Wednesday, December 8, 2010

PRT Agenda for Midwinter 2011 in San Diego

ACRL Philosophical Religious Theological (PRT) Discussion Group
2011 Midwinter Meeting, San Diego, CA
Sunday, January 9, 4:00 to 5:30 pm
Hilton Bayfront, Aqua 308


Joshua Barton
Michigan State University

Colin McCaffrey
Washington University-St. Louis

Join us at the PRT Discussion Group for discussion of “big deals” or “bulk purchases” of eBooks from publishers and aggregators (ebrary, NetLibrary, Springer, Wiley-Blackwell, etc.) and the impact they have on philosophy and religious studies. We will consider some of the following questions:
  • What is the impact of “big deals” on the acquisition of print materials in philosophy, religion, and theology?
  • Do these large-scale purchases replace or supplement traditional print selection or approval plans?
  • Does the ready, but inconsistent, availability of monographic material online have an impact on print usage?
  •  Can we help answer any of these questions with usage and circulation statistics?
We will reserve time for open discussion and to share ideas for ALA Annual 2011.

Anyone interested in these issues or in library and information service to philosophical, religious and theological studies is invited to join the discussion.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Philosophy Best Sellers

Best Sellers in Philosophy from October 2009 to date from Library Journal, based on data from academic-library book vendor YBP.
"Continental" and historical titles are heavily represented.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

ALA 2010 Annual Meeting Report

ALA Annual 2010 Joint Meeting of the Philosophical Religious and Theological (PRT) and Classical Medieval Renaissance Discussion Group (Washington, D.C. Saturday, June 26th, 2010)

New Developments in Online Publication

Convened by Colin McCaffrey, Washington University in St. Louis, and Joshua Barton, Michigan State University.

1. George Leaman, Director of the Philosophy Documentation Center (PDC), debuted a beta version of PDC’s forthcoming product, Philosophy Research Index. PDC is actively seeking feedback on their new resource. Those interested can see further information, including how to set up a free trial, here:

Leaman demonstrated many features from a live instance of the index. He emphasized that they are striving for "complete" coverage of a portion of philosophical literature, rather than selective coverage. A goal of the product is to include bibliographic information for philosophy literature in many Western languages. To this end, the index includes a translation feature, to roughly translate information such as article titles into English. Other features include faceted browsing, links to share items via social networking sites, and a timeline visualization of search results.

When asked about how PDC’s product would compete with Philosopher’s Index, the established philosophy index used in North America today, Leaman pointed to his product’s scope. He indicated that materials would be indexed more thoroughly, not selectively, and that non-English materials would have a greater representation. His hope is that North American and European bodies of philosophical literature will find a greater shared readership through the use of PDC's forthcoming index.

2. Damon Zucca, Executive Editor, Reference Division, at Oxford University Press, discussed two products: Oxford Biblical Studies Online (OBSO) and Oxford Bibliographies Online (OBO). OBSO brings together Oxford’s reference works on the Bible into one integrated resource. Presenting from screen captures, Zucca demonstrated OBSO as an immersive biblical studies tool, appearing to have relatively seamless navigation between the various resources within. More information is available on the OBSO site: The full list of OBSO contents is here:

The other product, Oxford Bibliographies Online, consists of a series of discipline-based bibliography modules that can be searched and accessed together or separately, such as Classics, Philosophy and Renaissance & Reformation. OBO modules bring together citations to the essential literature through the guidance of an expert in the field. Each entry (e.g. Feminist Philosophy in the Philosophy module) has its own scholarly expert guiding the user through citations to essential and helpful works, from general to specific. Citations included are not limited to Oxford publications. More information is available at the OBO site:

3. "Moving to Online Publications: Practices, Policies, and Goals of the Center for Hellenic Studies." Noel Spencer and Jeremy Linn presented an overview of the Center of Hellenic Studies's online publication program.

CHS is a research institute located in Washington, D.C. affiliated with Harvard University. It was established in 1962 as "an educational center in the field of Hellenic Studies designed to re-discover the humanism of the Hellenic Greeks." Responding to trends affecting libraries and publishing, CHS is taking advantage of digital technologies to expand its publishing program online. This includes publishing monographs and journals (Classics@) as well as innovative projects in the "digital humanities," such as the Homer Multitext. CHS has also established a IT/Humanities Non-Residential Fellowship for scholars working on technological projects.

CHS takes advantage of open-source software and open standards for publishing online, utilizing TEI-XML for its documents and developing an interactive structure for using texts online. It has moved authors into the production processes, having them submit marked-up text. Texts are released with a creative-commons license. Navigating copyright issues, especially regarding images, in a way that maximizes the reach of publications while ensuring proper attribution remains a challenge.

Presentation Slides (on Slideshare)
Note: The background images for these slides where compiled from the Venetus A manuscript of Homer (Marcianus Graecus Z 454=822, currently in the Marciana Library, Venice).

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Journal of Religious & Theological Information

The Journal of Religious & Theological Information is always looking for scholars and librarians to write articles and book reviews. From the web page:

"This journal focuses on various stages in librarianship for religious and theological information, such as:
  • production (including printing and publishing)
  • dissemination
  • use
  • storage
  • retrieval
  • preservation
  • bibliography
  • collection development
  • instruction and information literacy
  • digitization and multimedia
  • special collections and archives
  • history of libraries and librarianship
  • censorship and intellectual freedom" 
A current list of titles for review is available.

Monday, June 14, 2010


If you've seen the recent announcement for the PRT meeting in D.C., you know that the broad topic of discussion for PRT at Annual will be Online Publication. PhilPapers is an interesting resource to consider in this regard. It is an aggregator of online publications in philosophy with several services built around the online content. It was created by David Bourget and David Chalmers, incorporating a similar, earlier project by Wolfgang Schwarz that was known as Online Papers in Philosophy.

PhilPapers uses automated processes to monitor and harvest indexing content of online journals (including subscription-based ones; full list is here). They also harvest papers on philosophers' web sites, certain online archives of papers, original submissions from users and papers inherited from an earlier project, Mindpapers. While all papers are indexed and searchable by their respective metadata, subscription-based journal content is only accessible if the user has the appropriate permissions (via personal or institutional subscription). The result of all this aggregation is an impressive, centralized index of philosophy content - not unlike what Google Scholar would be if scoped only to philosophy and curated by academic philosophers.

PhilPapers is a step beyond online philosophy archives thus far, and in many ways. It aggregates much more content than other archives have, and does much more with that content to make it accessible and meaningful. One of the key features of PhilPapers is its categorization of papers into philosophical subfields and sub-subfields based on an original taxonomy of philosophy. The librarians among us are likely to appreciate the value that controlled vocabulary, taxonomy and /or tagging can contribute to an index. Some categorization of materials is automated in PhilPapers, but users are also encouraged to use the taxonomy to supply categories to papers.

This isn't the only contribution that users are encouraged to make. As mentioned earlier, PhilPapers also accepts original content from users, if the original content is "professional-quality work in academic philosophy." The submission can be a link to an online paper hosted elsewhere, or the file itself.

PhilPapers also hosts an online forum for users to interact on professional or philosophical issues (noted as being intended for professional philosophers and graduate students). These forums tend to be a vibrant space for discussion, refinement of argument and sharing.

All in all, PhilPapers seems to be getting it right. They've created a highly useful and highly used service for a defined user community, leveraging the flexibility of online publication to make materials accessible in an interactive context. As a service to academic philosophers, the defined scope will likely be appealing: it fulfills a digital-savvy philosopher's expectations while also eliminating the non-philosophical "noise" that would have been encountered on the open web, in Google Scholar or in institutional library catalogs and repositories. The "good stuff" is here and PhilPapers' criteria for inclusion seem to indicate that if materials aren't peer-reviewed, they will at least be vetted as "professional-quality."

In terms of service to the public at large, PhilPapers is susceptible to the same criticism leveled at Google Scholar by librarians, namely that indexing of subscription-based items is misleading since users not affiliated with a subscribing institution won't have access. But the intended audience for this resource - professional philosophers - generally doesn't have this problem.

So what do you think? Are you impressed with PhilPapers? Unimpressed? Are faculty at your institution using it? How might we engage PhilPapers in outreach to faculty? How might we use it in instruction? Are their other open web resources you're aware of doing similar things, especially any in religion and theology?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

ALA Annual Meeting

Saturday, June 26th, 2010, 8:00 to 10:00am.

Location: Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill, Room: Columbia B

This will be a joint meeting with the WESS Classical Medieval Renaissance (CMR) Discussion Group, on the very general topic of "online publication."


The Philosophy Documentation Center
George Leaman, Director, and Susanne Mueller-Grote, Electronic Publishing and Marketing Manager

Oxford Bibliographies ( and Oxford Biblical Studies Online
Damon Zucca, Executive Editor, Reference Division, Oxford University Press

The Online Publications Program of the Center for Hellenic Studies
Noel Spencer and Jeremy Linn