Library database trials

Librarians at Preston Library are always trying to make sure we have available to cadets, faculty, and staff the best electronic resources that we can. This means that in addition to our 100+ online database subscriptions, we frequently have “trials” setup so the VMI community can try out a new database. Getting feedback from our users helps us decide whether to add a new resource.

Today we set up a trial with Geopolitical Monitor, an international intelligence publication and consultancy. The trial is live for a month and if you have any feedback, let us know.

A-Z databases, including new resources and trials.
A-Z databases, including new resources and trials.

All online resources are available at this page, and new and trial resources are highlighted on the left. Contracts with our database vendors allow online resources to be used by our students, faculty, and staff, and “walk-in” library users. Faculty, staff, and students can use the resources from off-campus with their network log-in credentials.

If you get a chance to try this out, we’d like to hear what you think.


Star Trek appeared on NBC 50 years ago

It was in September 1966, when a new television science-fiction series began its first season on the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) network.   It was Star Trek!

Star Trek was created by American writer and producer Gene Roddenberry.  Each episode chronicled the exploits of the crew of the starship USS Enterprise, whose five-year mission was to explore space and “to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.”  Amazingly Star Trek showed for only three seasons (1966–69).

Events · Uncategorized

Celebrate 2016 Banned Books Week

Preston Library is celebrating “Banned Books Week” from 25 September to 1 October.  This annual event celebrates our freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment.

The American Library Association monitors the attempts made by individuals and groups to have books removed from library shelves and classrooms.  Books that were on the list includes such literature as:

As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

You can find these books in Preston Library.

Source: ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF)  For more information about frequently challenged books go to http://www.ala.org/bbooks/frequentlychallengedbooks


Happy birthday, Roald Dahl!


Roald Dahl With His Family.. Photograph. Britannica ImageQuest. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 25 May 2016. http://quest.eb.com/search/158_1179195/1/158_1179195/cite. Accessed 13 Sep 2016.

Today would have been Roald Dahl’s 100th birthday (he died in 1990). You might remember him from The BFG or James and the Giant Peach and The Witches, both of which are on the American Library Association’s list of most banned and challenged books from 1900-1999. To read more about why and how books are banned or challenged, visit the ALA’s website.

Dahl wrote children’s books and made up some fun words—Remember the Oompa Loompas?  Several of his words have recently been added to the Oxford English Dictionary.

VMI Cadets, faculty and staff can access the OED online, and anyone local can use the print version.


Rah Virginia Mil! First Intercollegiate Football Team

Prior to 1891, a type of rugby football was played between class and intramural teams.  VMI adopted the “new style” football in 1891, after Cadet Walter H. Taylor encountered it while talking with enthusiastic players from Princeton and other northern colleges.  VMI’s first intercollegiate game was played on October 31, 1891 against Washington and Lee, resulting in a 6-0 victory for the Institute.  More football photos in the VMI Archives digital collections.

VMI's first intercollegiate team, 1891
VMI’s first intercollegiate team, 1891


The Great East Coast Earthquake

Five years ago today, this region experienced a historic event: The Great East Coast Earthquake.


With a magnitude of 5.8 and an epicenter in Mineral, Va. (less than 100 miles from VMI), the quake was felt across 12 states (and into Canada). See below for a few interesting facts and articles about the earthquake, as well as some books and e-books we have on earthquake-related topics:

  • More people felt this earthquake than any other in U.S. history (Horton 2012).
  • Researchers examining a random sample of Twitter feeds found that the first tweet about the earthquake occurred 54 seconds after it hit (Crooks et al. 2013).
  • Dolphins at the National Aquarium in Baltimore exhibited unusual behavior up to 60 seconds before the earthquake was felt by their trainers (Turner et al. 2014).

Horton, J.W. 2012. “The 2011 Virginia Earthquake: what are scientists learning (PDF).” EOS, Transactions of the American Geophysical Union 93(33):317-324.
Crooks, A., A. Croitoru, A. Stefanidis, and J. Radzikowski. 2013. “#Earthquake: Twitter as a distributed sensor system (PDF).” Transactions in GIS 17(1):124-147.
Turner, M.R., C. Turner, S. Hunter, and M. Day. 2014. “Observed reactions of Atlantic bottlenose dolphins at the National Aquarium during the 2011 Virginia earthquake.” Marine Mammal Science 31(2):726-733.