New to SMU? Apply for your ID card today!

Lots of cars outside the residence building as move-in day commences, circa 2006.
Move-in day circa 2006.

Ah, move-in weekend.

The excitement!

The chaos!

The- hey, where’s your ID card?

Uh oh- did you forget to apply online, well in advance?

Your university ID card is so many things- your library card, your bus pass, your meal card for on-campus dining, and your ticket into the Homburg Centre (the gym), among other things. So, it’s a pretty important thing to have with you when you start at SMU!

This year, you’ll need to apply for your ID card through our online form by August 3 in order to pick it up on campus when you arrive. If you apply after August 3, or wait until you arrive on campus (yikes!), you’ll have a wait while we process your request- delaying your ability to access all the services your card allows.

Don’t let this be you! Be proactive and apply now. And don’t be shy- if you need help, just Ask Us. We’re happy to walk you through the process!

This Canada Day, Take a Deeper Dive into Canada’s History

July 1 is a chance to reflect on our country’s history, present, and future.

To do that, we need to educate ourselves- perhaps beyond what we’ve learned in school. Canadians of all demographics can learn more about our own country by exploring Canada’s history- the good and the bad- through numerous online resources.

You can find and access many of these resources for free, but if you’re currently a student, staff or faculty member at Saint Mary’s, you’ll have access to some of the following databases through the Library.

Critically Examining Your Sources

It’s worth noting that many of these are resources provided by the Canadian government, but there are a variety of perspectives that need to be considered when establishing an information source’s authority on a topic. There may be (and often is!) more to the story.

This does not mean we should trust sources that are untrustworthy, or that trustworthy sources can’t sometimes be incorrect. It simply means we must use our critical thinking skills to analyze a source from a critical perspective. Here are some questions to ask yourself when analyzing a source:

  • Who wrote it? Why? What makes them on expert on this topic? (It’s perfectly acceptable to Google names, institutions, etc. to find out more about an author or organization).
  • Is the information presented objectively (more or less), or does it present only one side of an issue? Does the author/organization benefit from presenting the info from a particular perspective?
  • What information is included, and what is excluded? (To know this, you’ll need to consult multiple sources on the topic).
  • Is it current? When was this information last updated?

You can find more info and questions to consider on the Library’s website.

For online information in particular, a handy approach is one called SIFT:

SIFT: Stop, Investigate the source, Find better coverage, Trace claims and media to the original context.

The following is a list of resources you can use to learn more about Canada’s past, present, and future, keeping in mind the critical thinking skills discussed here.

Statistics Canada

Statistics Canada makes key information available from the national statistical office. Canadians can access information about the country’s economy, society, environment and much more. Statistics Canada is a great database to use to explore Canadian statistics while also having the data needed to make effective evidence-based decisions. 

Government of Canada Publications

The Government of Canada Publications database hosts more than 400,900 digital publications that are accessible to you. If you have ever wanted to access the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, you can get it here. As well as multiple other documents ranging from Canadian building codes to Government responses to environment and social justice issues.

Canadian Business and Current Affairs

The Canadian Business and Current Affairs database provides users with large collection of materials discussing current affairs and business challenges in Canadian. The database features a range of publications, include scholarly journals, trade publications, magazines, reports, radio and television transcripts, news, and much more.

Canada’s Information Resource Centre

Canada’s Information Resource Centre (CIRC) is a database that hosts a wide collection of Canadian directories. Find important and need-to-know information about government and industry segments using the information provided by CIRC.

Canadian Census Analyzer  

You never know what you can find using the Canadian Census Analyzer database. Using census subdivisions (CSDs), you can access and create datasets that you’re interested in using recent Canadian census data.

Canadiana

The Canadiana/Heritage database offers you over two million pages of Canadian history. This database is dedicated to preserving and providing Canadians with access to heritage materials.

Check out this fabulous guide from Douglas College for more resources.

There are tons of ways to learn more about Canada’s history just by sitting at your computer- or by seeking out and learning from those who lived it.

If you can’t find something you’re looking for, feel free to reach out to the Library’s Research Help team. We’re always happy to assist!

Patrick Power Library opening for evening and weekend hours

Individual study space (tables and carrels) on the main floor of the library.

Are you a student in Halifax taking summer courses? Starting Monday, July 5th, the Library will be expanding to evening and weekend hours for individual bookable study spaces! Time slots available will be as follows:

Monday – Thursday:

  • 9 am-12 pm
  • 1-4 pm
  • 5-8 pm

Friday:

  • 9 am-12 pm
  • 1-4 pm

Saturday: Closed

Sunday:

  • 1-4 pm
  • 5-8 pm

Masks are required, and cleaning wipes will be provided for individuals to clean their own work station.

You can book study spaces (for current hours) on the Library’s webpage.

Why Lifelong Learning is Critical During National Indigenous History Month

Among the various visual elements illustrating Indigenous cultures, the sun (the summer solstice) is at the center which is at the heart of the festivities. The First Nations, Inuit and Métis as well as the four elements of nature (earth, water, fire and air) are represented in the image and shown opposite. The whole visual is supported by a multicolored smoke* reminding us of Indigenous spirituality but also the colors of the rainbow - symbol of inclusion and diversity of all First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities and their members.

*Smoke is used in different ways by all three Indigenous groups in Canada. Whether it is to smoke fish and meat, to burn sage and tobacco or for sacred ceremonies or celebrations, it is a significant symbol in Indigenous cultures.

Description of the three icons:
The eagle to represent the First Nations peoples
The narwhal to represent the Inuit peoples
The violin to represent the Métis peoples
National Indigenous History Month banner

June is National Indigenous History Month in Canada, a time for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people to reflect upon and learn about the unique histories, cultures, and heritages of First Nations, Inuit, and Metis communities. 

National Indigenous History Month is a call to action for settler-Canadians to improve our understanding of Canada’s colonial past and present. Additionally, National Indigenous History Month allows Canadians to express their genuine appreciation for the many contributions of Indigenous peoples and communities, and to celebrate the strength and resiliency of Indigenous peoples today, amidst the ongoing effects of colonization. 

At the Patrick Power Library, we are fortunate to foster a learning environment on the traditional and unceded land of the Mi’kmaq. In awknowledgement of this, we’ve highlighted a list of suggested action items for settler-Canadians to consider.

Settler-Canadian Action Items 

1. Whose land do you live on? 

You’ve probably heard of land acknowledgments, which often take place at the beginning of an event. Genuine and well thought out land acknowledgments recognize the people upon whose land we live, work and play. Learn more about land acknowledgments and why they are important. Also, visit https://native-land.ca/ and use the interactive map to learn and explore! 

2. Read the Truth and Reconciliation Report

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was established in 2008. It provided those impacted by the Indian Residential School system an opportunity to make their voices heard and detail how the Canadian government can enact change and facilitate reconciliation. The final report was released in 2015 with 94 calls to action. The Canadian government has so far completed only ten.

3. Do some research 

The Patrick Power Library has plenty of resources and materials to help you research Indigenous history and cultures. You’ll find tons of great resources on the Indigenous Studies LibGuide. Here are just a few of many great resources you might explore, depending on your area of interest:

Database: 

Archives: 

Journals: 

EBooks: 

Web Resources  

We know that finding information on a topic that may be new to you can be overwhelming. Don’t hesitate to contact the Library’s Research Help Team if you’re looking for information, even if it’s for general interest and not for an assignment.

4. Show your Support

Settler-Canadians are responsible for our personal commitments to working towards reconciliation. You can show this commitment by following the action items above, as well as donating to local Indigenous organizations or following local activists on social media. Below are some resources to help guide you on ways you can show your support. 

True North Aid – Canadian Charities Helping Indigenous Communities in Canada 

HuffPost – Indigenous Canadians On Instagram Celebrate Their Culture Beautifully 

It’s vital to keep listening and learning about Indigenous history, particlarly as settlers. National Indigenous History Month can help us celebrate Indigenous brilliance and success; recognize and acknowledge the realities of intergenerational trauma; and work towards a brighter, more just future for all.  

This list was adapted from the action items listed on www.OnCanadaProject.ca/SettlersTakeAction. Please visit this website for more information. 

Some Resources for Learning about Residential Schools in Canada

Every child matters.

The recent discovery of the unmarked burial ground in Kamloops B.C has prompted many Canadians to think about and reflect on our knowledge (or lack thereof) about residential schools in Canada.

Starting in the 1800s and running until 1996, residential schools were established by Christian churches and sponsored by the Canadian government to assimilate Indigenous children into the Euro-Canadian culture. Many Indigenous children, families, and communities suffered as a direct result of the residential school system.

If we are to help create a more just and equitable future, it is crucuial for non-Indigenous people to understand the impact of residential schools on Indigenous peoples and communities. If you’ve been reading the news and find yourself unsure about the meaning of terms like “Indian Residential School”, “60s Scoop”, “Indian Day School” or “Millennium Scoop” (to name just a few), here are some helpful resources you can use as a starting point to learn more about residential schools and the resulting intergenerational trauma that many Indigenous people continue to live with today.

Websites:

Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada

Secret Path

Videos (login with your S number and password to view some of these):

Residential Schools in Canada – A Timeline

Cold Journey

Stories are in Our Bones

Indian Horse

We Were Children

Ebooks (login with your S number and password to view):

Broken circle: the dark legacy of Indian residential schools: a memoir by Theodore Fontaine

A knock on the door: the essential history of residential schools by Phil Fontaine

They came for the children Canada, Aboriginal peoples, and residential schools by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada

Canada’s Residential Schools: Missing children and unmarked burials by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada

“A national crime”: the Canadian government and the residential school system, 1879 to 1986 by John Sheridan Milloy and Mary Jane McCallum

Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese 

“Many people have said over the years…”Why can’t you just get over it and move on?” “My answer has always been: “Why can’t you always remember this?” Because this is about memorializing those people who have been the victims of a great wrong… We should never forget, even once they have learned from it, because it’s part of who we are. It’s not just a part of who we are as survivors and children of survivors and relatives of survivors, it’s part of who we are as a nation. And this nation must never forget what it once did to its most vulnerable people.”

– Murray Sinclair

5 Ways the Library Can Help Improve Your Academic Achievement

SMU graduates from previous convocations.

Convocation is this week, and most likely, if you’re a graduating student, you know about the Patrick Power Library and some of the services we provide. However, what you may not know is how these services can significantly impact your overall academic achievement during your time at Saint Mary’s University. 

A significant amount of evidence shows a positive correlation between student library use and grade point average (GPA). “Library use” could mean you are checking out print materials, accessing articles through Novanet, or browsing some of our available journals or databases. A study conducted by DeeAnn Allison (2015) found that undergraduates with higher GPAs had 50% more material checkouts and a 41% higher usage rate of databases than those with a lower GPA. 

As students, maintaining a competitive GPA can help you to create more postgraduate earnings and opportunities (Allison, 2015). The Library can help you stay on a path towards success by helping you navigate and utilize the library services to avoid challenges and meet your academic goals.

Here are five ways that using the Library can help you improve your academic achievement. Or, if you’re a recent graduate, here’s how the Patrick Power Library may have already helped you on your way to success! 

1. Providing Online and Print Materials  

The Patrick Power Library has plenty of online and print materials that you, as students, can utilize during your time at Saint Mary’s University. These materials range from peer-reviewed online articles to ebooks to physical books from our print collections that you’re able to use. Accessing and exploring these resources is an excellent first step when building the foundations of a great research project. 

2. Available Journals and Databases 

If you visit the Patrick Power Library website, you will notice that we offer students the ability to search for Journals A-Z and Databases A-Z. As you can imagine, there is a lot of available information using these resources! The Patrick Power Library staff want to ensure that you, as students, have as much access to materials that will allow you to reach academic goals.  

3. Subject Guides 

If you don’t know where to start, the Patrick Power Library has various Subject Guides that can help you find information and easily navigate the library resources to find relevant information. Subject Guides outline materials and resources for specific subject areas, making it easy for you, as students, to find what you need. Searching for a Guide that suits your course is a great way to start exploring information and developing a research topic. 

4. Research Help  

Can’t find the article you’re looking for? Do you need help navigating a database? We are here to help! The Library’s Research Help service is designed to help you develop a strong research topic, improve your search strategy, search for materials, and help you to evaluate and find helpful information. The instant chat service connects you directly with a library staff member who can help you with any questions you may have or direct you to the resource or service you need. Learn more or reach out to Research Help using the link provided below:

https://www.smu.ca/academics/research-help.html

5. Library Instruction Workshops

The Patrick Power Library also provides you with helpful workshops that can improve your academic performance. A recent study found that students who engaged with library instruction workshops saw an increase in their overall GPA (Gaha et al., 2018). So, we highly recommend attending one! Workshop topics may include general instructions about library services and resources or specific to a subject or assignment you are working on. 

The Patrick Power Library is committed to helping you pursue your academic achievement goals to set yourself up for future success. However, it is important to note that your GPA is not the only thing that can define academic success. Engaging with the Patrick Power Library services can also help you buld the essential skills and knowledge needed to thrive in a workplace or postgraduate environment. Research skills are valuable now, but also for life beyond university.

If you are a recent student graduate, congratulations! We hope the library services have been supportive of your hard work and academic aspirations. If you are continuing your studies here at Saint Mary’s, please know that our services are always here for you. The Patrick Power library offers plenty of services that are still available online.

References

Allison, DeeAnn. (2015). Measuring the Academic Impact of Libraries. Portal (Baltimore, Md.), 15(1), 29-40.

Gaha, Ula, Hinnefeld, Suzanne, & Pellegrino, Catherine. (2018). The Academic Library’s Contribution to Student Success: Library Instruction and GPA. College & Research Libraries, 79(6), 737-746.

Library’s Successful Research Toolkit starts May 10

Are you a Research Assistant, Teaching Assistant or grad student who would benefit from research training? Sign up for the Research Toolkit workshops, happening virtually May 10-13.

Research assistants, teaching assistants, and graduate students, take note: the library’s Research Toolkit workshops are back!

Running next week, from May 10-13, the Research Toolkit workshops are a great opportunity for students to connect with information experts and with other students, as well as a chance to ask questions and expand their research skills and knowledge. This year’s line-up includes presentations on creating a literature review, finding and using data, and even includes two sessions from staff in the Software & Application Support Centre (SAS) on Microsoft Excel.

Here’s the full Research Toolkit – Spring 2021 Schedule:

Monday, May 10, 2021

11:00 – 12:15 Navigating the Library: Strategies for Successful Research – Heather Sanderson

This workshop will help you research more efficiently and get up to speed in new areas more quickly. It will discuss the research process and the ways faculty stay current in their fields. Topics covered include basic and advanced database skills, document delivery, journal and search alerts and more. This session will set you up for the sessions that follow.

2:00 – 3:15 Internet Expertise for Researchers 101 – Cindy Harrigan

This session will focus on how to find useful, quality information for academic or scholarly research, using Google and Google Scholar. Topics covered will include: Grey literature, search strategies, and tips on how to evaluate search results. 

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

11:00 – 12:15 Researching the Literature Review – Heather Sanderson

Building on the two previous sessions, this session will focus on the literature review: what they are, where they appear, how they are organized. Then we will cover several key tools and strategies, such as citation searching, that will help you be more comprehensive and systematic in your literature searches.

2:00 – 3:15 File Management and Introduction to Excel – Sarah Cooke and Matthew Salah (SAS)

In this workshop, participants will learn best practices for file naming and folder organization using Microsoft OneDrive. Participants will then be given an introductory tour through Microsoft Excel and learn basic skills like creating tables and using basic functions.

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

11:00 – 12:15 Managing your Research with RefWorks – Cindy Harrigan

RefWorks is a citation management tool that enables you to manage bibliographic references as you research and automatically create bibliographies using a wide variety of citation styles. Topics covered in this session will include creating an account, setting up folders, adding references, generating bibliographies, inserting citations into an essay, and sharing your citations with other researchers.

2:00 – 3:15 Excelling with Excel: Beyond the Basics – Sarah Cooke and Matthew Salah (SAS)

In this workshop, participants will learn strategies for working with both qualitative and quantitative data in Excel. Participants will be introduced to advanced functions, data tools, and features that support statistical analysis.

Thursday, May 13, 2021

11:00 – 12:15 Show Me the Numbers: Stats and Data Discovery Tools to Support your Research – Joyce Thomson

This session will focus on key concepts and challenges in finding data and statistics for your research as well as several useful places and strategies to explore, particularly for survey data from Statistics Canada.

2:00 – 3:15 Scholarly Journal Quality and Open Access – Peter Webster

This session will focus on how to identify scholarly journal quality, a key skill for researchers and authors. Topics covered will include the various impact measures in use and strategies to identify the “best” articles in a subject area, as well as the benefits of open access and how to avoid predatory journals.

You can register for the workshops at https://forms.office.com/r/nVHsyR2EgF

Still have questions? Contact Information Literacy Librarian, Heather Sanderson (heather.sanderson@smu.ca) or Instructional Development Librarian, Cindy Harrigan (cindy.harrigan@smu.ca) for more info.

Furthering Digital Accessibility: An Ongoing Journey

This is a guest post by Harriette L. Spiegel, Ph.D, a Fulbright Canada 2020-2021 Scholar and Research Chair, who is here at Saint Mary’s from the University of Tennessee at Martin studying digital accessibility.

Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

Before laws were passed regarding digital accessibility (in the U.S. we have the Americans With Disabilities Act or ADA, Section 508 for information technology, and state laws), students who used online course resources had to put up with the barriers to their learning that were caused by inaccessible computer output. Just as it took a while for the focus to turn to digital accessibility (from the physical accessibility considerations) in the U. S., the recently-passed accessibility legislation in Canada similarly has a timetable that puts the focus on information technology a few years away (the “Access by Design 2030: Achieving an Accessible Nova Scotia” document at https://novascotia.ca/accessibility/access-by-design/).

Digital Accessibility is an umbrella for ensuring that all consumers of computer output will not face barriers in seeking information. So, for instance, a computer user who cannot rely on sight to understand the content of an image on a document, but instead listens to a screen reader read out the content of the document, needs to have an alternative means to understanding the image. The creator of the document can easily provide this alternative means by adding “alternative text” (“alt text” for short) to the document. This is done by right-clicking the image or graphic, selecting the “Alt Text” option and filling in the information that explains the content of the image.  There is an option for “mark as decorative,” and this is useful with images that have no content but are purely decorative.  The screen reader ignores this “decorative” image, and no barrier to information is encountered.

For any other category of physical impairment that impacts one’s access to information, such as a hearing impairment that negates the usefulness of sound in a video or audio file, there are other tips and tricks that the creator of the file can use to provide an alternative means of delivering the information. Thus, the thoughtful creator of videos includes captions or transcripts of the information. The creator of a course or page in a learning management system (LMS) will make sure that the documents that are loaded into the LMS are created with “accessibility in mind” (https://webaim.org/), as advocates of Digital Accessibility urge. The creator will strive to present all course information clearly and simply, avoiding confusion for users with learning disabilities.

What does Digital Accessibility mean for the faculty or staff member? Most fortunate university members have a resource on their campus that assists in creating digital output. At Saint Mary’s, you have the Studio for Teaching and Learning- if you are not sure how to create that accessible document, all you have to do is ask.

Some basic guidelines for ensuring Digital Accessibility include starting your “accessibility journey” from the beginning. Do not try to retrofit a document – such as a syllabus or committee report; you will likely end up with a bigger mess. Most computer applications provide the buttons and tools to use to produce digitally accessible documents. The main “best practices” include Alt Text, Headings made with Styles, Meaningful Links, Accessible Tables, Accessible PowerPoint, and use of captions or transcripts with media.

The wonderful term at Saint Mary’s University has been so eye-opening for me. It is easy to become so immersed in one’s own interests, that we forget all the other perspectives out there. For instance, comments and questions during my several presentations included other applications besides Word – of course Digital Accessibility is the goal of all computer applications. Most applications have a form of an Accessibility Checker. We do have to put up with version changes and “improvements,” of course – no sooner do I learn how to use a particular tool, than it is “improved,” and I have to learn all over again. It’s okay to ask for help when you need it.

Thank you for all your input during my explorations and presentations, and for your interest in completing the faculty/staff survey. The survey will close on April 15, 2021 (see the Wed., March 17, 2021 email that you received, for the link).

More study space, more research support over the long weekend

Got a date with some final papers this long weekend? We’ve got you covered! The library will be open for regular individual study space bookings from Friday, April 2- Monday, April 5.

Sticking close to home, but still working on assignments? The Research Help Team will be online from 9 am – 7 pm on Friday, April 2 and Monday, April 5, and 1-5 pm on Saturday, April 3, to help you with your library and research-related questions.

Travel to China with Dr. Eric Henry

At a time when many of us are missing international travel, the next Faculty Author Series event might help fill that void.

On March 25 at noon, travel via Zoom to Shenyang, China, with Dr. Eric Henry, Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology. Dr. Henry will discuss his new book, The Future Conditional, and his twelve years of research on the globalization of the English language.

In particular, the book explores why and how English has become so important in China, and what effect this fascination with learning English has had on Shenyang, the largest city in China’s Northeast.

“I taught English in China after my masters as a way to learn Mandarin and make a bit of money,” explains Dr. Henry. “Everyone wanted to talk about English and treated me as an expert. I started to wonder, why is it a national project to teach everyone English? Why is it such an important part of people’s lives, even for people who don’t need it?”

While this phenomenon is often studied from a linguistics lens, Dr. Henry’s approach is from an anthropological perspective. What does learning English mean to Chinese speakers? What does the ability to speak English represent in contemporary China? How has English become a lucrative commodity?

Dr. Henry also notes that there are lots of types of English in China, including words and phrases that are unfamiliar to native English speakers. According to Dr. Henry, this raises questions about how languages evolve within cultures, and which “versions” are considered “right”: “Correctness is really the result of perspective, position, and authority”.

The Future Conditional will be available through the SMU Library later this year, and is currently available for pre-order.

Register for this event.