A new SSMU touch table

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?

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: http://www.empire.amdigital.co.uk/Introduction/TakeATour. 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.

[1] http://www.empire.amdigital.co.uk/Introduction/NatureAndScope

[2] Elbourne, Elizabeth. “Religion and Empire, with special reference to South Africa and Canada.” Empire Online. 2006. Accessed April 24, 2018. http://www.empire.amdigital.co.uk/Essays/ElizabethElbourne


New Puzzle Table at HSSL

The next time you find yourself in need of a breather at HSSL, take a minute to pause at the new De-stress Station, a.k.a. the Puzzle Table.

Located in the passageway between the the McLennan and Redpath sections of HSSL, this new wellness initiative is brought to all HSSL users thanks to the SSMU Library Improvement Fund (SSMU-LIF). The concept is simple: We set out a large jigsaw puzzle and it is collectively completed by passers by, who spend as little or as much time on it as they choose.

Working on a puzzle is said to draw upon both the right and left hemispheres of the brain, making it is a great way to give your grey matter the equivalent of a good, all-encompassing stretch. Also, because it is considered an active pastime, it requires a level of focus that can allow you to really unplug from studying or working. So if you’ve got a case of writer’s block, or your study group is stuck on a problem, a quick trip to the Puzzle Table just might help.The funds from the SSMU-LIF have allowed for the purchase of a number of puzzles. Since 500-piece puzzles were being finished in a matter of hours, most of our collection is made up of 1000-piece puzzles at a minimum. There’s a Tetris-style wooden block puzzle as well, for something a little different.

We have a variety of styles and challenge levels, and we endeavor to keep things fun, and relevant when we can. The Puzzle Table hosted a winter scene during the snowstorm, and characters from movies and video games during reading week.
Judging by the frequency at which we are removing completed puzzles and putting out new ones, the De-Stress Station is a much appreciated new feature of HSSL. Next time you’re passing by, instead of rushing past, give yourself and your brain a different kind of workout. Spend a few minutes with the puzzle of the moment, and see if you can pick up on a theme.

Here’s our puzzle of the moment, put up on Thursday, March 15th, a small nod to Stephen Hawking’s passing the day before. It’s a tough one -come lend a hand!