Immerse Yourself in the Digital Humanities!

SMU Libraries premieres the Digital Humanities Research Institute.

DHRI logo with SMU logoJoin DHRI@SMU, August 19-22, 2019. Apply now, applications are due April 22.

Digital humanities (DH) uses computational methods and tools to address humanities questions.What is a good way of getting started in the digital humanities? Bootcamps! DHRI@SMU offers intensive training in digital tools and skills.We will give equal focus to the digital and the humanities, while emphasizing the collaborative, interdisciplinary nature of DH projects.


Our curriculum includes:

  • defining digital humanities
  • considering what data means for the humanities
  • learning programming languages, such as git/GitHub and the R
  • discussing collaborative practices and project management
  • working with some data sets.

Food for Fines: Help Stock “The Shop”

In the spirit of holiday sharing, SMU Libraries is collecting food donations for The Shop in return for waiving library fines. The Shop, located in Fondren Library, is an initiative for SMU students who are food insecure coordinated by Student Success in the Office of Student Affairs.

For every donation of a can or package of non-perishable food, SMU students, faculty, and staff will receive a $2.00 credit off their library fines. This applies to materials from all SMU libraries. Bring your food donations to the Main Desk of any SMU library beginning Monday, November 26 through Wednesday, December 12.

Join library staff in celebrating the season and have your fines reduced by exchanging food for fines.

Happy Holidays from the SMU Libraries!

*This waiver does not apply to lost book charges fees.

Seven Tips for Spotting False Information and Bias

Trying to determine if that news or social media story you are reading is biased? Check your emotional response, says SMU Information Literacy Librarian Megan Heuer.

“A strong emotional response to a news story, positive or negative, is a sign that a story may need verification,” she says. Heuer regularly shares tips like this in her free public workshops on the SMU campus, “Finding Balanced News in a Biased World.

For librarians, helping students and patrons understand how to evaluate sources of information has long been a key part of their mission. Their code of ethics supports intellectual freedom. “Our personal beliefs do not impact the resources we collect or recommend” Heuer says.

“Instead, professional librarians teach students and library patrons to develop information literacy – the ability to find and evaluate information, to understand how and why it is produced and to use it ethically.”




Use fact-checking sites: When in doubt, verify stories on these sites, Snopes,, Politifact, Hoax Slayer, Truth or Fiction.


Conduct lateral searching instead of vertical searching: Scan a website, then open additional websites on the same topic seeking context and perspective. Don’t limit search to in-depth vertical analysis of one website.


Check age of domain: Use WHOIS to see when the web domain for the story was created. Be wary if the domain is brand new. It may have been created to host fake news.


Conduct a reverse image source: Use Google Images to see how an image has been used in the past and to confirm if the image originated with the story.


Beware of misleading media: Question selective sourcing, opinion-writing and advertising that masquerade as news, as well as quick-fix science news.


Recognize good reporting: Good reporting is ethical, represents multiple viewpoints, identifies sources and uses commonly accepted sources and authorities.


Is your news source biased? Several nonprofit organizations evaluate news bias and fact check news stories. To evaluate a news source or particular story, visit AllSides

Politifact, Factcheck or MediaBiasFactcheck.

See a schedule of all SMU Library workshops.

Article produced by SMU Media Relations for an Official Press Release

Get Familiar with Open Access Publishing

What is open access publishing?

Open access (OA) is the online publication of scholarly articles, at no cost to readers. With unsustainable increases in journal costs, OA could provide the answer to maintaining access to academic journals.


How “open” is open access publishing?

  • Gold journal: completely open access. Though content is freely available to readers, some journals may require the author to pay an article processing charge (APC).
  • Hybrid journal: some content is open access, while other parts are not.
  • Green journal: pre- and/or post-prints to an online repository, such as SMU Scholar.


Why would I choose open access?

Authors want to publish in reputable journals and get cited frequently. Open access allows worldwide access to your work. There is some evidence that OA publishing increases citation counts, and posting your work to a repository ensures indexing by Google Scholar.

Some grants require making your research publicly available, so OA publishing can satisfy the terms of this agreement.


Where do I find open access publications?

There are many highly regarded OA gold journals. Use the Directory of Open Access Journals to find journals in your discipline.

Post your work to an institutional or a disciplinary repository, if your publisher allows it. Look up publisher policies at Sherpa/Romeo. Note: networking sites like Research Gate are not the same as a repository.


What else should I know?

Your librarian can help with questions about OA publishing.

If you have a choice between a gold and a green journal, you are better off publishing in a gold journal.

Some universities have local OA policies. When you join a new institution, check their guidelines.

Actively avoid predatory journals that lure authors into paying to publish. Check the reputation of a journal if you have doubts.

You can maintain copyright, even for OA articles. Most platforms allow you to apply a Creative Commons license, so others use your work only in the ways you deem acceptable.

Interdisciplinary research and collaboration are the focus of the 2018 Prism Panel

What is the Prism Panel?

The current focus on interdisciplinary research and teaching at SMU and universities around the world is producing a range of innovative approaches, which are now shaping curricula, research agendas, and policies. Objective One of Goal Three of the SMU Strategic Plan, 2016-2025, Launching SMU’s Second Century, is to:
-“Encourage widespread development of campus-wide interdisciplinary research projects and programs for graduate and undergraduate students and faculty” (page 15).

In 2017, the SMU Libraries launched an exciting new series, the Prism Panel, designed to foster interdisciplinary conversations on the SMU campus. We are excited to announce the 2018 Prism Panel, which is scheduled for October 23rd, 5-6:30pm, in the Texana Room. Featured panelists are:

Christopher Roos, Associate Professor of Anthropology, Dedman College

Zachary Wallmark, Assistant Professor of Musicology and Assistant Professor of Psychology, Meadows School of the Arts and Dedman College, with Benjamin Tabak, Assistant Professor of Psychology, Dedman College

Jessie Marshall Zarazaga, Program Director of MA Sustainability and Development, Lyle School of Engineering, with Owen Lynch, Associate Professor of Corporate Communications and Public Affairs, Meadows School of the Arts

See the SMU Libraries website for full details of the event including descriptions of the presentation topics.

Why call it a “Prism” Panel?

A prism disperses clear light into wavelengths of many colors, much as disciplinary understandings may be understood in newly illuminating ways when viewed from other perspectives. Seeking to foster such interdisciplinary conversations, SMU Libraries brings scholars together who draw from different disciplines to enhance their research. This series, developed by SMU librarians, is fashioned after the TED Radio Hour on NPR. We love the idea of approaching one theme from various perspectives and by experts in various fields, and our version strives to facilitate interdisciplinary connections between faculty at SMU. We view a library as a space for ideas to formulate and grow: fostering knowledge-creation, communication and innovation.

The panel discussion includes 3-4 members of the faculty speaking for about 10 minutes each on an interdisciplinary collaboration of their choosing. We then open it up to Q&A and casual social interaction where attendees can make connections with members of other departments as well as with members of the audience. The series is meant to be casual and, we hope, fun!

Spotting Fake News

Why do people fall for fake news?  How do you verify a piece of news as real?  How do you determine bias?  What is the place of personal responsibility in finding good news?

There have been a lot of solutions proposed to fight the fake news problem – human fact-checking services, crowd-sourcing, and artificial intelligence among them – but there are some systemic problems with these solutions.  Given the changing face of fake news, automating a system of checks or blocking known fake news accounts can be a game of whack-a-mole.  Even worse, flagging content as fake leads to greater trust in unflagged, and potentially false, content, according to 2017 study.

We will discuss these topics among others at an upcoming workshop series:

Finding Balanced News in a Biased World Part 1

Tuesday, September 11th at noon,

Fondren Library Red 323

Finding Balanced News in a Biased World Part 2

Tuesday, September 18th at noon,

Fondren Library Red 323

Interested but can’t come at this time? SMU Libraries offers the Request a Workshop service to meet the needs of your class, writing group, department, or student organization. Schedule a convenient time and location that works for you by choosing from a list of possible topics or requesting a custom session.

Interview with GIS Bootcamp guest lecturer, Stace Maples

The Initiative for Spatial Literacy is  preparing for another GIS Bootcamp taught by Stace Maples on  March 20th, 2018.  This year’s focus is on the utility of GIS to graduate student research. In advance of the GIS Bootcamp we took some time to get to know Stace. He is a graduate from SMU earning his bachelor’s degree in archaeology. This will be his second time returning to SMU to teach this series of workshops on GIS. See the schedule and register for the 2018 SMU GIS Bootcamp here. 



Since you graduated from SMU in 1997, we just have to ask – What is your favorite memory of SMU?

There are many, but if I had to pick one, it would have to be the Ft. Burgwin Archaeological Field School experience (Pot Creek Pueblo, ’96!). We had a great class of students, and Dr. Mike Adler (aka ‘Madler’), was Director of the Field School, which obviously made the experience even better. We worked harder than anyone else at Ft. Burgwin, from sunup to sundown, excavating and processing artifacts, six days a week, and played harder than anyone else, too. We won the Ft. Burgwin Volleyball Championship, that year.

What is your spirit animal and why?

Hmm. Someone has been talking to my Ft. Burgwin colleagues!? The skunk. We went on a great road trip during the Field School, visiting Chaco Canyon, Mesa Verde and other sites. At Mesa Verde, I woke to find a skunk taking refuge from the rain in the vestibule of my tiny solo tent, about 18 inches from my face. I lay there for about 2 hours, unable to sleep for fear of snoring or making a noise for fear of startling him, until someone else in the camp made enough noise to scare him away. There may be other, alleged, reasons that we can leave for tales around a campfire, someday.

If you could make a soundtrack of your life, what songs would you include?

That’s tough. I’m a DJ on Stanford’s radio station, KZSU, so my soundtrack is always evolving. But, in general: I’ve been in love for 23 years, so there would be a few love songs; My kids love 80’s Punk & New Wave, right now, so that’s a big chunk, too; There would be a lot of rebellious music, maybe Dead Kennedys would represent that side well, or Ween. And Willie Nelson, because Texas.

Tell us why GIS is important by using only the Ten Hundred Most Used Words as defined by the Up-Goer Five Text Editor.

Where Matters.

What has been one of the most interesting or most impactful projects where you have used GIS? 

I’ve been working with Dr. Eric Nelson, since I got to Stanford, building a platform to help health care workers respond to cholera outbreaks in under-resourced parts of the world. We’re piloting the platform in some really challenging locations, like Bangladesh and Haiti, to prove that we can use mobile technologies to improve outcomes for patients, responders and decision-makers. The Outbreak Responder is a decision-support and epidemiology platform for use during disease outbreaks which includes a rehydration calculator that automates WHO guidelines for assessing and rehydrating a patient with diarrheal disease and a series of map-based data dashboards that help administrators optimize resource allocation during rapidly evolving outbreaks. You can read about the mobile application and we just published an evaluation of our first trials.

What is the most surprising thing you have discovered using GIS?

That it can, literally, be applied to the study of anything. I see as many workshop attendees from Medicine as I do from Geology, as Environmental Sciences, as Archaeology, as School of Business, as Forestry, as History, as Political Science,… and I can do that all day. The ability to colocate data in geographic space opens up the possibility of fusing almost any datasets you can get your hands on into new types of scholarship. I think Nick Bauch’s “Enchanting the Desert,” published by The Stanford University Press, is a perfect example of this, and the type of real research that can be done, and published, through digital means, and no other. Nick leverages research methods of Geography, Environmental Science, History, Photography, Geodesy and more into an incredible examination of how technology formed our national perception of what is meant by “The Grand Canyon.” []

GIS is a tool that fosters numerous opportunities for more interdisciplinary inquiry which, I think, is probably the most productive approach to any question.

The title of the GIS Bootcamp workshop series is “Everything is Somewhere.” What does that mean?  

“Everything is somewhere, and that somewhere matters.” It’s my slightly cheeky paraphrase of Waldo Tobler’s First Law of Geography: “Everything is related, near things are more related.” That one sentence has such profound implications for the ways we should be examining our world and our relationship with it, and each other. Relationships of proximity, adjacency, containment, shape, central tendency, and so on, have profound influence on our lives and those relationships are accessible only through building spatial thinking skills and toolkits for using those skills. GIS and other geospatial technologies are the instruments that allow us to quantify and interrogate those relationships in more meaningful ways, and hopefully make more persuasive arguments, and more constructive decisions, about them.

As the Geospatial Manager at The Stanford Geospatial Center, Stace Maples provides support and collaboration to the Stanford research community in capturing and making sense of the “where” of their work.  His work mapping the research interests of scholars has taken him from the beaches of Martha’s Vineyard, to Kurdish Northeastern Syria, to the most remote areas of the Mongolian/Chinese border.  An archaeologist by training (SMU, ’97) and a technologist by temperament, he is interested in all aspects of mapping, from the aerial imaging of archaeological sites using kites and balloons, to the development of platforms for the gathering of volunteer geographic information. He has over 20 years of experience using Geographic Information Systems and geotechnology for research and teaching, with expertise in a broad range of geospatial and supporting software and hardware.    

Join Us to Discuss the Library Collections Budget

Library Collections Budget Town Hall Meeting

SMU Libraries collection development staff will hold a Library Collections Budget Town Hall meeting on Thursday, January 18th from 2-4 pm in DeGolyer Library, room 309. 

Collections staff will present information about the library’s budget and the cost of current subscriptions. We will also answer questions from faculty and other interested campus community members.

Why are we having this town hall meeting?

Central University Libraries’ financial situation has become increasingly tenuous over the last few years. We need to cut access to some journals in the near future.  Here are some relevant budgetary figures:

  • In FY 2017, Central University Libraries (CUL) spent 99.5% of its budget allocation on journals and databases.
  • Annual increases to our budget are typically in the 3-4 percent range, but serials inflation is 5-6% annually.
  • A budget increase of $585,305 (15%) would be needed in the next fiscal year to avoid cuts to journal subscriptions.

The cost of journals and databases has now consumed the entire allocated budget of CUL. We are in the process of determining what materials are most valuable to SMU researchers. We will then target these titles for retention.

Faculty input is critical to this effort.

The Town Hall meeting is one of the ways faculty can provide feedback, which will be recorded and incorporated into our analysis. Faculty members are also invited to participate in a brief survey designed to round out our picture of journal use at SMU. We have already obtained statistics on what is used (from the vendors), and what journals SMU faculty cite (from Web of Science). We will compile all of this information and evaluate journals in the sciences and engineering, arts and humanities, and behavioral and social sciences separately. This will account for differing citation patterns across disciplines.

Please participate by attending the Town Hall, completing this brief survey, or both.  The survey will be open until March 1st.



Post contributed by the Central University Libraries Collection Development Team


Finals Week at the Libraries

Finals week is a stressful time of the year for any university campus. Research shows that effectively managing stress improves memory, mood, and academic performance. The “Week of Wellness” is a series of events and activities that the libraries, with our friends across campus, are hosting to help students alleviate stress and finish the semester strong. Events and activities include therapy dogs, late night snacks, extended hours, brain breaks stations, meditation workshop, study tips and more! More information about events and activities can be found at or by visiting the library main desk.


Week of Wellness Schedule