Library News

Archives Research Project Included in “The Teaching with Primary Sources Cookbook”

Take 2 library professionals.
Add 25 high school students.
Mix in a specially curated collection of archival materials.
And let simmer over a 90-minute class period.

Cover image of The Teaching with Primary Sources Cookbook, edited by Julie M. Porterfield

This is the recipe Reference and Outreach Librarian Molly Brown and Arts, Humanities, and Experiential Learning Library Regina Pagani have perfected while working with students and teachers from the Boston Public Schools over the past few years and it is now included in The Teaching with Primary Sources Cookbook, a collection of first-hand accounts from librarians, archivists, and other educators who use primary sources to teach information literacy skills to various audiences.


Brown and Pagani’s project is detailed in chapter 28 and titled “A Potluck of Expertise: Inviting Boston Public Schools’ Juniors to Use Northeastern’s Archives and Special Collections’ Pantry to Build Their Recipes.” They detail an ongoing project they have developed with BPS educators Chris Madsen and Katherine Petta where students work in groups to write a biography of an activist who advocated for racial equality in Boston’s public schools, using primary sources from the Archives’ vast social justice collections.

Regina Pagani and Molly Brown teach a class of students in the Archives Reading Room
Regina Pagani and Molly Brown (standing) lead Lucy Maulsby’s architecture class on a lesson in archival research, similar to the types of classes they teach to BPS juniors. Photo courtesy of Mary Hughes.

The chapter provides a detailed account of the project, with suggestions for ways to alter it based on different archives’ collections. The 2021 edition of The Teaching with Primary Sources Cookbook, edited by Julie M. Porterfield, is available through the American Library Association.

To learn more about the different ways Brown, Pagani and other Northeastern University Library staff members have utilized the Archives’ unique collections to teach primary source research to students at Northeastern and at the Boston Public Schools, visit the Teaching with Archives page.

Library Adds OverDrive to Digital Collections

The library is thrilled to announce that we are now providing access to OverDrive e-books and audiobooks courtesy of the Massachusetts SAILS network of libraries. OverDrive offers thousands of popular fiction and nonfiction titles that can be accessed on a variety of devices via web browser or app.

OverDrive offers many features that make it a welcome addition to our collection. With this service, we’re now able to offer a much wider range of popular and leisure titles, including magazines and children’s materials. Not sure what you’re in the mood for? OverDrive offers curated reading lists and intuitive searching by keyword, subject, or availability. And if we don’t have what you’re looking for, you can recommend a purchase within the OverDrive app.

Perhaps the best feature of OverDrive is that you can read books or listen to audiobooks on a variety of devices, including Nooks and iPads/iPhones. OverDrive also integrates seamlessly with Amazon for Kindle users. While you can access OverDrive via web browser, your experience is optimized when using either of the OverDrive apps. The Libby app makes it easy to switch between multiple library collections if you are also using e-books and audiobooks at your local public library, while the classic OverDrive app includes some features that are not yet available in the Libby app, such as streaming video and recommendations, as well as compatibility with Kindle Fire, mp3 players, and screen readers. Either app will allow you to read or listen to your loans, as well as manage your account.

OverDrive homepage

It’s important to note that we lease a limited number of copies of each digital title, which means that there may be a wait list for popular titles, just like with print books. Fortunately, OverDrive makes it easy to place holds and build wish lists with just a click of a button, and if a hold becomes available before you’re ready to read it, you can postpone your hold until a later time.

Because titles and availability are subject to change without notice and copies of individual titles are limited, OverDrive is not considered an appropriate resource for course materials. Materials available via OverDrive are also not listed in Scholar OneSearch, as titles are not permanent additions to our collection. Please contact your department’s subject librarian with questions about access to assigned course materials.

When you’re ready to explore our new OverDrive offerings, go to sails.overdrive.com, where you’ll be asked to select Northeastern University as your home library and then provide your MyNEU credentials. For more help, see our e-book reference guide or ask a librarian.

Happy reading!

Studios Staff and Students Record “Protect the Pack”

Last winter, staff members, co-ops, and student employees of the Northeastern University Library Recording Studios joined their collective musical powers to record “Protect the Pack,” a song inspired by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition to spreading the word about the importance of face masks and physical distancing to keep the campus community safe, the recording also serves as an example of the type of audio recording capability and support available to Northeastern students, faculty, and staff who need to make recordings while in quarantine.

Cover art of Protect the Pack by The Snell Family Band
Cover art of Protect the Pack by The Snell Family Band

The group, which calls itself The Snell Family Band and includes Ben DeUrso, Jonathan Iannone, Chris de Pierro, Patrick Sayers, Jared Zimiroski, Isaac Schutz, and Craig Short, began the project in late November 2020 and completed the initial recordings before the December break. Final mix and updates were completed by the end of February 2021, with cover art and credits by Antonio Banrey.

The group recorded a video on the creation and recording process, which is available in the Digital Repository Service. A music video, created over Zoom and including most of the contributors, was recorded and is in the editing process.

The Recording Studios has hosted a number of online workshops and one-on-one editing sessions over the past year, helping students, faculty, and staff create and edit high-quality audio and video recordings in their homes. Recordings of these workshops are available online.

CRRJ Archives Helps Bring Justice to Racially Motivated Crimes

As the broader American public has recently begun seeing the social, economic, and political impact of historical injustices in the United States, one thing has become clear—we don’t all have the same understanding of the events that brought us to this place. All too often, violence has been used to enforce boundaries on where people could live, work, and exercise their right to vote. Bringing that history to light and working toward justice for the victims of violence and their communities is imperative to achieving true equality for all.

The Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project (CRRJ) at the Northeastern University School of Law does this work, conducting research and supporting policy initiatives on anti-civil rights violence in the United States and other miscarriages of justice during the period of 1930-1970.

CRRJ Website Screenshot

CRRJ has come to serve as a resource for scholars, policymakers, and organizers involved in various initiatives seeking justice for their crimes. Since its founding in 2007, CRRJ has amassed thousands of investigative records about racial violence—death certificates, police reports, and Department of Justice and NAACP files, along with their own interviews and investigative reports. Those records reflect that hidden history, and CRRJ, in partnership with the Northeastern University Library, is taking the next step toward making this historical information available and accessible to victims’ families, researchers, and journalists through the CRRJ Burnham-Nobles Archive (BNA). Containing the records of over 1,100 violent incidents, the BNA is centered on record-keeping as accountability for past racial violence and its ongoing effects today.

Burnham-Nobles Reading Room Website Screenshot

The Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project Burnham-Nobles Archive consists of two main parts: a collection of the evidentiary records compiled by law clinic investigators, and a database of information captured from those records, both provided to users on a dedicated website.

As you might imagine, such a larger project requires the work of many. I was hired as Project Archivist in February 2020 to help transition CRRJ’s case records from a collection of individual cases to an aggregation of information from which patterns might emerge—about the victims, circumstances of their deaths, and the justice systems which failed to bring alleged perpetrators to account. Based in the Northeastern University Archives and Special Collections (UASC), I work as the bridge between the legal staff of CRRJ and the staff in the Northeastern University Library. Being part of the UASC allows me to access the expertise of colleagues with experience with other collections and digital processes.

Alongside UASC, many NU library staff are directly involved in bringing the project to life. These include the staffs of Resource and Discovery Services and the Digital Scholarship Group, as well as staff in other departments who have contributed their expertise through consultations.

We began our work by looking backward and forward—what structures and information we have to work with, the collection as it exists in the Digital Repository Service (DRS) and within CRRJ, and what structures of CRRJ’s ongoing work and library structures we can construct which might support the archive in the future.

While we have many tangible successes we can point to, underlying all that we have accomplished is a genuine sense of collaboration and an approach to our work through the lens of CRRJ’s mission of justice and respect for the victims of racially motivated homicide.

New Northeastern Commons Coordinator to Help Develop Online Community

Meg McMahon smilingin front of some plantsEarlier this month, Northeastern University Library welcomed Meg McMahon (they/she) as the inaugural Northeastern Commons Coordinator. In this new position, Meg will work to help shape the Northeastern Commons into a vibrant online community for users across the Northeastern campuses. Northeastern Commons is still in its initial creation stage, so most of Meg’s first months will be working with campus stakeholders to create a roadmap for its creation. To give an idea of what Northeastern Commons might be, here is a small list of its possible functionalities:
  • A platform where professors will be able to create classroom groups and sites for students to collaborate on class projects.
  • A platform where all users will be able to self-create campus interest groups to collaborate on similar research interests across departments and titles, leading to great interdisciplinary research.
  • A platform with a searchable directory of research happening at Northeastern, where if a research interest is searched, a list of people, groups, and articles would be yielded.
Most importantly, Northeastern Commons will be an online hub for students, faculty, researchers, and others to collaborate across the Northeastern Global Campuses while learning together. Meg completed her MS in Information Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in May 2020. There, they worked in multiple library departments, including the research and instruction department, the makerspace, and the user experience department. A unifying thread across her work was collaboration with others on creating programming or services that focused on user/student/research needs. They strongly believe that user experience, critical pedagogy, and accessibility should be a focus when creating any platform in higher education and plan to focus on all three while helping shape the Northeastern Commons. Being a born-and-raised Wisconsinite, Meg went to the University of Wisconsin at Madison and graduate with a BS in Art Education and Communication Arts—Communication Science and Rhetorical Studies. When she is not working, you can find her sewing her own clothes, rating movies on Letterboxd, attempting to roller skate, and shamelessly scrolling through Tiktok.