Archive for June, 2008

Hot Topics for Annual: Librarian Office Hours

Monday, June 23rd, 2008

About Timothy Hackman

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

The subject of librarians holding “office hours” in their academic departments seems to be a popular one of late. Over at ACRLog, Stephanie Willen Brown discusses her experience this past semester, and concludes: “The office hour was definitely a success – especially combining the actual work with the PR value of being in the building on a regular basis.” The folks at the Chronicle of Higher Ed’s “Wired Campus” column picked up on Stephanie’s post; both posts have received numerous comments from librarians around the Web who have tried this strategy for reaching out to faculty and grad students. And LES’s own Mary Claire Vandenburg writes in the latest issue of BiblioNotes [PDF, the article is on page 6] about simultaneously starting a new “librarian in residence” service while learning her way around a new discipline (Classics). Mary Claire found that her “complex email reference questions from students have gone up as a result of office hours, as have special requests from faculty for hard to find items.”

What has been your experience with office hours at your institution? Have you tried them and been successful? Tried them and been unsuccessful? Wanted to try them but couldn’t get support from your administration or department? This topic is on the agenda for the LES Reference Discussion Group at ALA Annual in Anaheim. This will be a great opportunity to share your experiences with your colleagues, or to ask questions about getting started with your own “Librarian in Residence” program. If you can’t attend, feel free to leave a comment or question here; we’ll use the blog to report back about any good ideas shared during the session!

LES Reference Discussion Group: Sunday, 6/29, 10:30a-12:00p, Grand Hyatt Regency, Orange County Salon III

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.