Salmon Library is now offering Onshelf Holds

The Salmon Library User Services Desk has now started offering onshelf holds. What this means for you is that you can browse our catalog after signing into your account, find the book you want, and then place it on hold. You can mark up to five titles as such, and they will be held for up to five days. You will receive an email when the hold is available at the desk.

There are a number of factors that can impact how long that takes, including if the book is currently checked out (in which case, it will be held when it gets brought back). If the held book is on the shelf when the hold is placed, it will be brought down to User Services the next day. If you need a book more immediately, you are of course welcome to skip the hold and to grab the book off the shelf and check it out right away. Onshelf holds are meant more to reserve a book you plan to pick up in a day or two.

For information, see Placing Holds and Recalls, which includes a .docx file showing the steps. You can also call User Services at (256)824-6530.

Putting a book on hold.

What to look for if you are placing a hold.

Scopus working on increasing author visibility and organization

From a recent Scopus blog entry: The new Scopus author profile page has arrived.

Newly revamped, old distractions on the Author Profile page are gone and the best tools remain. For example, if an ORCID ID is associated with a Scopus profile then a link to that ORCID will display on the author detail page. Additionally, a new graph added to the sidebar gives a quick overview of an author’s recent productivity. Best of all, users can sort “Document” and “Cited-by” lists without having to leave the author profile or reload the page.

What this means for you varies on whether or not you have articles indexed by Scopus.

If you do, then your author profile page is a little bit cleaner and has more functions. It provides a convenient glance at most cited articles, co-authors, sources, and the sort. If something is incorrect, look for the link over on the upper right-hand side that says “Request author detail corrections”. Care to see your author page? Then head over to Scopus, click on the Author Search tab, and then search for yourself. Confirm the affiliation and view the page.

Whether or not you have articles indexed by Scopus, you can still make use of this to see what other researchers are doing. Have a big paper for a professor and want to make sure the quantum physicist you are citing is well respected? Well, here is a good way to see the citations and the interactions with the community. You can also subscribe to an author to see when he or she publishes new articles or get alerts, check a few different cross-tab style statistics, and similar sundry.

You can view this screenshot of Dr. Joseph Ng’s page to get a feel.

Sample of a Scopus Author Page

Scopus, click to access (note requires UAH login)

Copyweird: The Case of the Heterogeneous Copyright Status

Sherlock Holmes is an iconic character undergoing a bit of a resurgence as of late, with shows like Sherlock and Elementary bringing him into the modern era and a recent pair of blockbuster movies bringing him into the popcorn flick flair. There have been great new editions of the original canon, including impressive annotated editions, and fair-sized run of books introducing new stories with various twists—often a mash-up with a famous historical or literary personage or a bit of horror. There have been audioplays* and stage plays. There have been discussions about whether or not House counts as fully Sherlockian. All in all, not a bad time to be a Baker Street Irregular.

A Study in Scarlet, Holmes's First Appearance

But what happens when you try to release a series of stories inspired by the canon, and you find out that the Arthur Conan Doyle Estate wants you to pay a licensing fee for said collection? The vast majority of the canon—a total of 56 stories and 4 novels—is in public domain, and this includes many of the key stories (e.g., Hound of the Baskervilles, “The Final Problem”, “The Case of the Empty House”, “A Scandal in Bohemia”). However, the very last handful of stories, from The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes are still in copyright, at least in the US (not in the UK, Canada, or Australia). Here’s the question: do the iconic earlier [and public domain] stories which established the character allow you to access it for new material, or do the final [and often considered poorer] stories still hold the character under copyright?

It is not exactly an easy answer. On one hand, a collection of pastiche stories seems like it would be responding to the canon as a whole. Whether or not “The Three Gables” is a good Holmes story, it is a Holmes story written by the original author. On the other hand, copyright when it comes to a character can get complicated. Especially when the person trying to expand the Holmes canon, Leslie Klinger, has an itemized list of key Holmes ideas and from which public domain stories they originate. To wit, as long as they do not use elements unique to the in-copyright stories, then Klinger feels the works are in response only to the canon that does exist in the public domain.

Does Holmes exist as two canons? What’s your gut-take? How about an informed one?

And, presuming you can’t be bothered too much about copyright weirdnesses, here is a post about 10 Interesting Facts about Sherlock Holmes and another with 10 More Interesting Facts about Sherlock Holmes. Those should give you something to munch on.

* Including, interestingly, one where the voice of Holmes is preformed by Nicholas Briggs, the man who does the voice of the Daleks on Doctor Who, which is a cross-canon delight if I have ever heard one.

In the Stacks: August Derleth’s Sherlock Holmes Pastiche/Tribute – The Chronicles of Solar Pons

If you have heard of August Derleth, you probably have heard of him in context with his work publishing the works of Howard Philips Lovecraft. In fact, whether you find Derleth’s take on the Lovecraftian canon to be interesting—by way of adding in a more stabilized structure, adding certain elemental flavors—or tedious—by way of converting Lovecraft’s generalized cosmic dread into what comes down to a family struggle between something like good and something like evil—if you have played any games or read any books with words like “Lovecraft” or “Cthulhu” or “Call of…” in the title, you owe a bit of thanks to Derleth’s work.

But it is not just Lovecraft that Derleth pastiched and updated. At the age of 19, Derleth contacted Sir Arthur Conan Doyle about if there were to be any more Sherlock Holmes stories and (possibly, some sources vary) whether he (Derleth) could continue them, if not. Whatever the exact question asked, Doyle said “No” and Derleth took Holmes under his wing and changed a few things. Like carefully chosen names to completely hide that he was riffing on Holmes canon.

You ready for these deep-hidden names? How about Solar Pons instead of Sherlock Holmes, or Dr. Lyndon Parker instead of Dr. John Watson? The two of them are not at 221b Baker Street, but 7b Praed Street. My favorite is Bancroft Pons as the older brother, rather than Mycroft Holmes. Clevery clever Derleth.

Charles Prepolec wrote a short article called The Great Pretender: Solar Pons that fills in some gaps. Stuff like some people prefer Pons to Holmes, since Pons is a little less burdened by life and a little more boisterous. And that after Derleth’s death, another writer, Basil Cooper, has continued the adventures of Solar Pons (making the Pontine stories, as they call, out-number the Holmesian originals, though pastiche versus pastiche might even it out). And there is a Praed Street Irregulars to act as fan club, much like the Baker Street Irregulars do for Holmes.

Curious to dive in and try some of the Pons stories? Luckily, since they can be kind of expensive and hard to track down, we have one of the books here in our stacks: The Chronicles of Solar Pons. Published in 1973 posthumously (Derleth died in 1971), this are some of the last things written by Derleth. They are possibly not the greatest of the stories, but there is a bit of enjoyment in seeing this alternate Holmes set in a slightly different time, with a slightly different take on the world (a take that is actually closer to many portrayals of Holmes in TV shows and movies, since many scriptwriters like to dial up his action elements and dial down some of his more onerous bits like cocaine abuse and such).

If you wish to see Chronicles, it is up on on our third floor, north section, with a call number of PS3507 .E69 C57.

Spotted a book in our stacks that you think is worthy of being brought up in a future In the Stacks feature? Just let me know at doug.bolden@uah.edu and I’ll look into it. Questions about this book or any of the others we have, then email me or the reference desk at erefq@uah.edu

In the Stacks: Dead Towns of Alabama

Curious about a local road trip for the summer? Interested in odd bits of lost local culture? Just curious about where some of the roads got their names? Try out W. Stuart Harris’s Dead Towns of Alabama. A encyclopedic collection of blurbs and short anecdotes about towns, settlements, and sites around the state.

The information ranges from tiny to fairly interesting, and it often fills in formative gaps for the early development of the state. The 1977 edition has a surprising lack of maps or precise locations, but it does have bits like this, about the town of Ditto’s Landing:

Situated on the north bank of the Tennessee River, this early Madison County river landing was 10 miles south of Huntsville, approximately where U.S. Highway 231 crosses the river today. John Ditto, a Pennsylvanian, was possibly the first white man to reside in what is today Madison County. He operated an Indian trading station long before the settlers came into the region. He established the first landing used by the pioneers between Chattanooga and Colbert’s Ferry.

In 1820, John Hardie operated a store at Ditto’s Landing, where he received and distributed goods for the firm of Read and White (see Mardisville). Colonel James White, who owned an ironworks and a salt firm in East Tennessee, shipped his products to Hardie by way of the river.

It goes on to say that it was later changed to Whitesburg, in honor of Colonel White.

So, maybe a hobbyist/specialist resource, but it is worth at least a browse. We have it here in the stacks as a physical book with call number F334 .H37 (this on the second floor, north section). We also have it as an ebook through our Ebsco Ebook Collection. That ebook is viewable by only one person at a time, so if it says that it is in use, try again later.

If you are curious about getting your own copy, you can order it from the University of Alabama Press, as a paperback, for $19.95. There, it is described as

This easy-to-use reference work documents the many long-vanished towns, forts, settlements, and former state capitals that were once thriving communities of Alabama.

Dead Towns of Alabama is not merely a series of obituaries for dead towns. Instead, it brings back to life 83 Indian towns, 77 fort sites, and 112 colonial, territorial, and state towns. W. Stuart Harris conjures up a wealth of fascinating images from Alabama’s rich and colorful past–images of life as the Indians lived it, of colonial life in the wilderness, of Spanish explorers and French exiles, of danger and romance, of riverboats and railroads, of plantations and gold mines, of stagecoaches and ferries. Overall, it presents a thoroughly absorbing panorama of Alabama’s early history.

Here we learn about two former capitals–St. Stephens and Cahaba–that have deteriorated to mouldering ruins now. We learn about once thriving communities–county seats, river landings and crossings, trading posts, junctions, and other settlements–that time has forgotten. Absent from most maps, these sites come alive again in Harris’s fascinating account, filled anew with the bustling activity of their former inhabitants.

First published in 1977, Dead Towns of Alabama is a unique guidebook to every region of the state. It is an invaluable resource for historians, students, tourists, and anyone interested in exploring Alabama’s interesting historical and cultural past.

Happy dead town hunting…

N1 closed for renovations, and C2 quiet study impacted: Updated Study Zone Information

As a note, the north section of the first floor (the large section furthest from the front door, which we referred to as the Charger Commons, or as N1) is being shut down this summer for renovations. Currently, books and furniture are being moved out of it. The journals will be relocated to the second floor. The furniture will be spread throughout, but largely into the study sections of the first floor.

Due to the move of the journals to the second floor, the quiet study in the central second floor section (C2) will be unfortunately noisy. Even after the move, the renovations will likely impact the sound levels of it and the second floor north-section quiet study (N2). With this in mind, the best spot for quiet study will be the north-section of the third floor (N3). This may vary by state of project or time of day. Or you can check out a Study Room for you and a group (talk to User Services). The archives, down in the old ground floor, is also often a quiet area, but is technically deemed “semi-quiet” (meaning that people can have cell phones and talk at respectful levels). Again this depends on time of day. The central section of the first floor will remain “social study” (as the north section was) and the south section of the first floor will remain “semi-quiet”.

If you need any help finding one of the journals in transition, or finding a place to study in the library, then feel free to stop by the Reference Desk [(256)824-6529] or User Services [(256)824-6530] or to email us at erefq@uah.edu.

UAH Alumni are invited to attend one of our Workshops designed to show off what the Salmon Library can do for them

I have already written about UAH Alumni having free guest access to the Salmon Library, but I would like to go ahead and do you one better. We will be having a pair of workshops this Summer designed to show our alumni what the Salmon Library can do for them. We will have a short overview of our services, a tour, a discussion of future plans, a chance to meet some of the librarians, time for a Q&A, a couple of door-prizes, and we will even help you to set up your account.*

The time for these events will be about 1 hour, or less, depending on the questions asked and so forth. Things discussed will include library departments, our physical and digital resources, using our catalog to find what you need, using OneSearch, printing/copying/scanning, checking out books, combining our resources with those of the Alabama Virtual Library, and whatever else you are curious about.

We have two workshops currently planned:

  • On June 26, a Thursday, an evening workshop from 5:30pm to 6:30pm.
  • On July 7, a Monday, a lunchtime workshop from 11:30am to 12:30pm.**

You can attend whichever works for you. If neither work for you, but you are interested, then let me know at doug.bolden@uah.edu, and we may be able to hold additional workshops in the future. You can also email me if you have any questions. We will need a rough headcount to let Campus police know about parking on those days, so letting us know ahead of time will be helpful. You can confirm attendance with

http://tiny.cc/LibraryWorkshop2014

Of course, you do not have to attend to take advantage of the free guest access, this is simply a way for us to show off a few of our services and resources to you, and will help you to get a bigger picture of what you can accomplish with the access.

Afterwards, there will be a short video made of the presentation for those who would like a copy. Keep an eye on this blog for that.

For those who need directions, you can see them at http://libguides.uah.edu/directions

* Note: Those setting up the account during the Workshop need to bring their Alumni Association Card and a Photo ID.
** The original date for the midday event has been changed, the new date is July 7. Just in case you saw an earlier version of this post.

The joy of seeing a persistent design shine in the wild of the stacks

The other day, I was walking through our journal stacks on N1 (i.e., the northern bit of the first floor) and I spotted a delightful little oddity, which is best summed up in a picture:

Physical Review D, a persistent spine design throughout the decades

What you are looking at, there, is Physical Review D: Particles, Fields, Gravitation, and Cosmology*, published by the American Physical Society. For as long as we have original-binding print copies (about 20 years from the mid-90s through 2011**), they have persisted with the design choice of that color blue, with each issue being numbered in a bar that has been in the same persistent place so that the issue numbers cascade down.

A slightly closer look at it:

Physical Review D, a persistent spine design throughout the decades

Being the sort of guy who works with design and around design, I can appreciate the rare glory that is a decades maintained design decision. I suspect this is the sort of thing that can exist more so in the world of academic publishing, where relevant regularly published content is literally the point, than in most forward-facing content, which has to invoke a sense of activity to convince people that the the same-old content is relevant (soda, for instance, keeps the same formula for years, but changes the can every year). I personally find it beautiful, and wanted to share.

I wonder if APS has a design bible they consult, a series of Pantone-complaint color sheets? I wonder who started the cascade, and if there have been design meetings about whether to change it?

A lot of book cover talk is aimed at flashy new covers and what they mean (and whether movie tie-in covers are brilliant or anathema) or how sunset-soaked acacia trees show an unfortunate trend in perceptions about Africa, but let us not forget the other side: some book covers are a process that began years ago and represent a simple permanence rather than playing to our expectations (often by feeding our own expectations and desires back to us).


Footnotes and Attributions:

* Impact Factor of 4.691. ISSN: 1550-7998 (print), 1550-2368 (online).
** Our physical range, including all the rebound volumes, goes all the way back to Volume 1 and our online coverage of the title covering the entire run.

The header is a joking reference to the Youtube video “The Expert”, about the design process and appealing to demographics [and ignoring the the expert in the room]. Did you spot the red lines drawn in transparent ink? The line-art kitten is used from http://princessentiafarms.deviantart.com/art/Free-Simple-Kitten-Lineart-289717626, with credit to PrincessentiaFarms. 

A brief tour of our “new” website layout

I was going to start this with the phrase “We have updated our website…” but I suppose I should be honest and say that I have tweaked the layout, so if you have any comments/suggestions/complaints, keep this email address in mind: doug.bolden@uah.edu. Now, with introductions out of the way, let’s take a look at the way the website looks now:

The May Layout of the UAH Salmon Library Website

The current appearance of http://uah.edu/library

The big changes are pretty not-big, mind you, and are more about bringing certain types of information into easier, more-apparent, grasp.

OneSearch, which enables you to jump right into searching for the books and articles and ebooks and primary source documents and all the similar that you need, is now located in the middle of the page. That box might change appearance a bit in the upcoming weeks, but it should stay there. Over on the right, where OneSearch was, the daily hours now shows up. If you want to see more of the hours (for the week or upcoming month or the current semester), click the “see full library calendar>>” link.

There is also a new Library Events feed on the right. This will help keep you informed of planned events, class sessions, important news, and such for the library.

The social media links, and the direction/contact links, that were on the right, are now centered on the page. Social media sites are now sorted by actual interactive use (in which Twitter and then the Blog tend to outperform Facebook, at least for now). This is, of course, subject to change since social media is mercurial.

The buttons directly below the slide show will be tweaked to include a couple of more functions. They are a popular way to access our resources, so care will be taken to not disrupt too much.

Now, this is all in anticipation of the big change (see, it’s in bold, it must be big) coming to the campus-wide website this Fall. I am trying to get a few things prepared so that change will be a delight rather than a “Where’s the links I know and love?!” hindrance [NB: The interrobang is fascinating]. This is partially why we are getting some of the sections more thematically organized with an emphasis on persistent content into the center section and feeds/active-content on the right. The menu will likely stay 99% the same, though after the change it might be a tad different (hopefully in a reasonable way).

If you haven’t visited the website in awhile, I invite you to give it a shot.

Interim Hours at UAH’s Salmon Library

Just a few notes to cover the weeks from May 5 (today) through May 26. UAH is now in “interim” hours, which will impact the library in the following ways:

  • Hours will be from 7:30am to 6pm, Monday through Friday.
  • We will be closed on weekends.
  • Chat reference will be offline.
  • The coffeeshop (Charger Brew) will be closed [for the remainder of the summer].

All of the services are still available – User Services, Reference Desk, OIT Help Desk, Archives, Interlibrary Loan, etc – at their normal hours (excepting Sundays for Reference) and you can still contact Reference through a number of other ways. For those needing snacks, there are vending machines on the first floor and, across Holmes, the bookstore is still open and they have drinks and chips and few other options.

On May 26, UAH will be observing Memorial Day, which means the campus will be closed. The library will be back for summer hours starting May 27, which is also when chat reference will return.