All posts by Jennifer Howard

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Mellon Comes to the Rescue of Missouri’s Moldy Books

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Mold-afflicted library books at the U. of Missouri. (U. of Missouri Libraries photo)

This past January, Jim Cogswell, director of libraries at the University of Missouri at Columbia, got news no library administrator wants to hear: Mold had invaded a rented remote-storage facility that housed some 600,000 of the university’s books.

It wasn’t a happy time.

Then came an email from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation expressing sympathy and offering to help. “I practically shouted out loud,” Mr. Cogswe…

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Anthropology Group Will Test a Faster, Digital Approach to Book Reviews

It takes years to research, write, and publish a scholarly monograph. It can take just as long to get that book reviewed by a scholarly journal once it’s in print. But a review that appears years after the book does, even if it’s a rave, doesn’t help an author whose tenure clock is running. Nor does it help a publisher hoping to attract attention to front-list titles.

The lag time between publication and review “is, for lack of a better word, appalling,” says Oona Schmid, director of publishing …

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Who Ought to Underwrite Publishing Scholars’ Books?

New Orleans — At almost any gathering of academic publishers or librarians, you’ll hear someone float the idea—sometimes phrased as a question—that the model for publishing scholarly monographs is broken. Two sets of ideas aired at the Association of American University Presses’ annual meeting, held here this week, don’t say the model is damaged beyond repair. But the proposals, both from groups outside the university-press community, suggest that it needs to be retrofitted, at the least.

One po…

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In the Digital Era, Print Still Gets Plenty of Love From Scholars

New Orleans — Nothing gladdens a publisher’s heart more than hearing readers say they still like to buy books—and printed books at that. At the Association of American University Presses’ annual meeting, which wrapped up here this week, a panel of scholars talked about how much of their work was still print-based even as chatter at the conference focused on e-books, metadata, and new ideas about how to make it easier to publish monographs digitally.

The panel included associate and assistant pro…

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QuickWire: Authors Guild Responds to HathiTrust Ruling

A federal appeals court on Tuesday largely upheld a district court’s ruling in favor of the HathiTrust Digital Library in a copyright-infringement lawsuit brought against it by the Authors Guild.

On Wednesday the guild released a statement in response to the ruling, calling it a “narrow fair-use decision” that “was not a total victory for either side.” The group did not say what its next legal move might be or whether it had decided to mount another appeal.

That could depend in part on the next …

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HathiTrust Digital Library Wins Latest Round in Battle With Authors

In what legal observers and fair-use advocates are calling a victory for libraries, a federal appeals court has upheld most of a lower court’s 2012 ruling in favor of the HathiTrust Digital Library in a copyright-infringement lawsuit brought by the Authors Guild and other plaintiffs.

The decision is another legal setback for the Authors Guild, which has also been fighting a long court battle over Google’s mass digitizing of books. But the appeals court’s move will encourage both scholars who wan…

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Book Lovers Record Traces of 19th-Century Readers

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An annotated copy of an 1891 edition of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poems and ballads that belonged to Jane Chapman Slaughter.

A lament for a dead child, written by her mother in pencil on the endpaper of an 1843 copy of The Poetical Works of Mrs. Felicia Hemans. A sewing needle, thread still attached, inserted in the back of an 1860 edition of The Letters of Hannah More to Zachary Macauley. Bittersweet annotations in an 1891 copy of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s Ballads and Other Poems (left), …

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Digital Public Library of America Celebrates Its Birthday

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Like most youngsters, the Digital Public Library of America has been growing fast. Officially a year old, it now encompasses more than seven million items, three times what it started with 12 months ago.

Designed to be a gateway to information rather than a final destination, the DPLA doesn’t actually ingest digitized books, manuscripts, photos, moving pictures, recordings, or other materials. Instead, it works with a nationwide network of institutions to aggregate the metadata that describes …

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QuickWire: Collecting Altmetric Data in China

As more researchers use social media to share and comment on one another’s work, those networks have become rich sources of data for altmetrics—alternative measures that look beyond citation rates and impact factors to get a fuller picture of how scholarship is circulating. But researchers in China can’t share journal articles and papers via Facebook and Twitter, which are blocked there.

Altmetric, one of several services that have sprung up to provide altmetrics to publishers, libraries, and re…

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Libraries Test a Model for Setting Monographs Free

Librarians love to get free books into the hands of scholars and students who need them. Publishers love it when their books find readers—but they also need to cover the costs of turning an idea into a finished monograph. Now a nonprofit group called Knowledge Unlatched is trying out a new open-access model designed to make both librarians and publishers happy.

Here’s how the “unlatching” works: Participating libraries pick a list of scholarly books they want to make open access. They pool money…