Posts Tagged ‘librarian issues’


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!


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.


THATCamp 6: Libraries and Scholars

March 17, 2011

This post covers the Sunday of THATCamp SE – sessions I did not attend in person.  The Athens contingent was totally exhausted, and collectively decided to not commute on Sunday.  But I pulled up the #thatcamp twitter feed (archived here by Adelle Frank) and was able to eavesdrop, and even participate virtually a little bit.

The first session I overheard was on Subject Guide Development and Use – basically, LibGuides.  I saw on Twitter that they were interested in alternatives to LibGuides, and tweeted that we at UGA use Library a la Carte, an open-source software developed by Oregon State, and we like it better than LibGuides for its clean design and clear distinction between class and subject guides.  And they pulled it up in the session and looked at it!  Go team remote conference participation.

After that there was a very lively twitter conversation coming from the session on Envisioning Librarian-Scholar Communications, with a collectively-edited Google doc developing as the session went on.  Miriam Posner later posted a great summary of the conversation. This was wonderful to observe remotely, seeing a lot of scholars in the session gain a greater understanding of what librarians do, where their special expertise lies, and how librarians want to, and can, work with scholars in support of teaching and research.

Phew, done!  And only, um, 11 days after the conference ended.

Previous posts on THATCamp SE:


THATCamp SE 4: Making Digital Collections Work for the Scholar

March 10, 2011

THATCamp SE got started in earnest on Saturday.  We all met in a lecture room in the Emory Library (which is a wonderful space in general, and had guest wireless that made me incredibly jealous – it remembered me when I came back the 2nd day, and automatically gave me access! On my own campus, I get kicked off the wireless network repeatedly even when I’m sitting in the same place for an hour.)

THATCamps are “unconferences” – that is, there is no set agenda and no pre-planned papers.  The conference attendees post at the conference web site about what issues they want to discuss, and start to generate interest, and then the morning of the first day they write their sessions on a huge whiteboard and others make tickmarks if they plan to attend.

that camp session white board

This is actually from a THATCamp in Australia. Hence the appearance of "speedos."


The tickmarks allow the organizers to assign sessions to appropriate sized rooms. We had a brief rundown of the THATCamp groundrules (below) and we were off.

  1. THATCamp is FUN – That means no reading papers, no powerpoint presentations, no extended project demos, and especially no grandstanding.
  2. THATCamp is PRODUCTIVE – Following from the no papers rule, we’re not here to listen and be listened to. We’re here to work, to participate actively. It is our sincere hope that you use today to solve a problem, start a new project, reinvigorate an old one, write some code, write a blog post, cure your writer’s block, forge a new collaboration, or whatever else stands for real results by your definition. We [are] here to get stuff done.
  3. Most of all, THATCamp is COLLEGIAL – Everyone should feel equally free to participate and everyone should let everyone else feel equally free to participate. You are not students and professors, management and staff here at THATCamp. At most conferences, the game we play is one in which I, the speaker, try desperately to prove to you how smart I am, and you, the audience member, tries desperately in the question and answer period to show how stupid I am by comparison. Not here. At THATCamp we’re here to be supportive of one another as we all struggle with the challenges and opportunities of incorporating technology in our work, departments, disciplines, and humanist missions. So no nitpicking, no tweckling, no petty BS.

The first session I attended was proposed by Andy Carter (@cartera) of the Digital Library of Georgia, and described by him as “Big digital piles and the classroom.” As an archivist, he wants to know how scholars use digital collections in both teaching and research, and how the collections he manages can make these tasks easier for them.  Shawn Averkamp, who attended, had also asked a similar question.  We had more librarians than faculty in the room (this was to become a theme…) but the faculty talked about technological hurdles (real and/or perceived) and needing a guide to resources.  My main takeaway was articulated by Paul Fyfe (@pfyfe):

digital libraries/archives session theme of missed connections: who is mediating between resources and researchers/teachers?

For me, this was a stand-up moment: I am.  In my work as a Reference librarian, I am doing this for students who walk up to the desk or ask me a question via chat reference.  In my work as a subject liaison, I want to make it my goal to do this, not just for the faculty at my institution, but for the discipline of classics as a whole, at this blog.  I’ve struggled with understanding digital humanities projects so I can explain to the average classicist – what is this, and how might it be relevant to your research or teaching?  Is there an undergraduate assignment lurking in this project?

Some practical ideas for digital collections or dh projects that we discussed were educator guides, sample assignments, or digital “sandboxes” for playing with content, all hosted at the project sites.  These can come from the librarian or project head, but project hosts would  also welcome feedback from scholars who use their collections: email the project letting them know your students used the materials, and what the assignment looked like, or noting access hurdles and making suggestions to overcome them.  For faculty, the takeaway should be that digital collection and project hosts want the materials to be used, and need your help to see how that can be accomplished most profitably.

Previous posts on THATCamp SE:


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.