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Harvard Review Added to HCL’s Online Resources

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The most recent issue of Harvard Review. The literary journal's entire back catalog was recently added to the online archive JSTOR, one of the thousands of journals available through Harvard College Library.

October 1 , 2009 – When they arrive at Harvard College Library, researchers and students are confronted with a dizzying array of resources, including books, journals, images and more, which are – literally – at their fingertips and available online. For the first time, library patrons can now include the literary journal Harvard Review in that list. Earlier this year, the journal agreed to make its entire back catalog, except for the most recent three years, available through the online archive JSTOR, meaning early works by Arthur Miller, Joyce Carol Oates, Gore Vidal, David Mamet and John Updike and others will now be available, free of charge.

“This is the first time the back issues of Harvard Review have been available anywhere, so I expect it to be a great resource,” Harvard Review editor Christina Thompson said. “We are often contacted by researchers and students looking for writers’ early work, old book reviews or pieces written by established writers.”

Having thousands of resources available, however, is only half of the scholarly equation. With more than 300,000 online resources – including journal databases like JSTOR and full-text resources, as well as catalogs like OASIS, Harvard’s catalog of archival resources, VIA, Harvard’s catalog of visual resources and Harvard’s geospatial library – only a few mouse clicks away, even experienced researchers may need assistance in finding what they need. Luckily, they can turn HCL’s staff of reference and research librarians – who can help make sense of it all.

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Experts in subjects ranging from Applied Mathematics to Zoology, research and reference librarians help researchers identify and use library resources and devise research strategies for classes, term papers, theses, dissertations, and other research projects. Some also act as liaisons between the library and various academic departments by creating and teaching library-related classes, meeting with students and faculty, providing one-on-one consultation, writing course research guides, assisting with content for course web sites, and providing general reference services to the department’s faculty and students.

“Almost anything students or researchers want to work on, there’s a wealth of rich material available here, from objects to images to journals to full text resources,” said Laura Farwell Blake, interim head of Widener Research Services. “In some ways, though, those resources are invisible. When you walk into Widener, you can’t see the thousands of e-journals and other e-resources, but we have the people here who can lead students and researchers to them.”

Depending on where a student is in his or her academic career – grad student or newly-arrived freshman – as well as academic concentration can have a dramatic effect on exactly how librarians introduce students to e-resources, as well as which resources to begin with. A student with a concentration in Government will confront a different set of core e-resources than one studying Folklore and Mythology. In programs like General Education, however, research defies traditional disciplinary boundaries. While that cross-discipline nature is an essential part of the Gen Ed courses, research and reference librarians work with e-resources in the context of specific courses and academic programs, Blake said.

To ensure they properly cite the materials they uncover in their research, librarians also work to familiarize students with resources like Citation Linker and RefWorks, the libraries’ two online citation management tools.

“We’re trying to package this enormous world of resources for them in a way that allows them to get to it easily, see what’s authoritative and see the possibilities without being overwhelmed by the sheer size of it,” Blake said.

One of the key ways Librarians bring those resources into focus for students, Widener Research Librarian Cheryl LaGuardia said, is through hundreds of Web-based research guides. Written by Research Librarians, the guides outline the resources available on particular subjects and for particular courses. As new material and indices becomes available, librarians update the guides, allowing researchers and students to have access to the very latest research.

Among most grad students – and even some undergrads – JSTOR is the de rigeur first stop when searching for journal articles, LaGuardia said, making it an especially appropriate home for Harvard Review’s back issues.

“For scholarly researchers in the humanities and the social sciences, it’s a must,” LaGuardia said, of JSTOR. “Having Harvard Review back issues available there will open them up to many more scholars.”