Archive for March, 2010


Library Catalog Support for Unicode Greek

March 31, 2010

The current concern over transliteration rules for modern Greek in library catalogs reminded me that I meant to write up the results of a brief inquiry I made last fall about the display of Greek characters in library catalogs.

Many newer library catalog software programs support Unicode characters, which allow them to display languages not written in the roman alphabet: Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Russian, Arabic – and, of course, Greek.  However, not too many libraries have yet taken advantage of the ability to display Greek publications in Greek characters.  Here are the ones I have found that have:

Harvard’s HOLLIS catalog (Classic catalog only; linked from supports searching in Greek. They are adding new records for works in Greek with dual MARC fields, one in Greek Unicode and one romanized. They have started doing this since 2006, and are not currently adding anything retrospectively.

The AMBROSIA catalog, of the British and American Schools in Athens (including Gennadius; has all works in Greek displaying and searchable in Greek Unicode, but NOT available romanized. These records were directly converted from Greek paper records to digital records. You can get the catalog to display MARC fields in the public interface.

Zephyr (, a gateway to Greek academic library catalogs developed and maintained by the University of Crete, has supported Unicode since 2006.

Many thanks to librarians Deborah Brown Stewart of Dumbarton Oaks, Jacquelene Riley of Cincinnati, and commenter pagraham (and others) on the Librarything thread, who contributed to my understanding of this topic.


Changes in Modern Greek Transliteration for Libraries?

March 29, 2010

One of the resources I’ve looked to in my quest to get up to speed on Classics librarianship is the Consortium of Hellenic Studies Librarians (CoHSL) list-serv.  The list has been quite active for the past several weeks discussing proposed changes to the modern Greek transliteration tables used by the Library of Congress.  These changes would be of the most consequence to those who work regularly with modern Greek publications, both the librarians who catalog and work with them, and researchers who look for them.  For Classicists, those who read modern Greek and rely on publications about Greek archaeology, history and language and literature in Greek would be affected.

Librarians’ concerns about the proposed changes are now handily summed up in an online petition created by Deborah Brown Stewart (Librarian, Byzantine Studies, Dumbarton Oaks Research Library, and, full disclosure, an old friend of mine) and Rhea K. Lesage (Head and Bibliographer for Modern Greek, Modern Greek Section, Collection Development, Widener Library, Harvard College Library.)  Examples  – such as  how one refers to Heraklion/Eraklion/Eraklio, the city in Crete – help to make the impact of the proposed changes more concrete to the researcher who only occasionally works with modern Greek materials.


Tutorials for L’Annee Philologique

March 26, 2010

This is a write-up I did for a class in the fall of 2009, evaluating existing tutorials for a database and then creating one of my own.

L’Annee Philologique (, by subscription)

L’Annee (as it is commonly known) is a subject-specific database for Classical studies – languages, history, art, and archaeology.  It originated as a print index in the 1920s and has been published annually since then.  The index became available on CD-Rom in the 1990s, and a web version is now available.  Entries from the print indexes covering 1924-2007 are now searchable through the online L’Annee, and new volumes are added annually; 2008 is expected to be available online in September 2010.  The indexing work of L’Annee is supported by national research funds in France and the United States, as well as several academic institutions.  It has offices in France, the US, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, and Spain, generally attached to academic institutions.  Each office has a specific scope of materials to index, based on country of publication.  L’Annee’s goal is to provide a comprehensive index of the international research literature in Classical Studies, and to that end it indexes about 1500 journals as well as books, festschriften, dissertations, and book reviews.

L’Annee’s online user interface has long been a trial to researchers in Classics; the database is useful because of its content, and in spite of its interface (which is available in English).  One can search by Modern Author (there seems to be some authority control), Full Text (which is a keyword search of the citation; the database does not contain full text of articles), Ancient Author and Text (authority control is also in effect), Subjects and Disciplines (subject headings, which are nested although very broad – “archaeology” is one; also they were unfortunately changed with v. 67 (1997) so one can either search before-1997 headings or 1997-on headings, but not both), Date, and Other Criteria.  Generally, to conduct an effective search on a topic requires the building of a search: for example, if one were looking for articles about the treatment of guests in the works of Homer one could search for the ancient author Homer, search for “guest” in the Full Text (making sure to search for the word meaning “guest” in at least German and French in addition to English), and then combine the result sets using AND in the search builder.  L’Annee does allow citations to be emailed, downloaded, or exported to a bibliographic management software (directly to Refworks, through the use of a filter with EndNote.)

To develop my tutorial, I relied on my personal experiences searching L’Annee as a researcher, and on my experience demonstrating this database for graduate students and undergrads in library instruction sessions.  Even some faculty have remarked to me that they did not know about the possibility of combining searches using AND, OR, or NOT in L’Annee until I demonstrated this feature to a class.  I included some sections in the tutorial as a direct result of questions I have fielded from students about the use of L’Annee, especially the section on exporting citations to RefWorks.  While I was working on the tutorial I sent out a message on Facebook to my Classics contacts asking for specific tips or tricks about how to best use L’Annee.  I also emailed the list of first-year Classics graduate students at UGA asking for any suggestions they might have.  I was not entirely surprised to get no response from either; I suspect most researchers in Classics, even those who use L’Annee regularly, still feel uncomfortable using it and do not consider themselves experts.

I also looked for existing tutorials on library or Classics department web sites that provided instruction in using L’Annee.  An annotated list follows:

Davidson College Library (
This web page with screen shots was developed by Susannah Boylston.  It provides a basic overview of searching in L’Annee, presented in short, topical chunks of information.

University of New Brunswick Libraries ( )
This is a rather longer and more detailed web page with screen shots, created by Leanne Wells. It is simple but fairly comprehensive.

Temple University Library ( )
This is an animated web tutorial with audio of librarian Fred Rowland describing what is happening on the screen and giving additional information.  The tutorial begins somewhat abruptly, without an introduction.  The tutorial covers only “Full text” searching, and then finding the text of a desired article through the Temple Library web site; it is quite short.

University of Texas at El Paso Library (
This animated web tutorial was developed by Nancy Hill.  There is no audio, except clicks and the noise of typing.  Text boxes in red that appear on the screen explain the steps the user should take.  The video is several minutes long, but the viewer can advance the images by hand if she feels it is progressing too slowly.

Universitat Wurtzberg Universitatsbibliothek ( )
This video tutorial, with audio commentary (in German) by Christiane Maibach, is available in 12 sections, divided by topic.  Subtitles are available in case the user is on a computer without available sound.  Each section of the tutorial is quite long and rather slow, but the division into sections allows the user to concentrate on the topic desired.  It is extremely comprehensive, if unfortunately not very useful for most American students, since it is in German.

My tutorial: