Citation Indexes Uses for Writers

Academic and large Public Libraries have long relied on Citation indexes to assist scholars. While many professors and college students learn “Who is Who” in their fields from their teachers, the experts in almost every field change over each decade.  Citation indexes in many scholarly fields attempt to weigh in on Who’s Who by showing who cites who in their scholarly papers.  While not a foolproof method of identifying top scholars in a particular field, citation indexes can be of use to graduate students in particular when it comes to writing theses or dissertations. They can also be useful to writers who want to find or any kind of experts in any particular subject. Origins of Citation Indexes Wikipedia says that early citation indexes existed for rabbinic and other religious literature the 12th century, followed by legal citation indexes in the 18th century.  As for Asian countries and other ancient cultures in the Middle East or Africa there may also have been some kinds of early citation indexes in their languages that Westerners are not familiar with.  In the 20th century, the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) launched in the 1960s three of the most well-used indexes, namely the Science Citation Index (SCI) and the Social Sciences (SSCI) and the Arts and Humanities Citation Indexes. (AHCI). Citation indexes for many other fields within these broad categories of scholarly research and discussion soon followed.  Impact of Computers on Citation Indexing Early hardbound citation indexes were sometimes bulky and difficult to use. They were heavy, requiring leafing  through them to find names and subjects of interest, and they were great dust catchers. Wikipedia asserts that the first automated citation index was done by CiteSeer in 1997 using a web crawler search of pubic web sites that focused primarily on computer and information studies. At the turn of the century publishers of citation indexes and other library reference books turned to creating online databases for citation indexing. Well-known scientific publishing company, Elsevior went so far as to combine subject searching with citation searching in the sciences and social sciences.   Improving Modern Citation Databases However, as Google is currently learning, quantity and quality are difficult to balance when dealing with millions, billions, or even trillions of documents.  The precision (quality) versus recall (quantity) debates by librarians in the last century are rife in the citation index fields these days. Altrametrics Almetrics is...
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Drag Queen Story Hour at the Library

This week I was amazed to see a one-page article in my alumni magazine, InterCom, from University of South Carolina College of Information and Communication. The author was a sophomore named Shelby Johnson. Her article’s title was “Drag Queen Story Hour”. At the top of that article are two color photos: one showing a drag queen reading to children and the other, a toddler reaching out to touch the jewelry on a drag queen’s hand. At first I thought the library in the article was in the Richland County Library System in County where I did my internship.  But a closer reading showed that it was nearer to where my home was during the year I commuted to Columbia S.C. to get a graduate-level library degree. Here’s what you should know if you don’t live in that state. In the upper left corner of South Carolina are two counties with cities that were diametric opposites of each other while I lived there. In the top of the far left-hand corner is Greenville County, the most populous and most liberal county in the state.  To the right of Greenville County is Spartanburg County, the most conservative country in the state.  To give you an idea of what I mean by ‘conservative’ is that Spartanburg was true to its name. This city had more churches than bars—but outside the city was a ring of porn movie theaters and stores.  Perhaps the most telling thing about Spartanburg was that it banned sales of rock and roll music in its stores back then. Even its own hometown boys, the Marshall Tucker Band, were not allowed to play there. In this century, Marshall Tucker, still touring decades later, now has fans who make the trek to see the city where their favorite band was born.  Marshall Tucker Band From banning rock n roll, to controversy over drag queens, you might think it was at a Spartanburg County library that people protested a Drag Queen Story Hour, but you’d be wrong.  The event, sponsored by a group named “Mom’s Liberal Happy Hour” was held at the Five Forks Library in a tiny town with 22,072 people in 2017, named Simpsonville—located in Greenville County.  The Sheriff’s office had deputies at the ready as a Simpsonville resident organized an online petition to cancel the event, saying “As a father, I do not want my children or community exposed to this alternative lifestyle...
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Rebuilding a Library from Scratch

From Aramco World magazine July/August 2018 comes this rather surprising announcement about a Canadian museum exhibition that features an ancient library in the Middle East. The exhibit is titled 168.01 — A Library Rising from the Ashes. In 2003 The College of Fine Arts at the University of Baghdad lost its entire library of 70,000 books during the invasion of Iraq when looters set fire to the collection. Previously in the 13th century Mongol army invaders destroyed all the libraries in Baghdad. The invaders threw the entire library of the Bayt al-Hikma (House of Wisdom) into the Tigris River to create a bridge of books their army could use to cross the river. “The pages bled ink into the river for seven days—168 hours—at the end of which the books were drained of knowledge.”  Wafaa Bilat, the Iraqi artist, named his museum exhibit 168:01 to indicate the first moment when grief yields to a spur to take action to move forward from loss.  His exhibit runs at the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto through August 19, 2018. ————— From the Web:  The artist of the exhibit has been running a Kickstarter Funding campaign to buy new books. In 2016, more than 1600 books were donated to the project around the world. Here is Wafaa Bilat below:   Kickstarter Funding – Wishlist Books were purchased from Amazon by the 168.01 team using funds from the Kickstarter campaign. Books were first sent to the Art Gallery of Windsor and the Esker Foundation as part of the exhibitions, before being prepared for shipment to Baghdad. During the exhibition at the Esker Foundation, the local community purchased white books from the gallery and the gallery used the money to buy books from a local bookstore. Individual and Institutional Donations – People and institutions from around the globe purchased books from the Amazon list and/or donated books from their personal collections. These books were also sent to the galleries for the exhibition and prepared for shipment after the exhibitions ended. At the end of the exhibition at the Esker Foundation, all of the purchased and donated books from all sources were organized, cataloged, and prepared for shipment. The Books are being prepared for delivery to Baghdad. To see how the books will be shipped as well as awards the artist and exhibit have received click here:   The librarian behind it all Judith Frangos is...
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Even Famous Authors Self-Publish

Lawrence Block is an award-winning best-selling author of several book series and short stories. Block is most famous for his Burglar mysteries. Block’s Burglar books feature Bernie Rhodenbarr. Bernie is a bookseller by day and high-class thief by night.

This series of ten books began in 1977 with Burglars Can’t be Choosers, and seemed to end in 2004 with Burglar on the Prowl.

Then nearly ten years later, in 2013, The Burglar Who Counted Spoons came out as a self-published book by Block.

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Mobile Libraries on Four Legs

In What’s Going On at the Library, I noted that some librarians are making space for new kinds education within library walls while others are taking their expertise outside the library and on to the Internet.

The movement to go outside library walls isn’t exactly a new trend, though. In early California librarians used to ride out all over the state on horses all to deliver books. This WPA photo below shows one of these “pack horse librarians” delivering books to her patrons.

In Northeastern Kenya librarians are using camels to deliver books to children

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