Archive for September, 2007

Graduate student library workshops – Fall 2007

Friday, September 21st, 2007

Graduate students!  Don’t miss these workshops offered jointly by the UCLA Library and the Graduate Writing Center:

New Graduate Student Library Orientation (50 mins) – Sept. 26, 2:00 p.m. or Sept. 27, noon.

The UCLA Library Webspace and Catalog (50 mins) – Sept. 28, 1:00 p.m. or Oct. 4, 11:00 a.m.

Finding Journal Articles Online (50 mins) – Oct. 17, 3:00 p.m.

Endnote (90 mins) – Oct. 11, 2:00 p.m. or Oct. 17, 11:00 a.m.

Citation and Academic Integrity Issues for Graduate Students (90 mins) – Oct. 25, 3:00 p.m.

“Don’t I Own My Own Work?”: Reading and Negotiating Publishers’ Contracts (120 mins) – Nov. 15, 3:00 p.m.

For details, click here. If you still have questions, let me know.

Announcements about electronic resources

Wednesday, September 19th, 2007

From time to time on this blog, I will be posting information about electronic resources relating to the fields of literature, comparative literature, and occasionally folklore.  Sometimes I will feature resources that we already have and may have had for quite some time, providing an overview of the resource and giving tips on how to make the most of it. An example of this might be Early English Books Online (EEBO) or Literature Online (LION). 

On other occasions I may announce a resource that I am thinking of acquiring or that the UC system may want to purchase collectively.  In these situations, I may announce a trial subscription or ask for your feedback on whether you think we ought to spend our limited funds on this particular resource.  When I do announce these trials or ask for feedback, I will try to remind you that a trial subscription does not guarantee that we will acquire the resource.  In fact, I may have to go further in cases where the resource is extremely expensive or being considered at the UC system-wide level:  I may need to tell you that even if you tell me that this resource is a “must-have,” we may not be able to acquire it if the vendor is not willing to negotiate the price to a range we can afford. 

If your strong opinions don’t guarantee a purchase in these cases, why do I solicit them in the first place?  As painful as it is to discover that I (or the UC system) cannot purchase a resource that is clearly desirable from the point of view of scholars, it does help me to know what you want so that I can keep my eyes out for opportunities to acquire it in the future or to seek out lower-cost (or open access!) resources that cover similar ground. It also gives me a stronger position from which to lobby the UC system for higher-cost resources.

I have been addressing electronic resources in this post, but I will also announce and feature print resources every so often. The issues surrounding the acquisition of print materials are somewhat different, so I will discuss them in a separate blog entry at some point.  Of course, do feel free to ask questions if they occur to you before I get around to blogging on them.

Exhibit honoring Prof. Michael Colacurcio

Tuesday, September 18th, 2007


Michael Colacurcio, distinguished professor in the English Department, is being featured this month in the Faculty Exhibit Case located in the lobby of Young Research Library. The exhibit honors his recent nomination to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and features many of his past and forthcoming publications, along with a short biography and selected bibliography.

Colacurcio was nominated alongside colleague Debora Shuger, professor of English, who will be featured in the exhibit case later this quarter.

The West Hollywood Book Fair

Tuesday, September 18th, 2007

If you are looking for something to do this weekend, consider stopping by the 6th Annual West Hollywood Book Fair on Sunday, September 30, 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.  The book fair takes place at West Hollywood Park, 647 N. San Vicente Blvd. in West Hollywood.  For more information go to or call 323-848-6503.

UCLA Library RSS feeds

Monday, September 10th, 2007

If you have visited the UCLA Library home page recently, you may have noticed an announcement regarding RSS feeds for recent acquisitions.  If you are unfamiliar with the concept of RSS feeds or have an idea what they are but have never used one, check out this short video called “RSS in Plain English.”

The Library RSS feeds are still a work-in-progress and deserve a few explanatory notes. The feeds currently available enable you to browse quickly through books and other materials that have recently been cataloged at UCLA Library. The feeds are categorized by subject area (e.g., Language and Literature) or discipline (e.g., Comparative Literature, English). Sounds great, no?  But here are things to keep in mind: These feeds are generated automatically from the library catalog. Because these are materials that have been recently cataloged, not all of them will look “new.” For example, because the Library hired a Middle Eastern languages cataloger not long ago, a backlog of Arabic language materials has begun showing up in a variety of disciplines and subject areas, causing one to wonder why the Literature Selector or Women’s Studies Selector is buying so much in Arabic. Or, in another instance, an older book that has gone missing may be replaced, thus leading to the appearance of a book from 1953 on the recent acquisitions feed.

Another wrinkle in the feedscape is that these feeds are configured on the basis of the Library of Congress Classification System. As most scholars in literature–and especially comparative literature–know, it is extremely difficult to put the work that we do in tidy boxes. The Library of Congress Classification System is not particularly good at providing easy ways to categorize interdisciplinary topics (and sometimes not very good with the more conventional topics, either). So when I sit down to create a feed for British literature, a field with established LC classes, the task is not so difficult; however, when I want to create a feed for comparative literature, I am left scratching my head. There is a very small LC sub-class devoted to comp lit (PN851-884), but surely that is not adequate for keeping comparativists up to speed on library acquisitions related to their work. What is not potentially within the purview of such interdisciplinary scholarship? One solution is to encourage interdisciplinary folks to subscribe to several feeds, and that is what I may need to recommend for the moment, until I am able to find a better solution.

So why bother with RSS feeds for recent acquisitions at all? Because–forgive my choice of metaphors–RSS feeds are one arrow in a quiver of methods to keep oneself informed. RSS feeds are best used for serendipitous encounters. You browse through the latest titles on your feed reader and if there is something interesting, great; if nothing catches your eye, you have only spent 30 seconds or so on it and can move on to something else. I use the feeds to increase the chances that I will encounter new books entering our library. And as I get to know you and your research interests, I will occasionally forward a serendipitous encounter your direction, either via this blog or straight to your individual inbox.

If any of you would like help setting up a feed reader, drop me a line. It only takes a minute, and once it is set up, it takes very little maintenance.