Category Archives: resources

Chocolate Myths: Is It Really Good For You?

Just in time for Halloween, research finds that perhaps chocolate isn’t as good for us as we hoped. Vox reports that the Mars company has sponsored hundreds of scientific studies to show cocoa is good for you, leading people to believe that chocolate has all sorts of health benefits, including aiding everything from your memory to your heart health.  The truth is far more modest than we’ve been led to believe by flashy articles on websites, magazines and TV programs.

Research about the benefits of chocolate is available all over the web, and can be found in reputable sources. One examples of this research includes the article “To Improve a Memory, Consider Chocolate” in The New York Times, which explained that the study participants who drank the high flavanol beverage “performed like people two to three decades younger on the study’s memory task.” It sounds like an amazing finding, but you have to read more to discover that they are looking at the consumption of a specially formulated drink, and it would take the consumption of seven larger candy bars to get a similar amount of flavanols. The study also had a small number of participants and several other important caveats. Original research is often much more nuanced than articles in newspapers and magazines.

The lack of detailed analysis in many popular articles is compounded by the fact that many industries produce a substantial body of research to persuade consumers that their products have benefits, which may be overstated in secondary reports. This is where the library comes in! When reading reports on the web and in magazines, it is always best to try to go to the original source to see if the results have been reported accurately. For example, the HuffPost recently had an article 9 Reasons you should Eat Dark Chocolate Every Single Day; the original articles are often buried many clicks deep, but once you get to them, you’ll find full PDFs in library databases like Science Direct or PubMed. The original studies report results that are not nearly as dramatic or conclusive as articles like the HuffPost piece suggest. Sadly, if it sounds too good to be true, it likely is.

For an amusing look at the ways food companies manipulate research about candy, watch John Oliver’s expose on Sugar.

You Asked. We Answered: Introducing the Library’s New Workshop Series

Each year, we survey students to find out what services you’d like to see the Library offer. In last year’s comments, we noticed a theme:

  • “Hold library information sessions early on in each semester [that] are accessible at a variety of times.”
  • “Have more workshops.”
  • “Advertising the resources available at the library more, and holding events once a month on how to use the library resources.”
  • “I think holding more workshops in the library that students are required to attend would encourage more people to spend time there.”

We’re not requiring you to attend, but we are offering a new series of library skills workshops.  We asked students to vote on the workshops that sounded most interesting to them, and selected workshop topics to address common concerns that students may have.  Workshops are hands on and encourage students to bring their laptops and upcoming assignments.

Video versions of the workshops are available at additional workshop videos are added as they occur. Faculty are also welcome to add the workshop videos to their eLearn pages.  New workshops will be designed and held to respond to requests, so if you don’t see what you want, email and we will be delighted to accommodate your needs. Additional videos addressing library skills like searching the databases, finding full text and creating annotated bibliographies are available at

Workshops on Time Management and Refining your Research Question have already been held.  Workshops are held on Mondays at 8PM in the DisCo. Additional days and times will be added.

Upcoming workshops in the DisCo:

  • Monday October 9 at 8PM
    Refining your Research Question
    Have an upcoming paper? Not quite sure how to formulate a good research question? We can walk you through the process of refining your research question to make your research easier and more efficient.
  • Monday October 16 at 8PM
    Get your stuff together
    Have you saved so many things to the desktop that you can’t find your most recent download? Are you starting a research project that requires a lot of steps? Are you taking more than one class at once? Do you want to learn how to organize your inbox so you can find what you’re looking for? This is the workshop for you! Please bring your computers, questions, and enthusiasm as we get your emails, PDFs, word documents and more organized.
  • Monday October 23 at 8PM
    Google like a Pro
    Looking to take your google search to the next level?  We’ll go over advanced search techniques that you can use in google to find the credible sources and information that you’re looking for. Please bring your computers, questions, and remember: Don’t “just google it”, google it like a professional.
  • Monday October 30 at 8PM
    Manage your Citations
    APA, MLA, Chicago and more! Interested in learning about a program that can organize your citations and help you with in-text formatting? This workshop will go over how to utilize the citation manager Refworks to organize your research, create bibliographies and in-text citation. Please bring your laptops and some sources you would like to organize (if you have them).

Additional topics coming soon include:

  • What’s a Scholarly Source
  • Keep Up with the Times
  • Research at the Beach
  • HTML + CSS Basics
  • Primary Sources
  • Record Your Genius

4 Days, 40 sessions: FYE’s new Digital and Information Skills week

This year, for the first time, first-year students at Stonehill have participated in a Digital and Information Skills orientation in the MacPhaidin Library as part of the First Year Experience (FYE) program.

Senior and FYE co-faciltator Cassidy Ballard ’18, writes “I think that the most beneficial part of the program was the wide variety of information presented to the students. It often takes Stonehill students a year or more to figure out all of the information that was presented at the FYE program on their own. This way, the students know what resources are available to them at the beginning of their Stonehill careers.”

From September 19th to September 22nd, the 40 sections of FYE visited the Library for an introduction from Information Technology, the Center for Writing and Academic Achievement, and the Library. Moving through the first floor in groups of nine, students spent half of their 75-minute class session in the DisCo learning about IT systems, then spent the other half at five CWAA and Library stations to introduce them to the array of people and resources available to support their writing and research.

83% of FYE Instructors and Co-facilitators surveyed “strongly agreed” that the information included in the program was valuable, and 92% of students either “strongly agreed” or “somewhat agreed” with this statement. We plan to include a question in our annual student survey at the start of spring semester that will ask first-year students whether they used any of program’s information or skills during their first semester.

“Our overarching goal for the program,” says Liz Chase, Head of Collections, Assessment, and User Engagement, “is that if they remember nothing else, students remember that there are friendly, welcoming people in the Library, CWAA, and IT who can help them find the answers to their questions and be successful in their classes.”

Students who participated in the session were introduced to:

IT Learning Stations

  • Searching email: how to find lost emails from your Professors and Staff
  • How to save to OneDrive: how to never lose your work the night before a paper is due
  • Creating folders within OneDrive: save time for the next four years by organizing your assignments by semester and class
  • Editing the my courses module in eLearn: save time by making sure your current classes are front and center
  • Where do you find the answers to your questions? Learn how to access the Knowledgebase & training resources for answers to all your IT questions

Library Learning Stations

  • Learn where in the Library to get research and IT help.
  • Have a paper or project coming up? Need a quiet place to work? Need help getting started? Learn how to book study rooms AND librarians for consultations.
  • It’s not the Dewey Decimal System: Learn how Library of Congress classifications works so you can find the books you need for class and get them checked out.
  • Don’t pay for that article! You already paid your tuition bill, don’t let a paywall in Google Scholar stop you. Find out how to access peer-reviewed and empirical articles for FREE.

CWAA Learning Station

  • Learn about the services offered by the CWAA, where and when to get subject-specific tutoring, and how to book tutoring appointments.

Residence Director Bridget O’Brien noted that “I think this was truly important for our students, and precisely the kind of work that FYE should be doing. I especially commend how active the presentations are, and how they involved students in finding their own information, not passively banking knowledge.”

From the FYE instructors:

“I loved that it was interactive.”

“As an FYE Instructor, I learned a lot!”

“I think that this was a really great, informative program. I wish it was available my freshman year because I know I would have found the information helpful and relevant.”

From the students:

“I thought it was extremely helpful”

“Thought it was very interactive and informative!”

“I liked it.”

We liked it too! Though we were exhausted after delivering our presentations 80 times in 4 days, we hope that first year students will benefit from having Library, CWAA, and IT information at their fingertips as we head into midterms!

If you have any questions about the program, please contact Liz Chase, If you’re a student and you’d like to set up a one-on-one consultation or learn more, please visit the following:

Citation Assistance

The Library has online Citation Guides to help students seeking assistance with footnotes, parenthetical or in-text citations, as well as formatting their work cited pages or bibliographies!

The citations guides provide examples of how to cite resources in both print and electronic format. The guides include APA, Chicago, and MLA, which are the most popular citation styles used on campus. Recently, we have also made guides to citation styles for Chemistry, Biology, Anthropology, Sociology, and Political Science available.

Print citation manuals and style guides as well as handouts for APA, Chicago and MLA are available at the Citation Center, located in the Library outside of room 110, the print room.

If you are citing an unusual resource, or need some citation guidance, the Reference staff is here for you. Stop by the Reference desk and remember to bring your source with you. You can also find us on LibChat on the Library’s Contact Us page.

Library Video Tutorials

videotutorialDo you want your students to learn about a particular library resource or service, but don’t have time for in-class instruction from a librarian? Maybe your students have had some instruction, but you want them to have a refresher available on demand?

Do you want a little help when faced with an unfamiliar database at 3 am? Where do you go if you want to SEE the steps involved in setting up an interlibrary loan account and using ILLiad?

MacPhaidin Library instructional videos may be the answer!

Videos are available 24/7 and most are two to four minutes in length. They can be a way to engage visual and auditory learners, and provide an alternative when face to face library instruction is not possible. Videos can be embedded in eLearn courses, added to web pages, and sent via email.

We have videos that provide user instruction on specific databases, including JSTOR, Academic Search Complete, PubMed, and WorldCat. Links to these videos are placed at the point of use: near the corresponding database in the Electronic Resources list, and in the Finding Articles tab in library guides for individual disciplines or specific classes.

Other videos discuss research related topics such as Understanding Primary and Secondary Sources and How to Choose the Right Database. Still others describe library services, including Creating an Interlibrary Loan Account and Using Course Reserves.

Many videos are created by the library in-house. Others are selected by librarians from videos produced by database vendors like Ebsco, ProQuest, Lexis-Nexis, PubMed, and others.

All videos are available in the Library Video Tutorial Guide, along with links for sharing via email and embedding in eLearn class pages. Most library videos are also available on the Library‘s YouTube channel.

The library continues to create videos and to look for more videos from our vendors. Your suggestions for new videos are welcome!

For more information and to submit suggestions, contact Joe Middleton, 508 565-1433,

HARI: A New Way to Research

4520018121_806712ef8f_oIn person webinar: join colleagues in the Library DisCo at 11:30am on 3/14.

This webinar will open at 11:30am on Monday, March 14th. To access the webinar at this time, click on the link; a download of “Zoom_launcher.exe” should start automatically. On a Windows computer, click on the downloaded file in your browser, then click “Run.”  On a Mac, you will be prompted to download a .zip file of the Zoom Launcher.  Once that is saved, double-click on the .zip file and then double-click “ZoomusLauncher” to install.  The webinar room will be live at 11:30am on Monday.

We are in the process of implementing a new, patents pending inference engine for Stanford in collaboration with a Silicon Valley start-up that is a completely new way to extract meaning and knowledge across multiple sources.  In effect this discovery environment produces inferential semantic relationships among millions of digital documents (articles, books, websites, — any digital  text really) in a wide and expanding range of subject and genres with clear links to the documents if licensed and to information about the documents enabling purchase on demand, potentially a pay-per-view option.

The method, Hyper-Association of Related Inferences (HARI has been developed by an Italian mathematician named Ruggero Grammatica, a friend. The technology combines machine learning, natural language processing, and a succession of algorithms. HARI ingests enormous amounts of ie-texts efficiently, then uses algorithms to determine relationships among concepts, providing a tool for browsing or discovery. (This is at least a thousand times more difficult to put into words than to grasp when you see a demonstration.)  There is an instantiation that has ingested and analyzed 22+ million Medline entries, though more interesting and extensive results arise when full texts are analyzed.

One way to think of it:
Google provides specific answers to specific queries. It’s like a library, such as the library of Congress, in which, instead of gaining access to the stacks, you write down the name of a book, give it to a librarian, and are then given the book for which you asked and only that book.

HARI, by contrast, is like browsing in library stacks. One will find specific information that was sought, but other connections among related concepts will be exposed, and some, perhaps many, of those will be unexpected.

The HARI engine is based on NLP, AI, and custom algorithms that allow the processing of huge amounts of text based information and the extraction of concepts (not keywords).  The concepts are then correlated and identify relationships and inferences on the chosen topic, ultimately revealing the full texts containing the concepts.  It is a semantically based process that can be “tuned” by the end user both in the front end of a search and once results are obtained.

This complements our existing list and link type of search engine tools that academic users, both students and faculty, typically use today. HARI returns a more in-depth, visual result from each search.   At any moment the user can explore any of the concepts displayed and new streams of correlations are presented suggesting new paths of investigation.  And through use of the links, a researcher might be directed to licensed source documents or to a pay per view interface.  The benefits to publishers would be substantial; we wish to engage with you and others to elaborate and extend HARI dramatically.  The benefits to students and professors as well as many other professionals who make use of information resources hiding in thickets of content are also dramatic.


Step Back Into the Nineteenth Century With Our Print Journal Collection

New York ReviewUnbeknown to many Stonehill students, the library has an extensive collection of nineteenth century journals on the second floor of MacPhaidin. Despite impressiveness of this extensive collection, many students do not access the journals. Several teachers have worked to incorporate the journals into their classes in an effort to share these fascinating resources.

Professor Gracombe in the English department loves including the journals in her courses on Victorian literature. She says: “Discovering the library’s large collection of Victorian journals was like finding a completely unexpected, completely amazing portal to the past. It is extremely unusual for a college of Stonehill’s size to have such a diverse collection of periodicals.” The library offers over seventy titles of journals on literature, science, art and many more topics. The periodicals range between the 1800s and 1900s and spanning across the United States as well as Great Britain. Mac Phaidin provides full runs of many of these journals to give students and faculty the complete experience of the journal. Every Saturday, for example, was a literary magazine, published in Boston between 1866 and 1874; this magazine includes publications by renowned authors like Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins. The library provides every copy of this journal to its patrons.

In a digital age, the draw to only using electronic resources is strong and print resources can often go overlooked. However, physical copies of artifacts cannot be taken for granted when scholars are looking for true historical context. Professor Gracombe notes, “I’ve found that having students explore the actual copies of Victorian texts allows them to experience the texture of Victorian writing, literally and figuratively. They see what the original nineteenth-century readers would have seen, including the way articles were juxtaposed with poems, ads, and cartoons.” While electronic resources are helpful when searching for specific terms or questions, the exploration of these journals is best done with the prints themselves. Discovery of different images and articles would not be possible without dedicating the time to leafing through the collection.

Professor Gracombe has taken the search a step further, allowing her students to create their own archived work from the periodicals. In the “Fictions of Englishness” course, students explore the journals from England, in an effort to expand their understanding of “Englishness” in a historical context. The students in this course explore, research, and analyze small pieces of the journals.  Rather than simply handing in an essay of the analysis, students add their work to an online forum created by Professor Gracombe called “Archive of Englishness”. This forum adds to the resources provided by Stonehill for future students in an effort to add to the information provided by the journals themselves.

The Rebirth of Birth of a Nation

birthofnationRace and movies seem to go hand in hand in everyone’s minds these days. With Spike Lee’s surprising strike on the Oscars, due to the white-washed nominations, race is at the front of everyone’s critical eye in the cinematic news. The renewal of interest in a long standing problem in Hollywood is one of many reasons the new film Birth of a Nation is receiving such wide press. 

Nate Parker, the writer, director, and lead actor of the new movie, calls his film a “massive blow to white supremacy.” The independent movie is a retelling of Nat Turner’s slave rebellion of 1831. Its debut at the Sundance Film Festival drew in many excited viewers and did not disappoint. Parker’s work is not the first retelling of Nat Turner’s story. Having had only white writers telling stories of the uprising for years makes it a story well worth rewriting. Many different versions have appeared throughout the decades, including more experimental forms, such as Kyle Baker’s graphic novel retelling, Nat Turner. The new Birth of a Nation appears to be a strong new piece in the history of the 1831 slave uprising. 

Where Parker really makes his mark (not to mention some waves in the news) is not in the content of the movie, but in its infamous title: Birth of a Nation. Many non-film buffs may not recognize the D.W. Griffith title for what it is, but those versed in film history certainly do. Griffith’s Birth of a Nation was a key piece of film history, airing in 1915, and introducing the world to movie aspects that are commonplace today. Where Griffith’s film really stands out is in its unbelievably racist retelling of the American Civil War, which features one-sided, frightening black characters and turns the Ku Klux Klan as the heroes of the picture. 

Professor Itzkovitz opens his Race and Cinema English course with a discussion of Griffith’s film. The class turns a critical eye to the techniques Griffith used to manipulate the audience’s perceptions and emotions. Music, flat characters, and camera effects are all able to manipulate the viewership, even a modern one, to fear the black characters they see as villainous, and root for the most abominable of figures, the Klan. Professor Itzkovitz points out to his students that the film never overtly claims it is about race–instead all the black characters happen to be evil, while all the heroes happen to be white. This kind of subliminal messaging can lead to all kinds of chaos in terms of perception and race. After the release of Griffith’s Birth of a Nation in 1915, the Ku Klux Klan, which had been in the process of dying out, returned with renewed force. 

White audiences can look at white-washed movies and the Oscars strike as though they are nonissues or overreactions. Claiming directors and the Academy are not being racist, or that this is just the way things are, are common assertions. The reappearance of the title, Birth of a Nation, gives pause to these excuses. When seen with a critical eye, the effects of concealed racism are much stronger than it first appears.  

Want to read more about the original film Birth of a Nation? You can find more in D. W. Griffith’s The birth of a nation: a history of “the most controversial motion picture of all time by Melvyn Stokes or in Fighting a movie with lightning : “the birth of a nation” and the black community by Stephanie Laufs.

By Deirdre Clifford ’16

New 19th-Century Religious Studies Donations

bible5The library recently received donations of three special collections books in the field of Catholic Religious Studies.  The first, a Holy Bible published in New York in 1865, was donated to the Library by Peter and Myrna Finn. Like many nineteenth-century publications, this Bible includes a title page that details the translation and publication information for the text at great length. You can view the full title page in the HillSearch record for this title. Director of Libraries Cheryl McGrath showed the bible to Sarah Gracombe, Associate Professor of English, who was particularly struck by the Bible’s “lovely image of Ruth gleaning.” The bible has a tooled leather and gilt cover, and also contains a partial family history, written into the pages between the Old and New Testaments. Family bibles of this time often contain the record of marriages, births, and deaths within a family, and are important sources for genealogical research.

bible8In addition to the 1865 Bible, the Library also recently received Our Faith and its Defenders, by John Gilmary Shea, was published in New York in 1894. Here is an example of a full, nineteenth-century title page:

Our faith and its defenders : comprising the trials and triumphs of the defenders of our faith in America ; together with chapters devoted to Catholic questions of our own day pertaining to America and Americans. Embracing papers from the pens of able writers, including His Holiness Pope Leo XIII, the Most Rev. Archbishop Ireland, and Rev. Doctor O’Gorman. To which is added Great Defenders of the Faith in Every Age. A Defense and Exposition of Catholic Faith and Doctrine. A Full Explanation of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Pictorial Lessons from the Following of Christ. The Fruits of the Faith as Seen in the Lives of Holy Women. The Confraternities and Sodalities of the Catholic Church. With an introduction containing a review of Catholicity in the United States by Richard H. Clarke, LLD. Author of “The Lives of the Deceased Bishops of the United States,” etc., etc.

Amongst the contents of this book are a report from the Third Plenary Council on the education of Catholic children and a “portrait gallery of the great defenders of the faith in America.” This gallery includes a portrait of the Most Rev. John J. Williams, D.D., the son of Irish immigrants, who was the fourth Bishop and then first Archbishop of Boston from 1866 until his death in 1907. This book was not sold in stores, and was only available to readers by subscription.

Our Faith and its Defenders was donated to the Library by Marguerite La Monde, a parishioner of Christ the King Parish in Brockton. The book was delivered to the library on the donor’s behalf by Sister Alice Arsenault, S.U.S.C., who works at the Parish, along with a Holy Bible, published in 1882. This Bible contains a gallery of scripture illustrations, many of which are done in fully color. The Bible has metal clasps, tooled leather and gilt cover, and was printed in Boston.

Faculty, staff, and students are welcome to view and use these texts for their classes and research. These titles would be especially interesting for students in Catholic Intellectual Traditions and Religion classes, or for those studying book history and museum work. If you are interested in viewing these items, please contact Nicole Casper in the College Archives and Historical Collections at or 508-565-1396. Please note that these items will be used in the Archives, and 48 hours’ notice is required to make an appointment to use them.

Writing and Peer Tutoring

lizchaseStudents in Devon Sprague’s Writing and Peer Tutoring class are working with librarian Liz Chase as part of the Faculty Librarian Partnership Program. In this class, students take part in a practicum that prepares them to work as writing tutors in the CWAA. Throughout the course, students enhance their own writing process through weekly posts, short narrative pieces, and research-driven assignments.

During their meetings over the summer and fall, Devon and Liz worked to scaffold the major research assignment for the course, an Applied Theory Essay. This essay gives students an opportunity to connect the theory they’ve read to the practice of tutoring; students are also encouraged to bring their own disciplinary experiences and interests to their research, which could focus on topics as varied as writing as a process, the rhetorical nature of texts, feminism, queer theory, or multiliteracy theory.

Over the course of the assignment, students will have an initial class session with Liz Chase in which they begin the process of brainstorming a research question and developing search strategies. Students will pursue their research independently, then meet with Liz individually to discuss their progress, the sources they’ve found, the questions they have, and the gaps in their research they’d like to fill. A significant portion of students’ grade on the final assignment will evaluate their research process, research question, the quality of their scholarly articles, and how they are incorporated into their final paper.

Ultimately, the goal is for students to develop a reflective, deeper, and more intentional approach to tutoring. Additionally, original and outstanding essays may be submitted for consideration for publication, or to the National Conference on Peer Tutoring in Writing as a presentation proposal.