Librarian Eric Rumsey retires | 35 years of service @Hardin Library

photo of Eric Rumsey

photo of Eric RumseyEric Rumsey, one of Hardin Library’s most senior employees, retired on April 3, 2017.

As Web Services Librarian, Eric most recently worked on Hardin Libraries Twitter @hardinlib, and conducted research on searching PubMed and Embase for plant-based foods and other nutrition-related topics.  He also taught classes on library resources such as Embase and provided reference services.

Eric was an internet pioneer, building and maintaining Hardin Meta Directory (HardinMD), an early subject directory of quality health information that later included pictures. Hardin MD pictures were used for teaching, research and in many publications.  Hardin Meta Directory was one of the top 5 sites for consumer health information in the late 1990s.  Hardin MD will be retired on June 30, 2017 with Eric’s blessing.

Eric had degrees in botany from Earlham College and Indiana University, and a MLS from Indiana University.  His interest in botany led to his research and writing on plant-based nutrition and foods.

Eric is staying in Iowa City and will spend his retirement with his family, reading and gardening.  He and his wife Christine are anxiously awaiting the arrival of their first grandchild in August.



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Spring + Earth Month + Gardening = Composting!

It’s spring and for many that means gardening!

Most of us have at least heard of compost, but we really may not know much about how it helps the soil, what should – and should not – go into compost and how to effectively use it once we have it!

So. What is compost? Put simply it is decayed – and decaying – organic matter which improves the soil structure and has other benefits for plants. Humus, on the other hand, is well-decomposed plant and animal matter that resembles dark coffee grounds. It is aromatic, lightweight, and spongy – allowing it to hold water. The terms ‘humus’ and ‘compost’ are sometimes used interchangeably.

Why is composting important? Compost does much to increase the health of the soil. It increases the number of microorganisms in the soil, which in turn boosts the number of bacteria, fungi, and other organisms which become food for predators. The soil microbes help protect your plants from pests and diseases. For detailed information on all the benefits composting provides check out How to Make and Use Compost : The Ultimate Guide.

Don’t have space for a compost bin? Make one sized for the kitchen!

Did you know there are different types of composting?

Heat (or thermophilic) composting uses the heat released by microorganisms as they break down organic matter. When the compost heats up sufficiently it will kill weed seeds and pathogens. Cool composting may take 6 to 12 months (or longer) to produce usable compost, but has the advantage of needing no maintenance. Even without turning and adding moisture the (cold-loving) microorganisms will continue to break down the refuse.

Then there is vermicompost – a compost pile where certain worm species are used to consume and convert the organic matter into useful organic fertilizer. Vermicomposting can even be done in a simple indoor, household worm bin (yes, really!). There is also sheet composting – simply spreading your organic matter on top of the soil in sheets, where it then decomposes right where you need it.

There are several ways to contain the compost. Building a box or fenced in area is a nice way – if you have the space.

You may purchase compost bins – including ones that are meant to be turned and rotated – to help keep the compost aerated. However, purchased bins can be expensive. Don’t despair! If you’d like to begin composting but don’t have much space or money, here’s an easy DIY for you! The video, below, shows an easy way to make a compost bin using a garbage can. It is recommended that you put your new compost bin on cement blocks to let the air circulate through the holes in the bottom. The gentleman presenting the video talks about a 50/50 ratio of brown to green. For more information about what that means check out the paragraph about what goes into a compost bin!

Want to try vermicomposting (that’s the one with worms, remember!) 50 Green Projects for the Evil Genius will walk you through setting up your very own worm compost bin!

Now. What goes into your compost pile or bin?

You may hear that there is a desired ratio of “browns and greens” when composting. But what does that mean? Better terminology would be “high nitrogen” (green) and “low nitrogen” (brown). The terms “brown” and “green” are helpful, however. Browns are plant material that are, well, brown. Fall leaves, wood products, straw… And greens are, well, green. Fresh grass clippings, freshly picked weeds, and most kitchen scraps (even if they aren’t green….).  For more complete information about the C:N ratio (carbon to nitrogen) check out Compost, Vermicompost, and Compost Tea : Feeding the Soil on the Organic Farm.

What Goes In the Compost Pile? Kern County Waste Management.

There are things that should not go into a compost pile – don’t add meat scraps and bones – they attract rodents, and no one wants that! Surprisingly, it is recommended you don’t add citrus peels or onions! Onions and citrus are both acidic and can kill the worms and microorganisms on which your compost pile relies.  You’ll also want to be wary of composting weeds – you don’t want to replant them when you use the compost! Lay them out in the sun (on a shed roof, a drying frame, etc.) and when they are brown, dry, and brittle – toss them in your compost bin!

There are so many things that can be composted – shredded paper bags, stale crackers and cereal, used paper plates (without a wax coating), wine corks and toothpicks, old cotton or wool clothing (cut into small pieces), newspapers …. For a lengthy list check out 100 Things You Can (and Should) Compost.

Okay. That’s a lot of info about composting. So, what do you DO with all the compost you’ve been diligently making?

Just as there are differing types of compost piles and bins, there are different types of gardening. There are conventionally dug gardens (gardens in which the soil is turned by fork, spade, rototiller…) and no-dig gardens (which are just that – gardens in which you do not turn the soil).

There are advantages to the no-dig garden – besides the fact it is less work! For one thing, you don’t disrupt the earthworm aeration tunnels, nor do you slice the worms in half! By digging your garden you increase the amount of oxygen in the soil which oxidizes more of the carbon which causes carbon dioxide to be released into the atmosphere.

Don’t neglect your potted plants – add compost to them, too!


In both types of gardens you can use compost as mulch and top dressing around growing plants. You can also use mulch on plants in containers – including indoor houseplants! If you are interested in learning how to make your own potting mixes check out How to Make and Use Compost : The Ultimate Guide. There are also instructions for compost specifically for cuttings and seeds.



Now, go out and start that compost pile! Before you know it you’ll have great compost and a beautiful, lush garden!


Cromell, Cathy. 2010. Composting for dummies. Hoboken, NJ : Wiley ; Chichester : John Wiley, distributor.  Engineering Library S661 .C76 2010

Scott, Nicky. 2009. How to make compost : the ultimate guide. Totnes : Green Books. Engineering Library S661 .S3 2009

McKay, Kim, Jenny Bonnin. 2009. True green home : 100 inspirational ideas for creating a green environment at home. Washington, DC : National Geographic Society. Engineering Library TH4860 .M25 2009

Shariff, Jamil. 2009. 50 green projects for the evil genius. New York : McGraw-Hill. Engineering Library GE195 .S47 2009

Gershuny, Grace; Jocelyn Langer, illustrator. 2011. Compost, vermicompost, and compost tea : feeding the soil on the organic farm. White River Junction, VT : Chelsea Green Pub. Engineering Library S661 .G45 2011

Bloom, Jonathan. Sept. 15, 2011. Americans Waste enough Food to Fill a 90,000-seat Football Stadium Every Day – What Can We Do About It? Alternet : Food.

Pavlis, Robert. March 18, 2015. How to Compost: Browns & Greens.  Garden Myths – Learn the truth about gardening.

Gifford, Dawn. 100 Things You Can (And Should) Compost. Small Footprint Family : sustainability starts at home. Date Accessed: April 18, 2017

Gifford, Dawn. 10 Things You Should Not Put In Your Compost Pile.Small Footprint Family : sustainability starts at home. Date Accessed: April 18, 2017

Vanderlinden, Colleen. April 9, 2017. Composting Weeds : Dos, Don’ts, and Things to Watch Out For. The Spruce : Home Composting

Gonzalez, Ramon. May 7, 2012. The Do’s and Don’ts of Backyard Composting.  Treehugger : Sustainability with SASS.

Jabs, Matt. Kitchen Compost Bucket – DIY, Easy, and Frugal. DIYNatural. Date Accessed: April 19, 2017

Hayden, Scott. Oct. 5, 2013. Around the Home: #3 Trashcan Composter.

Recycling : Backyard Composting. 2017. Kern County Waste Management.

Other Resources:

Flowerdew, Bob. Composting. 2012. New York : Skyhorse Pub. Engineering Library S661 .F56 2012

Haynes, Chip. 2009. Wearing smaller shoes : living light on the big blue marble. Gabriola Island, BC : New Society Pub. Engineering Library GE 196 .H39 2009

Backyard Abundance. 2017. Johnson County, Iowa. Backyard Abundance.

Winter, Catherine. May 23, 2016.  DIY: turn an old garbage can into a backyard compost bin. inhabitat.

Pham, Diane. Jan. 15, 2013. How to Start an Odor-Free Freezer Compost Bin as a City or Small Space Dweller. inhabitat



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Got to measure scholarly impact? H-index, Impact factors, Eigenfactor | Workshop Tuesday, April 25, 1-2pm @Hardin Library

Xiaomei Gu, Clinical Education Library, Adjunct Professor, College of Pharmacy

This class will teach participants how to use tools such as Ulrich’s, Journal Citation Reports, Web of Science, and Scopus to determine the impact that journals, articles, and authors have had on a particular field.  Focus will be on health sciences, but techniques are relevant for many disciplines.  Topics such as impact factors, Eigenfactors, and H-indices will also be discussed.
For individual instruction on this topic, please contact your liaison librarian.

Tuesday, April 25th, 1:00pm-2:00pm (East Information Commons, 2nd Floor, Hardin Library for the Health Sciences)

Register online or by calling 319-335-9151.

 Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all University of Iowa–sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires a reasonable accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact the Hardin Library Reference Desk in advance at or 319-335-9151.

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Jean Cruveilhier | April 2017 Notes from the John Martin Rare Book Room @Hardin Library

JEAN CRUVEILHIER (1791-1874). Anatomie pathologique du corps humain. 2 vols. and atlas. Paris: J.-B. Baillière, 1829-1842.

Jean Cruveilhier

In the nineteenth century pathology came into its own, based on increasingly accurate knowledge of pathological anatomy. Cruveilhier was the first occupant of the newly established chair of pathology at the University of Paris. Cruveilhier was the first to give an adequate description of disseminated sclerosis and of progressive muscular atrophy, now known as multiple sclerosis. He also described and named, for the first time, hypertrophic pyloric stenosis and ulceration of the stomach due to hyperacidity. His system of pathology, which erroneously taught that “phlebitis dominates all pathology,” was permanently discredited by Virchow’s later work. This atlas contains some of the finest illustrations of gross pathology ever made. They are colored lithographs, done by the anatomical illustrator, Antoine Chazal.

You may view this book in the John Martin Rare Book Room, Hardin Library for the Health Sciences. Make a gift to the Hardin Library for the Health Sciences by donating online or setting up a recurring gift with The University of Iowa Foundation.

Diesease of the larynx by Antoine Chazal

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Special Collections News & Updates 4/20/2017

Newsfeed: Tom Brokaw’s ‘stuff’ in Iowa is a window into his life.  Kyle Munson, Des Moines Register.   Upcoming Events: Final Mellon Sawyer Lecture Friday, April 28. 8:30AM-2:30PM Marina Rustow “Fatimid State […]
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Special Collections News & Updates 4/20/2017

Newsfeed: Tom Brokaw’s ‘stuff’ in Iowa is a window into his life.  Kyle Munson, Des Moines Register.   Upcoming Events: Final Mellon Sawyer Lecture Friday, April 28. 8:30AM-2:30PM Marina Rustow “Fatimid State […]
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April Showers Bring Umbrellas – New Exhibit!

April Showers Bring May Flowers!
And Umbrellas!

Panda umbrella, Iowa City, April 5, 2017

Do you know how many types of umbrellas there are now? Not just the ‘normal’ umbrella with the hooked handle, the umbrella that opens and closes at the touch of a button, or the umbrella that is small enough to fit in a pocket or bag…. Now there are umbrellas that forecast the rain and have a geolocator so you don’t ever lose it, umbrellas that will play videos on the underside of the dome, umbrellas that change color with the rain, umbrellas with wind vents, umbrellas that open “upside down,” even a mister-equipped umbrella designed to protect from precipitation, from the sun and harmful UV rays and also allows the user to activate a mist head to help cool off on hot, sunny days. And, the list goes on…. Curious about how many patents there are for umbrellas? Go to our Patents Guide and use any of the “Where to Search” links to explore and see what is out there – and when the patents were filed!

Light Saber Umbrella

Suprella Umbrella

Pileus, the Internet Umbrella







Umbrellas, parasols, bumbershoots, brollys, parapluie – you may hear any of those in reference to the “umbrella.” We often think of Britain when we hear “bumbershoot,” but in a Slate article, author Ben Yagoda notes that the Oxford English Dictionary identifies the term as “originally and chiefly U.S. slang.” Brolly, however, is a British term for umbrella and parapluie is French. You may also hear the term “gamp” used for umbrella – it comes from the Charles Dickens character Mrs. Gamp who always carried an umbrella.

A Terracotta Army carriage with an umbrella securely fixed to the side, from Qin Shihuang’s tomb, c. 210 BC


Umbrellas have been around a long time. There are written records referencing a collapsible umbrella in the year 21 AD and a Terracotta Army carriage from c. 210 BC had an umbrella fixed to the side.

Evidence of the existence of the umbrella has also been found in the Middle East, ancient Egypt, ancient Greece, ancient Rome and ancient India. Some believe that umbrellas – probably made of palm leaves – date back to the earliest human civilization.



A parasol is generally used to provide shade from the sun and the umbrella is coated – often with Teflon – to protect from rain. In Japan, however, there are waterproof paper umbrellas, referred to as “Wagasa.” These umbrellas are made by steeping strong Japanese paper in oil, making it waterproof!  The word ‘umbrella’ comes from the Latin word ‘umbros,’ which means shade or shadow. Umbrellas and parasols are not only associated with protection from the elements. They have been adopted and used in religious ceremonies and rites, as light reflectors in photography, and then there are the little drink umbrellas….

Umbrellas aren’t just used for protection from the elements, they may also be used as security protection! French President Nicolas Sarkozy was the first to use a Kevlar-coated umbrella for security purposes. Offensively, the shaft may be used to hide a blade and in 1978, Bulagrian President Georgi Markov was assassinated by a KGB agent who carried a deadly poison in his modified umbrella!

There are many superstitions surrounding umbrellas – the most well-known, perhaps – never open an umbrella indoors. It is believed that superstition came from ancient times when umbrellas were used only by royalty and  “…designed to mimic the goddess who formed the sky, [so] their shade was sacred…” (How Stuff Works : Culture). That superstition also is sound advice – opening an umbrella indoors can be hazardous to people and/or fragile items that are in the vicinity… Studies have been done  about the ways in which people ‘reverse’ the bad luck. It is believed that rituals which involve the person performing an avoidance action – i.e. knocking on wood, throwing salt – are ‘pushing away bad luck.’

Interested in a DIY project? How about creating your own Electric Umbrella? Full instructions can be found here. To help you out, we have wire cutters and soldering guns in our Tool Library. Want to practice using LEDs and wearable tech before you tackle an umbrella? Check out the Lilypad – also available in our Tool Library! It has everything you need – battery, conductive thread, copper wire, switches, LEDs… You’ll find the information on our Tool Library page under Creative Boxes!


Thank you to the University of Iowa Art Library for allowing us to display Hong Kong Umbrella in our exhibit. This beautiful book has full-color photographs of umbrellas in the streets and back alleys of Hong Kong. It also shows how, in 2014, a yellow umbrella became a symbol of protest when one was used as protection from pepper spray during a student protest.

This video is a fascinating look at how waterproof paper umbrellas are created!



Cover photo credit:

Photo via GoodFreePhotos


Terracotta Army carriage with umbrella securely fixed to the side, from Qin Shihuang’s tomb. c 210 BC

Some interesting Patents:


Backpack with an integrated umbrella device. Michael C. Weaver, inventor.  Publication Date: June 23, 2011.  US 20110147427 A1.


Mister-equipped umbrella system. Raj Rao, Inventor. Publication Date: Aug. 22, 2013. US 20130213446

Pet umbrella and combined pet leash and umbrella. Irina Zhadan-Milligan, Yuri Zhadan, Inventors. Publication Date: March 29, 2005. US 20040200437

Pillow with retractable umbrella. Marielena Jane-Prats, Inventor. Publication Date: March 30, 2004. US 6711769



Zhang, Y., Risen, J. L., & Hosey, C. (2014). Reversing one’s fortune by pushing away bad luck Journal of Experimental Psychology. General, 143(3), 1171-1184.  PDF file of paper.

Tomlin, C M. 2010. The Truth About 8 Creepy Superstitions. National Geographic Kids, 15423042, Oct. 2010, Issue 404. Text available through University of Iowa Libraries InfoHawk+

Payne, Seamus. 2017. Dry-Tech: The 20 Coolest Umbrellas You’ll Ever See. TheCoolList

Vitto, Laura. Jan. 7, 2017. Smart umbrella warns you when it’s going to rain. Mashable Watercooler .

Yagoda, Ben. Cheerio, Bumbershoot! The word is not actually British for Umbrella. Nov. 4, 2011.  Slate: The Good Word

Grigsby, Jean. June 15, 2015. Don’t Forget Your Brolly! Umbrella History and Facts. Farmers’ Almanac.

Umbrella Facts. Dollys Brollys. Date Accessed: April 6, 2017

16 fun facts about the humble umbrella. JollyBrolly July 31, 2015.

Dove, Laurie L. Why are people afraid to open an umbrella indoors?  How Stuff Works : Culture Date Accessed: April 10, 2017

Enjoy rainy days with a Japanese umbrella. March 2013.  Japan Monthly Web Magazine.

sockmaster. Electric Umbrella. Instructables. Date Accessed April 14, 2017

Other Resources:

These Japanese Umbrellas Reveal Hidden Patterns When Wet. boredpanda Date Accessed: April 6, 2017.

Vyse, Stuart A. 1997. Believing in magic : the psychology of superstition. New York : Oxford University Press.  Hardin Library for the Health Sciences BF1775 .V97 1997

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