A Survey Experience from the Academic Library Trenches

Cheryl Hoover, MSLS, Distance Learning Librarian

Megan Thomas, MLS, Reference Librarian

Montana State University Billings Library


The necessity for library administration to conduct user surveys has increased during recent times by the need to make more data-driven decisions. Factors driving Montana State University Billings (MSUB) use of library user surveys include: campus-wide strategic planning efforts, including alignment of the library’s strategic plan with the over-arching campus plan; changes in library resources and services; increases in number of online students; requirements for regional accreditation reports; demands for limited financial resources; and the need to make more effective use of library resources.

Libraries excel at sharing information. While every library has its own situation, sharing results from a recent survey of MSUB students provides information to other academic librarians concerned about how college students use and value library resources.  Additionally, libraries may be interested to know what changes were made at MSUB Library based on survey results.

Background Information

Located in the largest city in the state, Montana State University Billings, home of the Yellowjackets, noted a fall 2012 enrollment of 5,081 students, with 68 percent of these students attending full-time.  Over 62 percent of the student body is female with an average age of 25 years (MSU Billings, 2013). MSUB has five colleges that offer education and training for Associate, Bachelor, and Master Degree programs. The colleges include: Arts and Sciences, Education, Business, Allied Health Professions, and City College, which is located west of the main campus and focuses on two-year degree programs. MSUB leads the state in offering online classes with more than 240 classes available online.

The MSU Billings campus has two libraries. The primary library, known affectionately as the Temple of Knowledge, is located in the heart of the main campus. A small branch library resides at City College and is staffed by two part-time library clerks. Staff in the main library includes the Library Director, six full-time librarians, and five full-time para-professionals. The main library is open 83.5 hours per week during the regular academic year, and the City College library is open 45 hours per week.

The library’s past experience in conducting user satisfaction surveys is limited. From 1994 to 2000, a few consumer behavior and perception studies were done by students in a marketing class on behalf of the library. In 2002 and 2004, general campus surveys of transfer and graduate students were conducted and included one or two cursory questions regarding the library. The library surveyed 100 percent of students, staff, and faculty using LibQUAL in 2006. The LibQUAL survey provided valuable information; however, participation was considered poor at 12.5 percent given the library’s financial investment. The response rate to the LibQual survey was not unusual. According to Hernon and Altman (2010), LibQUAL response rates tend to be between 12 and 22 percent (p. 89). The low response rate may be attributed to the survey being emailed to students at new campus email accounts rather than their preferred email accounts. Many students were unaware of these new email accounts, unable to log in, or simply not in the habit of using them. Another reason for the low response rate may have been the time-consuming nature of the survey. Anecdotally, some participants told library staff that they found the survey complicated. Most recently, a self-administered web survey of 100 percent of the faculty was conducted in March 2012. The response rate of this survey was 26.4 percent.

Other than these previous attempts to survey library users, a user satisfaction survey of students had not been conducted in at least a decade. In the past, information on user feedback was gathered through suggestion box and anecdotal comments. Usage data was collected through database reports, gate counts, interlibrary loan statistics, library instruction data, reference tallies, and circulation statistics.  As a student-centered institution, the library was overdue in conducting a student satisfaction survey.

Literature Review

Libraries of all types enjoy a rich history of tracking data and conducting surveys to obtain information on resource usage and user satisfaction. Qualitative and quantitative survey data results provide information to help guide decisions related to the current and future allocation of library services and resources. Using a web-based survey instrument can be a cost-effective method to obtain information from users; however; the value of that survey data varies based on how and if that information is ultimately used. Sharing survey results and action items with library users can foster good will.  Brown, Yff, and Rogers (2011) found that patrons appreciated having their opinions asked and they valued knowing the results (p. 24). Surveying sub-groups of library user populations provides additional useful information to library administrators.  For example, surveying distance students provides insight into how these students use the academic library’s resources remotely – or don’t use them. Pitts, Coleman, and Bonella (2013) reported that library services were not adequately promoted or utilized by distance students at Kansas State University (p. 74).  Surveys provide important baseline data for institutions and follow-up surveys demonstrate trends.  Creating action items based on survey data and informing library patrons and other constituents of outcomes can create an invaluable dialogue between the library and the users.

Library literature supports the widespread use of library surveys with a wide array of articles written to report different survey goals and experiences. Looking back, Berger and Hines (1994) reported that detailed survey data assisted Duke University librarians in their efforts to plan for the future library and target specific services to specific user groups. Regularly surveying library users provides important qualitative and quantitative data that can be used to improve library services and resources. Evans (2000) supports this by stating, “A regular assessment program can be helpful in gauging the service population’s attitudes about services and collections” (p. 38). According to Hiller (2001), the University of Washington Libraries found that regularly conducting large-scale triennial surveys was the best way to assess the effectiveness of library service programs and support efforts for faculty and students. The results from these surveys have been key to the library’s successful transition to becoming user-centered and provided influential information in the campus political arena (p. 605-606). Carefully constructing survey questions to identify what information is desired and from whom, creating action items based on survey data, and informing patrons of outcomes can increase the value of the survey experience for the library and the university as a whole. While the findings of many surveys go unreported in the library literature, the value of conducting user surveys is validated again and again in the literature and important lessons can be gleaned by libraries with varying levels of survey experience.


Following the successful response to the faculty survey in March 2012, the Library Director decided to conduct a similar survey for all students. During the spring semester of 2013, the MSUB Library surveyed students about services and resources in the library. The survey was created and administered through the affordable online service, SurveyMonkey, and consisted of ten questions. There were nine multiple choice questions, which included one demographic question, and a final open-ended question for a free text response. Five of the multiple choice questions also included the option to add comments.  The survey questions focused on the following categories: online library services and resources, on campus library services and resources, marketing, and free text comments. A full list of the questions and results can be found in Appendix A.

The survey was e-mailed to 5,274 students, the entire student population, at their preferred e-mail address. The survey was confidential, but the students had the option to include their e-mail to be entered into a drawing for a Samsung Galaxy Tab 2. This e-mail entry was not connected to the students’ survey responses. The survey was open for two weeks in March, with the initial invitation e-mail to participate and a follow-up reminder e-mail sent after a week. Information about the student survey was posted on the MSUB Library Facebook page. The library staff used the students’ preferred e-mails, sent a reminder, offered a prize, and marketed the survey in hopes of improving the response rate.


After surveying 100 percent of the student population, the number of survey responses received was 714, which is a 13.5 percent response rate. Recognizing that this is a relatively low response rate, library staff were nevertheless pleased with the response rate considering it was the first student survey to be conducted in a number of years. The campus as a whole prefers, but has had difficulty meeting, a 25 percent response rate goal. Therefore, the library’s survey response rate was not unusual. Of the 714 respondents, 84.7 percent self-identified as undergraduate students. This percentage included undergraduate students who take classes only online, only in-person, or a combination of the two. The other 15.3 percent of the respondents were graduate students also enrolled in online, in-person, and in a combination of the two.

The survey questions were broken into four categories, the first of which was online library services and resources. Fifty-four percent of respondents visited the library website more than five times in the last year, while 36 percent visited the library website more than 11 times in the past year. The two top resources used on the library webpage were the course reserve and the electronic databases, but students expressed interest in an online chat service. While 40 percent responded that the website was easy to use or very easy to use, there were also quite a few comments regarding the difficulties with the website (see Appendix B). The percentage of students that accessed the website from a mobile device was fairly low; however, staff had often observed students using mobile devices within the library. With the apparent popularity of mobile device usage by students, staff concluded that the website should have a mobile friendly version.

In regards to on-campus library services and resources, 48 percent of respondents visited the library in-person more than five times in the last year, while 38 percent visited the library on campus more than 11 times in the past year.  The three most popular activities in the library were using the computers, studying alone, and studying with a group. These activities were expected to score highly due to staff observations of prime study space being consistently used, as well as full computer labs during peak hours. The free text comments from students showed a trend of student interest in onsite tutoring and an increase in technology available to students (see Appendix B).  In the past, anecdotal information or observations were the primary way that library staff determined how students used the library on campus, so the statistics and student comments created much stronger proof on which to base decisions.

One of the last items the survey focused on was marketing of library services and resources. Course instructors proved to be strong library proponents as 76 percent of students indicated that they had heard about library services and resources from faculty. The library website and other students also ranked highly as marketers of library services and resources at 60 percent and 42 percent respectively. However, it became apparent in the survey, through student comments, that library staff needed to increase marketing efforts. Some students outright stated that the library needed to market their services more. Other student comments pointed to this through the obvious lack of knowledge the students had about library resources and services. Some students even stated that they were not aware of a certain service or resource until they saw it mentioned in the survey itself (see Appendix B). Again, student comments provided hard evidence for library decision-making.


The results from this survey provided valuable benchmark information regarding student use and satisfaction of library services and resources. From the survey results, a list of action items was developed. These action items provide direction to the Library Director and staff and help focus the use of library resources. The action items include:

  • Create a mobile friendly website
  • Offer additional technology‐rich group study areas
  • Enhance electronic collection with additional ebooks and ejournals
  • Simplify the main library homepage
  • Expand the LibGuide collection to create user‐friendly research portals
  • Initiate online chat service for students
  • Explore a potential collaboration with the writing lab for onsite tutoring
  • Visit with ASMSUB (student government) about launching a student advisory group

To date, several action items have been completed and others are currently in process.  The library now has a mobile-friendly website, new technology-rich group study areas, and has acquired new e-book and e-journal collections. Action items currently in process include a redesign of the library homepage and expansion of the LibGuide collection.  In the near future, library staff will begin exploration of the remaining action items. Although not a specified action item, library staff has also increased marketing efforts through social media outlets as well as the student newspaper. To continue a loop of feedback, survey results have been reported to some library constituents, including student government and campus administration. Library staff is continuing reporting efforts to other constituencies.

The Library Director is satisfied with the process of the online survey but seeks to improve response rates. Plans to conduct future surveys on a regular schedule are currently in discussion with ideas on how to increase response rates being generated. For example, adding another email reminder to prompt participation, adding multiple prizes to increase interest, and avoiding overlap with other campus surveys could improve response. While the response rate was less than optimal, there was still value in the responses received. Through a handful of questions and minimal expense, library administration was able to ascertain a wealth of information about student library use patterns, needs, and desires. As stated previously, a consistent survey schedule can create a dialogue between the library and the students. Now that there is baseline data, future surveys can identify improvements and resources or services that still need development. Since student input is now emphasized as a part of the foundation for future changes to library services and resources, those changes are more student-centered and meaningful.


Berger, K. W., & Hines, R. W. (1994). What does the user really want? The library user survey project at Duke University. Journal of Academic Librarianship, 20(5/6), 306.

Brown, C., Yff, B., Rogers, K. (2011). The library survey: Friend or foe? Lessons learned designing and implementing user surveys. Kentucky Libraries, 75(1), 22-25.

Evans, G. E. (2000). Information needs assessment. in Developing library and information center collections. Englewood, CO: Libraries Unlimited.

Hernon, P., & Altman, E. (2010). Assessing service quality: Satisfying the expectations of library customers. Chicago, IL: American Library Association.

Hiller, S. (2001). Assessing User Needs, Satisfaction, and Library Performance at the University of Washington Libraries. Library Trends, 49(4), 605.

Montana State University Billings. (2013). Institutional research: Quick facts 2012-2013. Retrieved from http://www.msubillings.edu/InstitutionalResearch/default.htm#Student_Demographics_

Pitts, J., Coleman, J. & Bonella, L. (2013). Using distance patron data to improve library services and cross-campus collaboration. Internet Reference Services Quarterly, 18(1), 55-75. doi: 10.1080/10875301.2013.800014

Appendix A

Spring 2013 Student Survey 

Background Information

  1. Academic Status this semester
A Undergraduate student taking in person classes only 32.77%
B Undergraduate student taking online classes only 17.65%
C Undergraduate student taking both online and in person   classes 34.31%
D Graduate student taking in person classes only 3.08%
E Graduate student taking online classes only 6.44%
F Graduate student taking both online and in person classes 5.74%

Online Library Services and Resources


  1. In the past 12 months, how often did you visit the MSUB Library website?
A Never 13.48%
B 1-2 times 15.31%
C 3-5 times 17.70%
D 6- 10 times 17.28%
E 11 or more 36.24%
  1. Which of the library’s website resources have you used? (Please mark all that apply)
A Course Reserves 36.83%
B Electronic databases to retrieve articles 70.40%
C Interlibrary Loan 16.57%
D Power Search 29.18%
E Ebooks 17.85%
F Online tutorials 7.65%
G I have not used the library’s website resources 17.14%
H Other Text Comments (14 commented)
  1. How would you describe navigation of the library website?
A Very easy to use 14.85%
B Easy to use 39.75%
C Neutral 24.19%
D Difficult to use 7.21%
E Very difficult to use 0.57%
F I have not used the library website 13.44%

Comments: _______________________          Text Comments (65 commented)

  1. Have you accessed the library’s website using a mobile device? (i.e. Smartphone, iPhones, iPads, iPods, Other tablet computers, etc.)
A Yes 26.63%
B No 73.37%
  1. Please rank the potential online services by order of importance (1 being the most important and 3 being the least important):




A Online chat help 51.40% 29.60% 19.00%
B Brief recorded online help tutorials 36.62% 48.68% 14.71%
C Longer (30- 60 minute) online research workshops 12.06% 21.76% 66.18%

Physical Library Services and Resources

  1. In the past 12 months, how often did you physically visit the library?
A Never 24.04%
B 1-2 times 12.94%
C 3-5 times 14.79%
D 6-10 times 10.10%
E 11 or more 38.12%
  1. What do you do while in the library? (Please mark all that apply)
A Study alone 58.93%
B Study with a group 36.74%
C Use computers 65.42%
D Use KIC scanner and/or photocopiers 20.03%
E Get research help at the Ask Here desk 15.71%
F Check out academic books 24.50%
G Check out popular books 11.10%
H Check out DVD’s 15.85%
I Check out a Kindle or Nook 1.59%
J I have not been to the library in the last 12 months 22.62%
K Other Text Comments (42 commented)
  1. How have you learned about library services and resources? (Please mark all that apply)
A Library’s website 60.09%
B Class instructors 76.25%
C Other students 42.06%
D At the Ask Here desk in the library 18.31%
E Library information tours 15.59%
F Librarian visits to class 15.16%
G Campus TV monitors 5.87%
H Signs in the residence halls 5.44%
I Facebook 4.43%
J Other Text Comments (44 commented)
  1. I wish the MSUB Library would offer additional online or in person services and resources to students, such as _________________________________________________________________

Text Comments (320 commented)

  1. This survey is completely anonymous. If you would like to enter your name in a drawing for a Google Nexus, please fill out the following information. Your survey comments will not be attached to your personal information, so they will remain anonymous. (One entry per student)

Name ____________________________________________

Phone ____________________________________________

E-mail ____________________________________________

Appendix B

A Sampling of Student Text Comments

Regarding the Library Website:

“It is easy, but that is because I have had several tutorials on how to use it. It may be difficult for a person who is brand new. However, there is always someone available to assist with that if you are trying to search or access the website.” -Survey Respondent

“You have to know where things are in order to find them. I took a class where I learned how to use the library website. I shouldn’t have to do that.”  -Survey Respondent

Regarding On Campus Use of the Library:

“I print out all my assignments at the library. Don’t know what I would do without it.” -Survey Respondent

“Use the television downstairs for connection with laptops for study groups. Too bad there is not more of these resources available currently.” -Survey Respondent

“Tutoring in call classes not just some through tutor.com.” – Survey respondent

“Tutors on Saturdays…” – Survey respondent


Regarding Marketing of Library Services and Resources:

“I haven’t learned anything about the library from any source.” –Survey Respondent

“It would be great if there was a single webpage for newer students that explained just how many amazing resources the library has.” –Survey Respondent

“I would like to know all of the resources available to students. For example, I had no idea I could check out a Nook or Kindle until I took this quiz. Are there things such as scanners available? Etc.” –Survey Respondent

What Librarians Can Learn About the Mentoring Model Through the Professional Career of Louis H. Sullivan

by Spencer J. Jardine


American architect Louis H. Sullivan designed many buildings in turn-of-the-century America, including some of the first skyscrapers (Figures 2, 3, & 4).  These high-rising edifices represented a new age of possibilities and hope; however, before designing skyscrapers, Sullivan’s imagination soared with the lofty ideas shared by his contemporaries.  Walt Whitman, Herbert Spencer, and Hippolyte Taine expanded Sullivan’s intellectual horizons and fostered his ambitions.  These idea men served as his mentors and motivated him to aspire higher, which eventually influenced his architectural designs and professional writings, thus inspired a rising generation architects.

Likewise, librarians can gain inspiration from Louis Sullivan’s reading experience and professional career.  First, librarians can act as mediators and introduce patrons to authors who then act as mentors.  Second, experienced librarians can recommend reading material to young professionals in the field that enhances their professional development.  Third, experienced librarians can serve as mentors by writing books and articles that inspire imagination and creativity while also challenging younger librarians to take risks.

Additionally, Sullivan’s Autobiography of an Idea (1956) supports a thesis statement given by Barbara Sicherman (1989) that librarians should remember: “Reading is not simply a passive form of cultural consumption, that something happens to readers that becomes imperative for them to understand, and that reading stimulates desire rather than simply pacifying it” (p. 216).  Reading the writings of some of his great contemporaries fueled a lifelong passion for learning in Sullivan that found expression his architectural designs as well as his writing, thus leaving a lasting mark on American architecture and culture.  In this way Sullivan models the mentoring process: learning, acting, and sharing.


Reading stimulated Louis Sullivan’s desire to become both an architectural poet and a literary poet.  Throughout his life, Sullivan read extensively, and he made constant reference to the writings of contemporary authors in his book, The Autobiography of an Idea. An agenda outlines itself as he describes a life-long engagement with lofty ideas from personal mentors and countless books.  He admired poetry, particularly Walt Whitman’s, and considered himself to be more of a poet than an artist.  Sullivan’s architectural designs embodied his poetic philosophies.  The American Institute of Architects first published his autobiography in 1924, the year of his death, and Dover Publications later reprinted it in 1956, one hundred years after his birth.

Success for Louis Sullivan came in the years before the turn of the century.  His greatest architectural commissions were completed before the year 1900, and in the time period following his great fame he found time to write an autobiography and other essays.  In an introduction to Sullivan’s Autobiography of an Idea, Claude Bragdon spells out the accomplishments of this esteemed American architect.  Bragdon notes that while working with Dankmar Adler, Sullivan completed 100 architectural commissions “before he designed the Transportation Building for the World’s Columbian Exposition—the building from which modern architecture as a movement is generally conceded to have begun” (Sullivan, 1956, p. 2).  At a time when other American architects heavily favored Renaissance and Classical architecture, Sullivan stood on the forefront of a different style.  As an example, the White City in Chicago’s World Colombian Exposition exhibited American mastery of Classical architecture.  Sullivan’s Transportation Building existed as the sole alternative to that style.

Today Sullivan is best known for the architectural motto that “form follows function.”  Sullivan wrote: “He held the conviction that no architectural dictum, or tradition, or superstition, or habit, should stand in the way of realizing an honest architecture, based on well-defined needs and useful purposes: the function determining the form, the form expressing the function” (1956, p. 6).  Despite his early success and sizeable output, Sullivan’s career tapered off dramatically.  Once he separated from the partnership with Dankmar Adler, who managed accounts and clients quite successfully, Sullivan only completed 24 commissions in the final 31 years of his life with five of them being large buildings and eight being Midwestern banks.  It is in this setting where Sullivan writes his autobiography and describes the authors that mentored him, who he mentored, and in doing so, mentored the next generation.

The focus of this paper will be on Sullivan’s readings, looking at how the authors he mentions in his autobiography served as mentors and deriving lessons that can be applied to current librarianship.  Sullivan highlights three nineteenth-century minds that influenced him significantly: Herbert Spencer, Hippolyte Taine, and Walt Whitman.  The first, Herbert Spencer, was a British contemporary of Charles Darwin and Karl Marx and propounded weighty scientific ideas, which provide a fundamental understanding of Sullivan’s core values regarding the individual’s place in the cosmos.  The second, Hippolyte Taine, taught art history classes at the French Ecole des Beaux Arts, challenged Sullivan’s professional and aesthetic judgment as an artist and architect.  Third, Walt Whitman, the celebrated American poet, captured Sullivan’s heart in a way that made him desire poetic expression, which is evident.

Mentors Can Put the Right Book in the Right Hands

Librarians should not forget that planting the right book with the correct reader can serve as a catalyst for exploring even more books.  Not long after returning from France’s Ecole des Beaux Arts, Sullivan’s father gave him a copy of John Draper’s History of the Intellectual Development of Europe.  In the Autobiography (1956) he wrote:

“But the practical effect of the bridges was to turn Louis’s mind from the immediate science of engineering toward science in general, and he set forth, with a new relish, upon a course of reading covering Spencer, Darwin, Huxley, Tyndall, and the Germans, and found a new, an enormous world opening before him, a world whose boundaries seemed destined to be limitless in scope, in content, in diversity” (p.249).

Indeed, Sullivan found in these thinkers’ writings “an enormous world” that helped distance himself from local confines and contemplate a broader, global sphere.  These writings also transported him from the present to the remote past and future.  Sullivan’s understandings of Charles Darwin and Herbert Spencer provided fodder for his own philosophies.  “In Darwin he found much food.  The Theory of Evolution seemed stupendous.  Spencer’s definition implying a progression from an unorganized simple, through stages of growth and differentiation to a highly organized complex, seemed to fit his own case” (p. 255).  These ideas impressed Sullivan so much that he would remain after work to discuss them with his young draftsman, Frank Lloyd Wright.  Then he strongly encouraged Wright to take home and read a copy of Spencer’s Synthetic Philosophy (Connely, 1960, p. 128).  In this way Sullivan followed the example of one of his personal mentors, John Edelmann, recommending influential books that would contribute to their young careers.  In like manner, librarians can mentor less experienced individuals both within and outside the library profession.

In today’s library world, mentoring less experienced library professionals receives attention in the literature.  Academic librarians at Wake Forest University provide tips on how to develop an in-house mentoring program that need not cost any money.  Panels of experienced librarians can be assembled within an organization to address questions about presenting at conferences, writing literature reviews, publishing, working on committees, and so forth.  Additionally, organizing reading groups that put inexperienced with experienced librarians can also increase the mentoring that takes place.  They write: “Ideal articles are those that are fairly short and practical.”  Moreover, they suggest several ideas: “find material from nonacademic blogs or Web sites that cover mentoring topics in lieu of reading articles; read chapters from books or textbooks that the library already owns” (2012, p. 136).  Reading plays a key role in shaping a professional’s career just as much today as it did in Louis Sullivan’s time.

Librarians can learn from nineteenth-century writers, such as Herbert Spencer and Louis Sullivan who motivated each other through their writings and professional accomplishments.  As mentioned previously, Sullivan influenced his younger, but eventually more renowned, draftsman Frank Lloyd Wright: “The pupil [Wright] at length agreed that even Herbert Spencer, added to Walt Whitman, make ‘not such a strange pair to draw to.’  That heavy volume of Synthetic Philosophy, lugged home to Oak Park, had left its dent, after all” (Connely, 1960, p. 131).   As the mentor, Sullivan had recommended that Wright read Herbert Spencer’s works.  Those being mentored can choose to act on these recommendations, and, like Wright, some will.

Working one-on-one with individuals, mentors can increase their influence in the profession.  Herbert Spencer (1889) advocated the status of the individual over that of society in his Synthetic Philosophy.  Societies, he says, were unlike their individual members for they could not reason or feel.  He explains: “All the units possess the capacities for happiness and misery in approximately equal degrees.  As there is no social sensorium, the welfare of the aggregate, considered apart from that of the units, is not an end to be sought” (p. 391).  Sullivan also believed in the capabilities and primacy of the individual, particularly his own ability to grow and develop.  He writes: “Thus, Louis, while still in a haze, felt the courage to go on. He had been reading the works of men of matured and powerful thought, way beyond his years; but what he could grasp he hung on to” (Sullivan, 1956, p. 255).  Like Sullivan, today’s mentored librarians can become intellectual participants in the theoretical and practical discussion with the profession.  Thus, they will feel a part of something larger—a forum of individual thinkers within an active profession that serves the broader society.

According to Sullivan, all of the social and technological factors that contributed to make widespread reading a reality in the nineteenth century gave individuals “courage” to dream and to think.  Louis Sullivan subscribed to American democracy, believing that it supported the individual’s cause.  In contrast former socio-political systems had inhibited individuals: “For [the world] has ever turned its back on Man” (p. 271).  Nonetheless, in his view, America still had not achieved true democracy, rather it had begun developing a new form of feudalism—corporate capitalism.  Historian Robert Twombly (1988) writes: “Sullivan therefore preached the gospel of individualism, but not to the same purpose as Social Darwinists or apologists for untrammeled capitalism.  He argued that democracy’s removal of political constraints on spiritual and intellectual opportunity obligated people to act for their own, and therefore for the social, good” (p. xvi).  In the United States, a person could work in a politically unfettered society and accomplish much.  For a time, Sullivan thrived in this environment and acted to assist others.

Librarians’ one-on-one interactions may yield more enduring results as it appears that they did for Sullivan.  In his autobiography (1956) he mentioned John Edelmann as a friend who introduced big ideas from Schopenhauer, Wagner, and Carlyle to him, thus motivating him to read more (p. 209).  As mentioned earlier, Louis Sullivan remained after work to talk face to face with Frank Lloyd Wright (1960, p. 160). Evidently, Sullivan took interest in another individual much like his mentors had done years earlier with him.  Such an investment bore rich fruits as Wright became one of the world’s most esteemed architects in the twentieth century.

Obviously, librarians can mentor other librarians, but many also have an opportunity to guide individuals outside the profession.  One-on-one mentoring seems to be the most effective mentoring model.  As a graduate student in humanities and fine arts with an emphasis in museum and library science Dara Lohnes (2011) wrote about her experience in the Jerome (Idaho) Public Library when she served on their board of teens, known as the YAC.  Like Sullivan and Spencer, Lohnes and her mentor, Tina Cherry, learned firsthand the power of individuals.  Cherry organized the teen group so that the teens assumed responsibility.  By inviting their friends and classmates, the library programs attracted more people to events.  The board of teens chose the kinds of programs they wanted with many ideas generated purely among themselves or adapted from outside organizations.  Cherry did not require that programs focus exclusively on books or reading.  She says: “I think that when libraries feel that they need to relate everything they do to literacy and education, they’re putting the cart before the horse. You’d be surprised at how many books I managed to push out of the library one on one!” (par. 5).  When librarians value teens, or patrons in general, they can observe their needs and interests individually.

For example, the teen advisor began to gain a sense for the needs and interests of individuals within the group, and when one-on-one conversations arose the librarian could casually recommend a book that matched that particular individual.  Lohnes writes that the teen program expanded as did Cherry’s involvement: “That is when she says her most rewarding experiences occurred. Some examples are when she was able to send home the ‘perfect book’ for each reader by doing what she calls ‘booktalking.’ She got to know a non-reading teen and found a book for him to try reading just for her and had him come back saying; ‘I (he) loved it! Is it a series?!’” (par. 9).  This only occurred after the success of the teen-run program had developed.  Teens and other library patrons allow librarians to mentor them once a relationship of trust has been established.

For librarians, seeing the spark of interest in reading convert itself into a flaming fire can be rejuvenating. Even Louis Sullivan (1956) experienced a passion for reading: “He set forth, with a new relish, upon a course of reading” to understand the great names of his age (p. 249).  Most people engage in reading as individuals; however, this activity cannot be wholly separated from communities. Elizabeth Long (1993), a professor of sociology at Rice University, writes: “Even beyond formal socialization into reading, the habit of reading is profoundly social.  As mid-[twentieth]-century American empirical studies of adult reading show, social isolation depresses readership, and social involvement encourages it” (p. 191).  Librarians in Idaho can establish and foster reading communities, but accomplishing this eventuality may require a more methodical one-on-one approach, rather than a quick, one-time, one-size-fits-all program.

Read Authors That Challenge You Professionally

Today’s librarians can learn from the reading experiences of Louis Sullivan.  According to his autobiography, Sullivan (1956) read three volumes of Hippolyte Taine’s history of art in Greece, Italy, and the Netherlands while studying in France at the Ecole des Beaux Arts.  Taine introduced him to the idea that there was such a thing as a philosophy of art, that art reflected the lives of its people, and that a person needs to know that culture well in order to truly understand their art (p. 233).  Therefore, Taine’s Lectures on Art stimulated Louis Sullivan to think about architecture in broader historical and philosophical terms, thereby contributing to his professional development.

Reading Hippolyte Taine’s lectures in his early twenties proved to be a valuable and memorable experience, because it allowed him to view art beyond merely the technical aspects.  As a teenager Sullivan had been taught technical skills of drafting, but he had not developed an art philosophy (p. 233).  Library literature contains much in the way of practical application, which has great value, but expanding horizons into theoretical areas within and beyond the profession can advance one’s abilities to creatively tackle new and unexpected challenges.  Taine’s text reached a receptive audience when it fell into Sullivan’s hands.  Robert Darnton (1992), history professor and director of the University Library at Harvard, highlights the importance of knowing an author’s motives for writing: “But every narrative presupposes a reader, and every reading begins from a protocol inscribed within the text.  The text may undercut itself, and the reader may work against the grain or wring new meaning from familiar words” (p. 158).  Indeed, Sullivan appropriated many of Taine’s ideas while modifying others to suit his purposes, helping him to during his professional career.

Books, and the ideas they contain, often inspire readers to action.  For example, Hippolyte Taine’s lectures challenged Louis Sullivan’s ability to judge art and prompted him to test his aesthetic judgment: “In the volume on Italy, however, occurred a statement which struck Louis as of most sinister import to him: It alarmed him.  It was to this effect: That, concerning the work of Michael Angelo [sic] in the Sistine Chapel, the Last Judgment was obviously done on momentum, as compared with the vigor of the ceiling” (1956, p. 233).  Sullivan felt impelled to go and see if his aesthetic eye would notice the differences between the two masterpieces (Figures 7 & 8), because his future as an architect hinged on this skill. “It was vital.  There must be no doubt.  He must, beyond question, be sure of the quality of his eyesight.  To Rome he went, quaking but courageous” (p. 234).  In this instance, ideas encountered through reading moved Louis Sullivan to act, sending himself on a pilgrimage to Rome to test his aesthetic aptitude.  He found that Taine’s assertion was true, that it was obvious to see the difference between Michaelangelo’s Sistine Ceiling and Last Judgment.

Reading stirred Sullivan to learn and act in the first stage of his career.  Then, in the second phase of his career it inspired him to write.  Taine (1875/1971) talks only briefly about Michelangelo’s frescoes in the Sistine Chapel and does so to prove that all artists have two career stages.  In the first stage each artist “sees things as they are” and examines them scrupulously in order to render nature as close to reality as possible, while in the second phase the artist stops analyzing “things” due to a belief that nothing unique will be found.  At this point the artist begins relying on a personal set of standards developed over years of practice.  Taine favors the first phase over the last.  He describes Michelangelo’s work in terms of a “sentiment of force and heroic grandeur” (p. 43)  After detailing the impressive character of the Sistine Chapel, Taine makes the following comment that compelled Sullivan to travel to Rome: “Connoisseurs, and those who are not, recognize at once that the two frescoes are executed according to rules” (pp. 42-43).  Louis Sullivan aspired to greatness as a young architect, yet he also doubted that he would be able to recognize great art.  If such a misgiving were validated, then his entire career as an aspiring architect would crumble.  Because he took the risk to verify his own aesthetic eye, he turned his insecurity into self-assurance.

Young library professionals, like their counterparts in other fields, typically face insecurities in the first stages of their careers.  Librarians in more advanced stages can mentor them; however, risks need to be taken occasionally in order to earn confidence.  Success will not come without effort, and learning from failure sometimes contributes to one’s experience more than success.  Librarians can seek out books that are professionally challenging, just as Taine’s art history book tested Sullivan.  One such book might be Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander’s national bestseller, The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life.  Speaking from backgrounds in family therapy and classic music conducting, the authors invite readers to adjust their attitudes about people and life, offering illustrative anecdotes to underscore their main points.  They describe the practice of “Giving an A” in these terms: “It is a shift in attitude that makes it possible for you to speak freely about your own thoughts and feelings while, at the same time, you support others to be all they dream of being” (p. 26).  Such a paradigm shift can be quite enabling as it opens up many possibilities, regardless of a person’s career or life stage.

To go further, the Zanders explain the idea of “being a contribution.”  As with their other concepts, this one is described as a game with rules.  By doing so, they do not trivialize the activity, rather they explain the value of a game in terms of how we approach it with all its possibilities.  Games by their very nature transport participants, “whisking us away from the grimmer context in which we hold the everyday” (p. 58).  Therefore, “being a contribution” has a couple of rules: “1. Declare yourself to be a contribution.  2. Throw yourself into life as someone who makes a difference, accepting that you may not understand how or why.  The contribution game appears to have remarkable powers for transforming conflicts into rewarding experiences” (p. 58).  In essence, by improving or serving others the contributor becomes ennobled.  Hence an experienced librarian who assists newcomers within the profession will likely gain from their youthful energy just as much as the newbie accepts wisdom from the mentor.

Hippolyte Taine (1875/1971) mentored Sullivan, explaining that “exact imitation” really does not define a piece of art, but art depends on its “intellectual” not its “mechanical” characteristics.  Taine wrote: “It is essential, then, to closely imitate something in an object; but not everything” (pp. 51 & 56).  Sullivan (1956) takes a harsher view against imitation and claims that his antipathy toward it originated in high school.  He writes: “And this is all that he gathered from the ‘Orders’—that they really were fairy tales of the long ago, now by the learned made rigid, mechanical and inane in the books he was pursuing, wherein they were stultified, for lack of common sense and human feeling” (p. 187).  To be sure, his aversion to imitation may have begun as a teenager; however, Taine’s commentary on the issue likely caused Sullivan to reaffirm his belief that imitation should not be the artistic standard.  His architecture stands today as a testament of his commitment to artistic originality.  By challenging the younger generation, mentors can shape the future, providing them means to soar above the accomplishments of the current generation.

Louis Sullivan relished the ideas he discovered in the books of his day; he did not find life in the old ideas.  Conversely, his contemporary architects in America clung tenaciously to old styles, but Sullivan (1956) would not be dissuaded from a more liberal ideal:  “And he was told that these ‘Orders’ were ‘Classic,’ which implied an arrival at the goal of Platonic perfection of idea.  But Louis by nature was not given to that kind of faith.  His faith ever lay in the oft-seen creative power and glory of man.  His faith lay indeed in freedom.  The song of Spring was the song in his heart” (p. 187).  For years American artists had mimicked what they perceived as Europe’s superior artistic styles, but Sullivan followed his heart and declared his own artistic independence, gaining the admiration of the next generation of American architects.  It seems that Sullivan had developed his own art-of-possibilities attitude long before the Zanders did.

How Authors and Poets Mentor and Inspire

Authors act as mentors.  In this capacity Sullivan mentored younger architects in the final years of his life through his writings.  He published articles in architectural periodicals of his day, which can be found in The Public Papers, an anthology compiled and edited by Robert Twombly in 1988.  Sullivan’s extensive study of books was ingrained into his mind and found an outlet in his autobiography and essays.  He admired Walt Whitman’s poetry, recognizing him as America’s greatest poet.  Therefore, his reading of Whitman’s poetry inspired him to become America’s voice in architecture, so savoring his mentor’s words contributed to his development as a writer.

Ample evidence shows that Louis Sullivan considered Whitman’s poetry to be the epitome of art.  Robert Twombly (1988) writes that Sullivan once wrote a letter to Whitman in which he recognized the painstaking efforts of creating poetic art:

“[Sullivan] so identified with the poet, whom he never met, that in 1887, while making change after laborious change on designs for the Chicago Auditorium because his clients could not decide what they wanted, Sullivan sent Whitman a soul-searching letter.  “I, too, ‘have sweated through fog with linguists and contenders,’” he lamented, quoting the poet.  “I, too, ‘have pried through the strata, analyzed to a hair.’ Reaching for the basis of a virile and indigenous art.”  Whitman did not reply, but is said to have cherished the letter” (p. xvii).

It is instructive that the student acknowledged the mentor.  A thank-you note or a letter acknowledging shared challenges can boost or lift the spirits of the mentor, thereby potentially increasing desires to continue contributing.  On another occasion Sullivan wrote an essay entitled, “The Artistic Use of the Imagination” (1889/1988), wherein he cites Whitman’s poem “There Was a Child Went Forth.”  Sullivan claims that the poem grabs the reader’s attention and ends while the reader is still excited, leaving the reader to muse and continue imagining.  Sullivan lauds this poetic trope (pp. 66-67), but it seems he learned a lesson, too—that the material world rubs off on individuals.  The poem indicates that young children absorb their surroundings using all their senses, which remain with them forever.  Whitman’s (n.d.) first four lines read:

“There was a child went forth every day, And the first object he look’d upon, that object he            became, And that object became part of him for the day or a certain part of the day, Or for many years or stretching cycles of years […] These became part of that child who went forth every day, and who now goes, and will always go forth every day”  (pp. 328, 330).

Whitman’s conclusion points out that individuals, adults and children alike, go out into the world each day with the cumulative influences from the past.  Similarly, a mentor’s ideas live on in the protégé’s career.

Louis Sullivan dreamed in the superlative as did many of his era, and he aspired to capture this spirit in his writings and architecture.  Earlier in the century Ralph Waldo Emerson (1900) penned an essay that described the poet’s role in sweeping terms:

“The poet is the sayer, the namer, and represents beauty.  He is the sovereign, and stands on the centre.  [. . .] The poet does not wait for the hero or the sage, but, as they act and think primarily, so he writes primarily what will and must be spoken, reckoning the others, though primaries also, yet, in respect to him, secondaries and servants; as sitters or models in the studio of a painter, or as assistants who bring building-materials to an architect” (p. 189).

As a self-ascribed spokesman for America, Sullivan (1956) used his autobiography to expound on his ideology.  In looking at his life experiences he inserted interpretations of a larger worldview, much as he understood a poet would do.  The following quotation describes his sublime experience with Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel and serves as evidence of Whitman’s poetic influence:

“And in this great outpouring which encompassed him, he saw the Dreamer at his work.  For no hand, unaided, could do this; no intellect unaided could do this; Imagination alone could do this; and Imagination, looked into, revealed itself as uncompromising faith in Life, as faith in man, and especial faith in his wondrous powers” (pp. 235-36).

Louis Sullivan’s literary style pays homage both to Herbert Spencer and to Walt Whitman.  Claude Bragdon, an architect only a little younger than Sullivan, writes in the introduction of the Autobiography that Sullivan’s weekly articles to Kindergarten Chats were hidden by architects and read when the boss left (7).  Sullivan’s writings influenced a younger generation, bestowing them with the artistic license to imagine and create.  Today’s librarians need encouragement to imagine and create also.  They can find this kind of support among the writings of many contemporary authors who serve as mentors for many.

One author who leads by his example as a mentor is Will Weaver (2009) who writes novels for young adults.  Imagining that he could write a better novel that appealed to non-reading teens or “guys who loved cars and hated their English classes”. He enrolled himself in a vocational college class on building car engines.  The course instructor had a son named Skyler that fit Weaver’s target audience, and so Weaver convinced his publisher to fund a stock car that Skyler could drive as long as he met some prerequisites.  The contract stipulated that Skyler had to earn “passing grades—and [maintain] good attendance”.  Weaver had to tutor Skyler with his English homework, but with time Skyler improved his performance in school as well as on the race track.  Weaver reflected on his role and involvement as a mentor, working to help without interfering too much (p. 193).  He writes: “During that first summer, the biggest mentoring lesson beyond the necessity to be unfailingly optimistic-was the value of teamwork” (p. 194).  Mentoring requires effort and cooperation, so librarians must be willing to work in order to succeed with any mentoring relationship.  Incidentally, as with Weaver, imagination and creativity enhance the results.

Each of Sullivan’s buildings stands as a monument to his imaginative and creative power, as well as supports his belief in individuals.  Reading fueled his obsession with the individual.  Thus, reading became a tool for constructing and modifying his personal mission statement about life and its inextricable partner art.  Robert Darnton (1992) supports this interpretation: “For reading is not simply a skill but a way of making meaning, which must vary from culture to culture” (p. 152).  Nineteenth-century American culture fostered the idea that reading could lift a person from the ghetto to a gentleman’s life.  Reading left a lasting impression on Sullivan’s life, and his autobiography testifies of its lasting impacts (1956, p. 249), namely that it opened up worlds, inspired, educated, lifted, and challenged him. Sullivan identified lifelong learning through reading as a key to his professional success.  It gave him access to his mentors.

The Benefits and Hope of Mentoring

During the height of Sullivan’s career, he designed the Chicago Auditorium Building.  This innovative building included newly designed hydraulic lifts for the stage.  It also functioned as a theater, hotel, and office building.  Within the theater, spectators can see two murals that represent two “stages of growth” (Sullivan, 1956, p. 255).  Each was placed exactly opposite each other to highlight their thematically different subjects (Figures 5 & 6).  In the mural titled Spring Song stands a solitary figure amid younger trees with a clear background and budding leaves.  Autumn Reverie also shows a solitary female figure; however, this woman has her back turned to the observer and stands amid imposing trees, some of which have fallen, a boulder, and a darkened sky.  Therefore, Spring represents hope, youth, growth, and the future, or “the unorganized simple” (p. 255) while Autumn symbolizes decay, nostalgia, and the past—Spencer’s concept of the “highly organized complex” (p. 255).

Spring Song  and Autumn Reverie also symbolically represent Louis Sullivan’s architectural career.  This paper showed that Sullivan’s career began with much promise, growth, and success. His autobiography claims that he read extensively, and the ideas the authors shared proved to influence his professional career.  The books he read challenged his intellectual capacities as well as his dreams of becoming a great American architect, so he experimented on the words.  The risk he took then became a solid foundation on which he could build more confidence.  While working as an architect he mentored other architects, including the young Frank Lloyd Wright (1977) who writes about meeting Louis Sullivan for the first time and drawing designs in order to apply for work in his firm. Within his own autobiography he writes: “That was how I got into the Adler and Sullivan office, how I first met the master for whose influence, affection and comradeship I have never ceased to feel gratitude” (p. 114).  He passed on the ideas from his mentors that captured his imagination, and at least of his protégés fondly referred to as a “master”.  Professionals often commence their careers with hope and eagerness; it appears that Sullivan fostered these attributes in Frank Lloyd Wright and contributed to his growth as an architect.

Autumn Reverie represents nostalgia, decay, and the past.  Louis Sullivan could have regressed in his professional demeanor; however, he chose to write for his profession, sharing his ideas and experience.  His Kindergarten Chats inspired the next generation of American architects (1960).  Once these professionals had advanced sufficiently in their careers, they paid Sullivan the ultimate honor for the wisdom he shared with them.  In 1944 the American Institute of American Architects (2012) posthumously awarded him the highest honor for an American Architect, bestowing the Gold Medal on him.

Likewise, librarians need to share with each other the books that have captured their interest and influenced their careers.  Inspiration that librarians gain from each other will increase creativity and imagination, resulting in widespread accomplishment within the profession.  One-on-one mentoring and diligent reading both within and without the library literature will help librarians learn.  For the profession to thrive, librarians must mentor the next generation face to face or through their writings.

In this paper I have tried to explain how Louis H. Sullivan’s readings of Herbert Spencer, Hippolyte Taine, and Walt Whitman stimulated him to pursue his dream—becoming America’s architectural poet.  First, Spencer’s writings in The Synthetic Philosophy provided him with ideas that placed the individual’s position above that of the society.  Second, Taine’s writings provoked Sullivan to construct a personal aesthetic philosophy, namely one that trusted in the individual’s creative power and not in lifeless imitation.  Finally, this paper looked at how Whitman’s realization of Emerson’s ideal poet in his Leaves of Grass instilled in Sullivan a desire to become America’s architectural poet.  Reading rekindled that flame time and time again for Sullivan.

Barbara Sicherman (1989) writes that reading experts endeavor to convince people that reading does not cause passivity; instead, the act of reading fills readers with ideas that arouse their interest or “desire” to do something (p. 216).  Reading, and the large ideas encountered therein, inspires and ennobles individuals, increasing their abilities to achieve as professionals.  Mentoring requires a belief in individuals and their ability to respond positively to challenges presented to them, and librarians can go forward in assisting the next generation.

Spencer J. Jardine, Coordinator of Instruction/Reference Librarian, Idaho State University, Pocatello, Idaho.


American Institute of Architects.  (2012, October 30).  Gold Medal award recipients.  Retrieved from http://www.aia.org/practicing/awards/AIAB025046.

Connely, W. (1960). Louis Sullivan: Shaping of American architecture. New York, NY: Horizon Press.

Darnton, R. (1992). History of reading. In P. Burke (Ed.), New perspectives on historical writing (pp. 140-167). University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press.

Draper, J. W. (1876). History of the intellectual development of Europe. New York, NY: Harper.

Emerson, R.W. (1900). The poet. Essays: First and second series. Mt. Vernon, NY: Peter Pauper Press.

Keener, M., Johnson, V., & Collins, B. (2012). In-house collaborative mentoring. College & Research Libraries News, 73(3), 134-146.

Lohnes, D. (2011). “Lessons from a successful teen program.” Idaho Librarian 61(2). https://theidaholibrarian.wordpress.com/2011/11/21/lessons-from-a-successful-teen-program/

Long, E. (1993). Textual interpretation as collective action. In J. Boyarin (Ed.), The Ethnography of Reading (pp. 180-211). Berkeley: University of California Press.

Sicherman, B. (1989). Sense and Sensibility: A case study of women’s reading in late-Victorian America. In C. N. Davison (Ed.). Reading in America: Literature and Social History (pp. 201-225). Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Siry, J. M. (2002). The Chicago auditorium building: Adler and Sullivan’s architecture and city. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Spencer, H. (1889). The epitome of the synthetic philosophy. F. H. Collins, (Ed.). New York, NY: D. Appleton.

Sullivan, L. H. (1988/1889). The artistic use of the imagination. In R. Twombly (Ed.), Louis Sullivan: The public papers (pp. 62-67). Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

—.  (1956). The autobiography of an idea. New York, NY: Dover.

—.  (1988/1891). The high building question. In R. Twombly (Ed.), Louis Sullivan: The public papers (pp. 76-79). Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Taine, H. (1971/1875). Lectures on art. Trans. by John Durand. New York, NY: AMS Press.

Twombly, R. (1988). Introduction: The form and function of Louis Sullivan’s writing. In R. Twombly (Ed.), The public papers (pp. xi-xxii). Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Weaver, W. (2009). If you give a kid a ride: Stock cars, novels and mentoring. Voice of Youth Advocates, 32(3), 192-195.

Whitman, W.  (n.d.). There was a child went forth. Leaves of grass (pp. 328-330). New York, NY: Heritage Press.

Zander, R. S., & B. Zander.  (2002).  The art of possibility: Transforming professional and personal life.  New York, NY: Penguin Books.


FIGURE 1: Portrait of Louis Sullivan
FIGURE 2: Guaranty Building. Buffalo, New York: Adler and Sullivan, 1896.
 FIGURE 3: Wainwright Building. St. Louis, MO: Adler and Sullivan, 1891.     
 FIGURE 4: Bayard Building.  Manhattan, NY: Louis Sullivan, 1899.
FIGURE 5: Chicago Auditorium. Spring Song.  Chicago, IL: Albert Fleury, 1889.  Photo by Jyoti Srivastava   (2010): http://chicago-architecture-jyoti.blogspot.com/2010/07/auditorium-theater-interiors-murals.html.    Image used with permission.
FIGURE 6: Chicago Auditorium. Autumn Reverie.  Chicago, IL: Albert Fleury, 1889.  Photo by Jyoti   Srivastava (2010): http://chicago-architecture-jyoti.blogspot.com/2010/07/auditorium-theater-interiors-murals.html. Image used with permission.
 FIGURE 7: Sistine Chapel Ceiling.  Michelangelo Buonorotti.  Vatican: 1508-1511.
 FIGURE 8: Last Judgment.  Michelangeolo Buonorotti.  Vatican:   1534-41.

Using Idaho’s Court Assistance Publications to Enhance Public Library Service

by Ruth Patterson Funabiki


Idaho’s public libraries are often the first stop for legal information seekers.  Over thirty years ago, Leone (1980) noted the increasing numbers of self-representing or pro se litigants performing research in public law libraries and addressed malpractice liability concerns for law librarians serving those patrons.  Although librarians have continued discussions about the ethical and professional aspects of answering reference questions concerning legal matters, Harrell (2008) suggests that law librarians, at least, can be proactive in making necessary adjustments in their collections and services.

Although librarian liability may not be a huge threat, the role of a librarian in responding to a patron is limited by ethical and professional constraints (Condon, 2001; Dugan, 2001).  Librarians may not ethically offer legal advice.  However, as Healey (2008) points out, “… there are no clear standards with which to determine what constitutes legal advice.”  Healey goes on to provide a short list of activities that most law librarians try to avoid:  “Interpreting any term, statute, or case; suggesting search terms or topics; advising users about what kind of law to look for; selecting, discussing, or assisting with any forms; agreeing or disagreeing with any legal opinion or argument made by a user (Healey, 2008).

Fortunately, many libraries have been able to link to online services and acquire published resources to meet patron needs without asking reference librarians to practice law without a license.  Law Librarians have addressed the need both with recommendations for library websites (Sims, 2004) and bibliographies such as the Guide to free online legal and legislative resources (Cramer, 2002).  The demand for self-help legal materials also resulted in Nolo Press, Sphinx Publishing, and other similar publishers creating numerous legal how-to popular press books.   Many of those publications are extremely well-written by attorneys who are experts in the applicable field.  Unfortunately, few mass market books address Idaho law.

Idaho’s Court Assistance Program

The needs of self-represented litigants are an even larger problem for the courts.   According to the Court Assistance Office (CAO) Project website, some counties in Idaho are currently reporting that eighty percent or more civil cases–especially family law cases–involve self-representation (Court Assistance Office, 2012).   By the end of the last century, state courts throughout the country began to address the problems posed by shrinking budgets and increasing numbers of pro se litigants.  In 1999, the Idaho Supreme Court joined that movement, creating the Courthouse Assistance Office as a pilot project.  The Office took on the responsibility of assisting court clerks with responding to the legal procedural needs of self-representing citizens who were attempting to navigate in Idaho’s state court system.  The Office places staff in every judicial district, and it maintains kiosks with over sixty brochures in county courthouses and in public law libraries.  Since 2001, the Office has been funded by the Idaho Legislature.

Court Assistance Online Resources

More recently, the Office created a website.  The website is intended to provide “tools and information for people who want to represent themselves in court, or who are unable to afford an attorney and would otherwise be unable to get their day in court” (Court Assistance Office, 2012).  The website offers an assortment of resources, including forms, publications, an attorney search page and legal services directory.

            Idaho’s Court Assistance web page is located at http://www.courtselfhelp.idaho.gov/

Two of the tabs on the CAO page are of particular interest to librarians.  Many library patrons are simply seeking the legal forms that are appropriate to their needs.  Lists of linked forms are found under the “Forms” tab.  In addition, over seventy brochures and booklets are listed under the “Publications” tab.   Clicking on the individual titles links the user with PDF copies of the same brochures provided in courthouse kiosks.Many of the Court Assistance publications are remarkably clear, helpful, documents that Idaho citizens can use to address their legal questions.  For example, the titles include: Divorce, Property and Debts: Things You Need to Know; Landlord & Tenant’s Rights and Responsibilities; So You Want to Bond Someone Out of Jail; and Bankruptcy Basics.  Publications not authored by Court staff have been prepared by reliable sources such as Idaho Legal Aid or the Idaho Trial Lawyers Association.  A number of the pamphlets are available in Spanish as well.

Creating Catalog Records to Improve Access

The Court Assistance publications could be extremely useful to Idaho’s public library patrons.  However, even though the Court Assistance publications are readily available in county courthouses and public law libraries, they have not been promoted to public or academic libraries.  Because the publications are online in PDF form, they are available to anyone who has Internet access.

In an effort to promote the publications, a librarian at the University of Idaho created OCLC catalog records for all of the Court Assistance PDF publications.  By downloading the catalog records, a public library can add the entire collection of Court Assistance publications as e-resources.  A list of the publications and their associated OCLC record numbers is appended to this article.


Idaho’s Court Assistance Office is a valuable resource for assisting self-representing litigants in Idaho’s state courts.  Public libraries can perform a valuable public service by making these resources available in libraries as well.  Attaching holdings to the new OCLC catalog records and incorporating the Office’s publications in library catalogs will bring these well-written and reliable resources to the attention of public library patrons.

Ruth Patterson Funabiki, Law Library, University of Idaho, Moscow, Idaho


Condon, C. J. (2001). How to avoid the unauthorized practice of law at the reference desk. Legal Reference Services Quarterly, 19(1), 165-179.

Cramer, J. (2002). Reference Services Review, 30(2), 150-159.

Duggan, J. E. (2001). Patrons and the PC: What problems should reference librarians solve?. Legal Reference Services Quarterly, 19(1), 5.

Healey, P. D. (2008). Professional liability issues for librarians and information professionals. New York: Neal-Schuman Publishers.

Idaho. Idaho Court Assistance Office website http://www.courtselfhelp.idaho.gov/

Leone, G. (1980). Malpractice liability of a law librarian? Law Library Journal, 73, 44-65.

Sims, L. (2004). Academic law library web sites: a source of service to the Pro se user.  Legal Reference Services Quarterly, 23(4), 1-28.


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Advice for Idaho Renters: Landlord and tenant rights and responsibilties 802432862
Advice for Renters & Homeowners: Utility Bills 796841093
Advice for Renters: Repairs 802375321
Advice for Renters: Federal Housing Programs 802433081
Advice for Renters: Foreclosure 802411777
Advice for Renters: Manufactured Home Tenants 802432717
Advice for Renters: Security Deposit 802411730
Alternatives: A Practical Guide for Survivors of Sexual Assalt and Sexual Abuse 798148010
Annulment Procedings in Idaho 800429535
Bankruptcy Basics 802289744
Basic Estate Planning: Questions & Answers 803059215
Child Custody, Visitation, & Support 796840025
Collecting on Your Small Claims Judgment 802952294
Consumer’s Guide to Hiring a Contractor 795866337
County Assistance: Payment of Hospital, Medical Expenses, & Other Necessities for Low Income People 802291648
Court Assistance Services 794689424
Crime Victims Compensation Program – Compensation Benefits 796939419
Crime Victims Compensation Program – Financial Recovery 796946639
Los Derechos De Victimas 798129381
Disability Rights 798122517
Divorce, Property, and Debts: Things You Need to Know 800448946
Domestic Violence & Guns 798160187
Execution & Garnishment of Judgments Protectig Exempt Wages, Property & Government Benefits 794765036
Got a Secret? 798157570
Have you made a will? 803983972
Guardianship & Conservatorship Questions & Answers 802297304
Holographic Wills: A Guideline for Preparing Your Will 803984057
How Does Idaho’s Contractor Registration Law Affect You? 802992566
Idaho Council on Domestic Violence & Victim Assistance – Funded Service Providers 800409349
Idaho Council on Domestic Violence & Victim Assistance -Approved Batterer Treatment Providers 800410004
Idaho Interactive Court Forms 794777424
Idaho Health Plan: Coverage for Your Child 800458017
Idaho Judicial Council: Answers to Common Questions on the Functions, Jurisdiction & Procedures 794602217
Idaho State Court System: Domestic Violence 795931527
Idaho State Court System: Family Law 794856431
Idaho State Law Library 793921363
Information Sheet for Defendants in Small Claims Cases 802977095
Information Sheet for Plaintiffs in Small Claims Cases 803036391
Introduccion Al Sistema Judicial de Idaho 794596050
Introduction to the Idaho State Court System 794573025
Jury Service in Idaho: What it Means and How It Works 794568645
Minor Guardianship Information 802296043
Most Frequently Asked Questions About Probate in Idaho 803984145
Need Help? Dial 2-1-1 for Idaho’s Free Statewide Community Information & Referral Service 803998542
Plan de Salud de Idaho: Cobertura para Niños 802279775
Preguntas y Respuestas Sobre Testamentos 803984213
Programa de Compensacion Para Victimas de Crimen 796946580
Protection Orders, Criminal No Contact Orders, Restraining Orders Definitions, Descriptions, & Differences 800422823
Provee Acceso a Servicios Legales para Individuos con Sueldo Bajo 802518401
Providing Access to Legal Services for Low-Income People 802459075
Questions & Answers About Wills 803987544
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The Horror, the Horror: Graduate Student Information Seeking and Horror in Academia Bibliography

by Lizzy Walker

Horror has taken a seat at the table of academia. This genre of film has spurred academia to take a closer look at them.  Gender studies, the arts, philosophy, and other humanities studies can benefit from a specific reference section in regard to horror. Graduate status is seemingly a line between undergraduate and faculty patterns and, as such, there is a difference in how they conduct research and information seeking.  While it is clearly their own way of gathering information, it is a combination of the motions performed by undergraduates and faculty.  More specifically, graduate students in the humanities have distinct information seeking behavior.

According to Barrett (2005) in his article “The Information-Seeking Habits of Graduate Student Researchers in the Humanities,” the information-seeking behavior of these students is “often assumed to resemble those of either faculty members or undergraduates” (p. 324).  This makes sense as graduate students have a larger knowledge base of resources available and perhaps had the opportunity in their upper-division coursework to make use of more sophisticated ways of doing research. Barrett mentions the stereotype of the humanities student as being resistant to technology—this study proved otherwise.  Barrett stated, nearly every student who volunteered for the study “strongly disagreed with the stereotype” (p. 326).  In addition, the study found that graduates made use of “online journals, OPACs, discipline-specific CD-ROMs, Internet search engines, and websites” (p. 326) as well as traditional resources. Students preferred primary sources, which are not necessarily going to be located online or in a database.  Graduate students were also found to do what Barrett called citation chasing. Barrett stated, “Most participants described their information-seeking behavior as an idiosyncratic process of constant reading, digging, searching, and following leads” (p. 327).  Skimming the bibliography and index for the desired information yielded positive results, as did browsing a particular section of shelves.

Another article by George et al. (2006) gave some more insight into the information-seeking pattern of graduate students. George et al. broke down the disciplines into their respective schools and focused on four questions during their study.  They found that ninety percent of humanities graduate students used online sources as a primary method of doing research. Of that percentage, sixty percent used citation chaining from searches. The academic library “remains a key element” even though Internet sources are prevalent (p. 15). Ninety-five percent of humanities graduate students made use of books and eighty percent used print journals rather than online journals.  The authors concluded that the information seeking behavior of graduate students “is both random and organized” (p. 20).  They also stated that the “random motions of the information seeking are in effect in the planning stage, when choosing an area of focus, developing a search stratagem or general browsing for background information or a general idea of their field of research. The organized information seeking behavior includes regular planning sessions with an advisor, planned search strategies and use of citation chaining” (p. 20).

While online sources are used by graduates, skimming through physical books is still a popular way of information seeking. Graduate information seeking is a unique combination of undergraduate and faculty practices and as such these students have a unique research technique. The attached annotated bibliography concentrates mostly on primary print resources that have extensive bibliographical sections and notes, as well as filmographies. In addition, it concentrates primarily on aspects of horror film which can be beneficial to humanities graduate students. Information seeking behavior in the graduate studies is a unique area.


Barrett, A. (2005). The information-seeking habits of graduate student researchers in the humanities. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 31(4), 324-331. DOI: 10.1016/j.acalib.2005.04.005.

George, C., Bright, A., Hurlbert, T., Linke, E. C., St. Clair, E., & Stein, J. (2006). Scholarly use of information: Graduate students’ information seeking behavior. Information Research, 11(4). Retrieved from http://informationr.net/ir/11-4/paper272html

Annotated Bibliography

5 Actors in Horror Films

Kear, L. (1992).  Agnes Moorehead: A bio-bibliography. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press.

The author’s purpose for this book was to provide the layman, as well as researcher, with a comprehensive guide on Agnes Moorehead.  Kear separates the book into eight sections pertaining to Moorhead’s life and work, provides an annotated bibliography, appendix, index, and some stunning black and white photographs.  In addition, the film section has extensive annotations and reviews from older publications. The writing style is clear and concise. Biographical information in the horror genre is typically a male dominated field, which makes this book, about a female, somewhat of a rarity.  While she did not primarily perform in horror, the films and radio plays she had acted in were memorable.

Meikle, D. (2003). Vincent Price: The art of fear. London, England: Reynolds and Hearn Ltd.

Meikle wrote screenplays to horror films and in the forward accounts his first encounter with Price. The book is homage to the late Vincent Price.  Meikle’s recollections of Price in the forward are illustrations of the man behind some of the most horrifying characters in film.  The title plays off of the old time radio show, which Price narrated and starred in, called “The Price of Fear.”  Meikle used stage production terms instead of chapter headings, such as “Overture,” “Intermission,” “Finale.” “Encore,” and acts.  A notable addition to the text is the afterword penned by Roger Corman, another influential person in the field.  The book provides biographical information and a filmography.   The appendix, titled “Cast and Crew,” gives a full list of Price’s films, with complete cast and credits listings and movie posters. Flipping through the book, it is difficult to find a page that doesn’t hold a photograph, movie still, or film poster.  There are quotes included on many pages from actors who had the opportunity and pleasure of working with this legend.

Mank, G. W. (1990) Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff: The expanded story of a haunting collaboration. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Ltd.

When one reads the introduction to this book, it is clear Mank has a huge respect for the actors he writes about.  This is the second edition of the book, the first being published in 1990.  Some of the title chapters are not incredibly descriptive in regard to what they cover, but they are clever (for example, Chapter 4’s “The Strangest Passion” and Chapter 37, “The Film that Never Was”). There are others that are more descriptive, however. For instance, Chapter 33’s “Unholy Three—Bedlam, Genius at Work, and, House of Dracula” and Chapter 11’s “Karloff the Uncanny in The Mummy.”  Mank includes three appendices, one for each actor’s career and one of the films they starred in jointly.  There are chapter notes, a bibliography, and an easily searchable index.  Each chapter includes various photographs, as well as a full color insert with movie poster images.

Nollen, S. A. (1969). Boris Karloff: A critical account of his stage, radio, television, and recording work. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland and Company, Inc.

Nollen’s book is another valuable resource in regard to a legend of the horror genre.  Karloff not only starred in film, but also performed on old time radio shows like Creeps by Night and television shows such as Beyond the Veil.  He also wrote several published pieces and performed on stage.  Nollen takes note of these, hence making this resource different from Mank’s book.  Each chapter deals with a different film or era in Karloff’s life.  Another notable fact is that science fiction author and legend Ray Bradbury penned the forward.  Nollen included seven appendices that list the history of Karloff’s professional career.  There are chapter notes, a bibliography, and a well-organized index.  Something noticeable right away in this annotated bibliography is that MacFarland Publishing, Inc. is the company that has published numerous volumes in the horror genre. Nollen’s book is a great source of research for film historians, literature masters, or any number of humanities masters, and also for the interested reader.

Youngkin, S. D. (2005). The lost one: A life of Peter Lorre. Lexington, Kentucky: The University Press of Kentucky. 

Peter Lorre is a horror genre legend.  His voice has spawned many imitators, whether it is a serious example like in one of O. Arch Oboler’s creepy radio plays or satirical caricature as in at least one episode of Looney Tunes. Youngkin has an extensive knowledge of Lorre and has worked on several books about the actor as well as working on A&E’s Biography about Lorre.  Youngkin takes a look at his career from the point of view that Lorre was a reluctant villain. There were times in his career when he wanted to shrug off the guise of the villain, but Hollywood allegedly typecast him.  Interviews with peers, directors, and other resources are what Youngkin pulled from in order to create this biography.  The chapter titles are eye-catching.  Lorre dealt with drug addiction, which seems to be the focus of Chapter 2, “M is for Morphine,” and Chapter 9’s title, “Elephant Droppings,” makes one wonder exactly what is going on between those pages.  Youngkin includes an epilogue, “Mimesis,” which lists Lorre’s “Credits and Broadcast Appearances” which are listed per section chronologically. He was in numerous old time radio programs, including Suspense and The Philip Morris Playhouse.  He has a chapter notes section, as well as an extensive bibliography and well organized index.

5 Essay Collections Deriving Information from the Horror Genre

Allen, R. and Ishii-Gonzalès, S. (1999). Alfred Hitchcock: Centenary essays. London, England: British Film Institute Publishing.

According to the editors, the purpose of this book is to examine the ways in which Hitchcock has influenced numerous aspects of film. At the time of publishing, it marked one hundred years since Hitchcock was born, 1899.  The authors felt it was an appropriate time to examine the lasting fascination with the famous director.  Allen and Ishii-Gonzalès section the book into four parts; “The Figure of the Author,” “Hitchcock’s Aesthetics,” “Sexuality/Romance,” and “Culture, Politics, Ideology.”  They include a list of contributors, which is quite lengthy, and all of which are scholars at various universities, including the editors.  Allen is an associate professor at New York University in cinema studies and Ishii-Gonzalès, at the time of publication, was a “doctoral candidate in the Dept. of Cinema Studies” at the same university that Allen was affiliated with (p. xx). At the end of each essay is a bibliography under the notes section.  There is also a complete bibliography just before the index at the back of the book.  This would make a very valuable resource to multiple fields in the graduate humanities programs.

Benshoff, H. M. (1997). Monsters in the closet: Homosexuality and the horror film. United Kingdom: Manchester University Press.

Benshoff’s book is a part of the Inside Popular Film series.  He holds a doctorate in film studies from University of Southern California and teaches in L.A. This volume concentrates on the interesting analogy that Benshoff states as being the “monster is to ‘normality’ as homosexual is to heterosexual” (p. 2).  His introduction boils down to looking at culture and society norms in regard to homosexuality and how they can be applied to the horror genre, something that Benshoff does well and convincingly.   He starts with the 1930s films and works his way up to the early 1990s. This expanse of time provides much information for Benshoff’s book, most of which are primary sources, something valuable to humanities graduate students. Each chapter includes a notes section at the end, and there is a bibliography and index at the end of the book. Various black and white photographs, including publicity stills, movie posters, and behind the scenes stills, are included with captions that consider why it is a homoerotic or homosexually charged illustration.  This could be a great resource for gender studies, film studies, historical studies, and art studies material reference, among others.

Cowan, D. E. (2008). Sacred terror: Religion and horror on the silver screen. Waco, Texas: Baylor University Press.

The reason that Cowan wrote this book is highly intriguing.  He had a desire to “understand my own fears as much as I do those of other people” (p. ix).  He discusses the fact that horror films with heavy doses of religious tones are the most frightening to him.  Writing this book is a way of addressing his strong feelings of revulsion to these particular films.  Cowan is affiliated with the University of Waterloo as an Associate Professor of Religious Studies.  The Hellraiser series is what spawned his interest in writing this book.  Cowan covers more films than Barker’s Hellraiser series, but they do seem to take quite a bit of space in this volume.  As one of the most popular modern horror films, Hellraiser has one of the most recognizable and intriguing villains Pinhead the Cenobite played by Doug Bradley. With a large amount of religious overtones, it belongs at the forefront. Cowan includes a filmography of films which have religious elements in them, each with the date and director listed as well.  He also includes a bibliography and searchable index. There are not too many books that have looked at religious aspects of the horror film. Cowan’s Sacred Terror: Religion and Horror on the Silver Screen would be valuable for humanities graduate students in any capacity.

Hantke, S. (2010).  American horror film: The genre at the turn of the millennium. Jackson, Mississippi: University Press of Mississippi.

One thing that most horror movie fans can agree on is that the genre isn’t what it used to be.  Current horror films rely on worn out, recycled remakes, or rewrites that leave the horror connoisseur with a bad taste in their mouths.  Hantke, an Associate Professor of English at Sogagn University, has collected essays from other member of academia, authors, directors, and others for this volume of work.  It is divided into three sections: Bloody America: Critical Reassessment of the Trans/-national and of Graphic Violence; The Usual Suspects: Trends and Transformations in the Subgenres of American Horror Film; and Look Back in Horror: Managing the Canon of American Horror Film.  As mentioned earlier, the long list of contributors is impressive.  Included at the end of each essay is a section of notes and a bibliography, as well as an index at the end of the book.

Weaver, T. (1992). Poverty row horrors!: Monogram, PRC and Republic horror films of the forties. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc.

One question seems to crop up time and time again about the really bad horror movies.  Why, if they are so horrible, so campy, do audiences and horror fans eat them up?  Weaver looks at thirty-one horror movies made by Monogram, PRC, and Republic from 1940 to 1946 to try and find the answer. Weaver seems to struggle with why these films are so popular when he feels they are stinkers. He uses the terms “abysmal,” “notoriously bad,” and “unfortunate” several times in his introduction.  There seems to be an obvious bias against these films, which some horror fans also exhibit. The book is chronologically ordered and each section contains photographs from the films and movie posters.  Weaver includes four appendices, one for music in the films, filmographies of some of the actors in said films, a briefly annotated list of films that were not included in the book, and one he titles “The Experts Rank Lugosi’s Monogram Films” (p. 356).  Not everyone who views horror can be expected to like or understand why a particular film can belong in a horror fan’s collection. The viewpoint from someone who struggles with the question is beneficial. It could even make the researcher or fan question why he or she enjoys them, too.  Perhaps this could be a good resource for the philosophy, film studies, and art history graduate students.  It could help them answer the question “why is bad art so good?”

5 Influential Directors or Production Companies in the Horror Genre

Beard, W. (2006). The artist as monster: The cinema of David Cronenberg. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

David Cronenberg is a very influential figure in the horror genre.  This revised edition of Beard’s book analyzes fifteen of Cronenberg’s works with each chapter looking at one film each.  The author is a Professor in Film and Media Studies at University of Alberta.  Beard states of Cronenbergs films that, “Technology, the body, subjectivity”  and “the realm of gender and sexuality” (p. vii) are areas that deserve some analysis.  There are numerous fields of study that have taken a look at this director’s work. Rather than corner him in the category of postmodernist artist Beard feels he is, for lack of better terms, a modernist trapped by postmodernist theories and views.   Beard also states that he has a certain respect for Cronenberg, so there is a bias in the director’s favor.

Grey, R. (1994). Nightmare of ecstasy: The life and art of Edward D. Wood, Jr. Portland, Oregon: Feral House Publishing.

This is the second edition of this book, the first being published in 1991. Ed Wood, Jr. struggled with gender, alcohol, and other issues perceivably through his films. He was also not the most honest dealing director in the field either.  In his introduction, Grey briefly illustrates his own struggles with getting Wood’s acquaintances to open up about the troubled director.  He even states that those who did know him flat out denied it. Grey took pieces of interviews and created and organized the chapters from these interviews.  He had “chosen not to eliminate an individual’s memory even if it contradicts another’s account” (p. 7). Having conflicting accounts of people who knew him is a very valuable research tool.  One gets multiple views on one man.  Some love him; some hate him with a passion. There are numerous black and white photographs of film images, candid life shots, and movie posters.  For anyone wanting to research biographical incidents of a particular director’s strange life, this is a great resource.

Kinsey, W. (2003). Hammer films: The Bray Studio years. London, England: Reynolds and Hearn Ltd.

Hammer Films was one of the most important and influential film production companies in the business and Kinsey’s book is an important resource to add to horror reference.  Kinsey focuses on “the Golden Era” of Hammer Films and “places a greater emphasis on the talented team that made these films the cult classics that they are today” (p. 6).  This book is different from many other sources as it not only includes the actors and films but the people who made the movie behind the scenes.  This could be useful to many different areas of study; business, history, film studies, and more.  The author has written a total of four books on Hammer Films, so he can be considered an authority on the company and the films. The book is highly organized in its format.  It begins with a chapter on the “early years” of the studio, then gets into the meat of the matter with the move to Bray and looks at selected films from 1956 to 1966.  Each section includes numerous photographs and a filmography.  There is a section titled “Post Mortem” that lists the films to come after the Bray Studio era.  The appendix includes floor plans from the beginning to the end of the life of Bray.  There are numerous references the author used and they are listed by chapter. Instead of swimming through a long list of citations hoping to get the one desired from a certain chapter, the author has separated them for the researcher.

Morris, G. (1985). Roger Corman. Boston, Massachusetts: Twayne Publishers.

This book is part of Twayne’s Filmmaker Series.  Other directors in this series include David Lynch, Peter Weir, and Roman Polanski, just to name a few.   Some of the most recognizable films that were destined to become cult classics were the films based on Poe’s short stories. However, that is only one chapter covered in Morris’ book.  The term Morris applies most often to Corman is that of “auteurist director” (p. vii).  This makes sense because he took charge of the script and direction so aggressively that his films could be considered purely his own creation.  The book gives a brief biography and analyses on Corman’s films. Included, are good quality black and white photographs, one of which is a great photograph of Corman just opposite the title page.  Morris includes a reference and notes section, a short bibliography, a filmography, and an index.

Spoto, D. (1992). The art of Alfred Hitchcock: Fifty years of his motion pictures. New York, New York: Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group.

This is the second edition of this book, the first being published in 1976.  Among other works, the author also penned The Dark Side of Genius: The Life of Alfred Hitchcock, so it is clear that Spoto has an interest in Hitchcock biographically, historically, and is an expert on Hitchcock.  While he was working on the first edition, he sent several chapters to Hitchcock to take a look at and ended up hearing from the author personally, having the opportunity to interview him.  Spoto also taught classes on Hitchcock’s films at the New School for Social Research located in New York.  The book chapters cover hitchcock’s silent films, and then thirty-seven films are covered in chapters devoted to one film each.  There is a unique storyboard from the director’s last film, Family Plot.  In addition to various stills and images from Hitchcock’s films, Spoto includes “A Hitchcock Album” that contains candid and publicity shots.  There is a detailed filmography that contains information on the cast and crew.  Spoto includes a short bibliography and an index. He specifically notes that the “Italicized page numbers refer to illustrations” (p. 463).

5 General Reference Resources for Horror Films

Fangoria Magazine Online. http://www.fangoria.com/

Fangoria Magazine was formed originally in 1978 under the title Fantastica, but after some legal troubles over the title, they settled on Fangoria Magazine in light of some successful articles on the horror genre.  Since then the focus has been on different mediums of the horror genre: video games, comic books, fiction, interviews, and articles on the films themselves. The website has many features that members, who can join free of charge, can peruse.  The pages are divided into “Home/News,” “Movies/TV,” reviews, blogs, a community section, the register option (with the ominous phrase, “Join Us,” just underneath), and the store link.  As the cursor hovers over each section, there are subsections under each main link.  Also, a link labeled, “Fangoria: Fango family,” provides links to other publications produced by Fangoria.  Incidentally, the company has also published single volumes of interviews and essays concerning different subjects.

Joshi, S. T. (2007). Icons of horror and the supernatural: An encyclopedia of our worst nightmares, Volumes 1 and 2. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press.

These volumes go through twenty-four of the iconic creatures, monsters, and ethereal villains that wander through the horror genre.  Each entry contains its own bibliography, so it is a haven for citation hunters.  There are multiple contributors, including the electronic resources and reference librarian from Nicholls State University, a humanities bibliographer from Homer Babbidge Library, and more.  The multiple contributors, each with either an interest or a professional career in the horror genre, makes the books even more authoritative.  The entries, as any good encyclopedia offers, are in alphabetical order.  The first volume goes from “The Alien” to “The Mummy” and continues in the second book at “The Psychic”, finishing off with “The Zombie.”  It includes concepts of horror like “The Curse” and “The Small-Town Horror,” and also includes the entirety of “The Cthulhu Mythos.” Joshi includes a “Notes on Contributors” in which he gives a brief explanation of the contributors.  He also includes photographs, movie posters, and illustrations in each entry.

Mank, G. M. (1999). Women in horror films, 1930s. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc.

Reading the introduction to this book yields much information.  The most valuable piece is that Mank had the opportunity to interview some of the actresses he included in this text.  Not in alphabetical order, it is difficult to say just how the entries are ordered.  Despite that, it is a well-done book.  In the introduction, Mank splits the feminine roles into “Monsters,” “Femme Fatales,” and “Misfits.”  Each entry for the actresses includes a black and white photograph of the actress.  The sections include interviews, excerpts, candid photographs, and a filmography.  Mank includes an appendix titled, “Outstanding Performances,” which is a poll that asked authors, directors, and others in the field, “What were the outstanding female performances of 1930s Hollywood?”  He also includes a table of contents and index.  Many of the photographs include the legendary actors Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi, as well as some of Mank with the women he interviewed. In addition, Mank wrote Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff: The Expanded Story of a Haunting Collaboration, which is included earlier in this bibliography.

Hutchings, P. (2008).  Historical dictionary of horror cinema. Lanham, Maryland: The Scarecrow Press, Inc.

This book is the 25th in the Historical Dictionaries of Literature and the Arts published by The Scarecrow Press. Each book in the series has a different author. Hutchings holds a B.A. in Film and Literature from Warwick University and obtained his Ph.D. from the University of East Anglia. British horror was the focus of his doctoral dissertation and he has continued his research and passion for the genre.  Having published numerous essays and contributed to reference books, he is an authority on the British realm of horror. Hutchings includes a chronology that “ranges from its origins through the present day” (p. vii), an introduction, and the dictionary itself.  The dictionary contains actors, directors, films, and more.  As with any good dictionary, it arranges everything but the chronology in alphabetical order.  Entries are short and concise.  If an entry coincides with another, the term is bolded for ease of search.  There is also a rather large bibliography at the back of the book.

Wallace, A., Bradely, S. & Howison, D. (2008). The book of lists: Horror. New York, NY: HarperCollins.

As the title suggests, this book consists of lists of horror that covers many areas of the genre.  Film, literature, music, and trivia are only a smattering of what this book has to offer. Since it was published in 2008, it has very recent information.  Coauthor, Amy Wallace, has authored fifteen books, one of them being another Book of Lists written with her father and brother.  Del  Howison owns a horror themed book and gift shop and has authored several articles for horror themed publications. An interesting aspect of the book, according to the writer of the introduction, Gahan Wilson, is that the “list format” could be used as “a teaching device, which will wonderfully, and sometimes downright awesomely, will open their eyes…to aspects of horror rarely considered and new ways of looking at it, which will refresh and delight and downright surprise its most sophisticated fans” (p. xvi).  The book is directed toward new fans of the horror genre, as well as the aficionado.   The contributors of the lists are people involved in some aspect of the genre. The book is split into sections for film, literature, music, “miscellany” (p. 324), and a small section submitted by fans of the genre.  There are a few sections that have illustrations of vintage horror comic books and movie posters.

Lizzy Walker works at the Boise State Albertsons Library. She is currently working in her MLIS with the SWIM cohort through University of North Texas. When she is not working on her studies, she enjoys gaming and spending time with her incredibly supportive husband, Arthur.