Author Archives: Martha Sullivan

Lab Girl by Hope Jahren

Hope Jahren is a botanist and geobiologist, who writes that she always knew she wanted her own lab. She grew up in Minnesota where her father was a science teacher at a community college and he had a laboratory in which she would spend much of her time. The lab was the place she always felt at home, and throughout the book, the lab continues to be a place where she finds comfort.

The author describes her early years as she struggles to start her career, which involved round-the-clock work and minimal pay. She provides a window into the life of a scientist as she sets up research labs, teaches at universities, and strives to succeed amid the continual worry of finding grants to keep the research funded. She also describes the joy of working in a field she loves, and discovering something no one had known before.

Parts of the book talk about her field work, studying the water status of mosses in Ireland, and the signs of climate variation through plants in northern Alaska. There are some humorous accounts of field trips with student researchers. One particularly harrowing tale tells of driving through a blizzard with her lab partner, Bill, and some students on the way to a conference where she was a speaker.

Ms. Jahren is also very open about some personal challenges. She writes frankly about dealing with manic depression and describes the symptoms and repercussions of this illness in a clear and heartfelt way. The chapter in which she must stop taking some medications during her pregnancy is particularly honest and moving.

Chapters about the author’s life alternate with chapters about the science of plants, and often relate to each other.  Botanical topics she writes about include roots, seeds, vines, how trees survive winter, how cactus live in deserts and, amazingly, how trees may actually communicate with one another and have a type of “memory.” It gives an appreciation for the trees and plants around us.

One aspect of this memoir that truly stood out, and was a major focus of the book, was the author’s relationship with her friend and lab partner, Bill. Bill is obviously a genius but is also a bit eccentric and seems to be alone in the world. They meet early in her career, and quickly realize they are soul mates in every sense. Their friendship is remarkable and wonderful, and sustains them through challenging times. He is with her every step of the way. Like Holmes and Watson, they are a team with a true rapport and devotion to each other.

Do you enjoy reading memoirs that are beautifully written, fascinating and poignant? A memoir where you will learn something about science as well? If so, Lab Girl is just the book.

You can view a great interview with Hope Jahren on PBS Newshour here:

 

Lab Girl, by Jahren, Hope.
Call # 570.92 Jah Browsing Collection-Level 3

Locating Nursing Literature – CINAHL Complete

On October 21, 2016 we presented a webinar about using the nursing database CINAHL Complete. Thanks to all who attended! CINAHL is the premier nursing literature database, and it contains articles and publications about the allied health fields as well as nursing.

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If you were unable to attend the class, you can view the recording here:

You can also get the handouts for the class here:

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cinahl-complete-2016

Our example research question was about preventing or reducing hospital infections through handwashing. During the class we talked about using the “Advanced Search” option, using limits, and constructing a search using the Boolean operators – AND, OR, and NOT. We also saw that we could search for multiple forms of a word by adding an * to the end of the word root. For example, searching for prevent* will find preventing, prevention, preventative, etc.

We also did the search using specialized CINAHL Headings to make the search more specific.

The session also covered how to save articles to a folder, where to set up a “My EBSCOhost” account to save items more permanently, how to request items through the ILLiad system, and where to find more help through our Research Guides and online Tutorials.

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Q&A

A few questions were asked during the session.

What makes an article “research worthy.”

Usually articles you would want to use for research would be from scholarly, academic journals, and could also include peer reviewed articles. Most of the journal articles you find in CINAHL would be considered “scholarly.” For more information about scholarly publications, you can go the Information Literacy for TESU Students Research Guide and see the page on Scholarly Vs. Popular sources.

How to Set up a My EBSCOhost account?

CINAHL Complete is one of the many EBSCO databases that the NJ State Library subscribes to. Having a My EBSCOhost account can be beneficial because you will be able to save your articles permanently – they won’t disappear after your search session ends. You can also save search strategies. A My EBSCOhost account also lets you organize the articles you save into folders.

You can quickly set up an account. Once you are in any EBSCO database, such as CINAHL, you would just click on the link at the top right that says, Sign In. From the next screen you would choose “Create a New Account” and follow the registration instructions.

How to Create a My EBSCOhost Account:

https://help.ebsco.com/interfaces/EBSCO_Guides/EBSCO_Interfaces_User_Guide/How_to_Create_a_My_EBSCOhost_Account

How to use the My EBSCOhost Folder:

https://help.ebsco.com/interfaces/EBSCO_Guides/EBSCO_Interfaces_User_Guide/How_to_Use_the_My_EBSCOhost_Folder

What do quotation marks do for phrase searching?

Using quotation marks around phrases is a common feature of many databases. It works in Google as well! When you put quotes around your search terms – “common cold,” “diabetic neuropathy,” “high blood pressure,” etc., the database will find the terms directly next to each other, exactly as you have typed them.

How to find citations? How to find APA citations?

Citing sources is something every student has to deal with, and can sometimes be a source of frustration. EBSCO makes it a little easier to find the right citation format. If you search for an article in EBSCO and want to cite it, you just need to first click on the title of the article. On the right you will see a column of icons. Hover over the icon that looks like a piece of paper and the word “cite” should appear. Click on that icon to open up the citation formats.

How to use the EBSCO Cite Feature:

https://help.ebsco.com/interfaces/EBSCO_Guides/EBSCO_Interfaces_User_Guide/How_to_Use_the_EBSCO_Cite_feature

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For more information about citing articles, and APA format help, see the Information Literacy for TESU Students Research Guide and see the page on Citing Your Sources.

The Burgess Boys and My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout

Detail from the cover of The Burgess Boys

It is always exciting for a book lover to discover an author that they hadn’t read before, but once discovering them, are so enthralled that they need to rush out and read everything they have written.

That is what happened to me recently with the author, Elizabeth Strout.

Elizabeth Strout is a Pulitzer Prize-winning author of several books – none of which I read before this year. I am so glad I finally found her! The New Jersey State Library’s recent fiction collection contains two of her novels – The Burgess Boys, and My Name is Lucy Barton. Both are written in a clear and meaningful way that powerfully captures emotions and give depth to the characters.

burgessboys_tp_flat_1500hThe Burgess Boys tells the story of a family from Maine. At the heart of it are two brothers, Bob and Jim Burgess. Both have moved out of Maine and now live in New York City, but live very different lives. Jim is a successful and well known lawyer with all of the trappings of the “good life.” Bob has struggled more and seems to lack confidence, and Jim is infuriatingly condescending and often downright insulting toward him. These brothers must come together to help their sister, Susan, and her son who are still in Maine. The sister’s troubled teenage son has committed a bias crime against the Somali community in their small Maine town, and they must now deal with the legal and emotional repercussions of this act.

Meanwhile, the story also touches on an accident in the Burgess siblings’ past, when they were children and were involved in a tragic accident that killed their father. This accident has shadowed their lives and is an undercurrent in their relationships. The descriptive writing and detailed characters are strengths of the book, which is why it is no surprise that it is being made into an HBO series.

downloadMy Name is Lucy Barton is Strout’s most recent book. It is a short, captivating and emotional novel. The book is told in first person with Lucy Barton reflecting upon two months that she spent in the hospital years ago.

During her hospital stay she is stunned to see that her mother has come to visit her. Lucy’s mother has never traveled outside of her Midwestern town before and Lucy lives in New York City. Their relationship is strained and they haven’t seen each other for many years, so Lucy is deeply affected by the fact that her mother managed to find her way to New York to see her.

As Lucy looks back upon this hospital visit, and also on her life, the reader learns about Lucy’s childhood in which she was often deeply sad, destitute and neglected, but managed to break away from her circumstances, educate herself, and move to New York City to become a writer.

An aspect of the book that I really loved was how Lucy talks about the small kindnesses in this world which can make a difference to someone’s life. In Lucy’s story, she describes incidents of kindness from a janitor, a teacher, a doctor, and others. All deeply affect her and some even change her life.

The writing throughout the book is lovely. Here is an example in which Lucy describes the Chrysler Building, which she can see from her hospital window:

“The light from the Chrysler Building shown like the beacon it was, of the largest and best hopes for mankind and its aspirations and desire for beauty. That was what I wanted to tell my mother about this building we saw.”

Elizabeth Strout was interviewed in early 2016 on NPR’s Fresh Air program:
http://www.npr.org/2016/01/13/462912164/my-ears-are-open-novelist-elizabeth-strout-finds-inspiration-in-every-day-life

 

The Burgess Boys. Strout, Elizabeth.
Call # F STR McNaughton – Level 3

My Name is Lucy Barton. Strout, Elizabeth.
Call # F STR McNaughton – Level 3

 

1454549160-1454549160_goodreads_miscJoin the New Jersey State Library on Goodreads! You can find us here; join in the discussion in our Online Book Cafe here!

Online Health Resources of the NJ State Library

health_photo2Thanks to everyone who attended the webinar held on May 19, 2016 about the Online Health Resources of the New Jersey State Library!

If you were unable to attend, or missed part of it, the webinar was recorded and will soon be posted to the Tutorials and Webinars page.

The handout for the webinar can be found here:
Online Health Resources Handout 2016

The webinar presented an overview of the health databases to which the New Jersey State Library subscribes. Descriptions of the health databases can also be found on our web site.

The class presented a sample search in the EBSCO database, Health Source: Nursing/ Academic Edition, in which we looked for information on flu prevention through vaccination.  We saw how to use Boolean operators (AND, OR and NOT) in searching, and also how to find multiple forms of a word using truncation – by adding an asterisk to the root word in the search box.

Here was the example we used:
(flu OR influenza) AND vaccin* AND prevent*

Many of the online health databases contain journal articles, but the class also showed databases with other types of content:
eBooks on EBSCOhost – electronic books
Gale Virtual Reference Library – online encyclopedias
Reference USA HealthCare – searchable directory of physicians and dentists

We also talked about ILLiad, where NJ state employees, and Thomas Edison State University staff, students and mentors, can request articles or books.

The Discovery Service was mentioned at the end of the class. This is found on the NJ State Library’s main web page toward the lower right by using the “Start Your Research” tab. The “Start Your Research” option is an easy way to search in almost all of the NJ State Library’s content at once. Searching here will look in the library catalog, many databases, journals, magazines, government documents and institutional repositories.

You can also use this resource to enter the title of a journal article to find out if it is available online in one of the State Library’s databases.

At the end of the class a question came up about good resources for herbal supplements.

Here were a couple of sites mentioned:
About Herbs, Botanicals & Other Products
https://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/treatments/symptom-management/integrative-medicine/herbs

MedlinePlus – Herbs and Supplements
https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/herb_All.html

Chasing Spring by Bruce Stutz

Groundhog

chasing_spring_stutzAh Spring! The days are noticeably longer and the birds sing louder. Everyone knows the feeling of that first warm day after a long winter. It is no wonder that the coming of spring has been celebrated in so many cultures for so many centuries.

Bruce Stutz, the former editor-in-chief of Natural History magazine, has good reason to be inspired to write about the feeling of renewal in springtime. He undergoes surgery to repair a heart valve in the winter, and as he recovers and his energy increases, he decides to embark on a trip that will take him through the country to witness spring as it arrives in different regions and climates. His plan is to begin in the Northeast and finish on the last day of spring at the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) – a day when the sun does not set in the Arctic Circle. To travel “from equinox to solstice.” The book is a lovely exploration of cultural history, nature, and renewal, but also focuses on the theme of climate change and the warming of the planet.

Mr. Stutz’s story is told in a diary format and is part travelogue, part natural history and part personal narrative. Each entry sets the scene with the date, hours, and minutes of daylight.

GroundhogThe story of spring actually begins in the winter. On February 2nd (10 hours, 9 minutes of daylight) the author travels to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania to celebrate one of the early rituals of the coming spring – Groundhog Day. February 2nd is the approximate midpoint between the first day of winter and the first day of spring, and he describes various historical rituals surrounding the date. It is the day the ancient Celts considered to be the first day of spring, and it is the day of the ancient Christian celebration of Candlemas. The folk saying surrounding Candlemas (which foreshadows the Groundhog himself) goes as follows:

If Candlemas day be fair and bright, winter will have another flight. If Candlemas day be shower and rain, winter is gone and will not come again.

Along his journey, the author stops to speak with scientists, naturalists, and guides about the area he is visiting. On the first day of spring, March 21, (12 hours, 12 minutes of daylight) he is hiking in the Connecticut woods and talking about vernal pools and amphibians with a herpetologist, who begins to think “salamander thoughts” starting sometime in February when the sunlight increases. The vernal pools – temporary pools created by snow melt and spring rain – are crucial to salamanders and frogs for egg laying.

In Arizona on April 19, (13 hours 6 minutes of daylight) the author observes spring in the Sonoran Desert and talks about the “nectar corridor” with a local scientist. As desert plants like cactus flowers and the ocotillo bloom, birds, butterflies, insects and bats follow the blossoming flowers for nectar along their migration routes.

On May 10, (14 hours, 12 minutes daylight) he is in Boulder, Colorado with scientists from the National Snow and Ice Data Center who study the cryosphere, or the frozen water part of the earth system. The scientists take depth measurements of Rocky Mountain snow, and the author joins them while trying to deal with the physical effects of the altitude. Here he discusses the “albedo” or surface reflectivity of the planet. The whiteness of the planet’s snow and ice coverage affect how much sunlight is absorbed, and therefore how quickly melting occurs, which in turn affects the energy balance of the planet.

The author crosses the continental divide, stops at the Great Salt Lake, and joins people who pick mushrooms in the Oregon Cascades and who depend on certain weather conditions in spring to find morels and boletes.

Arctic National Wildlife RefugeIn June the author flies to Alaska where he joins the bush pilots who will take him to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge where, starting on June 6th there are 24 hours of daylight for several weeks, and the sun appears to circle the sky. The light-filled vast region of ANWR, where the author observes caribou, Dall sheep, bears, and Arctic Terns, is a fitting culmination to his journey.

I read this book in late winter, as I anticipated the coming of spring in my own corner of the world. I enjoyed traveling along vicariously, and reading about spring in all of the other beautiful places the author describes. I also appreciated the writing which was a complementary mix of the scientific and poetic.

Mr. Stutz writes near the end of the book:

Each day I watched light and saw it transmute into structures that, breath by minuscule breath, synthesize the earth’s food and by their infinitesimal exhalations create its atmosphere. I’ve fallen in love with the spring of my own being.

Welcome spring!

Chasing Spring: An American Journey Through a Changing Season. Stutz, Bruce.
Call # 508.2 Stu Browsing Collection – Level 3

For other seasonal reading try:

Summer world: a season of bounty. Heinrich, Bernd.
Call # 591.43 Hei Browsing Collection – Level 3

Bayshore summer : finding Eden in a most unlikely place. Dunne, Pete.
Call # J508.749 D923 Jerseyana-ask Librarian

Arctic Autumn : a journey to season’s edge. Dunne, Pete.
Call # 508.3 DUN Browsing Collection – Level 3

Fallscaping : extending your garden season into autumn. Ondra, Nancy J.
Call # 635.953 Ond Browsing Collection – Level 3

Winter world: the ingenuity of animal survival. Heinrich, Bernd.
Call # 591.43 Hei Browsing Collection – Level 3

Using Psychology Databases

subscriptions-title-040214_tcm7-184431On October 20, 2015 we conducted a webinar on using two primary psychology databases, PsycINFO and PsycArticles. Both are produced by the American Psychological Association and are great resources for questions about psychology, psychiatry, behavioral and mental health, and have relevance for many other fields as well such as law, business and education.

PsycINFO is a large database that indexes scholarly journal articles, dissertations and book chapters. PsycARTICLES provides full text access to 110 peer-reviewed journals.

In the webinar, we discussed how to search in these databases using keywords, thesaurus terms and classifications codes. We also saw how to limit search results and save results. Thesaurus terms are subject headings that allow the researcher to conduct a more specific search. Classification codes contain broad and specific categories, and can be very helpful to hone in on relevant results.

One example search was for antipsychotic drug use in nursing homes. We also used the thesaurus to find the appropriate subject headings – “Neuroleptic drugs” and “Nursing homes.”

Screenshot of search in PsychINFO [antipsychotic AND (Drugs OR medicat*) and Nursing Homes]

A question was raised about finding information on involuntary facial movements in psychotic patients. We discussed how one way to approach a search is to try to break down the question into search terms and find synonyms. Also, doing an initial search and then looking through some search results can sometimes help you get ideas for additional search terms. For example, after searching for involuntary facial movement, we found the term “dyskinesia.”

Here is one example of a search that could be used for this research question:

Example of search in PsycINFO [(face or facial) AND(dyskinesia OR movement disorder) AND psychotic]

The session also brought up a great new resource from the State Library – a discovery service where you can enter the name of an article title to see if it can be located online.

Library users can also use the discovery service to search for information on their topic. The discovery service searches in many databases at once, and also searches within the library catalog and many other open source resources.

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Thanks to everyone who attended! If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.  The handouts for this session were a resource list and the classification codes for PsycINFO, and they are attached below.  You can view a recording of the webinar here.

Classification Codes

Psychology Resources Handout Oct2015