Author Archives: Karl Ericson

Ta-Nehisi Coates – Between the World and Me

Ta-Nehisi Coates will be delivering the keynote presentation, “Between the World and Me” at 6:30 pm on April 4th, at Calihan Hall. Don’t miss out on this rare opportunity to be in the presence of, and listen to one of the most thoughtful and challenging voices speaking and writing today.

In a recent piece in The Atlantic Tressie McMillan Cottom writes, “in The Atlantic, Coates is a cross between a public historian and a public sociologist.” Ta-Nehisi Coates is a regular contributor to The Atlantic, a comic book writer, and the author of two full length books. His prose has received high praise from the fields of journalism and literature, receiving many awards in the process. His seminal piece on reparations is one of the most accessed essays on The Atlantic Website and he has famously been compared to James Baldwin.


From The MacArthur Foundation - MacArthur Fellows | Meet the Class of 2015


UCLA Library Guide – Be sure to check out the timeline of resources related to Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me

UCLA also put together a very useful guide for facilitators and a succinct list of possible discussion questions for those who’ve read the book.

The University of Oregon chose Between the World and Me as a common read and put together a Reading Resources Guide to help their community navigate the theme’s and issues discussed in the book.

Ta’Nehisi Coates On His Work and the Painful Process of Getting Conscious : NPR Author Interviews


Between the World and Me (2015) (Read and excerpt published in The Atlantic)

The Case for Reparations (2014)

All Stories by Ta’Nehisi Coates – The Atlantic

  The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood (2009)

Two Incredible Databases You Might Not Have Heard About


I wanted to take this opportunity to highlight two very important and very interesting databases from Alexander Street Press. Black Thought and Culture, and Black Women Writers. These two databases represent the very best from this publisher and offer a deep and wide expanse of non-fiction and fiction literature from Africans, and the African Diaspora. In Black Thought and Culture there are over 1,300 sources including ebooks, interviews, journal articles, speeches, essays, pamphlets, and letters from more than 1,200 authors. In Black Women Writers there are more than 50,000 pages of poetry and prose from over 1,200 authors representing three continents and 20 countries giving unparalleled views of black women’s struggles through time.

Whether you’re looking for sources for your latest sociology assignment, or you’re exploring options for your African American Studies Minor, these two databases offer a wealth of knowledge and information from authors known and unknown. Both databases offer easily intuited browsing features, while also offering search capabilities that reach deep into the texts of each record. Explore these two resources and prepare to be astounded by the richness of their offerings.



When Work Becomes a Calling

What does it mean to have a meaningful work-life? Is it possible to find meaning in any kind of work? When does work become a calling? Or is a calling something other than work? In the book Callings: The Purpose and Passion of Work, David Isay, the founder of StoryCorps, pCallingsresents numerous stories compiled over the years that get at some of these questions. This is StoryCorps fifth book of compiled interviews based on a theme.

In an interview with Democracy Now Mr. Isay said, “I’ve always believed that the power of an authentic story, of people talking—StoryCorps is the opposite of reality TV. No one comes to get rich. No one comes to get famous. It’s an act of generosity and love. And a story, honestly told, has the ability, I think, to build bridges of understanding between people that’s unparalleled.” During this same interview several excerpts from StoryCorps Animation were presented and the history of how they were developed was discussed. What becomes clear through both words and images is that the diversity of our stories adds strength to our compassion. By truly listening to these stories we can deepen our commitment to recognize, cherish and honor our shared humanity.


In the Aftermath of Violence


At times events unfold that reveal the true nature of violence. Whether it be sanctioned and justified, or punished and condemned, few would argue that the aftermath is complex and full of emotion.

There is room for understanding realities vastly unfamiliar to our own, but it means that we will be uncomfortable. It means being forced out of our comfort zone and into the realms of the unfamiliar where it may seem as if there is little to go on, little to fall back on, little to hold on to to keep our bearings. It’s in this place of unfamiliarity, discomfort, and awkwardness that we must rely on and trust in the words, instincts, feelings, and intuitions of those that we may have felt, or assumed were “others”. We must trust in their experienced realities. We need to hear their hearts fully and empathize with them.

This is the context in which the documentary film P.S. I Can’t Breathe was created and the context in which it should be watched. Rather than seeing the death of Eric Garner as an isolated incident it should be viewed within the framework of longstanding tensions with the New York Police Department due to allegations of misconduct and brutality towards African-American communities. It’s an incident that highlights the stark divide between those who are oppressed by the various sociopolitical rules, regulations, and institutions that uphold white supremacy and those who benefit directly from the status quo.



Research & Information Services


Have you ever noticed those people sitting at the desk with the sign over it that reads “Research & Information Services”? Have you ever noticed that sign? Have you ever wondered why those people are sitting there? At the reference deskWell, the people sitting at the Research & Information Services desk are faculty librarians and they can help with a lot more than just selling you a scantron, of course we’re happy to do that too!

Librarians are research specialists that can assist you with many things including:

  • Finding print and electronic resources using the library catalog
  • Locating print resources in the library using the Library of Congress Call number
  • Accessing and locating articles using the library’s research databases (on or off campus!)
  • Developing a search strategy to quickly get you to the best results
  • Scheduling a one-on-one research instruction meeting in a specific subject area
  • Coordinating with faculty to develop class specific instruction session

Maybe most importantly, know that you can always Ask a Librarian, whether in person, by chat, email, or phone. We’ll do our best to find the answer to your question.

Find What You Need With MelCat

MelCat Image

Have you heard about MeLCat, the statewide library catalog that provides access to materials from hundreds of libraries across Michigan? Maybe you already know how easy it is to request a book that you can’t find in one of the UDM libraries? The easiest way to search MelCat is to go to and then from the Michigan eLibrary homepage select MelCat on the right. You can search for books, movies & cd’s, greatly expanding your options for supplemental, educational and entertainment materials.

Once you’ve found an item you want it’s as simple as:

  1. Select the “Get This For Me!” button
  2. In the dropdown menu under “Which library card/account do you want to use?” select University of Detroit Mercy
  3. Enter your full name
  4. Enter you library card number as it appears on your UDM ID – It’s the 14 digits directly under the photo, starting with 217xxxxxxxxxxx
  5. Select the Submit button

The truly beautiful thing about this whole process is that it is relatively fast and doesn’t cost you a thing! You should receive an email in your university account when the materials are available for checkout. Take advantage of this amazing resource!

Don’t Stress Over Citations!

Drummer Boy MilitaryI hope by now that it’s been drummed into your heads, the need to properly document where, and how you found the information that you’re using within your papers. If it’s not common knowledge, and is not of your own creation; i.e. the words and ideas are those of another person, or organization, then you need to give proper credit. Citing where those words and ideas originally came from, where they were published, what journal, magazine, or website, can often seem like a daunting task. But, rest assured, the staff of the library are here to help.

If you’re getting into some deep research, or maybe you just want a powerful tool that can help keep track of your sources and create entire bibliographies, then check out RefWorks. RefWorks is a web-based database and bibliography creator. RefWorks users can import references from online databases and use these references in writing their papers and automatically format the bibliography and paper in seconds. When signing up for your individual account, you will need to use your UDM email address and the following group code: RWUDetroitMer. It might be worth your time to check out some of the available tutorials.

You might be thinking to yourself, “That’s great! But, I don’t really need all that.” So…maybe you just want something that can help generate correct citations in the format of your choice. Then try out one of these:

Lastly, you can Ask A Librarian. But please, please don’t consider your friendly librarian the last resort! Librarians can be invaluable in helping you find resources, and in helping you document those sources. Good luck and hope to see you at the reference desk.

Social Media, White Privilege, and Racial Justice

Social media of varying sorts has been highly influential in documenting and reporting many recent incidents where police have used excessive, or deadly force. Read about this growing trend in the book Cop Watch: Spectators, Social Media, and Police Reform.  Social media continues to quickly spread the news, sometimes faster than the mass media, and sometimes when the mass media is unable, or unwilling to make the effort. Are you interested in leveraging social media for your personal, business, or organizational goals? Take a look at some of the resources available in the library’s collection:

AudienceAudience: Marketing in the Age of Subscribers, Fans, and Followers

SpreadableSpreadable Media: Creating Value and Meaning in a Networked Culture

In light of the continued troubles going on in Ferguson Missouri and the many other incidents that take place regularly around our country there has begun to be a renewed interest in what it means to have white privilege, a renewed interest in discussing how we can achieve racial justice. The library can help you get a handle on these ideas. What does it mean to have “white privilege”? Is it possible to achieve “racial justice”? What do these things look like and what are the desirable and undesirable outcomes, if any? So many questions! If you can’t find what you’re looking for on your own you can always ask a librarian for help.

African American Studies at UDM

AASHave you ever thought about exploring African American Studies? Curious about what that even means? Don’t know where to start looking? Well, one place to begin an exploration would b to take a look at the homepage for the African American Studies Program. Here you’ll find a complete description of the program, the certificate, links to requirements, program history, and events.

Interim Director of AAS Terri Laws, MA, MDiv

Interim Director of AAS Terri Laws, MA, MDiv

“African American Studies at UDM is a multidisciplinary program that promotes the understanding of the African-American experience through scholarship, service learning, and cultural events.”

Another place to look is the AAS research guide created by your friendly UDM Librarian. It’s a great place to get an introduction to the many aspects of African American Studies, both at UDM, in the City of Detroit, and the country at large. As well, you can always contact your librarian to ask questions, schedule one-on-one consultation, offer suggestions and feedback. We’d love to hear from you!

Take a Break and Have a Movie Night!

Day 231: "Movie night"
You don’t need to have Netflix account to find popular and classic movies for your entertainment pleasure! You can get some great titles for free by searching the McNichols Library catalog. Here are a few steps to take that can help you locate some interesting movies:

1. Your home base for all library resources is always so start there

2. Select the tab titled Books, eBooks, + DVDs

3. Before typing anything into the search box, make sure to select the DVDs only button under the search box. KeywDVDCircled

4. Now try searching for a keyword.

  • Drama returned 2,488 results
  • Comedy returned 662 results
  • And  action returned 381 results

5. You can also search for specific actors, directors, titles, or specific collections like the Criterion Collection. Searching for criterion collection returns 31 results and you can be guaranteed that these are highly acclaimed classics that have stood the test of time. You can also search for television series which returns 538 results.

Whether you want to explore some of the great movies of the past, modern day classics, or some of the latest television and movie titles, the UDM library has something for everyone.

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