About Eric Ames

Assistant Director for Marketing & Communication, Libraries and ITS and adjunct lecturer in Department of Museum Studies, Baylor University.

Baylor University's librarians provide crucial academic support for a thriving community of scholars, but what often goes unheralded is the amount of their own scholarly output that is generated every year in the form of articles, presentations, poster sessions and service on committees and panels. Recently, the Research & Engagement (R&E) group joined their colleagues in Delivery Services and the libraries' special collections to review some of the Baylor librarians' accomplishments for 2017 and to preview the upcoming year's impressive slate of academic activities. Take a look below to see some of the ways this diverse group of professionals is making an impact in the world of librarianship, academic research and the broader field of library science.

Individual Projects

  • Josh Been co-authored an article in Volume 36, 2017 of the Medical Reference Services Quarterly called “Using Maps to Promote Data-Driven Decision-Making: One Library's Experience in Data Visualization Instruction.” (Read the abstract here: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02763869.2017.1369292) He has also proposed a presentation, along with a collaborator at the University of Houston, for the University of Houston Conference on Hispanic Studies called “Understanding and Visualizing Latinx Experiences on Social Media.”


  • Clayton Crenshaw will present a poster at the MLA (Music Library Association) annual meeting in February called “Availability of New Releases in Streaming Audio Databases.”


  • Bruce Evans chairs the Online Audiovisual Catalogers (OLAC) Cataloging Policy Committee, where he presented about the formation of a new taskforce to create a unifying a best practices document in special format cataloging.  Bruce was also recently elected to the board of the Music Library Association.



  • Kara Long contributed a chapter titled “From Records to Data,” to be published in the upcoming book Technical Services: Adapting to the Changing Environment.


  • Pete Ramsey will be presenting a hands-on workshop to TLA (Texas Library Association) in April on using Trello for project management and how he’s used the software with students to guide them through the research process. Pete also has an article forthcoming in Public Services Quarterly called “The Professor-Librarian: Academic Librarians Teaching Credit-Bearing Courses.”


  • Mike Thompson presented at the Charleston conference in November along with Baylor’s EBSCO customer service representative called “’Mr. Watson–Come here–I want to see you.’ Upgrading Your Tech Support Communications.” The presentation focused on communication effectiveness between librarians and vendors; Mike plans to follow the presentation up with an article. Mike will also be presenting on a panel at TLA in April called “How to Run Trials for Electronic Resources: Workflows, Communication, Promotion, and Organizing Feedback.”


  • Sha Towers will present a virtual midwinter session for the ACRL Arts Section on arts-based outreach in the library, specifically what fellowships, exhibits and events librarians are putting on to highlight their arts collections and resources.


  • Sinai Wood continues her work with The Technical Report Archive & Image Library (TRAIL) which identifies, acquires, catalogs, digitizes and provides unrestricted access to U.S. government agency technical reports.  She provides regular information sessions to help members join the organization.


Joint Projects / Collaborations

  • Mike Thompson and Josh Been will present at the ER&L (Electronic Resources and Libraries) conference in March on a rubric for evaluating the data in subscription content for use in digital scholarship.  Their presentation is called “Drilling Down: Assessing Digital Scholarship Options Available through Commercial Vendors.”


  • Bill Hair and Josh Been will present at ATLA (American Theological Library Association) in June on collaborations to embed digital humanities into religious/theological studies.  Their presentation is called “Slave Narratives, the Bible and Hymns, Oh My … Religion Text Mining/Analysis as a Liaison Service.”


  • Eric Ames (chair) and Kara Long served on the planning committee for the 2018 Texas Conference on Digital Libraries (TCDL), sponsored by the Texas Digital Library.


  • Bill HairEileen Bentsen and Josh Been have proposed a poster for TLA in April called “Another Hammer in the Humanities Liaison’s Toolkit: Text Mining/Analysis” that will focus on a broader use of collaborations between liaisons and the digital humanities.


  • Amie Oliver and Josh Been have proposed a presentation for the SSA (Society of Southwest Archivists) conference in May called “Visualizing City Directories” about a digital scholarship project they are planning that integrates an 1886 map of Waco with the first Waco residential and business directory which will look at population concentration, age, religion, businesses and social networks.


  • Sinai Wood and Josh Been will present a seminar for Baylor’s Academy for Teaching and Learning’s Seminars in Excellence in Teaching in the spring called “Integrating Data Visualizations in the Classroom.”


  • Billie Peterson-Lugo and Christina Chan-Park will present at TLA in April on “Cultivating ORCIDs on your Campus.”


  • Allie McCormackSha TowersJennifer Borderud and Amie Oliver have proposed a participant-driven presentation for RBMS (Rare Books and Manuscripts Section of ACRL) in June called “Converging Collections: Collaborations Across Campus” on the many special collections collaborations they have been a part of across campus in partnership with different disciplines.


  • Allie McCormack and Sha Towers have proposed a poster for RBMS focused on using special collections in English composition classes.


  • Bruce Evans and Allison Yanos were a part of the committee that submitted the document “Core Competencies for Cataloging and Metadata Professional Librarians” that was accepted by ALCTS at ALA Midwinter. They have submitted an article about the process to the ALCTS journal Library Resources and Technical Services.

This list, while impressive on its own, is just a sampling of the many ways Baylor's librarians and library staff work each semester to support the academic endeavors of our campus and to forward the various fields in which they work. Their commitment to Baylor's success may be behind-the-scenes for many, but it is crucial to our university's long-term aims of attaining Tier 1 research status, and the libraries are committed to reaching even greater heights in 2018.

BANNED BOOKS WEEK 2017: Sept. 24 - Sept. 30

Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read.

Coordinated by the American Library Association (ALA), the week brings together a community of people and events to highlight the harms of censorship.

The Central Libraries is celebrating the freedom to read with some of our favorite faculty readers.  They’ve picked some of their favorite classics that have continued to be banned and challenged over the years. This video features Bill Hair, DeAnna Toten Beard, Tom Hanks and Lauren Weber.

BONUS video: Randy Umstead reads Atticus Finch's closing arguments speech from "To Kill a Mockingbird."

Keep reading for more information from ALA on this important topic.

Beth Farwell
Director, Central Libraries

Q: What is the difference between a challenge and a ban?

A: A challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group.  A banning is the removal of those materials.  Challenges do not simply involve a person expressing a point of view; rather, they are an attempt to remove material from the curriculum or library, thereby restricting the access of others.  Due to the commitment of librarians, teachers, parents, students and other concerned citizens, most challenges are unsuccessful and most materials are retained in the school curriculum or library collection.

Q: Why are books challenged?

A: Books usually are challenged with the best intentions—to protect others, frequently children, from difficult ideas and information. See our Notable First Amendment Cases page.

Censorship can be subtle, almost imperceptible, as well as blatant and overt, but, nonetheless, harmful. As John Stuart Mill wrote in On Liberty:

If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind. Were an opinion a personal possession of no value except to the owner; if to be obstructed in the enjoyment of it were simply a private injury, it would make some difference whether the injury was inflicted only on a few persons or on many. But the peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is, that it is robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error.


Archival boxes containing some of the Feuerstein Collection

The Baylor Libraries serve a wide range of users: students, faculty and staff of our fine university and the greater Central Texas area, for starters. In fact, almost a million visitors come into the Central Libraries buildings every year. But sometimes we get the opportunity to connect on a personal level with a patron, and in the case of a recent visit by Victor Kramer, it's a connection with a personal tie.

Mr. Kramer is the nephew of Thomas C. Feuerstein, a 1952 Baylor graduate and longtime theater, speech and drama instructor. Feuerstein's materials were donated to the Central Libraries Special Collections, and Mr. Kramer contacted Central Libraries Director Beth Farwell for a chance to see them in person. Beth, Victor, his wife Dewey and special collections manager Andrea Turner spent time last week looking through the collection of unique materials from Thomas Feuerstein's academic and professional career, including scrapbooks, personal correspondence and Baylor memorabilia from the 1950s.

We wanted to show off some photos of the meeting as a look into one of the many ways our Central Libraries interact with our patrons on a daily basis.

Beginning this week, the Central Libraries are now home to six new KIC self-service scanners, available in both Moody and Jones for our patrons' convenience. These easy-to-use scanners allow users to make digital images of books, papers, notes and other study materials directly to a USB memory stick. (And if you forget your flash drive, don't worry: you can check out a loaner from the TechPoint desk on Moody Garden Level! Or, purchase your own from our supplies vending machine on Moody 2nd floor.)

KIC scanner near the Moody 1st Floor circulation desk, August 2, 2017

The scanners were purchased using funds donated to the libraries to support our patrons' academic endeavors, and we are excited to offer them throughout the Central Libraries' two main buildings. They're designed to be user friendly and fast, but if you have any questions, feel free to stop by either buildings' circulation desk or the TechPoint desk for help.

KIC Scanning Stations in Moody and Jones

Moody Garden Level (near the Techpoint desk)
Full features, largest scanning bed, available during all "24 hour" periods

Moody 1st Floor
In front of the circulation desk

Moody 2nd Floor
Next to the BearCat quick look-up station in the elevator lobby

Moody 3rd Floor
At the top of stairwell, near the copier

Jones 1st Floor
Near the information desk, by VIA stations and the copier

Jones 2nd Floor
Near the restrooms, near the copier


Survey of religious studies scholars reveals many embrace 21st century study habits but are unsure how to utilize them.

Armstrong Browning Library - Stained Glass - Interior - 10/04/2013

In the early days of the Christian church, scholars would study sacred texts and handwritten epistles in cloistered, holy spaces, shielded from the outside world. A recent national study conducted by Ithaka S+R reveals that, in many ways, those early scholars’ modern contemporaries prefer to conduct their research in a similar way: with primary resources, in familiar spaces and without significant impediments between themselves and the Word.

Modern religious studies scholars find themselves with one foot in the old world and another in a rapidly evolving information landscape, with almost-instant access to a mass of raw data unimaginable to previous generations, and new resources coming online literally every day. And despite new avenues for data collection and dissemination, many scholars find themselves in the awkward position of feeling required to publish their findings in traditional print journals, a process dating back to the earliest days of scholarly publishing that can take months – sometimes even years - to complete.

Beginning in 2016, Baylor joined with 17 major institutions across the country in order to analyze the study habits of modern religious studies scholars. The results of the study were released under the title, “Supporting the Changing Research Practices of Religious Studies Scholars.” The research conducted with Baylor religious faculty was gathered by two scholars from the Baylor University Libraries: John G. Bales and John Robinson. Bales and Robinson interviewed faculty from the Baylor University Religion Department and the George W. Truett Theological Seminary, and the information gathered from those interviews was then anonymized and pooled with data from  the other participating institutions to create the source material for the report.

In many ways, the study’s findings on religious scholars reflect similar issues faced by other faculty in the humanities. Like their peers in history and art, for example, religious studies scholars find themselves facing a set of pressures different from faculty in the “hard sciences” — physics, chemistry or biology. The humanities scholar relies on access to primary sources that often reside in collections that are available only in physical form, necessitating travel to far-flung and occasionally poorly organized archives. Humanities scholars are often expected to present their findings in book-length form, rather than as stand-alone articles in peer-reviewed journals.

But even even as they knew the general landscape of the state of humanities research, Bales' and Robinson's research provided opportunities to gather new insights. As Bales put it, “On the one hand, it was thrilling for me to hear some of the intriguing, interdisciplinary areas of research that our faculty are exploring. Their research confirmed to me how essential the University Libraries are to their cutting-edge scholarship. Because of the Libraries’ robust print and electronic collections, the Libraries are prepared to serve the current needs of our faculty and students.

“On the other hand,” Bales continued, “I also realized that due to the interdisciplinary nature of current research, I needed to become better equipped to handle the way that I was supporting their research.”

Bales’ sense of needing to do more to assist his faculty charges is not unique. The Ithaka S+R study revealed that a majority of religious studies scholars felt overwhelmed with new avenues for finding primary and secondary sources in their field of study. Beyond a simple Google or Google Scholar search, some only felt comfortable navigating a small set of online databases with which they worked on a regular basis; new resources and tools like data analysis sites were viewed as too difficult to master for a limited return on the time invested.

Robinson reported that one faculty member said, “We are really getting past the point where you can have one scholar writing a monograph about something…. There’s too much for one person to undertake, too much data, too much information.” But there is an upside: this feeling of inadequacy can be seen as an openness to collaboration, both with library and information specialists but also with faculty from other disciplines whose expertise can augment the religious scholars’ work.

Beth Farwell, Director of Central Libraries, said of the study, “It’s a perfect example of the new roles the library plays in the academy.  Libraries are partnering with scholars and colleagues to research and master interdisciplinary research methods, new technologies, economic impacts, scholarly publishing trends, and digital literacy.  I’m proud of our Baylor Libraries professionals for their participation in this important national study that helps identify methods for supporting our Baylor faculty.”

Read the full Ithaka S+R Report


Read the report of Baylor’s study findings