Passport Database Maintenance This Weekend

February 5th, 2016 by Penny Scott No comments »

Hi everyone,

On Saturday February 6th, and Sunday, February 7th, the Passport database will be down for maintenance. If you need information from this database, check back periodically during the weekend to see if it is back in service. If you need help finding international business information, please use our Ask a Librarian service for suggestions.

Public Historian by way of Archives and Reference

February 1st, 2016 by Kelci Baughman McDowell No comments »

This is a guest post by Reference and Research Services student assistant Ariana Varela. 

The definition of public history is fluid and debated between the various types of public historians. One form of public history is archival work where documents and various other types of media are collected, preserved for future use and cataloged in order to facilitate research. The Freedom Archives, located in the Mission District of San Francisco, preserves materials from progressive history in the Bay Area, United States and larger international movements. Their collections range in material from “the civil rights, student, antiwar, prison, women’s, and LGBTQI movements along with broad collections on the Puerto Rican independence struggle, political prisoners and in-depth reports on key events from San Francisco to South Africa” (Moore).

Image used with permission of Nathaniel Moore. 

As an intern at the Freedom Archives I practice the “behind the scenes” version of public history. Through collecting, preserving and cataloging documents I am able to make documents and various media available for research. After researching the historical context of the sources I am able to make a comprehensive record of each individual source with its correlating metadata. The main purpose of cataloging at the archive is to build a database that records all the types of media available at the archive for research.

Image from the Freedom Archives courtesy of Nathaniel Moore. 

It is then interesting working at the Reference Desk in Gleeson and being able to explain to patrons the logistics of library research in regards to our databases. Through demonstrating how to use our library’s databases in order to begin preliminary research, the importance of the work in archives is reinforced. By explaining the use of key words and other metadata limiters, I can see the importance of practicing archival work that centers on accurate cataloging and preservation for future use. Knowing how keywords are chosen when cataloging materials makes it easier to explain to patrons how they should begin their research and utilize slight changes in phrases and related searches to expand their source options.

For example, one student came up to the Reference Desk asking for sources on Malcolm X but was unsure of the exact angle she wanted to portray in her paper. I began by explaining Ignacio and the different databases we could use to find information on Malcolm X. I explained that searching different sources yields different results, from reference biographies and scholarly articles to more extensive books. We navigated through the various phrases associated with Malcolm X to get a variety of perspectives. At the Freedom Archives I worked on editing audio clips of Malcolm X’s speeches so I knew about the transitions in his ideologies and that recorded speeches would be a good way to get an idea about his politics. Through working in the library I was able to share the knowledge I had acquired at the archive and explain the method behind database organization in a student-friendly manner.

Photo of Malcolm X licensed for creative commons use

I feel as though I have achieved a holistic balance that pairs practiced public history with reference librarianship through my experiences working on the back end of research through the archive, coupled with working up front with library patrons at Gleeson.


Works Cited

Moore, Nathaniel, ed. “About the Freedom Archives.” The Freedom Archives. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Jan. 2016.

Tours of Gleeson Library

January 21st, 2016 by Joe Garity No comments »

Curious about Gleeson Library? Want to learn more about the library and all of the services we offer? Come on a library tour–there’s no need to sign up, just join us. We meet inside the library, in the lobby at the fountain. The tours last about 30 minutes, and a library staff member will take you around the building and show you how Gleeson can help you. They are scheduled for:

Friday  January 22nd @ 4:15pm

Monday January 25th @ 1pm

Tuesday January 26th @ 2pm

Wednesday January 27th @ 10am

Thursday January 28th @ 12 noon

Friday January 29th @ 3pm

The First State Library Associations

January 21st, 2016 by Larry T. Nix No comments »

The Wisconsin Library Association (WLA) is celebrating its 125th anniversary this year. It was one of the first state library associations created in the nation. However, there was a question about the exact order of the creation of these state library associations. I did some research on this topic and came up with the following information. The New Hampshire Library Association claims to be the first state library association, but a case can also be made that the New York Library Association was the first. New Hampshire’s claim rests on the fact that the New Hampshire state legislature passed a law on August 16, 1889 specifically authorizing the creation of a state library association. However, it was not until September 12, 1890, while meeting with the American Library Association in White Mountains, NH, that a group initiated the formation of the New Hampshire Library Association under the new law. Meanwhile under the leadership of Melvil Dewey, New York, with the knowledge of and based on the New Hampshire law, took action to create a state library association on July 11, 1890. Notwithstanding New Hampshire’s claim to be number one, I think from a technical/legal perspective New York has the edge. Iowa claims to be the second state library association created (after New York). It took actions in this regard on September 2, 1890. Based on Iowa's claim and date of establishment, New Hampshire would actually be the third state library association to be legally established. The Massachusetts Library Club was created on October 22, 1890, and the New Jersey Library Association was created on Dec. 29, 1890.  Wisconsin became the sixth state library association to be created on February 11, 1891 followed closely by Connecticut on February 23, 1891, and Maine on March 1, 1891. A flood of state library associations followed in the next decade under the encouragement of Melvil Dewey and the American Library Association.


Adamovich, Shirley Gray, ed. The Road Taken, The New Hampshire Library Association 1889-1989 (The New Hampshire Library Association, 1989).

Wiegand, Wayne A. Irrepressible Reformer, A Biography of Melvil Dewey (Americal Library Association, 1996).

Iowa Library Association website.

Dewey, Melvil. “Notes on American and State Library Associations”, Library Journal (June, 1891) p. 169-170.

Fairchild, S.C. “Outline of Modern Library Movement in America With Most Important Foreign Events”, Library Journal (February, 1901) p. 73-75. 

MFA in Writing Department Library Showcases USF Authors

January 19th, 2016 by jmwithersusf No comments »

To step into the University of San Francisco Master of Fine Arts in Writing office is to see immediate proof of the program’s success. The bookcases of the department library proudly display the most recent publications by USF MFAW alumni and faculty. Liz Iversen, program assistant, maintains the department library as a resource for students and faculty in the MFA program, providing the added benefit of promoting the program to prospective students.

Liz Iversen, Program Assistant for Master of Fine Arts in Writing Department

Liz receives frequent updates from alumni and tracks faculty author readings to find new works with USF MFAW connections. She adds these to the collection along with works from authors who participate in the Emerging Writers Festival and MFA Reading Series. Rounding out the collection are journals, periodicals, indexes, and classic writing reference books.

Liz coordinates an active presence on Twitter and Facebook. Daily posts announce new acquisitions, free magazines, and USF literary events. She notes followers from on campus and around the world.

Liz’s strong connection with alumni is an important resource for Reference Librarian Colette Hayes as she develops Gleeson’s literature collection.

Future goals for the MFAW library include creating online access to the library’s list of titles to increase visibility. Liz also looks forward to partnering with Gleeson Library on events. And as always, the MFAW office will continue collecting works by faculty and alumni. So keep on writing!

Follow the USF MFAW program on Facebook and on Twitter.

Does your department have a library? We’d love to hear about it. Contact Justine Withers at

Just the Facts
Started Early 2000s
Size Four bookcases
Open to MFA in Writing students, faculty and staff, and alumni
Circulation policy One month plus one renewal
Collection Works by current and recent MFA instructors; writers who have read on campus, including the Emerging Writers Festival and MFA Reading Series; journals and periodicals; writing reference