Newman Library, Graduate Services

a blog about library developments, research practices & advice, and graduate student input

Grad Services Librarian

Hello. I’m Linda Rath, the Graduate Services Librarian.

Phone: (646) 312-1622; Email:


My primary responsibilities include:

  • developing and coordinating the delivery of library services that address the specific needs of graduate students
  • representing the needs of graduate students to the library
  • the establishment of advanced information skills being a critical component of graduate student education

If you have feedback and/or questions related to graduate services at the library, please post your thoughts on this blog or contact me. Your input and ideas help us to develop services that meet your needs.

You can also contact me if you would like to schedule a one-on-one or group research consultation.

Everyday Librarian: how I use research in my daily life ….

<Posted June 13, 2008>Free, online medical images databases

I am currently taking a special effects make-up course. Yes, I’m learning how to make realistic looking scars, cuts, bruises, burns, trauma wounds, dermatological conditions, and etc. Thankfully, I do not have first-hand experiences with most of these conditions. However, I realized that I needed to view real images of these conditions to create them. I could do random searches using Google Images, but I wanted to find free medical image databases that would have many high quality images and possibly containing descriptions and causes.

So, I asked myself, “who would produce a free medical/health image database?” Possible producers are: learning hospitals, academic institutions, medical trade organizations, government agencies, and consumer health organizations.

I could search on individual sites, such as the CDC (Center for Disease Control) and universities with medical programs, but I wanted to find a website that compiled a list of medical image databases. In other words, has someone already done the work for me?

Q. Who would do that? A. Libraries!

Subject librarians often create subject guides listing specialized resources. So, I decided to search the Advanced Mode of Google using keywords such as “medical”, “images”, “databases”, and “library”, and limiting my search to educational institutions (.edu). This way, I would find library websites at academic institutions that discuss medical image databases.

This is what my search looked like:

This search found academic library websites called “Medical Image Databases on the Internet”, “Medical Images on the Web”, “Finding Medical Images” and many more. It was truly helpful and I was able to find authoritative medical image databases. Can’t wait to start my next special effects make-up project with the helpful images from these databases.

<Posted October 22, 2007>Using HandBrake, Converting DVDs for mobile viewing

I was preparing for a 2.5 hour bus ride to meet friends in Wildwood, NJ. Instead of listening to music on my iPod, I thought I could catch up on some DVD viewing. (I was also afraid that my fellow riders’ conversations would annoy me, and I needed something to drown them out.) I wanted to convert a few DVDs to MPEG-4s for iPod viewing. It was past midnight and I had to leave early the next morning, so I couldn’t purchase the conversion software I had previously read about. Was there a free, safe, and fast program available to download that wouldn’t cause havoc to my computer?

I did a quick search in Google and identified a few software programs. The most promising one was called HandBrake. However, I wasn’t sure if any of the programs were “safe” to download. I didn’t want to take the chance of downloading a program without first reading credible articles from credible sources. So, I decided to search some of the library’s databases, instead of reading random websites.

Searching the Library Databases for Credible Sources

Before I searched in a library database, I made a list of keywords to use when searching. I used terms such as: HandBrake, conversion, convert, converter, iPod, MPEG, DVD, free.

  1. I searched Factiva to locate articles in trade journals and newswires in technology related publications. Factiva also indexes websites, so I found a few technology related sites listed in the Web News tab.
  2. I also search Lexis Nexis, which identified articles in newspapers, journals, web-based publications, and blogs.
  3. I also search ABI/Inform Global and Business Source Premier, which found articles in popular magazines and trade journals. Lastly, I search MasterFILE Premier for articles in general interest magazines.

After finding articles in the library’s databases, I determined that HandBrake was a reputable, free, open-source converter that was safe to download. Some of the articles gave me the URL to the HandBrake website with recommendations on how to convert my DVDs using this software. I also found information about other conversion software and their pros and cons, in case I didn’t like HandBrake.

Within minutes, HandBrake was downloaded and I was converting DVDs. It was wonderful knowing that I made an informed decision and wasn’t worried about viruses, spyware, and whatever else can happen when downloading from the Internet.

**Please note that the DVDs I converted were all purchased at reputable stores and were my personal copies. I was the sole viewer of the converted DVD.**

<Posted February 7, 2007> Rotator Cuff injury

I noticed a pain in my shoulder that was gradually getting worse, so I wanted to find information about rotator cuff injuries. At first I thought the injury was due to my exercise regimen or sleep positions, but it seems that “heavy-purse-and-backpack syndrome” was a more likely candidate. Before going to a doctor, I wanted to educate myself on rotator cuff injuries so I could prepare questions. I also wanted to find out what exercises I could safely do to strengthen my shoulder.

Where can I get reliable medical and sports injury related information?

  1. When it comes to health, it is best to seek professional advice. I first asked the professional trainers at my gym (since I see them frequently, and more often than my doctor) about my shoulder. They asked questions about when and how it hurts. Based on my answers, they then gave me advice on what exercises to avoid and how I can change other exercises to continue to workout safely.
  2. I also used a free, online resource called MedlinePlus. Why did I choose this resource as opposed to doing a Google search? “MedlinePlus brings together authoritative information from NLM [National Library of Medicine], the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and other government agencies and health-related organizations. Preformulated MEDLINE searches are included in MedlinePlus and give easy access to medical journal articles. MedlinePlus also has extensive information about drugs, an illustrated medical encyclopedia, interactive patient tutorials, and latest health news.” I also noticed that doctors recommend using this site when seeking easy-to-understand medical information. Medline Plus linked me to brochures and websites discussing symptoms, causes, when to seek medical advice, screening and diagnosis procedures, treatments, and self-care. An interactive tutorial demonstrated exercises that could help.
  3. I will seek advice from a doctor if my shoulder doesn’t get better after taking the advice of the trainers and information found in Medline Plus.

*Please note that librarians do not give health and medical related advice. They will gladly inform you of resources that explain/discuss your topic, or will direct you to professionals.

<Posted November 10, 2006> There’s a bug in my soup

The other day, I had the unfortunate experience of finding an insect in a bowl of soup I had ordered for lunch. (I noticed it right away, luckily.) The insect didn’t happen to land in my soup, it had been boiled along with the rest of the ingredients. I asked for my money back and left the restaurant. After picking up a fruit salad somewhere else, I returned to my office and did a bit of research. I wanted to find the results of the most recent restaurant inspections of the area restaurants that I frequent the most. The New York City government website is the resource to use. This site provides information created by city agencies, departments and other city related entities. There is information for residents, businesses, and visitors.

How did I find the database of restaurant inspections?

  1. I went to the official New York City website at
  2. There is a drop down menu on the left side of the screen that allows you to go to city agency websites. I chose “Health & Mental Hygiene” from the list which will connect me to the webpages for the Department of Health & Mental Hygiene.
  3. Once on the Health & Mental Hygiene page, I clicked on the “Restaurant Inspections” link on the right side of the page.
  4. Once the Restaurant Inspection Information page loads, click on the link for “Restaurant inspection results online
  5. You can now search by restaurant name or zip code. You can also browse the resaurant inspection results by an alphabetical list; by neighborhood; by violation points; by Golden Apple recipients (restaurants that received the Golden Apple Restaurant Excellence in Food Safety Award); or by borough.

The report will state the date of inspection, how many violation points the restaurant received (if any), and reasons for violations. An explanation of the inspection process and violation points is provided.

Warning: You may not want to eat at your favorite restaurant anymore, depending on the inspection result.

<Posted Oct. 24, 2006> Halloween

Halloween is “creeping up” on us. Like many people, I enjoy the candy, costumes and traditions this holiday brings. Although I participate in many Halloween festivities and know the general history of the holiday, I wanted to find more detailed information along with consumer and business related statistics.

  1. My first step was to search the library database called Gale Virtual Reference Library, which contains encyclopedias and manuals covering many topics, for an overview of the holiday. I stayed in the Basic Search mode, and typed “Halloween” in the Find box, but limited it to look only in the “Document title”. I found wonderful overviews in the Encyclopedia of Clothing and Fashion (about Halloween costumes), Encyclopedia of Food and Culture, Encyclopedia of Religion, Encyclopedia of Recreation and Leisure in America, and the Encyclopedia of Children and Childhood in History and Society. The database also listed reviews of movies containing “Halloween” in the title from the Videohound’s Golden Movie Retriever resource.
  2. My next step was to find print materials in the library’s catalog, CUNY+. I typed “Halloween” in the “Search for” box, and selected the search type “Subject begins with” to find materials with the word Halloween in the subject field of the record. I also searched for encyclopedias covering religion, customs, culture, fashion/costumes, and holidays.
  3. I then searched business databases (Hoovers, ABI/Inform Global) to find overviews of the party and holiday, costume, and candy industries.
  4. I then searched the history database America: History and Life to find articles, dissertations, and collections discussing Halloween in the US and Canada.
  5. I then searched the US Census Bureau website, which contains Halloween facts and statistics (number of costume rental establishments, potential number of trick-or-treaters, and etc.).
  6. I then searched the Library of Congress website for collections/archives containing photographs, sheet music, posters and other historical ephemera.

<Posted Oct. 12, 2006> National Lacrosse League (NLL)

I’m a big fan of indoor lacrosse. (Yes, there is a professional league.) The 2007 season is approaching and I can’t wait to see my favorite teams — the Buffalo Bandits and Toronto Rock — play again. Being a sport primarily played in the northeastern US and in Canada, it is not the most popular game in town. When I want to learn of the latest developments with the NLL and my teams, it is a good bet that I won’t find the information in The New York Times or Sports Illustrated. Instead, I search for information in the following places:

  1. Websites: For league news, team expansions, drafts, game statistics, schedule of games on cable tv, and related information, I will go directly to the NLL website. For more specific team news and statistics, to purchase tickets, and to read fan message boards, I will go directly to the Buffalo Bandits and Toronto Rock websites.
  2. Newspaper articles from specific newspapers: Newsstands in NYC carry a lot of newspapers from many cities, but usually do not carry the Buffalo News or Toronto Star. So, I read these papers by visiting their websites (which may only have the current day/week available) or by accessing them through the databases at Newman Library.
    • Once on the library’s homepage, I click on Newspapers under the “Search & Find” section.
    • The “Finding Newspapers” page appears, and then I click on the Full Text Journal link.
    • This leads me to a page that allows me to check whether any of the library’s electronic databases have the newspaper(s) in full-text, by doing a search using the newpaper’s title. If the paper is in a database, a link to the database will be provided. When connecting from home, I will have to type in my library number when prompted, so the database will recognize me as a valid Baruch user. (Your library number can be found on the bottom right corner of your student ID card.)
    • Once connected to a database, I then type in my search terms. In this case, I would use the name of the lacrosse team, player, or league.
  3. Journal articles/newspaper articles: I also search business and news databases to find articles that cover the sports and marketing industries. ABI Inform/Global and Business Source Premier have articles about NLL expansion and marketing strategies. Lexis Nexis and Factiva have articles from city newspapers and in business/sports sources. Cities that have a NLL team often cover the lacrosse games and news. Business/sports sources tend to cover industry trends and events. Ethinc Newswatch covers small press/ethnic/community papers and Alt Press Watch covers alternative/independent papers. (I found articles in community and independent papers talking about lacrosse players and local teams.)
  4. Blogs/Fan sites: Sports enthusiasts and fans often have up-to-date information. These sites can be fun to read, informative, or bring together a lot of information on one site. You have to be critical when reading these sites, however, as anyone can create a blog/fan site. I found the Outsider’s Guide to the National Lacrosse League.

<Posted Aug. 23, 2006> MP3 player

While watching the morning news, a technology story about a new MP3 player by SanDisk caught my attention. According to the news program, the SanDisk music player will have twice the storage capacity as current Apple iPod models.

Since I wasn’t paying full attention to the news (I was also eating breakfast), I didn’t hear the SanDisk model name, when it would be released, the price, and features. I was also interested in finding reviews of this product, comparisons to iPod models, and SanDisk company information.

My research steps:

  1. I visited the SanDisk website. I viewed their Products section and found information on their MP3 players. This section has product pictures, user guides, and purchasing information. However, I wasn’t sure which MP3 player was the newsworthy product. I then viewed the Corporate section of the website and found press releases announcing the “world’s largest capacity flash memory player”, which mentioned the model name (Sansa e280) and price. I was then able to go back to the Products section and view pictures and the user guides on the Sansa e280. This is great information, however, it is also information created by SanDisk — which is promotional in nature.
  2. My next step was to search business/industry databases — that the library subscribes to — for articles in trade publications or business and techonology news journals that would be more critical of the product. I searched ABI/Inform Global and Business Source Premier. I used the search terms: Sansa e280 and Sandisk. I found little, if any, information. Perhaps the product is too new?
  3. I then searched Factiva — another library database — that searches global news, business, and financial information from newspapers, magazines, newswires, and trade journals, which tend to be published more frequently than journals. I found a lot of great articles! Some discussed the product’s capabilites, and others compared it to Apple iPods. (I also searched Lexis Nexis which covers a range of newspapers and business sources.)
  4. I also searched in Hoover’s — another library database — for a company profile of SanDisk. I found information about its products, some recent news, their competitors, and financial data.
  5. Lastly, I went to CNET, a consumer electronics website. CNET editors write reviews, comparisons and buyers guides based on their use and testing of products. CNET did have a brief announcement on the Sansa e280, but not a review yet. I will visit this site again for a review. (The general public can also post opinions on prodcuts. Be crticial of these posts!)

<Posted Aug. 15, 2006> Russian Cinema

Over the weekend, I attended a panel discussion on Russian Fantastik Cinema (fantasy, science fiction, etc.) held at Lincoln Center’s Walter Reade Theater. The panel included Karen Shakhnazarov, a Russian film director and the Director General of Mosfilm Studio. I found his comments interesting and wanted to learn more about his role in Russian cinema.

My research steps:

  1. I searched the following Newman Library databases to find information about Karen Shakhnazarov, his films, and his activities:
    • JSTOR to find articles and reviews that mentioned his name or his films in scholarly journals
    • Academic Search Premier to find articles or reviews about him or his films in journals
    • Lexis Nexis and Factiva to find articles in news transcripts, art news, and foreign (Russian/European) newspapers discussing his activities as Director General of Mosfilm and his films
    • Ethnic Newswatch to find articles in smaller, ethnic (Russian) press newspapers and magazines
    • Humanities Abstracts to find articles in a subject specific database which covers art, film, performing arts, communication, etc.
    • CUNY+ (library’s catalog) to see if Newman library owns any of his films on dvd
  2. And I visited the following websites:
    • Mosfilm – Since he is the Director General of Mosfilm Studio, I thought this would be a good website to visit. The website has his biography, photograph, and filmography. Since I don’t speak/read Russian, I was glad the site was also in English.
    • Internet Movie Database (IMDB) – I searched this commercial site to read plot outlines, credits, awards, box office information, external reviews and user comments related to his films. This site sometimes links to other websites related to a film. (Although this can be a great resource, it is a good idea to verify the information found on this site with reference resources in libraries when doing research.)
    • Google- Advanced Search Page – I wanted to find websites created (or registered) in Russia, but were written in English, and contained his name. I limited my search by typing Karen Shakhnazarov in the “Exact Phrase” box; chose English in the “Language” menu; and typed .ru in the “Domain” box.

If I wanted to further my research, I could visit other libraries such as:

  • The research branches of New York Public Library (NYPL). The NYPL for the Performing Arts has numerous film related databases. The NYPL’s Humanities and Social Sciences Library has a Slavic and Baltic Division with many resources covering Russia/former Soviet Union. I could also search the NYPL’s borrowing catalog, called LEO, to check whether any of the NYPL libraries own his films on dvd or video to borrow.
  • Libraries at other CUNY schools that have programs in film or Russian/Slavic studies.

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