Books · Research

The Perseids

Have you heard about the Perseid meteor shower? Maybe you saw this post at IFLscience.

2007 Perseid
Persied Meteor 2007. Photography. Encyclopædia Britannica ImageQuest. Web. 8 Aug 2016.

Every year around this time, meteors are visible, originating from the comet Swift-Tuttle, and appearing to come from the constellation Perseus.

If you’re curious about the Perseids, or meteor showers in general, you can learn more with various library resources:

This book, Meteor Showers and their Parent comets.

Articles in online reference works like Credo Reference.

Articles in the ProQuest SciTech collection, like this one.

If you’d like to learn more about meteors, stop by the reference desk or contact the Library Help Desk.

Books · Research

Oxford English Dictionary site relaunches!

Do you use the Oxford English Dictionary online? If you haven’t used it, check it out the next time you need a good definition, word history, or a thesaurus search. Those of you who have been using the OED will notice many of the same features and tools as well as some new ways to search and browse and a tool to help you cite the entry.

Check out the new OED, and if you have questions about it, Ask A Librarian!

Research · What's New

Updated SourceFinder

Have you found yourself ready to start a project but not sure where to go? It can sometimes be a challenge to find the best encyclopedia or dictionary to use for background information. The extensive list of research databases provided by VMI and VIVA (the Virtual Library of Virginia) can be overwhelming.

SourceFinder logo

is a resource on the Preston Library Website that can help you to identify the important resources for your field of study. Librarians have also recently chosen some essential sources, labeled “key resources” in each field.  A search for sources can be limited to print, electronic, and full-text, to create a customized study guide.

Stop by the reference desk or contact a librarian if you have questions about using SourceFinder.

Research · Uncategorized

Have you tried RefWorks?

RefWorks can be a real time-saver and big help in your research.  It is a useful and versatile bibliographic management software available free through the Preston Library website.  Once you’re registered (it only takes a few minutes), you will be able to use RefWorks to organize your references in a personal database accessible anywhere from the Web.  It will even generate a bibliography or works cited list, formatted in the style that you choose.

Some features of RefWorks:

  • Export citations directly from many of the Preston Library databases
  • Share references for a group project – there’s no limit to the number of accounts created
  • Create folders to organize your research
  • Import references from a documents
  • Search your references
  • Format a bibliography, choosing from hundreds of output styles including several VMI-specific styles

RefWorks has recently added lifelong account access and a mobile phone interface, so if you’ve got a mobile phone, smart phone or PDA, you can use RefWorks there, too.

Please stop by the reference desk if you want help registering for RefWorks or if you have any questions or send us an email at

Events · Research

Welcome New Faculty!

Circulation–Generous loan policies facilitate your academic endeavors. For details, see Circulation Information for Faculty or contact Lt. Col. Susan Hastings at 464-7607.

Course Reserves–Course Reserves includes print, audio-visual, and electronic materials, selected by faculty for use in their classes. See detailed information about Submitting Materials for Course Reserves or contact Lt. Col. Susan Hastings at 464-7607.

Interlibrary Loan–If we do not own an item you need, we can quickly obtain it from another library. There are no limits and no fees for this service. Logging on to the Interlibrary Loan system lets you place requests, check their status, and access documents received electronically. For more information, contact Dr. Megan Newman at 464-7570.

Library Hours–This link gives information about regular hours, as well as reduced hours during academic breaks and FTX.

Media Services–Media Services offers faculty training and consultation in the selection and use of multimedia software and hardware. Media equipment is also available for short-term loans for presentations. For more information, visit the Media Services page or contact Ms. Cathy Wells at 464-7567, or Maj. Michael Brickler at 464-7655.

Meeting Rooms–To reserve a room, please contact Ms. Brianna Page at 464-7228.

Off-Post Access–Allows you to use Preston Library’s subscription databases and other electronic resources from off-Post.

Ordering Materials–Each academic department is allocated a budget to order library materials, and we welcome your purchase requests. The Book Order Request Form and the Serials Request Form are available online. Also, each department receives Choice cards with reviews of new scholarly titles. Contact your department head to learn how Choice cards are managed in your department. For details, see our Collection Development Policy, or contact Ms. Linda Covington at 464-7574.

Reference and Instruction–Reference librarians offer one-on-one consultation to individuals and library instruction tailored to the needs of your classes. They are available to answer research and general questions as well as to demonstrate the use of print and online resources. Ask a Librarian provides reference assistance via Instant Messaging. For more information, contact Lt. Col. Janet Holly at 464-7571.

VIVA–Virtual Library of Virginia is a consortium of academic libraries in Virginia which purchases major electronic resources cooperatively and works to improve Interlibrary Loan between its members.

Books · Events · Research · The Friends of Preston Library

Spring 2009 Meeting

L-R FPL Chairman Drummond Ayes and Dr. Sorley.

Dr. Lewis Sorley provided the Friends of Preston Library with an engaging Spring Program Thursday, March 26, at 3:00 p.m. in the Turman Room of Preston Library.  Dr. Sorley spoke on “Adventures in Research” and revealed several fascinating tales of discovery learned in the course of his research. We learned how his scholarly “detective work” tracked down a member of Gen. Creighton Abrams’ World War II tank crew, how rescuing the records of Lt. Col. Harold Cohen from a fire resulted in his receiving the Distinguished Service Cross–fifty years after the war in which he earned it, how he discovered the secret location of Abrams’ command staff tapes, and other tales of research adventures.  A lively and informative question and answer session followed and all had a good time.

Author of several books on Vietnam, Dr. Sorley has written the following:
betterwar A Better War: The Unexamined Victories and Final Tragedy of America’s Last Years in Vietnam
honorablewarrior Honorable Warrior: General Harold K. Johnson and the Ethics of Command
thunderbolt Thunderbolt: General Creighton Abrams and the Army of His Times
vietnamchronicles Vietnam Chronicles: the Abrams Tapes, 1969-1972

Dr. Sorley is the Secretary of the Board of Directors of the Army Historical Foundation.  In 2007, he received the General Andrew J. Goodpaster Prize for military scholarship.  This spring he serves as VMI’s Gottwald Visiting Professor of Leadership and Ethics.  A third-generation graduate of the United States Military Academy, Dr. Sorley earned his doctorate from Johns Hopkins University.  In his academic career he has served on the faculties of West Point and the Army War College.  His U.S. Army assignments include tank and armored cavalry unit commands in Germany and Vietnam and staff service for the Secretary of Defense and Army Chief of Staff.

Honor BrightDr. Sorley’s latest book is Honor Bright: History and Origins of the West Point Honor Code and System.