Joy Cadwallader, Aberystwyth University (Aberystwyth Online User Group)
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Cambridge University Press
Reports emerged in the mainstream press in mid-August 2017 that that Cambridge University Press (CUP) had blocked more than 300 articles about a range of controversial topics including the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre from its journal China Quarterly because they were asked to do so by the Chinese Government’s General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP). In a press statement CUP excused their action by saying, “We complied with this initial request to remove individual articles, to ensure that other academic and educational materials we publish remain available to researchers and educators in this market.” Following an outcry in academic circles including a Change.org petition threatening a boycott, CUP backtracked and announced that the articles would be reposted. A tweet from China Quarterly’s editor Tim Pringle said, “Access to published materials of the highest quality is a core component of scholarly research. It is not the role of respected global publishing houses such as CUP to hinder such access.” In another story, Reuters reported that in March last year LexisNexis had withdrawn Nexis and LexisNexis Academic from China after being asked to remove some content. Who’s next?
Airport libraries are nothing new, however this summer easyJet’s Library in the Sky has been selected by author and former children’s laureate Dame Jacqueline Wilson and consists of ten titles. Five of the ten are Penguin Classics for which taster samples for download are provided on the easyJet website complete with illustrations, including Alice in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The first three chapters of Jacqueline Wilson’s new book Wave Me Goodbye are also available for download. Some reports I found online about the initiative indicated that books would be made available as a free download upon landing but I couldn’t find anything about that on the easyJet site.
I was really hoping to leave Elsevier out of my article this time but … here we go again. The acquisition of bepress by Elsevier for an undisclosed sum has prompted speculation about its ambitions in the business of institutional repositories, preprints and open access. bepress provide products to showcase academic research including Digital Commons, “an institutional repository, a comprehensive publishing platform, and a fully integrated research and impact suite”, with over 2 million articles from over 500 universities and an Experts Gallery Suite profiling researchers including a range of publication types and other features such as impact metrics to attract funding and prospective students. Together with their other research products HiveBench, Scopus, Mendeley, Pure, SSRN and SciVal, Elsevier would appear to be in the driving seat. At the end of their news report, ATG include a link to this excellent Scholarly Kitchen blog by Roger G Schonfeld (Ithika S+R) which assesses Elsevier’s position as “an increasingly dominant player in preprints, continuing its march to adopt and co-opt open access.”
Meanwhile Elsevier continues to assert its ownership of published journal articles through the courts in the matter of Sci-Hub against whom they have been awarded $15 million damages in the US. This news article in Nature suggests that it is likely that the fine may never be paid as Sci-Hub and its founder Alexandra Elbakyan are based outside the US and hence the ruling may not have the intended impact of discouraging other pirate sites. The article also quotes structural biologist Stephen Curry (ICL), who while acknowledging that Sci-Hub is illegal has said, “But the fact that it is so immensely popular, inside and outside academia, is a symptom of many people’s frustration with the status quo in academic publishing.” There’s more about this and other recent piracy lawsuits in an article from July 2017 in Information Today.
Faber & Faber/Bookswarm
Publishers Faber & Faber have engaged the services of Bookswarm to develop a new website to showcase the work of crime-writing legend P D James. The new site was launched in 2017 on the date of her birth (August 3rd) with a home page based around photos of Phyllis, her signature, a short biography, links to review articles, awards and her own words.
IFLA (International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions)
IFLA has released Library Map of the World, an interactive tool where you can explore by country a range of library performance metrics. For instance, find out how many libraries a country has, how many of them are national, academic or public, how many have full time staff or Internet access, numbers of visitors and loans. Although a bit short on data so far (nothing for UK and Ireland yet) this looks like it could become a terrific resource and will allow us to compare ourselves to others, for example, public library provision and staffing following the cuts they’ve been suffering. Library Map of the World is also being used to host stories about library initiatives contributing to UN Sustainable Development Goals such as “Coding for Kids in Libraries” in Romania and “Mobile Libraries for Peace” in Columbia. Find out more in their press release.
Marxist Internet Archive/NA Publishing
Serials publisher NA Publishing and the voluntary organisation Marxist Internet Archive are partnering to produce Left of Liberalism: Marxist-Socialist Newspapers, 1900-2015. The collection comprises 141 English language newspapers including The Daily Worker (1923-1958), The Liberator (1918-1924) and The Communist (1926-1945) which are currently available for purchase on the Marxist Internet Archive’s website. The new product will be enhanced by OCR so the newspaper content will become fully searchable, and also by, “article level indexing, saved search capability, and usage reports”. Left of Liberalism is scheduled to be available for purchase in the first half of 2018 after a partial trial version ended in December 2017.
A new digital humanities resource of translations of medieval literature into English has been created and launched by Stanford University. The Global Medieval Sourcebook has been funded by Stanford’s Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis (CESTA) and the Roberta Bowman Denning Fund, with content, “in such languages as Chinese, Arabic, Middle High German, Old English, Old French, Old Spanish, Latin and Italian,” curated by Stanford staff and students. Features for researchers include introductions, bibliographic detail, bibliographies, side-by-side comparison of the original with the translation, high-quality images from the manuscripts, critical notes and some audio recordings imagining how they may have sounded at the time. There are only 14 items so far but this is a rich, attractive model for sharing this kind of content. The press release notes that the project director, “incorporate text submissions from other universities and scholars.” I particularly enjoyed the German comedy drinking verse “Der Weinschwelg|The Wino”.
Notes for contributors