m., Regenstein Lobby
Get ready for research before your first assignment is due! Drop by Regenstein’s open house and explore the collections, study spaces, and services available for students. Learn about course reserves, printing/copying, laptop lending, and more. Students who make all stops will receive a Library mug–or go the extra mile and discover other surprises. Snacks are available.
Science Library Open House at Crerar Thursday, September 27, 2 – 4 p.m. Are you pre-med or considering a science major? If so, this open house at Crerar, the science library, is for you! Learn how to find and access articles in e-journals and databases for classes and research projects. Tour our stacks and brand new study area and learn how to access print materials. Attendees receive a special Crerar giveaway! Snacks provided.
Econ 101: An Introduction to Library Resources Friday, September 28, 11 a.m. – 12 p.m.
If you are majoring in economics, this is a can’t miss orientation. Learn about all the services the Library can provide to aid in your research, from accessing the major relevant newspapers and journals (think The Economist and The Wall Street Journal) to finding economics articles and papers. Get an introduction to some of the best sources for economics data.
In addition to these College orientations, our subject librarians will be meeting with new MA and PhD students enrolled in departments and centers from all divisions to provide an overview of research collections and tools in their fields.
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!
Welcome to the University of Chicago Library. As the new academic year begins, we would like to greet all new and returning faculty, students, and staff.
The Library’s mission is to provide comprehensive resources and services in support of the research, teaching, and learning needs of the University community. We hope that you will get to know some of the many librarians who are here to help you and to take full advantage of our offerings.
The University of Chicago Library is the heart of a University that seeks to enrich human life through the growth of knowledge. For the pursuit of knowledge to flourish, the Library is committed to maintaining an environment for users that is supportive of study, research, reflection, and scholarly collaboration; welcoming; safe; respectful of all; and comfortable, with spaces for quiet individual study, research, and reflection and designated areas for collaborative work.
Library users and staff share responsibility for creating and sustaining an environment supportive of scholarship. To ensure this environment,
You have the responsibility to treat others with dignity and respect.
You have the responsibility to refrain from engaging in behavior that creates a disturbance, interferes with the right of others to use the Library for research and study, or otherwise detracts from a scholarly environment.
You have the responsibility to learn about and comply with Library policies for maintaining this environment.
These responsibilities come with the following rights:
You have a right to ask others to end conversations, lower their voices, or maintain an environment supportive of scholarship.
You have a right to request and receive assistance from a Library staff member in maintaining an environment supportive of scholarship.
You have a right to expect that in addressing problems, Library staff will take measured steps to restore a scholarly environment.
Maintaining a Scholarly Environment
All Library users and staff share in the responsibility for maintaining an environment supportive of scholarship. These responsibilities include the following:
Exhibiting conduct appropriate to research and study by
maintaining quiet in all individual study areas and in the stacks
conducting group study and quiet conversations only in Library-designated areas
refraining from loud or boisterous behavior
silencing cell phones, laptops, and electronic devices when in Library spaces
restricting cell phone conversations, with care taken to avoid disturbing others, to Library designated spaces
not writing in, underlining, highlighting or otherwise damaging library materials
3. Helping to sustain the library’s physical spaces by
not smoking inside, or within 15 feet of entrances of, Library buildings (in accordance with University policy and City of Chicago ordinance); including not using electronic cigarettes or other such delivery systems
not bringing animals into the Library, except service animals assisting those with disabilities (in accordance with University policies for Service Animals and Assistance Animals)
securing bicycles only to official racks outside of the Library
not using scooters, skateboards, rollerblades, skates or other conveyances (except those assisting persons with disabilities), within the Library or near Library entrances
4. Creating a comfortable and supportive environment for other Library users and staff by
wearing clothing, including shirts and shoes
not exposing others to pornographic or obscene images
using Library spaces only for the purposes for which they are intended
5. Complying with Library and University policies, which ensure a safe and respectful community for all by
presenting appropriate identification when asked to do so by Library staff or University officials who have also identified themselves
leaving Library spaces at closing
not entering Library staff areas without permission
closely supervising children brought with you to the Library
not taking photographs of others for personal use without permission of the individual(s); not filming or taking photographs of Library spaces and users for publication or commercial purposes without permission of Library administration
not soliciting or conducting surveys without advance Library approval
Prohibited actions that are illegal, endanger safety or are considered serious violations include:
Engaging in criminal activity, including theft, battery, or assault
Vandalizing or defacing of Library material, equipment, collections, furniture, or facilities (including creating graffiti)
Stalking, harassing, or making unwanted sexual advances
Engaging in sexual activities or indecently exposing oneself
Violating the University’s Policy on Harassment, Discrimination, and Sexual Misconduct (including but not limited to sexual harassment, sexual abuse, sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking) or denigrating individuals on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national or ethnic origin, age, disability, veteran status, or any protected classes under the law
Bringing firearms of any kind, explosives, or other dangerous objects or materials into the Library
The John Crerar Library’s Access and Circulation Desk has reopened in its newly renovated home on the Lower Level, next to the bookstacks. The new space houses staff and services such as circulation, Scan and Deliver, search requests, and course reserves.
The John Crerar Library (Photo by Kathy Zadrozny)
Also located on the Lower Level is a new study space that is open for University of Chicago-affiliated users, as well as approved visitors, researchers, and guests. The main quiet study space features new furniture with seating for 100 people in a beautifully lit space, with a glass wall on the east side and a window on the west side providing natural light during the day. Additionally, two group study rooms will be available for University of Chicago students, faculty, and staff to reserve via Book a Room. Each group study seats up to 8 people and features a whiteboard wall. Just outside the quiet study space, PCs will be available for use. The PCs provide standard Library software, as well as Geographic Information System (GIS) tools. Copy/print/scan stations will be in a room just north of the quiet study space.
As we move into our new space, the area of the first floor where these services were previously located will be closed for renovation as we partner with our colleagues in Computer Science, the Humanities Division, and UChicago Arts to create additional space to support design, GIS, gaming and media arts.
Thank you for your patience as this part of the construction nears its end, and we look forward to seeing you in our new location.
Rendering of Parker Solar Probe. Credits: Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory
NASA has named its latest mission, the Parker Solar Probe, after UChicago physicist Eugene Parker, the S. Chandrasekhar Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus in Physics.
According to the NASA website, the probe is “about the size of a small car and will travel directly into the Sun’s atmosphere about 4 million miles from the star’s surface. The primary science goals for the mission are to trace how energy and heat move through the solar corona and to explore what accelerates the solar wind as well as solar energetic particles. The mission will revolutionize our understanding of the Sun, where changing conditions can spread out into the solar system, affecting Earth and other worlds.”
Read one of Parker’s books or articles to learn more about his work. Learn more about Parker and listen to him discuss his research on solar wind on the UChicago News site.
And on a related note, a large addition to the papers of Nobel laureate Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar are now available for research in the Special Collections Research Center.
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, 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.
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.
Posted onJune 20, 2018byAshley Gosselar at the Special Collection Research Center
The Special Collections Research Center’s collection of Nobel Prize-winning astrophysicist Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar‘s personal papers has more than doubled in size. Organization of the additional material has recently been completed by archivist Allyson Smally, and a new guide to the collection is available online.
The newly-opened portion of the collection contains writings – including handwritten notes and drafts – personal and professional correspondence, and a significant number of photographs. The additional material is described in the Addenda portion of the online guide.
A notebook from Chandrasekhar’s first year at Cambridge University, later dedicated to his wife Lalitha. Chandrasekhar, Subrahmanyan. Papers, Box 208, Folder 5, Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library.
Chandra and Lalitha, 1940 Chandrasekhar, Subrahmanyan. Papers, Box 255, Folder 47, Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library.
Congratulatory letter from University of Chicago President Hanna Holborn Gray, 1983. Chandrasekhar, Subrahmanyan. Papers, Box 194, Folder 2, Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library.
Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar (1910-1995) was a faculty member at the University of Chicago for nearly 60 years. He made significant contributions to theoretical astrophysics, and is best known for his mathematical theory of black holes.
Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar pictured in 1936. University of Chicago Photographic Archive, apf6-01301, Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library.
Posted onMay 9, 2018byThe University of Chicago Library
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 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.
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.
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.
Sketches from notebook for CP experiment, JW Cronin Spring 1963. James Cronin Papers, Special Collections Research Center, The University of Chicago Library.
A photograph of the apparatus used in discovery of the CP violation. A scientist is checking the electronics of the event detection system. Special Collections Research Center, The University of Chicago Library.
Notes ̴ at time of discussion of new physics ̴ 1955? Theoretical considerations on mesons and hyperons. Energy level scheme for new particles. (hyperons). Special Collections Research Center, The University of Chicago Library.
Letter from James Cronin to President Clinton, June 20, 2000, concerning the founding of the Auger Observatory. Cronin thanks Clinton for his bringing up “the international cosmic ray project during your meeting with President de la Rua of Argentina.” Special Collections Research Center, The University of Chicago Library.
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.
UChicago Innovation Fest (May 1-June 3, 2018) celebrates pioneering discovery and entrepreneurial endeavors at the University of Chicago. Led by the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, the month of events, workshops, and accelerator programs, including the globally recognized Edward L. Kaplan, ’71, New Venture Challenge, highlights the breadth and impact of innovation at UChicago in the areas of entrepreneurship and research commercialization, scientific advancements, and social impact.
In support of the UChicago Innovation Fest, the Library’s Entrepreneurship and Innovation research guide has been expanded to include new lists of recommended periodicals and books for entrepreneurs and innovators. Starting points for company, industry, and market research as well as demographics and financing information are also provided. The guide, as well as the schedule of events, are highlighted on the UChicago Innovation Fest website. Business and Economics Librarian for Instruction & Outreach Emily Treptow also supports Polsky Center members during her monthly mentor hours at the Polsky Exchange. See more about her work in our feature on embedded librarianship.
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.
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.
Click the “FindIt!” button in other resources such as WorldCat and Articles Plus, and then click the “Interlibrary Loan” link.
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.
This competitive award for excellence and clarity in science writing acknowledges the ability of a University of Chicago College student to produce a paper, on a scientific topic, which is thorough in its arguments but accessible to a broad readership.
First Prize is $1500
Second Prize is $500
Third Prize is $300
Today, March 8th, marks the 191st birthday of Crerar Library benefactor and industrialist John Crerar. Crerar was born in New York City in 1827 and came to Chicago in 1862 to build his wealth in railroads.
Upon his death in 1889, Crerar bequeathed a substantial sum for the founding of a library. Although he didn’t stipulate what types of materials would be collected, he did state what it wouldn’t: “dirty French novels and all skeptical trash and works of questionable moral tone shall never be found in this Library.”
Read more about John Crerar and other historical figures with the Library’s collection of online newspapers.
Second- and fourth-year College students at the University of Chicago with a theme-focused book collection are invited to apply for the T. Kimball Brooker Prize for Undergraduate Book Collecting. The University of Chicago Library is pleased to sponsor this prize, which was established by Mr. Brooker, PhD’96, to foster a love of the book and to encourage book collecting among undergraduates.
Prizes include $1,000 for a second-year student and $2,000 for a fourth-year student.
Applications and instructions for how to apply are available on the Library website. Evaluation of applications is based on the thoughtfulness and intent by which the student has shaped the collection. Collections may focus on a specific topic or the work of a particular author, or they may relate to special interests within a field. Bibliographical and physical features such as editions, illustrations, or bindings may also be the basis upon which a collection is developed. Whatever its defining quality may be, the organizing principle should be apparent in every item of the collection.
Past winners have collections focusing on subjects ranging from Religion in Late Antique Egypt to Zines, Punk Rock, and Empowerment.
Left to right: 2017 Brooker Prize winner Jackson Bierfeldt (4th year), Billie Males (2nd-year co-winner), Mr. Brooker and Bryan McGuiggin (2nd-year co-winner) with selections from the winners’ collections. (Photo by Alan Klehr)
Today marks the beginning of the Winter Olympics. For this occasion we’ve compiled books and articles from the Library’s holdings and subscriptions on the physics and engineering behind some of the sports of the winter games:
Posted onFebruary 6, 2018byAshley Gosselar at the Special Collection Research Center
Reunion of atomic scientists on the 4th Anniversary (1946) of the first controlled nuclear fission chain reaction, December 2, 1942, pictured in front of Bernard A. Eckhart Hall at the University of Chicago. University of Chicago Photographic Archive, apf3-00232, Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library.
Exhibition Dates: February 19 – April 13, 2018 Location: Special Collections Research Center Exhibition Gallery, 1100 East 57th Street, Chicago, IL
On December 2, 1942, scientists at the University of Chicago produced the world’s first self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction beneath the West Stand of Stagg Field, the University’s athletic stadium. This experiment, crucial to the control of nuclear fission, drove a rapid nationwide expansion of the Manhattan Project, the secret federal research and engineering program charged with producing a nuclear bomb.
Chicago’s role in the Manhattan Project did not end with the successful operation the first nuclear reactor. Buildings across the University of Chicago campus were converted for use by the code-named Metallurgical Laboratory. The Met Lab conducted extended research on the structure of uranium, developed the process for separating plutonium from uranium, and investigated nuclear radiation’s biological effects and safety issues. At the end of World War II, the Metallurgical Laboratory was transformed into the first United States federal laboratory, Argonne National Laboratory.
Chicago’s Met Lab also took the lead in organizing scientists’ political response to the devastation caused by atomic bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Concerned about the future development and use of nuclear weapons, Met Lab veterans created the Atomic Scientists of Chicago and began publishing the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. They joined scientists from other Manhattan Project sites across the country and pressed successfully in 1946 for the passage of the Atomic Energy Act (McMahon Act) and creation of the civilian Atomic Energy Commission.
The Met Lab scientists achieved great technical success in their contribution to the creation of a powerful new military weapon. Yet the sobering consequences of their work moved them to enter the political arena and make the first critical arguments to control nuclear weapons and turn nuclear energy toward peaceful ends.
Based on archives and manuscripts in the Special Collections Research Center, Science and Conscience presents unique historical documents and artifacts, many not previously exhibited. Items on display are drawn from records of scientists’ organizations and the papers of those who worked on the Manhattan Project and at Chicago’s Met Lab, including Enrico Fermi, James Franck, Herbert L. Anderson, Samuel K. Allison, Samuel Schwartz, Francis W. Test, Lawrence Lanzl, John H. Balderston, Jr., Albert Wattenberg, Eugene Rabinowitch, Paul Henshaw, William B. Higinbotham, and Donald MacRae, among others.
Hours: Mondays through Fridays, 9 a.m. – 4:45 p.m., and, when University of Chicago classes are in session, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 9 a.m. – 5:45 p.m.
Free and open to the public.
Use of Images and Media Contact
Images from the exhibition included on this page are available for download by members of the media and are reserved for editorial use in connection with University of Chicago Library exhibitions, programs, or related news.
Major General Leslie R. Grooves, director of the Manhattan District, pins a Medal of Merit on physicist Enrico Fermi for his contribution to the success of the Atomic Bomb Project. They are pictured at the University of Chicago with other scientists who also received the award. From left: Major Groves; Harold C. Urey, the Martin A. Ryerson distinguished professor of Chemistry; Dr. Fermi; Samuel K. Allison, director of the university’s Institute for Nuclear Studies; Cyril S. Smith, director of the university’s Institute for the Study of Metals; and Robert S. Stone of the University of California Hospitals. Special Collections Research Center, The University of Chicago Library.
Autographed endpapers in Henry DeWolf Smyth’s A General Account of the Development of Methods of Using Atomic Energy for Military Purposes under the Auspices of the United States Government, 1940-1945. (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1945).
The Smyth Report was the first public account providing details of nuclear research conducted by the United States during World War II. This copy of the book, from the library of Metallurgical Lab staff member Melvin Bengston includes signatures of James Franck, Harold Urey, Samuel K. Allison, Eugene P. Wigner, Edward Teller, Herbert L. Anderson, and many other scientists and staff who worked on the Manhattan Project in Chicago.
Gift of Diana King
Rare Book Collection
James Franck, winner of the 1925 Nobel Prize in Physics, professor of Physical Chemistry (1938-1947) at the University of Chicago, and director of the Chemistry Division of the university’s Metallurgical Laboratory (World War II). Special Collections Research Center, The University of Chicago Library.
Enrico Fermi, winner of the 1938 Nobel Prize for Physics and professor at the University of Chicago. Special Collections Research Center, The University of Chicago Library.
Albert Wattenberg, pile construction, photograph, undated. Wikimedia Commons.
Stagg Field (Old), West Stands Wall 5. Capes Photo. Special Collections Research Center, The University of Chicago Library.
“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.
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 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.