Egan Irish Harps: Neoclassical Art Meets Traditional Music

Burns Library helped to sponsor the publication and first American launch of Nancy Hurrell’s groundbreaking study The Egan Irish Harps: Tradition, Patrons and Players in conjunction with the Irish Georgian Society.

The harp has been the symbol of Ireland since the Middle Ages, not quite as long as the shamrock and St. Patrick, but long before its appearance on the label of that other Irish icon, Guinness stout. Yet it may never have become the national instrument played in Ireland today had it not been for the ingenuity of an early 19th-century Dublin harp maker named John Egan.

Unlike concert harps, Egan’s new-style harps were small and portable. They retained the characteristic bowed pillar of medieval Gaelic wire harps on which they were modeled, but used gut strings and modern mechanisms to change keys. Recognizing the excellence of Egan harps, George IV granted the maker a royal warrant. Although patronized by royalty, Egan’s Portable Irish Harp, painted green with golden shamrocks, was also viewed as an emblem of Irish nationalist pride in post-Union Ireland.

Cover of Nancy Hurrell’s 2019 book on Egan Irish harps. Courtesy of Four Courts Press.

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Offbeat, Irreverent, and DIY: The Poetry of Mass Transit

Recent acquisitions by Burns Library highlight the activities and writing of the Washington, D.C. “Mass Transit” poetry circle of the 1970s and 80s, including Irish American musician and writer Terence Winch and Welsh immigrant Doug Lang.

A 1973 Washington Post article profiling Mass Transit and Some of Us Press. Box 11, Folder 6, Terence Winch papers, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

For many of us, the political protest, music, and fashion of the 1960s and 1970s are the most recognizable aspects of the countercultural revolution. Yet the literature of the era also provides a window into that movement’s values, struggles, and the society it was trying to create.

As novelist, poet, and Boston College professor of English Suzanne Matson has remarked: “Literary movements are not just made up of their texts, but their personalities, events, social dynamics, and behind-the-scenes discussions of goals and motives.” Recent acquisitions by Burns Library preserve and bring to light the activities and writings of a group of poets in the Dupont Circle neighborhood of Washington, D.C. who began meeting over the Community Book Shop in the early 1970s. They would eventually become known as “Mass Transit” or the “Dupont Circle School.”

The group included Terence Winch, an Irish American musician and writer, whose papers were acquired in 2017, as well as Ed Cox, Michael Lally, Tim Dlugos, Tina Darragh, and Doug Lang, a Welsh immigrant whose papers were acquired earlier this year. Together they created a magazine, also titled Mass Transit, with a rotating editorship. Among the early contributors to Mass Transit was the future actress Karen Allen, of Indiana Jones fame, who befriended Terence Winch and others in the circle when she attended readings as an aspiring writer.

Five issues of the Mass Transit magazine. Mass Transit, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

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Strategies for Planning an Online or Hybrid Course

Will you be teaching an online or hybrid course? Here is how BC Libraries can help support your online teaching.

Many faculty and instructors are starting to plan for Fall courses. If you will be teaching an online or hybrid course, the BC Libraries can assist you in finding the best material and content delivery strategies appropriate for online students. As you design your course, we can review your reading list to make sure all the material you want to use in your teaching will be accessible to your students. We can also offer support for your students’ developing research skills with tutorials, embedded librarians, and synchronous online library instruction. This article will review some issues to consider and offer advice based on different types of teaching material.

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Backstage at the Digitization Lab

This photo essay shows the results of the recent renovation of the digitization lab in Burns Library and some examples of the kind of work that goes on there.

The Digitization Lab, housed in Burns Library but part of Digital Repository Services, underwent renovation in 2017-18. This photo essay shows the results of that effort and some examples of the kind of work that goes on there.

Jack Kearney, Digital Archives Specialist, working at a computer in the digitization lab, with a variety of other digitization equipment in the room.
Jack Kearney, Digital Archives Specialist, working in the renovated digitization lab, or digilab for short.

This is the view from the door into the renovated digitization lab. On the left is the Atiz BookDrive scanner; straight ahead through the doorway is the Digital Transitions RGC180 Capture Cradle and Phase One camera, for capturing large formats; on the right are areas for AV digitization and the forensic workstation (not visible in this photo). The old lab was only as big as the space you see on the left.

Paige Walker, Digital Collections & Preservation Librarian, working at the forensic station in the digitization lab. There are two computers on the counter, and other equipment, such as a mic stand, gear bags, speakers, and supplies stored below the counter and on shelves above it.
Paige Walker, Digital Collections & Preservation Librarian, working at the forensic station in the digitization lab, prior to acquiring the FRED forensic system.

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The Protean Academic E-Book

The world of academic e-books is complex, but the staff of Boston College Libraries works hard to make the user experience as seamless as possible.

The first thing you need to know about academic e-books is that everything about them is different from the e-books you download to your Kindle or nook. The market structure, the file types, digital rights, platforms, interfaces… everything. It’s an unlucky accident that they share the same name, because patrons who encounter their first academic e-book are usually confused.

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Celebrating the Tenth Anniversary of the Boston College Libraries GIS Contest

BC Libraries celebrates this year’s Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Contest awards, along with the contest’s 10 year anniversary.

This year Boston College Libraries celebrated 10 years of the Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Contest. Over 10 years ago, the libraries partnered with Research Services, ITS to promote the use of GIS at Boston College. GIS had reached a watershed moment where the confluence of the commercialization of GIS software, GPS data availability and a recognition of the value of spatial analysis for decision-making had opened up the use of GIS across disciplines. In 2002 the library began integrating GIS training into the Social Work curriculum, eventually expanding into Nursing and other areas. Researchers recognized that a GIS skill set was a valued part of resumes in every field.

Second annual GIS contest winners: Kevin Keegan ’11, Petr Yakovlev ’10, David Santaniello ’10 Photo credit: Gary Gilbert, Office of University Communications

In 2010 to further recognize the importance of GIS on campus and further expand exposure, the libraries initiated an annual GIS contest. The first year, the libraries recognized 3 undergraduate entries from Geology and Geophysics with a $100 Amazon gift certificate for first prize and GIS T-shirts for a tied second place.

By 2013, because of the increased number of entries, both graduate and undergraduate awards were established with $100, $50 and $25 certificates for each category for the top placed entries.

University Librarian Tom Wall at 2019 awards ceremony

Today, with close to 100 entries over the years, the submissions span subject areas including  Biology, Earth & Environmental Sciences, Social Work, Economics, Environmental Studies, Psychology, Biology, Political Science, International Studies and  Education. Winning posters are displayed in the O’Neill lobby during the awards ceremony each April, and then go on display for a year on Level 2, near the Digital Studio. They are also included in the Data Visualization Display in O’Neill with acknowledgement on the Digital Scholarship Group’s blog.

GIS Contest Winner posters on display outside the Digital Studio on O’Neill Library Level 2

We invite you to take a look at the winning entries deposited in the libraries’ digital repository, eScholarship@BC under Juried Student Work.

2019 undergraduate winners Grace Harrington ‘19, Kaylie Daniels ‘19, and Zoe Fanning ‘20

The New York Times – Brought to You by BC Libraries

BC Libraries has made The New York Times available to all current faculty, staff, and students. Here is what’s available.

Boston College Libraries is very happy to remind all current faculty, students and staff members of the Boston College Community that you now can have unlimited access to The New York Times website by registering for a personal account.  (Members of the BC Law community should review the registration recommendations in the guide.) If you already have a personal account, you are free to cancel that and use the library-supported access described here. Features include:

  • Content beginning with Vol. 1 (1851) – present
  • Unlimited page views/downloads/printing, except for content published from 1923 – 1980 which is limited to 5 views in a single day (for more in a day, use ProQuest Historical Newspapers)
  • Interactive media
  • Chinese Spanish language editions
  • Discipline-specific curricular support in 16 areas on the NYT in Education website

For more information see the BC Libraries New York Times access guide.

This new site-wide license has been a number of years in the making. Users have been requesting this access, and the library has wanted to supply it knowing how important resources such as this are for information literacy. Due to the large population to be served, pricing has been prohibitively high in the past.  More recently, The Times has shown greater flexibility in working with the Libraries on pricing; their willingness to add in a 5-year license option with a reasonable annual increase was also critical here.

Once licensed, implementation brought its own challenges. Julia Hughes, Senior Bibliographer for Political Science/Area Studies, Leslie Homzie, Senior Bibliographer for Communications and Sociology,  Sonia Ensins, Senior Bibliographer for Business and Terra Kallemeyn, Electronic Resources Acquisitions Librarian, worked hard to make the implementation as smooth as possible.

The Jesuit Online Bibliography

In 2018-19, BC Libraries and the Institute for Advanced Jesuit Studies collaborated to create the Jesuit Online Bibliography, an open-access, open-source fully-searchable database of over 15,000 bibliographic records.

Over the course of the Fall 2018 semester through early 2019, BC Libraries collaborated with the Institute for Advanced Jesuit Studies (IAJS) to develop the Jesuit Online Bibliography. BC Libraries members of Systems (Ben Florin, Jesse Martinez), the Digital Scholarship Group (Anna Kijas, Sarah DeLorme, John O’Connor), and Metadata Creation (Meg Critch) worked with IAJS Associate Director Seth Meehan, Cristiano Casalini (Research Scholar), and Kasper Volk (Assistant Editor). In addition to the project team, the Archivum Romanum Societatis Iesu (ARSI) and Jesuitica Project at KU Leuven are institutional partners of the IAJS that share editorial oversight of the database and are working to bridge Jesuit research centers and archives with scholars and publishers.

Jesuit Online Bibliography Homepage

The Jesuit Online Bibliography is a re-envisioned, open access and fully searchable database of bibliographic records for scholarship in Jesuit Studies produced in the 21st century. The database was unveiled in beta-version on March 21, 2019 at the IAJS Jesuit Studies Cafe with a presentation describing the importance of the bibliography and its evolution into a fully searchable database. The project will be fully launched in early June 2019 at the International Symposium on Jesuit Studies.

Search results page with facets for filtering.

The database contains more than 15,000 records of books, book chapters, journal articles, book reviews, dissertations, conference papers, and multimedia content. Records are being added on a continuous basis by an international team of project editors and voluntary contributors. This resource is designed for scholars, researchers, students, library professionals, publishers, and the public interested in the study of Jesuit history, spirituality, educational heritage, and pedagogy. The records in this database are also aggregated in The Portal to Jesuit Studies, the open access resource for Jesuit research and scholarship released last year by Boston College. The Jesuit Online Bibliography was built using open source technology. For those interested in the details, it features a Ruby on Rails framework with a Blacklight discovery interface, PostgreSQL, and Solr index. All of the code used for this database is available in the Libraries’ GitHub repository.

The Educational Resources Center has acquired several new digital tools for K-12 education:

  • Bookflix – A digital literacy resource that pairs more than 120 animated stories from Weston Woods.  The fiction and nonfiction pairings are designed to strengthen early literacy skills while exposing young learners to real-world concepts
  • ProQuest CultureGrams – CultureGrams are country/state/province reports. The database includes: images, slideshows, streaming videos, sortable data tables and graphs, interviews with natives from countries around the world, and recipes for each country.
  • Storia – Offers hundreds of fiction and nonfiction ebooks in English and Spanish for grades PreK-3rd grade.
  • Ebsco Flipster has made available many children’s magazines, such as Ask, Cricket, and National Geographic for Kids. Find titles by searching the catalog.

For more information, contact Tiffeni Fontno, Head, Educational Resource Center.


AccessPediatrics from McGraw-Hill Medical covers the entire span of pediatric practice, from neonatology through adolescent medicine. Updated regularly and optimized for viewing on any device, this comprehensive online pediatric resource provides  access to information essential for completing evaluation, diagnosis, and case management decisions. This collection includes 37 leading pediatric textbooks, videos, and cases, plus vignette style exam preparation for licensing. For more information, contact Wanda Anderson, Sr. Research Librarian for Nursing & Health Sciences.

Revolution & Protest Online

This growing collection of video, documents, images, reports and books explores protest movements, revolutions, and civil wars around the world from the 18th century to present day. Examples in the collection include the Haitian Revolution, Russian Revolution, Indian Independence Movement and the Arab Spring. The resource allows students to browse and search material by event and theme. For more information, contact Julia Hughes, Senior Research Librarian/Bibliographer for Political Science and International Studies.

Safari Online Learning

The Safari 500 Online Book Collection has changed! Now called Safari Online Learning, this digital package includes unlimited user access, exclusive O’Reilly-produced content, more than 250 additional publishers, videos, customized accounts and content to match emerging career trends like big data, artificial intelligence, gaming and more. This O’Reilly product specializes in technology introduction books for software, programming languages, marketing, cloud computing and other business topics. For more information, contact Barbara Mento, Senior Research Librarian/Bibliographer for Computer Science, Data, Economics, and Mathematics.