The Archivist’s Nook: Catherine Ann Cline – An Historian for All Seasons

Catherine Cline with CUA President, William J. Byron, S.J. ca. 1990. Catherine Ann Cline Papers, Special Collections, The Catholic University of America.

March is Women’s History Month, so why not celebrate a pioneering woman who was an historian: Catherine Ann Cline, distinguished scholar of Great Britain in the twentieth century and former chair of the History Department at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.  She was especially interested in the rise of the British Labour Party and the roots of the British appeasement of Fascism in the wake of the controversial Treaty of Versailles that ended the First World War. Cline was also a gifted teacher of erudition who mentored many students as well as being a lover of the arts. Her archival papers are among those of many notable History department faculty along with those from other disciplines at Catholic University housed in Special Collections.

Cline’s framed clipping of the so called ‘Lost Battalion’ in which her father served in the First World War. This is the name given to the nine companies of the 77th Division, about 550 men, isolated by German forces after an American attack in the Argonne Forest in October 1918. Nearly 200 were rescued but the remainder were killed, captured, or missing. Catherine Ann Cline Papers, Special Collections, The Catholic University of America.

Cline was born on July 27, 1927 in West Springfield, Massachusetts, to Daniel E. Cline and Agnes Howard. She earned a B.A. from Smith College in 1948, an M.A. from Columbia University in 1950, and a Ph.D. from Bryn Mawr College, where she worked with Felix Gilbert. She taught at a number of universities between 1953 and 1968: Smith College, St. Mary’s College of Indiana, and Notre Dame College of Staten Island. In 1968, Cline became an associate professor of history at Catholic University and rose to full Professor in 1974. She served as Chair of the History Department from 1973 to 1976 and again from 1979 to 1982. Noted for her integrity, and in recognition of her long service to Catholic U she was awarded the Papal Benemerenti Medal on April 10, 1995, Catholic U’s Founders Day. She continued teaching at CUA until her death in 2006 after a long illness.

Book cover of Catherine Cline’s 1963 book exploring the rise of the British Labour Party. Catherine Ann Cline Papers, Special Collections, The Catholic University of America.

Cline was an expert in modern British history, especially the early twentieth century and the rise of the Labour Party. She was the author of the book Recruits to Labour: The British Labour Party, 1914-1931 (1963). It was an innovative prosopography of nearly seventy political converts in the era of the First World War who reshaped Labour’s domestic and foreign policy in the postwar environment.  Cline’s second book, E. D. Morel, 1873–1924, The Strategies of Protest (1981), is an authoritative political biography of an outspoken reformer who demanded democratic control over British diplomacy. He was jailed during the war by the British government for his anti-war activism.[1] Morel is also notable for defeating Winston Churchill in the 1922 Parliamentary election, taking Churchill’s Scottish seat in Dundee and effectively knocking Churchill out of the Liberal Party. Churchill only found has way back into Parliament later as a Conservative.

Cover of Catherine Cline’s 1981 biography of Labour reformer E. D. Morel. Catherine Ann Cline Papers, Special Collections, The Catholic University of America.

Cline’s third area of research, published in articles in The Journal of Modern History and Albion and presented in papers at scholarly conferences, examined British public opinion and the Treaty of Versailles. Seeking the roots of British appeasement, she uncovered ways that British elites promoted a negative view of the peace treaty and their impact on interwar diplomacy. She also wrote numerous articles and book reviews for the American Historical Review, Catholic Historical Review, and Church History. Additionally, she was a research fellow of the American Philosophical Society and a member of the Faculty Seminar on African History at Columbia University as well as a member of the American Historical Association, the American Catholic Historical Association, and the Conference Group on British Studies. She served on several prize committees of these organizations.[2]

Her former colleague and distinguished professor of British history in his own right, Dr. Lawrence Poos, described Cline as:

“Cathy Cline was instrumental in my being hired as a faculty member in the History Department, and what I remember of my first impression of her is what remained throughout her career here and after her retirement: personally and professionally she was gracious, in an old school sense (and I mean that as a most sincere compliment).  Even when she was strongly opposed to something, she would find the right occasion to make her opinions clear in the proper setting.  She was also famous for the New Year’s breakfast (really, brunch) she hosted in her apartment each year, in homage (so we always understood) to the famous salon-style breakfasts and conversations of Victorian Prime Minister William Gladstone.”[3]

In conclusion, while I only met her briefly a few times on campus, I was most impressed by her first published work, before she emerged as a scholar of modern Britain, which was an excellent 1952 article [4] on the coal fields of eastern Pennsylvania, a subject near and dear to my heart. It always struck me that the gain to British labour history was a loss to American labor history!

[1] Carole Fink, February 1, 2006. American Historical Association web site- https://www.historians.org/publications-and-directories/perspectives-on-history/february-2006/in-memoriam-catherine-ann-cline

[2] Ibid.

[3] Poos to Shepherd, email, March 3, 2020.

[4] Cline, Catherine Ann. ‘Priest in the Coal Fields, The Story of Father Curran,’ Records of the American Catholic Historical Society of Philadelphia, Vol. 63, No. 2 (June 1952), pp. 67-84.

The Archivist’s Nook: Dr. Maria Mazzenga named 2020 Belanger Awardee

Dr. Maria Mazzenga, the Libraries’ Curator for American Catholic History Collections, has been selected as the recipient of the Edward J. Belanger Jr. Staff Award for Excellence in Service for 2020.

One of her nominations cited her accomplishments and collegiality:

She has tirelessly performed endless modes of outreach to archives colleagues, library staff, the CU community and well beyond. From giving tours to making presentations (especially since COVID), serving on committees to writing websites and blog posts, she continuously promotes the history of the American Catholic experience, especially via the holdings of library’s special collections. … [She] is a great work compatriot, smart, funny, and energetic.

Another wrote:

[She] brings expertise and enthusiasm to any task that furthers the public’s knowledge of and access to primary sources and original research. And most importantly for these times, her past and current work has well-positioned Special Collections to rapidly adapt to online instruction and virtual reference.

Ed Belanger worked for the university for over 40 years before retiring in 2002 as the Libraries’ business manager. His service and dedication to his fellow staff was extraordinary, and he was one of the most positive, up-beat, and good natured people you will ever meet. After his retirement, his children made a donation to the Libraries for the creation of an award in his honor. Each year the Libraries select a staff member of the year who not only contributes outstanding service to the library but also shares Ed’s good nature. Past honorees serve as the award committee, selecting from among nominations submitted by library staff.

The Archivist’s Nook: The Priestly Labors of John M. Hayes

Guest author is Steve Rosswurm, Professor of History, Emeritus, at Lake Forest College, and author of The FBI and the Catholic Church (2009), The CIO’s Left-Led Unions (1992), and Arms, Country and Class (1987). 

Fr. John M. Hayes, n.d. Special Collections, Catholic University.

Archbishop Wilton Gregory, recently named the first Afro-American cardinal of the Church, more than once has pointed to Monsignor John M. Hayes (1906-2002) as the cleric who inspired him to become a priest.  Prior to that, Hayes also had “attracted” another young man to the Catholic priesthood: the sociologist and novelist Father Andrew Greeley, who dedicated Golden Years, part of the O’Malley family saga, to the monsignor.

Hayes did much in Chicago besides influencing Gregory and Greeley.  He served for years at St. Carthage, where he first encountered the Gregory family, and for even longer at Epiphany from he retired in 1976.  He was involved in the civil rights movement – heading up a group of priests who went to Selma in 1965 – and other social justice issues.  He was named a monsignor in 1963.

The four years that Hayes spent at the Social Action Department (SAD) of the National Catholic Welfare Conference, though, are often forgotten. This installment of the archivist’s nook focuses on his tenure there.

For two reasons, Hayes was the only person the SAD considered for their new position.  First, as a Chicago labor priest mentored by Monsignor Reynold Hillenbrand, he had actively supported union organizing drives and strikes.  Hayes, moreover, had taught at Catholic labor schools and participated in the Catholic Worker movement.  His talk in 1938 at Summer School for Social action for Priests not only nicely summarized the possibilities for social-action work for priests, but also solidified his reputation throughout the country.

Fr. Raymond McGowan, Director of the NCWC Social Action Department, with Linna Bresette, and two unidentified men, n.d. Special Collections, Catholic University.

Second, Hayes was well suited for SAD’s future plans.   It had spear-headed the Church’s turn to the Catholic working class that had begun in 1935.  This move, a way to “restore all things in Christ” by implementing Catholic social teaching as laid out in Rerum Novarum (1891) and Quadragesimo Anno (1931), focused on educating and supporting clerics in the drive for unionization in industries where Catholics comprised a large proportion of workers.  As a way of doing this, the SAD had organized and overseen priests’ labor schools throughout the country.  It also had acted as a clearing house and organizing center for labor priests’ local activities, especially in the industrial heartland.  The SAD staff, including Monsignor John A. Ryan and Father Raymond McGowan, were spread thin by the time Hayes arrived in 1940.

Hayes accomplished at least three significant things during his tenure at the SAD from 1940 through early 1944.  One of his first acts proved to be the longest lasting and most significant.  On December 1, 1940, the first issue of Social Action Notes for Priests appeared.  For clerics only, this newsletter connected labor priests throughout the country, keeping them informed, notifying them of resources, boosting their spirits, and, influencing their thinking.  By June, 1944, about 700 were on the subscription list; that number more than doubled in the next two years and continued to grow well into the 1950s.

Second, Hayes engaged in an extraordinary correspondence with labor priests throughout the country.  In an effort to search out the names of priests interested in social action, he wrote inquiry letters to many areas of the country.  He also sent out detailed questionnaires concerning clerical labor activity and provided summary reports in Social Action Notes.

A later issue of Social Acton Notes for Priests. Special Collections, Catholic University.

Much of Hayes’ correspondence, though, originated in response to letters from throughout the country.  Labor priests, both veterans and novices, wrote to him because he had information and answers.  Hayes provided advice, shared resources and contacts, spread the news about successes and defeats, and offered encouragement. When necessary, moreover, he intervened in the internecine warfare that periodically broke out in Catholic labor circles.

Amidst all this work, finally, Hayes produced a remarkable paper: “Priests and Reconstruction – a Few Thoughts.”  Derived from Hayes’ immersion in CIO organizing campaigns in Chicago, his study of current economic conditions, and his work with Hillenbrand, “Priests and Reconstruction” decisively re-conceptualized Catholic thinking about society and salvation.

Catherine Schaefer; Fr Raymond McGowan, Fr George Higgins. n.d. Special Collections, Catholic University

Hayes began with “radical evils” in America’s “economic side of life” because they were both “fundamental and causative.”  The “physical results” of these evils – some institutional and others individual – were an “inequitable distribution of property” and “inadequate incomes.”  The “resulting spiritual loss” was sizeable: “economic immorality” involved “at least in some cases, serious sin;” “the working out of the system” leaves “people so materially depressed as to handicap virtuous living” or “impels the well-to-do and others to obsession with business or dishonesty and injustice.”  “[S]piritual losses” were “accentuated” among the “poor” and ‘reformers,’ Hayes argued, when the Church was “indifferent to, or ineffective in, attacking the causes, not to speak of alleviating existing hardships.”

How ought the Church and its clergy respond?  “[I]ndividual righteousness,” of course, deserved attention, but, drawing upon Papal teaching, Hayes argued that “We should influence social-economic life, directly and indirectly.”  It was true that “Church exists” to “unite men with God in Heaven,” but this was a “long earth-bound process.”  The work of “building a good natural order” could “not be distinguished in practice” from that of “enhancing supernatural life.”

Hayes’ assertion that the road to salvation was a “long earth-bound process” meant not a retreat from the world into spiritual enclaves, but rather a courageous encounter with it was an extraordinarily important insight and breakthrough.  “Priests and Reconstruction” more generally indicated the theological and sociological bases upon which the Church would operate for the next decade or so.

Hayes, however, was not at the SAD during that period.  Sometime in late 1943 or early 1944, he was diagnosed with tuberculosis, so, at his doctor’s recommendation, he went to San Antonio, which the pro-CIO Bishop Robert E. Lucey headed.  There, after recovering, he taught at Incarnate Word University, served as Lucey’s social action director, and regularly wrote columns for the diocesan paper.  In 1953, he returned to Chicago.

Coda.  Another Chicago priest, Father George Higgins, replaced Hayes at the SAD and remained there until 1980.  For many of those years, he chaired the department.

 

The Archivist’s Nook: Pre-Vatican II Pamphlet Spotlight – Getting into the Christmas Spirit!

As we approach the Fourth Sunday of Advent, many of us are preparing for Christmas in a variety of ways. Everything from putting up decorations and baking cookies to attending Mass more frequently and receiving the Sacrament of Confession on a more regular basis. This is a season of penance and abstinence, joy and hope! To celebrate this most holy season, the Catholic University Special Collections would like to share a number of beautiful items from our Pre-Vatican II Pamphlet Collection! These small yet stunning pieces give us a glimpse into Christmas past, a peek into the traditions and observances of Catholics before the Second Vatican Council. Although I will only be focusing on five of our pamphlets, this post is in no way exhaustive of our collection. I invite you to take a look through our online database, which you can browse through our over 12,000 pamphlets: https://libraries.catholic.edu/special-collections/rare-books/pre-vatican-ii-pamphlets.html

Christmas – the Gift of God!

Christmas – the Gift of God!, 1951. ACHA Records, Special Collections, Catholic University.

The first pamphlet that I would like to feature is from the Paulist Press. Written in 1951 by Rev. James M. Gillis, C.S.P., this brief booklet packs quite the punch! Fr. Gillis outlines the historical and theological background of Christmas, with each section addressing a particular question or controversy. He answers hard-hitting questions such as “Is Christmas Pagan?”, “Christ or Bacchus?”, and “Is God a Sphinx?”[1]. Each section is not terribly long, but Fr. Gillis is able to address common misconceptions regarding the holy-day with deft and depth. Theologically hefty, this little pamphlet explains Christmas within the Catholic context, drawing on the Church Fathers, writings of the Saints, and the teachings of the Magisterium. The pamphlet concludes with the lyrics to a number of popular Christmas songs hymns, the majority of which are still enjoyed today, including “O Come, All Ye Faithful”, “O Holy Night” and “The First Noel”.

The Gifts of Christmas

The Gifts of Christmas, 1943. ACHA Records, Special Collections, Catholic University.
The Gifts of Christmas, 1943. ACHA Records, Special Collections, Catholic University.

The second pamphlet that I would like to draw to your attention is from our sub-collection of pamphlets for children. This one was written by Rev. Daniel A. Lord S.J., who features heavily in our pamphlet collection, in 1943. This pamphlet is downright gorgeous, filled with full-color illustrations and pop-outs that are surely engaging for children (and this technician!). The pamphlet recalls the Nativity story in an easy to understand way, while also pointing to Christ’s presence in the Mass and the story of St. Nicholas. The illustrations make use of paper windows and a three-dimensional Christmas tree, making it seem almost like a picture book!

The Christmas Lamb

The Christmas Lamb, 1942. ACHA Records, Special Collections, Catholic University.

This pamphlet is another work of Fr. Lord’s, being published in 1942 by The Queen’s Work. Although this one is not as colorful as the last pamphlet, the cover is richly decorated with gold ink, and depictions of the Blessed Mother and Baby Jesus surrounded by lambs and angels. Fr. Lord retells the Nativity story, but in a very poetic way, almost lyrical. It seems that this pamphlet was meant to be given as a gift to someone, as there is space to write one’s name in the front cover after “That the Lamb of God may be The Joy of Your Christmas is the sincere hope of:” [2]. What a wonderful alternative to a traditional Christmas card!

Devotions for the Christmas and the Epiphany Season

Devotions for Christmas and the Epiphany Season, 1954. ACHA Records, Special Collections, Catholic University.

This fourth pamphlet was written by Rev. Philip T. Weller in 1954 and published through Saint Pius X Press in Berwyn, Maryland. A slightly less ornate pamphlet than the previous three, but nonetheless, still beautiful with a green cover featuring a delightful rendering of the Nativity. Inside, the text is more technical than our other examples, this being a prayer service outline with the words spoken by the priest celebrating and the responses of the congregation. It also includes instructions for the congregation as when to stand, kneel, and sit, along with instructions for the priest. The pamphlet directs the Celebrant to “place[s] the image of the Infant in its place, kneels and incenses the Crib, and says the following prayer:”[3]. The pamphlet ends with the Magnificat, O Salutaris, Tantum Ergo, the Divine Praises, and finally the Star of the Sea prayer.

The King’s Jongleur: A Medieval Christmas Play in Three Acts

The King’s Jongleur, 1936. ACHA Records, Special Collections, Catholic University.
The King’s Jongleur, 1936. ACHA Records, Special Collections, Catholic University.

The last pamphlet that I will be featuring is different from the rest, but that is why I think it is worth mentioning! Written by Sister Mary Donatus in 1936 for The Catholic Dramatic Movement, this pamphlet is a script of a short play. The play focuses on an Abbey preparing for its Midnight Mass, but they are visited by a jester, who although at first seems to be causing trouble, is later revealed to have the purest heart and receives a blessing from the Infant Jesus. A short yet sweet play about charity and belief during Christmas, this is just one of the many plays in our pamphlet collection. 

This is just a small taste of thousands of pamphlets that we house in our collection, we have an assortment of material ranging from prayer and the Sacraments, to Catholic dating and perspectives on social issues. If you would like to know more, or would like to schedule an appointment to come visit our collection, please contact us at (202) 319- 5065 or lib-archives@cua.edu

 

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and Happy Holidays from our families to yours!

 

 

[1] ACHA Records, Special Collections, Catholic University, American Catholic Pamphlets and Parish Histories, Paulist, 501.

[2] ACHA Records, Special Collections, Catholic University, American Catholic Pamphlets and Parish Histories, Lordy, 70.

[3] ACHA Records, Special Collections, Catholic University, American Catholic Pamphlets and Parish Histories, 1902, 88.

The Archivist’s Nook: Celebrating Christmas with The Young Catholic Messenger

Young Catholic Messenger, Christmas Edition, 1891, with poem ‘The Babe of Bethlehem,’ by Eleanor C. Donnelly and engraving by O. Weimar. Special Collections, Catholic University.

A few years back our blog featured covers for New Year’s editions from the digital version of our Young Catholic Messenger collection. It was a premier title from Catholic publisher, George Pflaum, located in Dayton, Ohio, between the years 1885 to 1970.  In the nineteenth century, Protestant Americans were not very welcoming to the millions of newly arriving Catholics. By the 1880s, these immigrants created a network of parish and parochial schools which taught their own religion and culture. Catholic schooling naturally necessitated having a Catholic educational publishing system. Pflaum, being a pioneer publisher in this field, produced the Young Catholic Messenger, the Junior Catholic Messenger, Our Little Messenger, and, following later the Treasure Chest of Fun and Fact comic book, from 1946 to 1970.

Young Catholic Messenger, Christmas Edition, 1909, with poem ‘Happy Christmas,’ by A. F. Klinkner and painting by William Dobson. Special Collections, Catholic University.

In celebration of Christmas, please see highlights and select examples of YCM Christmas covers culled from several key decades during its existence. The first, created in 1891, featured both a poem and an engraving. Philadelphian author, Eleanor C. Donnelly (1838-1917), was a well-known Catholic writer of her time and created the poem ‘The Babe of Bethlehem.’ Known as ‘The Poet of the Pure Soul,’ she was quite prolific, having over thirty books and pamphlets, and hundreds of poems to her name. She also edited a magazine called Our Lady of Good Counsel, as well as The Catholic Standard and Times, the weekly Philadelphia diocesan newspaper. A collection of her works is held by Villanova University. The engraving, by O. Weimar, depicts sleeping children exhausted from playing with their presents while protected by angels.

Young Catholic Messenger, Christmas Edition, December 20, 1935, with poem ‘The Carol of a Star,’ by Alice P. Clark. Special Collections, Catholic University.

The second cover, published in 1909, is in much the same vein as that of the one nearly twenty years earlier, consisting of both a poem and a painting. This poem, titled ‘Happy Christmas’ is relatively unknown. The painting is a work created by William Dobson (1817-1898), the English painter known for his religious scenes. Not only was he associated with the Royal Academy and the Royal Watercolour Society,  he also spent time on artistic pursuits in Germany, France, and Italy. The third cover, created in 1935, presents ‘The Carol of a Star,’ by Alice C. Clark, and is illustrated with a ring of various related scenes from the first Christmas, while the fourth and final cover, dated from 1965, reflects the turmoil that existed during the 1960s. The theme pertains to the Biblical question that asks if there is room at the end for weary travelers. This contemporary rendition connects the cover art with a short story about the plight of refugees arriving from totalitarian communist regimes like Cuba and Vietnam.

Young Catholic Messenger, Christmas Edition, December 17, 1965, ‘Will There be Room at the Inn?’ Special Collections, Catholic University.

Special Collections at Catholic University is currently seeking The Young Catholic Messenger volumes 1-6, 1885-1890; volumes 8-24, 1892-1908; volumes 26-28, 1910-1912; and volumes 32-40, 1915-1925. We would be pleased to receive either individual issues or full volumes as a donation, loans for scanning, or links to copies that were scanned elsewhere. We would be happy to discuss fees required. For more information, please contact us via email at lib-archives@cua.edu. For additional Christmas blog posts, please see ‘A Merry Treasure Chest Christmas to All,’ ‘A Very Merry Christmas from Fathers Hartke and Magner,’ and ‘The American Christmas Songbook’ series by Thad Garrett. Best wishes for a COVID free Christmas and 2021! As always, a personal note of thanks to TSKS.

 

Student Wellbeing

Every two years, the ACRL Research Planning and Review Committee publishes in College & Research Libraries News an article on the top trends and issues affecting academic libraries and the change our institutions are experiencing. We will be highlighting some of these trends through a number of blog posts over the next few weeks.


“Academic librarians are natural connectors, guiding their users to not only resources, but also connecting them to people, services, and spaces that can provide assistance” – Ramsey & Aagard, 2018 

Endless rows of well-loved books. Physical space, digital resources, and information in droves. Scholarship and intellectual curiosity. These are all concepts readily associated with academic libraries. But what about wellness, mental health and holistic student support? These concepts might not first come to mind, but they are a vital part of academic libraries.

In a recent article in Library Journal, Steven Bell asserts that the opening of academic libraries to the larger local community has pushed mental health concerns to the forefront. His discussion centers around a new trend of employing social workers, who can provide mental health and community resources, in some public libraries. Academic libraries, often serving smaller and more specialized communities, have sometimes been seen in the library community as guarded from these conversations. While, yes, increased community access in academic libraries may increase focus on wellbeing and support, mental health should not be a new concept to any library.

Image and statistics sourced from Active Minds

1 in 5 adults (individuals age 18 and older) have a diagnosable mental illness. And 39% of college students experience a significant mental health issue during their time in school (Active Minds Statistics). While these statistics may seem discouraging, they also highlight the idea that no one struggles alone. We all have mental health and academic libraries can emphasize student wellbeing in an exceptional way. Libraries play a key role in providing current, accessible and free information. Information that can help someone dealing with a mental health issue. Additionally, the space and programming provided by libraries can support wellbeing on multiple levels. Students may be struggling with food insecurity, family responsibilities and sleep deprivation in addition to their academics. Moreover, COVID-19 is impacting the wellbeing of students, and everyone, as we cope with constant change and increased health concerns.

So, what exactly is wellbeing?

Merriam Webster defines wellbeing simply as “the state of being happy, healthy, and prosperous.” (Merriam-Webster, n.d.) But the concept goes much further than that. Wellbeing encompasses holistic student support, from traditional academic support to mental health awareness to emphasis on physical care.

Image sourced from CC0 Creative Commons

The goal of wellbeing is supporting a student with what they struggle with, allowing them to better cope, and ultimately succeed personally as well as professionally (Cox & Brewster, 2020). To some, connecting this idea of wellbeing to a library, may seem somewhat ephemeral. Sure, libraries provide books that provide a sense of joy, right? And depending on where someone is in their massive research project, that might not even be a certainty. But while books are a crux of all libraries, there is much more that libraries do. As community hubs, academic libraries connect students to resources, space and services that support physical, mental, and spiritual health.

Partnership and Programming

Academic libraries can provide a unique synergy when partnering with other university entities and student organizations. Albertsons Library at Boise State frequently partners with their Health Services team allotting space for them to interact with students in a new setting, the library. In a variety of events, the Health Services team brought in nutritionists to interact with students, provided flu shots and tips for stress management (Ramsey & Aagard, 2018). This collaboration between the library and other university organizations can reach new students who may not otherwise utilize university wellbeing services or, conversely, the library. It also allows students to access new resources and for multiple groups, to bring their own expertise to students.

Other examples of wellbeing initiatives include collection development of self-help books, libguides related to wellness and reading recommendations. More innovative, recent trends in programming include therapy-pet sessions, meditation rooms and designated nap spaces in libraries (Ramsey & Aagard, 2018). Worth noting, of course, is that a lot of these initiatives are suited for a pre-COVID 19 world. As libraries around the world shift services, finding new avenues to support wellbeing virtually is important.

Partnership can extend beyond the university community as well. Academic libraries could consider hosting mental health trainings or webinars with local groups, such as Mental Health First Aid or a local National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) chapter. Trainings like these educate students about their own wellbeing while also providing information on assisting others who may need support. Libraries are often perceived as a “safe” place and this environment can spark conversations about mental health that may not otherwise have the space to grow (Cox & Brewster, 2020).

Library Value

Reserve and Renew

The concept of wellbeing must always extend to library staff as well. Reserve and Renew is a zine that aims to open the conversation about mental health in the library field. Printed annually, the zines highlight stories and lived experiences from library and information science students as well as library professionals. In order to support student wellbeing, library staff must consider their wellbeing as being just as valuable.

Whether the library provides a moment of escapism, a needed resource, a place to study, a source of internet access, or even someone to talk to, librarians are here providing those services. As we all navigate through this year, libraries continue to provide services that impact communities in a myriad of ways. Our doors remain open for study space reservation by current students which can provide a space beyond the virtual world we all inhabit, what feels like 24/7. Additionally, University Libraries continue to provide book pick-up services. Our most up-to-date COVID-19 procedures and services can be viewed here, Libraries COVID-19 Information Guide.

Other resources for Catholic University students include the Counseling Center, the Cardinal Cupboard, and additional food resources in DC.                                                      

References and Additional Reading

Active Minds (2020). Statistics. https://www.activeminds.org/about-mental-health/statistics/

Bell, S. (2019). “Time for a new position in the academic library?” Library Journal. October 9. https://www.libraryjournal.com/?detailStory=Time-for-New-Position-in-Academic-Library-From-the-Bell-Tower

Cox, A. & Brewster, L. (2020). “Library support for student mental health and well-being in the UK: Before and during the COVID-19 pandemic.” Journal of Academic Librarianship 46 (6). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.acalib.2020.102256

Eberle, M. (2018). “Academic libraries and mental health.” Massachusetts Library System. https://www.masslibsystem.org/blog/2018/11/19/academic-libraries-and-mental-health/

National Alliance on Mental Illness. (2020). https://www.nami.org/home

Mental Health First Aid. (2020). https://www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org

Ramsey, Elizabeth and Aagard, Mary C. (2018) “Academic Libraries as Active Contributors to Student Wellness.” College & Undergraduate Libraries 25 (4): 328–34. https://doi.org/10.1080/10691316.2018.1517433

Reserve and Renew zine. (2020). http://lismentalhealth.org/reserve-and-renew-zine/

Streaming Media: Challenges and Opportunities

Every two years, the ACRL Research Planning and Review Committee publishes in College & Research Libraries News an article on the top trends and issues affecting academic libraries and the change our institutions are experiencing. We will be highlighting some of these trends through a number of blog posts over the next few weeks.


In a world in which technology is advancing more rapidly than ever before, streaming media – media that is presented to users in real time as they need or desire to use it – has become especially pervasive. Streaming services are one of the key ways in which we watch television; listen to music; and access lectures, live theater performances and other internet resources for research and entertainment purposes. From Netflix to Hulu, subscription numbers continue to rise. This was the case even before the COVID-19 pandemic kept many people at home.

Remote students appreciate streaming services (American Libraries Magazine, 2016).

Educators have long known that images and audio provide information that is not always apparent through the written word and that students have different learning styles. For example, some are visual learners and are best able to process and retain information that is conveyed in images. For that reason, we have seen teachers at all levels incorporating visual content into the curriculum to complement assigned texts.

As librarians and information professionals, it is our responsibility to note these changes and see how we can apply them to best serve our patrons. So it should come as little surprise that libraries too have started subscribing to streaming services.

Just as individuals weigh factors in deciding which and how many of the ever growing and competitive offerings they will select – Disney+, Sling, Amazon Prime, Curiosity Stream, Peacock, Criterion Channel, Apple – librarians take several factors into consideration when choosing the streaming services available to libraries. These factors include: content, ease of use and accessibility, and budgeting terms and costs.

Common educational materials available through streaming services.

Content

For librarians, the process of selecting streaming services is not as simple as subscribing to a favorite platform with your favorite sitcoms. There are other factors to consider. Are there streaming services that cater to an especially large group of students on campus engaged in similar kinds of research? Will the instructors be showing these films in the classroom? Does the streaming service limit its offerings to education films? Is there also demand for popular films, film classics, television programs, recent mainstream movies, documentaries, animated films, concerts, and/or foreign-language films? If so, which service has the content most requested by the university community? Does the service include features such as captions and the ability to select and save a film clip?

Ease of Use and Accessibility 

Librarians have also seen the usefulness of subscribing to streaming media services because it allows them to meet students wherever they are, whether or not those students are coming onto campus to take classes. Many students had taken advantage of options for online education before the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Classes offered for students enrolled in online (and in-person) programs might require accessing films for reading or research purposes. Academic librarians must pay careful attention to what kinds of classes are being offered, just as they do when choosing print materials commonly used in courses offered at their university.

During the recent pandemic, faculty in particular have faced significant challenges in providing resources for their students while teaching them virtually. One benefit of streaming services is that even if library staff are unable to work onsite and provide access to scans of library print materials for classroom use, reference librarians can point professors to streaming services accessible through library databases. Given this increased need to consider the preferences of faculty and other users while library service remains limited, patron input will continue to be invaluable for librarians even after they can once again access physical library materials.

These charts show selection methods commonly used by librarians.

One final trend to note is the recent need for librarians to consider access by the entire college or university community when choosing streaming media. The goal is to find resources that allow students with disabilities equal access. When it comes time for librarians to consider which subscriptions to renew, they will increasingly consider how resources measure up to the accessibility standards put in place by the library and the university (Schroeder 2018, 401). Issues related to accessibility include small print; limited voice output or recognition; and PDF documents that are not formatted to be compliant with updated standards (Schroeder 2018, 405, 409). As is made clear from this case study, it is now required that many librarians will be familiar with issues of accessibility and able to offer support to students needing accessible resources.

Budgeting Terms and Costs 

Budgetary constraints also restrict the kinds of streaming services that academic libraries can provide. When libraries provide students and faculty with access to streaming services, it is generally because they have worked with vendors to obtain a license for particular groups of films, documentaries, recordings, etc. These licenses guarantee a price for only a certain amount of time, and changes in price and content require acquisitions librarians to revisit existing subscriptions frequently. They must remain aware of copyright agreements and competing interests among streaming service providers in order to ensure that those services continue to provide access to a specific set of resources. In some instances, patron-driven models – which require payment based upon students’ use of electronic materials – become too expensive for libraries. Because of these considerations, streaming services must be evaluated in light of the library’s collection development policies: the policies libraries use to guide their decision-making when acquiring new materials (Wahl, 2017). Ensuring that license agreements comply with copyright regulations can also occupy librarians’ time.

Another way to highlight the unique challenges libraries face in deciding between streaming media services is to differentiate between institutional and individual subscriptions. Students and faculty are aware of the monthly standardized fees that they pay for their own personal subscriptions. However, they are unlikely to be aware of the financial strain that subscriptions at the institutional level can cause: the streaming services simply become another “free” service provided by the library. Chris Cagle acknowledges this in his article published in Film Quarterly. He explains that students probably have little idea that their use of streaming materials can have this kind of impact on a library’s budget. While librarians choose streaming services that provide access to a wide range of resources, these streaming services can become out of reach if they require that libraries pay according to frequency of patron use. Recognizing that no service can provide access to everything, librarians might begin choosing less expensive subscriptions to services that have comparatively limited access rather than services such as Kanopy that offer extensive access at a potentially crippling cost.

Services at Catholic University Libraries 

The Catholic University Libraries subscribe to a variety of streaming services, including audio and video (for a complete list, click here). Two of our latest additions are Quest TV, a service offering access to concerts and documentaries, through September 30th of next year, and On the Boards TV, a portal for viewing performance films of ground-breaking artistic projects in dance, theater, music, and experimental forms. Look beyond HBO Max…you might be surprised what you find!

Additional Reading

Dunn, Cathy. 2020. “Streaming Video Acquisitions: Factors to Consider.” Journal of Electronic Resources Librarianship 32, no. 2: 133-135.

Lowe, Randall A., et. al. 2020. “Managing Streaming Video: The Experiences of Six Academic Libraries.” Journal of Electronic Services Librarianship 32, no. 2: 119-126.

Rodgers, Andrea. 2019. “Once upon a Time in Streaming Video: A Community College’s Adventure with Kanopy’s PDA Model,” College & Research Libraries News 80, no. 9. https://crln.acrl.org/index.php/crlnews/article/view/23578/30892

Schroeder, Heidi M. 2018. “Implementing Accessibility Initiatives at the Michigan State University Archives.” Reference Services Review 46, no. 3: 399-413.

Wahl, Mary. 2017. “Full Steam Ahead: Designing a Collection Development Workflow for Streaming Video Content.” Library Resources and Technical Services 61, no. 4. https://journals.ala.org/index.php/lrts/article/view/6471/8573

Wang, Jian, and Elsa Loftis. 2020. “The Library Has Infinite Streaming Content, But Are Users Infinitely Content? The Library Catalog vs. Vendor Platform Discovery.” Journal of Electronic Resources Librarianship 32, no. 2: 71-86.

The Archivist’s Nook: African American History-Related Collections

In his landmark 1990 scholarly work, The History of Black Catholics in the United States, Cyprian Davis presents a deeply researched history of African American Catholics in the United States. He proved that, while Black Catholics seemed invisible across U.S. Catholic history, in fact, the American Church has never been exclusively a white and European one. In fact, as he writes, “the African presence has influenced the Catholic church in every period of its history.” He concludes that for “[t]oo long have black Catholics been anonymous. It is clear they can be identified, that their presence has made an impact, and that their contributions have made Catholicism a unique and stronger body.”[1] In that spirit, we offer an overview of some of our richest materials related to the Black Catholic experience in the United States, including the papers of Father Cyprian Davis himself.

From left: Rothell Price; Bishop James Lyke, O.F.M, Auxiliary Bishop of Cleveland; Father Cyprian Davis, O.S.B., and Leo Hodges, at a talk given by Bishop Lyke on the implementation of the Bishops’ Pastoral on racism, February, 1984. From the Davis Papers.

In 2015, Special Collections acquired the papers of Father Cyprian Davis. Davis, born Clarence John Davis (1930-2015) in Washington, D.C., was a historian and archivist. A convert to Catholicism in his teenage years, Davis expressed an early interest in the priesthood. He joined the seminary of St. Meinrad Archabbey in Indiana, where he became a novice in 1950, and took the monastic name Cyprian in 1951. Ordained a priest on May 3, 1956, Davis became the first African American to join the monastic community of St. Meinrad.

He began his academic career in 1948, studying at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. where he received a Licentiate of Sacred Theology in 1957. Davis then studied church history abroad at The Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium, where he obtained a licentiate in 1963. He taught church history at St. Meinrad before returning to Louvain for his doctorate degree in 1977. Father Davis authored and co-authored several pioneering monographs, including Christ’s image in Black: The Black Catholic community before the Civil War and The History of Black Catholics in the United States. Davis’s papers include many unpublished manuscripts on Black history and Black Catholic history, as well as correspondence, academic papers, printed material, audiovisual records, ephemera, and a range of awards and honors. A finding aid for the Cyprian Davis papers can be found here.

For insights into how white Catholics sought to promote interracial activities within the Catholic Church in the first half of the twentieth century, researchers can consult the records of the Catholic Interracial Council of New York (CICNY). Father John LaFarge, S.J., founded the CICNY in 1934 to promote mutual understanding and social justice among Blacks and whites. The CICNY disseminated information and held meetings and conferences on Catholic teaching and race. Through the 1940s, the CICNY addressed issues such as the Scottsboro Boys’ case, lynching, communism, and efforts to open the defense industry to Black workers. They also regularly honored Catholic civil rights activists with a number of annual awards and celebrations, including the annual John A. Hoey Interracial Justice Award. The idea of interracial councils led to their formation in Chicago, Detroit, St. Louis, and Washington, D.C. By 1954, 24 Catholic Interracial Councils had been created.

An undated photo of a gathering of members of the CICNY from the CICNY Records.

The CICNY continued well into the 1990s, but had declined markedly in activity and importance by the late 1970s. The Interracial Review, of full set of which can be found in the voluminous CICNY Records, one of its more important undertakings since its founding, ceased publication in 1966, although it was revived in a much less ambitious format in the 1970s. Several civil rights leaders, including A. Philip Randolph and Roy Wilkins, contributed to the journal. A finding aid for the CICNY can be found here.

Washington, D.C.- Related Collections

The Haynes-Lofton Family Papers are comprised of the personal papers of Catholic University of America alumna Euphemia Lofton Haynes, her husband Harold Appo Haynes, and their families. A native Washingtonian, Euphemia Lofton Haynes (1890-1980) received a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Smith College in 1914, a Master’s in Education from the University of Chicago in 1930, and a Doctorate in Mathematics from Catholic University in 1943, making her the first African American woman to receive a Ph.D. in Mathematics in the United States. She taught in the public schools of Washington, D.C. for 47 years and was the first woman to chair the D.C. School Board. She figured prominently in the integration of both the D.C. public schools and the Archdiocesan Council of Catholic Women. The papers consist of correspondence, financial records, publications, speeches, reports, newspaper clippings, and photographs, and provide a record of her family, professional, and social life, including her involvement in education, civic affairs, real estate, and business matters in Washington. A finding aid for the Haynes-Lofton family papers can be found here. 

Educator and activist Paul Philips Cooke (1917-2010), a member of Washington D.C.’s Sacred Heart parish, lived most of his long life in the District. After earning a Master’s in English Literature from The Catholic University of America in 1942, and a Doctorate in Education from Columbia University in 1947, Cooke taught and served as president of the District of Columbia Teachers College until 1974.  He was an active member of the Catholic Interracial Council of the District of Columbia (CIC DC) for over 50 years. The collection includes correspondence, clippings, reports, meeting minutes, photos, pamphlets, and publications. A finding aid for the Paul Philips Cooke papers can be found here.

An image of the front page of the manuscript for Elliot Liebow’s 1967 book “Tally’s Corner: A Study of Negro Streetcorner Men,” from the Liebow Papers.

For more on African American life in Washington, D.C. in the second half of the twentieth century, researchers may also consult the Elliot Liebow Papers. Liebow (1925–1994) was an American anthropologist, best known for his 1967 book Tally’s Corner: A Study of Negro Streetcorner Men, a study of Black men in urban Washington, D.C. The book, based on his 1966 Catholic University of America Department of Anthropology doctoral dissertation “Behavior and Values of Streetcorner Negro Men” sold nearly a million copies, and though dated today in its methodology, was influential in its time. Beginning in 1990, he held the Patrick Cardinal O’Boyle Professorship at the National Catholic School for Social Service of the Catholic University of America. He died in 1994. Series 3 of the Liebow papers contains research material related to Tally’s Corner. Although some of the research material is subject to a 60-year restriction in order to protect the identities of the case study participants, the open material includes the original manuscript of Tally’s Corner, correspondence about the book, book reviews, and publicity material (e.g., ads and ephemera). A finding aid for the Liebow papers is currently underway and should be completed by early 2021. In the meantime, please contact the archives staff directly at lib-archives@cua.edu or 202-319-5065 for more information. 

Education Resource Websites

The Thomas Wyatt Turner and The Federated Colored Catholics website is one of our most well-used educational resources. The site revolves around Turner’s struggle to promote racial equality in the U.S. Catholic Church. In that struggle, we see how even people of good faith have often disagreed over the best strategies for winning the battle. Some have argued that African-Americans or other racial minorities have needed the chance to unite, gain power, and win respect from white majorities. Others have contended that convincing white, and indeed all Americans, to be colorblind—to not “see” race—has been the best plan. Such disagreements emerged among American Catholics in the 1920s and 1930s in debates between Dr. Thomas Wyatt Turner, an African-American layman, and Father John LaFarge, a white Jesuit and long time civil rights advocate. The Thomas Wyatt Turner and the Federated Colored Catholics website can be found here.

The Catholic Church, Bishops and Race in the Mid-Twentieth Century website features resources and documents related to the U.S. Catholic Bishops in the mid-twentieth century. While battles were waged against racist institutions in America in the decades prior, it was the 1940s–1960s that set the tone for the momentous changes in the history of African Americans. Often termed the “Second American Revolution,” the Civil Rights Movement of those decades sought the end of segregation across a wide swath of American society, including schools and other public organizations. The Catholic Church in the U.S. saw the struggle for equality within its own walls, and many church leaders were determined to not only free their institutions from segregation, but to work for its demise in the general population as well. While recognition of the Church’s work in civil rights has paled in comparison to the luminaries of the movement, several individuals and organizations made a mark nonetheless, overcoming resistance at times from within their own parishes and institutions. The website can be found here. 

In the 1930s and 1940s, comic books were one of the most popular forms of entertainment among the nation’s youth, combining as they did narratives, graphics, and low prices. Concerned over the possibility of the effects of such entertainment on the moral character of young people, the Commission on American Citizenship at The Catholic University of America worked with George A. Pflaum of Dayton, Ohio, to publishing a bi-monthly comic book, the Treasure Chest of Fun & Fact for distribution in Catholic Parochial Schools starting in 1946. The Treasure Chest was intended as a remedy to the sensationalism of traditional comics: it contained educational features, narrated the lives of saints, and presented adventure stories featuring realistic characters with what were considered wholesome values, like patriotism, equality, faith, and anti-communism.

By the early 1960s, the Treasure Chest was at the height of its popularity. In 1964, Joe Sinnott, the illustrator of Marvel Comics’ “The Fantastic Four,” teamed up with writer Berry Reece to produce a story depicting a U.S. presidential election. It was set in the future: the presidential election was supposedly that of 1976, the year of the nation’s bicentennial. “Pettigrew for President” lasted for 10 issues, following the campaign trail of the fictional Tim Pettigrew from the announcement of his candidacy through the national convention of his party. The candidate’s face was carefully hidden in every panel, until the final page of the final issue of the story, when Pettigrew is finally revealed: the first Black candidate for president of the United States! This site reproduces the entire “Pettigrew for President” series in a digital format. It places this unique comic book story in the context of the 1960s civil rights movement, and provides background information on the creators of the series. The website can be found here.

For more on these materials and more see our newly-created LibGuide on African American History-Related Collections.

 

 

[1] Cyprian Davis, The History of Black Catholics in the United States (New York: Crossroad, 1990), 259.

 

Social Justice and Critical Librarianship

Every two years, the Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL) Research Planning and Review Committee publishes an article on the top trends and issues affecting academic libraries in higher education. We will be highlighting some of these trends through a number of blog posts over the next few weeks.


Introduction

When the June issue of College & Research Libraries News was going to press, the ACRL Research Planning and Review Committee could not have known just how relevant social justice—one of nine top trends they identified—would become as the year wore on. Indeed, they admit: “This article was written well before the world was fully aware of the novel coronavirus that has since spread around the globe.”

Nighttime photograph of police in riot gear standing in front of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. on May 31, 2020.
George Floyd Protest by Ken Fager. May 31, 2020. (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

As it happened, though, the article on the 2020 top trends in academic libraries appeared not only months into the pandemic (which continues to rage around the world) but, more significantly, just days after George Floyd was murdered on Memorial Day by a police officer. Since March, the pandemic had been bringing increased attention to the digital divide and systemic racism (especially as evidenced by the plight of low-wage workers, who are disproportionately people of color), but Floyd’s murder in May triggered international outcry for an honest-to-God reckoning. The DC Public Library responded very quickly to the “sickening killing,” recognizing the fact that “Libraries have always served a critical role during times of upheaval and disruption.” Meanwhile, Catholic University President John Garvey did not mince words about the “sin of racism.”

Although public libraries have traditionally been on the front lines when it comes to social justice, academic libraries certainly have a role to play, too. As part of a Catholic institution, the library community at CatholicU arguably has an even higher calling to social justice. In the remainder of this post, I will introduce the concept of critical librarianship and point to some recent examples of how the University’s library community is embracing social justice.

Critical Librarianship

In a nutshell, critical librarianship “acknowledges and then interrogates the structures that produce us” (Drabinski, 2019, p. 49). In other words, critical librarianship (#critlib) wrestles with the social inequities that make it imperative for others of us along the way to level the playing field. The clichéd first step is admitting there’s a problem: “libraries and others in the classification business” partake in the necessary evil of perpetuating ideological structures (Drabinski, 2019, p. 50). For example, academic libraries customarily arrange their materials in accordance with the Library of Congress Classification (LCC) system. Developed in the United States, the LCC is a prime example of a power structure with a built-in Western bias that, as a result, “[facilitates] some ways of knowing and not others, [and represents] certain ideological ways of seeing the world, and, crucially, not others” (Drabinski, 2019, p. 50). Now, no one is suggesting that we throw the LCC out the window. A library without a classification system would be chaos. At the same time, however, as stewards of information we must be cognizant of the ways in which the library winds up reinforcing the “ghettoization and marginalization” that minorities of all sorts—racial, sexual, religious—experience every day in the wider world (Drabinski, 2019, p. 51).

On the one hand, the classification conundrum resonates with me as an English major whose favorite class was a required one in which we read Stephen Greenblatt, Judith Butler, Michel Foucault, Seamus Deane, Louis Althusser, and others whose ideas have shaped critical theory and literary study. On the other hand, geeking out over the perniciousness of ideology seems painfully academic when the field of library and information science (LIS) is still so blindingly white. This is especially true of academic libraries, which tend to be “homogeneously staffed” by not just white people, but narrowly middle-class, cisgender, heterosexual, able-bodied, English-speaking white people (Drabinski, 2019, p. 55). For the record, that’s me on every count.

As I researched critical librarianship for this blogpost, I found myself less persuaded by collection development strategies like “spiral collecting” (Berthoud & Finn, 2019) and more convinced that the root of the problem in LIS stems from Dr. Nicole A. Cooke’s observation that it “is a predominantly white profession serving communities that are anything but” (Cooke, 2020, p. 90). In the courageous 2019 series “Getting it on the Record: Faculty of Color in Library and Information Science,” Dr. Cooke along with Joe O. Sánchez assembled “ethnographic counter-stories” in order to identify patterns of experience among LIS faculty of color. (CatholicU’s own Dr. Renate L. Chancellor was among the contributing authors.) Aside from tokenism in the form of “diversity hires,” the overwhelmingly white LIS profession is also guilty of paternalism; libraries have “a long history of perceiving and treating ethnic minorities and differently abled patrons as in need of extra help, special instruction, and charitable tolerance” (Cooke & Sánchez, 2019, p. 172). The authors argue emphatically that social diversity is about more than “avoiding legal liability and fulfilling bureaucratic quotas”; it promotes an all-around “healthier and better intellectual environment for an academic setting than social homogeneity” (Cooke & Sánchez, 2019, p. 177).

#CritLib at CatholicU

From my standpoint—as a full-time employee of the archives and a part-time graduate LIS student—the library community at CatholicU has two things going for it.

Collage of three images of Pope Leo XIII from the University's museum collection
Less historically, reminders of Pope Leo XIII’s importance to the University are hard to miss as you make your way around campus today. Clockwise from right: a massive marble statue of Pope Leo XIII dominates one end of the foyer in McMahon Hall; an enormous portrait of him hangs on the wall of the Provost’s office a few doors down; and, importantly for us, a bust of Pope Leo XIII stands on the first floor of Mullen Library.

First of all, the University has a strong historic connection to social justice, perhaps best embodied by Pope Leo XIII—whose “landmark 1891 document Rerum novarum has often been called the Magna Charta of modern Catholic social teaching” (Holland, 2003, p. 2). A few years before he issued his revolutionary encyclical, Pope Leo XIII helped usher the University into being. (To this day, CatholicU celebrates Founders Day on April 10—the day in 1887 when Pope Leo XIII wrote to Cardinal Gibbons approving the plans for the University.)

Secondly, the University is home to the only graduate LIS program in the District (which is in turn one of only two programs in the wider region, the other of course being the University of Maryland’s iSchool). As such, CatholicU is not only a center of intellectual discourse on LIS but also an ambassador of sorts. To that end, it is notable that the LIS Department does not merely preach the #critlib values of diversity and inclusion; all of the full-time faculty are not only women, but women of color.

Drawing on its dual role as a regional ambassador for librarianship and an heir of Pope Leo’s legacy, the library community at CatholicU has actively risen to the occasion in recent months.

Summary

Although the impetus for this blogpost was the 2020 top trends article, I would like to leave off by paraphrasing a point that Dr. Cooke made in her recent lecture: Social justice is not a trend. It is a continuous imperative. Critical librarianship calls us to be vigilant and conscientious in our work by constantly re-examining our practices with an eye towards social justice.

References and Further Reading

Berthoud, Heidy and Rachel Finn. (January 2019). “Bringing Social Justice behind the Scenes: Transforming the Work of Technical Services,” Serials Librarian, 76(1–4), 162–69. https://doi.org/10.1080/0361526X.2019.1583526.

Brown, Nicholas A. (October 2020). Maryland Libraries’ Antiracism Programming Goes Global | Programs that Pop. Library Journal. https://www.libraryjournal.com/?detailStory=maryland-libraries-antiracism-programming-goes-global-programs-that-pop

Cooke, Nicole A. (2020). Critical Library Instruction as a Pedagogical Tool. Communications in Information Literacy, 14(1), 86–96. https://doi.org/10.15760/comminfolit.2020.14.1.7.

Cooke, Nicole A. (2017). Librarians as active bystanders: centering social justice in LIS practice. In K. Haycock & M.-J. Romaniuk (Eds.), The portable MLIS: Insights from the experts (2nd ed., pp. 39–47). Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO/Libraries Unlimited.

Cooke, Nicole A. and Joe O. Sánchez. (2019). Getting it on the Record: Faculty of Color in Library and Information Science. Journal of Education for Library and Information Science, 60(3), 169–181. DOI: https://doi.org/10.3138/jelis.60.3.01.

Chancellor, Renate L. (2019). Racial battle fatigue: The unspoken burden of black women faculty in LIS. Journal of Education for Library and Information Science, 60(3), 182–189. DOI: http://dx.doi.org.proxycu.wrlc.org/10.3138/jelis.2019-0007.

Drabinski, Emily. (April 2019). What Is Critical about Critical Librarianship? Art Libraries Journal, 44(2), 49–57. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/alj.2019.3.

Holland, Joe. (2003). Modern Catholic Social Teaching: The Popes Confront the Industrial Age 1740-1958. Paulist Press.

Machine Learning and AI in the Library

Every two years, the ACRL Research Planning and Review Committee publishes in College & Research Libraries News an article on the top trends and issues affecting academic libraries and the change our institutions are experiencing. We will be highlighting some of these trends through a number of blog posts over the next few weeks.


When you think of AI, what comes to mind? There are dichotomous images in books and movies. In one view, there is the AI created to support and supplement the work of humans. In the other view, there is the robot uprising. In the library, AI and machine learning can be powerful tools. As with any tool created by man, AI can project biases or inaccurate readings into a situation. With that in mind, responsible and limited use of AI and machine learning can be a resourceful method of expanding limitations within libraries. Image of humanoid robot

What is AI and machine learning?

Encyclopedia Britannica defines AI as “Artificial intelligence (AI), the ability of a digital computer or computer-controlled robot to perform tasks commonly associated with intelligent beings. The term is frequently applied to the project of developing systems endowed with the intellectual processes characteristic of humans, such as the ability to reason, discover meaning, generalize, or learn from past experience.” Machine learning is the branch of AI that programs computers to learn from experience. (Encyclopedia Britannica). John McCarthy, professor emeritus of computer science at Stanford University, coined the term ‘artificial intelligence’ during the Dartmouth Conference in 1956.

Growth of Research in AI Although the concept of artificial intelligence has been around for decades, popular awareness has grown exponentially. As popular awareness increases, so too does the number of research papers and books. An examination of the Google Books Ngram Viewer indicates a steep increase in the number of books published on the topic of machine learning. The same trend is also evident in the journal literature.

Fig 1: Analysis of term appearing in Google Books Ngram Viewer, 10/27/2020

Web of Science shows 36,603 results for artificial intelligence and 105,220 for machine learning over the past 10 years. The past two years have seen the greatest growth, with an increase of 10,000 titles on machine learning between 2018-2020.

Fig 2: Analysis of term appearing in Web of Science entries, 10/27/2020

Libraries and AI

But what, you may wonder, does a library have to do with artificial intelligence? One lesson we have all learned from the COVID-19 pandemic quarantine is that libraries provide much more than physical collections. The infrastructure that provides access to ebooks, journal articles, and services online also provides access to the big data that could be used to analyze general user needs. For example, adding AI to a bibliometric analysis of required course readings could lead to a forecasting of student research needs, potentially improving student retention as the library pivots to meet those needs. With AI, library collections and services could become more individualized in much the same way that Amazon makes purchase recommendations based on past searches. AI has already changed the way many person-centered jobs are performed. “By 2022, today’s newly emerging occupations are set to grow from 16% to 27% of the employee base of large firms globally, while job roles currently affected by technological obsolescence are set to decrease from 31% to 21%. In purely quantitative terms, 75 million current job roles may be displaced by the shift in the division of labor between humans, machines, and algorithms, while 133 million new job roles may emerge at the same time” (World Economic Forum, Future of Work, 2018).

World Economic Forum. (2020) Strategic Intelligence: Bias and Fairness in AI Algorithms. https://intelligence.weforum.org/topics/a1Gb0000000pTDREA2

If you have a smartphone, consider how many times a day you turn to your device to check your calendar, search for the name of a song or an actor, watch a video, or even interact with other smart devices around you. During the pandemic, you may have had more conversations with Alexa or Google Assistant than with a real person. The question may occur to you whether an artificial intelligence bot could do as good a job at service occupations such as librarians. Research shows that acceptance of AI bots for service functions increases based on the anthropomorphism of the bot and the emotional ability of the person to accept AI. (Gursoy, 2019) While we may never see AI bots taking the place of librarians at a university library reference desk, librarians are already using AI to assist with research inquiries. Librarians help researchers navigate and understand the biases that algorithms develop. As Geneva Henry, Dean of Libraries at George Washington University writes, “Searching the internet using popular search engines, for example, can employ deep learning algorithms that continually learn from previous searches.” (Henry, 2019) Librarians often are called to help narrow a search and target the best results from hundreds of thousands that a search engine or database returns.

Ethics of AI

As with all software, AI can evidence the biases written into algorithms by humans. Additionally, because machine learning software is made to develop new neural networks, the algorithms can develop biases not initially observed. A bias can be as simple as listing the most likely link first in a results list, or as insidious as not recognizing the faces of people of color. To overcome bias in AI and machine learning, it’s important to work toward diversity and inclusion in the workplace and programming.

Additional Reading

B.J. Copeland, Artificial intelligence, Encyclopædia Britannica, August 11, 2020, https://www.britannica.com/technology/artificial-intelligence.

McCarthy, John, Marvin L. Minsky, Nathaniel Rochester, and Claude E. Shannon. (2006) “A Proposal for the Dartmouth Summer Research Project on Artificial Intelligence, August 31, 1955,” AI Magazine 27, no. 4, 12–14, https://doi.org/10.1609/aimag.v27i4.1904.

Gursoy, D., Chi, O., Lu, L., & Nunkoo, R. (2019). Consumers’ acceptance of artificially intelligent (AI) device use in service delivery. International Journal of Information Management, 49, 157–169, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijinfomgt.2019.03.008

Henry, Geneva. (2019) Research Librarians as Guides and Navigators for AI Policies at Universities. Research Library Issues, 299, p. 47-65, https://doi.org/10.29242/rli.299.4

Griffey, Jason, ed. (2019) Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning in Libraries. Library Technology Reports, 55, no. 1, https://doi.org/10.5860/ltr.55n1

Kennedy, Mary Lee. (2019) What do artificial intelligence (AI) and ethics of AI mean in the context of research libraries? Research Library Issues, 299, p. 3-13, https://doi.org/10.29242/rli.299.1

Padilla, Thomas. (2019). Responsible Operations: Data Science, Machine Learning, and AI in Libraries. Dublin, OH: OCLC Research, https://doi.org/10.25333/xk7z-9g97

Young, Jeffery R. (2019) “Bots in the Library? Colleges Try AI to Help Researchers (But with Caution),” EdSurge, June 14, 2019, https://www.edsurge.com/news/2019-06-14-bots-in-the-library-colleges-try-ai-to-help-researchers-but-with-caution.27