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Archive for the ‘news’ Category

Database news

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

Two new resources seem worth mentioning for humanists. And an old one has a new look.

World Newspaper Archive  1800  1922

A joint project of the Center for Research Libraries and CRL, the World Newspaper Archive digitizes newspapers from around the world. Search them together or search by region (Africa, Eastern Europe, Latin America, South Asia). This adds to our somewhat confusing collection of newspaper holdings. See our Newspapers and News research guide for more suggestions.


Dyabola is the index to archaeology literature published by the German Archaeological Institute. This collection also includes a variety of site data and photographic evidence. Note: You will need to click the button for “Activate IP access” to use the database.

Project Muse

Their recent redesign includes descriptive information for e-books…none of which we have bought so far. If there are titles here that you’re interested in, let me or your bibliographer know.

Questions about any of this? Just ask!

British Library Newspaper Archive

Tuesday, December 6th, 2011

The British Library has recently made available about four million pages of local, regional, and national newspapers from the 18th and 19th centuries. You can search the archive for free…but to read the contents you’ll need to subscribe individually. (via The Telegraph)

What Tufts Has

We have a subscription to a subset of this collection, in our 17th and 18th Century Burney Collection Newspapers and our 19th Century British Library Newspapers collections, which means it’s a good bet we will eventually have access to all of this material. For the moment we have about fifty of the hundred and seventy-five 19th century titles listed here. That’s a conservative estimate–I’m counting titles which change names only once.

As always, if we don’t have it and you can identify what you need, we can probably get it for you via interlibrary loan.

Commentary on Newspapers and Libraries

Newspapers are hard. Pace Nicholson Baker (seriously, don’t get me started), libraries are *very* concerned about the preservation of newspapers. What’s tricky is that they tend to be collected locally, except for national papers like the New York Times and Washington Post. Ever have the local paper miss a delivery? Libraries get that, too, and we subscribe to many, many more newspapers than you do over much longer periods of time. This means we might have, for example, all of volume 68 of the New Yorker, except for number 36. Multiply by several hundred subscriptions and a hundred and fifty years….

Digitization projects tend to be market-driven, so the national papers everyone collects got done first. Local papers are being done piecemeal, local library by local library. Or they’re being done as part of larger packages by publishers or other vendors or, in this case, national libraries. Copyright concerns limit most digitization projects (in the US at least) to pre-1923 material.

National papers like the New York Times are available electronically for their whole run; we also have this arrangement for the Boston Globe and London Times. Note that the most recent x years of each of these is not covered in the same place as the older material. For the latest issues of these titles (it varies by title, but usually the last ten years or so), as well as local or regional papers, you’ll want to check Lexis-Nexis and/or Factiva.

Confused? Just ask.

On Invented Languages

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

I just read an interview with Michael Adams of Indiana University, the editor of a just-published collection of essays, From Elvish to Klingon: Exploring Invented Languages. He estimates there are about a thousand invented languages, including Esperanto and Na’avi (from Avatar). And acknowledges that it seems like a strange or geeky thing to do. “But fundamentally, it’s not crazy. We should all look on [invented languages] like we look on a poem or a painting or listen to music. As an aesthetic expression of the human experience.” (via Time International). We don’t have this yet (the publication date is 12/1/2011), but we do have his earlier study Slang: The People’s Poetry.

Can We Teach Love of Reading?

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011

Alan Jacobs, writing for the Chronicle, is dubious. He makes a really sensible distinction between reading for pleasure (deeply, immersively) and reading for information (skimming masses of information to identify where to focus), and suggests that deep, attentive reading of works of literature is a bit of a historical anomaly as a mass phenomenon. I’m inclined to agree that it’s unnecessary to worry for the fate of our intellectual life just because we can suddenly see so much more writing and discourse that’s un-literary and un-scholarly. It’s a really well-written piece, with a nice list of suggested reading. Here’s how to find the most interesting bits:

Jacobs cites Nicholson Baker’s The Shallows, Bacon’s Essay “Of Studies” (it’s number L in his Essays, in print or in EEBO), Rose’s The Intellectual Life of the British Working Classes, Brown’s biography of St. Augustine, Blair’s Too Much To Know: Managing Scholarly Information Before the Modern Age, and an article by Griswold, McDonnell, and Wright called “Reading and the Reading Class in the Twenty-First Century“. It’s a great bibliography, and bonus points for talking about the intellectual underpinnings of the Dewey Decimal system.

My summer vacation

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

I’ve been spending a lot of time the last few months working on projects related to Trunk, the new learning management system for Tufts’ Medford campus, which launches officially August 1st.

  • I’ve helped to write the training curriculum for our series of workshops introducing faculty, staff, and TAs to Trunk. I particularly recommend the advanced workshop on library resources and copyright I’ll be teaching with a colleague August 17th. If you haven’t registered for the basic workshop yet, please do–here’s the complete schedule of workshops.
  • I went out to LA for the Sakai annual conference in June. Sakai is the learning management system Trunk is built on, and it’s a very vibrant community. I got a chance to talk to colleagues at Indiana, Michigan, and Oxford on some exciting library-related features which I’m hoping Tufts can roll out soon. In the meantime I’ve updated the directions for how to link to library resources.
  • Last weekend I was at Wordcamp Boston, hosted at Boston University’s Sherman Union, a mini-conference on how to use WordPress, the software this blog runs on. There was a fun education track, with all sorts of suggestions from local colleagues on how to use WordPress to create online communities, mobile websites, and much, much else. I am *so* jealous of BU’s study abroad site.

I hope your summer has been as productive, and possibly a little more restful.

Literary journalism in new forms

Friday, May 13th, 2011

The LA Times has a great discussion of several new publishers who are aiming to fill the space between books and substantial magazine articles, and also to create a free-standing market for long-form journalism. The first, Byliner, has attracted some attention recently with the publication of Jon Krakauer’s “Three Cups of Deceit”, which analyzes Greg Mortensen’s “Three Cups of Tea” and sparked a discussion of Mortensen’s financial management and general veracity. The Times compares the form to classic literary journalism like Norman Mailer’s history of the 1968 Democratic convention or Joan Didion’s essays on 1960’s culture.

“Three Cups of Deceit” (available through Amazon) is an intriguing in-between length, about eighty pages. Krakauer has enough space to develop his theme, but it’s a relatively simple story that doesn’t fit conventional publishing requirements–it’s too long even for something like the New Yorker, but too short to make a profitable book…and padding the length to make it book size would decrease the impact. It was well worth the $3 I spent. When Kindle Singles launched earlier this year, this was the sort of thing Amazon had in mind to encourage. I’m happy new kinds of publishers are experimenting with it to create great things.

Bin Laden and the Evolution of the Web

Monday, May 2nd, 2011

On September 11th, 2001 I was working as a sales analyst for a tool company in Columbus, Ohio. When the initial reports of a plane crashing into the World Trade Center began circulating in the office I went online to confirm it and discovered that the web was broken. Specifically, was down. And I branched out to national newspapers: LA Times, Chicago Tribune, down. I went to smaller cities, TV stations, then smaller TV stations, newspaper sites from tiny towns, all down. I began checking British sites the same way, all down. I finally confirmed the news via the website of a small TV station in Provence. I had a dim recollection of this last night when ESPN mentioned the news about Osama Bin Laden and New York Times mobile took 30 seconds to load instead of the usual 2, but it didn’t crystallize for me until I read this analysis of how search engines handled the news last night and today by Danny Sullivan, my favorite search engine guru. Sullivan points out that Google was incapable of doing realtime search in 2001, or of searching news specifically, but can do both now. And the web has enough horsepower to handle live-streaming a royal wedding or the World Cup. Or the partial conclusion to a story which started ten years ago on a clear September day.

Electronic reader news

Thursday, April 14th, 2011

Story the First

Amazon launched an ad-supported Kindle (the loathsomely-named “Kindle With Special Offers“) this week. In exchange for $25 off the purchase price of the wifi model you’ll see ads on the screensaver page and in your table of contents…thankfully not within the book itself.

Story the Second

While looking for dictionaries in the Android App Market I came across a few electronic books by major publishers at really spectacular prices. Like Peter Knox’s Companion to Ovid, which Wiley-Blackwell is selling for the princely sum of $169.99. Amazon has it for the Kindle at $148.14, or in hardback for $164.60. I am happy to report that we still beat them on price. But this marks a change–the last time I checked for books like these, none of the ebooksellers had them.

Bonus Story

Harper Collins announced a couple of months ago that they would force libraries to buy new copies of ebooks which were checked out more than 26 times. Libraries and librarians were displeased. Some are calling for a boycott.


The good news is that ebooks are now a big enough market that publishers are starting to take them seriously. The bad news is that many are trying to use electronic means to limit traditional library rights, or to force electronic products into models designed for printed objects. Explain to me, for example, why it makes any sense at all to “check out” a stream of ones and zeroes with no physical form. There’s no reason to limit it to one user at a time…except for publishers’ reluctance to change their business model to suit new realities. Hang with us while we all explore some new options.

New York Times at Tisch

Monday, March 28th, 2011

The New York Times has launched its newest experiment in building a new business model for the web. Which is to say that you can read 20 articles per month for free, but then you’ll be politely but firmly encouraged to subscribe. Print subscribers (any subscription, even Sunday only) get free access to the web version. For $15 per four weeks you can get access to the website and their smartphone applications for iPhone and Android. For $20 you get the website plus their iPad application. For $35 you get the website, the tablet edition, and the smartphone edition. All of these plans are currently 99 cents for the first four weeks. And you can still subscribe on the Kindle for $20 per month (I suspect the premium there is for lack of advertising).

Confused? Here are Tisch’s free options.

And, for traditionalists, we have print and/or microfilm coverage as well. The microfilm includes some material contributed by freelancers which had to be pulled from electronic editions after the Tasini decision.

How are our versions different? Proquest allows you to look at full-page images, so you can see what the original context of the story was, and it has good options for precise searches and browsing by date. Academic Onefile is also browseable by date. Lexis-Nexis is purely text, and search-only. I use all three for different types of searches.

Which I suppose is mildly confusing, but we compete well on price.

Updates (3/29/11)

My colleague Martha Kelehan, our social sciences bibliographer, reminds me we also have access (1980-present) through Factiva. It has a convenient dashboard of major US news sources like the Wall Street Journal and New York Times set up to allow you to see the headlines for each section and click through to read them.

Amazon reports that Kindle subscribers will have full access to the NY Times website.

Additional Update (7/28/11)

Tufts qualifies for the discounted college readership digital subscription option, which runs $7.50 per month for web and smartphone access.

Kindle Singles: Return of the Pamphlet

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

Amazon launched a new publishing platform last week for writing which falls in the space between article-length and book-length.  Called Kindle Singles, it’s designed to showcase (and provide a way to sell) writing that doesn’t quite fit into conventional publishing buckets. Wired is calling it a savior of long-form journalism, and in fact the Single I read last night is a lengthy history of the organizers of the terrorist attacks on Mumbai and their connections with Pakistani intelligence. There are also stories on parenting by Jodi Picoult, an essay on evil, and a couple of dozen other things.

From a scholarly angle, I am wonder if it could also provide a venue for a return of the wonderful variety of non-book things which were printed before the invisible hand of the market had worked out categories like newspapers and journals and novels and monographs. See for example the Thomason Tracts in Early English Books Online, which Tufts is lucky enough to have. Books are the length they are because

It would be lovely not to have these things published just for Kindle, though you can now download the Kindle software onto anything more intelligent than a toaster (OK, just Macs, PCs, and most advanced phones, but still). So it’s tied to Amazon, though not to a particular device. But if Amazon demonstrates a market for this kind of writing, there may be some potential here.