Monday, 15 August 2016

The Corvey Collection

The history of the Corvey Collection - which has recently been added to the University Library's digital collections as part of Nineteenth Century Collections Online (NCCO) - is a fascinating one.  It was once the private library of the Landgrave of Hesse-Roterberg and kept at his princely residence, a converted Benidictine monastery - the eponymous Castle Corvey.  The library was partially digitized by the University of Paderborn before it was discovered by Anglophone scholars in the mid-90s.  The full story is available here.  As an electronic collection it is now available to University of Sheffield researchers and consists of over 17,500 full-text, downloadable monographs - mainly novels - covering the period 1790-1840.

By Photo uncredited, c. 1925-1930 (Postcard.: Verlag Julius Henze Buch- u. Kunsthandlung (Co.)) ( [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Romanticists and Gothicists will no doubt be attracted to the idea of a 19th Century aristocrat reading novels alone in his Castle while going gently mad*, but it is worth emphasising how truly remarkable the collection is.  It contains many English works of the period that are not thought available elsewhere and a great number of foreign language works.  The editors of the collection are also keen to point out the number or works written by women included.   The works are produced in facsimile so include original illustrations and type-settings.

Therefore, as well as scholars of the 19th Century, there is also great potential for those studying female writing, or for scholars of visual or print culture.   There are a number of translated works not previously held by Sheffield that will be of interest to language scholars.  All the text is also downloadable in OCR format for those engaged in digital humanities or text-mining research.

Using the Collection

Use the advanced search option to search for individual titles or authors, or search for phrases contained within the full-text.  You can also search for individual media and illustration types via the advanced search.   As part of NCCO all the content can be searched with that of the other modules.

*(NB There is no proof that anybody went mad from reading these novels)

Monday, 8 August 2016

Sketch Engine

Sketch Engine is a new library resource bought as part of the strategic funds process.   It provides access to dozens of corpora that can be searched and manipulated with Sketch Engine's unique functionality.  The corpora are millions and billions of words in size and allow linguists and lexicographers to study the relationships between words, types of words and phrases in over 80 languages.  It is a specialist resource for computational linguists and very much supports the work in digital humanities that is being undertaken at the University of Sheffield and led by the Humanities Research Institute, but it is also hoped that it will open up new interdisciplinary opportunities for the study of language in relationship to other subject areas.  

Increasingly academic libraries are involved in advocating for content to made available in ways that can be interrogated with computational research methods.  Sketch engine represents one commercial example of this but, as a sector, we are aware of these growing areas of research and are working to break down the restrictions that publishers often place on material that obstructs this

Sketch engine comes with its own comprehensive user guide.  University of Sheffield users, if logged in to MUSE, should use the institutional login

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Dublin Castle Records 1798-1926

The Library has recently made a number of strategic purchases to support Teaching, Learning and Research across the Faculties and Departments of the University.  One of these new additions to our collections is the digitized archive of the Dublin Castle Records.

The Dublin Castle Records are the records of the British administration in Ireland and this collection covers the period from the rebellions of 1798 through the Nineteenth Century to the Easter Rising, the War of Independence and the Civil War.   They include the records of the Royal Irish Constabulary with the monthly reports and statistical breakdowns from divisional police commissioners and county inspectors detailing Irish responses to British policy.   Also included are confidential papers and surveillance reports on outlawed nationalist organisations as well as dealing with broader and related themes such as labour disputes, land unrest in the West of Ireland and the militarization of Ulster Unionism.  The key figures from the movement for Irish independence are present as are Irish cultural figures who came into contact with the administration during this period.

The archive is of obvious interest to anyone studying Irish political history.  It is an essential record of the Irish Revolution increasing the ability of students to undertake effective research for course assignments, dissertations, and MA and PhD theses. Beyond this there is potential for those engaged in the study of policing methods, political activism or broader studies of the 19th Century and beyond.

Using the archive...

The archive is digitized from the collection held in the UK National Archives. It is divided into larger thematic documents with these documents being full-text searchable, although be aware that many of the handwritten documents will not take the full search. It is possible to download as PDFs sections of the text for work offline or in combination with other platforms. The Dublin Castle record is hosted on the wider Archives unbound platform and it is thus possible to combine searches with other archives held there.

Monday, 11 July 2016

Access thousands of play texts online using Drama Online

Drama Online is a fantastic resource for anyone studying or performing theatre, which can be accessed through the University of Sheffield Library. The collection features full text digital versions of over 2000 plays from over 500 playwrights. These include, among others, William Shakespeare, Samuel Beckett, Caryl Churchill, Bertolt Brecht, debbie tucker green, and John Osborne. The coverage is growing with the works of Samuel Beckett and over 100 additional plays from Nick Hern Books - a leading UK publisher of performing arts materials - being some recent additions.

Plays can be browsed by genre or time period, as well as by the playwright or practitioner name. You can also search for plays with a particular number of roles or scenes. Drama Online includes biographical information about each playwright and contextual information about each play and its original performance.

The plays themselves include embedded commentary and textual notes. Signing up for a personal account gives you access to the annotation tools. You can bookmark particular lines and add your own tags and notes. If necessary you can also print your notes along with the section of the play they refer to. Drama Online have produced some helpful video tutorials about the different functionality of the site. These are available on the left hand side of the Drama Online homepage.

To get to Drama Online simply search StarPlus for Drama Online, follow the links to full text access and to Connect to Drama Online. Next time you can leave that Collected Works of Shakespeare at home!

Image credit: Nick Hern Books

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Where is the Library with ebooks?

EBooks and the Library

The Library buys books, this much everybody understands, but when it comes to buying ebooks for a university library the complexity of the market can sometimes be hard to convey.  It is a shifting complexity where libraries and universities are being dictated to by publishers in a way that often makes it hard to deliver the books in the way we want to our users.  As an illustrative example of this, it is worth sharing a recent case study from work with the Department of History.

People have differing preferences between print and ebooks.   In libraries, we are information professionals and interested in delivering info by the most effective means.   We work on a case by case basis and have been driven by user behaviour.   There are plenty of examples where the printed book is the better medium, but it is not the purpose here to indulge in that debate.  Rather, it is analyse a few of the assumptions about ebooks and dispel a few myths by way of a real life example

As a rule, we like ebooks.  They provide wider access than print - and often more economically than buying multiple copies.  We can deliver them to whole year groups at a time because they are covered by licenses we don’t have to ask for permission or pay expensive fees (as we do when scanning/photocopying print book chapters for reading lists).  Ebooks do not take up physical space in the library and push out less used books from our research collection.  Increasingly, students want to be able to access a book when they need it off-campus, from home - which could be anywhere in the world - and they want the functionality of an electronic resource that can be integrated with the way they study.   For these reasons, at Sheffield we have a strategy of preferring ebooks unless otherwise specified.  

Although Amazon like to imply that every book can be made available as an ebook it is not the reality. Even if it were, kindle ebooks (and their competitor formats) are licensed specifically so that cannot be shared by a library’s community.   For academic books the picture is more patchy still.  Just as some hardbacks never make it to paperback, so many books are not produced in e-formats.   Academic Ebooks exist under different platforms and different formats with ever-changing license models designed for the commercial needs of the publisher rather than the end-user needs of readers.   It would be fair to say it is a market that has yet to fully mature and settle.

‘Case study’

History delivers a L1 UG module where students study a seminal text in depth.  As they would be looking at whole text over a semester, supplying the reading via e-offprint approach was out.  Rather than the department buying them as disposable textbooks we set out to deliver them as ebooks via the library.   This then gave a list of texts that are not obscure and that were assumed to be well-regarded enough for the publishers to make available as (library purchasable) ebooks.  The preferred ebook format is the replenishing credit model (outlined further below) as this provides the broadest access to our students, generally at the best price.  

There is a specialist team within the Library who take care of book supply, and will order books in the most appropriate format. As subject librarians we are less involved in that part of the process, and it is easy to make assumptions about availability.  The results then are illustrative of the complexity of ebooks.

E-Book (Credit)
E-Book (User)
Kindle Only
No E-Book

17/31 are available as (Library) Ebooks.   So, we are only able to deliver just over half electronically (only 16/31 are currently available for kindle download).  For the others we will rely on ‘old-fashioned’ multiple print copies and the reservation system (which will automatically order extra copies based on demand).  Ignoring Single-user ebooks (which are problematic see below) we are only able to deliver 13/31 in our preferred way, which is surprising when the expectation was we would be able to deliver the vast majority.

Also, it is worthy noting that of the 17 books that are available as ebooks they are delivered via at least 6 different platforms again showing the complexity that needs to be navigated when dealing with the ebook market.

What are some of the models?

Credit Model (replenishing)
The library has a number of credits (200-400) which equate to the number of times a resource is viewed. (they can be downloaded)  These credits last for a year and are replenished.  If you run out you buy another ‘copy’.  This model provides the most flexibility, and is generally the most economic - copies are expensive but provide a lot more coverage than a print copy. Large classes can all view a resource at the same time

Single-user / Multi-user*
One user can view the resource at any one time, or you can buy extra copies for multiple users at any time.  If another user turns up they have to wait in a queue until one of those reading logs-off and frees us the license.   If, as often happens, a whole class needs to read a resource in a relatively short period it makes it hard to provide coverage without buying multiple - much more expensive than print - copies.

*There has been a trend amongst some publishers to swap to this model unilaterally without telling us.  Meaning we often go from having sufficient coverage to inadequate coverage

5 of the books are part of a package we subscribe to.   In this instance ACLS Ebooks.  Most of these are not available as a library or commercial ebook.  They were digitised as a result of a scheme by American Council of Learned Societies.  These are books the publishers often find uneconomic to digitise.   These are then made available to universities for a subscription fee.

Free / OpenAccess Ebook
Plenty of books are made available free through things like DOAB.  Or they have been made available OpenAccess because the author (or their research funders) has paid the publisher.  This then is integrated into the wider library catalogue by our metadata colleagues

Download only
Essentiually like the model used for kindle, but without the associated ability to share.  It is akin to the library buying a copy and giving it away from the collection.  It is not a sustainable model, and in may cases the publishers won’t sell to libraries as they will not agree to their licensing terms

Low Credit (Non replenishing)
Offering numbers of credits that are too low to be useful, also we do not maintain the book within the library collection it gradually degrades and then disappears

No Ebook Option
Despite the fact that modern publishers type-set electronically and will send this version to be printed, some still find it uneconomical (ie they can make more money bay not doing it) to make the text available as an ebook.

What next?

Libraries are interested in provided access to resources in as economical way as possible, hopefully via a method that suits our users.   The ebook market is a fact of life that sometimes makes achieving this harder.   However, we will always get the books needed and in many cases that is still by relying on print.  We are also - as a sector - involved in advocacy for a more transparent market.

Increasingly people expect ebooks, and ebooks available in a format that is useful to them.  The OpenAccess agenda that began in academic journal publishing is now developing fast for the publication of monographs.  Academic books are produced from the research of academics working within our universities, it is strange that these institutions are then required to buy this back at inflated prices.   In this respect commercial publishers are a barrier to the wider consumption and impact of this research.   The vagaries of the ebook market demonstrate this.  So if you are a researcher thinking about publication you should consider what restrictions your publisher is likely to place on your work.   

- If you would like to discuss publishing options further there is a dedicated OpenAccess team within the library

- If you have any problems with existing ebooks please report them to our eservcies team via the link on StarPlus.

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Migration to New Worlds

The library has recently bought a new digital archive - Migrations to New Worlds.  It focuses on the the movement of people's from the Old World (largely Europe and Asia) to the New (the Americas and Australasia).  The earliest material dates back to the late 17th Century with the major focus being on the period of mass migration during the 19th and 20th Century.
S.S. Oregon (Screw Steamer). Rigging (No.274), 1883-1884, © National Museums Liverpool: Maritime Archives & Library (from Migration to New Worlds - Adam Mathew)

It is a fully digitized archive with many of the items being transcribed as well to allow for full text searching.  It has been arranged and cataloged thematically to allow easier searching of the archive Its resources are drawn from a wide range of sources including the British Library, the National Archives, and a range of maritime museums and archives that specialise in the subject of migration and settlement.  (see full list here)

The resources have a broad scope and include personal accounts and correspondence, shipping papers and logbooks, scrapbooks, legals papers and other ephemera.   There are also photographs, watercolours, maps and ship's plans with the images from all the documents being available separately for embedding as content into your research or teaching.   The archive also includes a number of audio and video oral history recordings, alongside more interactive resources that can be used as useful introductions to the subjects for new learners.

A recording of the publisher's webinar on Migration to New Worlds is available here

It should be of interest to anyone studying the history of migration but also more generally to historians of America or Australia.  There are applications for gender and family studies within immigrant communities.  Linguists should find a breadth of material available, and there are no doubt many other research opportunities for individuals studying aspects of the 19th and 20th century experience.

If you require any more information or would like a more in depth introduction to the product please get in touch with your subject librarian

Monday, 21 March 2016

Are you ready for the REF?

To be eligible for the next REF, all your articles and conference papers published after the 1st April 2016 must be deposited in an open access repository within three months of acceptance.  

To meet these requirements, you can deposit your Author Accepted Manuscript in MyPublications.  We will then upload it to White Rose Research Online, our open access repository.

To find out how to do this, and learn more about Open Access, visit our Open Access webpages.  You may also wish to read How it all works, a new series of guides for researchers. Issue one gives an excellent introduction to the key issues relating to Open Access and research data, and the services available to help you maximise the impact of your research outputs.