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    A new SSMU touch table

    May 1st, 2018

    Did you notice the large touch table in the Redpath Library building this past term? It’s really a giant ipad on wheels! This touch table was funded by the SSMU Library Improvement Fund and we have been having fun creating experiences to share with you.

    The first was an update of all of the projects that the SSMU LIF has funded in the Library over the past two years.

    The experiences are created using licensed software called IntuiFace. As its name suggests the software is very intuitive and allows us to easily create interactive displays. Our second experience showcased four resources in one:

    • a virtual whiteboard,
    • the Library’s PressReader database (daily international newspapers),
    • virtual Library floor plans,
    • feedback from you.

    We have been working on the summer experience, soon to be live in the Redpath Library building once exams have finished. It will showcase summer travel videos and SSMU’s instagram feed.

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    No time to visit the British Library this summer?

    April 30th, 2018

    Did you know that McGill Library has purchased the Adam Matthew Digital database Empire OnlineThis archive of primary source materials is a compilation of resources from the world’s major research libraries and archives, including the British Library, providing information on colonialism and imperialism spanning five centuries: from 1492 to 2007.

    Do your research interests touch on the events or themes of the European colonial period? The 70,000 pages in Empire Online can be searched to locate source materials “charting the rise and fall of colonial empires from the explorations of Columbus and Captain Cook, the missionary movement and the exhibitions of the 19th century, to decolonisation in the second half of the 20th century and debates over American imperialism.” [1]

    The database contains many different document types from exploration journals to letter-books, periodicals, government documents, missionary papers, travel writing, slave papers, memoirs, fiction and folk tales. The curators have provided content with a European and non-European perspective and all continents are covered. Each of the sections of the database can be searched together or separately. The database sections are:

    Section I. Cultural contacts, 1492-1969,
    Section II. Empire writing and the literature of empire,
    Section III. The visible empire,
    Section IV. Religion and empire,
    Section V. Race, class, imperialism and colonialism, 1607-2007.

    Did you know that McGill scholars have contributed to this resource? Professor Elizabeth Elbourne, of McGill’s Department of History has written one of several thematic essays introducing and contextualizing the database content. In her essay “Religion and Empire, with special reference to South Africa and Canada”[2], Elbourne introduces the source material recording the work of the Church Missionary Society in southern Africa and in northern Canada. 

    Included in the database are the journals of Rev. George Barnley, the first Christian Missionary Society envoy to do mission work in northern Quebec among the James Bay Cree, during the mid-nineteenth century. (Pictured above)

    Would this resource be useful for your teaching next year? Your explorations of this rich database will uncover both manuscripts, images and printed materials. Take a tour  here: If you would like to incorporate Empire Online’s content into your course, McGill’s librarians can work with you to help make this a reality – just drop us a line.


    [2] Elbourne, Elizabeth. “Religion and Empire, with special reference to South Africa and Canada.” Empire Online. 2006. Accessed April 24, 2018.


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    What is the most popular work published by an Irish author?

    March 15th, 2018

    Lavoie, Brian, and Lorcan Dempsey. 2018. An Exploration of the Irish Presence in the Published Record. Dublin, OH: OCLC Research. doi:10.25333/C3WS6R

    OCLC Research has just published a report investigating how many Ireland-related works exist in the “published record”.  Using computational analysis of the contents of WorldCat, a database of more than 16,000 library holdings worldwide, authors, Brian Lavoie and Lorcan Dempsey have used the catalogue’s descriptive metadata to identify the Irish presence and create a corpus of publications associated with Ireland and its people.

    An Exploration of the Irish Presence in the Published Record  also highlights the “indispensible role of libraries as repositories and caretakers of the creative outputs of Ireland and all nations” (p.7).

    Surprisingly, McGill University Library’s collection of Irish works places it in the top ten list of libraries in the world with the greatest concentrations of materials with Irish presence.

    “An Irish university, Trinity College Dublin, leads the ranking as the institution with the highest number of publications from the Irish presence in the world (table 13). Two other Irish institutions place on the list—University College Dublin and University College Cork—as well as two UK universities, University of Oxford and University of Cambridge. The US leads with four institutions, including three universities and one public library, and Canada’s McGill University rounds out a strong North American presence on the list” (p. 24).

    The most popular work published by an Irish author?

    Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift!

    Read the full report here.


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