Archive for the ‘Publishing’ Category

Call for Book Chapter Proposals

Friday, November 15th, 2013

Digital Humanities in the Library: Challenges and Opportunities for Subject Specialists

Proposal Submission Deadline: December 15th, 2013

Editors: Arianne Hartsell-Gundy (Miami University), Laura Braunstein (Dartmouth College), Liorah Golomb (University of Oklahoma)

Potential Publisher: Association of College & Research Libraries

 

The ACRL Literatures in English Section is working on a proposal to sponsor an ACRL publication about digital humanities and subject specialists. Our section has sponsored other ACRL publications, including Literature in English: A Guide for Librarians in the Digital Age edited by Betty H. Day and William A. Wortman and Teaching Literary Research: Challenges in a Changing Environment edited by Kathleen A. Johnson and Steven R. Harris. We are looking for approximately 10-15 chapters that examine the role of the librarian subject specialist in digital humanities.

 

Digital humanities is changing the way that humanities scholars research and teach, and libraries are in a great position to help support these efforts. Subject specialists who work with humanities faculty are in a unique position because they often have good relationships with these faculty and have a strong understanding of their needs, but many subject specialists may lack the training to provide support for digital humanities work. Some subject specialists are lucky enough to work in a library that has a digital scholarship center and has staff that are specially trained to help with metadata and digital projects, but this arrangement can still create challenges for subject specialists as they figure out how to navigate between their faculty and these specialists. This book aims to examine how subject specialists are meeting these challenges and making the most of the opportunities that come their way.

 

Suggested topics include, but are not limited to the following:

 

  • Examples of successful digital humanities projects.
  • Examples of less than successful digital humanities projects.
  • How a subject specialist trained to be a traditional bibliographer learns the skills necessary to do work in the digital humanities.
  • Examples of how subject specialists can collaborate with/support faculty, or collaborate with IT professionals, Special Collections librarians, Digital Resources librarians, etc.
  • Using digital humanities projects to answer reference questions.
  • How do librarians identify, evaluate, manage, and promote digital humanities projects?
  • How to teach undergraduates and graduate students to use and/or create digital humanities projects?
  • Thought pieces on the role of subject specialists in digital humanities. For example, should subject specialists be involved with digital humanities, or should that work be done by digital humanities librarians?

 

Submission Procedure: Proposal Submission Deadline is December 15th, 2013.

 

Academic library professionals are invited to submit their proposal of not more than 2 pages. Your proposal should include: 1) the names and contact information for all authors (identify a main contact); 2) a clear description of the topic you are proposing for a potential chapter; 3) reason why this topic would be of interest to subject specialists; 4) a brief description of your academic institution; and, 5) information about the author(s) showing his/her qualifications for writing the case study/chapter. Submissions should be in Microsoft Word. Authors of accepted proposals will be notified by January 31st, 2014. If the book proposal is accepted, each chapter will be expected to be about 4,000-5,000 words.

 

Inquiries and submissions can be sent to:

 

Arianne Hartsell-Gundy, Humanities Librarian

Miami University

208 King Library

151 S. Campus Ave.

Oxford, OH 45056

513-529-8494

hartsea@miamioh.edu

 

LES Authors Panel

Friday, September 20th, 2013

Guest post by Nancy M. Foasberg. Nancy is a humanities librarian at CUNY’s Queens College, and most recently published, “Student Reading Practices in Print and Electronic Media,” in the September 2014 issue of College & Research Libraries.  

The LES Authors Panel took place during the General Membership Forum at ALA Annual 2013 and featured four LES members with a history of successful publication in the field of literature librarianship.

The panelists were:

  • Faye Christenberry, University of Washington
  • Liorah Golomb, University of Oklahoma
  • Harriet Green, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Melissa Van Vuuren, Georgetown University

Jen Stevens of George Mason University moderated.

 

Getting Started with Publishing

At the beginning of the panel, the panelists discussed how they had gotten into publishing.  The need to earn tenure played a role for all the panelists.  Collaboration, connections and timing helped to provide writing opportunities.  Melissa had collaborated with a colleague, Angela Courtney, on an article for The Dictionary of Literary Biography; Angela later encouraged her to contribute to a book series. Faye is a member of the Association of Australian Literary Studies and was able to take over the bibliography for their journal, Antipodes, when the prior author could no longer continue.  Liorah saw a play in London that resonated strongly with her and wrote an article about it. Since the play had not yet opened in the United States, her article was the first and had good exposure and recognition.

 

Choosing Subject Matter

The panelists had very different methods of choosing their subject matter.  Harriet talked about how research interests should fit into the current conversations within a field, choosing subjects that will generate interest while still avoiding those that have been overexposed. Harriet’s tenure process requires her to have a research agenda to which all her publications must relate.  She chose digital humanities as her “umbrella idea” and researched the current issues that were of interest to the field at the time, ultimately choosing to focus on user experience within digital humanities and how digital humanities tools can be improved.  This research is closely related to her day to day work. Liorah, in contrast, writes about whatever is most interesting to her at the moment. She has written about Will Self, women graphic novelists, and postcolonial literatures, among other things. Liorah cites calls for papers and inspiration from colleagues as useful sources for ideas.  However, caution is necessary when accepting calls for papers.  Her book chapter on women graphic novelists was published by MacFarland, which edited it poorly and included chapters of uneven quality.  The book Literary Research and Postcolonial Literatures in English, a collaboration among Liorah, Faye, Angela and Melissa, began as a conversation over beer.  The other four authors had already written volumes in the series, so they suggested dividing up the postcolonial volume. They agreed that it had been challenging to write but very worthwhile.

 

Melissa and Faye focused on the audience for their work. It is important to Melissa that her work and scholarly interests are closely related, so she wants her writing to get out to the user groups that she serves.  Her first book, Literary Research and the Victorian and Edwardian Ages, 1830-1910: Strategies and Sources, was a way to bridge across all her education in a venue not limited to the librarian community.  Another article came from a workshop with faculty in which they designed assignments to help undergraduates understand reference works.  Articles on collaborative efforts such as this can help faculty understand what goes on in the library.  Faye, too, has worked on projects that have appeal outside of librarianship. She was delighted to find that her book had been on a preliminary exam list for a school in England. Because her area of interest is Australian literature, it can often be difficult to access these materials she covers in the US.  She is interested in using her skills to bridge the gap between people doing research in that area.

 

All four panelists agreed that they were happy that they felt passionate about the ideas they pursued.  Melissa pointed out that she always tells students to switch their topics if they are working on something that they hate, because this doesn’t do anyone any favors. Why spend time and effort on something you don’t care about?

 

Logistics of Collaboration

Jen asked about the logistics of collaboration, especially over long distances.  One way to do this is to divide the work into sections.  Harriet and Angela are taking this approach in an article they are writing together, with Harriet merging it into a coherent whole.  When Melissa and Angela wrote the DLB article, Melissa did the biography and Angela wrote the summaries.  The postcolonial book was divided chapter by chapter, an approach facilitated by the consistent structure of books in this series. Each of the chapters in the book stands alone, so having different voices for different chapters was not a problem.  It was still important, though, to look through all the chapters and make sure that they were appropriately cross-referenced and spoke to each other. This is one potential problem with co-authorship.  The other approach to co-authoring is to write together. Liorah described collaborating with Aline Soules on an article which compared the MLAIB across platforms.  Because they were geographically distant, they did most of the research separately, but they wrote the article together in two weeks during which Liorah visited Aline in California.  This article needs to be updated, due to database interfaces and the rise of discovery services, so they will likely write two more articles on the subject together.

 

Timing

Time for writing is a crucial consideration. Harriet has one research day a week, which she is allowed to take off campus.  For those who can’t negotiate this time, she recommends carving out time in the morning and evenings.  Her institution sponsors productivity seminars and invited faculty development expert Kerry Ann Rockquemore to speak to them about techniques for carving out time to write.  Liorah did not have the same release time, but writing was a priority for pre-tenure faculty, who weren’t required to do a lot of service at her institution.  Writing is less urgent now that she has tenure, but she still gives herself deadlines.   Melissa took research leave to work on Literary Research and the Victorian and Edwardian Ages, 1830-1920, and also negotiated for some Fridays off campus. This worked well because it provided a big chunk of time for writing.  Now that she is not on the tenure track, she can still do research and even request some time, but there is less time available and less support generally.  Faye also prefers big chunks of time in which to write. At her institution, librarians are not faculty but can apply for research leave of up to a year, although they only get three months of pay for this.  She used her weekends to work on the book, because she couldn’t get the big chunks of time she needed during the day.  Harriet’s tip from Kerry Ann Rockquemore is to plan well and make the writing as important as everything else you have to do.  If you want writing to be part of your career, you have to give yourself accountability to make sure you spend time on it.

 

Suggestions for New Librarians 

Finally, Jen asked for suggestions for librarians who want to publish. Harriet suggested co-authoring, finding a topic in which you are really interested, and starting small.  Book reviews, BiblioNotes, and guest columns are good places to start.  Liorah has written critical reviews for RUSA and little book reviews like the ones in Library Journal Express.  At her institution, this is considered service rather than publishing, but it is disciplined writing, so it makes good practice.  She recommended caution when choosing partners for collaboration, describing one project which did not happen because her potential writing partner is having difficulty writing and publishing. Melissa recommends joining a writing group or research circle, in order to bounce ideas off of colleagues and talk about the difficult parts of writing.  This can be helpful when trying to get past a roadblock, and hearing other people’s questions can also help shape things. Don’t be afraid to let people read your writing. Harriet has participated in the Library Research Round Table, which pairs authors with each other.  Writing groups including faculty from other fields are also useful, because they provide a different perspective.  Faye mentioned the new ACRL handbook on academic writing for librarians, which looks like a useful volume and includes chapters on many of these topics.

 

Liorah mentioned one more unexpected thing about research. When she surveyed the listserv about poetry collections, she had to undergo an IRB process. Harriet said that at her institution, there is a shorter exemption form and she can use that one because the IRB knows that librarians are just asking questions.

 

During the audience questions, the panelists were asked about their advice for librarians who are not in tenure track positions, especially if people at their institution discourage them from writing.  Melissa recommends framing writing as service because it benefits the profession.  Faye feels that writing helps her to better understand what her faculty go through when they write books.  Harriet recommends collaborating with a faculty member, which makes writing part of the job.  Melissa also suggested writing outside of work hours and mentioned that even with the support that she had, she ended up doing a lot of the work outside of business hours. Most of the articles in the literature are written by librarians on the tenure track, which narrows down who we get to hear from in the profession.

 

There was also a question about editorial feedback.  Liorah talked about the lack of editorial feedback when she worked on the MacFarland book.  This creates problems because revision suggestions are what show that a publication is peer reviewed.  Melissa finds that editorial feedback can vary wildly. With journals, it depends on what the editor tells the reviewers.  As a guest reviewer, she wrote a lot of feedback, because she finds it very helpful. Too often, commentary focuses on things that would get worked out in copyediting, but it’s really more useful to know about the problems with the argument.

I for one found the discussion very helpful.  Thanks to the panelists for participating!

Evaluating Digital Scholarship [PMLA]

Tuesday, December 13th, 2011

About Aaron McCollough

English Literature Librarian, University of Michigan

All of us are faced with new questions about collections in the massively-networked digital age. The Modern Language Association has commissioned a special batch of articles on the subject of “Evaluating Digital Scholarship,” which is freely accessible on the PMLA site.

 

Susan Schreibman, the editor of the section, has this to say:

The series is introduced by Susan Schreibman, Laura Mandell, and Stephen Olsen, with contributions by  Steve Anderson and Tara McPherson (‘Engaging Digital Scholarship: Thoughts on Evaluating Multimedia Scholarship’), Geoffrey Rockwell  (‘Engaging Digital Scholarship: Thoughts on Evaluating Multimedia Scholarship’), Bethany Nowviskie (‘Where Credit Is Due: Preconditions for the Evaluation of Collaborative Digital Scholarship’), Jerome McGann (‘On Creating a Usable Future’), and Katheleen Fitzpatrick (‘Peer Review, Judgment, and Reading’).

These articles provide an important intervention as digital scholarship and digital scholarly methods and practices are becoming more mainstreamed into traditional academic work

For the most part, these pieces are not directly addressed to the questions and concerns of library collections, but the entire conversation is highly relevant for us, and I hope we might begin some conversation here regarding that relevance.

 

 

The Critical Librarian / The Scholar Librarian / Other library literary critical approaches?

Thursday, June 23rd, 2011

About Aaron McCollough

English Literature Librarian, University of Michigan

With this post, I want to do one thing, and I want to avoid doing another thing.

 

–I want to ask for feedback about the scholarly practices of librarians with subject expertise in English Literature.

 

–I do not want to get tied up in the PhD v. MLS debate sparked by Jeff Trzeciak’s April talk on the Future of Academic Librarianship. I know there are merits to talking about the differences between these degrees, but there is plenty of discussion taking place elsewhere on the subject.

 

So, with that out of the way…

 

*It has occurred to me lately that many English Literature specialists publish scholarly articles all the time, but I’m not sure how many publish scholarly articles that pertain to (or amount to) English Literary criticism. My first question, then, would be: what amount of our scholarly output as professionals might fall in this domain? I’d love to hear from people who are doing work they consider literary critical, and I’d love to hear about people you know of who are doing this kind of work. I’d also like to hear from those who don’t do it, of course, but (as I said above) I’m not particularly interested in rehearsing a debate about educational backgrounds; there’s no reason to assume that a subject-based critical practice would be arrogated to the PhD-holders.

 

*My second, related, question is: are there (could there be) meaningful differences in the way librarians do literary critical work? That is to say, might librarians be bringing something unique to the table here, and if they are, how would we describe that uniqueness?

 

*My third, and final, question depends on the first two. If there isn’t interest in those, then the answer to this one is obviously just, “no.” Might it make sense to start a peer-reviewed academic journal (probably open-access / online) that focuses specifically on the critical scholarship of subject specialist librarians? I’m probably imagining a “humanities” scope rather than the narrower “literature” scope, but you see where I’m going with this…

Small Press Publications

Monday, May 16th, 2011

About Aaron McCollough

English Literature Librarian, University of Michigan

It’s fairly redundant to say we are often faced with tough choices in our collections duties, but small press publications present special challenges. New production methods (especially print-on-demand technologies), combined with trade presses’ shrinking interest in literary publications (and their low profitability margins), has led to a small press boom in recent years.

It can be hard for librarians to keep up and hard, too, to sort the wheat from the chaff.

I’ve just come across a nice website that might be of use (at least as part of our selection toolbox). It’s called Hey Small Press!, and it’s designed by Public Library employees for the purpose of getting good small press publication into the stacks. The Public Library focus seems more circumstantial than essential to me, and I plan to use it to help inform my small press buying.

Do you have other recommendations for this kind of selection tool?

 

Teaching Literary Research, Chapter 1: Information Literacy as Situated Literacy

Monday, October 26th, 2009

About Timothy Hackman

Librarian for English & Linguistics, University of Maryland Libraries. Member of LES since 2006.

[This is the first post in a series of chapter-by-chapter discussions of the book ‘Teaching Literary Research: Challenges in a Changing Environment,’ edited by Kathleen Johnson and Steven Harris. ACRL Publications in Librarianship #60, 2009.]

So I’ve finished about half of the book and, despite taking some Teaching Literary Researchslack for posting it in my “Currently Reading” queue on Facebook, I am enjoying it so far. I particularly appreciate the perspectives of literature and rhet/comp faculty members on reshaping the way we teach literary research for a new generation of students.

Van Hillard, the director of the College Writing Program at Davidson College, begins the first chapter by discussing the ACRL Information Literacy Standards, which he finds to be useful guidelines but also problematic in several ways. First, they are “autonomous,” i.e., they are independent of any context for their use. Instead he argues for a “situated” view of information literacy, one in which “literate practices shape and are shaped by social, cultural, political and economic forces such that literacy events–a particular search for information, a specific occasion for composing an argument, a certain classification of a tradition of inquiry, the cataloguing of a monograph, the use and definition of a key term in writing–are understood as context-specific within the universe of social activities of knowledge production and reproduction.” Another problem comes with the very term “information literacy” itself:  while it is clear that librarians think in terms of “locating information,” those who teach and practice academic writing think in terms of evidence, analysis and argument, which “are typically not understood as predominantly informational in nature.” (13)

More to the point, Hillard sees in ACRL’s standards a set of skills the student is expected to acquire for the purpose of becoming a fully independent researcher. They stress efficiency in finding information, not critical skill at evaluating or incorporating it into the body of one’s argument, thus ignoring the fact that literacy is both social and “situated” in nature. By “situated information literacy,” Hillard means literacy that is made up of “events,” specific interactions between a user and the research tools designed to answer a specific question at a specific point in time. It is not a context-free skill, but one that is very much determined by the social/political/cultural context in which the researcher’s question is asked and answered. The context determines how and what information is created, acquired, organized and accessed; it is therefore impossible to ignore and offers opportunities for inquiry. Likewise, literacy is social because of those interactions, not just between the researcher and the text, but between the researcher and his fellow researchers (past, present and future), librarians, etc. who are also a part of the process. I found his description of the library as a social sphere especially inspiring:

“One starting place for such recovery comes with thinking of the library not as some vast storehouse of data, but rather as an elaborate argument, a site where users activate and reactivate conversations and disagreements across space and time… Every time a student enters the library (physically or virtually) she, in effect, involves herself in a vast community of participants whose exchanges represent traditions of inquiry, public controversies, disciplinary disputes, and schools of thought.” (16)

It’s a beautiful depiction of humanities research, in which the researcher joins a conversation that is already in progress. (Later in the book, Kate Koppelman’s chapter on “Literary Eavesdropping and the Socially Graceful Critic” elaborates on (and points out additional difficulties with) this same idea, but I’ll wait to discuss that.) Hillard’s point is that librarians and faculty should work together to “treat research not simply as contact with information, but as participation within the professional culture we call the library” (19). He concludes by giving some general suggestions for how this can be accomplished, but admits that “This is a project that undoubtedly will require time, energy, and resources.” The questions he asks about information literacy and the research culture have no easy answers, but I’m glad that someone is asking them.

Author Conversation… R. Neil Scott

Wednesday, September 16th, 2009

About Timothy Hackman

Librarian for English & Linguistics, University of Maryland Libraries. Member of LES since 2006.

This month, our author series continues with R. Neil Scott, Professor and User Services Librarian at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, TN. In addition to his most recent book, Neil is the author of two additional books:  Postmarked Milledgeville: Flannery O’Connor’s Correspondence in Archives and Library Collections, and Flannery O’Connor: An Annotated Reference Guide to Criticism. He is also the founder of Timberlane Books, an independent publishing house that “strive[s] to publish award-winning books that advance knowledge and learning for present and future generations of scholars and readers.”

What is your most recent publication?Flannery O’Connor: The Contemporary Reviews

I compiled and co-edited, with Irwin Streight, Ph.D., Flannery O’Connor: The Contemporary Reviews. It was published this past June by Cambridge University Press.

How did you decide to write this title?

I stumbled upon some of the author-specific volumes of Cambridge University Press’ American Critical Archives Series and realized that, because I had already researched and identified all the reviews of O’Connor’s books for my previous book, Flannery O’Connor: An Annotated Reference Guide to Criticism (Timberlane, 2002),  it would probably be fairly easy to type, edit and proofread the reviews for an O’Connor volume.

I then sent a detailed proposal/query letter to the series editor, Dr. M. Thomas Inge at Randolph-Macon College, and was pleased when he responded that he was enthusiastic about including a volume on O’Connor in the series. Then, after some back-and-forth correspondence regarding style, length of the proposed manuscript and royalty rates, he recommended the title to Cambridge University Press. I was then issued a contract and was soon writing another book.

Please talk about the research and writing process.

Unfortunately, once I began work on Flannery O’Connor: The Contemporary Reviews, I found that, while I enjoyed editing and typing the reviews, I had seriously underestimated the time it would take to identify and acquire the necessary permissions to include them. Time passed–one year, then two–and I began to sense that the project was “pulling me under.” It was difficult to do the scholarly work necessary to type and edit the reviews while trying to correspond with hundreds of copyright holders.

I turned to my friend and fellow O’Connor scholar, Dr. Irwin Streight at the Royal Military College (Canada), and asked him to join me as a co-author. Thankfully, he agreed, and immediately started editing and writing the Introduction. Meanwhile, I gritted my teeth and turned my attention to acquiring the remaining more difficult copyright permissions, one-by-one. Indeed, I was negotiating back-and-forth with the New York Times and other corporate rights holders right up to the day we returned the marked-up final version for printing.

The book was a good idea and is a valued contribution to O’Connor scholarship, but it was a tough, arduous journey to see it through to completion. What saved the project was the fact that Streight agreed to join me, did more than his fair share of writing and editing, and we both were able to tap into faculty research funds at our respective institutions to pay for the permission fees.

What did you like most about the process/project?

I enjoy the sense of purpose that each writing project gives me. While I was writing my first book, Flannery O’Connor: An Annotated Reference Guide to Criticism, I was serving as Coordinator of Public Services, then Associate Director for Library Operations at Georgia College & State University. My days were filled with a lot of personnel-related decision-making, dealing with budgets and customer-service related issues, “putting out fires,” attending committee and other meetings, writing reports, and — if it were a good day — some public services librarianship.

In contrast, my O’Connor-related reading and writing was a purposeful, peaceful and meaningful activity. And, because I often dealt with scholars working with O’Connor’s manuscripts, I knew, intimately, what the scholarly trends were, what was being written for theses, dissertations, articles and books in progress, and was able to use this knowledge to develop an intuitive feel for the essence of the criticism that I was reading and summarizing for that book.

Unfortunately, with this more recent volume, even though I am in a more enjoyable position as a Professor and User Services Librarian at a mid-sized state university (25,000 students), the clerical effort required to acquire permission to reprint the reviews detracted from the writing and editing, and this book wasn’t nearly as enjoyable as my previous scholarly projects.

What did you like least about the process/project?

I’ve found that — to do a good job on a literary project — it’s hard to estimate when you can actually complete it. So, while going back and forth in my negotiations with scores of copyright holders I missed the first couple of agreed-upon deadlines. These situations were not well-received by the production editor at Cambridge, but I was adamant. I refused to give up and leave some of the reviews out. It became a bit stressful for all concerned, but in the end I managed to include every single review we had identified and Cambridge published a truly excellent volume.

What suggestions do you have for other LES members who are interested in publishing a book?

Get in the habit of writing — book reviews, articles, blog entries, pathfinders, whatever — just write. Then, browse your library’s “new books” cart to get a good feel for what’s being published. Try to identify a series that may have a niche that matches your own interests and/or a literary collection in your library or community. (For example, the Cambridge Introductions to Literature Series, the Scarecrow Press’ Literary Research Series, and other such series offer excellent opportunities for publication.)

Once you identify a need that attracts your interest, send the series editor a well-written, enthusiastic query letter. Introduce yourself and impress him/her with your desire, knowledge and qualifications. If you haven’t made a record for yourself yet, just seek out someone who has and “pitch them” on the project. You’re likely to find them happy to join you as a principal or coauthor.

Why are research and publication important to you?

Besides the obvious requirement to conduct research and publish to meet promotion and tenure criteria, I’ve found that I enjoy the idea of contributing something meaningful to the scholarly community and to those who will come after us.

I feel a satisfying sense of accomplishment to know that my books are now part of the written record of my generation; that individuals, as yet unborn, will be using them to better understand the life and writings of Flannery O’Connor and her world.

Author Conversation…Laura Taddeo

Friday, July 3rd, 2009

What is your most recent publication?

A chapter in the book Teaching Literary Research: Challenges in a Changing Environment, ACRL Publications in Librarianship #60.   Co-written with Austin Booth, the chapter is entitled The Changing Nature of the Book: Literary Research, Cultural Studies, and the Digital Age.

How did you decide to write it?

The editors, Kathleen Johnson and Steven Harris, put out a call to the LES List asking for proposals from librarians interested in contributing to a publication about the challenges of teaching literary research in the twenty-first century.  At the time, our University libraries were going through many administrative and staffing changes.  My supervisor, the Director of Collections (who also had been the Literature liaison prior to me) was interested in writing about the way collections and reference was evolving.  Digital resources were becoming the main focus of our bibliographic instruction. As we reflected upon past teaching experiences and collaborations with faculty, we agreed that cultural studies had a tremendous influence on the English curriculum at the University at Buffalo and heavily influenced what we incorporated into our library workshops.  We assumed other librarians and faculty might be interested in some of our practical approaches.

What was the process that you went through?

We first had to write a proposal for a chapter.  Once we found out the chapter idea was accepted, the editors sent us guidelines to follow, including deadlines, format, style manuals, content/length, copyright permissions. We were instructed to model the chapter on the previous book sponsored by LES, Literature in English: A Guide for Librarians in the Digital Age (ACRL Publications in Librarianship #54). The book’s audience is meant for both academic librarians and English (or Modern Languages) Department faculty members.  Authors were instructed to explain any discipline-specific terminology in order to make their meaning clear to non-specialist readers and to avoid library jargon.

While Austin and I did some research to form the proposal, a lot more research and outlines followed before we came up with our first draft.  We had taught many literature-based information literacy classes and wanted to put together practical tips for literature librarians, while also providing some sort “conversation” about the changing nature of the book, and the influence of cultural studies on the English curriculum.  The chapter went through several editing stages before it actually was ready for publication. The first round of changes was the most difficult because we were told to shorten some sections, expand others, or provide more unique teaching examples.

Talk a bit about the publication.

The emergence of cultural studies as a theoretical framework for literary studies and the wealth of digital technologies available to humanities scholars has certainly changed how students and faculty teach and do research.  Alternative research methods include examining the production, distribution and consumption of literary texts in their sociohistorical contexts; studying canon formation and genre definition; and examining a wider array of material, including popular texts and non-written material such as film and hypertext productions. Our  chapter describes approaches to teaching literary research that explore the significance of cultural studies as well as the relationships among cultural studies, digital texts and information literacy standards.  We provide descriptions of classes and assignments that we used for English undergraduate and graduate students at UB.

What did you like most about the process/project?

The best part was that we were forced to re-evaluate some of our past teaching practices.  While most of our classes tend to benefit both the students and faculty, there is always room for improvement. Writing about class assignments or collaborations among faculty gave us more ideas for future projects. We also identified new ways librarians can incorporate the basic philosophy of the ACRL’s “Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education” into the English curriculum.

What did you like least?

Editing my own work was very difficult.  The editors made some very good comments about certain things that needed to be changed or revised.  Even constructive criticism is hard to acknowledge at first.  I thought it would be difficult co-writing a chapter, but it was actually a valuable experience.  I learned a lot from my writing partner, who had more experience working with our English faculty and also more knowledge about the history of cultural studies.  It also made the editing process less painful because we had one another to bounce ideas off of and we could proof each other’s work. Waiting for the final product to finally come out was a little frustrating because it took a few years for the actual book to be published.  However, most academic publications tend to go through a long publication process.

What suggestions would you have for LES members who would like to become involved in research and publication?

Most of my publications have come from calls for papers distributed through listservs.  Staying abreast of what topics are “hot” is very important.  Also, write about something you like to do-it makes the writing so much easier.  And if you have a co-author, make sure you know the author’s writing style and work ethic. You don’t want to have to do drastic editing to make the paper read smoothly. And you also do not want to carry all the weight.  Each writer should have an equal amount of work to contribute to the piece. I began writing book reviews for a journal that one of my colleagues edited.  That’s a good way to get into the writing mode and start to understand the publication process. You should look at a publication’s turn-around time if submitting to a scholarly journal.  Most people writing are on a tenure-track and need to publish to receive a promotion, so timing is important. And always understand the copyright provisions.  Authors should consider alternatives to the traditional modes of scholarly publication such as open-access journals.

Why is something like this important to you?

I always liked research and writing and being around books, so becoming a librarian seemed a natural fit.  Having an academic position is demanding in the sense that I am expected to teach, publish, do reference and collection development work as well join numerous university committees.   Finding time to write has become a top priority for me. Just knowing that the final product will be a contribution to the scholarship of the library field is both professionally and personally rewarding.

Laura Taddeo, Humanities Librarian, University at Buffalo

Author Conversation…Angela Courtney

Thursday, June 19th, 2008

What is your most recent publication?

The book is titled Literary Research and the Era of American Nationalism and Romanticism, part of the Scarecrow Press Literary Research Series. It was published in December of 2007.

Literary Research and the Era of American Nationalism and Romanticism

How did you decide to write it?

For this series, there was a post to the LES list looking for people who were interested in working on the books. I responded for more information on the series. After looking at the first book in the series and corresponding with the editors, I decided to throw my name in for consideration.

What was the process that you went through?

For this book, I had to write a short proposal that summarized the anticipated content and organizational scheme of the book. I then had to submit a chapter outline that included representative examples of the types of resources that would be covered in each chapter. Once those submissions were approved, I received a contract, read it, signed it, and returned it to the publisher. Then, I started working on the book.

I had to do a lot of research before writing the book, and I was surprised at how much I learned during this process. It was fun to explore older resources that I sometimes tend to overlook in my own research and reference interactions. There are many useful and interesting bibliographies that were compiled decades ago. These types of resources allow researchers to uncover information about authors and works that may have faded in scholarly appeal over the years.

I followed the pattern established by Jenny Bowers and Peggy Keeran in their volume. They did an excellent job of speaking eloquently yet clearly to a wide variety of potential users. I tried to create a readable narrative that would connect the annotations in a logical and readable manner. Anyone who has ever created a pathfinder or research guide for a class can understand the challenge in writing annotations that don’t all sound the same. I forcibly expanded my vocabulary in order to more efficiently vary the discussion of resources.

Talk a bit about the publication.

The book and the series as a whole represent a much needed tool in literary research. The book is designed to be read as a cohesive whole, but it can also be read in parts. If someone only needs information of microform collections, for example, he or she can go to that one chapter for help.

My book deals with the literary output of the United States from nationhood to the threshold of the Civil War. Because literary scholarship increasingly expands its purview into cultural and historical studies, this book includes many resources that reach beyond traditional literary research tools–borrowing liberally from the standard tools belonging to other areas of scholarship.

What did you like most about the process/project?

I really felt that I was learning a great deal as I researched this book. As a result, I felt pretty confident in believing that the book would be a strong addition to the milieu of literary research.

What did you like least?

I never like to read my own work. Receiving the galleys was very exciting…having to read over 200 pages of my prose was a daunting task.

What suggestions would you have for LES members who would like to become involved in research and publication?

There is a great list of calls for papers on the University of Pennsylvania English Department’s web page at: http://cfp.english.upenn.edu/. I’ve ended up at many conferences after submitting papers to calls on this list. I’ve also written some encyclopedia articles for calls on this list. It was once am email service, but now you actually have to go to the page and look through the list. It’s also an archive, so you have to remember to check the dates for calls.

Why is something like this important to you?

I like research and writing, and I’m lucky to be at a university that supports those activities for its librarians. I like the sense that I am contributing to both literary research and to librarianship.

Conversations with LES Authors

Wednesday, June 18th, 2008

About Timothy Hackman

Librarian for English & Linguistics, University of Maryland Libraries. Member of LES since 2006.

The Publications Committee is happy to announce a new feature on the LES Blog: Conversations with LES Authors.

By featuring these authors and their publications, we hope not only to bring attention to these informative works of scholarship, but also to help encourage others who may be interested in publishing to seek out opportunities and to learn from the experiences, successes, and mistakes of other section members.

Authors will start the conversation with a brief introduction to themselves and their work.  Afterward, members are encouraged to post comments and questions for the author by using the “comments” feature of the blog.  The authors will check back weekly and respond.

Our first author will be Angela Courtney. Angela is the Bibliographer for English Literatures, Film, Theatre, and Philosophy at Indiana University, Bloomington.  Before moving to Indiana, she was a senior reference librarian and the university archivist at Fairfield University.  Her career in libraries started at Auburn University in 1996 where she was the librarian for English literature.

Check back soon for our conversation with Angela.