The Studio@Butler is open!

Columbia University Libraries/Information Services Digital Humanities Center and theGraduate School of Arts and Sciences Teaching Center are pleased to announce the opening of Studio@Butler, a new space in Butler Library for collaboration between scholars, educators, librarians, and technologists.

Studio@Butler is designed to support emerging practices in pedagogy and digital scholarship.  It is inspired by hacker spaces, maker spaces, meetups, and other arenas of collaborative innovation.  The Studio will support digital labs connected to Columbia classes, host training for instructors who are adopting new practices into their teaching, and facilitate collaboration between scholars, librarians, and technologists engaged in digital research projects.

“Studio@Butler is an exciting example of the Libraries’ active engagement with teaching and learning and leadership in supporting digital scholarship at Columbia,” said James G. Neal, Vice President for Information Services and University Librarian.  “It also represents an important, growing partnership between the Libraries and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.”

Located in 208b Butler Library, Studio@Butler is furnished with moveable tables, chairs, and a projector, and can accommodate up to 40 people.  While the Studio offers some means to capture ideas and techniques (white boards, video camera, microphones), users are encouraged to bring their own technology devices.  The Studio@Butler website offers a description of upcoming events, along with request forms for Columbia faculty and graduate students interested in scheduling on-demand workshops, researchathons, presentations, evaluations, and more.

Fall semester offerings include: hands-on labs run by pedagogy or research experts; informal gatherings for instructors to collaborate and share information; clinics for scholars interested in leveraging digital applications to build a scholarly reputation; and a range of seminars and workshops centered on pedagogy and research.

“The Graduate School is pleased to support Studio@Butler, which promises to promote innovation across disciplinary boundaries, provide a communal area for graduate students, and facilitate interaction among graduate students, faculty, and librarians,” said Carlos J. Alonso, Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and Morris A. and Alma Schapiro Professor in the Humanities.

For more information, please visit the Studio website or



Welcome Students!

The librarians and staff of Butler Library welcome you! We offer a full range of resources and services to support all aspects of study. We encourage you to contact us; we are eager to help you with your research.

Explore our deep collections and services through our website,

Our goal is to make Columbia Libraries' collections and services as transparent and user-accessible as possible. If you have questions about our newly re-designed website, scroll throught the tips here:

Also note these new services:

Morningside/Barnard/UTS faculty, students, staff, and provost-appointed visiting scholars with library borrowing privileges can now request electronic delivery of articles and book chapters from the general print collections of several participating libraries. For more information, see: Scan and Deliver

Quickly see what study spaces are open in the various libraries at a glance by clicking the link to Study Spaces Open Now at the top of the Library Hours page.

Butler Library Research Support Services  — we look forward to working with you!

Getting Your Bearings: Library Orientation for New Graduate Students

If you're a graduate student, you may wish to attend one of our "Getting Your Bearings" orientations, designed to help you begin using the powerful information tools at your disposal and to point you to some of the most important library services and personnel at Butler Library and elsewhere on campus.  

The Libraries will be offering six "Getting Your Bearings" sessions to introduce graduate researchers to our collections and services.

The sessions begin with a 40 to 45 minute tour of key points and  services in Butler Library, including an intro to our Rare Book and
Manuscript library.  This is likely to be of most interest and  relevance to people working in the humanities, history, and social
sciences. The tours will begin at the Reference Desk in  Butler 301. 

Tuesday, August 27, 11:30-1:00
Wednesday, August 28, 11:30-1:00
Thursday, August 29, 3:00-4:30
Friday, August 30, 10:30-12:00
Tuesday, September 3, 4:00-5:30
Wednesday, September 4, 10:30-12:00

 The second half of the session,  which will take place in Butler  306, will be devoted to an overview of the Libraries' online information  system and ways to get the most out of it, and would be of value to all graduate students.  Participants who want to attend only the second half should feel free  come directly to Butler 306 about 40 to 45 minutes after the beginning  of tour.


Confidential Print Online


Defenses of Tobruk, 1940, from Confidential Print: Africa

The Library has recently acquired online versions of the Confidential Print series, a collection of British government documents.  Beginning in the late 1820's, the British government began printing copies of important correspondence from diplomatic and consular officials (including letters, telegrams, policy documents, and reports) which were then circulated to Foreign Office and Cabinet officials, and to British missions overseas to keep these officials informed about the important issues.  These series were printed up to about the 1970's, when, according to the British National Archives, the photocopy machine arrived.  The original documents are in the British National Archives, but the Confidential Print, to quote from a review of the North American Series are "a selection from what was often a vast swathe of material …It is not the full, unabridged story [but] there is no doubt that an early trawl of the relevant Confidential Print series is a must for anyone setting out to investigate British or Colonial policy."

The online series are North America: Canada, the Caribbean, and the USA (1824-1961); Middle East (1839-1969); Latin America (1833-1969); and Africa (1834-1966).  The series for Europe and for Asia have not been digitized, and, according to the publisher, there are no current plans to do so.  Selected documents from the European and Asian Confidential Prints issued by the Foreign Office have been reprinted (these are more voluminous than the Confidential Print issued by the Colonial Office), and Columbia has these volumes listed in CLIO under the title British documents on foreign affairs–reports and papers from the Foreign Office confidential print.  There are several series, and they have slightly different call numbers.  The European volumes are especially useful for material relating to the two world wars, since the printed compilations British documents on the origins of the War, dealing with World War I, and Documents on British Foreign Policy, 1919-1939 (both available online as Documents on British Policy Overseas) don't have material on wartime activities.

The Confidential Print include much more than diplomatic chit-chat, and looking through some of the documents gives the impression that every British official was sending detailed notes on local conditions, so these documents are a phenomenal resource for economic, social, agricultural, and geographic information.  To take a page at random, this is from The West Africa Correspondence (1889-1901) dealing with Botanical and Forestry Matters

Page 66
Rubber collectors have now to go 15 or 16 days off Ibadan for rubber, beyond the
Protectorate of this Colony. The countries where active rubber working is going on
are the Benin and Akoko forests. Unfortunately we could not proceed to these parts,
which we were made to understand are without the Protectorate of the Colony.
Consequently we did not go further than Owo (a place only three days off Benin), which
we understood is the limit of our Protectorate on that side.
During Our travels through all the above-named towns, we did not only pay attention
to the rubber industry, for which we were sent up, but also spared a little of our
time for noting down and gathering interesting information on things in general, which
we have no doubt will be of some use or benefit to this Department.
As one leaves Lagos, and travelling on the lagoon en route for Epe, Ejinrin, or
Ikorodu, a different and more interesting scenery is at once noticed than what is
generally seen by the inhabitants of Lagos. This is a large and continuous expanse of
virgin forests on the banks of the lagoon, stretching from Ikorodu (2 hours' steam
from Lagos), and continuous up to Benin.
Taking it from Ikorodu, the forest extends inland to Ibadan (three days' journey
off Ikorodu), and joined by the expanse of forests from Epe and Ejinrin, which in parts
are cultivated. Branching off at Jebu Ode and proceeding Ikire way, via Atikori,
there is another larger and more extensive forest to be seen, and continuous with lie
Ife, Ondo, and Ilesa forests which in turn run in with the other Ekiti countries, thus
forming one large extensive range of forest from Atikori right on to Owo, and which,
adjoining the Ikale, Sekiri, and Ijo forests, thus spread on to the lagoon.
The range of forests along the banks of the lagoon, and to a limited extent inland,
is peculiarly grown with Mangrove trees (Id Egba), which are valuable as timber
trees (the wood of which is very hard), and the bark of which is very astringent, and
is valuable for its tanning properties.
Inland the forests, especially Jebu and Ekiti forests, abound in large quantity of
valuable timber trees, which are used by the natives for various purposes, and also
(being ignorant of its value) for firewood.
The various timber trees found in Jebu, Ekiti, and Ibadan forests are numerous.
The following are trees observed, and also the purposes for which they are used: —
Iriko, Afara, Opepe, Otutu, Agono, Apa, Oro, Ayon, Em, Ara, or Opepe, Agbonyin,
Apara, Oro, Bonobono, Ayon, Arere, Idi, Sedun, Ira, Orowo, Akika, or Aka,
Irosun. The Ekitis as a rule have different names from those given by the Yorubas;
as such, it was difficult to get the correct names of the different trees. The general
uses of the above-named trees vary more or less among the different tribes, but we
will simply classify them all according to the general use in the interior.
TABLE of the different uses to which the above-named Trees are put by the Interior People
Trees used for Canoes.
1. Iroko.
2. Arere.
3. Idi.
4. Apa.
5. Ara.
6. Agono.
7. Olutu.
8. Opepe.
Trees used for Doors.
Trees used for House Posts.
Trees need for Motars.'
Trees used for Motar Pencils
Trees used for
Native Bowk.
Trees used for Drums, &c.

We do not deem it necessary to include in the list such trees as are used for
carving idols, warri-bowls, native spoons, &c, because they are more or less very soft,
and, in consequence, cannot stand hard usage.
As our mission and instructions were chiefly in the interest of the rubber industry,
we could not spare time to collect specimens of wood, flowers, leaves, &c, of these
trees, which are very large and high. Consequently we were obliged to return to the
Colony without bringing these specimens.
Page 67
As the general work of interior women and girls is the weaving and dyeing
of cloths, &c, this report will be an incomplete one without the mention of the indigo
plant. There are two kinds of indigo used by the natives for colouring their cloths, &c,
jet black, deep or light blue. The native names under which these two distinct plants
are known are Elu (Lonchocarpus cyanescens) and Sense (Indifofera sp.). A
report on an experiment tried in the former plant (Elu) will be seen in the 29th Report
of the Botanic Station.
Elu is a shrubby tree, the young leaves of which are generally used for extracting
the dye.
This operation is simple. The young leaves are pounded, balled, and then left to
ferment, after which it is well dried, when it can be stored and used whenever required
without any danger of its getting spoilt. When required for dyeing these balls are
steeped in an acid water, and as soon as the water becomes coloured the cloths are then
dipped in and dyed.
This dye is very strong, and we have no doubt that if it can be prepared in a
better way, so as to get out of the leaves the pure dye without any other impurities, a
good and lucrative trade will be started in this direction.
The Sense dye plant is much used by the Ilorins, Tapas, and Hausas.
It takes much longer time to extract the dye matter out of the leaves than Elu
does. The same process is adopted as in the case with Elu.
This plant is a dwarf shrub, of about three species, found plentifullv in the
interior, where it grows wild; but we have no doubt that in course of time, when the
value of such plant is known by all, more attention will be paid to its cultivation,
and not be allowed to waste.
Fibre Plants.
Several fibre plants were seen, both cultivated and wild up country. The commonest
met with are Bolobolo (Urena lobata), Boko, Pineapple, species of Corchorus,
Bowstring Hemp (Sanseviera guineensis).
Of these, Boko, Bolobolo (a white-skinned variety of it) are cultivated in Yorubaland
for their fibrous barks, which are used for tying purposes. Pineapple is also
cultivated all over the Protectorate nearly, though not for its fibre, but more for its
delicious fruit.
Bolobolo, especially the red-skinned variety, is wild and plentiful everywhere is all
waste places, and it would be a grand thing if this valuable fibre plant is taken up and
Already sample of its fibre has been sent by this Government to England in 1886,
where it was reported on to be superior to jute in quality and strength, and would
always command a higher price and a readier market, if it could be shipped regularly
and in good quantity. Ever since that year the matter has dropped entirely, from want
of energy and enterprise to develop the industry.
The Boko plant is found only under cultivation, but there seems to be a brighter
future for it, even than that of Bolobolo, for it is considered by the natives generally to
be much superior in quality and strength than Bolobolo fibre.
The bark of it, as well as that of Bolobolo, is woven into all sorts of ropes by the
The Bowstring Hemp, called Oja Ikoko by interior countries, is found wild more
or less all over the interior countries, especially in forest lands near swamps. The
fibre of this is much more valuable commercially than those of either of the two former,
being worth £40 to £60 a ton if well prepared and cleaned. The natives also extract
its fibres and make it into strings, which they use for leather work. This fibre plant
ought to have a grand future.
The species of Corchorus, though found wild here and there, are not known as
fibre-yielding plants by the natives; consequently thev are not cultivated or put to
any use.
Gum Trees.
On the 25th of June, when we were on our return journey, we received a letter
from the Acting Resident, instructing us to make strict enquiry about the different
gum trees found in the interior forests.

Notes from a Summer Intern at Butler

Jennifer Ferretti writes:
I’m one of ten extremely lucky individuals enrolled in a library science program chosen out of an applicant pool from both the U.S. and Canada to become an Association of Research Libraries Career Enhancement Program Fellow for summer 2013. I’m carrying out my fellowship in the Humanities & History Division at Butler Library. I attend meetings, catalog dissertations in the institutional repository (Academic Commons), and participate in a digital humanities project on Columbia’s neighborhood of Morningside Heights. Not surprisingly, whenever I speak of my duties in H&H with people outside of the library and information science profession, I receive looks of slight shock and approval. People of this demographic generally don’t picture librarians as having a large hand in research projects that are technologically advanced and dynamic, but I predict this will soon change. As research methodologies evolve with new technology, digital humanities projects will become more popular and advanced, with librarians at the helm.
A great example of the kind of work library and information professionals are involved with these days is the Developing Librarian Project (DLP), created by the H&H librarians. Each person on the team has chosen a structure, topic, or place to research that is directly related to Morningside Heights from 1820-1950 and will curate their research in the content management system/web application Omeka as a permanent resource that is publicly accessible. While the team will create an attractive, educational resource, we will also acquire new skills and methodologies in the digital humanities. What is essentially happening is the acquaintance of challenges and questions that come up in the age of digital research to better serve the Columbia community.
The topic I’ve chosen for the project is the history of the natural and built environment of the neighborhood. If you’re familiar with Morningside Heights, you may have seen a large rock sitting behind a fence in the 600 block of 114th Street, between Broadway and Riverside Drive. The rock is schist, a durable type of rock commonly found all over Manhattan. The rock sparked a few research questions for me: What did Morningside Heights look like before Columbia University was built? What did it look like before anything was built? How has it evolved? I’ve begun my research in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library as well as utilizing the databases offered on the Columbia University Libraries website. I’m excited to see where primary sources take my research and to be part of such a forward thinking team.
Jennifer A. Ferretti is concentrating on digital humanities at the School of Information and Library Science at Pratt Institute.

Welcome Summer Session Students!

Welcome to the Summer Session! We hope you have a wonderful experience using the collections and services in the Libraries.  Butler librarians are here all summer to answer your questions and help you with your research.

The librarians in Butler can assist you with a range of research support services in the areas of history, literature, philosophy, religion, performing arts, and gender & women's studies.

Summer library hours are now in effect. See the Hours page to get specific information about Butler's hours.

If you have research questions or want to learn more about using the new Libraries website or the CLIO database, please feel free to ask a librarian during our in-person research service hours:
Digital Humanities Center (DHC), room 305: 11-1
Butler Reference Room, room 301: 1-5pm

You can also reach us via email or chat with us online on the Ask a Librarian webpage.

Have a great summer!

Congratulations Class of 2013!

The Butler Librarians and staff congratulate the Class of 2013! We wish you all success in your future endeavors.

This doesn't have to be the end of a beautiful friendship. You will still have access to our licensed electronic databases for a period of three months beyond the degree conferral date.

And if you are in the neighborhood, recent alumni will be able to enter the libraries for a period of four months (120 days) after the date of graduation using their student ID cards. After four months, alumni must obtain a free Alumni Card in the Library Information Office in Butler Library.

For more information on alumni privileges, see:
Columbia University Libraries Alumni & Friends

Access to Columbia's Libraries for Alumni

Have a great summer and CU Later!

Keep Calm and Study On

Students, we know you're working hard and you've got a lot to do,  but we encourage you to take a break from studying to relax and recharge.

Tonight, Tuesday May 7, Butler Library is hosting Alice!’s Stressbusters from 8pm to Midnight in Butler 203. Come for free neck and back rubs and some mellow activities.

Tomorrow, Wednesday May 8, Columbia University Libraries is sponsoring the annual Butler Library Study Break from 9pm to 11pm in the Butler Lounge. Join us for free coffee and bagels, along with games, giveaways, and (new this year) Star Wars origami. Butler librarians will be on hand to answer any of your last minute research questions.

We librarians see you in Butler all year long and we salute you for your work ethic and your commitment to your studies.Take some time this week to recharge, re-hydrate, and stay energized. Go get 'em!

HathiTrust: Digital Library Unveils New, Improved Webpage

HathiTrust is a shared collection of over 10 million volumes of digitized book and journal content. Columbia University is a member of this international partnership of 60-plus research libraries committed to the long-term preservation and availability of the cultural record.

HathiTrust recently unveiled a new website, with a new design and new features. You’ll now see a consolidated search area and prominent links to user collections, hand-picked books, and the mobile interface.

Links to social media, the HathiTrust Research Center, and HathiTrust projects provide updates on activities and invite engagement. Users can now log in from anywhere on the site, and the login area of the homepage highlights the benefits of logging in to users from partner institutions.

A new online reading interface increases the amount of space available for reading books, while still keeping reading controls and bibliographic information readily accessible.

Options for searching the bibliographic catalog and full-text of works have been combined into a single tabbed search, with help information to guide users in deciding which search to use. A persistent search header allows searches to be performed from any page on the website.

Make sure you log in as a Columbia University user to access the largest number of volumes and features.

If you have any questions about how to access this resource from CLIO or the web, or how to use its features, please contact the Butler Library reference staff.

EVENT: “Picture This: The Art of Comics Adaptations”–Monday April 15, 6 PM

The Libraries are thrilled to host an event sponsored by the French Embassy: a conversation between French cartoonist Alex Alice and Brooklyn cartoonist Ron Wimberly on the craft of transforming literature into comics.

Alex Alice has produced an award-winning three-volume adaptation of the Nibelungenlied, or Ring Cycle, titled Siegfried, now being published in an English edition.  Ron Wimberly, whose art for Sentences helped it merit a choice as one of Time magazine's Top 10 Graphic Novels of 2007, recently published a hip-hop adaptation of Romeo and Juliet, Prince of Cats.

The two artists will discuss their work and the process of adaptation in a conversation with Tucker Stone, co-owner of Bergen Street Comics.

DATE: Monday, April 15


PLACE: 523 Butler Library