June 7

Trexler Library Scuttlebutt

Monthly Update

2013 Library Scholars Awards

The Trexler Library Scholar awards recognize students who have demonstrated growth in and increased understanding of information literacy through independent study. Students were nominated by faculty, and the winners were chosen through an application process.

This year's winners are:

Peter Schartel, Class of 2013, Biology Major-Nominated by Dr. Elizabeth McCain

Research Description

During the past semester, I have worked with Dr. McCain of the Biology Department to develop an independent research project. This project is focused on the embryological development of the aquatic invertebrate Daphnia, which is famous for the fascinating changes in its morphology that are induced in response to predator-released chemicals known as kairomones.

In formulating my research question, I had to become familiar with Daphnia through an extensive primary literature review. I began this process by reading peer-reviewed journal articles from diverse fields, including ecology, toxicology, developmental biology, and physiology. While surveying the literature, I noticed a peculiar trend in Daphnia research: Relatively little work has been done on the embryological development of these organisms and on the underlying mechanisms for defensive structure formation. Since developmental biology interests both Dr. McCain and me, I decided to focus my research project on the embryology of Daphnia. Defining my research objective then allowed me to begin a more targeted literature review. . . . My research project has received funding for this summer through the Vaughan Summer Research Grant.

Enhancing Information Literacy

During my freshman year introductory Biology course, I learned about the Biology Subject Guide on the Trexler Library website. I used this resource as a starting point for finding peer-reviewed literature on the topic of Daphnia. . . . In order to find additional high-quality information, I sifted through the references of the articles that I had found through broad database searching. I was able to get many of these secondary articles through my Muhlenberg online access to journals. . . . In addition, I was able to obtain articles that I could not access directly through the Interlibrary Loan program. In these ways, I have used the resources available through Trexler Library to efficiently identify and obtain essential peer-reviewed literature. . . .

The process of developing my own research question was novel and challenging. Since reading primary literature takes a very different skill set than reading textbooks for college classes, I was not initially prepared to evaluate sources of information critically. . . . However, as I spent more time with peer-reviewed literature and saw more examples of good and bad study design, I developed the skills necessary to quickly evaluate peer-reviewed research articles. These skills have allowed me to avoid wasting time on irrelevant and/or flawed studies, leaving me with more time to focus on dissecting the best articles I have found. . . . I had to search broadly for relevant articles and then integrate the dispersed information into a coherent knowledge base. . . . The skills that I have developed in information literacy have allowed me to modify and improve my experimental design based on high-quality, peer-reviewed primary literature.

Kerry McGowan, Class of 2015, Biology Major -Nominated by Dr. Erika Iyengar

Research Description

Isopods are macroinvertebrates of the subphylum Crustacea, including both terrestrial and aquatic species. . . . We are investigating whether or not habitat preference of the isopods changes in the presence of several species of sunfish, their natural predators. . . . We hypothesized that in the absence of predators, isopods would favor the leaf habitats because they offer a large food supply. . . . In the presence of fish, we hypothesized that that the isopods would favor the aquatic vegetation, which provides a denser hideout less accessible by the fish but with little to no CPOM. We supposed that isopods would sense the fish by their physical presence in the tank (though separated from the isopods by a mesh screen) and also by chemical cue present in the fish-conditioned water. Ultimately, the isopods face a behavioral tradeoff of whether to occupy a niche with an ideal food supply or one with greater protection from predators.

Enhancing Information Literacy

Working with Dr. Iyengar has further exposed me to the ways in which the larger scientific community transmits ideas and shares knowledge. In our ongoing species identification process, Dr. Iyengar provided several experts in the field who I then contacted for information and assistance. I also familiarized myself with much of their past publications through online journals. Thus, I was exposed to the virtual wealth of scientific information Muhlenberg's online subscriptions offer in much more depth than I have yet experienced in my classes. With Dr. Iyengar's guidance and suggestions, I became acquainted with a large amount of published research on isopods, which are surprisingly understudied species for their abundance and diversity.

In designing our project, I focused on finding primary research to gain foundational knowledge and to explore what research has been performed already. Once I gained a sense of what is currently known about isopod species, I was then able to pull information from the articles I had read to combine them in innovative ways in our experiment. . . . As I began to hone in on my experimental topic, I was able to more effectively sift through information and discard what I knew I no longer needed.

My laboratory partner and I are currently troubleshooting and altering our setup as needed, and past information that I have accumulated into my knowledge base helps determine which changes are valid and helpful for our experiment. Again, my expertise in this area is developing but not finished, and I doubt this learning process will ever be completed only improved over time. However, I have definitely enhanced my ability to synthesize a new hypothesis from background information accumulated from a variety of scientific sources.

Megan Postemski, Class of 2013, Anthropology and History Double Major-Nominated by Dr. Benjamin Carter

Research Description

Settlers of Downeast Maine in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries have typically been portrayed by historians as living harsh, uncomfortable and impoverished lives on the frontier. There is a presumed disparity in wealth between settlers in Maine, a province of Massachusetts during this timeframe, and well-established residents of Massachusetts proper. Despite the prevalence of this presumption of poverty, I hypothesize that life in Downeast Maine was not as difficult as previously thought. Archaeological and historical data were used to test this hypothesis. Overall, this research proposes that settlers of Downeast Maine were able to profit in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries due to their use of privately-held terrestrial and commonly-held marine resources. Access to farming, fishing and timber provided potential resources with which settlers could diversify their economic pursuits to make their lives more comfortable on the frontier.

Enhancing Information Literacy

My research on life in Downeast Maine during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries has enhanced my information literacy by forcing me to evaluate information and sources more critically. Historians depict settlers in Downeast Maine during this timeframe as exceedingly impoverished and destitute, and ostensibly this portrayal . . . is supported by extensive documentary evidence. However, there are in fact significant gaps in the historical record for Downeast Maine. Thus, in my research, I have been compelled to turn a critical eye to the primary and secondary sources that support the "presumption of poverty."

In addition to becoming better able to critically evaluate primary sources, I have learned through my research to be more critical of secondary sources that necessarily rely on these historical records. The sparse documentary evidence pertaining to Downeast Maine has made it difficult for academic historians to understand at once the individual pioneer experience and the pioneer experience in its totality; as a result, the history of Downeast Maine during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries is over-homogenized and the "presumption of poverty" dominates.

In short, my research about life in Downeast Maine during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries has made me evaluate more critically how other historians use documents, the documents themselves, and perhaps more significantly, how I use evidence, whether it is historical or archaeological.

A special thank you to this judges:

Dr. Michael Huber, Dean of Academic Life
Jennifer Jarson, Information Literacy and Assessment Librarian
Kassandra Tessitore, Class of '14, 2012 Library Scholar

Pennsylvania Library Association Conference Held at Muhlenberg

This is the second time in 4 years that the Pennsylvania Library Association, Lehigh Valley Chapter, has decided to host its annual conference on the campus of Muhlenberg College. The first time, in May of 2010, Seegers Union (as you may recall) was in the midst of renovation. That year, the event was held largely in Moyer Hall, with some larger sessions held in Trumbower 130. We received many positive comments about the beauty of the campus, and the ease of getting around, and in general the high quality of the physical plant.

So it was no surprise that this year the conference committee opted to hold the conference here again (the conference was held at NCC and LCCC the past two years). And this year, everything could be held in one building(!), a feat that has not, to Scuttlebutt's memory, been accomplished at other campuses. All 130 attendees at sessions, the luncheon, and keynote were easily accommodated in the newly and beautifully renovated Seegers Union.

Our own Jen Jarson and Tim Clarke participated on the conference planning committee, helping to orchestrate the many details that go into a successful event. Jen Jarson and Kelly Cannon each presented at the conference, in well-attended sessions, Jarson presenting on information literacy, and Cannon on copyright.

Upcoming NITLE Webinar (Register Now!)

Upcoming NITLE webinar, free to Muhlenberg employees:

Title: Web Writing: Why and How for Liberal Arts Teaching and Learning

Date: Tuesday, June 18, 2013, 2-3 pm EDT

Location: Hosted online via NITLE's videoconferencing platform


Why should (or shouldn't) we integrate the Internet into our writing assignments? How does student learning and faculty pedagogy change when we share drafts and comments on the public web? What types of authoring, annotating, and publishing tools deepen -- or distract from -- a thoughtful liberal arts education? Jack Dougherty, Associate professor of educational studies, and Jason Jones, Director of Educational Technology, both of Trinity College, invite readers and contributors to shape the direction of a born-digital book-in-progress, Web Writing: Why & How for Liberal Arts Teaching & Learning, sponsored by the Center for Teaching and Learning at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut.

Faculty, instructional technologists, librarians and others from the NITLE Network interested in web-based writing across the curriculum, ebooks, and open access publishing should attend this seminar. Attendance by institutional teams is encouraged; individuals are also welcome to participate.


Please register online by Friday, June 14, 2013. Participation in NITLE Shared Academics seminars is open to all active member institutions of the NITLE Network as a benefit of membership and as space allows. No additional registration fee applies.

Registration link:


For more information about this event, please contact Rebecca Davis at


Coast of Maine Webcams

Infomaniac often longs to be on the coast of Maine, especially when sitting in front of a desktop computer during the warm summer months. Do you feel the same way? Well, Infomaniac doesn't know if this will make things better or worse for you, but here are some webcams of the coast of Maine that just may transport you there.


REGULAR SUMMER HOURS: Through Friday, August 16

Monday - Thursday 9:00 a.m. - 9:00 p.m.
Friday 9:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
Saturday 12:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Sunday 12:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.

July 4: Closed

INTERSESSION: Saturday, August 17 - Sunday, August 25
Saturday, August 17 - Sunday, August 18 Closed
Monday, August 19 - Friday, August 23 9:00 a.m. - 9:00 p.m.
Saturday, August 24 (Orientation) 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Sunday, August 25 (Orientation) 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

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