Thursday, January 11, 2007

The Africana Collection

The Melville J. Herskovits Library of African Studies is the largest of its kind. There is no greater or more complete collection of African works anywhere. This library houses everything from original documents to baseball caps and aprons featuring Nelson Mandela.The library holds over 260,000 bound volumes, including 5000 rare documents that are non-circulating. It also receives over 3000 journals, newspapers and periodicals.A unique aspect of the African Studies Library is that it has a rather extensive collection of HIV/AIDS posters and other related press. Being that HIV/AIDS is such a huge problem in Africa, the Melville J. Herskovits Library has put a great deal of importance on the education about AIDS and safe sex in Africa. They have recently organized an exhibit of HIV/AIDS posters; you can view a video of these posters accompanied by Ugandan music at:
Another recent project of the African Studies Library, along with other branches of the library was to digitize 113 original maps of Africa from 16th -20th centuries. They can be seen at:
This library is open to the public; anyone can access these materials upon request. As well, the librarians at the Melville J. Herskovits Library of African Studies answer questions via phone and internet all the time.
Check out the Melville J. Herskovits Library of African Studies at:


Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The Digital Media Services

About the services:
The digital media staff at Northwestern University is currently working to digitize music, text, DVDs, videos and other media for easier student, faculty and staff access. They have recently digitized a collection of early African maps available to all. These maps were scanned at higher quality making them capable for zooming at a very clear level. They are also in the process of publishing an online translation of an early renaissance Latin publication regarding the human skeleton. In addition to these educational tools, the media center also houses DVD movies and television shows in circulation.



The Charles Deering McCormick Special Collections Library

In the Charles Deering McCormick Special Collections Library tour we were greeted by a very energetic former lumberjack named Mr. Russell. In 1930, the library began construction due in large part to money funded by Deering and McCormick families. In 1933 it was the primary library of northwestern until 1970, when another library was built adjacent. Since then the Charles Deering McCormick library has become a special collection library. The special collections consisted of many books, manuscripts, posters, and scrolls most of which were created very long ago. The library consists of 45,000 volumes of rare books covering different areas. The total amount of items that can be found in the special collections is over 225,000. Mr. Russell let us examine some very old stones that contained hieroglyphic-like symbols and a bible that was handwritten on animal skin from B.C. Some of the other items that can be found in the special collections include: the Archives of the Dublin Gate Theatre Ireland, four thousand year old Mesopotamian clay tablets, T.S. Eliot correspondence, originals of The Siege and Commune of Paris, and William Hogarth caricatures. The most unique item that can be found in the special collections library is the Autobahn.



The Transportation Library

About the library:
The Transportation Library at Northwestern University is home to thousands of items with emphases in transportation, law enforcement and environmental impacts. The transportation collection deals with all modes of transportation including rail, water, road, air, highway and pipeline in both the United States and abroad. The law enforcement collection deals with police training and administration as well as traffic law enforcement. The environmental impact collection includes over 50,000 volumes regarding environmental issues since 1969.

Users of the library:
Students, faculty and staff of Northwestern University are the primary users of this library. However, other government agencies—that may need EIS information—as well as law enforcement and transportation communities also use the library; in some cases the documents may be shared for a cost of around $25.

Links to the library:


The "GovInfo"

The first library we visited was the Government and Geographic Information and Data Services Department. As long as the name may sound, this library, out of the several numbers of libraries at the university, contained numerous resources. Known in short as GovInfo, this library was established in 1876, but contains materials dating to time periods as far back as the 1700s, making it one of the oldest and largest U.S. government document depositories in the nation. It is open to both the Northwestern community and the general public, even though its circulation policies may be relatively stringent.

The resources GovInfo provides for its users encompass a fairly wide range. The library primarily stores government documents such as congressional reports, presidential papers, demographic and financial reports from the federal, state, and local governments. Documents and papers from international organizations like the United Nations and the European Union also are included in the collection. The library also has a vast collection of maps of all types. Some include navigational charts dating as far back as the 1600s. In complement to the collection of maps, the department has also devised what they call the Geographic Information Systems (GIS). The GIS is commonly used to analyze general trends in landscape and demographics over the course of history. Lastly, the Social Science Data Services (SSDS) is a function that supports research by providing primary resources for secondary analysis.

For more info, visit


Welcome to the Northwestern Library

This blog was created in response to our visit to and tour of the Northwestern University libraries. We were lucky enough to look behind the scenes and rare collections that the library has aquired over the years. The five areas that our tour focused on, were the Governemnt and Geographic Information and Data Services, the Melville J. Herskovits Library of African Studies, the Transportation Library, Digital Media services. and the Charles Deering McCormick Library of Special Collections. This visit to the library was very informative and interesting, it is our hope that the blog has done the visit justice, and you find it as cool as we did. We would love to hear your comments and responses!

For a quick flashback of the visit, check this YouTube video out

Enjoy~ Kaia, Aras, Hasan, and Libby