Donohue Rare Book Room Reopening Celebration

The Thomas Jefferson Collection at the Library of Congress

The Thomas Jefferson Collection at the Library of Congress

Please join the Gleeson Library on September 8 as it celebrates the reopening of the Donohue Rare Book Room following a fifteen-month renovation. The University will welcome Mark Dimunation, Chief of the Rare Book and Special Collections Division at the Library of Congress, who will give an illustrated talk on “Jefferson’s Enlightenment: Reconstructing the Thomas Jefferson Collection at the Library of Congress.” Mark Dimunation is responsible for the development and management of the largest collection of rare books in North America. At the Library of Congress he acquires materials, develops programs, and oversees the operations of the Division. Prior to arriving at the Library of Congress he was Curator of Rare Books and Associate Director for Collections in the Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections at Cornell University. He specializes in eighteenth and nineteenth-century English and American printing history and is featured often on National Public Radio.

The program will take place on Monday, September 8, at 4:00 p.m. in Fromm Hall and will be followed by an open house in the Donohue Rare Book Room. For further information, please call (415) 422-2036.

John Hawk
Head Librarian, Special Collections and University Archives

Looking for a Textbook?


We know textbooks can break the bank! Here are some options to getting them for free or on the cheap.

• Search by title, author, or ISBN in the library’s catalog to see if USF owns a copy.

• Check to see if your instructor has put a copy on reserve in the library. Search here by instructor’s name or by course number. If you don’t see it, ask your instructor to put a copy on reserve.

• Purchase or rent a textbook from the USF Bookstore.

• Request a copy from another library via Link+ for free. Copies arrive to USF within 4 business days.

• Submit an interlibrary loan request to borrow a copy from a different library (can take longer than using Link+).

• Compare prices at different retailers with the Textbook Deal Finder.

Have any other tips? Leave them in the comments!

Tours of the Library

Curious about Gleeson Library? Want to learn more about us?

Join us on a library tour!  A library staff member will take you around the library and tell about the building and the services we have that can help you here at USF. Each tour lasts about 30 minutes.

Library tours are offered:

Tuesday  August 19th @ 12 noon  
Wednesday August 20th @ 4pm  
Thursday August 21st @ 11am  
Friday August 22nd @ 3:30pm  
Saturday August 23rd @ 1pm
There is no need to sign up–just come into the library, past the turnstiles, and we’ll meet in the lobby.

Professional Development Leave – Gleeson Library Style

ImageThanks to the Professional Development Leave program, USF’s Gleeson Library librarians are eligible to apply for a research leave to engage in intensive research. For my professional development leave in 2012 I created Habobib, a bibliography of publications by and about Habonim Dror, an international Jewish youth movement. In conjunction with formulating the bibliography, I also began the process of developing an online repository of Habonim Dror publications.

Continue reading

Wikipedia vs. Peer Reviewed Sources

We’ve all done it… You want to garner a quick overview of a topic, so without thinking you drop the terms in a Google search, click on the hit to Wikipedia, and engage in information gathering.

Of course most of us have at least considered the credibility (or lack thereof) of the information, although we still go to Wikipedia as if by default.

Here in the library, we like to use errors/hoaxes on Wikipedia and the prejudiced editing of Wikipedia articles as learning points, with a plug to our subscribed online encyclopedias. But we know students will use Wikipedia just as we all do.

It all still begs the question: How credible is Wikipedia?

wikipedia debate

In 2005 the peer-reviewed journal Nature published an article comparing the accuracy of entries on specific science topics in Encyclopædia Britannica and Wikipedia [click here to access the article through the library's subscription to Nature], a story picked up by many national news outlets, including CNET. The Nature authors say:

The exercise revealed numerous errors in both encyclopaedias, but among 42 entries tested, the difference in accuracy was not particularly great: the average science entry in Wikipedia contained around four inaccuracies; Britannica, about three.

In an interesting study of dueling empirical methods, Encyclopædia Britannica took Nature to task and refuted their findings in their own study, available through this link. (For further information on the duel, check out this timeline from the UC system.)

Nonetheless, many took Nature’s proclamation to mean we could, more or less, rely on the information gleaned from Wikipedia. Personally, I took this to confirm that there is no one “truth” and that the credibility of “facts” will always be debated based on someone’s viewpoint.

Now, almost a decade since Nature kicked off the squabble, the peer-reviewed Journal of the Osteopathic Association has found the opposite [click here to read the article through the library's subscription to JAOA], a story picked up by the Daily Mail and other media outlets. The JAOA authors say:

Most Wikipedia articles representing the 10 most costly medical conditions in the United States contain many errors when checked against standard peer-reviewed sources. Caution should be used when using Wikipedia to answer questions regarding patient care. 

And thus, the pendulum swings the other way. As the Daily Mail says, “Do NOT try to diagnose yourself on Wikipedia!” and with that, the (lack of) credibility of Wikipedia is again introduced into our collective consciousness.

I find that Wikipedia is great for stuff that will never make it into the Encyclopædia Britannica, for example the Berghain in Berlin (“the best club in the world”), and that it’s helpful for doing pre-research: getting my acronyms straight, deconstructing my search topic into related terms, confirming what year something took place. I then use this information to go elsewhere, to my trusted sources that I consider credible.

What do you think? When do you go to Wikipedia and when do you go elsewhere? What are your alternatives to Wikipedia? Leave your thoughts in the comments.