Late last year, the Library of Congress hosted the first International Summit of the Book. Distinguished scholars, national librarians, and publishers hosted panels on such topics as books and copyright, and the past present and future of the book. All these panels are now available for viewing.
Archive for Books
Springer Publishers has rendered this ten-volume major encyclopedia into an open-access wiki under the auspices of the European Mathematical Society. More than thirty international mathematical scholars serve on the editorial board, ensuring the highest quality articles. Scholars are invited to either submit new articles or update articles already in the encyclopedia. As it now stands, more than 8.000 articles are online, exploring 50,000 mathematical “notions”.
With the cost of required texts for college courses spiraling ever upwards, more than a few faculty are trying to reduce this onerous financial burden. Many either write or have recourse to use open access textbooks that are freely available online. OATS: Open Access Textbooks from the Iowa State University provides a portal to numerous sites where free books are available. Also, check out our library’s books section for additional links where you will find millions of volumes.
Covering the years from 1861, the Foreign Relations of the United States is the definitive record of this country’s dealing with other nations. Documents are culled from a wide variety of sources to present a clear picture of what occurred. The more than 450 volumes of the series are published mostly in chronological order with certain “special volumes” that revolve around a specific theme, such as Emergence of the Intelligence Establishment or the Energy Crisis, 1974-1980. By using these volumes, one can trace the diplomatic give and take that informed our foreign policy about the Arab-Israeli war, review documents pertinent to the Paris Peace Conference that ended World War 1, or peruse the material presented on the Malta and Yalta conferences that shaped postwar Europe. One of the main problems with this series is the slowness with which the volumes are produced. They are supposed to be published within a thirty-year time frame from the original date; therefore, the volumes coming out should be covering the early 1980s. Alas, that is not the case; the series is mired in the late 1960s to mid 1970s. The travails are highlighted in the 2012 annual report from the Advisory Committee on Historical Diplomatic Documentation, the body that oversees the FRUS production. The first 375 volumes (1861-1960) are housed at this site hosted by the University of Wisconsin; more recent ones are at the State Department’s Office of the Historian.
There were literally hundreds of plays or dramas written and produced during the 19th century in England. The Victorian Plays Project (VPP) allows access to 350 texts of plays during that time period. One can search via author, title, year, keyword, quotes, stage directions, etc. Its catalog allows one to search through 1500 plays and provides basic information on them – theater and date of first, title and subtitle, and the playwright’s name. This project is based on the 100 volume Lacy’s acting edition of plays, dramas, farces and extravagances…. compiled by Thomas Hailes Lacy (92 of the volumes are represented here in HathiTrust.). These 92 volumes provide almost all the 1500 plays indexed in VPP, but there is no centralized index to review all these volumes; the VPP provides that service through its catalog which presents a volume by volume contents list. The VPP provides a valuable service in allowing one to search through the whole corpus of works on its site, and with that information in hand, one can then look at the 92 volumes available through HathiTrust. So, if one cannot find the full text of the play in VPP, then come to the 92 volumes online through HathiTrust and find it. The VPP offers multiple search options not available in HathiTrust; HathiTrust offers almost all the plays in full text which VPP does not.
Well, here we go! Best NonFiction, Fiction, Case Books (Mysteries) of 2012 (Wall Street Journal); Page Turners (The Economist); Best Books of 2012 (Financial Times); Books of the Year 2012 (The Guardian); 100 Notable Books of 2012 (The New York Times); Books of the Year 2012 (The Atlantic); Best Books of the Year: Top 100 Picks for 2012 (Amazon); Best Books of 2012 (Barnes & Noble); Best Books and Media of 2012 (Library Journal); Outstanding Academic Titles, 2012: Top 25 Books (Choice); Best Nonfiction of 2012 (Kirkus Reviews); Best Books 2012 (Publishers Weekly); and Top 10 of 2012 (Slate). There’s still time to go out and buy a book for someone, no matter the format. We’ll be spending our down time with OUR present (we know, we know, we’re not supposed to know) – Peter Brown’s Through the Eye of a Needle, along with several books of British naval fiction.
MetPublications is the access point to the, at the time of this writing, 674 volumes of monographs, collection catalogs, and exhibition catalogs published by the Met since 1964. Almost 300 of these volumes are available in their entirety online. There are various searches available: author, title, collection, theme, keyword, etc. Every book entry includes “… a description and table of contents for almost every title, as well as information about the authors, reviews, awards, and links to related Met bibliographies by author, theme, or keyword.” One of the links that many books have is to the excellent Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History developed by the Met. And even if the book is not online, a substantial portion can be previewed through Google Books. (A link is provided in the book’s description.) This is the beginning of an ambitious project to make accessible all of its publications back to 1870. While we wait for that to transpire, the Internet Archive has online versions of hundreds of pre-1964 volumes (primarily before 1923) available.
Published under the auspices of the John S Latsis Public Benefit Foundation, the “Museums Cycle” features lavishly illustrated books centered on specific Greek archaeological museums. Written by experts, these works allow the reader access to the cultural legacy of Greece. Among the museums examined are: Thebes, Marathon, Olympia, Delphi, and Pella. A new volume is published each year; each volume is at least 300 pages in length (the Thebes volumes is 400 pages) and is accompanied by a bibliography. As of this writing, there are a baker’s dozen available with more planned.
Originally published in 2002, The Encycloepdia of Mathematics, is considered a primary tool for this field. Recently, a free, wiki-based online version has been released by its publisher containing all the original articles which can be updated along with new submissions, all under the editorial auspices of the European Mathematical Society. More than 8,000 can be accessed in all the sub-fields of mathematics.
Not content to be a retailer, Amazon recently announced that it will publish around 40 titles a year beginning this fall. This article – Larry Kirshbaum shares many more details on how Amazon Publishing will work – provides an excellent overview of this new venture. For those unfamiliar with Mr Kirshbaum, he is the former head of the Time Warner Book Group and one of the industry’s giants. C-SPAN has video interviews and discussions with him. More information on this development is found at: Business Week, Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times.
The Theological Commons, residing at the Princeton Theological Seminary, features tens of thousands of books freely available in digital format. The vast majority of these titles date from the 1801 to the present; almost 40,000 are in English. Searching can be done by author, title, date, language, and full text; if you go to the Internet Archive version of this collection, you can search by subject. When we were earnest gaduate students, our doctoral work (alas, never completed) centered on the Waldensian faith, a pre-Reformation dissident group whose descendants still practice both here and in Europe. (For those interested, here are some brief treatments from encyclopedia.com as well as a short monograph written in 1880 but still referenced – Waldo and the Waldensians before the Reformation by Emilio Comba or its longer companion from 1889 – The History of the Waldenses of Italy) Using the Theological Commons and searching under “Waldensians,” and its variants ”Waldenses” and “Vaudois,” we were able to call up works that 35 years ago were very difficult to find, let alone read. A great place to research the history of religions using contemporary sources. (For those further intrigued by the Waldensians, please peruse these volumes of the Bollettino della societa di studi valdesi. Again, if we only had had access to these digital versions back in the day!)
This six-volume work, taking over 20 years to publish, covers the gamut of this years long conflict. The articles are written by experts and provide in-depth information from architecture to the Albigensian Crusade. Browsing by volume is available as is a full text search; each volume is also accompanied by a gazetteer. Volume six concludes with a very lengthy bibliography on the Crusades. A comprehensive and invaluable work on this subject. (We have it in paper at home.) Excerpted translations of primary sources are here at the Medieval Sourcebook. Some other translations include: Crusades, A Documentary History; The First Crusade; The Accounts of Eye-Witnessess and Other Participants; Crusade of Richard I, 1189-92. Extracts….; Memoirs of the crusades, by Villehardouin & De Joinville; The Fourth Crusade (selected translations); Letters of the Crusaders; and The ecclesiastical history of England and Normandy. The History Channel had a two-part presentation on the Crusades; here they are: Part 1 and Part 2. A brief overview of the Crusades is at infoplease. Maps, timelines, online lectures and course material are available from Professor Knox of Boise State (well done, sir!).
The Medical Heritage Library is a collaborative project involving major medical libraries with the goal of digitizing rare medical texts. As of this writing, almost 30,000 items from the 17th to 20th centuries are available for perusal. Searching is by author, title, or subject. Examples include a 1567 Latin version of Raymund Lull’s treatise on alchemy and handbooks of popular medicine. There are many entries on nursing as well.
Isaac Newton, one of the world’s greatest mathematicians, left behind thousands of pages when he died. Numerous dead-tree collections have been published of his papers but the Cambridge Digital Library states: “ The Library holds the most important and substantial collection of Newton’s scientific and mathematical manuscripts and over the next few months we intend to make most of our Newton papers available on this site.” Those works that are now available have been transcribed for easier reading. Another ongoing electronic project can be found at The Newton Project where almost 5 million transcribed words of Newton’s writings are available online. This site also includes a listing of the books in Newton’s library that were used in his own research/writings; these are not digitized, but a quick look through some repositories such as HathiTrust or Internet Archive will pull some of them up.
Spearheaded by the University of Chicago, the twenty-eight modern literary languages of South Asia are being represented online in this freely accessible site: Digital Dictionaries of South Asia. Ranging from Assamese to Urdu, the dictionaries, primarily from the previous two centuries, were chosen by language experts and digitized. As of this writing, eighteen languages have digital dictionaries. Needless to say, this is an ongoing project as more works are expected to be added. In addition, primers and readers in some of these languages are also online.
Here they come! (This list will be expanded as new sites appear.) Amazon (spread over 20 categories); Publishers Weekly (multiple categories); Young Adult Library Services Association (including picks for reluctant readers); 100 Notable Books of 2011 (The New York Times); Best Books of 2011 (Kirkus Reviews); 2011 USA Best Books; Top 25 Academic Titles for 2011 (Choice);
Fanboys and fangirls alike! Rejoice! The beta edition of the Encyclopedia of Science Fictions has been released! (In the spirit of transparency, we must reveal that we were a charter member and executive officer of the NYU Speculative Fiction Society and co-editor of its ‘zine – Aurora. And still read the stuff to this day.) To be completed at the end of 2012 with a word count north of four million, this iteration contains 3.2 million words of enlightenment. You can search via author, theme, media, or culture. The articles offer frank assessments of their subject matter, contain extensive author checklists, and are full of links. We’ll be reading this over the weekend; after all, we have finished going through the Internet.
Some of the oldest printed music books in the world, many too fragile to be handled, have been rendered into their digital versions. They are searchable by composer, title, date, and subject. More than 300 volumes are available at Early Music Online.
Justice Chin, in a written opinion, has turned down the Amended Settlement Agreement (ASA) originally worked out between Google and copyright holders. Including a legal memo from Germany that considers Google a ”serial scanning infringer,” Justice Chin concludes that the ASA is not “fair, adequate and reasonable”(22) Background information on this important case can be found at: Google Books Settlement and Privacy (EPIC); Google Book Settlement (American Library Association, please read the informative Guide for the Perplexed: Part I, Part II, and Part III); The Google Library Project: Is Digitization for Purposes of Online Indexing Fair Use Under Copyright Law? (CRS); Google Book Search (New York Times Topics); and Google Books Bibliography (replete with many links).