Reference News: “Reference in the Wiki Age,” Altmetrics, and Royal Gnomes

Take a break
BEA and ALA preparations are full steam ahead, but there are a few weeks in between. During the breather, join me and Oxford University Press (OUP) for a free webinar on Thursday, June 14, from 2:00-3:00 PM EST. In Authority, Connectivity, and Discovery: The Evolving Role of Reference in the Wiki Age, Robert Faber, digital publisher at OUP; Dave Tyckoson, associate dean at California State University, Fresno and chair of the Reference Books Bulletin editorial board; and Dinah Birch, professor of English literature and pro-vice-chancellor for research and knowledge exchange at the University of Liverpool will discuss traditional and free, online reference resources and how they affect libraries and their users. We’ll continue the discussion afterward on Twitter at hashtag #ljwikiage from 3:00 to 4:00 EST. (Can’t make the webinar? Register anyway and it will be archived for online viewing a week after the event.)

Vendor news
Bloomsbury will make subscription and perpetual access to the Churchill Archive online available at favorable rates to members of the Center for Research Libraries, JISC Collections, and the Canadian Research Knowledge Network. The official launch is in August, when users will be able to view more than 800,000 pages of primary-source material related to the life of Winston Churchill, which previously could only be seen in the repository in Cambridge, England. If you’d like to get involved in this project, the archive is recruiting librarians for its advisory panel.

In other news for Anglophiles, ProQuest’s partnership with the Bodleian Libraries at Oxford University and the Royal Archives to digitize Queen Victoria’s journals was covered by the BBC this week. The journal pages‚ in the form of high-resolution color images‚ provide the monarchs thoughts and reactions to world events from age 13 in 1832 to her 1901 death at age 81. The handwriting can be hard to decipher, so full transcriptions and keyword searching of the journal entries are available for the period from the first diary entry up to the Queen’s marriage in February 1840, with transcription of the whole archive ongoing.

Until June 30, 2012, the material is all available free online; after that, says ProQuest, it will be available free to all users in the United Kingdom and to the national libraries of Her Majesty’s Realms and to others as a ProQuest subscription database. As well as the journals themselves, the material on offer includes a manuscript, abridged transcript written by the Queen’s youngest daughter, Princess Beatrice; a typed transcript prepared for Lord Esher; and some draft volumes written by the Queen.

Looking for more ways to keep up? Salem has launched its new Library Blog Center, which hosts the Library Blog Awards (they’re open for nominations at and Blog Directory. The 1300 vetted blogs listed can be searched by focus (Library News, Higher Education), audience (public, academic), and type (independent, government); they can also be browsed by focus.

Buzzword of the week: Altmetrics
Reference benefits from efforts to diversify the scientific landscape, and one way of doing that is to measure scholarly impact in ways other than counting scientists’ journal citations. LJ‘s Mike Kelley brought the hubbub on altmetrics (alternative metrics) together in a Digital Shift column this week. The piece introduced a new company, Plum Analytics, founded by two former employees of ProQuest’s Summon discovery service. Plum, which aims to be a much wider version of Klout, allows users to gain a wide picture of someone’s influence, including their traditional scholarly output as well as their social media presence, among other measures. Gathering this data, and encouraging its use by the scholarly community is already a focus within that community, as evidenced by projects mentioned in the article and by the activity at the Twitter #altmetrics hashtag.

Dr. Heather Piwowar, in the news recently for obtaining permission from Elsevier to text mine its holdings, and Jason Priem, a doctoral student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, are doing similar work through a project called totalImpact, profiled this week on LJ‘s INFOdocket. TotalImpact’s site offers a list of the metrics that are considered as part of an individual’s impact profile, which, along with the project’s tumblr, makes intriguing reading.

Reference publishers vs. Georgia State U: It’s still not over
As Kevin Smith predicted last week, the copyright infringement case brought by Cambridge University Press, Oxford University Press, and SAGE Reference against Georgia State University isn’t over yet. David Kluft of Foley Hoag LLP, a lawyer with extensive intellectual property rights experience, this week explained why many of the judge’s rulings in the multipart decision were unusual, and in part conflicted with each other. And adding to its article examining what the decision means for libraries (overall a positive development), ARL now offers a related, hour-long webcast on its YouTube channel. In the video, Prue Adler, associate executive director of ARL, Jonathan Band of Policy Bandwidth, and Brandon Butler, director of ARL’s Public Policy Initiative, discuss the substance and implications of the ereserves decision.

Henrietta Verma About Henrietta Verma

Henrietta Verma is Senior Editorial Communications Specialist at NISO, the National Information Standards Organization, Baltimore, and was formerly the reviews editor at Library Journal.


  1. You’re kidding, right? A **discussion** on Twitter? Certainly there’s a better way for the reference world to engage in public discourse after a panel presentation.