Conducting Research, Collecting Comic Books, Archiving Outer Space

Girl with open book, conducting researchUNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS spend their lives online, checking in with friends, listening to music, viewing the world through a smartphone’s camera. So they must surely prefer to read course materials online, right?
 
Not necessarily, says UCLA librarian Diane Mizrachi. Over the past eight years, her studies of their academic reading preferences have consistently shown a preference for print over electronic format for most course readings. This research now encompasses over ten thousand students in more than thirty countries.
 
Diane has been invited to speak at conferences throughout the US and around the world. And her results have broader relevance, as she noted in an interview that appeared in the Huffington Post.
 
“I believe people read more today than ever before because text is all around us,”Mizrachi says. “As multitudes of messages compete for our attention, our ability to lose ourselves in a written story is harder to maintain. This will have a definite impact on professional and academic success, favoring those who are able to cultivate and nurture these skills.”
 
Diane is just one of UCLA’s many librarian-scholars, whose depth of knowledge is uniquely suited to the academic departments they support. As the librarian for Jewish, Middle Eastern, Central Asian, South Asian, and Armenian studies, David Hirsch has carefully nurtured relationships with scholars and booksellers through travels across the Middle East. He is able to find not only old and rare materials but also unusual items that reflect contemporary culture in unique ways.
 
One example, the comic book series “The 99,” features young characters from diffent cultures that reflect the diversity of the Islamic world. “The name comes from the ninety-nine names of Allah, and each superhero has a special power based on one of Allah’s attributes,” explains Hirsch. “According to the series’ creator, the comics attempt to teach Muslim children the true values of Islamic culture.”
 
David’s efforts are appreciated  by UCLA faculty. Susan Slyomovics, a professor in anthropology and Near Eastern languages and cultures, notes, “One of the strengths of the UCLA collection is that David collects things like bulletins, posters, materials on local initiatives and Middle East American organizations. This becomes crucial for anthropologists and historians, and he has made UCLA a real repository for these materials.” 
 
An entirely diff ent kind of repository, the NASA Planetary Data System preserves and makes accessible scientifi data from planetary missions, astronomical observations, and laboratory measurements. UCLA researchers working on one of the system’s sections sought assistance from the Library to ensure permanent access to its contents. Tony Aponte, librarian in the Science and Engineering Library, trained the project’s staff in the use of digital object identifiers, or DOIs. Each unique DOI attaches an unchanging “label” to any physical or digital object to make it permanently discoverable.
 
“UCLA’s part of the project focuses on interactions between the solar wind and planetary winds with planetary magnetospheres, ionospheres, and surfaces,” explains Aponte. “As NASA plans missions throughout the solar system and beyond, this data will prove invaluable.” Equally invaluable is donor support of these types of activities. Giving opportunities can be tailored to the donor’s area of interest, including endowments to provide permanent support for   librarians who conduct research, build collections, and provide public service. To learn more, contact Stephanie Kimura at 310.206.8551 or sbkimura@library.ucla.edu.