Department Blog

H/SS & Gov Info Services

New data science institute to help scholars harness ‘big data’

November 19th, 2013 by David Michalski

By Robert Sanders, Media Relations | November 13, 2013

BERKELEY — In a world awash in data, UC Berkeley is meeting the flood head-on by establishing a new institute to support faculty, researchers and students in their efforts to mine this information in areas as diverse as astronomy and economics, genetics and demography

Vision of the data center in Doe Library.

Europa World Plus Online – New Resource!

October 11th, 2013 by Marcia Meister

The Library has recently added a subscription to a key reference database – Europa World Plus.  Europa World Plus is the online version of the Europa World Year Book and the nine-volume Europa Regional Surveys of the World series.  First published in 1926, the year book is renowned as one of the world’s leading reference works, covering political and economic information in more than 250 countries and territories.

In addition to summary information about countries, for each country Europa includes basiClick here for a clickable world mapc country statistics and profile, and directories of government and politics, society and media and business and commerce.  Recent political events and recent election are featured on the home page.

Government Shutdown and Government Information

October 7th, 2013 by Patricia Inouye

The Government Shutdown has hindered finding government information on the internet. The community of Government Information librarians have been busy finding alternatives for the information that the federal government can not provide during the shutdown. Thanks to everyone who is helping find alternatives. This website from the UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Affairs is an excellent source for the identification of unavailable website.

Private vendors of government information also have stepped up by allowing free access to their databases.

Oxford University Press and the Social Explorer team will open up access to Social Explorer – the premier US Census demographics website – for the next two weeks. Social Explorer offers users Census data from 1790 to 2010 and American Community Survey data from 2005 to 2012.

The company, is allowing free access to their census data available even though the official Census site was down.

EBSCO is offering a free version of ERIC for the duration of the shutdown (citations and abstracts only).

Arts and Humanities Data Service (AHDS) Performing Arts

October 3rd, 2013 by Michael Winter

Arts and Humanities Data Service (AHDS) Performing Arts provides digital resources related to music, dance, theater, radio, film, television, and performance. AHDS is part of the Humanities Advanced Technology and Information Institute (HATII) at the University of Glasgow. AHDS supports researchers, teachers, and students in the collection and creation of digital materials.

NYT: Professor Says He Has Solved a Mystery Over a Slave’s Novel

September 19th, 2013 by David Michalski

In this New York Times article, Gregg Hecimovich, chairman of the English department at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, is reported to have solved a literary and cultural mystery by identifying the author of The Bondswoman’s Narrative: Hannah Bond, and naming her literary influences by researching wills, diaries, handwritten almanacs and public records.

See also–
Crafts, Hannah.
bondwoman’s narrative / Hannah Crafts ; edited by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
New York : Warner Books, c2002.
Shields Library PS1449.C673 B66 2002 Regular Loan

In search of Hannah Crafts : critical essays on The bondwoman’s narrative / Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Hollis Robbins, eds.
New York : BasicCivitas, c2004.
Shields Library PS1449.C673 B6634 2004 Regular Loan

Hecimovich, Gregg A.Searching for Hannah Crafts in Eastern North Carolina. North Carolina Literary Review 16 (2007): 43-54.

Williams, Adebayo. “Of Human Bondage and Literary Triumphs: Hannah Crafts and the Morphology of the Slave Narrative.” Research in African Literatures 34.1 (Spring 2003): 137ff

Improved VPN (connecting to Library from off-campus)

September 19th, 2013 by Alison Lanius

The University Library has improved the VPN tools that allow current UC Davis students, faculty, and staff access to our licensed resources from off campus!

The three Connection options are:

* VPN Client allows our patrons to download the VPN client to their computer. It allows for a consistent connection to Library resources. We expect this tool will be very popular with our super-users who tend to have multiple browser tabs open at once.

* WebVPN is the lightweight tool we’ve offered for years. WebVPN does not require the installation of any client software. This makes it ideal for use on public computers or for users who cannot install software on the computer at hand. Known issues: we have found some sites do not work with WebVPN. See the Known Issues FAQ for the list of those sites and workarounds.

* Proxy Server is our oldest option. This option should be used if the VPN does not work for you. Our goal is that the VPN Client will remove the need for the Proxy Server. We will explore that possibility over the academic year.

Link to VPN:

Link to VPN Help:

Library Research Workshops in the Humanities and Social Sciences

September 16th, 2013 by David Michalski

Library Research Workshops in the Humanities and Social Sciences
with Research Librarian, David Michalski

Library research skills can help one jump-start new projects, place old questions in new contexts, and allow one to probe more deeply into the social and cultural record.

Graduate students, faculty and other researchers working in the Humanities, Cultural Studies or Social Sciences are invited to bring their projects to a Library Research Workshop.

Researchers will learn about the latest resources, participate in guided hands-on instruction, and have their questions about the library answered in this informal, collegial setting. Learn the most effectively ways to construct literature reviews, frame new research questions, and navigate the wide variety of interdisciplinary information sources available at the University of California and beyond.

Topics covered include:
Locating primary source material,
Conducting literature reviews in unfamiliar areas,
Citation analysis and cited reference searches,
and the use of specialized reference works.

Bring your questions and let us learn how we can serve you better.

Library Workshop Dates

October 22nd
Tuesday, 1-2:30
Peter J. Shields Library
Library Instruction Lab
First floor, near the Reserves Desk

October 24th
Thursday, 10-11:30
Peter J. Shields Library
Library Instruction Lab
First floor, near the Reserves Desk

October 29th
Tuesday, 10-11:30
Peter J. Shields Library
Library Instruction Lab
First floor, near the Reserves Desk

October 31st
Thursday, 2-3:30
Peter J. Shields Library
Library Instruction Lab
First floor, near the Reserves Desk

Finding the Library Instruction Lab:

Instructor: David Michalski, MLS, PhD. ( is the Social and Cultural Studies Librarian at the University of California, Davis. He has twelve years experience as a research librarian, and is the author of a number of scholarly publications in information studies, cultural studies and sociology.
For more info see:

Changes to Library Account logins

September 12th, 2013 by Alison Lanius

As part of the Library’s response to the campus initiative to remove barcodes from the new AggieCards, students, staff and faculty can now also use their Kerberos ID and passphrase to log into their library account via the My Account links on the left bar of the Library home page . For older cards, both the 14 digit barcode numbers and 9 digit account numbers will work from the Other Accounts and Proxies login page.

Please consult the Account FAQ for additional information.

DVDs at Reserves

July 22nd, 2013 by Juri Stratford

The Shields Library has a DVD collection supporting campus research and instruction. The DVD collection is housed in Shields Library Reserves and  includes titles in the area of foreign and independent cinema, as well as some notable television programs and some mainstream Hollywood motion pictures.

Most DVDs are available for 3 day loan.  Use the “Advanced” search screen for the UC Davis Harvest Catalog to limit your search to DVDs held by Shields Reserve.  DVDs can be searched by actor or director as well as by title or subject.  Please ask at the Humanities, Social Sciences and Government Information Services Department for more information.

Listed below is a representative selection of DVD titles recently acquired by the Shields Library.

Buena Vista Social Club
The African Queen
Once Upon a Time in the West
Paths of Glory
Mystery Train
The Hurt Locker
Two in the Wave
The Social Network
Trois Couleurs (Blue, White, Red)
Downton Abbey [Season One]
A Night to Remember


The Book as Social Form: On the Value of Peer-Review and Editorial Critique

July 22nd, 2013 by David Michalski

As the information environment shifts, and new publishing opportunities are presented to researchers, librarians and scholars planning on how to move forward need to reflect on the relationship between the research library, the scholar/author, and the functions of the academic press.

Having sheparded to publication some of the most remarkable academic books of recent years, Ken Wissoker, the editorial director at Duke University Press, is in a good position to explain the added-value the academic press provides to this relationship. And in an insightful blog post, he does just that, focusing on the work behind the scenes that has helped to make Duke University Press as successfull as it has become.

In a world a-buzz over the technologies of self-publishing and research data repositories, Wissoker reminds us of the importance peer review and editorial guidance have on the shape of the humanities and qualitative social sciences. Questioning arguments which herald the demise of university press book, he articulates a key difference between a report on one’s research and the proper work of the book.

Publication in the humanities and social sciences isn’t the reporting of research. It’s the production of a compelling argument, based on a combination of research and interpretation.”

By drawing our attention to this process, Wissoker contributes to a wider critique of an industry that too often sees knowledge as the direct result of the exchange of information, and libraries and publishers simply as the machinery of information transfer. By opening up the labor of the editorial and review process, he reveals the social form of the book. Rather than seeing it simply as a physical or digital vessel for content, one that serves as an obstacle between the reader and her or his access to pure research, the book is reimagined as dialogue between facts, interpretations and critical arguments, a conversation that is aided by the work of external reviewers and editors. In this light, the best books in the humanities and social sciences, not only transport facts, but take the reader through the construction of those facts by unfolding both the research process and the relationships which affect its trajectory.

Wissoker’s argument in favor of a broader recognition of the social relationships of knowledge production may positively influence the way we imagine libraries too. It may help us to better organize the information environment of tomorrow by bringing into focus one the library’s most essential roles, its function as a generator and facillitator of compelling arguments.

See Ken Wissoker’s article posted on Scholarly Kitchen here:

For more of Ken Wissoker’s thoughts, see the interviews Adeline Koh has conducted with him for the Chronicle of Higher Education, beginning with “On Monographs, Libraries and Blogging”. See: