Photo Exhibit Captures the Middle Class Trap

The photo exhibit “Trapped in the Middle” illustrates the impact of growing wealth disparities on the middle class. It’s on display until the end of February in the Social Work Library and through March in the O’Neill Library reading room.

On display until the end of February in the Social Work Library and through March in the O’Neill Library reading room, the photo exhibit “Trapped in the Middle: The Effect of Income Inequality on the Middle Class in America” illustrates the impact of growing wealth disparities on the people we rarely expect to be struggling: the middle class.

 Photo of a man using measuring tape on ceiling while a woman watches from below. The room is under construction.
Image of a family reconstructing a house in Julian Fisher’s Trapped in the Middle exhibit
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The Floor with More – An O’Neill Library Level One Travelogue

Check out all the exciting services, collections, and spaces on the lowest Level of O’Neill Library!

Level Three may be the Main Level, but there’s so much excitement and lighthearted novelty on Level One of O’Neill Library… . It didn’t used to be this way. Before University Librarian Tom Wall arrived 11 years ago, it was a far less vibrant space: a microfilm room, some terrifying compressible shelving units, a tiny windowless classroom for staff training, and no way out.  With the addition of a new exit providing easy access to Maloney Hall and the Commonwealth Garage, fun diner booths with flat screen monitors for casual group study, and an art gallery, Level One was on its way to becoming the most exciting level in O’Neill.

Even in 2020, sometimes the content you need is only available on microfiche or microfilm. If you don’t have x-ray vision, you’ll be happy to know that the equipment you need to read them is located in the same fluorescent-lit room, which incidentally gives you a small taste of what the basement used to look like (with less lighting).

If you need a cold drink, coffee, or some chips or gummy worms, you probably know that there are vending machines on Level One to satisfy the sweet and salty cravings that go with studying, but did you know there is also a machine that dispenses Wite-Out and Pepto-Bismol (for whatever ails you)? If it’s your phone that’s been up too many hours, there’s a phone charging station (with locking compartments) near the exit.

How do you make a group of frantically studying chemistry students or math students really happy? Give them an entire study room where they are allowed–even encouraged–to write on the walls. Right in the heart of Level One, this room is the ideal space for chemical reactions, formulae, or even getting a sonnet out to the world. Special markers are necessary; these can be borrowed from the Level One desk

A view of the collaborative study space on Level One of O’Neill Library, through the window in the shelves holding graphic novels.

When it’s time for a study break, head over to the graphic novel section. There are a wide variety of topics covering all areas of interest. Or check out the newest books in the collection–they’re displayed on cases around the level.

Is it a law of nature (regarding the call of nature) that the hardest restroom to find will necessarily be the cleanest? If you’re looking for a less stressed women’s room, Level One has you covered. It does suffer a bit from poor soap dispenser placement, but that’s a minor point. How do you find it? Go to the elevators and pass between them to the other side. There’s also a single stall accessible bathroom immediately before the elevators.

The seismograph on O’Neill Level one and the display screen of the last major quake and 24 hours of readings.

If that’s not earthshaking enough, you know what is? The earth. And we are measuring the shaking right here, right now on Level One. O’Neill Library is proud to be one of a number of libraries and other educational facilities that has its own working seismograph, courtesy of the Boston College Educational Seismology Program. The live feed from the seismograph is also available online.

And sometimes Level Three is just too much like Times Square. Bypass the crowds, and do your studying, book checking out, printing, and scanning down on Level One.

Got issues? If you’re faculty or staff, Level One has the Faculty/Staff Assistance Program. Visit their site for more information and to set up an appointment.

Need to drop your possessions off for a little while? Please don’t leave them unattended! BC’s a bit of a bubble, but bad things sometimes happen, even in the library. It’s awful to come back from a quick walk and find your computer or wallet is gone. Tucked in right next to the stairs is a bank of short-term lockers to protect your stuff. There are even dedicated laptop lockers with electrical outlets.

Remember, too, that Level One has extended hours on most Friday and Saturday nights. When the rest of O’Neill shuts down at 10pm, Level One is open for studying night-owls until 2am.

Take a little while to explore next time you need a study break. There’s something for everyone on Level One.

New Audio Recording Equipment in the Digital Studio

Reserve the Faculty Preview Room now in order to use the new microphones for your audio projects or to make use of a quiet group meeting space.

New recording setup with multiple microphones and headphones in the Digital Studio’s Faculty Preview Room

The Digital Studio offers a variety of software and resources to students within O’Neill library. Whether making use of the multi-touch table, the various applications hosted on the the 25 Macs in the room, or the 38” HDMI screen that is great for group projects, the Digital Studio hopes to create a modern space for changing assignments using media. As part of adapting, the small conference room connected to the Digital Studio known as the Faculty Preview Room has been outfitted with six acoustic panels and a new recording area.

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New Data Services Workshops Announced for Spring 2020

The Digital Scholarship Team will be hosting a series of workshops this semester based on the upcoming publication of the 2020 census.

Digital Scholarship is happy to announce a series of 6 data-related workshops throughout Spring 2020. As the 2020 census will be launched on April 1st, our workshops are designed to increase awareness and understanding of the importance of the census, building data skills of using, managing and visualizing census data and other data sources. We hope you can join us! All events will be held in the Digital Studio (O’Neill Library 205). Please register for each event using the corresponding link.

What we offer: 2020 Census, Analyzing Census Data in Excel, Introduction to Data/Statistical Sources in Social Science, Text Scraping in Twitter, Data management in Social Science, Preparing and Visualizing Census Data with Tableau. When: Every Wednesday Afternoon 2:00pm - 3:30pm. Where? O'Neill Library Digital Studio.
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A Quick Reflection on ARL and ARL-Ignatian as Intertwined Paths to Excellence.

Tom Wall, University Librarian, reflects on how Boston College Libraries fit both in the world of Research Libraries and the world of Jesuit Universities.

Boston College Libraries belong to the Association of Research Libraries (ARL), which includes the largest research and academic libraries in the United States and Canada. The organization meets twice a year and has a variety of programs, committees and initiatives that allow for conversations on like experiences, best practices, trends and planning relevant to all areas of academic and research libraries. ARL provides value, and BC benefits from our involvement.

The only other two Catholic ARL institutions are Georgetown and Notre Dame, and of course only Georgetown identifies as Jesuit. We also belong to several other library and professionally relevant organizations, but for the purposes of this reflection I am only focusing on ARL, but not actually on the ARL above.

I recently experienced the transformative Ignatian Colleagues Program (ICP), and found myself reflecting on issues and concerns specific to the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU) with colleagues across all academic areas, and these conversations were rewarding in ways I that are outside of ARL’s scope. The ICP colleagues were inherently caring, without ego and understood the importance of both cura personalis (care for the entire person) and cura apostolica (care for the work). The ICP folks are, to a person, committed to following their hearts, souls and imaginations to make our students and institutions the best they can be. The overall 18 month program led to a collective experience that demonstrated the value of communal discernment unique to AJCU institutions.

Pivoting back to ARL, issues raised at meetings provide some opportunity for conversation, but local nuance and ambitious personalities can obfuscate meaningful takeaways, at least to my mind. Moreover, most ARL attendees are sitting directors (like me); I have been increasingly sending our Associate University Librarians (AULs), and frankly see the AULs as the ones closest to many of the issues discussed at the ARL meetings.

BC Libraries are committed to contributing to and engaging with the ARL. But in terms of our organizational culture I would like to suggest that we are also Ignatian; we can use the ARL letters as a mnemonic device and as a community aspire to always being Attentive, Reflective and Loving in all matters related to our professionalism, our Boston College community, and greater concerns and challenges that come with everyday life.

So while we are certainly an ARL Library and all that entails, we are fundamentally grounded in the Ignatian ARL as well. These ARL-isms are not mutually exclusive either, particularly with regards to topics that revolve around complex social justice matters. We can do our best work when we are attentive, reflective and loving to all groups, especially those on the margins in a damaged world, by paying close attention to equity, diversity and inclusion, without losing our deep service commitment to library excellence. I would maintain that Boston College has the opportunity to always be driven to doing better in these areas because of a shared ongoing commitment to practicing librarianship within an institution that also practices community discernment. Having a leadership role surrounded by amazing people that understand both ARLs evokes gratitude, humility and promise.

Try Our Full Text Finder

We’re testing a feature on our beta website to make it easier to get to full text using library search.

We’re testing a feature on our beta website to make it easier to get to full text using library search.

Copy and paste a DOI (what’s this) or a citation/reference into the search box, and if we can find a match, you’ll get a prominent link to download it in one click.

Screenshot detail of BC Libraries home-page showing yellow text box link: "Looking for an article? Try our beta site!" above the main search bar.

To use it, click the yellow button above the search bar linking to the new beta site.

More information (and a link for feedback!) is available on the beta site itself.

Who’s Who at BC Libraries: Weitao Liu

Introducing Weitao Liu, Philosophy & English ‘20, and O’Neill Library Digital Studio student assistant.

Class year

Undergraduate, Class of 2020.


I am double-majoring Philosophy and English and double-minoring Music and Economics. Since I am a senior in the honors program housed in the Philosophy department, I am writing a thesis on time, drawing ideas mostly from Kant, Hegel, and Freud.


I am from Wuhan, a city in the People’s Republic of China, and I went to high school in Columbia, South Carolina, so that would count as my second hometown.

Student Assistant Weitao Liu at the O’Neill Library Digital Studio service desk.

What is your role at Boston College Libraries?

I work in the digital studio in O’Neill Library as a student assistant. Duties primarily consist of troubleshooting software issues that patrons may have, taking reservations for workstations and spaces, and maintaining the normal function of printers and other accessories.

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The Impact Factor

Journal Impact Factor, one of several frequently-used metrics of a journal’s influence, measures how often articles in a journal are cited. It’s a proprietary measure published by Journal Citation Reports, and in Web of Science. Sally Wyman, Head of Collection Development and Research Services, explains several strategies for finding Impact Factor scores.

Many of us have heard the phrase, some of us with dread, “Journal Impact Factor,” or JIF (or, even, IF). This is a commonly-used measure of perceived influence of journals in the social sciences and sciences. Despite some controversy over the value of this measurement, it is widely known and used.

Calculation of the Impact Factor of the journal Nature, as displayed in Journal Citation Reports. 2018 Journal Impact Factor = 73952/1,717 = 43.070
Calculation of the Impact Factor of the journal Nature, as displayed in Journal Citation Reports.

Here is the underlying equation:

JIF (2018) = # Citations in 2018 to items published in 2016 and 2017/
                    # Citable items in 2016 and 2017

You may often see the JIF/IF advertised on the homepages of journals. If it’s high, it tends to be easy to find on that page. You can also find a link to a pop-up (“View Journal Impact”) on any Web of Science article entry.

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Art Inspired by Books in the O’Neill Lobby

Over 100 ceramic artworks by students in Mark Cooper’s art classes are on display in the O’Neill Library main lobby November 18 to mid-December. The exhibit is paired with a display of books that inspired the works.

What to do when your class created dozens of colorful ceramic objects? Put on a show, of course. That’s exactly what happened this fall, when the students in Professor of the Practice Mark Cooper’s ceramics classes decided to use the O’Neill Library lobby to display the results of a semester’s work in an exhibit titled “R&D.” Coordinated by Robyn Beatty, Lynch ‘21, the resulting exhibit includes over 100 pieces and arrangements of ceramic artwork. The eclectic exhibit is visually stimulating and has attracted much attention as people walk through the lobby. 

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In the Spotlight: Reference Assistants at O’Neill Library

Meet O’Neill Library’s three Reference Assistants, Jacob, Rina, and Bridgett.

Have you stopped by to say hello at the O’Neill reference desk on a weeknight this semester? If you have, you likely met the evening reference assistants! The three of us work from 4pm to 9pm, Monday through Thursday, at the reference desk. We are all students at Simmons University, pursuing our master’s degrees in Library and Information Science.

Photo: Jacob Kowall, Reference Assistant, O'Neill Library, and Simmons University School of Library and Information Science '21
Jacob Kowall, Reference Assistant, O’Neill Library, and Simmons University School of Library and Information Science ’21

Jacob: I have just recently begun my studies in library science and am in my first semester of studies at Simmons University. Earlier this semester at Simmons, I told an advisor about my position at O’Neill Library. My advisor noted that evening shifts were a rite of passage in the library community, and he recommended that I make an effort to record and reflect on my experiences. So far, I have had many opportunities to help both undergraduate and graduate-level students to make better use of the many resources available at O’Neill. Having studied history at the undergraduate level, I have most enjoyed helping students sharpen their skills in the craft of historical research. My colleagues and I have worked to help students focus their research questions and identify suitable primary sources for their papers. Working on the evening reference team has also offered me the chance to learn from the students of Boston College. Every time I staff the reference desk I get to help students find resources on a wide range of subjects that I’ve never had the chance to personally study – medicine, sociology, business. My experiences in the library have given me a glimpse of much larger aspects of Boston College. I’ve recognized that this university provides an excellent environment for enabling students, staff, and faculty to learn from and serve one another, and I am glad to be a part of this community.

Photo: Rina Izzi, Reference Assistant, O'Neill Library, and Simmons University School of Library and Information Science '20
Rina Izzi, Reference Assistant, O’Neill Library, and Simmons University School of Library and Information Science ’20

Rina here! I will be getting my degree in May (almost there seniors!). I am originally from Virginia and only moved to the Boston area recently. Initially I did not like living here, but working at Boston College has been so much fun that I’ve learned to love my new home. I had no idea what I wanted to do after I got my degree or where I wanted to work, and I think we’ve all been there at one point or another. But now I’ve realized that I want to continue working in higher education libraries. The work I do at Boston College, even just as a student, has been so enjoyable and I’ve learned so much both from my coworkers and from the questions I help answer at the desk. As someone who specializes in historical research, I had to learn the hard way that scientific research, business research, and basically all other types of research are completely different. As such, it is important to approach each search differently and to know which databases are useful for each type of research. While I’ve learned all of this and other theories in class, it really sinks in when someone comes to the desk and asks me how to find something I’d never even thought to find before. Life at the desk is about learning something new, and in the evenings it’s about helping students who started late get help even though the rest of the staff is already gone for the day. In the end, I’m overjoyed to be able to help confused or struggling students realize that things are not as hard as they seem.

Photo: Bridgett Bonar, Reference Assistant, and Simmons University School of Library & Information Science '20
Bridgett Bonar, Reference Assistant, and Simmons University School of Library & Information Science ’20

Bridgett: I think my favorite interactions with students are the first-year writing papers. Students will come up with an amazing, sometimes even too-timely topic that they are really excited about (everything from racism to comic books to waterfront erosion in Massachusetts) and then quietly, and anxiously say–after all they’ve never done this before and what if they can’t and that means they’re Not Cut Out For College? And now they’re Bothering A Librarian, which every pop culture reference to libraries says is not good, and they’ve also bared their soul through a research topic to a stranger–“so I need to find some” (there’s usually a beat here to remember the word) “peer-reviewed sources.” Of course I’m kinda panicking too–because where do I even start with that–after all, I was an English major so my go-to, MLA Bibliography, is a very specific database that does not cover socio-political issues, or really much of anything that isn’t book related. But we (sometimes quickly and sometimes eventually) find something (thank you Research Guides) or at least a place to start, which is relieving for both of us. But really, our interactions are so unique and varied–everything from “where’s the closest microwave?” to “this whole row of computers just lost power!” to “Hey it’s been awhile since I was an undergrad, can you refresh my memory on how this research stuff works?” to “I’ve never used a library before–help!” that it’s really hard to describe them all together or to have expectations on what your workday will look like!

As you may have noticed we all love learning something new, so come by for a chat on your way home one day. Even if you don’t have a question for us, feel free to stop by the desk and just say hi!