Category Archives: Tools & Tips

Winter Break at the Libraries: What You Need to Know

Winter break is a time most students leave campus, but if you are student, PhD candidate, visiting scholar, or faculty member still at Columbia, here are some tips for making the most of intersession:

Hours: During intersession, which runs 12/24-1/16, many of the Libraries are closed on Sundays and some Saturdays, as well as University holidays falling during that time.  Be sure to check the hours page before planning a visit.

ReCap: The Libraries’ Off-site Library Shelving Facility will not be making deliveries on the following days, so please time your requests for off-site materials accordingly.

Friday, December 23
Monday, December 26
Tuesday, December 27

Friday, December 30
Monday, January 2
Tuesday, January 3

Partner Institutions: Remember that the Libraries’ are partners with Cornell University Library in Ithaca, NY, through the 2CUL program, as well as with NYU Library and the New York Public Libraries through MaRli.  If you will be traveling in the upstate New York area or would like to take advantage of another libraries’ holdings, intersession could be a great time to do that. 

Have a wonderful break! 

Tips for Study Days and Finals!

The Libraries are here to support you throughout the end of the semester! Here’s how: 

  • Extended hours in Graduate Rooms in Butler from December 13-23.
  • Stressbusters will be in Butler 203 on Wednesday, December 14, giving backrubs, tips for reducing stress and more. Librarians will also be on hand to answer questions and hand out healthy study snacks. Check out Facebook for more info.
  • Research Librarians and Subject Specialists – find them at the Butler Reference Desk or contact a staff member directly.

  • Librarians are available to answer questions through email, text, and chat.
  • Keep up-to-minute with Library news by following us on Facebook and Twitter.

Anything else we can do? Let us know! Happy studying! Go get ’em! Roar!


New Equipment and Software Available in the Libraries!

Need to work on a Mac? Use Microsoft Word or Powerpoint? Finish a graphic design assignment? 

There are new computers and software options available throughout the libraries! In 300 Butler, in front of the Circulation desk, 16 computer kiosks have been replaced and the new computers now include Microsoft Office and Adobe Creative Suite – that includes Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Photoshop, Illustrator, Dreamweaver, and more! 

Additional upgrades have also been made in the Digital Humanities Center (located in 305 Butler); 3 more Macs will be available in the Music & Arts Library (701 Dodge); and touch screen scanner stations will be available in Butler as well.


Check Out the Digital Humanities Center!

by Jessica Gentile, Social Media Intern

The field of digital humanities has been around for decades, but with recent advancements in digitization and internet technologies, it’s quickly emerged as one of academia’s most exciting areas. It’s even being hailed as the "next big thing" by The Chronicle of Higher Education. Columbia’s Digital Humanities Center (DHC; formerly the Electronic Text Service) offers many resources and services in this blossoming area.

Located in 305 Butler Library, the DHC contains all the tools you need when it comes to working with digital texts, still and moving images, and other materials in the humanities, including:

  • Digital text creation and editing software and equipment including 6 dedicated high-end text scanners, 4 dedicated high-end image scanners (which can work well with many text projects, too), and a microfilm scanner, all equipped with ABBYY FineReader, Adobe Acrobat, and Adobe Photoshop to produce either image files or machine-readable texts and more.
  • Digital video editing tools such as FinalCut Pro, iMovie, Final Draft, Sound Track Pro and more.
  • Textual and qualitative analyisis software such as WordSmith, Crawdad, NVIVO, and TAPor and more.

In addition to all these great resources, expert help from the library staff is always available as well. They’re always open to your comments, questions and suggestions too. Send them an email at

Get Help With Your NSF Grant Proposals

Are you planning on applying for a grant from the National Science Foundation this semester? Well, the rules have recently changed.  The NSF now requires that all proposals submitted post-January 18, 2011 contain a data management plan.  This plan must address how your project will comply with the NSF’s data sharing policy, an initiative put in place to facilitate sharing of primary data, samples, and other supporting materials among researchers.
While this does mean submitting an additional two page document, the staff at the Scholarly Communication Program at the Center for Digital Research and Scholarship has a system in place to help. A template and step-by-step guide has been posted on the program’s website. An added bonus? Columbia University has an institutional repository already in place to make the dissemination and sharing of research results a breeze. Guideline requirements and web resources are also posted to answer any further questions.

For more information, visit the Scholarly Communication Program’s NSF Data Management Plan Requirements page.

There’s a New Way to Find Articles

Reference Librarian Sarah Witte recently posted on the Butler Library blog about a new way to conduct article searches. This very fast “webscale discovery service” searches journals and newspapers, in both full-text and citations. The functionality allows you to limit the results by article type, publication date, subject term, and even language.

To get to this feature, click on the “Articles” tab on the Columbia University Libraries homepage (the tab will turn yellow.)  
Tips and tricks?
  • To search by author or journal title, use “Advanced Search”
  • Use quotation marks to search for an exact phrase: "feminization of poverty"
  • Look for terms in close proximity to each other: Searching "microfinance india"~20 will retrieve the terms microfinance and India within 20 words of one another
The previous "Find Articles" federated search engine is still available, but it is now referred to as Custom Search. Custom Search will still allow you to search topical sets of databases; to log in and create your own set of databases; or to save citations in folders for future use.  You can find it by searching for "Custom Search" as a database title.


Get More From Google Scholar with the Libraries

You can access the full-text journal and database content provided by Columbia University Libraries directly from Google Scholar. Just type the title of a journal article into Google Scholar and then link directly to Columbia’s full-text via "e-Link@Columbia."  



If you’re on campus and you search Google Scholar, you will automatically see the "e-link @ Columbia" when the content is available from the Libraries. If you’re off campus, there are a few ways to access Columbia Libraries’ content through Google Scholar.

  1. Use the Columbia view of Google Scholar to search, and click on "e-Link@Columbia"  to connect to the full text or articles provided by the Libraries, search CLIO, or request the item through Interlibrary Loan. (You can bookmark this link to connect to Columbia’s Google Scholar from any location.)
  2. Download the Columbia Google Scholar search plugin  from the Tools & Widgets page, and search Google Scholar from your browser’s tool bar.


  3. If you forget the link and you’re off campus, you can connect to the Columbia view of Google Scholar by starting your search at the databases page. Search for "Google Scholar" in the Find Databases search box, and connect!



CU Libraries on YouTubeEDU

The Columbia Libraries are now on the CU YouTube channel. Watch our Library Essentials video tutorials, an overview of our recent exhibition on the Andrew Alpern Collection of Drawing Instruments, seminars from the Oral History Workshops, the CDRS scholarly communication series Research Without Borders, or check out Murder in the Stacks.

Subscribe to the Columbia University Channel to get updates whenever new videos are posted.


Need Resources? Try a Subject Guide

Still looking for articles for a research paper? Subject guides are a great way to identify resources when writing a research paper or working on a class project.

A subject guide is a bibliography of (mostly) online resources for a particular subject area, for instance Women’s StudiesGraphic Novels, Sociology, Terrorism, or British History. These resources are selected by subject specialist librarians, who are experts in that subject area.


Of course, you can always Ask a Librarian if you have questions about your research.