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Who’s Afraid of the Big, Bad News?

So let’s talk fake news.

This term has been omnipresent in our lives for the past few months from a variety of sources ranging from Facebook to mainstream media outlets, to the lips of our very own President-elect, Donald Trump. But when we hear “fake news”, what claim is being made?



Throughout the 2016 election, a wave of articles shared across social media platforms like Facebook touted salacious or provocative headlines such as “Pope Francis Shocks World, Endorses Donald Trump for President”.  You may say, “That’s outrageous and could never happen—no one should believe that.”

You, my friend, are right.

No one should believe it for a number of reasons, but the problem comes when these false stories make their way into the social consciousness through endless amplification.

So many of us—and I am guilty of this at times as well—read a headline supporting things we assume to be true, and share the story with our friends without ever reading the article, much less checking where that article came from. (Or even checking the date, for that matter; it would seem Dave Brubeck and Ravi Shankar have died every year since 2012 based on the resurgence of their obituaries on my news feed.)

Let’s not confuse stories that are false or out of date with satire, either.

The difference between The Onion and fake news is that it does not purport to be telling the truth. Sometimes, however, folks get tripped up on the differences and will actually share one of these stories thinking that they’re something real. An honest mistake, sure, but as more and more folks get their news from social media, an oops can have ripple effects.

Michelle Nijhuis, a writer for National Geographic and editor of High Country News, wrote an entry in 2014 for The Last Word on Nothing blog titled “The Pocket Guide to Bullshit Prevention”. (We’re all adults here; I make no effort to change a title.) She makes an important point in this discussion, saying that we, in effect, are all publishers: “Sharing a piece of news with 900 Facebook friends is not talking. It’s publishing.”

We, as information consumers and disseminators, are responsible for what we take in and put out.

I wholeheartedly recommend giving this blog post a read. She talks about the journalistic view of evaluating information sources and how to determine where truth lies and how to verify it within an inch of total certainty.

So why do I bring this up today?

I taught a module of classes this semester to our incoming freshmen dealing with information literacy. Part of that discussion is in determining the quality of the sources from which you are getting your information (as described in the ACRL in their Threshold Concepts). It’s much easier when you are using databases and subscription indexes, but in the wilds of the internet, this issue of authority is all too real—and it has dangerous consequences. Pizzagate, anyone?

I hope our short discussion was enough to pique student interest in the subject, but I worry that one can’t under-emphasize the importance of a healthy, skeptical eye.

We are not helpless in the face of this onslaught of misleading information, however. Information literacy is handled one moment at a time and relies on all of us as information consumers to take the time to vet information determine if we trust the source from which we are getting it.

It feels a little hopeless in the vastness of the internet, but I take solace in the fact that good news reporting is happening out in the world, and that investigative journalism is alive and well. More so than ever, we need to trust in those people working their professional lives to uncover truth and help establish a barometer for facts in our public discourse.

I’m putting information literacy into action in my life. Care to join me?


-Patrick Fulton



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On and Ever Upward: A Year in Review


The semester is almost at a wrap, and we here at RML have enjoyed every minute of it! We’ve had new faces, new events, and new experiences each step of the way and couldn’t be happier with the outcome. Let’s take a quick look back at some of the highlights from this past year and chat about more to come in the future.

Early in the year, you got two new Research Services Librarians here at RML. Denise Green, formerly the library’s Media Librarian, and Patrick Fulton (yours truly), a new librarian joining the team from Florida State University, took on the tasks of reference, media, and class instruction with aplomb. [Insert pat on the back here.] Denise and I both genuinely enjoy instruction and love working with the classes and students here at CIM. We hit the ground running this year and now we get a chance to reflect on reactions and feedback to tweak things for the next year. While the library might be quiet in the summer, we are furiously writing and creating to make the next year even better than this one was!

Likewise at the beginning of the year, we worked to realign our social media presence to better serve our current population. As one of the earliest adopters of social media in the conservatory, the library is dedicated to keeping our content engaging, relevant, and at times highly entertaining. In addition to our ongoing presence on Facebook, Twitter, and WordPress, we have joined the times with our brand new Instagram account: @CIMMusicLibrary. This one has been a ton of fun, showing you some of the behind-the-scenes views of the library, the adventures of your librarians, and introducing everyone to our staff. If you haven’t checked any of these out yet, we try to vary the content from platform to platform and give pertinent info you need to get the most out of the library.

This year brought big changes in our services too—have you tried OhioLINK yet? We posted a lot about this at the beginning of the year, but CIM is proud to join the OhioLINK network with over 120 other institutions sharing resources across the state. This statewide network works just like ILL does nationally, but with much quicker return times (4-5 business days in most cases). Not only do we gain access to the materials of all the other state colleges and universities, but we also now get access to major databases like RILM with the purchasing power of a consortium behind us (group discounts are a wonderful thing!). Many folks have given it a try so far, but if you aren’t one of them, drop in and we’ll show you how. In addition to new services for borrowing, the library has also started bringing you special events.

You may have seen your RML staff out in Pogue Lobby a few times this spring—we held two big events with drop-in tables for students, faculty, and staff to get help from trusty library staff. The first event we held this spring was our VPN setup event, where IT and library staff worked to set up everyone’s equipment with the CWRU VPN system. This way, everyone would be able to access library databases from home. Later in the semester, we hosted our first Resume Refresh event, where folks could drop in to have librarians look over their resumes, CVs, cover letters, etc. to give advice and help edit the documents. We had great turnout at both of these events and are looking forward to bringing them back next year. What other kinds of events would you like to see our library host? Sometimes events are about working for school or even getting that future job, but every now and again, it’s important to get together as musicians and just discuss music; that’s where our new Discovery Series comes in.

The RML Discovery Series, launched this fall, let us dig into our collections and highlight some new, unusual, or flat-out amazing performances just for you! We looked for works that most folks wouldn’t have encountered in their studies—sometimes you’ve got to vary your musical diet, you know? Not only did we want to push musical boundaries, we also wanted to create a space where musicians can talk about music that isn’t the classroom. Some of our favorites from this year included Willie Stark by Carlisle Floyd, The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny by Kurt Weill, and Company by Stephen Sondheim. Next year, we hope to add some much-needed diversity into the mix with works by female composers and some music from around the world. Even we sometimes fall into the trap of western-centric, white guy-oriented classical music—so next time around, we’re excited to throw that out the window! Keep an eye out for the Discovery Series season next year. Have suggestions? Let us know!

That’s a lot to recap, but there’s so much more we could discuss. Your RML team loves improving services and providing you all the help you need. We can’t wait for next year already—we’ve got a ton of new projects and events in the works that we can’t wait to share.  Here’s looking at you academic year 2016-17! Don’t worry, however, we will keep you up to date throughout the summer with all our interesting developments as well!

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New Events, New Horizons: Resume Refresh

As I mentioned in my post a few weeks back, your Research Services staff has a lot of different offerings in terms of what those services are. Next week, we’ll be bringing those services to you with a brand new library event: a drop-in resume/CV/cover letter editing table.

It’s job hunting season right now and even if you’re not in the market for a new program or position, having an up-to-date resume and CV ready to go is very important. You never know when an opportunity is going to come knocking—it might be an awesome audition, an unexpected arts admin position, or a job you never anticipated looking for. You have to be ready to answer with documents that show off the best you.

I know from personal experience as someone with a foot in performance land and academic/business land that it can be really confusing knowing how to make these documents. Many of the jobs that I have pursued have been either directly performance oriented, or performance-adjacent in many ways. It’s important to remember that your experiences as a performer translate in many ways to jobs that are not strictly performance oriented. While this is a blessing in many ways, it can also make it difficult to know where that line is–that’s the kind of decision making where it’s really nice to get an outside opinion. While our professors are great resources, they’re often pressed for time. That’s why we feel it is so important to have an opportunity for students to get one-on-one editing help and advice when it comes to making these documents.

The event table will run from 9am-5pm on April 6th and April 7th (we’ll be planning to take an hour lunch in there, as well). If you have documents ready to go, bring them by! This is a great time to get live feedback from our library staff. We are all performers and have experience both writing and evaluating various professional documents. Haven’t written one yet? We’ll have handouts and will be on hand to help you sketch out a plan. Wherever you are in the process, we can help to get you on track. For more information and updates, see our Facebook events page:

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Where’d They Go?: Librarians Take Cincinnati

You may have noticed a few of the librarians missing from RML back at the beginning of the March. Where were we, you ask? Cincinnati (as you may have guessed from the title of this)! But why?


For almost every group, there is a professional organization that brings folks together from across the country or even the world in a lot of cases. For us, there is the Music Library Association. (Internationally we’ve got IAML—the International Association of Music Libraries—but we won’t be talking about them right now.) You might be surprised to hear, but there are quite a few dedicated, innovative music librarians across the country and world that help to serve the musical community near and far. Think of MLA and IAML as the ICA (International Clarinet Association) or DRS (Double Reed Society) of your musical information world.

Once yearly, this intrepid group of librarians gathers together for a week of presentations, seminars, and discussions to share with one another the latest developments and exciting projects in the field with topics ranging from cataloging and technical services (enhancing the way you find the scores, books, and recordings you need) to instruction and public outreach (the classroom teaching and special events we bring to you). It’s a chance for people in the field to get together, establish important connections, and propel things forward into the next year and beyond.

This year, the convention was held in Cincinnati and Denise Green and I (Patrick Fulton) traveled down as the representatives for CIM. The adventure started on Wednesday night with everyone arriving to the Hilton in downtown Cincinnati (which is like a beautiful art deco palace, I might add). One of my favorite aspects of these conventions (this being my second time going) is getting to connect with new people and reconnect with friends and colleagues. There’s something incredibly heartening knowing that so many talented musicians and scholars dedicate their careers to this field. While a lot of their work may be behind the scenes, there are really wonderful folks out there working hard for their institutions and musicians everywhere.


Things really kicked off on Thursday morning when the official sessions started going. Each morning of the convention started off with a plenary session—a meeting with broad appeal to the entire convention—which is a great chance for everyone to come together at once before breaking off into smaller sessions and committee meetings. I know this might not sound terribly exciting by the description, but there is always such a wide offering of topics, everyone finds something to suit their interests. The plenaries this time around focused on topics of diversity and linked data. Both are important elements to the organization: the first about sustaining the integrity of our membership and making sure that we are representative of the broader population and the second, discussing the many ways in which data links together all of the information out in the broader world. Like the plenary sessions, the smaller sessions that follow are made by our fellow librarians and archivists in the field discussing their work. In this way, we get a chance to meet and hear from folks in the field to develop best practices for what we do back at our home institutions.

The conference isn’t all business, however! These gatherings are also an opportunity for vendors of music products and services to showcase their newest developments. Among the most interesting products to be introduced was the Open Music Library from Alexander Street Press ( This ambitious effort on the part of ASP is an attempt to link together the various musical sources across the web to provide linked access to information, recordings, scores, etc. While it is a work in progress, the possibility of having a fully linked world of musical sources is very exciting to watch. Many of our favorite well-known companies were present as well, such as Oxford, RILM, Met on Demand, and many others!

The proceedings wrap up on Saturday night at the conference with an all-member MLA business meeting followed by a reception for all attendees, both of which are excellent experiences. At the meeting we discuss happenings in the last year, remember those who have passed, and honor members with official awards for outstanding service, publications, and initiatives. The reception features the time-honored tradition of the performance by the MLA member big band as well as individual performers in attendance. There’s food, socializing, and my personal favorite feature of the conference: getting to see the surprisingly awesome dancers that we have (though some of us refrain from participating in that aspect!).

All in all, it was an excellent year at the MLA national conference. It was a great chance to experience new innovations, work with our colleagues, and explore the awesome city that is Cincinnati. And don’t worry, we made sure to hit up Skyline Chili before we left. It wouldn’t be a Cincinnati trip without it!


For even more photos from our adventures, check out the RML Instagram:

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(So Much More Than) Research Services


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: 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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