Archive for January, 2009

Electronic dissertations and theses – wave of the future? already here?

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

Those of you who are writing dissertations and theses, along with those of you who may be advising students who are writings such things, may have given at least passing thought to the idea of the format in which that final document will be submitted, evaluated, and disseminated.  There are numerous discussions afoot regarding the need for a shift toward electronic dissertations and theses.  In some cases, these discussions center on the practicalities of having electronic rather than (or in addition to) paper copies to facilitate dissemination and preservation.  In other cases, the question is somewhat more radical, asking what new forms may emerge to challenge the convention of a linear, text-based, book-length argument that prevails in most humanities and social science disciplines.

 To get a handle on these discussions, you can consult the latest version of the Electronic Theses and Dissertations Bibliography by Charles W. Bailey, Jr.

Undergraduate library prize

Wednesday, January 21st, 2009

Gary Strong, University Librarian of the UCLA Library, has just announced that the Library will award its first Library Prize for Undergraduate Research on May 11, 2009. This new prize has been established:

  • to encourage undergraduate students to reflect on the research process in the pursuit of excellence in their academic course work;
  • to recognize the significance of information literacy as it relates to academic learning; and
  • to reward undergraduate students who incorporate the collections of the UCLA Library into their research.

The prize has been funded through the generosity of long-time UCLA Library supporter Ruth Simon. For complete details, visit: 

If you have questions, please contact Alison Armstrong, director of Undergraduate Initiatives, aarmstrong at library dot ucla dot edu.


Monday, January 12th, 2009

If your literature research takes you back any earlier than, say, 1900 or so, you have probably had occasion to try to decipher old type faces, older spelling variants, and blurry, damaged or fading text.  Many of these kinds of texts are being digitized, however, optical character recognition (OCR) scanning has a hard time dealing with anything that is not clearly printed with current spelling or type face conventions.  Even with more current texts, machine digitization (like the Google Books project) introduces a high number of errors to the electronic “copy.”  Having a human go through and correct for these errors is extremely labor-intensive and therefore costly.  A group at Carnegie Mellon has figured out a way to harness human powers of deciphering in order to read and digitize old texts.  Read here for more information about reCAPTCHA.

A new LibGuide for the new year

Tuesday, January 6th, 2009

Locating resources for literature-related research at UCLA has just gotten a bit easier.  I have just unveiled the Literature research guide (aka “LibGuide”) to help give you a launching pad for your research.  The URL is easy to remember:

On the home page, you will find handy frequently used links such as the MLA International Bibliography database, Literature Criticism Online, the library catalogs, and more.  You will also find links to MLA style guides and manuals, as well as ways to contact me for research assistance.  Along the top, there are tabs that organize resources into Reference Sources, Books, Journal Articles, Primary Sources, and Other Resources.  Other Resources includes a growing list of digital humanities sites and scholarly web projects related to literature.

The best thing about the guide is that it is adaptable.  I will continue to add new resources as I come across them.  You are welcome to leave comments about what is useful or what you would like to see added to the guide.  Is there a particular database or resource that you use frequently?  Let me know and I can put it on the home page to help minimize the number of clicks it takes you to find it.  Is there are more intuitive way to organize the information?  Let me know and I’m happy to work with your suggestions.