New Research Guide for Dissertations and Theses

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

Trying to locate a dissertation or thesis? Start with our new research guide: Dissertations and Theses. This guide will assist graduate students in locating dissertations, and writing their own dissertation. The guide has information on:

  • specific instructions for locating dissertations at Catholic University of America
  • locating dissertations at other American institutions
  • locating foreign and open access dissertations
  • procedures for requesting dissertations through interlibrary loan
  • guidelines for writing and submitting your dissertation or thesis.

What is Fair Use Week?

This week is Fair Use Week (February 22 – 26, 2021). The mission of Fair Use Week is to celebrate “the important doctrines of fair use and fair dealing. It is designed to highlight and promote the opportunities presented by fair use and fair dealing, celebrate successful stories, and explain these doctrines.” Events are scheduled and the latest blog titled “We are All Fair Users Now” highlights the ways we have moved online during the COVID-19 pandemic. What is Fair Use? Check out the infographic below.

Other infographics include: Fair Use in a Day in the Life of a College Student; Fair Use Myths & Facts; Fair Use Promotes the Creation of New Knowledge; and How Fair Use Helps in Saving Software.

Enjoy the week!

What is Love Data Week?

Love Data Week (Feb. 8-12) is an international celebration of data hosted by the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR). Love Data Week is a project to raise awareness of the importance of data in our daily lives and to build a community to engage on topics in data analysis, preservation, curation, dissemination, sharing, and reuse. This year’s theme is “Data: Delivering a Better Future.” You can follow LDW on social media with the hashtag #LoveData21. Check out the events happening internationally. There are some useful website links on working with data at the end of this blog.

About the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research

This is the first year that ICPSR is sponsoring Love Data Week. The ICPSR is an international consortium of more than 780 academic institutions and research organizations that provides “leadership and training in data access, curation, and methods of analysis for the social science research community.” You can find data, share your data (for free!), use their resources to teach about data, and take courses in their summer program.


Digital Scholarship Workshops

This semester, the Libraries are offering Digital Scholarship workshops with a focus on data. Our theme is “Working with Our Data.” Please RSVP through the Events page (the Nest) or email Kevin Gunn, Coordinator of Digital Scholarship.

Using OpenRefine for Cleaning Data          Wed., Feb. 17, 12:00pm – 1:30pm
When working with your dataset, have you wondered how to remove ‘null’ or ‘N/A’ from fields, handle different spellings of words, or determining whether a field name is ambiguous? For this workshop, we will use the open access software, OpenRefine, to clean, manipulate, and refine a dataset before analysis (

Basic Text Analysis using AntConc          Mon., March 1, 3:00pm – 4:30pm
Computational analysis of textual data can aid in reading and interpreting large corpora. Exploring a large number of texts can uncover linguistic patterns for future exploratory analysis. Participants will gain hands-on experience analyzing textual data with AntConc ( No coding experience necessary.

Working with Tableau          Thur., April 1, 1:00pm – 2:30pm
Learn the basics of Tableau Public (free service) to create interactive visualizations of your data. This workshop will focus on the structure of the program and the terminology used. Students and faculty can download a one-year renewable license (

ArcGIS Basics          Wed., April 14, 12:00pm – 1:30pm
Learn all about Geographical Information Systems by acquiring an understanding of the fundamentals of mapping your data using ArcGIS ( We will use ArcGIS public account and not ArcGIS Online.

Note: Each workshop will require the attendee to download and install the software before the workshop.

Register through the Events page at or email Kevin Gunn ( All workshops will take place on Zoom, recorded, and made available on the University Libraries’ web site or YouTube Channel.

Useful Links

The Open Data Handbook

List of File Formats

U.S. Government (

Google Dataset Search

Open and Equitable Scholarly Communications

Joan Stahl honored with service award

Joan Stahl, the Libraries’ Director of Research & Instruction, was awarded a special Staff Award for Excellence to recognize her service in the time of COVID-19. During the earliest weeks of the pandemic, she single-handedly provided services to Catholic University students and faculty well beyond what any library in the region was doing at that time. 

One of her colleagues shared:

The amount of work that she did during the most challenging times this year is truly amazing.

In addition to facilitating countless curbside pickups and resolving many issues related to patron requests, Joan did an enormous amount of scanning on demand and provided a lot of support to many of us.

Past honorees of the Edward J. Belanger Staff Award serve as the award committee for the University Libraries staff.

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.

University Research Day — Abstracts Needed

We encourage you to submit an abstract for The Catholic University of America’s sixth annual University Research Day (URD). The date for this year’s URD is Thursday April 15, 2021. Much more information and guidelines for submissions are available on the URD website (

To apply to present a paper or poster at URD 2021, please complete the abstract submission form available on the URD Abstract Submissions page. Abstracts must be received by 5 p.m. on Feb.19, 2021, to be considered. 

There will be a second URD Abstract Workshop Feb 2 at noon for students who need assistance in writing an effective abstract. Please see the announcement on the Nest:

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact

We look forward to another exciting University Research Day!

The URD 2021 Planning Committee

Introducing! EDU is now available to our campus community through September 30, 2021. The streaming service is dedicated to jazz, soul, funk, and world music. Co-founded by music legend Quincy Jones and jazz impresario and producer Reza Ackbaraly. Qwest has over 1,000 + rarely seen or unreleased documentaries on legendary figures, as well as newcomers; hundreds of live shows and concerts; and archival footage from personal collections. It is a treasure-trove for music lovers.

Quincy Jones Image from Wikimedia Commons
Dave Brubeck Image from Wikimedia Commons

Being a fan of Dave Brubeck, I was excited to see archival footage of the Dave Brubeck quartet-RTBF Archives 1965. The quartet features Dave Brubeck on piano, Eugene Wright on bass, Joe Morello on drums, and Paul Desmond on alto saxophone. Check out the footage right here.

Take time over the holiday break to dive into this amazing streaming service! Access the streaming service using this link.

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.

Bell, S. (2019). “Time for a new position in the academic library?” Library Journal. October 9.

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).

Eberle, M. (2018). “Academic libraries and mental health.” Massachusetts Library System.

National Alliance on Mental Illness. (2020).

Mental Health First Aid. (2020).

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

Reserve and Renew zine. (2020).

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.


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.

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.

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.