Information and Society


Research in the Archives: Ashley Brewer

Posted by: Giordana Mecagni


The following is a guest post from Ashley Brewer ’18, a double major in History and English.

Last semester [Fall, 2013], as the final paper for my history course on Dissent in Modern America, I drew up a research proposal on the historic impact of bisexuals on the Gay Rights Movement. I structured this paper around the Bisexual Resource Center collection in Snell Library’s Archives and Special Collections department, partly because of how exhaustive and thorough it was as a source, but also because finding research on the history of the bisexual community was almost impossible. I was surprised to discover that the concept of bisexual erasure extended to the academic community as well; many of the few existing sources were merely self-help guides or scientific studies, with barely a footnote on the subject of the community’s history. Without Northeastern’s Archives, I would not have been able to write my paper at all.

The archive collection itself was received from the Bisexual Resource Center in 2005 and 2007, and consists of 11.5 cubic feet of conference minutes, pamphlets, newspaper clippings, articles, publications, survey results, and, my personal favorite, an extensive scrapbook of the 1993 March on Washington. The documents are not restricted to BRC records but rather cover a wide range of organizations and publications, and one pamphlet in particular details the history of the bisexual community more clearly and concisely than any of the other sources I was able to find. The Archives staff was enthusiastic and extremely helpful, and for future projects I will definitely check there first before venturing over to the Boston Public Library. I cannot begin to express how incredibly essential Snell Library’s Archives and Special Collections department was to my research, and I highly encourage others to take a look and see what they have to offer.

Posted in: Archives and Special Collections, Information and Society, Serendipity


Google Wins Fair Use Argument in Book Search Lawsuit

Posted by: Hillary Corbett


On Thursday, November 14, 2013, eight years after the Authors Guild sued that Google Book Search violated the rights of authors, Judge Denny Chin finally handed down his decision (PDF) on the lawsuit. The Internet giant’s project to scan millions of books held by academic libraries was found to “[advance] the progress of the arts and sciences, while maintaining respectful consideration for the rights of authors and other creative individuals, and without adversely impacting the rights of copyright holders.”

Advocates of fair use are applauding Judge Chin’s decision. Brandon Butler, formerly Director of Public Policy Initiatives at the Association of Research Libraries (and a co-facilitator in the development of the ARL’s Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Academic and Research Libraries), calls the decision “a powerful affirmation of the value of research libraries.” The Library Copyright Alliance, which last year issued an amicus brief in the case, quoted leaders of library organizations in a press release issued yesterday:

“ALA applauds the decision to dismiss the long running Google Books case. This ruling furthers the purpose of copyright by recognizing that Google’s Book search is a transformative fair use that advances research and learning.” – Barbara Stripling, president of the American Library Association
“This decision, along with the decision by Judge Baer in Authors Guild v. HathiTrust, makes clear that fair use permits mass digitization of books for purposes that advance the arts and sciences, such as search, preservation, and access for the print-disabled.” – Carol Pitts Diedrichs, president of the Association of Research Libraries
“I echo the comments of my colleagues that this ruling, that strongly supports fair use principles, enables the discovery of a wealth of resources by researchers and scholars. Google Book search also makes searchable literally millions of books by students and others with visual disabilities. This is a tremendous opportunity for all our communities.” – Trevor A. Dawes, president of the Association of College & Research Libraries

Inevitably, the Authors Guild has already announced its plan to appeal the decision. And some critics, while perhaps not siding with the Authors Guild, have questioned Google’s motives in embarking on the project – readers’ privacy is uncertain, for example. Google has also been criticized for providing low-quality or sometimes just incorrect metadata for the books it has scanned. But having access to such an enormous textual corpus, despite its flaws, is a boon for researchers working in the field of natural language processing — Brandon Butler lauds the decision as “a victory…for transformative, non-consumptive search” — as well as for the visually disabled.

Posted in: Information and Society, Research Online, Scholarly Communications


How the Government Shutdown Is Affecting Research Websites

Posted by: Amira Aaron


Today’s government shutdown is affecting access to information at Northeastern and all libraries, whether directly or indirectly. We’ll do our best to post alerts about web sites that are unavailable on our database A-Z list.

There are different effects depending on the government agency.  For example, web sites that support essential services, such as the National Criminal Justice Reference Service, which supports federal law enforcement, are up and running. Other sites are running but are not being updated, such as PubMed and MedlinePlus.

Some sites are completely down, such as the Department of Education’s ERIC database, but the library purchases ERIC information through private third party vendors and so fortunately we can make ERIC available to the NU community. is also down, although some of the information there may be available in SimplyMap.

We’ve also noticed effects on our behind-the-scenes work.  We are unable to order PDF articles from the National Library of Medicine, and we’re unable to do some database maintenance that relies on information from the Library of Congress.  That won’t affect you in the short term, but we hope the situation is temporary so it doesn’t have long term effects!

Learn more about how the shutdown is affecting libraries here.

We’re really sorry for any inconvenience, and our reference librarians are here to help you find alternative research sources. You can reach us by phone, email, text, or in person at Snell Library at

Posted in: Information and Society, Library News and Events, Research Online


A Panoramic Exploration of Earth’s Winter Landscapes

Posted by: Jonathan Iannone


Join us to view Daniel Desai’s Thesis Showing on Tuesday March 26, 2013, 7:00 PM, in DMC-5.

Digital Media Master’s candidate Daniel Desai uses GigaPan technology, originally developed for space exploration, to create a series of super panoramic images. Meet Daniel, learn about the technology, and view print and digital versions of the images at the thesis showing.

Photo of landscape in Iceland

Posted in: Digital Media Design Studio (DMDS), Information and Society, Library News and Events


Remembering President Kenneth G. Ryder

Posted by: Nina Shah


Hearing of President Ryder’s passing earlier this week inspired a short written acknowledgement to commemorate all that he did for the University and for Snell Library. Kenneth Ryder served as President of Northeastern for fourteen years (1975-1989) when he founded and established many important programs, colleges and units that are now fully incorporated into Northeastern’s rapidly growing academic curriculum. These include the College of Computer Science, the Marine Science Center in Nahant, the Center for the Study of Sport in Society, and the Executive MBA program.

In addition, President Ryder led the campaign for the new Snell Library building, securing the funding from individuals, corporations, as well as the federal government, in order to open the new library in 1990. The building was certainly an upgrade from the original campus library in Dodge Hall and offers four floors of academically rich content, resources, and services. Today, Snell Library welcomes over 1.9 million visits per year and is undergoing some exciting new renovations, as many have already seen, as part of the Digital Media Commons.

I’d like to say, “thank you President Ryder!” for leading these initiatives and showing others how important a state-of-the-art academic library is to an institution like Northeastern.

The photos below are provided by the University Archives & Special Collections located in 92 Snell Library. Many more are available on their website for Northeastern Historical Photographs.

September 27, 1986 - President Ryder speaks at an alumni reception in front of a $13.5 million check secured for the new library building.


September 28, 1988 - Harvey 'Chet' Krentzman, E'49 (left), Chairman of Northeastern University's capital campaign, The Century Fund-Phase II, University President Kenneth G. Ryder, and University Senior Vice President for Development Eugene M. Reppucci, Jr. E'60, MEd'65, H'95, review plans for future Library-Resource Center scheduled for completion in 1990.


July 29, 1985 - Kenneth Ryder and Kitty Dukakis lay sod in the Quadrangle for the "Beautify Open Spaces" dedication.


November 1, 1986 - President Ryder stands with the 1986 Homecoming Queen and Mayor of Huntington Avenue on the football field.


February 22, 1986 - Boston loves co-op: University President Kenneth G. Ryder is all smiles as he accepts a proclamation, signed by Boston Mayor Raymond Flynn, congratulating Northeastern on the 75th anniversary of cooperative education here. Presenting the proclamation is Rosemarie Sansone, Boston's director of business and cultural affairs

October 4, 1987 - President Ryder in his office


Posted in: Information and Society, Library News and Events