Archive for the ‘News’ Category

DFW blog posting from Inside Higher Ed

Monday, October 6th, 2008

As the literature librarian, I probably should have posted something about David Foster Wallace’s death when it happened, especially since I just blogged about the lost of Kate Chopin’s house.  I simply had difficulty of thinking what to post in the face of such a tremendous loss.  In the meantime, I have been following some of the blog discussions in the aftermath of DFW’s suicide and this post from Inside Higher Ed‘s  University Diaries blog just came to my attention.  In it, UD discusses Julian Gough’s suggestion that academia had a role in “killing” DFW’s writing.  A provocative thesis, as the comments will demonstrate, but one worth mulling over.

Kate Chopin’s house burns this week

Friday, October 3rd, 2008

In case you had not heard, the late author Kate Chopin’s house in Natchitoches, Louisiana burned down earlier this week.  Here are a few links for details and pictures.  The house was a national historic monument and home to the Bayou Folk Museum.

Twit lit?

Monday, September 22nd, 2008

In case you missed this earlier in the month, I came across this blog entry about people who write fiction on microblogging services like Twitter.  Since microblogging involves messages of 140 characters or less, these “stories” end up sounding more like haiku than fiction; some are cute or witty, but the best are remarkably telescopic in nature, suggesting far more than they actually say.

Wordless books at ALA

Wednesday, July 16th, 2008

While attending the American Library Association’s annual convention in Anaheim in late June, I caught a very interesting session, sponsored by the Literatures in English Section of the Association of College and Research Libraries, on the topic of “wordless books.” Check out David Beronä’s Wordless Books blog for a full description of the session and his recent book titled, Wordless Books: The Original Graphic Novels.  There are other libraries in the UC system that are collecting wordless books and graphic novels, so I have not been collecting heavily in this area (Thank you, Interlibrary Loan!).  UCLA’s College Library does have a growing Graphic Novels/Nonfiction Collection.  That said, if you are an advanced scholar doing research in this area, let me know so that I know whether we need more research copies of these books on our campus.

Oh, Canada

Tuesday, July 1st, 2008

Happy Canada Day!  This seems an appropriate moment to highlight Canadian literature collections at UCLA and elsewhere in the University of California system.  At the moment, there are no Canadian literature programs, per se, in the UC system. However, although Canadian literature is not a huge focus of study at UCLA, I conducted a straw poll recently that indicated that there are people throughout the English and Comparative Literature departments, as well as French/Francophone Studies and perhaps elsewhere, who are making use of Canadian literature resources on a fairly regular basis. 

In light of this situation, University of California literature librarians banded together a few years ago to create a Canadian Shared Print project for anglophone Canadian literature. This project began several years ago as a pilot but will continue for the foreseeable future.  Basically, what happens is that the UC campuses pool their money for anglophone Canadian literature and purchase single, shared copies of a wide variety of Canadian fiction, poetry, and drama titles.  These books are stored at the Southern Regional Library Facility (SRLF) and can be located by searching Melvyl or OCLC WorldCat (or the new “Next Generation Melvyl” catalog). UC borrowers can then quickly and easily request these books.  In the meantime, my counterparts at the other UC campuses and I monitor the list of books we are getting through this shared print program and then decide whether we want to spend money on a duplicate copy for our local campus (e.g., if it is a major author like Margaret Atwood, or if I know that a professor is teaching a course featuring a particular author or title).

This program is great because it does not restrict us from collecting works of Canadian literature that we think our campuses need, but it helps us avoid spending money on unnecessary duplicate copies where 1 copy in the UC system would satisfy scholarly needs. If you have questions about how this shared print project works or comments about it, please let me know. We just finished a rigorous assessment of the project and welcome feedback from users of these materials. If you’re a librarian considering this type of shared print project, I’d be happy to answer your questions or point you toward our resident shared print expert in the California Digital Library.

 If francophone Canadian literature is your thing, rest assured that I am busy collecting in this area as well, trying to acquire works by established authors as well as up and coming authors.  If you have suggestions of francophone Canadian authors, poets, or titles to watch for, please let me know!

American Library Association goes Disney

Wednesday, June 25th, 2008

Thousands upon thousands of librarians–public, academic, special collections, and more–will be converging on Anaheim this weekend for the American Library Association’s annual convention.  I will be attending for the first time and hope to post some of my observations and notes here, if not during the convention, then afterward.  Since I did not enter academic librarianship through the conventional route (i.e., I have a subject Ph.D. rather than a library degree), this will be something of a cultural immersion experience for me.  And since I have never had the pleasure of visiting Disneyland (or Disney anything, for that matter), this will also be a cultural experience of a different sort, I expect.

Google book search bibliography

Wednesday, May 28th, 2008

This may be of interest to history of the book scholars as well as new media scholars.  Charles W. Bailey, Jr., of, has pulled together a bibliography of materials examining a range of issues relating to Google Book Search

Here is Bailey’s announcement:

The Google Book Search Bibliography, Version 2 is now available from Digital Scholarship.  This bibliography presents selected English-language articles and other works that are useful in understanding Google Book Search. It primarily focuses on the evolution of Google Book Search and the legal, library, and social issues associated with it. Where possible, links are provided to works that are freely available on the Internet, including e-prints in disciplinary archives and institutional repositories. Note that e-prints and published articles may not be  identical.  

For a discussion of the numerous changes in my digital publications since my resignation from the University of Houston Libraries, see Digital Scholarship Publications Overview.

LAUNCHED today! The Next Generation Melvyl Pilot

Tuesday, May 27th, 2008

The University of California (UC) Libraries have launched a pilot version of a replacement for the current Melvyl Catalog, which contains records for holdings at all ten UC campuses.  Users are encouraged to test the pilot, called Next-Generation Melvyl, and offer feedback on how well it meets their needs.  The UCLA version is available at  

The pilot features a single interface that searches holdings in all UC Libraries, those of libraries around the world, and UC books digitized by Google. It also searches for article references in education (from journals indexed in ERIC), medicine and health (from journals indexed in Medline), U.S. government publications (from journals indexed in GPO), and general topics (from journals indexed in ArticleFirst).  UC-eLinks can then be used to access the full text or print-copy information for journals to which there is a UC subscription. 

Because the process of loading records into the pilot database is extremely complex, most but not all Melvyl records will be available during this testing phase.  Throughout the pilot, the current Melvyl Catalog ( and all its functionality will be maintained and available as usual.  

Search results are displayed with local records first, then UC records, then records from other libraries worldwide.  From the individual records, users can check circulation status, place holds on items at their home campuses, and request items held elsewhere, both within the UC system and beyond.  

Other features include the ability to easily refine searches, build and share lists of library resources, view personal ratings and reviews of items, cite items in various styles, export citations in multiple formats, and search the catalog using several languages.    

The pilot, which begins today, will last at least six months. Following its completion, a decision will be made about whether to move forward with it or to pursue other options.  

Next-Generation Melvyl has been created in collaboration with the Online Computer Library Center (OCLC).  This partnership enables the UC libraries to integrate their collection resources – whether purchased, locally digitized, or digitized by third parties – with collections around the world in ways that meet the needs of students and faculty.  

OCLC is a nonprofit library membership and research organization that provides computer-based cataloging, reference, resource sharing, preservation, and electronic content services to 57,000 libraries in 112 countries and territories. OCLC and its member libraries worldwide also have created and maintain WorldCat (, the world’s richest online resource for finding library materials.�

Open Humanities Press officially launched

Wednesday, May 7th, 2008

This just out from Open Humanities Press. Hopefully this is the first of many such open access projects in the humanities!

For Immediate Release, May 5, 2008
Contact: Sigi Jöttkandt +32 (0)2 792 7346
LAUNCH OF OPEN HUMANITIES PRESS – Open Access expands to humanities disciplines with a bold new publishing initiative in critical and cultural theoryBrussels, Belgium – On May 12, 2008, the Open Humanities Press (OHP) will launch with 7 of the leading Open Access journals in critical and cultural theory. A non-profit, international grass-roots initiative, OHP marks a watershed in the growing embrace of Open Access in the humanities.“OHP is a bold and timely venture” said J. Hillis Miller, Distinguished Professor of English at the University of California, Irvine, a long-time supporter of the Open Access movement and OHP board member. “It is designed to make peer-reviewed scholarly and critical works in a number of humanistic disciplines and cross-disciplines available free online. Initially primarily concerned with journals, OHP may ultimately also include book-length writings. This project is an admirable response to the current crisis in scholarly publishing and to the rapid shift from print media to electronic media. This shift, and OHP’s response to it, are facets of what has been called ‘critical climate change.’”“The future of scholarly publishing lies in Open Access” agreed Jonathan Culler, Class of 1916 Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Cornell University and fellow member of OHP’s editorial advisory board. “Scholars in the future should give careful consideration to the where they publish, since their goal should be to make the products of their research as widely available as possible, to people throughout the world. Open Humanities Press is a most welcome initiative that will help us move in this direction.”

OHP will give new confidence to humanities academics who wish to make their work freely accessible but have concerns about the academic standards of online publishing. In addition to being peer-reviewed, all OHP journals undergo rigorous vetting by an editorial board of leading humanities scholars.

OHP’s board includes Alain Badiou, Chair of Philosophy at the École Normale Supérieure, Donna Haraway, Professor of the History of Consciousness and Feminist Studies, UC Santa Cruz, Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Director of the International Center for Writing and Translation, UC Irvine, Gayatri Spivak, Avalon Foundation Professor in the Humanities, Columbia University, Peter Suber, Open Access Project Director for Public Knowledge and Professor of Philosophy at Earlham College, and Stephen Greenblatt, Cogan University Professor of the Humanities, Harvard University, who has been leading the public debate on the crisis of academic publishing in the humanities.

“Open-access publishing in serious, peer-reviewed online scholarly journals is one of the keys to solving a financial crisis that has afflicted university libraries everywhere and has had a chilling effect on virtually every academic discipline” said Greenblatt.“Making scholarly work available without charge on the internet has offered hope for the natural sciences and now offers hope in the humanities.”

With initial offerings in continental philosophy, cultural studies, new media, film and literary criticism, OHP serves researchers and students as the Open Access gateway for editorially-vetted scholarly literature in the humanities. The first journals to become part of OHP are Cosmos and History, Culture Machine, Fibreculture, Film-Philosophy, International Journal of Zizek Studies, Parrhesia and Vectors.

“But it’s not simply a matter of what Open Access can do for the humanities” added Gary Hall, Professor of Media and Performing Arts at Coventry University, co-editor of Culture Machine and one of the co-founders of OHP. “It is also a case of what can the humanities do for Open Access. Researchers, editors and publishers in the humanities have developed very different professional cultures and intellectual practices to the STMs who have dominated the discussion around Open Access to date. OHP is ideally positioned to explore some of the exciting new challenges and perspectives in scholarly communication that are being opened up for Open Access as it is increasingly adopted within the humanities.”


Open Humanities Press is an international Open Access publishing collective specializing in critical and cultural theory. OHP was formed by academics to overcome the current crisis in scholarly publishing that threatens intellectual freedom and academic rigor worldwide. OHP journals are academically certified by OHP’s independent board of international scholars. All OHP publications are peer-reviewed, published under open access licenses, and freely and immediately available online at

Course readers and fair use

Wednesday, April 16th, 2008

Do you compile course readers or course packs for your classes?  Think this is clearly fair use where copyright is concerned?  Well, take a look at this development, taken from Peter Suber’s open access blog:

Are digital course packs fair use?

via Open Access News by Peter Suber on 4/16/08

Katie Hafner, Publishers Sue Georgia State on Digital Reading Matter, New York Times, April 16, 2008.  Excerpt:

Three prominent academic publishers are suing Georgia State University, contending that the school is violating copyright laws by providing course reading material to students in digital format without seeking permission from the publishers or paying licensing fees.

In a complaint filed Tuesday in United States District Court in Atlanta, the publishers — Cambridge University Press, Oxford University Press and Sage Publications — sued four university officials, asserting “systematic, widespread and unauthorized copying and distribution of a vast amount of copyrighted works” by Georgia State, which the university distributes through its Web site.

The lawsuit…may be the first of its kind….

The case centers on so-called course packs, compilations of reading materials from various books and journals. The lawsuit contends that in many cases, professors are providing students with multiple chapters of a given work, in violation of the “fair use” provision of copyright law. The publishers are seeking an order that the defendants secure permissions and pay licensing fees to the copyright owners….

R. Bruce Rich, a partner in the law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges, which is representing the plaintiffs, said that…Georgia State officials “indicated their view that all of their practices are covered under the fair use doctrine.” …

Legal precedents exist for cases involving course packs from photocopied material, but experts say the lawsuit against Georgia State is the first to be filed over electronic course packs….

“Publishers have created a market for course materials that is very similar to the market for luxury goods,” said [Susan Crawford, visiting professor at Yale Law School]. “There is only one version available, and at a very high price.” …

“In academic publishing, we need to find the digital services people really want,” said Brewster Kahle, founder of the Internet Archive, a nonprofit digital library based in San Francisco. “I wonder if this will turn out to be an ‘attack the innovator’ suit like the peer-to-peer suits for the music industry. Sometimes a bit of slack can help us all discover a winning formula.”

Comment.  This is not about OA, so I won’t be covering the case in detail.  It’s about TA and the fair use of TA literature.  But there are several reasons why I wanted to cover the first appearance of what will clearly be an important case.  (1) I want to set myself up to blog future twists and turns, or commentary, with strong OA connections.  (2) The case may show how far photocopying precedents will be applied to digitization cases.  (3) The case could change or clarify fair use for non-commercial educational purposes.  Any such change or clarification would affect fair use for TA literature, but also fair use for free online literature that had removed price barriers but not permission barriers.  (4) It may show the weight of the first fair-use factor (“the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes“) relative to the fourth (“the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work”), or in short, the relative weight of university interests and publisher interests.