#31 - Spring 1998
Biblio-Notes (ISSN 1076-8947) is published twice a year by the English and American Literature Section of the Association of College and Research Libraries, a division of the American Library Association. Paper subscriptions are free to members of the section.
Editor: Scott Stebelman, Gelman Library, George Washington University, 2130 H Street NW, Washington, D.C. 20052; telephone 202-994-6049; SCOTTLIB@GWIS2.CIRC.GWU.EDU
Copyright © 1998 by the American Library Association.
News from the Chair
Through active involvement of EALS members, the section has moved into a stage where we are creating opportuni ties to examine the multiple issues facing us as English and American literatures librarians. A quick survey of current section activity demonstrates the breadth of this activity.
The impact of electronic media on our profession is being addressed both by the program "Re-Imag(in)ing the Text: The Literary Text in the Electronic Age" to be held on June 28 from 2-4 in Washington and the continuing progress on our book tentatively titled "English and American Literature Librarianship in the Electronic Age." The program, which is being co-sponsored with the Rare Book and Manuscript Section and the Electronic Text Center Discussion Group, features Professor Jerome McGann, John Price-Wilkin, and Marianne Gaunt, who will discuss both theoretical and practical implications of the evolving text.
The EALS-sponsored book continues to progress a bit more slowly than planned but still progresses. The proposal has been submitted to ACRL for approval but a response has not been received. Most chapters have been submitted and are in the process of editing and revision. Section activity is not just focused on the impact of electronics on our profession. At the midwinter membership meeting, two discussion groups were formed to create ongoing discussion of issues related to literary reference books and the state of nineteenth century collections. Candace Benefiel has gathered a group of over 31 librarians for the reference discussion group and Margaret Powell has organized the discussion for nineteenth century collections. Both groups immediately assumed virtual identity via EALSL but will also meet at ALA meetings.
EALS continues to be the fastest growing ACRL section. Our expanding membership will continue to enrich our activities and our profession. I look forward to seeing you all in Washington.
Betty Day, Chair
ACRL 9TH NATIONAL CONFERENCE
APRIL 8-11, 1999
June 15 is the deadline for submitting proposals for papers and panel sessions for ACRL's 9th National Conference, to be held in Detroit, Michigan, April 8-11, 1999. The conference theme, "Racing Toward Tomorrow," is explored in six subthemes: creating lifelong learners; shaping the changing environment; changing work roles; developing alternate resources; expanding knowledge base; and creating alliances and partnerships.
Details about preparing a proposal and attending the conference are available on ACRL's Web site at http://www.ala.org/acrl/prendex.html. The "Call for Participation" was also published as an insert in the January issue of C&RL News.
Designing a Departmental Library Web Site
Changes in the English Library at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) in 1996 inspired a complete redesign of the World Wide Web site which had been in place since 1994 (http://www.library.uiuc.edu/egx). We believed that a new design could more effectively portray the Library and promote electronic services. We wanted to create a site that could describe the English Library itself; that could simplify some of our paper-driven tasks; that could be a unique source for local information; that could provide a selective set of links to other sites; and, most fundamentally, that would portray the English Library as a distinct entity within the University Library through complementary design and content.
The organizational setting of the English Library drove some of our considerations of content. The English Library is one of some forty departmental libraries within the UIUC University Library system. Consequently, any public information that the English Library offers must conform in a broad sense to that supplied by other libraries in the system. Such information typically includes a mission statement; a listing of staff members; the location and telephone number of the library; and a sketch of collections and services. Beyond such "boilerplate" information, each departmental library is free to add locally produced guides and lists, or to offer links to specific relevant online resources.
The design of the site evolved in tandem with the content. We began by brainstorming a list of all the information and services that the site needed to cover. Once we listed our needs, an organizational structure for the site became apparent. With the home page containing basic library information about staffing and circulation policies, other satellite pages (Internet Resources, English Library Periodicals, New Books in the English Library, and so on) could handle the other features that we wanted the site to contain. By making a map of the site for use in our thinking, we could then decide how we wanted the site to work. We also took into consideration some basic principles of web design. Working with these principles and our site map led us to the following decisions:
- We needed a "table of contents" to the site that would be easy to spot and to use. Much of our basic information was contained on the home page itself, but we felt that users would need an easy way to find this information as well as to identify the rest of the pages on the site. We decided that an index running down the left side of the home page would allow users to see both the information on the home page and the index to the site at once. We also recognized that the descriptions in the index needed to be clear. We wanted to make sure that users would know exactly what path to take to find what they were seeking.
- We knew that we would need navigational links on each of the satellite pages. Each page has a link back to the home page, to the UIUC Library home page, and to the UIUC home page.
- We had to specify the name of a contact (in this case the English Librarian) so that users could send comments or questions.
- We wanted the page to look professional, but not dull. Understanding that the mood of a site can be greatly determined by its color, we chose a vivid claret color for the background that captured a mood both intellectually stimulating and cozy, one that a sterile grey or white background could not provide. We chose colors for the texts and for the links that would be easy to read and that would stand out strongly against the dark background.
- We opted to avoid graphical illustrations, which can slow the loading of a site and can complicate the visual effect. Instead we chose to use a simple but striking graphical design of strong color and bold text. The claret background with its coordinating tan stripe down the left side (to highlight the subject index) is the only graphical feature on the site.
- We strove to keep the look of the satellite pages consistent: headings are always one size, subheadings another, text another. The navigational links are in the same location on each page. This adds to the professional look of the site as well as helps users to orient themselves on each page.
Several paragraphs on the home page of the present site describe the English Library. The index on the home page is divided into three sections for ease of use: the top section con tains links to the basic description of the English Library and to its other pages; the second section contains links to the three units served by the Library (the English Department, the Theatre Department, and the Unit for Cinema Studies); and the third section contains links back to the UIUC Library pages and to the main UIUC page. There are links to five satellite pages. One of these is an interactive form that patrons may use to request purchase of books or periodicals for the collection. Two of these lead to lists maintained by the English Library: a listing of some six hundred current periodicals, updated every few months, and a listing of new books, updated weekly. Tables at the top of both lists provide internal links that allow users to locate items alphabetically. Recently added is a link to an in-house guide to large microform collections in English and American literature and theater held through out the University Library system. Finally, there is a list of sixteen links to external web sites that we feel are of particular importance to our clientele. There seemed to be no point in attempting to keep up either the breadth and frequent updating of sources such as Voice of the Shuttle. Our site provides links to several such metasites, to some exemplary resources such as WATCH: Writers, Artists, and Their Copy right Holders, as well as to several resources that are licensed to campus users, such as the MLA International Bibliography and the Old English Corpus.
The simple design of the page focuses attention on the text and allows for easy and consistent updating -- a necessary feature, as we frequently make changes to the list of links and to various details within individual pages. "More matter, with less art!" (Hamlet II.2.95)
Shannon E.G. Stiles
Clackamas Community College (formerly UIUC)
William S. Brockman,
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Report on Membership Survey
Eighteen members of EALS filled out the two-page Membership Survey that was published in a previous issue of Biblio-Notes. This is probably too small a sample from which to draw conclusions about the views of EALS members as a whole. Nevertheless, the information may be useful for officers and other section leaders in the future.
Of the eighteen respondents, thirteen reported that they work in University libraries, three in college libraries, one in a government library, and one currently unemployed. Of the 17 currently employed, seven describe themselves primarily as bibliographers, five as reference librarians, two as English subject specialists, and one each as curator of special collections, public services librarian, and library director. Of the seven bibliographers, six mention that they have other responsibilities within their libraries. The two "subject specialists," also probably have a range of responsibilities, including collection development and subject-specific reference and in struction.
Eleven respondents described EALS as their section of primary interest within ACRL. For six, it was their secondary interest, and one respondent checked it as "lower down the list." Two-thirds of the respondents were aware of the EALS website. Of those twelve, nine find it useful, two do not, and one did not respond. The two who do not felt that it was insufficiently up-to-date. Of the nine who felt it useful, there were suggestions for faster updates (minutes of conference meetings, announcements of upcoming programs) and more information on the Section's business and history. Two respondents pointed out that this was particularly crucial for members who are not able to attend all conferences.
Fourteen of the eighteen respondents were aware of EALS-L. Of those 14, eleven had received useful information from it within the past year. Interestingly, the same eleven also responded that they had posted questions or received responses to questions within the past year. The only survey question to receive a unanimous response was that our newsletter, Biblio-Notes, offers useful information. There was no unanimity, however, in terms of what types of information members would like it to provide! Many members prefer section news; for others, that is the least important aspect of the newsletter. (One respondent suggested that the web site could assume this responsibility.) Since respondents answered the question in somewhat varying ways (proving that EALS members are no more careful at reading survey instructions than anyone else!), it is impossible to give a precise summary of the responses. However, interpreting the responses within the context of each respondent's presumed methodology, Section News is highly important for 6, moderately important for 3, and relatively unimportant for nine members. Articles addressing professional issues of interest to English and American literature librarians was highly important for eleven, moderately important for four, least important for one, and received a check-mark from another. Book and product reviews were highly important for four, moderately important for 10, and least important for three, with one check-mark. The bibliography "Studies of Interest to English and Amer ican Literature Librarians" was highly important for four, moderately important for nine, and least important for four, with one check-mark. Several respondents used a 4-3-2-1 ranking instead of the 10 to 1 ranking requested, with the higher numbers representing greatest importance. If 4 is equated to 9 or 10, 3 to 7 or 8, 2 to 5 or 6 and 1 to 0 through 4, the responses for this question would be:
- Section News: 9-10: 7; 7-8: 3; 5-6: 3, and 0-4: 4.
- Articles: 9-10: 12; 7-8: 3; 5-6: 1; and 0-4: 1
- Reviews: 9-10: 5; 7-8: 5; 5-6: 4; and 0-4: 3
- Bibliography: 9-10: 8; 7-8: 2; 5-6: 4; and 0-4: 3.
There seemed to be a consensus that articles of professional interest are of most importance, but that significant numbers also find the other three categories to be more or equally useful. Only four respondents offered suggestions for articles or other information: one suggested more polls like the membership survey to determine membership concerns and more guest columnists; one hoped the bibliography could add annotations, when possible; and two singled out the recent articles comparing MLAIB and ABELL and the review of Chadwyck-Healey's LION as examples of extremely useful information. One also urged us to do more on postcolonial literature in English and on new trends in literary and cultural theory.
Only five respondents offered suggestions for what EALS can do to keep their membership. The currently unemployed respondent understandably urged us to hope that s/he finds a job in the profession. Two urged us to keep both Biblio-Notes and the web site up-to-date. Another simply urged us to take advantage of her volunteer spirit. And one offered the general observation that EALS has been "long needed" and that it should serve as an intellectual home in ALA for the dwindling number of humanists who still find literary expression and literary research rewarding.
Perhaps not surprisingly, all eighteen respondents checked "English" literature as one of their primary areas of interest in English-language literatures. Seventeen checked American literature. Of the remaining options given, six checked Irish, three Australian/New Zealand, two Canadian, and one Indian (sub-continent). No one specifically checked African literature in English. In response to the "Other" option, various respondents mentioned Filipino literature in English, gay and lesbian literature, comparative literature, Russian literature, film studies, and theater and drama.
Members were asked if they had suggestions for future programs at ALA Annual Conference, and ten respondents did. Almost all of them mentioned electronic resources and/or Web sites. In particular, the evaluation of web sites, creating and maintaining web sites, teaching their use to patrons, and keeping abreast of them ourselves were cited by two or more members. Others mentioned interdisciplinary issues in collection development, faculty liaison strategies, and the perrennial gamut of issues faced in collection management and bibliographic instruction.
Although it may not be realistic to draw any conclusions from the disappointingly small number of responses received, these eighteen indicate that we have a diverse membership in terms of professional responsibilities, type of institution, interests, and needs. EALS must strive to meet as many needs as possible.
Rob Melton, Chair
EALS Meeting Times for ALA Conference
Executive Board - Saturday June 27 4:30-5:30
General Membership - Sunday June 28 9:30-11:00
Program - Sunday June 28:
"Re-Imag(in)ing the Text: The Literary Text in the Electronic Age" 2-4 p.m.
All Committees Meeting - Monday June 29 9:30-11 a.m.
1997 ACRL President's Program "Imagining the Learning Library" Now Available on Videotape
Complete and abridged versions of the 1997 ACRL President's Program in San Francisco are now available for borrowing by ACRL chapters wishing to use these as part of local programming, as well as by libraries and individuals. The program, "Imagining the Learning Library,"features presentations by Betsy Baker, of Northwestern University, and by several members of the Disney "Imagineers".
The full program runs 2.5 hours on two half-inch tapes; the abridged version runs 72 minutes on one half-inch tape. ACRL encourages state and regional chapters to bring this program to those of their members who may not have been able to travel to ALA last summer.
To borrow the tape for a 3 week period, send an ALA-approved interlibrary loan form to the ALA Headquarters Library, 50 East Huron Street, Chicago, Illinois 60611-2795. A nominal fee may be charged to cover postage. Advanced reservations for the tapes will be honored by calling 312-280-3277 or via e-mail at email@example.com. Questions regarding the program contents should be addressed to Elisa Topper in the ACRL Office, 312-280- 2523 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Recent Studies of Interest to English and American Literature Librarians
(Due to space constraints, only half of the citations could be printed in this issue; the remainder will be included in the Fall issue.)
Bambrick, J. "Computers and Libraries: New Links to the Medieval World." Proceedings of the 18th National Online Meeting. Ed. M. E. Williams. Medford, NJ: Information Today, 1997: 27-34.
Bridges, Anne E. and Russell T. Clement. "Crossing the Threshold of Rocket Mail: E-mail Use by U.S. Humanities Faculty." The Journal of Academic Librarianship 23 no. 2 (March 1997): 109-117.
Cole, Charles. "Information as Process: The Difference between Corroborating Evidence and "Information' in Humanistic Research Domains." Information Processing & Manage ment v33 no. (1997): 55-67.
Computing and the Humanities: Summary of a Roundtable Meeting. NY: American Council of Learned Societies, 1998.
Conley, Valerie M. Characteristics and Attitudes of Instructional Faculty and Staff in the Humanities: 1993 National Study of Post-secondary Faculty. Washington, DC: U.S. Dept. of Education, 1997.
Cory, Kenneth A. "Discovering Hidden Analogies in an Online Humanities Database." Computers and the Humanities 31 no. 1 (1997): 1-12.
Coy, Catherine and Marni Ludwig. "Contemporary Poetry: A Rich Landscape." Collection Building 16 no. 4 (1997): 173-78.
Dillon, D. "The Changing Role of Humanities Collection Development." Acquisitions Librarian no.17-18 (1997): 5-15.
Dilworth, Collett and Nancy Mellin McCracken. "Ideological Cross-Currents in English Studies and English Education: A Report of A National Survey of Professors' Beliefs and Practices." English Education 29 no. 1 (Feb. 1, 1997): 7-17.
Guernsey, Lisa. "A Humanities Network Considers What Lies Beyond E-mail: Debate at H-NET Reflects Ideas of Two Men Who Run the Popular Project." Chronicle of Higher Education 43 no. 20 (January 24, 1997): A23- A24.
"Information Technology in Humanities Scholarship: Achievements, Prospects, and Challenges--The United States Focus." In American Council of Learned Societies. Occasional Paper No. 37. 1997. (http://aaln.org)
Jadali, Farhad. "Differences in Perceived Technological Problem-Solving Ability of University Technology and Humanities Students." Diss. Iowa State University, 1997.
Jones, P. "Whither Humanities and Advanced Technologies?: Scholars Need Not be Programmers to Enjoy the Fruits of Technology." EDUCOM Review 32 no. 1 (1997): 26-29.
Kratzert, Mona and Debora Richey. "Native American Literature: Expanding the Canon." Collection Building 17 no. 1 (1998): 4-15.
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