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Archive for the ‘news’ Category

James I and Lions

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

Just spent a delightful hour listening to Hesse Phillips, a dissertation fellow with the Center for the Humanities at Tufts, explain some of her work on animal baiting as a scientific and personal interest of James I. The talk, “A Trial of Two Kings: James I and the Lions of the Tower Menagerie” is one in a series of lunchtime talks hosted by the Center.

There was much mention of Edward Topsell’s seventeenth-century History of Four-Footed Beasts and Serpents, which I am delighted to see Tufts has a microfilm copy of. For your web-browsing pleasure, you might also take a look at the University of Houston’s collection of digitized woodcuts.

Google eBooks launches

Monday, December 6th, 2010

Google has finally launched the ebook service it had scheduled for earlier this year. Based on its Google Books program, the new bookstore contains about 3 million titles, most of which are out-of-copyright titles from their scanning project. Initial reports are that there are about 300,000 current titles available. There are two interesting things about this for scholarly purposes:

1) Major scholarly publishers like Oxford and Elsevier are making titles available this way.

2) The service doesn’t require you to download anything, or to have a particular device to use it. If you want to download the file you can use it on a Sony Reader or a Barnes and Noble Nook, but anything with a web browser should be able use it: computers, laptops, netbooks, simple cell phones. (I’ll report on whether it works through the Kindle’s experimental browser–it should).

Prices for scholarly titles are sort of horrifying in some cases. Ground Warfare: An International Encyclopedia lists for $236, a solid 25% off the list price of $295. Other titles, like Enrico Dandolo and the Rise of Venice, are a more modest $14.85, 50% off. As always, check with us first: we have the second and can get the first by interlibrary loan….

Update: Google ebooks are a little clunky, but entirely readable through the Kindle’s experimental web browser. It’s annoying enough that I think it would be easier to convert the files to Kindle format, but it *does* work. (12/13/2010/CS)

Archaeology and iPads

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010

My alma mater, the University of Cincinnati, is using Apple’s iPad to support archaeological fieldwork, note-taking, and sketching. According to Professor Steven Ellis, “The recovery of invaluable information from our Pompeian excavations is now incalculably faster, wonderfully easier, unimaginably more dynamic, precisely more accurate, and robustly secure.”

Other universities are trying  iPad experiments in hopes of seeing what students do with them. It is a common-place of commentary on the iPad that it’s for consumption rather than creation…but perhaps it’s just a question of what kind of creation you’re doing.

via (Ancient World Bloggers Group)

JSTOR Redesign

Tuesday, September 7th, 2010

FindIt at Tufts button crossed out

JSTOR has made some significant changes to how it works, in addition to adding a new coat of paint to its design. Traditionally JSTOR has not covered the current issues of the journals it includes, with anywhere from 3-5 years of current issues usually excluded. It’s also traditionally been all full-text–anything you found in JSTOR you could read immediately. Over the last year JSTOR has been doing deals with scholarly publishers to include abstracts of current issues of some of its journals, about 174 so far, of the 1200 or so we subscribe to from JSTOR. (full list of titles).

This makes JSTOR more like a service along the lines of Academic Onefile, which includes lots of full text and some abstracts. What’s tricky is that JSTOR so far doesn’t support the technology behind our FindIt@Tufts feature, which points you in the direction of subscriptions elsewhere in our collections. We subscribe to most of what they’re indexing, and if you’re on campus and follow a link that looks like this you’ll likely have no trouble reading and downloading. From off-campus you may be asked to pay for access to an article–don’t do this before you check and see whether the library catalog has the journal title and date. You can also request things we don’t have through ILLiad , our interlibrary loan service, and get a PDF copy emailed to you, usually in two days or less.

JSTOR Search Options

JSTOR search options

If you want to search JSTOR the way you have in the past, uncheck the “include links to external content” box on the search screen.

If you want to search just the current material, uncheck the “include only content I can access” box. But note that this is a few years of less than two hundred of the 40,000 or so titles we subscribe to.

Confused? Just ask if you get stuck.

Bloomsday News

Friday, June 11th, 2010

Bloomsday (June 16th) is next week, and this year it includes a delightful kerfuffle between Apple Inc. and the creators of a graphic novel adaptation of Joyce’s Ulysses, Ulysses Seen. Ulysses Seen was created as an iPad application, but also as a web site. The delight is that Apple’s policies forbid nudity in applications for sale through their App Store, so the graphic novel’s depictions of cartoon nudity have resulted in a couple of changes to the iPad version. If, like me, you don’t have an iPad, you can read the original versions online.  The first section, Telemachus, is online. The rest will be published serially, and you can subscribe for updates.

Discussion of Bloomsday in the New York Times

Discussion of the kerfuffle in Macworld UK

One interesting additional feature of the website version is a Reader’s Guide, which provides context panel by panel. The tone and treatment are conversational, more like the (excellent) James Joyce A to Z than scholarly treatments like Gifford and Seidman’s Notes for Joyce or Blamire’s New Bloomsday Book–which I note that generations of Tufts scholars have heavily annotated.

L’année philologique gets a facelift

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

Home page of l'annee philologique

Home page of l'annee philologique

L’année philologique continues to resolutely remain ten years behind where the rest of the web is, but there are some substantial changes in addition to the new paint job.

The big news: L’année will now include notices of articles and other works prior to their appearance in the print volume at the end of the year in a special tab next to search results called “Interim Records”. A few sample searches show results from as recently as last year (!). I mock, but this is actually a big change from the print edition, which has traditionally run about three years behind the current date. There is a current list of new material added, updated monthly. But there is no convenient way to get notice of this, other than to visit this page. (I’ll see if I can come up with a solution for this over the summer). One minor nuisance: interim records can be printed, emailed, or saved…but not sent directly to Refworks.

Annee Results

Interim records displayed on results pages

A few minor additions:

  • users can set up an account to keep track of searches and save results between visits (that’s 99% of what you get if you set up an account)
  • there is a modest increase in the number of forms you can export citations in (text, PDF, Refworks file, Refworks direct export)
screenshot of preferences panel

screenshot of preferences panel

Changes to the search interface

The underlying structure of the database appears not to have changed, but some of the mechanical difficulty of doing a search has been decreased.

  • Limit by language in Advanced Search (sadly this is limited to English, French, Italian, Spanish, and German–no Bulgarian or Czech). Go to “Advanced Search” and select the “Filters” menu at the bottom
Advanced search screen with location of search filters

Advanced search screen with location of search filters

Questions or concerns? Let me know.

BBC Shakespeare Online

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

Tisch recently added a streaming video collection of Shakespeare’s plays as produced by the BBC in the late 70’s and early 80’s. You can find them in the library catalog under the title of the play or as a group under BBC Shakespeare Plays.

They are available 24/7 from anywhere, although the usual rules for off-campus access apply–you need to add a URL prefix to make sure you’ll be asked to log in if you’re off campus. You can link to each of the plays act by act. So, for example, here’s Julius Caesar, Act III (et tu, Jumbo?).

What To Do

2. Get the proxy prefix:

2. Grab the URL from the bottom of the viewing window. In this case, if you take the URL from the usual place URLs live and add the proxy prefix it will work. Frequently, with other resources, this is not the case and you’ll have to look for a permanent or durable or stable URL (see below).


3. Paste step 2 onto the end of step 1 with no spaces, and copy that into your email or Blackboard:

This is the basic procedure you’d use to send a link from any of our electronic resources to a colleague or to post to your Blackboard site. Unfortunately, the directions for each of our electronic sources are slightly different. Here’s a complete list of how to get a usable URL.

What’s Going On or, Why The Extra Step?

The first part of the URL sends the request for the website through a library computer which checks to see if the person making the request is on campus. If so, it lets him/her through. If not, it asks her/him to log in. That way we can keep the publishers happy and still provide relatively easy access from anywhere with an Internet connection.

If you have questions about how to do this, or trouble linking to electronic resources generally, let me know. I am officially the guy to ask.

(Chris Strauber)

Paul Theroux Says You Have No Excuse

Tuesday, May 11th, 2010

From an interview with Paul Theroux in The Atlantic:

TA: Does the migration to e-readers increase access to good stories or diminish it?

PT: Greatly increases access. I could not be more approving. But free libraries are full of books that no one reads.

via Fiction in the Age of E-Books – Magazine – The Atlantic.

Theroux comments that literature has always been an interest of a “tiny minority of people, even in the most literate societies”. Which I more or less agree with, although I’m happy to provide excuses to increase the numbers.

We have about thirty of Theroux’s works at Tisch, most travel-themed. For more on travel literature (one of my favorite genres), try the Cambridge Companion to Travel Writing or (one of many) the Encyclopedia of Women’s Travel and Exploration.

Globish and the story of English

Friday, April 2nd, 2010

Robert McCrum, writing for The Guardian, discusses the use of simplified English as a lingua franca. “Globish”, as suggested by Jean-Paul Nerrière (English site, French site), has a vocabulary of about 1500 words and tries to agree on a set of limitations to standard English so native and non-native speakers can meet in the middle.
Tisch has the print version as well as the PBS series version of McCrum’s Story of English. The video, amusingly, is on VHS. Fortunately our media center (upstairs on the third floor) has VCRs with monitors available for use by you and your students.

New York Review of Books on Eighteenth Century Collections Online

Friday, March 19th, 2010

Aberdeen Magazine, 1761

The New York Review of Books has a fascinating article comparing blogs to 18th-century newspaper articles and pamphlets, commenting that they have similar tendencies to be brief, context-free, inflammatory…and often scandalous. Darnton suggests taking a look at a London newspaper from the 18th century in Eighteenth Century Collections Online. Conveniently, Tufts subscribes, so I’m happy to provide an example.

Topics in the Aberdeen magazine for the year 1761

  • essay On the frailty and fatality of passions
  • essay On the character of the Reverend Doctor Stephen Hales
  • a letter to the editor with advice for the new magazine
  • a short history of addresses
  • a summary of a speech given to the New York General Assembly
  • a letter to the publisher
  • excerpts from a biography of Phillip II of Macedonia

This is completely random, and most of it is actually blog-post-length. I’m intrigued by the similarities, and by the idea that perhaps our tastes and attention spans haven’t changed as much as we sometimes think.