Thursday, January 17, 2008

Midwinter Minutes

Philosophy, Religion, and Theological Studies Discussion Group

Midwinter Meeting – Philadelphia

Ted Chaffin led the group meeting.

1. Discussion of Sources

Index Islamicus. Islamic studies is a growing area in many schools. It has a significant impact to many collection areas because it is interdisciplinary. Many members have purchased Index Islamicus. Ebsco and CSA provide interfaces, as does the publisher Brill. Members discussed the frustration associated with the tool since it indexes sources that often must be ILL’d.

Oxford Islamic Studies. No one in the group has purchased this title. It includes 2 versions of the Koran, some commentary, and full text books that Oxford has published.

Project Muse now includes all 37 volumes of the Journal of the History of Philosophy. The Journal of Religious Studies will be available by 2009.

RAMBI - Index of Articles on Jewish Studies

"Material listed in Rambi is compiled from thousands of periodicals and from collections of articles - in Hebrew, Yiddish, and European languages- mainly from the holdings of the Jewish National and University Library…." Few members were familiar with this database.

Philosopher’s Index via the Ebsco interface is coming soon. Currently, members use either CSA or Ovid for that source.

There was a brief discussion on Federated Searching. Most folks have had limited success with it. One member mentioned the Serials Solution interface to facilitate federated searching.

Resources for College Libraries and Choice do not cover Christianity at the depth necessary for Christian colleges or universities. ATLA’s Atlantis listserv may be a good source. Information regarding Atlantis is available:

ATLA hosts an annual conference that is useful. During 2008, however, that conference conflicts with ALA Annual.

American Academy of Religion is another group that might be useful to work with. They also have a good conference. Information is available:

Someone asked about a good database covering Asian Philosophy. It is hoped that members will discuss this further on the blog since no one present was aware of a particular electronic source. Brill has fine print sources on this topic.

2. Format for upcoming meetings

There had been a proposal at the 2007 Annual meeting that members would present on topics of interest. No one has volunteered yet to do so, though.

Should we bring in external speakers? Consider the location of each meeting and seek out professors or organizations local to the conference? Example: ATLA is located in Chicago.

Again, the group was encouraged to brainstorm on the blog.

3. Collection Analysis Tools

Some libraries represented have used the World Cat analysis tool. They have encountered problems aligning circulation statistics with the data. They also noted that it is difficult to limit comparisons to regional libraries.

Bowker has a book analysis tool that is more successful with comparisons to peer institutions and/or core lists. Ulrich’s is then employed for journal comparisons.

4. Collection Development Policies

Should they be specific or generalized? Some libraries post them online or send a copy to the relevant department. Would it be useful to post policies in a wiki format so stakeholders can edit them? Would it be helpful to supply example policies on the blog?

5. Vendors / Publishers / Services

Blackwell’s doesn’t permit searching by format. How can we express needs to vendors? As a block, librarians should have some financial leverage. ACRL has a Publisher/Vendor/Library Relations Committee. Miranda will contact them to see if they are interested in collaborating on a program related to the needs of collectors. It was noted that RUSA/LAMA is sponsoring a similar discussion in an open forum format for vendors to discuss open source issues.

Faculty at some institutions contribute to forming the approval plan. Small schools, however, can not use approval plans because their budgets do not accommodate such purchasing.

6. Alms for Jihad

Alms for jihad : charity and terrorism in the Islamic world by J. Millard Burr and Robert O. Collins was published by Cambridge University. One of the philanthropists listed in the book has sued and Cambridge requested that universities and other libraries pull the book from shelves.

A common response to this request was to place the book in special collections as it would now become a rare book. Other schools glued the letter as an erratum into the book and left it on the borrowing shelves. There were concerns, however, that a patron would destroy the copy if it was left public. This highlights the value of the print copies, since an electronic version would have been easily edited. Members noted that such censorship is usually the purview of school libraries and that academic libraries rarely encounter such issues.

7. Instruction

Many members teach in religion or philosophy courses. For the most part, this occurs at the introductory level: what sources are available, what are special collections, and how to locate materials. New graduate students often receive an orientation also.

Electronic classrooms permit active learning. One member explained how to break students into groups and have them teach the various databases. Other examples of working with classes included visiting the classes and sitting in on discussions.

This led to a broader discussion on liaison activities and outreach to faculty members. The problem is how to introduce one’s self, library resources in spite of faculty resistance. Suggestions included finding out about the faculty member, how they prefer to receive communication, aligning with the goals of the department, capitalizing on word of mouth or faculty referrals. Also mentioned was visiting the department with a laptop and food or taking a faculty member out to lunch.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

ATLA info

Here's some information about the American Theological Library Association, a group I highly recommend for anyone interested in seminary librarianship and/or collection development and other issues in the areas of religion and theology.

Website: Lots of general information about all aspects of the organization, including membership and the annual conference.

Listserv discussion groups: Several of these--including ATLANTIS, the very active general purpose list--are open to non-members, although you may be asked by the list administrator to explain your interest in participating. The lists also have a web interface, which you can use once you've created an account to browse or search the archives.

Job postings: The world of North American theological librarianship is a small one, so jobs don't come open all that often, but when they do, you're more likely to find them here than through ALA or ACRL.

I enjoyed meeting many of you at the recent ALA Midwinter meeting, and I hope the PRT group will continue to become more active.