Archive for the ‘Professional Activity’ Category


Wikipedia #1Lib1Ref Effort

January 15, 2016

This week (Jan. 15-23) I’m participating in the Wikipedia Library#1Lib1Ref effort to get more solid sourcing attached to Wikipedia entries. Did you know that Wikipedia is a top 10 source of referrals to CrossRef, the DOI resolver? That means that LOTS of people – including students, academics and librarians – are going to Wikipedia looking for scholarly resources and actually clicking the links to read articles!

Some Wikipedia articles have great footnotes, reference sections, and further reading sections.  Others … do not. Wikipedia is encouraging librarians to add just ONE good quality source to a Wikipedia article today. I’d like to broaden this to encourage anyone with an interest in classical studies to do so as well. And I’ve got an easy way for you to help.

I keep a Zotero library of open-access bibliographies about the ancient world – Ancient World Open Bibliographies. Pick one on a topic you like. Add a link to the bibliography from a relevant Wikipedia article. Or, you know, use your expert knowledge to add a link to the WorldCat record for a book about a topic, or a link (using the DOI) to a scholarly article, or link to a scholarly web project on a classics topic directly.

Editing Wikipedia is actually VERY easy, and does not require you to create a login. I teach students to do it in class in less than 10 minutes. Wikipedia Library has a simple introduction teaching you how to edit Wikipedia if you’ve never used a wiki before.

If you tweet me directly @classicslib when you make you edit, I will give you a twitter heart, even though I think they are silly. I’ll also retweet you – I’ve got 1550 followers, which must be good for something! Hashtagging #1lib1ref will get you seen by the larger world working on this project.


November Project: AcWriMo

October 31, 2012

Following the lead of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) some enterprising folks came up with AcWriMo (Academic Writing Month). The idea is that you commit to a certain academic writing goal, and resolve to work steadily at it for the entire month of November. As with all goal-setting projects, the key is to pick something laudatory yet achievable.  Having comrades working on similar projects helps with motivation and communal support.  There’s a spreadsheet that will allow you to see what others are trying to achieve, and where everyone can post the day’s triumphs (or minor disasters, as the case may be.)  Several people in the fields of classics or ancient studies who are on twitter have set themselves AcWriMo challenges, and I’ve tried to collect a list of them, if you want to know whom to cheer on (or add yourself). To follow everyone from every discpline, use the #acwrimo hashtag.

I am going to do AcWriMo myself, with the goal of making over my doctoral dissertation, left unfinished at about the turn of 2001-2002, into an article that can be submitted for publication.  My topic was surface and subsurface archaeological methodology at Archaia Nemea Tsoungiza, a prehistoric Greek site excavated by a Bryn Mawr College team in the 1980s.  Three chapters of the dissertation will form the basis of my article.  Two of them were written and polished, and need only to be edited both for length and context and to take into consideration new scholarship published in the past decade.  (There is this 9-pound, 1200-page book by Dan Pullen that is relevant…). The third chapter was about 3/4 finished, but not polished. There, I need to re-examine my data set and write up my conclusions for the last chronological period, then edit the heck out of the entire chapter.

In preparation, I have downloaded and installed a free 60-day trial of ArcGIS. (First task accomplished!) Next I need to get my 10 year old shapefiles in there and hope there is no serious data corruption, and see what I remember about using a GIS.  My plan is to work simultaneously at getting back up to speed with the GIS analysis while editing the already-polished chapters.  I’m setting the goal of working for two hours a day – mostly 10am-12pm – weekdays during November. While I am not employed right now, and in theory have about 6 hours a day that could be spent productively, I know my work habits are better in short, focused bursts. Give me a goal of six hours working a day and I guarantee I will spend it all faffing about on the internet. Another big challenge is that my November looks like this: traveling to a conference, then chairing the Scholastic Book Fair at my kids’ school, then Thanksgiving, then my husband goes to China for 10 days.  But there’s actually a great freedom in this project for me – I already “failed” at it, by never finishing my dissertation, so hopefully everything from here on out is kind of a bonus.


Library-Related Presentations at LAWDI

June 6, 2012

LAWDI was set up with half-hour presentations by ‘faculty,’ and 15-minute presentations by the rest of the attendees.  Links to slides for all presentations that used them are being collected here.  In this post I discuss those presentations most relevant to librarians and the issues they love best (bibliographic citation, authority control, scholarly publishing) as well as recapping my own presentation.

Friday we began with a talk by Chuck Jones of the ISAW Library (links he discussed collected at AWOL) and then a powerhouse tour of library linked data and metadata issues by Corey Harper of NYU’s Bobst Library.  His slides are here.   (For librarians wanting to get up to speed or keep up to date on the issues Corey covers I also strongly recommend following the blog of Ed Summers of the Library of Congress, Half of what I know about linked open data I learned there.)

So, I had a tough act to follow; I think I actually said, “And now for something completely different.”  First I described the goals of and demonstrated the Ancient World Open Bibliographies. Its origins are covered in a post titled “The Beginning” at that blog, and you can follow the links to the Wiki and Zotero library for the project yourself. In the context of LAWDI, it was important to note that Zotero allows the export of bibliographic citations automatically marked up using the Bibo (Bibliographic ontology) vocabulary, so keeping bibliographies there gives you a leg up on becoming part of the linked open data world.  I also demonstrated an online bibliography on Evagrius Ponticus by Joel Kalvesmaki of Dumbarton Oaks as example of what can be done with a bibliography based in Zotero, but presented as an inherent part of a digital project.

The second point I wanted to make was that bibliographic information is linked open data friendly.  (Libraries have worked hard to make it so!) Library catalogs are structured data files on books, and while the current structure is out of date, we’re working on that (see Corey Harper’s talk). Most books have a standard number that represents them: an ISBN, an OCLC number (accession number into the OCLC catalog, now online as WorldCat) or a Library of Congress Control Number (LCCN).  Many books have all three!  Articles, book chapters, or other things  scholars want to cite are more problematic.  Many journal publishers now use DOIs (digital object identifiers) for specific articles, but these have not been universally adopted. I demonstrated the DOI resolver at (which also lets you create stable URIs for DOIs; I’ll cover this in more explicit detail in a future post.)

My third point was to try to think more broadly about how existing open-access online bibliographic indexes for ancient studies could move in the direction of being linked open data compliant.  At 8am the morning I spoke, without any prompting from me, Tom Elliott posted a manifesto on this same topic at his blog: Ancient Studies Needs Open Bibliographic Data and Associated URIs. So, let me say, what he said, and amen.

Saturday we had two talks that were very exciting to me as a librarian, even though they were actually about scholarly publishing. Sebastian Heath of ISAW talked (without slides I think) about publishing the ISAW Papers series using linked open data principles.  Andrew Reinhard of the American School of Classical Studies (ASCSA) publications office brought forward one of the more resonant metaphors of the conference, that the current scholarly publishing enterprise is essentially steampunk, 21st century work with 19th century models. (This got retweeted a lot!) He was bursting with ways ASCSA plans to change this. Slides are here.

Next up: my recommendations on choosing good links for bibliographic stuff.

Previous post here on LAWDI:


The Future of L’Annee Philologique

April 17, 2012

I am possibly the last Classics-related blogger to post the petition asking the German government and/or Heidelberg to reconsider defunding the German office of L’Annee; North American readers should also have a look at today’s APA’s blog post on the subject, which makes the activities of the several national offices of the APA more clear to those not familiar with them, and vaguely promises some future call to action.  It seems the German office has fallen prey to one of the classic Catch-22 situations of academic funding: there are funds for exciting new projects, but it’s very hard to fund a project that has been going on for 100 years, no matter how useful it may be.

I hope and trust that L’Annee will not go away; it remains the most comprehensive bibliographic index for Classics.  I will admit to indulging in some private speculation about what I might design to replace L’Annee Philologique if it did go away (first, I’d have a much more robust subject classification using a standard vocabulary of keywords).  I also wonder if there are any good numbers out there (public numbers) about how often L’Annee is used, and by whom.  I was rather surprised when the new interface debuted a couple of springs ago, and nobody seemed to notice for several weeks, suggesting that the average Classics scholar does not use L’Annee every day, or even every week.  For the Younger Generation (aka These Kids Today) is Google Scholar coming first?

In other news, I am still working at the University of Cincinnati Classics Library, currently on a part-time basis (by my choice) doing a shift of the journals.  It’s rather meditative, looking at the rows of bound volumes, and thinking about the venerable reliables that crank out an issue faithfully every year, and have done so for 125 years; the hopeful upstarts that published for a decade and then died; the lean years (World War II is notable in the thinness of many European titles) and the skipped issues, and the journals that keep getting fatter.  Sometimes I have deep thoughts, and then other times I just think too many articles are being published, and my thumb hurts.


Disciplinary Meetings, Technology and Self-Reflection

January 10, 2012

This weekend the AIA/APA Annual Meetings took place in Philadelphia.  Several other major disciplinary academic conferences take place the first weekend in January, taking advantage of the semester break (for most), including AHA 2012 in Chicago (American Historical Association) and MLA 2012 in Seattle (Modern Language Association).

I didn’t go to any of them, but I checked in on my Twitter feed periodically, and was struck by the differences in the conversations that went on around each of these three meetings.  Tweets from #aiaapa actually appeared this year – a stunning difference from the 2011 meetings in San Antonio.  (I looked for twitter messages about AIA/APA in January 2011, and there were literally fewer than 5).  This year, several doughty reporters tweeted the conference panels they attended, including Francesca Tronchin (@tronchin), Tom Elliot (@paregorios), and Kristina Killigrove (@BoneGirlPhD, who made a nice summary of her Twitter work at her blog, Powered By Osteons, and also wrote a valuable post about the Lessons from Live-Tweeting), and others I probably missed.  Many thanks to them – it’s fun and enlightening to be able to drop in on a conference remotely.

In contrast, twitter took over MLA in December 2009, and the #mla2012 and #aha2012 hashtags both ticked forward so fast one could barely follow them this weekend.  At MLA, tweeters started adding second hashtags for the session numbers, so those following along could separate the streams coming from each room and topic.  Some of the difference in volume between these three conferences can be attributed to size – AIA/APA had about 3000 registrants, while AHA had about 3700, and MLA twice that (no 2012 numbers yet, but 2011 in L.A. attracted 7745).  But much more of the difference has to do with disciplinary cultures.  (And it’s not age of the practitioners – I’m 39, the average age of a Twitter user, and Twitter is actually most popular among the 26-44 demographic, not among undergrads or early grad students.)

There weren’t just differences between AIA/APA and its sibling conferences in their use of technology for conference conversation.  There were differences in what the conversations were about, as well.  Blogs at the Chronicle of Higher Ed and Inside Higher Ed reporting on AHA and MLA tell the story that was unfolding on my twitter feed – most of the “news” was about the future of higher education, the job market for PhDs and what a dissertation should even look like, and whether or not digital humanities and/or public history will save us all.  The titles tell the story:

In contrast, I could find no reports at Inside Higher Ed or The Chronicle about what was discussed at AIA/APA, and the tweets from those on the ground were about actual archaeological, historical, or philological (I suppose, though I don’t think I saw any) content.

Does this mean AIA/APA – and by association classicists and archaeologists – are better or worse off than historians and modern language scholars?  There’s an argument that all the tweeting and blogging and navel-gazing and raging about the future of the humanities in the press are just a distraction from the actual purpose of a scholarly meeting – the dissemination of scholarship.  On the other hand, some self-reflection on the part of disciplines is healthy, no?  Especially in light of political and economic trends that threaten the values of academia generally, and the humanities in particular?  I don’t think public history or digital humanities will save us all, but I do think they are ways to engage the public – the college-attending, state-legislature-lobbying public – in the scholarly topics that matter to us all.  Is there a way to achieve the reflectivity and growth without the “anguish”?

I should note there were certainly potentially self-reflective sessions on the AIA/APA program: “Cultural Heritage Preservation in a Dangerous World,” “Presenting the Past,” “Discussions and Strategies Regarding Applying for Grants, Fellowships & Post-Docs,” “The Politics of Archaeology,” “Beyond Multiculturalism: Classica Africana…,” “Authors Meet Critics: Race and Reception,” “Intertextuality and its Discontents,” “Teaching About Classics Pedagogy in the 21st Century,” “Classics in Action: How to Engage with the Public,” and more. Maybe it’s just that nobody tweeted about them?


It’s Open Access Week

October 25, 2011

This week hits home for me in a new way this year, as I am currently unaffiliated with an academic institution, and thus (at least formally and legally) unable to access subscription databases like Jstor, L’Annee Philologique, and so forth. I’m not alone – the informal poll Chuck Jones is running on AWOL suggests that 45% of responding readers do not have access to Jstor. (Note for those in my boat – if you visit your local University, you can probably get access to these databases for free while in their library, but not on wireless or off campus. Local policies may vary, but in general University libraries welcome serious people who want to do research in their library buildings. Look for the Reference Desk, sometimes called Research Services, and ask about guest or visiting scholar access.)

Last year I did an introductory post on Open Access Week for classicists; you might click through for a refresher.

I also used the occasion of Open Access Week in 2010 to debut the Ancient World Open Bibliographies blog, which collects open-access bibliographies for ancient studies.  The blog begat a wiki which now lists and links to over 450 bibliographies, with a special focus on the classical world, but with broad coverage of the lands around the Mediterranean and some dips into places further abroad.  I celebrate all those scholars who have made their bibliographies – valuable research tools – available to the internet-enabled public.  Thank you!


Transition for this Classics Librarian

September 26, 2011

Unfortunately, my recent update on UGA library acquisitions related to classics will be my last; I am leaving the University of Georgia as of Sept. 30, 2011.

Taking over the role of Library Liaison to Classics will be my good friend and colleague Emily Luken, who already serves as the liaison to Religion and Philosophy at UGA.  She will be keeping up the office hour in the Alexander Room (currently Thursdays at 2:30pm) and working with Classics faculty to teach students about research resources. UGA-affiliated readers, do not hesitate to get in touch with her about anything related to research or the library.

I am leaving UGA due to a family move to Cincinnati, OH, which is a little amusing as it is the city where I was born, then later studied for a PhD and met my husband (in, of course, the library.)  I am just beginning to look for a library position in Cincinnati and would certainly welcome any professional contacts.  While in this forum my librarian hat is the garland of a classics librarian, I have worked in academic library general reference for 9 years, done library instruction for 3, and could find a good fit in a variety of academic or research settings.

I plan to continue blogging about classics research resources here, whatever position I end up in, but my frequency may be a reduced. Please be patient, and don’t unsubscribe!


They’re Crowdsourcing Papyrus Transcription!

July 28, 2011

One of the hot time-wasting-at-work activities for underemployed and geeky office workers this summer has been the New York Public Library’s What’s on the Menu? project, which asks the public to help transcribe historical restaurant menus from a very large collection.  Menus can’t be reliably transcribed automatically by Optical Character Recognition (OCR), because they tend to use unusual fonts and layouts. In further evidence that there’s a passionate user group out there for nearly any topic, volunteers at the menu transcription project have so far transcribed 475,731 dishes  from 8,821 menus.

What else can’t reliably be transcribed by OCR? Papyri! (Or anything written by hand; for the ancient world this mostly means papyri.)  The Ancient Lives project invites the public to help transcribe items from the Oxyrhynchus Papyri, whose excavation is described at some length.  The project has gotten a lot of press, and there has also been discussion on academic list-servs, with some skepticism about whether the public will be willing and/or able to crowdsource ancient Greek handwriting, and some concerns about the ethics of asking the public to contribute to a project while giving nothing in return.

Ancient Lives is hosted by Zooniverse, which describes itself as a “citizen science” website, and hosts multiple crowdsourcing projects, the majority related to astronomy – participants are asked to look at images of space, many from the Hubble telescope, and identify anomalies, classify galaxies by shape, etc.  The site states it has had 445,501 volunteers (a free login is required to participate) and if the testimonials at the site are reflective of this population, the volunteers are largely enthusiastic, and feel they are being rewarded, for example by learning more about astronomy. One keen-eyed amateur astronomer discovered a new phenomenon, now named after her (Hanny’s Vorweerp is the original; they are now a known and soon-to-be-formally-published phenomenon called Vorweerpjes!)

Could Ancient Lives be a teaching tool in the classroom for you?  Could introductory Greek students get practice recognizing Greek letters by transcribing papyri (or would non-standard handwriting confuse them)? Would an assignment to explore the site fit in to a general Greek Civilization class, or a literature class that reads works whose documentation is affected by the finds at Oxyrhynchus (Menander, for example)?  Or might it be a fun way to procrastinate from that syllabus-writing you should be doing this week?


Scholarly Journals in the News…

July 20, 2011

My Twitter feed broke out in a tizzy yesterday at the news that Aaron Swarz was charged with breaking into a wiring closet at MIT (with which he was not affiliated; during the incident he was employed as a Fellow at the Harvard Center for Ethics [!]) while wearing a bike helmet over his face, and using a personal laptop to download some 4 million articles from Jstor.  Jstor issued a statement about the case, emphasizing that they had not asked for the prosecution, and they do have a service to allow scholars to work with large corpora of articles, if they ask permission first. Demand Progress, an advocacy organization with which Swarz has been affiliated, also released a statement, describing the charges as “bizarre” and arguing that Swarz was being prosecuted for the equivalent of “checking too many books out of the library.”

Usually when my Twitter people are in a tizzy about something they agree with one another, but yesterday they were quite divided – some saw this as a case of advocacy for academic freedom on the internet, and some saw this as a straightforward illegal act (whether or not it should be a matter of criminal charges).  Comments on articles in the New York Times and Wired were similarly variable – and one thing that struck me was the level of ignorance about Jstor from many, especially those in the computing community.  The first 10 comments on the Wired article mostly simply ask, “What is Jstor, and why should we care about this?” Ah, the academic bubble we live in!

Some important questions are being brought forward, and I think it is healthy for the “information on the internet should be free” and the “in the real world, we agree to licensing agreements and violating them is bad” camps to engage with one another.  Jstor is a wonderful service, but it is an expensive one (prices are here); it’s a not-for-profit, but one commenter alleges that more than 10 of its employees have salaries over $250,000 (are they hiring? do they want me?!?).  Should Jstor do more to make its materials accessible to the public? What about the things in Jstor that are out of copyright due to age?

Barbara Fister manages to pull the Swarz incident into her current post, titled “Breaking News: Academic Journals Are Really Expensive!”  If you’re a librarian reading this, you probably know all about the crisis in scholarly publishing; if you’re a student or a faculty member and don’t know, you should find out, because this is a big issue that directly relates to your career.  Looking at article comments, and the current Twitter search for Jstor, can give you a fascinating glimpse at others’ worldviews (whatever yours might be.) As for mine, I find myself in agreement with the comments by Peter Suber in 2008, on an Open Access manifesto apparently written by Swarz.


My Talk at ALA 2011

June 30, 2011

I attended the American Library Association annual conference in New Orleans this past weekend, after being invited to speak at the meeting of the discussion group for Classical, Medieval, and Renaissance Studies Librarians, a sub-group (WESS-CMR) of the Western European Studies Section (WESS) of the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL). (Got all that? Phew!) I was able to attend thanks in part to some funding from the UGA Department of Classics as well as my own employers, and Colin McCaffrey of Yale University, who convenes the discussion group, did the inviting – I am grateful to them all!

I had a wonderful time meeting other librarians who work closely with Classics departments.  That aspect of my work is not shared with many of my existing librarian friends, so it was exciting to make connections with those who know exactly what it’s like to be the only person at your library who really kinda actually does understand L’Annee Philologique.

My talk, on the Ancient World Open Bibliographies project, has been put online; I’ve put up my slides, alternating with slides incorporating the text I spoke from.  Our other speaker was Elizabeth Hahn of the American Numismatic Society library, who showed off their new online catalog (which includes offprints as well as books and so can be a very useful bibliographic resource for numismatics) and various other open-access publications of theirs.

And also, I can report that New Orleans has a large number of streets with classical names in the Garden District – I saw Erato and Melpomene, and I stood at the corner of Polymnia and Prytania, and I’d bet that all the muses are included, plus more!