New Pop Culture Films on Kanopy

July may be almost behind us, but summer break ain’t over yet! If you’re looking for something to do during your downtime, hop onto Kanopy and browse their new collection of pop-culture films.

Just a reminder that all IWU faculty, staff, and students have free access to thousands of foreign, independent, and documentary films through Kanopy. You don’t have to be on campus to access this amazing resource; just log in by proxy through our website. Happy viewing!

Ania Bui (’18) Wins Annual University Library Senior Art Purchase Award

The Ames Library is pleased to announce senior Ania Bui as the recipient of our 23rd annual University Library Senior Art Purchase Award. Each year, the library acquires an artwork from a graduating senior. Ania’s vibrant pieces are photographs of a San Diego sculpture by Janet Echelman.

Ania has previously made IWU headlines for designing the cover of Undergraduate Research and the Academic Librarian: Case Studies and Best Practices, co-edited by Scholarly Communications Librarian & Professor Stephanie Davis-Kahl. You can view Ania’s photographs in person on the west wall of the main floor of The Ames Library.

Free Digital Archive of Black Newspapers Goes Live

As of June 2018, the Obsidian Collection Archives is now available online. This digital collection of historic black newspaper archives was started when executive director Angela Ford realized that physical archives of papers like Chicago Defender were rapidly deteriorating and in need of preservation. ”To make matters worse, when she told her son about newsworthy things that had happened when she was growing up, he often found there was no record of those, either. ‘He’d go to Google it, and it wasn’t there,’ she says. ‘I thought, ‘Wait, what?… My past was disintegrating. That’s how I got involved: to save black history and to save myself.'” (Source)

Eight exhibitions are now live, with many more to be added.

Woman and girls on Maxwell Street, Shakir Karriem, Photographer 1983-08. From the collection of
The Obsidian Collection Archives.

From the Obsidian Collection’s mission statement:

Our primary goal is to preserve and share images from African American newspapers to future generations. As Black people moved about the country, the documentation of their lives was recorded on very few mediums. The African American Newspapers were of the few published tools of the first half of the twentieth century to capture any record of our lives, our goals, our suffering and our strength.

The list of partner newspapers can be accessed here, and you can read more about the project at Atlas Obscura and

Cannes Film Festival Titles Now on Kanopy

With the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival now past us, it’s time to relax on the couch with some of your favorites! Kanopy offers 134 streaming films in its Cannes Film Festival Collection. All IWU faculty, staff, and students have free access to thousands of foreign, independent, and documentary films through Kanopy.

Home for the summer already? No problem. You can still access Kanopy and all of The Ames Library’s other resources by proxy. Just make sure to log in using our website as a jumping board.

If you use the library’s website, we need your help!

The Library is conducting a usability study to investigate how our users navigate and find information on our website, and we need students and faculty to help us! Each usability session will take 30-45 minutes, and will take place in the library.

If you’d like to participate, please contact Stephanie Davis-Kahl ( to set up a date and time for a session.


One Button Studio Now at The Ames Library!

The Thorpe Center at The Ames Library is now offering a One Button Studio. Designed for users who may not have prior experience with video software, the One Button Studio requires only a USB flash drive and yours truly. With the push of a single button, you can record a presentation for class or practice your public-speaking skills. Faculty and staff can use the One Button Studio to record lectures and professional-development videos. No more fussing with lighting, camera, or mics–it’s all taken care of for you!

Where do you start? Book an appointment online up to four weeks in advance, but please be sure to give us a 24-hour notice. For tips about design and copyright, see our LibGuide about the One Button Studio. Happy recording!

Professor Chris Sweet Publishes New Article on Leonard “Baby” Bliss

Professor and Information Literacy Librarian Chris Sweet has just published a new article in The Wheelman on Leonard “Baby” Bliss, a Bloomington, Illinois native famous in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries for his impressive weight. Sweet’s article discusses how the heavyset Bliss was able to make a living combining two Victorian passions: bicycling and sideshows.

By the mid-1890s, Baby Bliss was well-known in Central Illinois for his tremendous size. Multiple accounts state his weight at this time to have been around 500 pounds. Around the country, and particularly in nearby Peoria and Chicago, the bicycle boom was underway. During the 1890s, Illinois was home to nearly 400 bicycle companies. The sheer number of bicycle companies meant intense competition between these companies to distinguish their particular bicycle from everyone else’s. . . . Eventually someone had the idea to put the heaviest cyclist they could find on their bicycle for visual proof of durability. Enter Baby Bliss. (2)

Image copyright McLean County Museum of History.

Sweet is an historian of bicycles and cycling in the Midwest. You can read about the life and times of the remarkable Leonard Bliss in Sweet’s “Baby Bliss: World’s Heaviest Cyclist.”

New Digital Collections from the Library of Congress

The Library of Congress has just added new primary-source materials to its expansive digital collections. Among these materials are the papers of Susan B. Anthony and Benjamin Franklin, and a collection related to the National Film Registry. If film studies are your thing, then you’ll love the latter. You can watch entire films like St. Louis Blues, in which “[l]egendary blues singer Bessie Smith finds her gambler lover Jimmy messin’ with a pretty, younger woman; he leaves and she sings the blues, with chorus and dancers.”

Enjoy exploring these brand-new collections here!

Frederick Wiseman Collection Now Streaming on Kanopy

Are you a film buff? Do you like documentaries? If so, you’ll be excited to learn that the entire oeuvre of filmmaker Frederick Wiseman is now streaming for the first time ever through Kanopy.

In January, legendary documentary filmmaker Frederick Wiseman, who has been chronicling the lives of mostly American institutions for more than half a century, announced that he would finally be putting his movies online for the first time. Wiseman’s movies, which have been shot in mental institutions and on military bases, in hospitals and public parks, comprise one of the most monumental bodies of work by a single artist, but despite being awarded a lifetime-achievement Oscar in 2016, he’s remained something of a cult figure. His movies, which run as long as six hours, defy the rules of traditional theatrical distribution, and apart from a single PBS broadcast apiece, they’ve rarely been available to a mass audience.

That all changed today. As of this afternoon, a whopping 40 of Wiseman’s movies—nearly everything he’s every directed—are available via the streaming service Kanopy, which can be accessed through many public libraries, universities, and other institutions of the kind Wiseman has devoted himself to exploring in his work. (His latest, Ex Libris, is a portrait of the New York Public Library, and will be added to Kanopy after its PBS broadcast in the fall.)

Source: Slate.

What’s Kanopy? Think of it as Netflix for foreign, independent, classic, and documentary films. All IWU students, faculty, and staff have free access–all you need is your netID and password. You can use it off-campus, too! Just make sure that you’re logging in by proxy (click on A-Z Resources on our homepage).

Theme Thursday – Evolution of Revolution

On this last Theme Thursday of the 2017-2018 academic year, we consider a quiet revolution happening within academic publishing. The publishing revolutionaries aim to make all publicly funded research – and possibly all research – freely available to any curious reader. This is in contrast to the current conventional publishing model in which researchers use grant money to conduct studies, which are then published in an academic journal that is funded by journal subscriptions. The radical change, which has been discussed in previously smoke-filled rooms in universities and publishing houses alike for at least the past 10 years, is being driven by weighty institutions such as the National Science Foundation.

Only occasionally does the matter enter the consciousness of those outside the arena, as it did for example at the end of last year, when a recent Nobel Prize winner called for academics to stop submitting their work to the pukka journals such as Cell, Nature and Science. Dr Randy Schekman, who runs a laboratory at the University of California, called for the boycott because he believes researchers and scientists are being inappropriately influenced by the need to get their work disseminated by these prestigious publications. He also claimed that the top-flight journals, aware of their prestigious position, artificially restrict the number of papers they accept.

At first sight the change to so-called open access might not seem so revolutionary; surely scientific research should be freely available to all? What really is the big deal? The answer, in part at least, is vast sums. Elsevier, the world’s largest academic journal publisher – producing more than 90 journals including The Lancet as well as several others aimed at psychiatrists and allied professionals (e.g. Schizophrenia Research, Biological Psychiatry and Psychiatric Research) – in 2012 had a margin of 38% on revenues over $2 billion. Similarly, in 2011, German-owned Springer, which acquired BioMed Central in 2008, made 36% on sales of almost $9 million.

Here are a couple resources in Ames worth your time, to help you catch up on issues related to Open Access and scholarly publishing.

Opening science: The evolving guide on how the Internet is changing research, collaboration and scholarly publishing, by Sönke Bartling [and] Sascha Friesike, editors

The state of scholarly publishing: Challenges and opportunities, Albert N. Greco, editor

Digitize this book!: The politics of new media, or why we need open access now, by Gary Hall

Open access: What you need to know now, by Walt Crawford

The access principle: The case for open access to research and scholarship, by John Willinsky


Why does this matter to you? One thing your tuition dollars help support are subscriptions to databases and journals. All those times you Google an article or access something on campus (or off-campus with your campus ID and password), you’re accessing materials the library pays for through agreements. So you benefit when materials are more broadly available.