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Issued by the Literatures in English Section
of the Association of College & Research Libraries,
a division of the American Library Association

#34 Fall 1999
ISSN 1076-8947


Editor: Scott Stebelman
Gelman Library
George Washington University
Washington, D.C. 20052

Chair, 1999-2000: Catherine A. Larson
University of Arizona Library
1510 E. University
Tucson, AZ 85745

Chair, 2000-2001: William Wortman
280 King Library
Miami University
Oxford, OH 45056

News from the Chair

The beginning of a new (ACRL) presidential term, and soon, the beginning of a new year and a new century, are excellent times to reflect, refresh and renew. And what better way to celebrate a new century (albeit a bit early) than through a revelry in fiction? Fiction truly is alive and well! Join your colleagues at ALA's Annual Conference 2000 in Chicago for a revitalizing program on "Collecting Contemporary Fiction for the New Millennium." As librarians, we encounter bewildering choices in building our collections. Selecting from among new authors, Third World authors, small press publications, gay materials, genre and popular fiction, and now, electronic texts, poses an array of difficult choices. Some of the questions that will be addressed in our program include:

  • How are academic libraries using approval plans effectively for collecting contemporary fiction?
  • What role are small press materials playing in the curricula?
  • What is the role of weeding in a collection of contemporary fiction?
  • How are librarians collaborating successfully with faculty in this arena?

Each ACRL President is invited to set his or her own theme for the presidential term. "Celebrating Our Successes, Confronting Our Challenges: ACRL Enters the 21st Century" is the theme set by Larry Hardesty, current ACRL president. As President, he is deeply interested in recruiting new members: a continuing challenge to any non-profit, professional organization. Our section can certainly play a role through attracting members to our own corner of ACRL. If you know a new librarian working in the field of English or American literatures, please take a moment to reach out and let them know about EALS. It's well worth your time.

Cathy Larson, Chair


EALS Program Report: Reading the South

Reading the South, the 1999 program of the ACRL English and American Literature Section, featured award-winning author Ellen Douglas. Douglas read from her most recent book, Truth: Four Stories I’m Finally Old Enough to Tell, a collection of memoirs in the form of stories. She believes novelists are regional because they write about what they know. "Southern" literature was recognized after Faulkner became popular. In her opinion, Faulkner "wrote everything there is to say about the South" and echoes of his "southerness" are found in today’s literature.

Ralph Adamo, poet and editor of The New Orleans Review, argued that people view southerners as the stereotypes that pervade the media. Many different kinds of people live in the South and all southern writers do not sound like Faulkner. The concept of "southerness" is a marketing ploy. Language, Adamo believes, rather than region, is the major influence on modern writers because globalization has diminished the importance of geographic boundaries.

Rob Melton, University of Kansas Bibliographer, discussed the history of southern literature collections in libraries, especially manuscripts. "Southerness" as a collection specialty did not gain notice until the 20th century, although large academic libraries held works of authors from their state. Jeanne Pavy from the University of New Orleans Library described works about southern literature from Living Writers of the South (1869) to Southern Black Creative Writers (1988), Encyclopedia of Southern Culture (1989), and websites ( Patricia Dominguez ended the program with her experiences with Documenting the American South, a digitization project at UNC, Chapel Hill (

Linda Stein
University of Delaware 


Editions and Adaptations of Shakespeare – a reply to Professor Gail Kern Paster

I am very grateful for the opportunity to respond on behalf of Chadwyck-Healey to Professor Paster’s review of Editions and Adaptations of Shakespeare ( Biblio-Notes Spring 1999). The review raises some important issues relating to the purpose and use of electronic texts in general and to the editorial principles and accuracy of Editions and Adaptations of Shakespeare ( EAS) in particular. I will address some of Professor Paster’s specific criticisms in a moment, but first I want to point out two fundamental misconceptions that distort much of what Professor Paster wrote about the database.

Professor Paster bases her remarks on the assumption that the texts in the database were scanned. She implies that the purported errors that she has noticed are merely local examples of a general problem afflicting all the texts in EAS, a problem created by our use of scanning technology. Let me assure Professor Paster that no scanner came near any part of the database. Given the current state of technology it would be absurd to attempt to capture the Folio in this way. All the texts in EAS were double-keyed from photocopies of the original documents, verified, and proofed. Double keying means that the texts are keyed twice by different keyers and the two versions are then compared by a computer. Where discrepancies arise, they are manually checked and resolved with reference to the original text. The Folio text, which is the focus of Professor Paster’s remarks, was subjected to this process and then 100% proofread. In many areas where the text was thought to be problematic it was then 200% proofread. The basis of Professor Paster’s criticism of the database is therefore a false one.

We do not claim that our keying and checking processes are infallible. Indeed, Professor Paster may well have identified genuine errors, but these need to be looked at individually and their claims assessed. To imply that any class of alleged mistake in the text will be repeated across the entire database because of an automated process of character misrecognition is completely inaccurate. To suggest that any part of the database consists of ‘machine-produced nonsense’ is incorrect.

In EAS we captured texts ‘as seen’. We did not silently correct errors, or collate different copies of the originals to achieve a ‘best’ or accepted reading. Like any electronic text, ours cannot hope to reproduce all the typographical and physical features of the original book. It is not a ‘replica‘ and no one should be led to suppose that it is. Instead, we aim to present a fully searchable version of the original text, preserving its peculiarities (including original mistakes). Because of the typographical problems of the Folio, to say nothing of copy-specific variants, suspected mistakes in the database need to be checked one by one against our source copy (clearly identified in the bibliography as the copy held in the library of Trinity College, Cambridge). Professor Paster’s collation results in her charging us with at least one error which, under the editorial principle just outlined, appears not to be an error at all: ‘loyner‘ for ‘Ioyner‘(Act 1, line 311) is a correct transcription of our source. This may be a case of a typesetter using an ‘l‘ for an uppercase ‘i‘. In this instance, it is hard to see that our text is any more confusing to the unwary undergraduate than the original would be. A similar point could be made about the spacing of ‘away’ (Act 1, line 8). We might debate whether the slightly larger inter-letter spacing in the Folio should be reflected in the electronic text as ‘a way’. It is arguable that this space should be represented by something less than an inter-word space, but as Paster herself invokes the significance of material aspects of the early printed book, it is not obvious that the irregularity should be ignored. As with ‘loyner’, the textual scholar cannot have it both ways: either aspects of the original, unintended and mistaken though they may be, should be retained, or they should be silently corrected in the interests of clarity and accessibility to less scholarly users.

But perhaps the more fundamental misconception in the review concerns the question: what is a database like EAS for? EAS is a keyed and fully searchable electronic version of eleven major editions of Shakespeare, 28 contemporary printings of individual plays and poems, apocrypha and related works. It also contains more than one hundred adaptations, sequels and burlesques dating from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. It is not and does not claim to be an electronic or photographic facsimile of the originals. However, it does enable a student to look, for example, at all the uses of a particular word, or phrase, across the entire Shakespearean corpus, or to compare, line by line on one screen, the version of King Lear in the Folio and Quarto and through ten subsequent editions. By allowing users to synchronize different editions, it makes easy the comparison of editorial practice over 250 years. Whatever the virtues of electronic facsimiles such as the admirable collection produced by the University of Pennsylvania, they have none of the potential for linguistic and thematic analysis of the plays that is offered by EAS. Professor Paster does not mention the contents or functionality of the database at all, let alone assess their advantages to students and scholars.

Professor Paster concludes: ‘I honestly fail to see why any teacher of Shakespeare would reproduce pages of the Chadwyck-Healey First Folio . . . ’. This is to misunderstand the purpose of EAS, which is not intended as a substitute for paper-based teaching. Nor, clearly, is it an appropriate tool for introducing students to the material aspects of early printed texts. However, were Professor Paster (like many current users of EAS) interested in teaching variants, allusion, quotation, verbal echo, changing editorial approaches to Shakespeare, the historical re-purposing of Shakespeare’s plots and characters, and a whole host of other literary investigations to which a fully searchable database gives access, then she might agree that EAS represents a unique and valuable resource.

Dan Burnstone
Publisher, Literature 
Chadwyck-Healey, Ltd.


English Department Web Sites with Links to Resources

The genesis of this article was Scott Stebelman's observation that librarians often visit each others' Web sites, but may not have reviewed Web sites created by English departments. These Web sites may contain links to resources not often included on library sites. In response to this request for an article, I made a series of forays into approximately 200 primarily American and Canadian English department web sites. These are some of my discoveries.

Getting there is part of the fun. To identify English department Web sites, check the following:

Once you arrive at an English department home page, the next challenge is figuring out if they have links to the Web and where they have located them. Some departments put links on their home page, but for others you need to dig down three or four levels before the sites emerge. In either case, no standard terminology exists. I found web links under all of the following headings: Additional Web Resources, Electronic Tool Kit, English World, Gateways & Link Collections, Interesting Links to Other English Web Sites, Internet Research Resources, Links, A Literary Index, Literary Resources, Resources, Resources & References, Resources for Readers and Writers, Resources for Research, Scratch the ("Lynx"?) to view a collection of relevant Web sites, Selected Links to the Web, Useful Sites of Interest, Web Sites, and Writerly Resources. "Links" and "Resources" were the most commonly used terms.

Some of the sites simply listed links in no discernable order; others were classified and, in some cases, annotated as well. Some English department sites include links to online resources available by subscription, such as JSTOR or the OED. Others link exclusively to information freely available on the Web. Some pages include links over to the library and its resources, but others do not. Nearly every department with links to the Web included one or more of these:

Kathy Johnson 
University of Nebraska—Lincoln


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