(So Much More Than) Research Services

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Research Services is a term you’ve probably heard tossed around about some of the library staff this year. You might be thinking, “That’ll be great if I need help with research papers.” And you’re right; we’re absolutely here to help you with your research assignments and your class projects, but that’s only part of what that title means!

There are two of us that lead the Research Services team in the library: myself, Patrick Fulton, and Denise Green. Together, we take care of a number of projects and programs in the library, some of which you’ll have encountered like our class presentations, and some you may not have encountered yet. We’re both actively performing musicians like yourselves, as well as librarians and information professionals.

Research is more than just books and articles though. We are all musicians, first and foremost, and a major part of our performing lives is finding the right recordings, scores, and editions to fit our particular needs. There’s a term used nowadays called “satisficing.” Satisfy and suffice come together to make a term that means that we might settle for the first available recording/score/information instead of looking for the BEST version to fit our needs. The internet, the library, the databases… these are all complicated information structures, and just like scaling a mountain, your Research Services Librarians are here to be your Sherpas.

As I mentioned above, research assistance is a big part of what we do. You’ve no doubt heard us speak in class about resources and the research method, citations, plagiarism, etc. But once we walk out the door, we are still very much there to assist you. Everyone hits a wall when it comes to research, and this is the perfect time to discuss your topic with another person. On our site, there is a form to request a research consultation with either Denise or myself: http://cim.edu/library/services/consultform. It might seem nuts, but we actually love discussing research topics and finding resources—it’s kind of like solving a puzzle for us. We’ll happily set aside time to sit down with you individually and tease out a thesis, find articles, talk about your ideas… Whatever you need to get you on the right track!

Maybe your question is as simple as the writing process itself (though even that is not so simple at times!). Do you need help verifying if those Chicago-style citations are formatted correctly? Confused about how to format those pesky footnotes? Not sure about your grammar or how to get around saying ‘I’ in the course of your prose? These are all things we’re happy to consult with you on as well. We can’t promise to proof your whole paper, but don’t let that deter you from asking for help! Even if we can’t do it ourselves, we will give you a whole slew of tips and tricks to produce your best paper on your own.

Moving away from papers, we’re also your local access gurus. When it comes to online resources, we want to help you get the most possible out of what we have access to. Part of this comes down to configuring your tech items as well. You may have seen us out in the lobby this past week helping folks set up their phones/computers with the CWRU VPN software (see previous blog post). Even though we’re not stationed outside, we’re always here and happy to help get you connected to all we have to offer. Maybe you’re just fighting with Microsoft Word when it comes to formatting your paper—we’ve got you covered there too!

Sometimes we even go beyond what you might consider traditional library sources. Everyone here is a professional musician with valuable performance and career experience we are happy to share with you. An important part of your career is having the right documents to represent yourself as a musician, a portfolio, if you will. This starts with your press kit (bio, photos, repertoire list, etc.) and then covers your resume and CV and goes all the way to your social media presence. We can help here too! We are happy to look over your resume, cover letters, CVs, applications to festivals/grad schools/jobs—just set up a time to meet with us so we can go over the documents with you as you did with the research consultation. A little individual time to talk over these documents can mean the difference between getting that interview and ending up at the bottom of the pile! We’ve got plenty of experience with social media management, interviewing (in person and remotely), and so much more that we want to share with you.

The moral of the story is this: Whatever you need, we are here to help you! Even if we don’t know the answer ourselves, we will work to help you find the best information possible. Our title may be research services, but think of us as your one-stop shop for answers and help. We prioritize giving individual attention to our students, faculty, and staff above all else. Satisfice no more! Ask us anything!

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Near, Far, Wherever You Are: Get Connected with a VPN!

It’s the beginning of a new semester and as such, your Library wants to help you get the most use out of our online resources with the use of CWRU’s VPN system.

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As I’m sure most folks are well aware, the library offers access to a ton of great online resources that we all use for research, study, or just for fun. Things like NAXOS, Grove Music Online, RILM, and Met Opera on Demand (just to name a few) have drastically changed the way people interact with music-related materials. Way back in the day, in order to access print and recording materials in your library, you would have to go to the actual physical space during the open hours available to you. With these online resources, though, the library can offer access to scholarly articles, masterful recordings, and wonderful full books 24 hours a day online.

You may be saying, “Of course I can get recordings and information all the time—it’s called the Internet.” But you would be only partially right.

Of course you can always access free online services like Spotify, Wikipedia, and YouTube. These are great resources and shouldn’t be discounted, but the databases to which the library subscribes are by and large the most authoritative information/recording sources for musicians. I’m sure we’ve all encountered a “performance” on YouTube of a piece we’re working on as we try to study interpretation… Sometimes counterexamples are great, but when you really want to hear the pros do it, it’s better to tune into the Met broadcasts or listen to the catalog of great performances on Classical Music Online. Because these resources are so great (and cost money), any users must be able to show CIM affiliation and this is done through the IP address on your computer.

Here’s where the term VPN comes in. It stands for Virtual Private Network and what this program does is make your computer pretend as if it is connected to the network at CIM or CWRU (the same results as connecting through Case Wireless on campus). That way, you will be automatically logged in to all of the online resources on our site. Without the VPN, all of the subscription databases will ask for a login name and password before allowing you to see the content. Because we don’t supply passwords for this sort of thing, you can download the free VPN software here: https://vpnsetup.case.edu.

Setup is fairly quick and easy, but just in case you’re in need of help, the library staff is more than happy to assist you!

This semester, in particular, we are setting up an info/help table to get you set up to use the VPN from home! Bring your laptop to our information table and your trusty CIM Library and IT staff members will walk you through the process of setting up the VPN on your machine. The table will run on February 3rd and 4thfrom 9am-4pm (with a lunch break from 12-1p on Wed. and 1-2p on Thurs.). All you need is your laptop and your phone to get connected to all of the amazing resources Robinson Music Library has to offer! For more information, check out our Facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/1703722873206895/

 

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Apart, But Not Alone

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As finals are wrapping up and folks are headed home for the winter break, you’ll be glad to know that Robinson Music Library is still here for you. Our doors will be closed from today through January 3rd, but do not fear, you still have plenty of options to find the music you’re looking for.

Let’s start online. Even when you’re not on campus, you still have access to all of our awesome online databases. In order to do this, you will have to start by firing up the VPN—this stands for Virtual Private Network. For these databases, there is no individual logon that you will have, but rather, the database recognizes a range of IP addresses for the computers on the Case Western and CIM campuses. When you are not physically on those networks (meaning using the wifi in any of the campus buildings), your IP address will not fall into that appropriate range. By establishing the VPN, however, the database will recognize your computer as if you were actually still sitting right here in Robinson Music Library. You can download the software you need for the VPN right here at https://vpnsetup.case.edu/.

You’re going to need to follow the steps closely to set this up for your machine. If you get stuck, get in touch with Case Western’s IT service team and they’ll be able to walk you through. This is a great option to get to watch, listen to, and explore all of our awesome databases right from home 24 hours a day. Even if you haven’t set this up before, give it a try now. It’s a great option to add to your machine and seriously enhance your online research capabilities. Or you could just spend some time kicking back and watching Met On Demand while relaxing at home–your choice!

Next up, you may still need scores and books while we are away. For that, there are a couple of options—Start first with your freebies. If the work you’re looking for is in the public domain (most anything printed before 1923), you will be able to find it right on IMSLP (www.imslp.org). The quality might not always be spot on, or you may not find the edition that you were hoping for, but the base content will be there and can get you started. Additionally, with us joining OhioLINK this year, you can now order items online and have them delivered to any other participating library. That means that while RML might be closed, you can still order items and pick them up at other locations near where you live (assuming you’re still in Ohio). So if you’re in Cleveland, give one of our local public libraries a visit! You can select your pickup location right at the end of the transaction.

Even if you’re out of town and need help over the break and the library is open, don’t hesitate to call us for help! We might not be checking our e-mails while things are closed, but we’ll be back in business starting January 3rd, ready to help you kick off spring semester. For now though, have a wonderful winter break; rest up, spend time with your friends, family, and assorted loved ones, eat some delicious (read: unhealthy) food, and we will look forward to seeing you in 2016!

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RML Behind the Scenes: Cleveland Orchestra Program Notes

IMG_6291Keeping a library like RML running and thriving takes a lot of dedicated librarians, staff, and student workers plugging away on a variety of projects every day. Even with all these people pitching in, things can get kind of crazy with all the fun projects we are cooking up—but hopefully we do a good job of hiding that with you guys and the general public (and thank goodness for coffee for keeping us going). It’s fun every now and again, though, to give you a look at some of the behind the scenes work you might not see or even know is going on in the library.

There are, of course, tons of these projects going on, but I’d like to highlight one with which I have been personally involved this semester. Our library’s web page has a cool database on it that I’m not sure too many people have seen yet called the Cleveland Orchestra Program Notes (COPN) database (http://cim.edu/library/locate/programnotes). What this database is is a complete index of all of the works performed by the Cleveland Orchestra throughout their entire history! This means that we have gone piece-by-piece through every program they have performed and entered important information about it.

You can search the database in a number of ways: find results just by the title, to all of the works by one composer, performances by a particular soloist or solo instrument type, or even just works in a particular season. Your results will come in the form of a list showing you all of the performances fitting your criteria and the pertinent program information to accompany it (conductor, date, soloists, etc.). Each piece gets entered separately into the database (including all Blossom summer performances) and this whole process takes quite a bit of thought and effort. That’s A LOT of pieces when you consider that the database ranges all the way back to 1918!

The database isn’t perfect. We’re working on that of course, but with such a huge and vast amount of information, there are bound to be gaps and imperfections. That’s something that we are starting the process on now (I’ll keep you updated of course!)… BUT the database is still really robust as it is and is getting better every day. This is a good place for a special shout-out to one of our intrepid student workers who has been entering and editing a ton of information this semester: Sara Aratake! This is just one of the many projects she has been on and we couldn’t be more thankful to have her on our team.

Now, you may be wondering why such a thing is useful… That is a totally fair question, but hear me out. First, the database gets a ton of use by the Cleveland Orchestra Archives when they need to research programming information throughout the year. Next, and more important for us here at CIM, this is a great research tool that students, faculty, and staff can use when conducting research. In addition to the database itself, the library has bound copies of all of the Cleveland Orchestra programs throughout their history. While the full program notes are not reproduced online in their entirety, the booklets do contain these notes which can be really valuable for your research. Just as liner notes to a recording focus more specifically on the history, reception, and analysis of the works contained within, so are these program notes scholarly and highly focused on the works performed. In terms of a historical analysis, these programs also contain a great deal of additional information about performers, conductors, premieres, etc. In addition to all of these scholarly pursuits, sometimes exploring the ads and special anecdotes throughout the history of this great organization can really be a blast.

One of my favorite things about library websites is that they often have curious databases and unique gems hiding among them. Hopefully this database inspires some folks to go on a little treasure hunt of their own!

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By Demand: (MET) On Demand!

You asked for it and now it is here!

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As of today, CIM students, faculty, and staff have access to an amazing new streaming resource: Met Opera on Demand!

This new access comes to us through a generous gift by Dr. Tom Rose of Cleveland. He has been a supporter of CIM for many years and grew up with a love of opera after he started ushering for Met performances in Cleveland while he was in high school. Because of his love of opera (and all of you lovely CIM students), Dr. Rose chose to make this awesome resource available to us! We hope you will join us in extending a hearty thanks to Dr. Rose—we simply cannot say it enough!

For those of you who haven’t seen or experienced this resource yet, you are in for a treat. Met Opera on Demand is an online video streaming service that provides users “instant access to more than 550 full-length Met performances…” Not only does this mean you can watch opera nonstop for the rest of the semester (and beyond), but Met Opera also features classic telecasts from the70s, 80s, and 90s and audio recordings of historic radio broadcasts dating back all the way to 1935. The site is constantly expanding too, as new HD broadcasts are added every month.  This isn’t just a big resource to have… this is a HUGE resource to have!

As someone who spends a lot of time digging around in databases and such, let me give you a little walkthrough of what you’re going to find when you login to Met Opera on Demand: The top of the page is going to show you the featured opera at that moment as well as a few other items from the archive. You can search, however, by content type (video, audio, etc.), opera title, composer name, and even performer name. This makes it really easy to navigate through their huge collection—which makes the librarian side of me incredibly happy. What’s better than being able to binge-watch all of Renee Fleming’s performances with one simple search? Not only are we getting all of the standard kind of content with this, Met Opera on Demand also gives you special events like their Gala performances, season previews, etc. Just poking around through the site can be dizzying when you think of all the amazing operatic treasures hidden throughout.

Once you finally settle on which opera you’re going to start with—I chose Bartok’sBluebeard’s Castle (I can’t get enough of German soprano, Nadja Michael, ever), which was paired with a performance of Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta featuring Anna Netrebko—the display takes you right into a dark, cozy virtual theater to start the show. The makers of Met Opera on Demand clearly thought this setup through when designing how it would work. Rather than forcing your computer to load huge HD files for a complete opera, the site has broken the performances into many smaller chapters (usually by aria/scene) which, in addition to creating a highly navigable interface, helps files to load smoothly and easily for an even better viewing experience. You will get, of course, all of the content from performances, but you’ll also get a number of behind the scenes sneak peeks with great performers like Joyce DiDonato acting as hosts.

Met Opera on Demand has been around for a few years now and has made a number of improvements, particularly with institutional subscriptions like the one CIM is now enjoying. When you buy into resources like this, you purchase a number of ‘seats’, which are priced according to the number of potential users your subscription has. Your number of seats dictates how many simultaneous users can be logged into your account at any one time. This means that it is possible to sometimes be temporarily locked out of Met Opera until one of our seats opens up (please let us know if this happens). Do not fear, however! You should have access later, of course, and to help everyone else out, make sure you log out once you’re finished watching! As with all of our streaming databases, you will be able to VPN into the Case network and use this resource right from your home, favorite coffee shop, or wherever the opera spirit finds you.

Because this resource is new to us, we want your help gauging how things are going! If you love the resource, let us know! Does it need some improvements? Let us know! Locked out because of no open seats? Definitely let us know. Met Opera on Demand also takes suggestions and questions directly at ondemand@metopera.org. Your feedback is really important to us, so don’t hesitate to send and email or drop in to chat.

With all of that said, go check it out! Thanks again to Dr. Tom Rose for making this possible! Happy opera-ing to all!

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