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“It is important to note the underlying search ranking algorithm is not changing, just the way those results are presented to the user.” — Dean Lingley, Chair, Libraries Search Oversight Committee

Purdue University Libraries SearchThis Friday, when searching for materials in and through Purdue University Libraries, you may notice a difference in the aesthetics of the search results’ display.

That’s because, as of Friday, July 21, “Libraries Search,” the large field on on the Purdue Libraries’ home page that instructs users to “Find Articles, Books, Media, Journals, Collections & Archives,” will take users to search results’ pages that display an updated interface based on a new, responsive web design — all done with the user experience mind.

At Purdue Libraries, a team of faculty and staff, the “Libraries Search Oversight Committee,” has been working on the update to the Libraries Search functionality, and Dean Lingley, chair of that group, provided a brief overview of the update to Libraries Search (see Q&A below) and explained how the update will affect users.

Q. What is “Libraries Search” at Purdue University Libraries?

Dean Lingley: Libraries search allows library patrons to not only search the local, physical and electronic holdings of Purdue University Libraries, but it also enables users to search millions more articles and citations from journal vendors and database providers–all in one easy-to-use interface. Libraries Search will link patrons directly to the electronic copy of the specific article, when available, licensed by Purdue Libraries. If the article is not available immediately in electronic format, the patron can request the material from another institution via a simple link to our Interlibrary Loan (ILL) service.

Q. How does it work to find materials in the libraries and at other library institutions?

Dean Lingley: Materials held locally are indexed locally, and articles and citations from journal and database vendors are stored in a central index. When a user performs a search, the results from our local collection and central index are blended to give the patron the search results most relevant to the search terms.

Q. Why is the interface being updated/changed?

Dean Lingley: The interface is being updated to keep up with web design changes that have been occurring over the past several years.

Q. How is the new interface different from the one that is replacing? What are the benefits of the updated interface to users?

Dean Lingley: The new interface is different in the fact that it features a responsive web design. This allows patrons to have similar search experiences whether they are searching from their desktops, tablets, or phones. The interface was redesigned by our vendor with user experience in mind, and the new interface should provide an easier-to-navigate set of search results for our patrons. It is important to note that the underlying search ranking algorithm is not changing, just the way those results are presented to the user.

Purdue University Libraries Search Interface Before July 21, 2017

Purdue University “Libraries Search”: Default Results Display Before July 21, 2017

Purdue University Libraries Search Interface On and After July 21, 2017

Purdue University “Libraries Search”: Results Display On and After July 21, 2017










Q. When will Purdue Libraries switch to the new interface permanently?

Dean Lingley: The new interface will become the default search interface this Friday (July 21). There is a feedback link available at the top of the new interface, so please feel free to use it for any comments or questions you might have.

Courtesy of Megan Huckaby, Purdue University Marketing and Media

The “Missing You” exhibit features many letters, photographs and this telegram, which is the last communication from Earhart before her departure for Howland Island. (Purdue University Photo/Megan Huckaby)

The “Missing You” exhibit features many letters, photographs and this telegram, which is the last communication from Earhart before her departure for Howland Island. (Purdue University Photo/Megan Huckaby)

A new exhibit from Purdue Libraries, Archives and Special Collections (ASC), explores Amelia Earhart’s last adventure through letters, telegrams, photographs, and logs sent during her famous 1937 world flight attempt.

“Missing You” opened on June 29 to mark the 80-year anniversary of Earhart and navigator Fred Noonan’s world flight. It will remain open through Dec. 8.

“The mystery surrounding Earhart’s disappearance often overshadows her legacy as a pioneer aviator, vocal advocate for women’s opportunities in the workplace, as one of the first equal partners in a power-couple marriage and as a role model for young women,” says Tracy Grimm, Purdue’s Barron Hilton Archivist for Flight and Space Exploration. “‘Missing You’ explores Amelia Earhart’s last adventure through letters, telegrams, and logs sent home during the 1937 world flight and examines the unique role Earhart played to promote women’s rights during the 1920s and 1930s.”

The exhibit includes never-before-seen letters that Noonan sent home during the flight, photographs Earhart took with her own camera, and a telegram, Earhart’s last communication, sent from Lae, New Guinea, prior to their departure for Howland Island.

A new exhibit from Purdue Libraries, Archives and Special Collections, will explore Amelia Earhart's last adventure through letters, telegrams, photographs and logs sent during her famous 1937 world flight attempt. (Purdue University Archives Photo)

A new exhibit from Purdue Libraries, Archives and Special Collections, explores Amelia Earhart’s last adventure through letters, telegrams, photographs, and logs sent during her famous 1937 world flight attempt. (Purdue University Archives Photo)

The exhibit, located in the Purdue Archives and Special Collections on the fourth floor of the Humanities, Social Science and Education (HSSE) Library in Stewart Center, is open free to the public.

Its summer hours are 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday and 1-4:30 p.m. on Friday. Fall hours will be 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. on Monday-Friday. Please note the ASC will be closed for inventory Monday-Friday, Aug. 7-11.

The exhibit is made possible through the support of Purdue Libraries’ Susan Bulkeley Butler Women’s Archives and the Barron Hilton Archives for Flight and Space Exploration.

Purdue Libraries Assistant Professor Nicole Kong

Nicole Kong

Purdue software toolkit, originally developed to help law enforcement officers reduce crime and assist in using big data for decision-making, will play a vital role in a project led by researchers in Purdue’s College of Veterinary Medicine. The project aims to find supporting data on a link between animal abuse and child abuse in Greater Lafayette.

Nicole Kong, an assistant professor in Purdue Libraries, also will assist with the project by providing her expertise on geographic information systems.

Read more about the project from Purdue Research Foundation News at www.purdue.edu/newsroom/releases/2017/Q2/purdue-law-enforcement-toolkit-helps-researchers-study-link-between-animal-abuse-and-domestic-violence.html.

“To build up the future, you have to know the past.” — Otto Frank


“From the Past to the Future” series by Teresa Brown also appears in INSIDe, the Purdue University Libraries’ newsletter for Libraries personnel. As faculty and staff in Purdue University Libraries consolidate six libraries in the Library of Engineering and Science in the new Wilmeth Active Learning Center this summer, we’ll feature the history of each of the now closed libraries here on a regular basis.

by Teresa Brown

In the 1950s, and into the 1970s, the Schools of Engineering were served by many separate libraries:

  • Aeronautical Engineering was at the airport until it was combined with the Engineering Sciences Library in the mid-1960s. That library was then combined with the Industrial Engineering Library in the late 1960s and was located on the third floor of Grissom Hall.
  • Chemical and Metallurgical Engineering was first noted in 1927, located in an office. In 1971, it was remodeled and moved to the basement of the Chemical Engineering building, now Forney Hall of Chemical Engineering.
  • In 1963-64, the Civil Engineering Library was formally named the R.B. Wiley Memorial Library for Civil Engineering and moved into the Civil Engineering Building (Hampton) from the old Civil Engineering Building (Grissom Hall).
  • Electrical Engineering Sciences was located in the Electrical Engineering in three rooms on the second floor.
  • Mechanical Engineering was located in the Mechanical Engineering building on the second floor.
  • The Nuclear Engineering Library moved from the Michael Golden Engineering Laboratories in July 1971 to the second floor of the Engineering Administration building (the current site of the Wilmeth Active Learning Center) and included departmental faculty office space.

A look back at the engineering libraries at Purdue

In 1977, all the libraries were combined into the Siegesmund Engineering Library. (Editor’s note: I worked in all these libraries as a student employee, 1973-1977, under Ed Posey.)

A.A. Potter Engineering Research Center

A.A. Potter Engineering Research Center

Siegesmund Engineering Library

On April 22, 1977, the A.A. Potter Engineering Research Center was dedicated and a unified engineering library was opened for business.

Funds for the $6 million building were made possible partially by gifts received from engineering alumni and other friends of the Schools of Engineering during Purdue’s 1969 Centennial Fund Drive.

The Potter Center was named in honor of Dean Emeritus Audrey A. Potter who served as Purdue’s Engineering Dean, from 1920-1953. Dean Potter was born in Vilna, Russia, and came to the United States in 1897. He was an educator, counselor, inventor, administrator and author who was dedicated to making Purdue’s Engineering Schools one of the most recognized in the country.

The new library was named in honor of John C. And Lillian W. Siegesmund, benefactors of the building and library project.

At the time of the library’s grand opening, Edwin D. Posey was the Engineering Librarian. The merger of the six individual engineering libraries and the Goss Collection were Posey’s main reason for staying at Purdue for 26 years.

“Basically the individual engineering schools were against a merger, but many people, besides the librarians, could see the advantages that a single engineering library would offer its students and teaching staff,” Posey said.

It was billed as a “unified” engineering library, which in addition to the traditional library services, would have computer-controlled, student-activated storage and retrieval systems.

The original library plans included 45,000 square feet, but when enough funds could not be raised, the space was reduced to 24,000 square feet. Rather than give up the idea of a unified engineering library, Posey worked with the building’s architects to create a floor plan that included the Mezzanine floor in addition to its two floors of space.

Once the building was completed, “Operation Booklift” took place. The task of moving and shuffling 100,000 books (1/10 of the entire libraries’ collection) to the new library took approximately 5,300 staff hours, $11,000 and over two months to complete. It was the largest physical movement of books in the university’s history.

Since its grand opening in 1977, the Engineering Library has had two head librarians, Ed Posey and Sheila Curl. In 2003, Michael Fosmire was appointed as Head, Physical Sciences, Engineering and Technology Division. Prior head librarians included Mary Lee Rudd and Richard Funkhouser.

“Jim has contributed much to the advancement of learning and research. He is deeply deserving of this honor.” — Sarah Thomas, vice president for the Harvard Library, University Librarian, and Roy E. Larsen Librarian for the Faculty of Arts and Sciences

 James L. Mullins, the Dean of Libraries and the Esther Ellis Norton Professor of Library Science at Purdue University Libraries, was honored with Indiana University’s 2017 Information and Library Science Distinguished Alumni Award at a School of Informatics and Computing (SoIC) alumni reception in Chicago June 25.

James L. Mullins, the Dean of Libraries and the Esther Ellis Norton Professor of Library Science at Purdue University Libraries, was honored with Indiana University’s 2017 Information and Library Science Distinguished Alumni Award at a School of Informatics and Computing (SoIC) alumni reception in Chicago June 25.

At a Sunday evening alumni reception during the American Library Association’s Annual Conference in Chicago, James L. Mullins, the Dean of Libraries and the Esther Ellis Norton Professor of Library Science at Purdue University, formally accepted Indiana University’s 2017 Information and Library Science Distinguished Alumni Award.

Mullins’ alma mater announced the honor earlier this month. Purdue University Libraries Associate Professor Michael Witt, also an alumni of IU, provided one of the letters of support for Mullins’ nomination this year.

“Throughout his career, Dr. Mullins has demonstrated exceptional skills as an information professional and made outstanding contributions to society through Library Science in both intellect and service,” said Michael Witt, associate professor of library science and head of the Distributed Data Center at Purdue. “Hundreds if not thousands of library science students and library professionals have benefited from the guidance and mentorship provided by Dr. Mullins over the years. He has greatly influenced our library and university, as well as the surrounding community and the profession of librarianship.”

Mullins earned his Ph.D. in 1984 from the then-School of Library and Information Science, which is now part of the School of Informatics and Computing. He spent 19 years as an associate professor of SLIS while serving as an associate librarian at the Maurer School of Law at IU in the mid-1970s and as the Director of Library Services at IU South Bend from 1978-96.

He became the University Librarian and Director of the Falvey Memorial Library at Villanova University in 1996, and he took over as the Associate Director for Administration for the libraries at MIT in 2000. He served in that capacity until 2004, when he left for Purdue.

Purdue University Libraries Dean James L. Mullins congratulates Michael Witt, associate professor, after Witt accepted the 2017 Oberly Award during the American Library Assn. Annual Conference in Chicago June 25.

Purdue University Libraries Dean James L. Mullins congratulates Michael Witt, associate professor, after Witt accepted the 2017 Oberly Award during the American Library Assn. Annual Conference in Chicago June 25. Witt, also an alumni of Indiana University, provided a letter of support for Mullins’ 2017 nomination.

Mullins has instituted a number of initiatives during his career, including the foundation of Open Courseware and DSpace at MIT, and he was the chair of the E-Science Task Force of the Association of Research Libraries, as well. During his time at Purdue, he launched the Distributed Data Curation Center and led the Purdue University Research Repository institutional data repository service, DataCite, as well as the Library Publishing Coalition.

“Jim has been a leader and innovator in the area of data science and data research management, establishing one of the first positions in data curation in the nation many years ago,” said Sarah Thomas, vice president for the Harvard Library, University Librarian, and Roy E. Larsen Librarian for the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. “Jim has contributed much to the advancement of learning and research. He is deeply deserving of this honor.”

He has published numerous papers and made countless presentations to advance methods of librarianship, and he has been involved with the National Science Foundation to allow librarians to become better integrated into the funded research process.

“Jim made a profound contribution to the profession in the area of data management,” said Brian Schottlaender, the Audrey Geisel University Librarian at UC San Diego and fellow IU ILS alumnus. “He played a leadership role in shaping the national conversation in the area, including helping the National Science Foundation think about the role of libraries in data curation. Jim’s contributions in the areas of standards development, scholarly communication, and data management are manifest in his voluminous writing and speaking engagements.”

Mullins’ leadership resulted in Purdue Libraries being honored with the American Colleges & Research Libraries Excellence in Academic Libraries award in 2015, and he was personally awarded the Hugh Atkinson Memorial Award in honor of library leadership in management and technology in 2016. He also has served in leadership positions within the American Library Association and the Association of Research Libraries, and he helped conceive and plan the Wilmeth Active Learning Center, a 164,000-square-foot facility that unites library and information services at Purdue that previously had been distributed across campus.

Mullins, who is the chair of the Management Advisory Board of Purdue University Press, earned Bachelor of Arts degrees in religion, history, and political science from the University of Iowa, and he also earned his M.A.L.S. from Iowa in 1973.

“Jim has served as a role model and mentor to me,” said Robert McDonald, the associate dean for library technologies and deputy director of the Data to Insight Center at IU. “I can only hope this honor will be an inspiration to others working to serve the needs of the research library community at large.”

The Information and Library Science Distinguished Alumni Award was established in 1977 and recognizes an alumnus or alumna who is making or has made an outstanding contribution to the Library Science/Information Science profession.

Press release courtesy of the School of Informatics and Computing, Indiana University Bloomington

Hal Kirkwood, Purdue University Libraries

Hal Kirkwood

Purdue University Libraries Associate Professor Hal Kirkwood has thrown his hat into the ring as a presidential candidate for the international Special Libraries Association (SLA). If elected, he will serve a three-year term: the first year as president-elect, the second as president, and the third year as past-president. Kirkwood’s only opponent, Kevin Adams, is an information specialist at the Institute of Environmental Science & Research in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Professor Kirkwood said one of the reasons he is running for the top office at the SLA is because he values professional associations for the resources and the connections they provide. In the brief Q&A below, Professor Kirkwood talks a bit more about his candidacy.

Q. How did you come to be an SLA presidential candidate?

A. I have held numerous roles at the chapter and division levels of SLA, as well as having served as a director on the Board of Directors from 2012–14. I’ve consistently been an involved and dedicated member of the association. The SLA Nominating Committee seeks and selects members for the open positions on the Board of Directors. They determine who has the right experience and vision for the presidential role.

Q.Why are you running for the office of president for the SLA and when is the election?

A. I am running for president of SLA because I believe in the purpose and value of a professional association. I believe that it can provide services and resources that can promote the overall profession and to aid in the personal and professional development of its members. I believe there is tremendous value in physically meeting with colleagues at conference to share ideas, best practices, failures, and to connect on a more personal level than anyone can in a social media saturated world. Campaigning for the election takes place during the Annual Conference from June 17–20, as well as online after the conference. The election takes place from September 7–21.

Q. How do you think that serving as an officer in the SLA will inform and benefit your work in Purdue Libraries? If elected, what kinds of responsibilities will you have as president of the SLA?

A. Serving as an officer, and specifically president, will inform and benefit Purdue by increasing my leadership experience, by helping me develop a broader view of the profession, and by increasing the exposure of the Purdue Libraries to a broad audience of information professionals, especially non-academics, worldwide.

If elected, my responsibilities will include overseeing and directing, in conjunction with the Board of Directors, the governance of the association. In collaboration with the executive director, the president represents the SLA worldwide within the information profession. The person serving as the president also gives direction to the formulation and leadership to the achievement of the association’s philosophy, mission, and strategy, and to its objectives and goals, as well as ensures the association is making consistent and timely progress toward the fulfillment of the SLA strategic plan.

Q. What is the role of the SLA in the overall library field? How do you hope to influence or contribute to its role, services/resources, mission/purpose in the library field?

A. There are two major associations that represent information professionals: the American Library Association and the Special Libraries Association. SLA is a truly international and interdisciplinary organization representing information professionals in academic, corporate, government, intergovernmental, and other areas often not fully represented by ALA. I hope to influence its role, services, and mission by seeking creative solutions, developing unique collaborations, and listening to the members to fulfill their expectations and needs.

Kirkwood serves as a Purdue Libraries’ liaison for the following areas at Purdue: consumer sciences; entrepreneurship, hospitality and tourism management, management information systems, operations management, quantitative methods, and social entrepreneurship. He also teaches courses in information strategies for management, international business and competitive intelligence, and information literacy. For more information, see his faculty page at www.lib.purdue.edu/people/kirkwood.

“To build up the future, you have to know the past.” — Otto Frank


“From the Past to the Future” series by Teresa Brown also appears in INSIDe, the Purdue University Libraries’ newsletter for Libraries personnel. As faculty and staff in Purdue University Libraries consolidate six libraries in the Library of Engineering and Science in the new Wilmeth Active Learning Center this summer, we’ll feature the history of each of the now closed libraries here weekly.

by Carolyn Laffoon and Teresa Brown

On July 1, 1967, the Department of Geosciences was formed in the School of Science; it was previously a part of the School of EngineeriPurdue Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences Libraryng. The geology library materials were stored in the basement of the Chemical and Metallurgical Engineering Building and were a subset of the Civil Engineering Library collection. Marjorie Meyer staffed the library one-quarter time as the library assistant. Dr. Wilton “Bill” Melhorn, the first department head, was instrumental in establishing the Geosciences Library. Dr. Ted V. Jennings, as library committee chair, assisted in selecting library materials to purchase.

In 1970, the department and library moved across the street into the old Pharmacy Building. Located on the first floor of the Geosciences Building, the library had fire exit doors that overlooked the old fountain situated in front of Hovde Hall of Administration. The library originally consisted of the main room with four study tables and 16 seats, as well as a large room to the immediate southwest. Original built-in wooden shelves and several rows of old army-green surplus shelving housed the entire collection. As the collection grew, the library extended into surrounding rooms, adding three additional rooms before moving to the newly constructed location. The library title morphed from “Geosciences” to “Earth and Atmospheric Sciences” when the department changed names in 1986. In 1988 the Library moved, with the department, to the Civil Engineering Building, now named Hampton Hall of Civil Engineering. The name of the library was changed to “Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences” in 2012 when the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences underwent a name change to incorporate a new Planetary Sciences major.


In 1971, after one year in the Mathematical Sciences Library, Carolyn J. Laffoon took the library assistant position in the Earth and Atmospheric Sciences Library (EAS). In 1987, she obtained her Master’s in Library Science from Indiana University, while simultaneously working full-time in the EAS Library. Upon graduation, she was promoted to Professional Librarian of the EAS Library and served in that role until her retirement in 2011.

In 1988, with the move to the new facilities, the university merged the map collection housed in Stewart Center Special Collections with the second campus map collection held by the Department of the Earth and Atmospheric Sciences. Virginia Carter transferred from Special Collections to the EAS Library Map Room as the library assistant and map curator. She worked there until her retirement in 2000. Rebecca Richardson assumed the position of map curator/library assistant and student supervisor the following year, until she finished her Master’s in Library Science. Scott Bonner succeeded Rebecca in 2001 and was the primary force behind merging the two map collections, so library users could easily find maps for themselves. Hired in 2002, Claire Alexander held the position as the map curator/library assistant until her retirement in 2011. Donna Slone worked in the CFS Library from 2004-2007 and moved to Physics where she spent part of her time in Engineering. She moved to EAPS in 2012 and will move to Hicks Library with the map collection. Terry Wade, hired in 1999 as library assistant in Physics Library, splitting her time between Physics and EAS until 2001, when she became a full-time EAS Library assistant supervising the main collection and student staff members.

Over the course of the existence of the EAS library, several faculty librarians have overseen the library, including:  Richard Funkhouser, 1970-1980; Martha Bailey, 1980-1982; Dennis Parks, 1982-1986; D. Scott Brandt, 1987-1989; Robert “Pat” Allen, 1990-1997; and Michael Fosmire, 1998-2003, when he was appointed Head, Physical Sciences, Engineering and Technology Division, which included EAS. Megan Sapp Nelson, associate professor, assumed supervision of the EAS library in 2011. She will continue as the liaison to the EAPS department after the closure of the departmental library in 2017.

Additionally, in August, 2006, Chris Miller joined the Purdue Libraries as its first GIS Librarian. Nicole Kong was hired in 2012 as GIS Librarian and two Geographic Information Systems Analysts, Yue (Shirley) Li and Bertin Mbongo were added in 2016.

Purdue's Earth, Atmospheric & Planetary Sciences Library in early 2017

Purdue’s Earth, Atmospheric & Planetary Sciences Library in early 2017


The collection consists of research materials primarily for geology, atmospheric sciences, geophysics, geochemistry, hydrogeology and environmental ecology. The EAS Library is a U.S. government depository collecting documents and maps dealing with geology and meteorology. An official depository for the U.S. Geological Survey, it has a fairly complete collection of state survey materials. The map room consists of over 204,000 maps and 140,000 aerial photos, including historical aerial photos of Tippecanoe County. Among the most unique item in the collection is 5 volumes containing the very first original aerial photos ever taken anywhere! They happen to be of the Wabash River Valley, c. 1929.  (No other library has this set!) These materials were transferred to Purdue University Libraries’ Archives and Special Collections. They were digitized and plans are to add them to the GIS server.

Historical Changes

The EAS Library has evolved, along with libraries as a whole, from manual to electronic circulation and overdue materials; from card catalogs to online catalogs, from print reference sources to primarily online databases, such as GeoRef and Meteorological and Geoastrophysical Abstracts (MGA) and reference sources, from face-to-face reference to digital reference (i.e. Ask-A-Librarian service) and email reference, from print journals and books to ejournals and ebooks available on desktop personal computers, and from teaching basic bibliographic instruction classes in the library to teaching classes mostly from computer labs to demonstrate database usage, web searching techniques and webpage evaluation. (Searches that used to take weeks, now take minutes, and even seconds!)

This release was written by Purdue News Service staff and was published online June 6, 2017.

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Lawrence Mykytiuk cannot document that everything in the Bible took place. What the Purdue University Libraries professor can do is show you that many of the people written about did, in fact, exist.

“While some would put their hand on the Bible and really mean it when they take an oath, a few revisionist academics would throw it out and say, ‘That’s creative writing.’ I was looking for concrete, objective evidence outside of the Bible that would help build the case,” said Mykytiuk, an associate professor of library science.

Mykytiuk (pronounced MICK-ee-took) has added three names to the previously published 50 Old Testament individuals in the Bible, beginning with King David, all of whom he says he has verified through his research. The three new people are Tattenai (also translated as Tatnai), a Persian governor during the time of Ezra (after the Babylonian exile); and two high officials of Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar II: Nergal-sharezer, called the “samgar” official, and Nebuzaradan, “the chief of the guards.”

Tattenai is mentioned in the fifth chapter of the book of Ezra. He also is mentioned outside of the Bible in a letter on a clay tablet from Persian King Darius I the Great, in the year 502 B.C.

According to the Bible, Nergal-sharezer and Nebuzaradan were high officials of King Nebuchadnezzar II, who in 586 B.C. destroyed the First Temple, as well as Jerusalem, and exiled most of the remaining population of Judah. They are mentioned at the scene of the destruction in Jeremiah 39:3 and 39:9, respectively, and Nebuzaradan also is mentioned in 2 Kings, Chapter 25. Their king included them in a contemporaneous list of his courtiers that was written on clay tablets.

Mykytiuk has written about his latest findings in Biblical Archeology Review.

“When you verify that a person existed, you’re not usually verifying that they did what the Bible says they did, because you don’t usually get that much information in the inscription or in the Bible,” Mykytiuk said. “If you get the person’s name, his or her father’s name, and the person’s office or title, that doesn’t verify that they did certain things. But it can sometimes show they were in a position to do the things Scripture says they did. That’s often as far as you can go. Still, there are some longer inscriptions from ancient Israel’s neighbors that mention people and events in the Old Testament, just describing them from a different point of view.”

When verifying an individual, Mykytiuk goes through a painstaking three-step process:

Data is checked to make sure it is from an authentic inscription and not forged. Settings from historical documents are matched up to confirm that the person’s time and socio-political “place” (such as the kingdom of Judah) are the same. Mykytiuk considers a period of about 50 years between the person in the inscription and the person in the Bible as permissible, because an adult could be active for that amount of time.

At least three ways of identifying the individual in the Bible (such as the person’s name, the father’s name, and the person’s title) must match the same three identifying marks of the individual in the inscription. Three identifying matches are considered a lock, two are considered a reasonable hypothesis, or even a likely hypothesis for a match, but one is not enough.

“Sometimes the three-step process is not necessary, as when we know that the person in an inscription and the person in the Bible are both connected to a one-time circumstance or event that fits one and only one person,” Mykytiuk said. “For example, Ahab, king of Israel, ruled during the period in which the famous battle of Qarqar was fought in 853 B.C. His Assyrian enemy wrote about “Ahab the Israelite,” one of the kings he fought in that particular battle. Therefore, Ahab, king of Israel in the Bible, and Ahab, the Israelite king at the battle of Qarqar in the Assyrian inscription, must have been the same person.

After interpreting the inscription according to data from other inscriptions outside the Bible, only then does he compare it to the Bible. “To use biblical data as a determining factor in interpreting an inscription, and then to claim that the inscription confirms the Bible, opens the door to circular logic,” he said.

It’s easy to go online and find long lists proclaiming that they are filled with many more verified biblical figures, but Mykytiuk says many of those lists include forged inscriptions and do not guard against inaccuracies. He has published numerous articles on the subject, presented at academic conferences and taken questions from expert reviewers in biblical studies, ancient history, and archaeology, adjusting his criteria accordingly. Mykytiuk can also read languages used in ancient texts, such as those on monuments, signet rings, and seal impressions in lumps of clay, called bullae (singular: bulla), which were used to seal documents.

The languages he uses to read ancient inscriptions and the Bible include ancient Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek. He also reads inscriptions in various Canaanite dialects and in other ancient languages, such as Phoenician. And in order to keep up with recent scholarship on inscriptions, he reads articles in a few modern European languages.

Although the Hebrew Bible names almost 3,000 people, Mykytiuk states that for an overwhelming number of these, it only gives the person’s name and does not supply enough specific information about them to identify them in any other writing. The number of individuals for whom the Bible gives enough information to identify them specifically is far smaller, surely no more than a few hundred, he estimates. With 53 of the people mentioned in the Hebrew Bible now verified through years of research, Mykytiuk will move on to the New Testament, first with a BAR article on 23 verified political figures, then to another one covering about six religious figures. In 2015, he published an article in BAR titled, Did Jesus Exist? Searching for Evidence Beyond the Bible.

He calls such verifications his passion and says it’s important because, “This evidence shows that it is not essential to have religious faith in order to understand and accept much of what the Bible presents. It demonstrates that even on the basis of writings outside of the Bible alone, Scripture does have a considerable degree of historical credibility.”

Media contact: Tim Doty, 765-496-2571, doty2@purdue.edu

Source: Lawrence Mykytiuk, 765-494-3605, larrym@purdue.edu

Ilana Stonebraker, Purdue Libraries

Ilana Stonebraker, Purdue Libraries

Purdue University Libraries Assistant Professor and Business Information Specialist Ilana Stonebraker has been recognized by the Library Instruction Round Table (LIRT) for her article “Toward informed leadership: Teaching students to make better decisions using information.” The piece, published in November in the Journal of Business & Finance Librarianship, is recognized as one of the “Top Twenty Articles of 2016” by LIRT in its June 2017 newsletter.

In March, Stonebraker was also recognized as a Library Journal 2017 “Mover and Shaker.”

In the Q & A piece below, Stonebraker provides some insight into the noted article, which the LIRT article selection committee described as a top-twenty article because of “its originality, strength of evidence, and applicability.”

Q. What was the impetus for your article “Toward informed leadership: Teaching students to make better decisions using information”?

Ilana: I became interested in decision management after teaching with a problem-based learning pedagogy. Many of the phenomenon I describe in the paper are things I have observed in my students’ behaviors. It seemed to me that more information did not make students any better at making decisions, so I started looking for other literatures that could help me help make my students better decision-makers. I found decision management and evidence-based management, and I saw how they addressed a gap in information-literacy literature. I tried to start to address that gap with this paper.

Q. What are your assertions regarding instruction and the tools librarians provide to help undergraduate researchers in the piece?

Ilana: My goal in this article was twofold. First, I wanted to assert and support my main claim, which is that decontextualized information-literacy knowledge training that overly focuses on information access makes students worse decision-makers, not better ones. I then focused on practices coming out of decision management and decision science that could help us teach students decision-making skills. My main practices focused on decision awareness, process creation, and decision practice, drawing on my own experience, and also how we might assess decision management differently than we do traditional information literacy.

Q. What are some examples, from your own teaching, that support your assertions/arguments in the article?

Ilana: One activity I discuss in the article involves decision awareness. Decision awareness is a metacognitive approach in which students examine how they make decisions and what biases that might enter their decision-making processes. I usually assign this activity before Spring Break; students read a Harvard Business Review article called, “Before You Make That Big Decision.”

Then, over Spring Break, they think of a decision they made in a group setting. Then they select one of the biases in the paper and describe, in a short assignment, how their decision was affected by that bias. They come to class and get into groups and discuss their individual decisions. (Given the type of decisions students make over Spring Break, this can be pretty silly.) Then, in large groups, we discuss the types of bias, but also additional questions like, “Was the decision you made a good decision or a bad one? How do you know?”

This conversation can be very interesting because it typically devolves into two camps. Decision science asserts that a decision can be good because the process is good (this leads nicely into process creation), or because the outcome is good (which makes more empirical sense, but is pretty risky).

It’s really interesting to think about how a decision is good or bad, especially from an information-literacy standpoint.

We librarians like to think decisions are only good if they have good process (through clever research skills), but we also want students who can see an outcome from a decision and grow from it. After all, that’s what scientists do.

Q. What do you hope faculty librarians take away from the article?

Ilana: I was pretty nervous that people would read this as an overly critical article of information literacy, so I’m glad people like it and/or are reading it! This paper, ironically, was published on election day, and I think there’s some strong “fake news” implications to it. Sometimes we think people are worse decision-makers because they don’t have access to enough information or enough “quality” research access. But, actually, people become worse decision makers when they have less context and more information. We’ve been saying as a profession for a while–that context is important and this article just reinforced how important it is.

“To build up the future, you have to know the past.” — Otto Frank

“From the Past to the Future” series by Teresa Brown also appears in INSIDe, the Purdue University Libraries’ newsletter for Libraries personnel. As faculty and staff in Purdue University Libraries consolidate six libraries in the Library of Engineering and Science in the new Wilmeth Active Learning Center this summer, we’ll feature the history of each of the now closed libraries here weekly.

In 1924, the general policy of the University involved the centralization of the books and their uses for reference in the Main Library Building. In certain instances however, there were departures from this policy and collections of books were placed in other buildings on campus.

The most important of these collections was the Chemistry Library, located in the Chemistry building. It was the oldest and largest of the department libraries. Practically all the usable books and periodicals relating to Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, about 2,000 in all, were housed in this library where they were readily accessible for reference to the students at work in the laboratories of the department. University Librarian William M. Hepburn believed departmental libraries sprang from the “rapid growth of library collections without a corresponding increase in the size of the Main Library Building.”

In 1929, a complete dictionary catalog and shelf list were prepared for the books shelved in the Chemistry Library, and it was planned to include cards for the chemical books kept in the General, Chemical Engineering and Agricultural Experiment Station libraries. A tri-weekly messenger service was established to deliver books and periodicals to departmental libraries and to deliver and pick up periodicals circulated to 20 departments for faculty use.

In 1930, for the first time the Library leadership provided a part-time assistant to users of departmental collections in Chemistry and Pharmacy. According to M.G. Mellon’s autobiography, the first Chemistry librarian was Bernice Dunten, who had been a WWI Army Nurse. She remained the librarian until 1940, when she moved to the Pharmacy Library. Mellon noted that, in the hot summers of 1934 and 1936, she ejected students (presumably male) from the library for going “topless.”

Interior of Purdue University Libraries' Chemistry Library in early 2017.

Interior of Purdue University Libraries’ Chemistry Library in early 2017.

Ms. Dunten was followed by Ruth Power (1940-49), a graduate (like Dunten) of the University of Illinois Library School. She was followed (perhaps) by someone named Dunbar (Mellon is not clear about this in his autobiography).

In 1948-49, responsibility for the Chemistry Library shifted from the department head to the Director of Libraries John Moriarty.

The new Chemistry building was completed in 1955 at a cost of over $4,500,000, and the Chemistry Library moved into its new home with Librarian Fred J. Bassett (1951-56) overseeing its grand opening. The departmental library, with a capacity of 40,000 volumes, was located on the third floor of the new building. The description of the library in the open house brochure read as follows: “On entering it (the library) one finds oneself in a large, acoustically treated, air-conditioned reading room with bookshelves around the sides and long study tables and chairs in the center. The Librarian’s desk is immediately to the right, and behind this are two small rooms where books may be repaired or prepared for binding. At the left in the reading room is a long alcove for abstract journals. Beyond this is a separate small reading room with current journals and magazines arranged on open shelves. To the west of the main reading room is the stack room. The stacks are constructed in three tiers and extend from the third floor to the ceiling of the fourth floor. A small service elevator has been installed to facilitate the transportation of books between the several levels of stacks. This room is also supplied with 21 study carrels, seven on each tier. There is no laboratory above any part of the library so that a leakage of water and chemical cannot occur in such a way as to damage the books and manuscripts.”

Bassett was followed by James Van Luik, who was there for two years (1956-58). He was presumably followed by Dorothy Kreman, who served until John Pinzelik started in 1960 and retired in 1993. Bartow Culp followed until his retirement in 2009. In 2003, Michael Fosmire was appointed as Head, Physical Sciences, Engineering and Technology Division, with Jeremy Garritano serving as Chemistry librarian (June 2004-May 2014). Currently David Zwicky is assistant professor liaison for the Chemistry department.

The Chemistry library has undergone some cosmetic updates over the years including a new circulation desk and study carrels. As a teaching and research library, it has continued to stay up-to-date with the services it offers to the Purdue staff and students and surrounding community. In 2007, The Mellon CyberChemistry Lab was opened and featured 10 PCs with software specifically related to chemistry, math, and citation management. The core objective of this space was to help users more effectively apply the information that was available to them, and as a result make their assignments and their research more meaningful.