Below I offer my suggestions for librarians looking to stay current in the field of scholarly communication (“scholcomm”). This list is primary aimed at people new to the field, but I hope it will also be useful to those who have been around for a while and may discover a mailing list, conference, or other resource they were unaware of. Comments and suggestions are welcome!
I’m going to be hiring my first staff member at UNT soon (
more details to come!), and this has led me to think about recruiting people to work in Denton, Texas. I hope what’s below will help not only me but others at UNT and TWU recruiting job candidates: per the Creative Commons license attached to this posting, please feel free to adapt it for your own use.
Vol. 26, no. 6 (2014–2015) of Against the Grain was a special issue, edited by Bob Nardini (Ingram Library Services), on academic libraries, university presses, and library publishing. One-sentence summaries are freely available online in the issue’s table of contents, with full text available to subscribers. In addition, some authors have kindly posted eprints of their work. I’ve long been meaning to put together a list of links to these. Here’s what I’ve found; please let me know if you know of others.
I’m not the first to be frustrated with the term “scholarly communication”. In brief, here are the problems that folks have identified:
I always enjoy the annual Balisage pre-conference symposium. This year’s, entitled Cultural Heritage Markup: Using Markup to Preserve, Understand, and Disseminate Cultural Heritage Materials, promises to be worthwhile: the call for participation includes a whole list of of interesting topics.
I was considering submitting a proposal, but I’m not sure that I have a whole presentation worth of material about any of the topics. But I have a bit to say on most of them, so I’ll share those thoughts here.
An upcoming event at the Reynolds Journalism Institute Dodging the Memory Hole: Saving Born-digital News Content (following on their Newspaper Archive Summit) looks like a great opportunity to bring together people who aren’t regularly in contact to think about preserving online news content. As the website explains:
One recent survey found that most American media enterprises fail to adequately process their born-digital news content for long-term survival. This potential disappearance of news, birth announcements, obituaries and feature stories represents an impending loss of cultural heritage and identity for communities and the nation at large: a kind of Orwellian “memory hole” of our own unintentional making.
The situation with news websites reminds me in many ways of the situation with university presses: each publisher is so preoccupied with trying to make ends meet that they can’t afford to invest in solutions that will help preserve their content. Preserving content is not only altruistic (ensuring that it’s available for historians) but also has the potential to lead to increased revenue—”monetizing your backlist” by keeping your products available for sale for longer and/or repackaging them in new ways.
It has been just over ten years since I moved to Ann Arbor to take up a position at the University of Michigan, and the institution and my colleagues here have provided me with an incredible opportunity to contribute to building a publishing organization that is widely thought of as as a leader in rethinking scholarly publishing. Without any family ties to this area of the world, I could easily relocate to pursue professional opportunities, but I have found that the U-M Library, my colleagues here, and life in southeast Michigan have all been able to offer me better opportunities and a better lifestyle than I would find elsewhere.
Sometimes, though, life takes you suddenly in a new direction. The University of North Texas Libraries has offered incredible opportunities for Julie and me: she will become the Principal Archivist in Special Collections, and I the Director of Library Publishing, with a charge to collaborate with the UNT Press, the Digital Scholarship Co-Operative, the Digital Libraries division, and other parts of the UNT Libraries. Both of these are new positions in an institution that with a rising stature and in a library system known for its entrepreneurial spirit. We’ll be relocating to Denton in April. While North Texas doesn’t exactly have my ideal climate (literally or politically), I look forward to this exciting personal and professional change. As one of my coworkers said, “A cowboy’s gotta do what a cowboy’s gotta do”!
We’ll be only about a 30-minute drive from Dallas/Forth Worth International Airport and 45 minutes from Dallas Love Field (with lots of new non-stop destinations beginning in late 2014!), so we look to continuing our globetrotting adventures. And I hope you’ll get in touch if you find yourself in the North Texas area.
There has been occasional discussion in the TEI community for years about what member institutions actually want out of the TEI Consortium, with particular concern that libraries have been the main funders of the TEI but are failing to renew their membership. (The TEI Consortium offers various levels of membership, expecting larger, wealthier institutions to join at a higher level. It has often been asserted that libraries are overrepresented among the higher-paying membership levels.) The evidence for the drop in support by libraries has been anecdotal, and speculation for why this has generally pointed to two things: that libraries are under pressure to cut their budgets, or that they no longer see value in the work of the TEI Consortium.
There is a long tradition in publishing, which has carried over into methods for representing text in digital form, of marking components of a document not by their appearance but by their function. That is, a given span of text is not simply labeled as being bold 14-point Helvetica, horizontally centered, but is a chapter heading. By identifying the components like this, you can easily change the way you want all chapter headings to be displayed without changing the appearance of another component of the document which might also happen to be bold 14-point Helvetica. This concept of “markup” from typesetting is the foundation of GML and LaTeX. Such markup, variously called “descriptive”, “structural”, or “semantic,” was the envisioned use for a general-purpose markup language like SGML or XML.
HTML was first created in the vein of semantic markup, though it included some tags, such as
<B> for bold text and
<I> for italicized text, for describing appearance without reference to the document components (“presentational markup”). These elements soon overtook the semantic markup in everyday use and gave HTML a bad reputation among people working with SGML and XML; the W3C has long been working to move HTML back in a semantic direction. But even without taking into account the very good changes coming in HTML5, is HTML really so unsuitable as a general-purpose markup language for publishing and representing text in digital form, as is sometimes claimed by XML experts? Continue reading