Archive for the ‘Electronic Resources’ Category

ARL Guide to Fair Use for Librarians

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

About Aaron McCollough

English Literature Librarian, University of Michigan

Yesterday, in a conversation with faculty and graduate students, the question of fair use came up, as it often does. This time the problem had to do with making streaming copies of Iranian and Chinese films available (in their entirety) to students for class. This is a sticky problem of course, because “legitimate” streaming versions of these films are not easy to get. Asynchronous access to streaming films is extremely appealing to faculty, because it doesn’t cut into class time. Currently, there isn’t any easy solution. No news there. Happy to learn, however, that the ARL Guide to Fair Use has just been made available. Hardly filled with solutions, it is nevertheless a nice asset in the ongoing effort to identify what we can and cannot do in good conscience…

ALA Awards in Cutting Edge Library Services 2012

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

About Aaron McCollough

English Literature Librarian, University of Michigan

ALA (OITP & LITA) has announed the winners of this year’s Cutting Edge Technology in Library Services awards. These are pretty cool projects. Even though these are very *techie* (in many senses) projects, they hold promise for all kinds of exciting implementations by our users.

Take a look:


  • Snap & Go, Contra Costa County Library, Calif. 
    Using QR (Quick Response) codes, Snap & Go serves as an innovative delivery mechanism for traditional library services. From local transit ads to posters to newspaper ads, Contra Costa County is delivering instant access to library materials and services to cardholders with mobile phones. By scanning the code with a reader on their phones, users are directed to downloadable e-books and audiobooks, virtual museum passes, interactive reference service, account and catalog search and readers’ advisory tools. QR codes placed on popular titles take readers to “read-alike” lists created by library staff. Usage of the library’s mobile site has increased 16 percent since Contra Costa implemented Snap & Go.
  • Participatory Platforms for Learning, New Canaan High School Library, Conn.
    New Canaan’s Participatory Platforms for Learning program strives to cultivate curiosity throughout the learning community and encourage experimentation with new tools for content creation, publication and participation. The program includes deploying the full complement of Google applications; advocating a culture of intellectual freedom; using Twitter for current events research; and using Facebook groups for students to record their research process and provide feedback to others in the group. The program enmeshes learning and the “real world” to teach students digital citizenship by encouraging them to become responsible information consumers, creators and contributors in the public domain. Their online portal is at:
  • Map Warper Toolkit, New York Public Library, New York
    The Map Warper toolkit allows staff and the public to virtually stretch (or geo-rectify) historical maps onto a digital model of the world à la Google Maps or OpenStreetMap, transforming old atlases into interactive spatial environments. Participants also can go deeper, tracing and transcribing specific map features into a growing public database. The project adds to the historical and scholarly record while engaging library patrons in building digital resources. The service is managed by the NYPL Labs group, developed in collaboration with EntropyFree, an open source geospatial software firm. The tools are in the process of being published to an open code repository for other libraries, scholars and cultural heritage workers to use and build upon.
  • Gimme Engine, Scottsdale Public Library, Ariz.
    The Gimme Engine mobile website helps customers find a great book to read based on a library staffer’s recommendation and review. Gimme combines library catalog MARC data, content enrichment service images and descriptions and library staff book reviews on to create a unique experience. Gimme, which was developed with monies received from an LSTA grant, was created to meet a need stated by both library and non-library users; they wanted book recommendations powered by library staff. The Gimme engine is a creative solution to meet these customer needs. You can use Gimme for yourself by visiting:

(original press release may be found at American Libraries news page).

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.



Facebook for Academic Purposes?

Monday, March 28th, 2011

About Aaron McCollough

English Literature Librarian, University of Michigan

In some recent work reviewing an updated edition of a writing handbook, I questioned whether it might not be time to start thinking seriously about how we should be encouraging students to work with social networking sites as online research sources. Certainly, plenty of people have been thinking for some time about how to use Facebook for pedagogical interactions (leading, among other things, to the so-called “Creepy Tree House Effect”). Not much thought has been put into “citing the site,” however, or into how students might be exploiting/learning from/re-purposing material that circulates in the social network space. It’s easy to be skeptical about students using Facebook and other social media for research, but Creepy Tree Houses notwithstanding, developments like the one mentioned in today’s Chronicle of Higher Education suggest that this kind of skepticism might be as misplaced as was our general indifference to social media a few years back.

Online Guide to World Shakespeare Bibliography

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

About Timothy Hackman

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

Thanks to Jim Harner for calling LES’s attention to this beautiful 4-page guide to using the World Shakespeare Bibliography, created by the folks at Johns Hopkins UP. I know I’ll definitely use it for my Shakespeare-centric courses.

I thought it might be useful for other LES Blog readers to share guides or tutorials they’ve created for using specific resources. Have a PDF guide to using the MLA Int’l Bibliography? A video tutorial on locating primary sources? Add your link to the Comments section below and we can all benefit!

Banning Facebook on Campus

Monday, February 23rd, 2009

About Timothy Hackman

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

A post-by-proxy for our colleague Vince G. at Concordia.

Concordia University in Montreal, Canada has blocked access to Facebook on campus,but it is available on the wireless network. Ostensibly, this was done to limit traffic on the university network, but now that Facebook has become a professional and academic communication tool, as well as an essential tool for students, I believe this prohibition is unwarranted. I am wondering if this practice is widespread (or not). Do you know of any other universities that have blocked campus access to Facebook?

Barbara Chen comments on the WorldCat-MLA Project

Wednesday, February 18th, 2009

I asked Barbara Chen, the editor of the MLA International Bibliography,  to comment on OCLC’s plan to include the Bibliography‘s records in WorldCat Local.  Here is her reply:

When OCLC first approached us with an idea to include the Bibliography in WorldCat Local, I realized that this would be a good opportunity for the MLA to experiment. Both organizations were trying to think in new, creative ways to encourage findability for a range of users. We understand that we may be able to reach more students and scholars by integrating our database into a simple search platform than we would as a standalone file. We are expecting OCLC will remind users where they are finding the most relevant material on language and literature by including our name in their search results screen. Once users recognize the wealth of information the Bibliography holds on their topics of interest, they will want to come back and search us again. It doesn’t matter if the search is performed through WorldCat or in the Bibliography. Users will have an option to either type in a few keywords in a multi-file search or to set their sights on a specific database, browsing indexes and thesauri or even our Directory of Periodicals.

WorldCat Local will be a conduit to information but it will not be the final resting place for data files. Libraries will still need to subscribe through their vendor of choice to be able to access records.

 I understand that WorldCat Local is a work in progress with expected date of introduction for this part of the operation in July 2009. Even though I am not directly involved in its implementation, I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the system. My goal is to improve the Bibliography to the best of my ability, and I can only do that in communication with others.

Barbara Chen
Director of Bibliographic Information Services
and Editor, MLA International Bibliography
26 Broadway
New York, NY 10004-1789
tel. (646) 576-5076
fax (646) 835-4021

Marketing Your Databases

Monday, May 5th, 2008

About Timothy Hackman

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

OK, so I’ve been asked to be a panelist for a session on “Marketing Online Databases” at the MDK12 Digital Library Summit, to be held in mid-June. I will be representing the academic librarian’s viewpoint, and will be joined by a public librarian and a school library district administrator.  I agreed to be a panelist because the commitment is minimal (60 minutes total, so probably 15 minutes of talking plus time for questions) but I have to admit I haven’t thought much about how (if at all) we market our online databases to our customers.

At our university, marketing of the libraries and their resources is done at a more general level; e.g., giving out highlighters and Post-Its with the homepage on them at orientations, etc. I think most of our resource-specific “marketing” is done through our library instruction programs. We rely on the history subject specialist to inform the history students about Historical Abstracts, the English subject specialist to talk about MLA and ABELL, the art librarians to alert the art students to ArtSTOR and Art Abstracts. If a database doesn’t get used, I think most of my colleagues are happy to cancel it and look for something that is worth the cost, rather than spend time and energy marketing a database that no one wants to use.

One idea is to use cross-training of librarians to make sure that patrons will be connected with the most useful databases for their topics. This is especially important in institutions where you have a wide range of subject areas and a large number of electronic resources available. You could use a series of simple”brown bag” workshops (e.g., “Top 5 Databases in the Humanities,” “Digital Resources in the Life Sciences,” etc.) in which librarians train one another on the best databases to use for their subject areas.

What other ideas do you have? What are your experiences with marketing your databases to students and faculty? Do you spend much time thinking about how to get more of your patrons to use MLA, World Shakespeare Bibliography, or other electronic resources?

Digital Diasporas

Monday, May 5th, 2008

About Timothy Hackman

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

Last week, three of my colleagues and I presented a workshop as part of a conference held here at UMD called Digital Diasporas: Digital Humanities and African American/African Diaspora Studies. We were invited by conference organizers in the English Department to present a three-hour workshop on “Navigating Digital Resources in African American/African Diaspora Studies,” which we divided up into three main sections: Research Strategies (general info on how to find books, articles and primary documents, databases and web searching tools); Professional Resources (universities, research centers and libraries, professional organizations, and teaching resources); and Digital Resources on Selected Topics. For this last section we chose four representative subject areas: Slavery, The Harlem Renaissance, Women Writers of the Diaspora, and Films and Filmmakers of the Diaspora. The webpage we created is located here:

While resources for Slavery (and, for some extent, the Harlem Renaissance) were plentiful, I have to admit being rather frustrated in my search for high-quality web resources on Women Writers of the Diaspora. There’s the Schomburg’s African American Women Writers of the 19th Century, of course, and Voices from the Gaps, and a handful of resources like the Zora Neale Hurston Plays at the Library of Congress. But beyond that, pickings were mighty slim.

So what are your favorites? Do you have any recommendations for web sites that we missed in this subject area? (Or, for that matter, in any of the other subject areas–slavery, Harlem Renaissance, films & filmmakers?) Maybe you have a project at your institution that would fit with the theme of the workshop? Take a look at the workshop web site and leave your comments on the blog–we’ll happily add your site or project!

Thoughts on the Digital Humanities

Wednesday, April 9th, 2008

About Timothy Hackman

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

I just came back from a lunch-time session sponsored by the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (MITH), a research unit housed right here in the main library at UMD, about their latest NEH-funded undertaking, the Shakespeare’s Quartos Project. (You can view the announcement for the talk, or read the University’s official news release.) It’s a pretty exciting pilot grant to “create a technical proof of concept ‘working model’ for the project by digitizing all 32 pre-1641 versions of Hamlet held by [six] participating libraries.” The eventual goal is to create a “freely-accessible, high resolution digital interactive archive of William Shakespeare’s pre-1641 quartos.” Scanning for the project has been under way for a while now, and you may already be familiar with the British Library’s Treasures in Full: Shakespeare in Quarto, which currently has the BL’s 93 copies of pre-1642 quartos, and which will eventually house the completed project.

The talk was part of MITH’s “Digital Dialogues” series, weekly talks on all sorts of interesting electronic issues and projects, usually attended by a mix of arts & humanities and computer science faculty and students. I attend when my schedule allows, but usually I’m the only librarian in the room. All of which got me to wondering… How much do you (as a humanities librarian) pay attention to and/or participate in developments in the realm of “Digital Humanities” (sometimes aka “Humanities Computing”)? If you do pay attention or participate, what are your reasons for doing so? What kinds of things interest you, and how do you keep up?

For now, my primary motivation is to learn about cool projects, like Shakespeare’s Quartos, (or the Dickinson Electronic Archives or the Walt Whitman Archive), that will help me to help my students and faculty. I think that down the road I’d be interested in participating in some sort of digital humanities project or scholarship, but I have yet to figure out how that would occur or what it would look like. As for keeping up, I feel a bit spoiled having a vibrant organization like MITH in-house, as I know there will always be interesting things going on right under my nose. But I’ve also recently become a fan of the blog Digital Scholarship in the Humanities, which is a great way to eavesdrop on some of the conversations going on in the field and learn about new resources. (Their three-part entry on Digital Humanities in 2007 offers an excellent overview of recent developments.)

I think the realm of Digital Humanities offers a natural venue for collaboration between librarians, researchers and computer scientists, and the best projects combine the technical proficiency, subject knowledge, and information organization skills and end-user focus of all three groups.