Johnny Mercer Tribute Concert on GPB

Johnny MercerMissed the Johnny Mercer Tribute Concert earlier this year?  You’re in luck, GSUTV recorded the concert and it will be aired on Georgia Public Broadcasting Sunday December 9th at 7:00 pm and again on Tuesday December 11th at 6:00 pm.

It’s been said that getting through the day without hearing one Johnny Mercer song is almost impossible—and why would you want to? Georgia’s own Johnny Mercer wrote the lyrics to over 1,400 songs, including four Academy Award-winners. From the light-hearted “You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby” and “Jeepers Creepers” to the cinematic “Hooray for Hollywood” and the timeless “Moon River,” Mercer wrote words and music for an American century.

Hard-bop trumpeter and vocalist Joe Gransden and beloved blues, jazz, and gospel singer Francine Reed join the Georgia State University Jazz Band’s tribute to Mercer’s incomparable legacy, as they perform a selection of his many hits and new arrangements of some of his unpublished works.

Want to know more? Visit the Johnny Mercer Collection at Special Collections and Archives or contact Kevin Fleming, archivist, Popular Music and Culture Collection, at 404-413-2880 or

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Oral History Project Planning 101

“An oral history interview generally consists of a well-prepared interviewer questioning an interviewee and recording their exchange in audio or video format.”

-Donald Ritchie, Doing Oral History

Oral histories can include official interviews with important figures. They can include family histories, and they can document the ways that communities or neighborhoods have grown and evolved over time. Oral histories can also provide a history for under-documented communities, when no official records or narratives exist.

While published accounts and archival records can tell you “what happened,” oral histories can tell you how decisions were made in order to facilitate events and what it felt like to watch, participate in, or be affected by these events. They can provide an insider’s perspective, and they often provide multiple, sometimes competing narratives. Awash with memory, personal interpretations, humanity and emotion, they can make history come alive.

Archivists at Georgia State University have a long history of documenting communities through oral histories, and on Saturday, December 1, from 1:00-4:00 pm, they will share their knowledge and advice during a new Oral History Project Planning 101 workshop.

This workshop will take place at Georgia State University’s Clarkston campus and is free and open to the public. Registration is required, and space is limited. See below for the details or visit the library’s event page.

Oral History Project Planning 101

Do you have an idea for an oral history project but need help developing a plan? Attend this workshop presented by Georgia State University Library’s Special Collections & Archives to find out what steps you need to take to shape your idea into a viable project. We’ll share what’s worked for us (and what hasn’t), review key decisions you should make before starting, and help you create a project plan.

Attendees and archivists from our June oral history workshop.


  • Small group breakout sessions
  • Personalized advice from Georgia State University archivists
  • Hands-on interviewing practice
  • Discussion of ethical & legal issues
  • Preservation & storage tips
  • Equipment recommendations & more!

Hands-on interviewing practice.


Saturday, December 1st, 2018, 1:00 PM-4: 00 PM


Georgia State University Library
Clarkston Campus, Building CL
555 N. Indian Creek Dr.
Clarkston, GA 30021


Register here: 


For more information contact us at 404-413-2880 or

Want to find out about similar events? Visit the Special Collections & Archives website and follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Thank you and we hope to see you soon!

-The Special Collections & Archives team

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Upcoming Workshop: Teaching with Primary Sources: Using Sources to Build Narratives

WSB radio banner“Teaching with Primary Sources” is an ongoing series of workshops designed to introduce faculty and graduate student instructors to creative strategies for incorporating a range of primary sources, including but not limited to archival, digital, and/or subscription primary sources, into classroom instruction.

Kevin Fleming, Popular Music and Culture Archivist, and Jill Anderson, Humanities Instruction Librarian, are offering the “Teaching with Primary Sources: Using Sources to Build Narratives” workshop for faculty and graduate student instructors. This workshop will be held on Monday, December 3,  1pm to 3pm, in the Colloquium Room, Library South 8, on the Atlanta campus.

In this hands-on workshop, attendees will be the “students” for an exercise utilizing primary materials from Special Collections and Archives and from the Library’s general collections. The workshop will suggest creative ways to introduce a research activity or project by developing a narrative from a selection of primary sources.

The exercise will be followed by discussion and brainstorming on other creative ways to use these resources for teaching.

Register on the library events calendar. Contact Jill or Kevin if you have any questions. Please join us!

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Announcing Textbook Transformation Grants Round Thirteen, Due Jan. 14, 2019

Affordable Learning Georgia is issuing a new Request for Proposals for Textbook Transformation Grants with applications due by January 14, 2019. Projects have a maximum Final Semester of Spring 2019. Affordable Learning Georgia’s Textbook Transformation Grants are intended to:

  • Explore and expand new and affordable approaches to textbook transformation, including the adoption, adaptation and creation of Open Educational Resources (OER), the adoption of materials available through GALILEO and USG libraries, and the use of other no-cost and low-cost digital materials.
  • Provide support and time to faculty, librarians, instructional designers, and their institutions to implement these approaches.
  • Lower the cost of college for students and contribute to their retention, progression, and graduation.

To apply:

  1. Read the Request for Proposals Document.
  2. Read the Rubric for Peer Review.
  3. Fill out the Word version of the Application Form and keep this form for your records.
  4. Fill out the Online Application Form.

Webinar Archive for Round Thirteen
View Request for Proposals

For more information, contact Denise Dimsdale, Affordable Learning Georgia Library Coordinator, at the GSU Library. The GSU Library is happy to assist instructors with locating open resources, publishing open content, and locating course content and library resources that provide affordable options for students and pedagogical opportunities for instructors.

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Paywall: The Business of Scholarship

Banner image for open access week 2018

Watch Paywall, the movie. (It’s a free movie.)

Have you ever been prompted to pay for an article that you need for your research? If so, you’ve seen what we call a paywall. The GSU library subscribes to hundreds of databases to give faculty and students access to research, but even wealthy universities such as Harvard can’t afford much of the needed research. As GSU faculty and students, if you are prompted to pay, you can request items through Interlibrary Loan which is a free service for you.

Even though, as students and faculty, you can get articles to journals that GSU does not subscribe to for free, there are still problems associated with the high cost of scholarly research. Impacts range from rising tuition costs to the information needs of those not affiliated with a university to solving the world’s problems such as access to clean water, knowledge about medical research, solving issues related to poverty, and more.

In celebration of Open Access week, the GSU library encourages everyone to view the movie, Paywall: The Business of Scholarship. The movie explains why academic publishing is a $25.2 billion a year business with for-profit publishers making a 35-40% profit margin. This profit margin is greater than some of the most successful Tech companies in the world. Paywall explains the problems and discusses why open access is a viable solution to many of the problems associated with scholarly publishing.

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Research in the Raw: Greg Lisby

photograph, Prof. Gregory Lisby, Communication

Prof. Greg Lisby

In the past 25 years, Communication Law has shifted its focus dramatically — from an emphasis on protecting freedom of speech to protecting the money-making opportunities resulting from freedom of speech, from a focus on the First Amendment to a focus on Intellectual Property Law. This is what the Supreme Court meant when it stated that copyright is the “engine of free expression,” which is based on the premise that people do not engage in free expression without the ability to profit financially. Whatever one thinks of this new conceptualization of free expression, it is what has led us directly (if we may steal an alliterative phrase from Perry Mason) to “The Case of the Smiling Simian Selfie.”

Can a non-human take a selfie, and if so, who owns the photograph? Communication law expert Gregory Lisby, Professor and Chair of Communication at Georgia State University and a licensed attorney in the state of Georgia, will be discussing the infamous “monkey selfie” case, stemming from apparent “selfies” of macaque monkeys taken using photographer Greg Slater’s equipment and which were later published in newspapers in the summer of 2011.

In his presentation “‘Selfies,’ Ownership and Copyright in the Digital Age,” Greg will be discussing these images in the context of questions of personhood, originality, intellectual property ownership, and, of course, whether a monkey can be an author Greg will discuss the infamous 2013 “monkey selfie” case and place it in the context of legal ownership. Greg is the second speaker in the University Library’s new Research in the Raw series.

one of the monkey "selfies" in dispute

Not Prof. Lisby

Research in the Raw is a series of informal talks in which GSU faculty members share work-in-progress. The series is brought to you by the Library’s Department of Research and Engagement.


Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2018


Colloquium Room, 8th Floor Library South

Register to attend


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M.H. Ross Papers Highlights

For this final blog post about the M.H. Ross Papers, the team who worked on the digitization project are highlighting our favorite pieces from the collection.

Kathryn Michaelis, Digital Projects Coordinator, Digital Library Services

Over the course of this year, I have spent a lot of time with the oral histories in the Ross collection. My choices reflect the general nature of these recordings and highlight Ross’ down-to earth personality.

Coal miners (Hess, Hornyak, Elekes, Belotsky, Merriweather), interviewed by M.H. Ross, 1971-05-17

This is an interview that Ross did with a group of coal miners who talk about their work and unionizing experiences in the early 20th century. You can tell that Ross loved talking to miners, and he encouraged them to express their true opinions and to talk about their lives honestly.

M.H. Ross, interviewed by Jane Ross Davis, 1986-09-16 (part 2)

Of the nearly 200 audio and video recordings in the collection, there are six recordings of Mike Ross being interviewed by his daughter Jane “Jancy” about his life. They all contain detailed descriptions of his experiences, and this is the beginning of the audio (the first part is transcript only). I love hearing him talk about his life in such an informal, unvarnished way.

Jeremy Bright, Library Technical Assistant – Digital Projects, Digital Library Services

For me, this is representative of Ross’ commitment to progressive values at a very early stage in his life and career. Not only did Ross volunteer his time for other progressive candidates and organizations, but he ran his own campaigns for both local and national politics, embracing a political platform that would still be considered progressive 70 years later. Through his papers, Ross’ passion and dedication to addressing and remedying racism, anti-semitism, sexism, and prejudice of all forms is made clear.



Anne West Ross: Union Maid by Jane Ross Davis, 2006 [L2001-05_120_23]

This is one of my absolute favorite documents in the Ross collection. Created by his daughter Jane Ross Davis, this booklet compiles and contextualizes news clippings, correspondence, songs from the labor movement, and photographs to describe her relationship to her family and the “family business,” specifically focusing on her mother. Anne West Ross, Mike Ross’ wife, was a union organizer in her own right and continued to dedicate herself to the labor movement (as well as a host of other progressive causes) after marrying Ross and beginning a family with him. There are so many moments in which she is the pivotal figure in Ross’ success, and this booklet is a way of engaging with that history.


Laurel Wilson, Sponsor Funded Office/Clerical, Library Technical Assistant, Digital Library Services

I’ve come to greatly admire Mike Ross and his wife Anne (Buddie), and their lifelong commitment to empowering the American people most in need, even at great personal cost. My selections are representative of Ross’ unwavering belief in the power of the people; that hardworking men and women of all walks of life can participate in the American Dream if united in the pursuit of fairness and opportunity for all.


Morenci: Diary of a Strike is a film produced by the United Steelworkers of American to document the strike of Phelps Dodge Corporation copper miners in Morenci, Arizona in 1955. This rare film provides an excellent education on the inner workings of a strike in the middle of the 20th century and highlights not only the diversity and closeness of a family-oriented union community, but the strength of unity and cooperation in labor, as well. This film also features Mike Ross in his role as union arbitrator.


The Man Who Stole Your Vote speaks to the eclectic nature of the M.H. Ross Papers. This educational comic book, released in 1952 by the National Research Bureau as part of the Good Government Series, colorfully teaches the power of representation—or lack thereof. American enfranchisement has been hard-fought and won through generations, and this material very well fits in with Ross’ belief in equal, participatory government.




The M.H. Ross Papers is available online thanks to a $48,865 grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission. You can explore the collection or get started with the Finding Aid

Previous M.H. Ross Blog entries:

New Digital Collection: M.H. Ross Papers

M.H. Ross Runs for City Council in Charlotte

A Young Man of Conviction – The Early Years of M.H. Ross

Sacrifice – The Rosses in the South

Panel to Discuss M.H. Ross: Labor Leader and Coal Miner’s Advocate


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Posted in Art & Design, Digital Collections, Film & Media, For Faculty, For Graduate Students, For Students, Government Information, History, Oral Histories, Political Science, Primary Resources, Special Collections & Archives, Uncategorized, Videos | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Is banning books a thing?

This week (Sept. 23-29) is #BannedBooksWeek

Banned Books Week 2018 banner image


Now celebrated annually, Banned Books Week was started in 1982 “in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries,” and its purpose is to “bring together the entire book community — librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types — in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular” (2018 Banned Books Week website).

Each year the American Library Association (ALA) Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) compiles lists of challenged books. Below are the Top Ten Challenged Books of 2017, with links to catalog records where you can either check the book out from any GSU campus library, request it from another University System of Georgia (USG) library, or request it via ILLiad interlibrary loan from a non-USG library:

  1. Thirteen Reasons Why written by Jay Asher
  2. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian written by Sherman Alexie
  3. Drama written and illustrated by Raina Telgemeier
  4. The Kite Runner written by Khaled Hosseini
  5. George written by Alex Gino
  6. Sex is a Funny Word written by Cory Silverberg and illustrated by Fiona Smyth
  7. To Kill a Mockingbird written by Harper Lee
  8. The Hate U Give written by Angie Thomas
  9. And Tango Makes Three written by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson and illustrated by Henry Cole
  10. I Am Jazz! written by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings and illustrated by Shelagh McNicholas

Banning books — is it a thing?

Given there’s an entire week bringing attention to attempts at censoring books in the US, we might jump to the conclusion that tons of people are running around trying to remove books from libraries. But let’s pause and ask ourselves, “I wonder if there’s data that examines US people’s attitudes about removing books from libraries?” Well, as luck would have it, there is!

The General Social Survey, or GSS for short, which has been conducted approximately every other year since 1972, tracks hundreds of trends in social characteristics and attitudes over the past four decades. While not a survey of the entire US population, it is a full-probability, national-level sample survey — in layman’s terms, that means you can be pretty confident that the opinions of the group of people surveyed in any given year generally reflect those of the US population at that time.

The GSS includes a series of questions that asks participants if they “favor removing” a book from the public library for various reasons, including but not limited to the following:

  • a book that is “against churches and religion” [GSS variable LIBATH, asked 1972-2016]
  • a book written by “a man who admits that he is a homosexual” that is “in favor of homosexuality” [GSS variable LIBHOMO, asked 1973-2016]
  • a book written by a Muslim clergyman that “preaches hatred of the United States” [GSS variable LIBMSLM, asked since 2008]
  • a book that claims “Blacks are [genetically] inferior” [GSS variable LIBRAC, asked 1976-2016]

Click on the variable name links above to explore the general trends in attitudes over the years.

But wouldn’t personal characteristics influence someone’s attitudes about removing books from libraries?

Great question! In statistics language: you want to see if various independent variables (e.g., race/ethnicity, religion, political views, sexual and/or gender identity, library use, etc.) have an effect on the dependent variables of removing books from libraries for various reasons. If you don’t feel like playing with the GSS data yourself, you’re in luck that some recent researchers explored this question using the GSS data:

If you do want to explore the GSS data yourself, there are a couple of online tools for doing so:

For example, I was curious to explore if one’s opinions about removing a book “against churches and religions” [GSS variable LIBATH] would be influenced by that person’s religious beliefs. Rather than use the same independent variables that the articles above had used for their religion measure, I used the SDA online tool and found the following question:

  • Please tell me whether you strongly agree, agree, disagree, or strongly disagree with the following statement: I try hard to carry my religious beliefs over into all my other dealings in life [GSS variable name RELLIFE, asked last in 2010]

I used the SDA online tool to set up a crosstabs table to explore the relationship between these two variables:Setting up crosstabs table to compare Row=LIBATH and Column=RELLIFE with a Selection Filter=YEAR(2010) and with a stacked bar chart that shows column percent values









After clicking the Run the Table button, another browser tab opened with: (1) a table containing the percentages (in bold) and counts broken down by question answer for the 1,239 people in 2010 who answered this question, and (2) a stacked bar chart displaying the percentages broken down by question answer. To save space I’m just going to include the stacked bar chart below for our interpretation:

Stacked bar chart of relationship between LIBATH and RELLIFE variables










What does this chart seem to tell us about the relationship of these variables?

  1. Start at the right side of the chart and focus on the green sections of the bars. As we move from right to left across the horizontal axis from respondents saying they ‘strongly disagree’ to those saying they ‘strongly agree’ with the statement “I try hard to carry my religious beliefs over into all my other dealings in life,” we see a steady increase in the percentage of GSS participants who thought a book “against churches and religions” should be removed from the public library. In other words, this data supports a claim that, generally, the more a person tries to carry their religious beliefs into their everyday life, the more likely they are to say an anti-church/anti-religion book should be removed from the public library.
  2. That said, if we focus on the purple section of the bars, we should note that 60% of those that strongly agreed and 75% that agreed with the statement “I try hard to carry my religious beliefs over into all my other dealings in life” did *not* think that an anti-church/anti-religion book should be removed from the public library. So, this data supports a claim that, generally, even if people feel that their own religious beliefs should factor into their everyday life, they are more likely to be tolerant of anti-church/anti-religion ideas being available in public library books than they are to wish that the books be removed/censored.

Want to dig into this or other data even deeper?

If we downloaded this data into a statistical software package like SPSS, SAS, or R to run tests of statistical significance, we could make more definitive conclusions about the relationship between these two variables as well as factor in other variables. Sound like fun? If so, the Library’s Research Data Services Team can help you find data and learn how to use tools to analyze it. We want to arm you with data for success in your academic life and beyond!

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Announcing Research in the Raw: Ruth Stanford


Science generally entails methodical investigation of a subject or phenomenon outside the self. The earth’s layers of soil and stone tell a story of past physical process; the fossil record tells of lives once lived. The history of the earth, the universe, or the human race can be meticulously reconstructed through objective scientific investigation. My work is an attempt to invert the process of science, to encourage the viewer to self-examination, to explore a realm where individual truths deposit layer by layer. I want to compel the viewer to navigate the fault lines of human interaction, to seek out and explore places where things shift, places where truth comes into question – Ruth Stanford

Sculptor Ruth Stanford began her career studying butterfly courtship behavior and protecting cave-dwelling beetles and other invertebrates as an endangered species ecologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Central Texas. With a scientist’s curiosity and keen observation skills, she now specializes in installation and site-specific sculpture, choosing particular media in service to concept.

The University Library is excited to announce Ruth Stanford, Associate Professor of Sculpture, practicing artist, and recipient of the Provost’s Study in a Second Discipline Fellowship as this fall’s first Research in the Raw speaker.

Research in the Raw is a series of informal talks in which GSU faculty members share work-in-progress.  The series is brought to you by the Library’s Department of Research & Engagement.

On September 25th, Ruth will describe her recent study trip to Africa, show preliminary work created during her travels, and discuss her plans for an upcoming body of work that incorporates this research.

Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2018
Colloquium Room, 8th Floor Library South
Register to attend

More about Ruth and her work can be found on her website:

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National History Day @ GSU Library

This fall we are opening our doors to the National History Day community.  On October 6th and October 20th, Georgia State University Library is participating in NHD Georgia’s Research Roundup events.  National History Day is an academic program and competition which challenges middle and high school students to critically exam history.  This year’s theme is “Triumph & Tragedy in History.”  GSU’s Research Roundups are opportunities for budding historians to develop research skills and access the resources of a major research university library.

Last October, Georgia State welcomed nearly 100 social studies students and teachers from the DeKalb Early College Academy to our downtown library and archives.  DECA students participated in workshops with librarians and archivists.  Students were also given the opportunity to use GSU’s vast online resources on their own.

Students and teachers from DeKalb Early College Academy visit the Atlanta campus in October 2017.

This year, the library is broadening our reach and offering Research Roundup events at several campuses.  On October 6th, NHD students are welcome to visit our Dunwoody or Clarkston campus libraries.  Students can attend an orientation session where librarians will introduce library resources & discuss research strategies.  Students will then be able to use our collections, including extensive primary and secondary sources.  GSU librarians will be available to assist with research.  Space is limited to 35 students per campus.  For more details & to register for Roundups at Dunwoody or Clarkston see our registration form.

In addition, a limited number of NHD students can spend an afternoon at our Atlanta campus archives where they can explore the university’s unique collections.  Students will participate in a 90 minute workshop as an introduction to archival research.  After a break, the remaining time will be spent researching in the archives with assistance from GSU archivists.  Space is limited to 12 students.  This is an opportunity to do a truly unique NHD project.  For more details & to register for the Atlanta campus event see our registration form.

More information for students and teachers can be found on our National History Day Research Guide, including descriptions of GSU subscription resources available during the Roundups.

You can also contact Scott Pieper, the Reference & Instruction librarian coordinating GSU’s NHD program or Christina Zamon, Department Head of Special Collections & Archives.

We look forward to working with NHD students!

Scott Pieper is a Reference & Instruction Librarian at the Decatur Campus of GSU Library.  Scott’s research interests include pipeline to college programming and motivational theories applied to library learners.

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