COD Library Blog

Know Your Library Reference Desk

Nervous about coming into the library to ask a question? You're not alone-- but you should also know that students who do use the reference desk are often pretty happy with the experience.

Want to hear for yourself? We asked three current COD students to talk about their experiences at the library reference desk and this is what they said:

Struggling to find information for your current paper/presentation/poster and want to make sure that you have a dedicated time to come in and talk? Book a Research Appointment here or by using the button on the right side of the library home page and feel some of those nerves start to slip away.


The Purpose of Citizen Science

I know that I've talked about citizen science before, but Jason Lloyd has published an article in Slate I find thought-provoking. Titled "Citizen Science Isn’t Just About Collecting Data," Lloyd discusses how grounded participation in research projects can increase scientific literacy. As Lloyd says:

But citizens can do more for science than just collect data (as important as data collection is). By educating themselves in the research and infusing urgency into the process, citizen scientists can get involved in decisions about what gets researched, how research is conducted, and how results should be used. This pushes the bounds of citizen science in new and contentious ways.

Citizen participation in science-related decision-making can mean advocating for testing, as residents in Flint, Michigan, did when they realized that, despite their state Department of Environmental Quality’s claims, their water was contaminated with lead. It can mean loudly encouraging new research priorities, like AIDS activists did in the 1980s and some cancer patient advocates do today. Or it can mean funding the development of better air-quality samplers for use by communities near petrochemical facilities.

As we all have a role to play in public policy decisions, from what to do about vaccination rates among children to whether or not to support alternative energy projects, it's helpful for students to have experience with collecting and analyzing data in a meaningful way.

The article also includes some interesting citizen science projects for students, from earth science through biology to astronomy. Interested in finding more options? Zooniverse is still providing examples of projects that could use volunteers, or contact me to find more potential projects.


Are Books Always Credible?


Are you using books (or assigning books to your students) as part of research projects because you believe that they are more error-proof than other sources?

You might want to rethink that-- read Shannon Palus's article "Why Doesn't Anyone* Fact-Check Science Books?" in Slate about how book editing is not an entirely expert endeavor. Some of her arguments are backed up by different incidents in the publishing world, such as the fact that Little, Brown, and Co published a book by a woman who told her readers not to eat food comprised of chemicals.

What should you do instead? Check out our guide to evaluating sources and remember that this is a process you should use with ALL sources.

Image Credit: Origin of Species

Find Your Favorite Library Space

Want to know what library spaces our students liked the most? We asked, and heard surprisingly different responses from our students. Listen to our students as they explain what space they like best and why.

Seth's favorite spot:
Rachel's favorite library space:
McKenzie's space:
Adrian's favorite spot:

(P.S. Want to book the group study rooms that Rachel and Adrian talk about? You can use any computer or mobile device to reserve group study rooms via the button on the right side of the library home page. You can also reserve a media lab station in the same way.)


See a tree. Name a tree.

thumb_Transparent_Fall_Leaves_Clipart_0.png Are you curious?

It’s the time of year when we notice the trees – the leaves changing color and the piles that need raking. Do you ever wonder “What kind of tree IS that?”

There are books, websites, databases, and even apps, which can assist in tree identification. By using observations and following a step-by-step process, most trees can be quickly identified. Check out a book from the COD Library. Here’s a list of items on display on the Lower Level of the Library.

Next time you are outside, look around and enjoy the changes of Autumn. Identify the trees in your yard so when you have to rake the leaves, you can call them by name.


Media Lab & Lynda Open House, Thursday, Oct. 6

Media Lab Open HouseCome by the Media Lab this Thursday between 9:30 and 4 to learn about our free digital media production tools. You can use the Media Lab to create video, design graphics, record music, learn to code, and much more. If you stop by, we'll also help you create a account that will give you free access to 1,000's of high-quality online technology tutorials. Rumor has it there will also be free candy (while supplies last)!

Homecoming @ COD

Courier_article_17_Oct_1968-p1-sized.jpgHere at College of DuPage, our first homecoming weekend was October 25 - 26, 1968 – just one year after the inception of the school. Since there was no official campus at that point, the festivities were rather spread out: a pep-rally mixer at the DuPage County Fairgrounds where the homecoming queen and her court were crowned, the football game at the West Chicago High School field, and a dinner dance at the Arlington Carousel in Arlington Heights.

By the mid-1970s, a number of factors coalesced to cause interest in homecoming to decline. College of DuPage was, and continues to be, a commuter college. Also, at this time the physical campus was still very much in the “interim” state, home games were played in Naperville since there was no football field. Enrollment was over 12,000 and the average age of the students was 25 – an age when many were married with children. In 1974, a discussion about the relevancy of homecoming can be seen in editorials in the Courier. The last homecoming took place in fall 1975.

For those first eight years, homecoming consisted of pep-rallies, homecoming courts, parades, bonfires, dinner dances, marching bands, cheerleaders, and of course the big game. Fast forward nearly 40 years to 2014, and the tradition of homecoming has been recreated for the College as it is today. Traditional elements have been updated and new opportunities added to provide students, alumni, faculty, and staff a chance to connect and celebrate our College.


Homecoming Queen and the Court - 1969


Bonfire – 1968


Football team - 1968


Courier article - October 17, 1968


Marching band - 1971

College of DuPage President Dr. Rodney Berg and Mrs. Berg - 1971


Pre-game festivities – 1971


Homecoming parade – 1971


Hopeful football fans – 1971


Football action – 1971


Homecoming dance – 1969

It's not just simple - it's Library Simple

Easy as Pie.jpg

“Well, that was easy!”

Sometimes, if you don’t know the trick, the easiest things can seem frustratingly impossible. In the Library, we not only make it look easy, we make it easy – by teaching you the techniques that save you time and trouble.

In our never-ending quest to simplify the work you do every day, we’ve created Library Simple – a series of short videos (2 minutes or less) that teach you tips and tricks to help you manage the information your use at work, school and home.

Wondering how to request a journal article from another library? Here’s how in 5 Library Simple steps. Did you know that you can use Google Scholar to identify materials available through the COD Library databases? This, too, only takes 5 Library Simple steps. There are two easy methods for creating a hanging indent in Microsoft Word – one method involves just 3 Library Simple steps!

Curious? Watch and learn from our growing collection of Library Simple videos on our YouTube channel - Library Simple videos can be embedded easily into Blackboard or shared via Facebook, Twitter and more – share the skills. It’s Library Simple.


What Do You Wish You Had Known?

Curious to know what what library info you might be missing out on so far this academic year? So were we! So we asked current students Seth Torralba, McKenzie Odman, Rachel Hochheimer, and Adrian Fulgencio what they wish they would have known in the first few weeks of class . Take a look-- the answers might surprise you!

What Seth wishes he had known. thumb_Seth1_0.PNG What McKenzie wishes she had known.
What Rachel wishes she had known. thumb_Rachel1.PNG What Adrian wishes he had known. thumb_Adrian.PNG

Funded by an IMLS grant.


Formatting or Fetishism? What do we want from source citing anyway?

“Has an element of fetishism perhaps crept into what was once a necessary academic practice?” This is the first sentence in the preface to the 8th edition of the MLA Handbook, published this past spring.

The new edition of the MLA Handbook acknowledges the confusion and futility associated with attempts to provide a definitive citation format for each and every source that could possibly be used in academic writing. In order to cite a book, one had to first identify what kind of book: Print book? Audiobook? E-book? E-book read on a Kindle? Downloaded as a PDF? Downloaded as a PDF and then printed and bound in collection?

Recognizing that no handbook can anticipate new formats and platforms for publishing information, the MLA has created a format-agnostic approach to documentation meant to replace the “forbidding level of detail” that had turned the Handbook into “a reference work… rather than a guide that taught the principles underlying documentation” (MLA Handbook, xi).

There are many stylistic changes between an MLA 7 citation and an MLA 8 citation, however, the role of the citation remains the same - “enabling readers to participate fully in the conversations between writers and their sources” (MLA Handbook, xii). With this in mind, we ask you to reflect for a moment on your own source citation requirements. When it comes to the rules that govern academic style, has as an element of fetishism crept into your own thinking about citations?

The introduction to the MLA Handbook recognizes the importance of rules in documenting sources, but suggests that our use of MLA be guided by three principles:

  1. Cite simple traits shared by most works.
  2. Remember that there is often more than one correct way to document a source.
  3. Make your documentation useful to readers.

As writing handbooks, citation management software, and Library databases make the transition from one version of MLA style to the next, we hope that COD instructors will keep these principles in mind when requiring students to cite their sources - whether MLA, APA, Chicago or another style. Depending on whether a student has access to MLA 7 or MLA 8, a citation may include a URL, or it may not. A citation may read “edited by” or “Ed.” A citation may indicate the day a source was last accessed, or it may not. Perhaps these differences shouldn’t matter much in the college classroom.

For, if we accept that the purpose of a citation is to be useful to readers, then we must accept that variations in citation formatting do not undermine that purpose.

So, how should we, as an academic community, help our students both comprehend the conventions of scholarly communication and manage the challenges of college writing and research?

The COD Librarians offer these suggestions:

  • Be explicit in both your style and source documentation expectations. Do you want students to include a URL for all online sources regardless of whether a DOI is available? Do you expect to see a “last accessed” date included in Web site citations? Tell your students this.
  • Consider grading your students on the utility of their citations rather than their exactitude. A number of studies have shown that an over-emphasis on proper citation may actually be hurting the quality of college writing. Students spend a disproportionate amount of time agonizing over the “correct” way to format a citation when compared to the actual time spent reading and understanding the same sources. We can help lessen student research anxiety by de-emphasizing our focus on “perfect” citations.
  • Address plagiarism concerns via alternative methods. Librarians and scholars believe that our fixation on citation rules stems from our fear of plagiarism. What strategies can you employ that might reduce intentional and unintentional plagiarism? Your liaison librarian can work with you to craft scaffolded assignments, authentic research experiences and other options.

COD Librarians are your partners in teaching and learning. Let us know how we can help you help your students succeed.