Author Archives: Jill Spreitzer

Government Documents and Government Information at UDM

bigger fdlpThe University of Detroit Mercy houses a collection of federal government documents in print, microfiche, and tangible electronic format (CD-ROMs and DVDs). It also provides access to titles available online through the Government Printing Office (GPO). These resources are available not only to students, faculty, staff, and administrators of the University, but also by federal law to anyone else who may wish to consult them.

The University has the distinction of having been a selective depository library since 1884. A selective depository is not required to collect, or provide online access to, every single document published by the federal government, but tailors its collection according to the needs of its users. There are, however, regional depository libraries throughout the United States that are mandated to do just that. Besides maintaining as comprehensive a collection as possible within their own four walls, these regional depositories “oversee” selective depositories in each state to ensure that an adequate number of copies (or adequate online access to) documents and other government information in a given geographic area. The University of Minnesota is currently the regional depository for all selective depository libraries in Michigan as well as those in Minnesota and South Dakota.

Included in the University’s depository print and microfiche collection are Census files from 1960 through 1990; publications from the National Library of Medicine going back several decades; and publications from NASA dating back to the early days of the space program.

The classification system for government documents is known as the Superintendent of Documents Classification Scheme, or SuDoc for short. Whereas book, videos, etc. are usually classified by subject, author, or title in the Dewey and Library of Congress classification systems; SuDoc classifies titles by the issuing body (NASA, for example). Other types of punctuation besides the period (.) are used in this system; capitalization and the use of spaces within a SuDoc number are also very important. Here is a link to the basic SuDoc Classification scheme, and additional information about it:

The print documents that that University has available in tangible format and classified in SuDoc are housed in the electric compact shelving that faces east in the lower level. CD-ROMs and DVDs are in a set of drawers immediately south of that shelving. Microfiche is kept in several filing cabinets along the south and southwest walls, behind the electric compact shelving for books and serials classified under H.

Depository libraries have the flexibility of classifying government documents under a different classification system to allow for greater accessibility. Many of the print documents that are part of the University’s depository collection are classified with Library of Congress numbers and shelved among other titles with those numbers.

Documents available on the Internet will have URLs indicated when found as part of a search via the library online catalog (whether in the building or on a computer at home). Simply clicking on these URLs should bring up the full text of the publication. (Contrary to rumor, Google has NOT cataloged the entire collection of government documents.)

If you have any questions about the University’s government documents collection; or need help locating a government resource; you may contact Kris McLonis by phone (313-578-0457) or email (

Choosing a Topic for a Research Paper

Do you need to write a research paper this semester, but you can’t think of an intriguing topic to research? Several of the library databases have lists of current topics, from affirmative action to video games, with links to relevant newspaper and/or journal articles.

Open the Newsbank database and you’ll see links to current topics in the left-hand frame.  There are also quite a few special reports, which include background articles, statistics, maps, images and websites, on selected topics. The Opposing Viewpoints in Context database also lists many current topics with links to various viewpoints from newspaper articles, journal articles, statistics, maps and primary sources.Topic

If you are a visual learner, try the topic finder visualization wheel in the Academic OneFile database.  Broad topics are located in the center of the wheel, while more specific topics are on the outer edges.  This database also shows trending articles, with more popular topics in red and orange, and less popular topics in green or yellow.

Online encyclopedias also provide a wide range of topics, including background information and references.  Find an encyclopedia by typing “encyclopedia” into the search box on the library home page,


and clicking the “View It” link under any title that has the “Online access” symbol.  You can then browse through some of the topics to see if any grab your attention.


 Scanning through your textbook may also give you more ideas for possible topics.

To focus your topic, try using the five W’s.  For example, WHO does the topic involve or affect- do you want to focus on one group?  WHEN has the topic been relevant- do you want to compare time periods or examine just one?  WHAT are the major points of debate or perspectives on your topic? WHERE is your topic important- at a local or national level?  WHY is the topic important or interesting to you?

You can also look at the articles and information you find on your topic– if you find too many, you may need to narrow your focus, but if you find too few, try broadening your perspective.

Finally, if you have trouble finding information on your topic, remember that your UDM librarians are available to help!

Jill Spreitzer, Librarian

Finding Information about the Zika Virus

mosquitoAs the 2016 summer Olympic Games in Rio approach, athletes and fans are looking for reliable information on the Zika virus and what risks it may pose to them as they travel to Brazil.  A great source for accessible information on health topics is the National Institute of Health’s MedlinePlus website, which includes easy-to-understand information on diseases, medical conditions, prescription and nonprescription drugs, and clinical trials.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control’s Zika Virus website includes detailed information on Zika prevention, transmission and risks, and symptoms, diagnosis and treatment.  It also has specialized resources for travelers, pregnant women, healthcare providers (including clinical guidelines, testing algorithms and a Zika pregnancy registry), and even mosquito control professionals.  Resources for travelers include travel notices, maps showing current Zika cases, and guidelines for travelers who plan to visit areas with Zika.

As athletes and travelers return from areas affected by the Zika virus, health professionals will also want to be prepared with current and authoritative information.  The Zika Virus Health Information Resource Guidecoordinated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is updated daily with information from both U.S. and international agencies and organizations such as the World Health Organization, the American Nurses Association, and the American Public Health Association.  It also includes links to PubMed articles, and information on research and funding, clinical trials, and free resources from publishers for medical responders.

UDM students can find even more information on the Zika virus in the library’s databases.  Try Academic OneFile and OmniFile Full Text for general information, and InfoTrac Newsstand for newspapers articles from around the world.  Students in the health professions might want to search Ebsco databases including CINAHL, Health Source: Nursing Academic Edition, and Health Business Elite.  If you still can’t find what you are looking for, make sure to ask one of our helpful librarians.

Jill Spreitzer, librarian

April is National Poetry Month

poetry month

Take a few moments this month to relax with some of your favorite poems, or to discover some new ones.  Stop by the UDM McNichols campus library to pick up volumes of recent Pulitzer prize winners including Gregory Pardlo’s Digest, Vijay Seshadri’s 3 Sections, and Tracy K. Smith’s Life on Mars.  For something closer to home, check out Roses and Revolutions, by Dudley Randall, who served as a poet-in-residence in 1969 at what was then the University of Detroit.

The library also offers online poetry, such as The New Anthology of American Poetry, or, if you are pressed for time, how about some online haiku?  You could also subscribe to the digital poem-a-day poetry series, or take a look at A Work Day in Hard Times, a blog by UDM’s own Fr. Staudenmaier, which includes daily poems and mic

Finally, if you would like to listen to local poets or work on or share your own poetry, make sure to visit the Grounds coffeehouse on campus on Sunday, April 17th from 3:00pm to 6:00pm for the Broadside Lotus Press Poets’ Theatre.  The afternoon will start with a poetry workshop, followed by an open mic session from 4:30-6:00.


Jill Spreitzer, Librarian




Dewey or Not Dewey: That is the Classification

When you use the UDM Library regularly and faithfully – and you really should; ; after all, you’re paying for it – the day will inevitably come when you will need to find a physical book in the physical shelf in the physical building. Sorry, but not everything is on the Internet just yet. They’re still making room for cat videos and those vacation photos you wish weren’t there.

debateWhen that day does come, you will notice that the UDM Libraries do not use the Good Ol’ Dewey Decimal System you’re used to seeing. It may come as unpleasant shock so know that our system for classification – arranging materials by subject matter – was devised by Congress.



OK, it’s not that bad. Library of CongressWe’re not talking about the politicians on Capitol Hill, but the Good People at the Library of Congress (LC). These are not just skilled librarians, but also scholars with advanced degrees in their subject areas. The only filibusters they deal with are the ones in JK 1021.

Why not use the simple Dewey numbers instead of LC’s complicated mishmash of letters and numbers? Because university libraries do not serve the same purposes or collect the same sorts of materials as public libraries. They are generally much larger, and collect more specialized materials in support of their academic curriculums. The LC System is more flexible in arranging such information because it can be more easily expanded.

Take, for example, the subject of chess. The Public Library probably has a few general books on the subject, under the number:


            This number will cover a wide range of chess materials, and indeed might be used for everything. An academic library, on the other hand, might have a larger collection with more specific subject matter; for instance,

GV       GV       GV       GV       GV       GV

1439    1445    1450    1451    1451.3 1455


            For, respective, biographies, general works, openings, middle games, end games, and tournaments.

This method of expandability ability to accommodate more specific subjects is also available in Dewey but only by adding agits to the base number. This can quickly become a nightmare for users, not to mention book shelvers and labelers. For example, a journal  about chess in Quebec would be simply GV 1314 in the LC system; with Dewey, it would be 794.1060714281. And that’s just the start. I’ve seen Dewey numbers with over 25 digits.

Finding books on the shelf using the LC System is actually easy; just go one line at a time, and you’ll get there with little trouble. Explaining the system is another matter, and perhaps best left for another blog post.


David Moody, Librarian

Scary Reading

new try

Halloween is creeping up on us, and the UDM McNichols Campus Library has an alarming assortment of hair-raising and spine-chilling books, poems, short stories and eBooks to put you in the mood for Halloween.

shining 2If you feel like writing papers is driving you a little crazy, pick up a copy of The Shining by Stephen King.

If working through the rest of your assignments feel like a series of trials and tribulations, read about Joseph K.’s disquieting experience in The Trial by Franz Kafka.

You can try (in vain) to escape to a quiet house in the country by reading The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson and Ghost Stories of an Antiquary by M. R. James. pumpkin

Listen to the calming sounds of nature, but look to the sky and beware the The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe and the bat swooping in, searching for your throat in Dracula by Bram Stoker–

Or leave nature behind and enter the world of the supernatural and the undead in The Monkey’s Paw by W. W. Jacobs and The Exorcist by William Blatty.

Happy Haunting!

Jill Spreitzer, Librarian Consultant


Help for your Hobbies

gardenNow that the semester is winding down, and there are several weeks before classes begin again, it’s a great time to think about relaxing with your favorite hobbies.  Whether you enjoy working on classic cars, cooking up a storm, traveling, or something completely different, the UDM Library has databases with helpful and interesting information on just about everything.

  •  For the classic car enthusiast or anyone who wants to save money repairing their own car, this database includes step-by-step service and repair instructions, vacuum and wiring diagrams, and close-up photos for thousands of cars with makes and models spanning 30 years.

  • Culinary Arts Collection  This database includes recipes, restaurant reviews, and journal articles on cooking and nutrition.   pan

  • Fine Arts & Music Collection  Students and professionals can find fascinating information and articles on drama, music, art history and films by searching or browsing this database.

  • HeritageQuest   Explore your family history by looking through this database, which includes census rolls, slave records, revolutionary war sources, local history books, and veterans records.

  • Home Improvement Collection    This database includes do-it-yourself instructions, tips on selecting tools and materials, and even zoning information for anyone working on a modern or historic home.

  • Pop Culture Collection   This wide-ranging collection covers various aspects of modern arts and culture including sources such as the New Yorker, Billboard, and Film Journal International.

Jill Spreitzer, Librarian

DemographicsNow: Finding a Job or Starting Your Own Business

locationIf you’re planning ahead and thinking about where you want to apply for a job after you graduate, or if you have developed the business and leadership skills to start your own business instead, DemographicsNow can help you get started.

DemographicsNow, one of the UDM Library’s subscription databases, contains information on over 23 million businesses as well as consumer and demographic information on millions of possible customers. Job seekers can quickly and easily get information on all of the businesses based on business type, size and location or within a certain driving distance. The information includes contact names, addresses and phone numbers, so that job seekers know where to send resumes and the database makes it easy to make custom maps showing where the different businesses are located.

Entrepreneurs can use the same tools to locate competitors and potential customers in different locations. Entrepreneurs can check to see how much each household in a region spent on a particular type of product or service during the last year, and they can even see how many similar businesses failed in the same region, giving them a heads up that a certain location might not support their business venture.

To get to DemographicsNow, go to the library homepage at and click on the “Articles, Journals, + Databases” tab in the middle of the page.

articles tab


Click on the letter “D” in the alphabet that appears, then click on the first link:



Click on the View Our Tutorials link for step-by-step videos that can help guide your job search or business plan.




As always, contact a librarian for more details or help.

Jill Spreitzer, Librarian

Not Like Pulling Teeth: A Brief Introduction to Advanced Searching in the Catalog

nailThe implements in your toolbox can be used in many ways, but are best suited for specific jobs. You can hammer nails with a screwdriver, but there has to be a better way.

A research tool such as the UDM Library Catalog works the same way. You can use just a single implement with a One Size Fits All approach, but there may be more effective ways.

To illustrate, let’s forget about research for a minute and consider a real life situation. It’s time for your two-year-old to make that first visit to the UDM Dental School for a check-up. The Little Darling doesn’t know exactly what is going on, but every instinct is telling them to scream bloody murder, and they are doing so. You decide this is the perfect time to calm them down in the soothing atmosphere of a library, and wonder if the one at the Dental School might have some material to help amuse them.

So you get out your Machine of Choice and got to the UDM Catalog and search for “Dentist” and get 365 entries.

dentist 2



This is going to have to be scaled down a bit. You’ve got a panicky two-year-old on your hands, after all.limit dental

There’s a little box on the right of the screen that says “Limit by”, so you select “Dental Library“.



This knocks you down to 279 entries, and the first few don’t look promising. Again you click the Limit by box, and now you see juvenileJuvenile Collections”. That sounds distinctly promising!



Now you’re down to just five results, featuring such upstanding citizens as Barney or the Berenstain Bears visiting their dentists. The day is saved, and the kid is lulled into a happy slumber that hopefully lasts throughout the rest of the ordeal.

Now, that was a lot of work because you didn’t choose the best tool for the job. In this case, using the Advanced Search allows such limiting in just one step.

advanced dentist

On the Advanced Search screen, are several sets of boxes. advanced screen 2

Those at the top provide the same types of search options as appear on the general screen. However, one advantage of the Advanced Search is that more than one type of search can be done at the same time, which can help narrow search results to the most relevant areas. Plain keyword can be so broadening.


The boxes in the middle will refine or limit the search by location (McNichols, Dental, Online, etc.), or to one of the Libraries’ special collections (Juvenile, Architecture, DVD, etc.).


The unfortunate part is that effective use of the Advance Search requires thought and planning. But hey, this is research, and it never hurts to focus and refine your ideas before getting started. And think back to the home workshop. Instead of just grabbing the first screwdriver that comes to hand, you consider which one to use based on the situation. Even your two-year-old knows that.


David Moody, Librarian

Primary vs. Secondary Sources

german docOccasionally one of your professors may ask you to write a paper citing primary sources. A primary source is a document, recording or physical object that conveys a first-hand account or direct evidence of an event or time period. Primary sources also include publications (often journal articles) which report results of or data from original research. (Note: digital, microform or published copies of original materials can still be considered primary sources as long as their content is unchanged)

Primary sources can include:

  • Diaries, interviews, memoirs, oral histories, and letters from first-hand observers
  • Video and sound recordings and photographs
  • Government documents such as birth or marriage certificates, census records, and trial transcripts
  • Maps
  • Physical artifacts such as medals, clothing,and tapestries
  • Survey research such as market surveys or opinion polls
  • Journal articles revealing the results of original research

Secondary sources are produced after an event occurs by someone who was not present during the event. They often cite primary sources and attempt to interpret, evaluate or analyze original sources.

Examples of Secondary sources include:

  • History textbooks
  • Encyclopedias
  • Commentaries, criticisms and analyses
  • Biographies and bibliographies

To find primary sources in the library catalog, do a keyword search for your topic and add one of the following words:

  • Diary
  • Memoir
  • Autobiography
  • Correspondence
  • Personal narrative
  • Speech
  • Oral history
  • Interview
  • Manuscript
  • Ask one of the friendly librarians if you need additional help.

    Jill Spreitzer, Librarian

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