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Information & Culture: A Journal of History

Vol. 36 (2001) through current issue

Formerly Libraries & Culture, through volume 41, no. 2, Spring 2006 (E-ISSN: 1534-7591, Print ISSN: 0894-8631).

Information and Culture: A Journal of History explores the interactions of people, organizations, and societies with information and technologies. Social and cultural context of information and information technology, viewed from an historical perspective, is at the heart of the journal's interests.

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Inside Roman Libraries

Book Collections and Their Management in Antiquity

George W. Houston

Libraries of the ancient world have long held a place in the public imagination. Even in antiquity, the library at Alexandria was nearly legendary. Until now there has been relatively little research to discover what was inside these libraries, how the collections came into being and evolved, and who selected and maintained the holdings. In this engaging and meticulously researched study, Houston examines a dozen specific book collections of Roman date in the first comprehensive attempt to answer these questions.

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JSTOR

A History

Hal Varian

Ten years ago, most scholars and students relied on bulky card catalogs, printed bibliographic indices, and hardcopy books and journals. Today, much content is available electronically or online. This book examines the history of one of the first, and most successful, digital resources for scholarly communication, JSTOR. Beginning as a grant-funded project of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation at the University of Michigan, JSTOR has grown to become a major archive of the backfiles of academic journals, and its own nonprofit organization.

Roger Schonfeld begins this history by looking at JSTOR's original mission of saving storage space and thereby storage costs, a mission that expanded immediately to improving access to the literature. What role did the University play? Could JSTOR have been built without the active involvement of a foundation? Why was it seen as necessary to "spin off" the project? This case study proceeds as an organizational history of the birth and maturation of this nonprofit, which had to emerge from the original university partnership to carve its own identity. How did the grant project evolve into a successful marketplace enterprise? How was JSTOR able to serve its twofold mission of archiving its journals while also providing access to them? What has accounted for its growth? Finally, Schonfeld considers implications of the economic and organizational aspects of archiving as well as the system-wide savings that JSTOR ensures by broadly distributing costs.

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Laying the Foundation

Digital Humanities in Academic Libraries

edited by John W. White and Heather Gilbert

Laying the Foundation: Digital Humanities in Academic Libraries examines the library’s role in the development, implementation, and instruction of successful digital humanities projects. It pays special attention to the critical role of librarians in building sustainable programs. It also examines how libraries can support the use of digital scholarship tools and techniques in undergraduate education. Academic libraries are nexuses of research and technology; as such, they provide fertile ground for cultivating and curating digital scholarship. However, adding digital humanities to library service models requires a clear understanding of the resources and skills required. Integrating digital scholarship into existing models calls for a reimagining of the roles of libraries and librarians. In many cases, these reimagined roles call for expanded responsibilities, often in the areas of collaborative instruction and digital asset management, and in turn these expanded responsibilities can strain already stretched resources. Laying the Foundation provides practical solutions to the challenges of successfully incorporating digital humanities programs into existing library services. Collectively, its authors argue that librarians are critical resources for teaching digital humanities to undergraduate students and that libraries are essential for publishing, preserving, and making accessible digital scholarship.

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Libraries and the Reading Public in Twentieth-Century America

Edited by Christine Pawley and Louise S. Robbins

For well over one hundred years, libraries open to the public have played a crucial part in fostering in Americans the skills and habits of reading and writing, by routinely providing access to standard forms of print: informational genres such as newspapers, pamphlets, textbooks, and other reference books, and literary genres including poetry, plays, and novels. Public libraries continue to have an extraordinary impact; in the early twenty-first century, the American Library Association reports that there are more public library branches than McDonald's restaurants in the United States. Much has been written about libraries from professional and managerial points of view, but less so from the perspectives of those most intimately involved—patrons and librarians.
            Drawing on circulation records, patron reviews, and other archived materials, Libraries and the Reading Public in Twentieth-Century America underscores the evolving roles that libraries have played in the lives of American readers. Each essay in this collection examines a historical circumstance related to reading in libraries. The essays are organized in sections on methods of researching the history of reading in libraries; immigrants and localities; censorship issues; and the role of libraries in providing access to alternative, nonmainstream publications. The volume shows public libraries as living spaces where individuals and groups with diverse backgrounds, needs, and desires encountered and used a great variety of texts, images, and other media throughout the twentieth century.

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Library Trends

Vol. 54 (2005) through current issue

Library Trends is an essential tool for professional librarians and educators alike. Every issue explores critical trends in professional librarianship, and includes practical applications, thorough analyses, and literature reviews. Each issue brings readers in-depth, thoughtful articles, all exploring a specific topic of professional interest. Every year, Library Trends covers a wide variety of themes, from special libraries to emerging technologies.

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Making Institutional Repositories Work

Quickly following what many expected to be a wholesale revolution in library practices, institutional repositories encountered unforeseen problems and a surprising lack of impact. Clunky or cumbersome interfaces, lack of perceived value and use by scholars, fear of copyright infringement, and the like tended to dampen excitement and adoption. This collection of essays, arranged in five thematic sections, is intended to take the pulse of institutional repositories—to see how they have matured and what can be expected from them, as well as introduce what may be the future role of the institutional repository. Making Institutional Repositories Work takes novices as well as seasoned practitioners through the practical and conceptual steps necessary to develop a functioning institutional repository, customized to the needs and culture of the home institution. The first section covers all aspects of system platforms, including hosted and open-source options, big data capabilities and integration, and issues related to discoverability. The second section addresses policy issues, from the basics to open-source and deposit mandates. The third section focuses on recruiting and even creating content. Authors in this section will address the ways that different disciplines tend to have different motivations for deposit, as well as the various ways that institutional repositories can serve as publishing platforms. The fourth section covers assessment and success measures for all involved—librarians, deans, and administrators. The theory and practice of traditional metrics, alt metrics, and peer review receive chapter-length treatment. The fifth section provides case studies that include a boots-on-the-ground perspective of issues raised in the first four sections. By noting trends and potentialities, this final section, authored by Executive Director of SPARC Heather Joseph, makes future predictions and helps managers position institutional repositories to be responsive change and even shape the evolution of scholarly communication.

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Missed Information

Better Information for Building a Wealthier, More Sustainable Future

David Sarokin and Jay Schulkin

Information is power. It drives commerce, protects nations, and forms the backbone of systems that range from health care to high finance. Yet despite the avalanche of data available in today’s information age, neither institutions nor individuals get the information they truly need to make well-informed decisions. Faulty information and sub-optimal decision-making create an imbalance of power that is exaggerated as governments and corporations amass enormous databases on each of us. Who has more power: the government, in possession of uncounted terabytes of data (some of it obtained by cybersnooping), or the ordinary citizen, trying to get in touch with a government agency? In Missed Information, David Sarokin and Jay Schulkin explore information—not information technology, but information itself—as a central part of our lives and institutions. They show that providing better information and better access to it improves the quality of our decisions and makes for a more vibrant participatory society. Sarokin and Schulkin argue that freely flowing information helps systems run more efficiently and that incomplete information does just the opposite. It’s easier to comparison shop for microwave ovens than for doctors or hospitals because of information gaps that hinder the entire health-care system. Better information about such social ills as child labor and pollution can help consumers support more sustainable products. The authors examine the opacity of corporate annual reports, the impenetrability of government secrets, and emerging techniques of “information foraging.” The information imbalance of power can be reconfigured, they argue, with greater and more meaningful transparency from government and corporations.

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Monitoring Movements in Development Aid

Recursive Partnerships and Infrastructures

Casper Bruun Jensen

In <I>Monitoring Movements in Development Aid</I>, Casper Jensen and Brit Winthereik consider the processes, social practices, and infrastructures that are emerging to monitor development aid, discussing both empirical phenomena and their methodological and analytical challenges. Jensen and Winthereik focus on efforts by aid organizations to make better use of information technology; they analyze a range of <I>development aid information infrastructures</I> created to increase accountability and effectiveness. They find that constructing these infrastructures is not simply a matter of designing and implementing technology but entails forging new platforms for action that are simultaneously imaginative and practical, conceptual and technical. After presenting an analytical platform that draws on science and technology studies and the anthropology of development, Jensen and Winthereik present an ethnography- based analysis of the mutually defining relationship between aid partnerships and infrastructures; the crucial role of users (both actual and envisioned) in aid information infrastructures; efforts to make aid information dynamic and accessible; existing monitoring activities of an environmental NGO; and national-level performance audits, which encompass concerns of both external control and organizational learning.Jensen and Winthereik argue that central to the emerging movement to monitor development aid is the blurring of means and ends: aid information infrastructures are both technological platforms for knowledge about aid and forms of aid and empowerment in their own right.

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Paper Machines

About Cards & Catalogs, 1548-1929

Markus Krajewski, translated by Peter Krapp

Why the card catalog--a “paper machine” with rearrangeable elements--can be regarded as a precursor of the computer.

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