Friday, November 30, 2007

Open Access Resources from Alexander Street Press

Explore or become part of a scholarly community today and collaborate with a publisher in the electronic environment.

The "Second Wave" and Beyond, a free resource provided by Alexander Street Press, “is an innovative form of electronic communication and research that brings together feminist thinkers, scholars and activists, to analyze compelling questions about feminist activism and theories, define new directions for historical research on this period, and provide a new venue for publishing traditional articles but also for writing and recording this history in ways made possible by the medium of online publication.” The “Second Wave” and Beyond complements the database Women and Social Movements in the United States, 1600-2000 (subscribed to by BC Libraries). However, participants in the former need not be affiliated with institutions that subscribe to Women and Social Movements. For more information see

Another open access resource made available by Alexander Street Press is In the First Person. This is “a free, high quality, professionally published, in-depth index of close to 4,000 collections of personal narratives in English from around the world. It lets you keyword search more than 700,000 pages of full-text by more than 18,000 individuals from all walks of life. It also contains pointers to some 4,300 audio and video files and 30,000 bibliographic records. The index contains approximately 20,500 months of diary entries, 63,000 letter entries, and 17,000 oral history entries.”

Though Alexander Street Press is a for-profit publisher, the open access nature of these two resources is very welcome. Alexander St. Press is to be applauded.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Follow-up to Reading at Risk Links Declines in Reading with Poorer Academic and Social Outcomes

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) recently announced the release of To Read or Not To Read: A Question of National Consequence, a new and comprehensive analysis of reading patterns in the United States. This report gathers statistics from more than 40 studies on the reading habits and skills of children, teenagers, and adults. The conclusions are grim. There have been severe declines in voluntary reading and reading test scores, all pointing to serious consequences for American society.

The complete Report as well as the Executive Summary may be downloaded.

Short extract from the Executive Summary:

In 2004, theNational Endowment for the Arts published Reading at Risk: A Survey of Literary Reading in America. This detailed study showed that Americans in almost every demographic group were reading fiction, poetry, and drama—and books in general—at significantly lower rates than 10 or 20 years earlier. The declines were steepest among young adults.

More recent findings attest to the diminished role of voluntary reading in American life. These new statistics come from a variety of reliable sources, including large, nationally representative studies conducted by other federal agencies. Brought together here for the first time, the data prompt three unsettling conclusions:

• Americans are spending less time reading.

• Reading comprehension skills are eroding.

• These declines have serious civic, social, cultural, and economic implications.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Fair Use & Multimedia in the Classroom

What's "fair use" when it comes to showing films, television shows and assorted media clips in the classroom?

Inside Higher Ed has a nice write-up on the "patchwork of laws and rulings on the use of media for educational purposes" and the efforts of the Society for Cinema and Media Studies to "clarify the boundaries with a new set of best-practices guidelines..."

The creators of the Society's Statement of Best Practices, writes IHE, "hope that it will give professors a tool for interpreting existing law as well as provide a unified set of standards to eliminate confusion between instructors and college administrations."

Up next for the Society: A policy document on the limits fair use imposes on publishing clips in online journals, DVDs enclosed with published articles, Web sites and other digital scholarly venues.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Overview of Podcasts

For those who have little or no experience of podcasting, today's Sunday Times (UK) has a short but useful overview together with interesting links. The article, "Podcasts Have a World in your Ear," is available in Times Online.

There is also a good Podcast Primer on the Open Culture site.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Over 500 Publicly Accessible Scholarly Books

The California Digital Library's eScholarship Editions collection includes almost 2000 books from academic presses on a range of topics, including art, science, history, music, religion, and fiction. Whilethe majority of the electronic books are only open as full-text to University of California faculty, staff, and students, over 500 scholarly books are freely available to the public.

One may search the full-text of all books or just the publicly accessible ones with either a keyword search or an advanced search. There are Author, Title, and Subject lists for the publicly accessible books.

Friday, November 23, 2007

OpenDOAR Now Includes 1000 Repositories

The UK Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) has issued a press release detailing the substantial growth in disciplinary and institutional repositories:

SHERPA has announced that its OpenDOAR directory, which contains an authoritative list of institutional and subject-based repositories, now boasts 1000 repository entries from across the globe.

With each of the repositories listed by the OpenDOAR service having been visited by project staff, the gathered information is both accurate and precise, and contains a quality-controlled list of repository features.

Open access to information has grown rapidly as researchers and scholars increasingly put their work on the web for free in repositories. OpenDOAR aims to create a bridge between the administrators of those repositories and the service providers which "harvest" them.

The typical service provider is a search engine, indexing the material that is held. General Internet searches often bring back too many "junk" results. Information from OpenDOAR enables the search service to provide a more focussed search by selecting repositories that are of direct interest to the user - for example, all Australian repositories, or all repositories that hold conference papers on chemistry. OpenDOAR can also be used by researchers to check if their institution has a repository.

As OpenDOAR forms a major quality target resource for services such as Intute RS (Repository Search) and the Depot, 1000 entries is, say SHERPA staff, a significant step forward in enabling the global virtual repository network to cooperate in new and innovative ways.

SHERPA is based at the University of Nottingham and works on a portfolio of projects related to Open Access and repository development including JULIET and RoMEO.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Wikipedia & Plagiarism (Not What You Think)

"The publisher John Wiley & Sons confirmed last week that its book 'Black Gold: The New Frontier in Oil for Investors' by George Orwel had lifted almost word for word about five paragraphs from a Wikipedia article on the Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia." (New York Times, 11/19/2007)
Read the full article

Custom Textbooks

SOURCE: Inside Higher Ed (News)

Pearson Custom Publishing is working with faculty at Rio Solado community college in Arizona to print custom textbooks assembled from multiple sources.
On Wednesday, the Arizona community college announced a partnership with Pearson Custom Publishing to allow Rio Salado professors to piece together single individualized textbooks from multiple sources. The result, in what could be the first institution-wide initiative of its kind, will be a savings to students of up to 50 percent, the college estimates, as well as a savings of time to faculty, who often find themselves revising course materials to keep pace with continuously updated editions.

See article for full details ....

Monday, November 19, 2007

Kindle: Amazon's New Wireless Reading Device

Amazon introduces its new eBook reader, the Kindle.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Extending an Author's Rights: A Success Story

When my article about web resources for research in Buddhist-Christian dialogue was accepted for publication in the journal Buddhist-Christian Studies, I sent the publisher, University of Hawai'i Press, the Amendment to Publication Agreement form provided by the Boston Library Consortium. The form was returned to me signed and without argument. I now can make the article available in any number of ways on the web. A small victory, but the kind of result authors should pursue whenever they receive a publishing contract. Links to the Word and PDF formats of the BLC Amendment to Publication Agreement form are available. The BC Libraries' website also has a sample text of an addendum to a publishing contract.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Scholarly Communication Education Initiatives (SPEC Kit, 299)

The Association of Research Libraries has just published Scholarly Communication Education Initiatives, SPEC Kit 299 (authored by Kathleen A. Newman, Deborah D. Blecic, and Kimberly L. Armstrong). This very interesting SPEC Kit includes documentation from respondents in the form of proposals for education initiatives, scholarly communication and copyright Web pages, job descriptions, and education materials. Though the complete document is not freely accessible online, the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign has made available as open access about the first 80 pages of the report through its institutional repository, IDEALS site. What are not openly accessible are the representative documents that were submitted by the respondents (about 100 pages).


Access to information, the foundation of scholarly communication, has traditionally been provided through academic journals, research collections, and other print publications. Recent advances in digital technology, however, have revolutionized scholarly communication, leading to innovations in the conduct of research as well as in the conveyance of ideas to readers. Librarians have sought to inform their communities about scholarly communication issues such as author rights management, open access, and journal costs through such activities as classes, Web sites, symposia, and workshops to help create change. The purpose of this survey was to find out what kind of initiatives ARL member libraries have used or plan to use to educate faculty, researchers, administrators, students, and library staff at their institutions about scholarly communication issues.

The survey was distributed to the 123 ARL member libraries in May 2007. Respondents were asked to provide information about the nature of library-initiated education activities about scholarly communication issues that had taken place in their institutions in the past three years or that were expected to take place soon. Of the 73 libraries that responded to the survey, 55 (75%) indicated that the library has engaged in educational activities on scholarly communication issues; 13 (18%) have not, but indicated that planning is underway. Only three libraries indicated that they had not engaged in this activity and were not planning to do so; another two responded that this is the responsibility of another, non-library unit of the institution.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

SPARC Open Access Newsletter, #115

The SPARC Open Access Newsletter, issue #115 (November 2, 2007) by Peter Suber is now online:

Friday, November 2, 2007

New Yorker on the Digital Library and the Google Book Project

There’s a good article by Anthony Grafton in the latest New Yorker about the evolving digital library and the Google Book Project. Click for article.

In the same issue Grafton has another piece on some favorite digital archives and historical resources. Click for article.