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#3 -- [1984]

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.


The ACRL English and American Literature Discussion Group met at ALA Midwinter on January 7, 1984. Craig Likness, Vice Chair, presided.

Minutes of the previous meeting held in Los Angeles (published in Biblio-notes #2) were approved.

1. Committee Reports

a. Subgroup on Little Magazines: Marcia Pankake suggested that the subgroup could undertake two or three projects if more people were involved. She suggested that the subgroup solicit volunteers through the newsletter.

b. Guide to Selection Tools: The working title for the guide is: Selection Tools and Procedures for English and American Literature Bibliographers. Bill Allan has resigned from the steering committee for the guide and has been replaced by Rob Melton of the University of Kansas. The proposed chapter on special collections has been cancelled. Outlines for ten chapters have been submitted to and revised by the steering committee. An eleventh chapter on linguistics is planned, but the contributor has not been confirmed. The proposed chapters are:

Collection development (Eric Carpenter, Oberlin College)

Acquisitions (Craig Likness and Kathryn Soupiset, Trinity University)

Choosing editions, biographies, and bibliographies (Joseph Natoli, Michigan State University)

Retrospective bibliographies and citation studies (Richard Heinzkill, University of Oregon)

Contemporary literature, including small presses and little magazines (Charles Brownson, Arizona State University)

Nonprint media (Peter Deekle, Harrisburg Area Community College)

Serials selection (Rob Melton, University of Kansas)


Current serial bibliographies/review sources (Stephen Lehmann, Swarthmore College)

Special topics in literature, including interdisciplinary resources (Yvonne Schofer, University of Wisconsin-Madison)

Building reference collections (Scott Stebelman, University of Nebraska-Lincoln)

First drafts of the chapters should be submitted to the steering committee by August, 1984. Final drafts are due in December, 1984. The guide should be ready to submit to a publisher in February, 1985. Arthur Young, Chair of ACRL's Publication in Librarianship Series, has responded favorably to the project, without making a commitment. Members of the discussion group suggested the addition of a chapter on faculty perspective, or the inclusion of faculty perspective as part of the introduction.

2. Election Committee

Scott Stebelman, University of Nebraska-Lincoln; Elaine Franco, University of Nebraska-Lincoln; and Phyllis Andrews, University of Rochester, will nominate candidates for the positions of Vice-Chair/Chair-Elect, Secretary, and three members-at-large for 1984-1985.

3. Biblio-notes

A proposal for subsidizing the cost of Biblio-notes was submitted to ACRL. Two alternatives were suggested: that the discussion group be permitted to charge members a subscription fee, or that ACRL absorb the costs of the newsletter.

4. Dallas meeting

"Selection and De-selection of Serials for English and American Literature" is the topic for discussion at the discussion group meeting in Dallas this summer. Names of potential speakers were discussed. Members expressed a preference for a Sunday morning time.

5. Other Business

The group discussed the possibility of planning a social event or tour in Dallas, perhaps something as informal as going out to lunch after the scheduled discussion group meeting. It was also suggested that some time be set aside at each meeting for "working questions" from discussion group members.

Elaine Franco


An election will be held this spring for a new Vice-Chair/Chair-Elect, Secretary, and three members-at-large. The new terms will begin following the discussion group meeting in Dallas in June, 1984, and will run through the summer 1985 meeting. If you are interested in running for any of these positions, please send your name to Scott Stebelman, 217N Love Library, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln NE 68588-0410. Please indicate your institutional affiliation, position (e.g., cataloger, subject specialist, library educator etc.), and any activities or publications germane to the interests of the group.

According to the discussion group's bylaws, candidates must be members of ACRL. Candidates should be fairly certain that they can attend both the midwinter and summer conference meetings of ALA.

Please respond by: MARCH 21, 1984.


SERIALS SELECTION AND DE-SELECTION FOR ENGLISH AND AMERICAN LITERATURE is the program topic for the Dallas meeting of the discussion group. We will meet SUNDAY, JUNE 24, 9:30-12:30. The location is yet to be assigned.

Wendy Bousfield, American and British Literature/Language Bibliographer at Syracuse, has agreed to be part of the panel. Wendy went through a painful cancellation experience while working at Wichita State University several years ago. Invitations have been extended to Richard Centing (Ohio State University English, Communication,Theatre Library as well as the Reference Department there and periodicals review editor for Choice) and Stephen Wiberly (Social Sciences Librarian at University of Illinois Chicago Circle who has frequently published on humanities librarianship topics as well as citation analysis.) If you know either gentleman, please help persuade them to accept our invitation.

Plan to attend with problems, questions, issues, and concerns in mind. Bring samples of forms you have used (successfully or unsuccessfully) as well as guidelines. Tell your serials librarians friends what we are planning to discuss as well.

In addition to the focused program (1.5 to 2 hours in length), there will be an hour for "working discussion" to address problems the members bring for discussion.



Standards for literary bibliographies was the topic of one of several special sessions organized by librarians for the Modern Language Association Convention held in New York in December, 1983. Four panelists, three of them librarians, considered whether there are or should be definable standards for good bibliographies, in terms of quality control and adequacy of coverage, and whether a proliferation of literary bibliographies has resulted in a diminishing of overall quality.

John Dillon, Humanities Bibliographer, SUNY-Binghamton, stated that standards for literary bibliographies are necessary and should be enforced by editors, referees, and reviewers. There are no written standards that are backed up by the authority of a professional body. The ALA RASD Bibliography Committee labored over a set of standards, published as "Guidelines for the Preparation of a Bibliography" ( RQ, 22 (1982), 31-32). The Guidelines stress that a bibliography should fill a significant need and should avoid unnecessary duplication. Mr. Dillon feels that duplication could be avoided if a North American register of bibliographies in progress were established. Bibliographies should arrange material by subject, rather than by form (books, articles, dissertations, etc.). Subject indexes as well as secondary author indexes are important. The bibliography should include a key to all abbreviations used, so that they will be understandable in context. Mr. Dillon does not agree that it is necessary for all bibliographies to follow a standard form of entry, as suggested by the RASD guidelines. Annotation is essential for secondary bibliographies, although the RASD guidelines do not explicitly state this. The guidelines do not address the question of review. Many defects could be remedied at the proposal stage if a detailed prospectus of the bibliography could be reviewed.

Joseph Natoli, Humanities Bibliographer, Michigan State University, suggested that the function of a literary bibliography is not only to display the results of the bibliographic effort but to reveal that effort and thus make a bibliographer out of the user. The user would become the kind of bibliographer who does not necessarily produce a bibliography, but whose knowledge of bibliographic processes underlies all future literary activities. A bibliography should not be an artifact in fixed space, but a process and an impetus to further process. Given a redefined purpose and function, a literary bibliography might include: 1) A discussion of works by the author (in the case of an author bibliography) to precede any presentation of criticism and scholarship. 2) A complete discussion of the search process employed in the creation of the bibliography. 3) Annotations of the secondary critical/scholarly material indicating the theoretical approach represented in the commentary. 4) Cross referencing within the annotation. 5) Intelligent selection. 6) A bibliographic essay as a preface to each section. 7) Book review citations for each book-length critical study. 8) A final chapter indicating major critical trends. Bibliographies should be restricted in focus so that these aspects can be included and the work can be kept at a student affordable price. Literary bibliographies should not be restricted to author or period, but should represent topics, especially cross disciplinary topics.

William McPheron, Subject Librarian for English, American, and Comparative Literature at SUNY-Buffalo, spoke about publishing patterns associated with the bibliography of contemporary American poetry. Contemporary poets have published through journals, university presses, little magazines, self-publication, creative writing programs, and recordings of poetry readings. There has been a concern on the part of bibliographers to record primary texts. Alternative presses disregard academic principles of bibliography. University presses focus their attention on bibliographic method and physical description in the Bowers tradition. Commercial publishers involved with bibliographies of single authors are influenced by the exigencies of the market place. The absence of competition is narrowly ranked behind an author's literary merit as a determining factor in the decision to publish a bibliography. The evaluation procedure for bibliographies is not consistently demanding. The failure to define the purpose and principles of inclusion of a bibliography is a persistent problem. Bibliography is an omnibus term. Each type of bibliography must be judged separately; the limits of each genre must be defined. Bibliography is a process, an open-ended activity that anticipates revision and correction.

Vincent Tollers, Chairperson of the Department of English, SUNY-College at Brockport, commented that the demands of the market place have improved bibliographies over the past fifteen years. While the number of bibliographies published has been increasing, the number of reviews and review outlets has increased. The central focus for publishers is the supply and demand of the market place -- is there a market for a particular work? Publishers are engaged in improving their product for a buyer's market. The format of bibliographies has improved since 1965 or 1970 and publishers have become more demanding of their bibliographers, asking for better credentials and higher quality work.

Elaine Franco
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Session organizer


We heard considerable grumbling about Dallas at Midwinter, and, admittedly, there are problems with the city as a convention site. But Dallas has been getting some good press lately. Check out the March issue of Gourmet as well as "What's Doing in Dallas," New York Times (Travel Section) February 19, 1984, p. 10. The new Dallas Museum of Art is a must, and the art museums in Ft. Worth are always worth a special trip across the Metroplex.

Also be on the lookout for the ACRL RBMS pre-conference program announcements. The topic is 20th century literature collections, and the location is Austin. Even people who proudly claim to dislike Texas will admit they love Austin.

For any Contemporary Texas Literature fans, there is a new volume out entitled The Texas Literary Tradition: Fiction, Folklore, and History with excellent essays by J. Graves, J. Givner, R.G. Vliet, E. Kelton, R. Hinojosa-Smith, T. Rivera, R. Saldivar, and B. Stoeltje. It is available for $11.00 (prepayment advised) from: College of Liberal Arts, University of Texas at Austin, Austin TX 78712.

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