Foraging for a Good Read: Book Forager Goes Live
It is August 2000; the UK is enjoying the driest, sunniest summer this century. You are in the library trying to find a book which isunorthodox, very realistic but also quite funny, set in Spain. You go over to the public access terminal and input details of the kind of read you need to match your mood, and the computer comes up with ten suggestions for you to try.
None of the above is fantasy except, of course, the bit about the weather! Book Forager has been developed as part of the Society of Chief Librarians’ Branching Out project and is freely available on the Web for everybody to use from May 2000. Book Forager has been developed by Applied Psychology Research and it is a wonderful synergy between the disciplines of reader development, psychology and computing. Books and computers are sometimes seen as antagonists. Branching Out is committed to demonstrating that they can work together.
Helping people choose something different
People choose what they know. They will tend to find writers/genres they like and stick with them, reading the same kind of books over and over again. By helping readers analyse exactly what it is they are looking for in a read, Book Forager cuts across the genre categories that many readers box themselves into. Instead of asking for a crime novel, a reader can say, ‘I want a book which is unpredictable, very romantic and a little sad.’ The range of titles Book Forager suggests might include science fiction, a translation and a collection of poems.
Readers might not have a specific need in mind when they first come to Book Forager, they can play around, stretching boundaries, until they get a combination/title which interests them.
Aside from helping individuals choose, Book Forager is about developing the audience for new, unknown writers. Branching Out is committed to buying and promoting recent fiction and poetry from categories identified as underbought by public libraries and of particular appeal to the 18-30s. Forager could be applied to any books and may eventually include bestsellers as well, but within Branching Out it has a particular purpose to take people to books they might not otherwise find.
What you’ll see on the screen
Book Forager offers the reader up to 20 million different variables to define the read they are looking for. The following are some of the options available:
- Sliders - allow you to choose how much or how little of something you want in your read, for example, gentle-violent, conventional-unorthodox, no sex-sex. There are twelve sliders and they are not absolute choices, ‘want/don’t want.’ You can use the slider to decide how much of each ingredient you want in your final choice.
- Plot - you can decide which plot shape you would prefer from a list of seven, including ‘success against the odds’, ‘lots of twists and turns’, and ‘revelation.’
- Character - you can choose the gender, age group, race and sexual orientation of the lead character in the book.
- Country of setting - for armchair travellers wanting to visit specific locations.
- Results - Book Forager will display a list of books starting with a best match for your requirements, and moving onto good matches, and a few which match some of the qualities. It will give details of title, author, ISBN and date published and also include a short comment by a previous reader, some suggestions of other books with a similar feel and a short extract from each book chosen.
There are plans to make the site interactive so that readers will be able to input their own comments about the books featured.
Try it out at www.branching-out.net/forager/
The Book Forager has been developed as part of Branching Out, an
initiative from the Society of Chief Librarians, supported by the National Lottery through the Arts Council of England, in partnership with BfS and the University of Central England. Branching Out is a project managed by Opening the Book Ltd.
For further information please contact Rachel Van Riel, tel: 01977 602188 email:
The Library of Congress National Digital Library Program announces the release of two new online collections from the Library of Congress American Folklife Center.
“NOW WHAT A TIME”: BLUES, GOSPEL, AND THE FORT VALLEY MUSIC FESTIVALS
Audio recordings from what may be the first folk festival created by and for African-Americans are featured in the latest addition to the American Memory online collections of the Library of Congress.
“Now What a Time”: Blues, Gospel, and the Fort Valley Music Festivals,
1938-1943 is a folk music collection consisting of approximately one hundred sound recordings and related documentation such as song lists and correspondence created during trips to the Fort Valley State College Folk Festival in Fort Valley, Georgia. These recordings, were made in 1941 and in March, June and July 1943. Recorded at a historically black college founded in 1895, the recordings include blues and gospel songs recorded by John Wesley Work III, Lewis Jones, and Willis Laurence James, with the support of the Library’s Archive of American Folk Song, now known as the Archive of Folk Culture. The recordings include both choral and instrumental works performed by artists such as Will Chastain, Buster Brown, the Silver Star Singers, and Traveller Home Singers.
As the Fort Valley Music Festivals took place during World War II, this collection also provides a unique opportunity to feature the Center’s wartime collections documenting soldiers’ songs and other folkloristic material growing out of the war. In addition to preserving blues and gospel songs of the time, ‘Now What a Time’ also documents the topical re-wording of several standard gospel songs to address the wartime concerns of those performing at the festival. Users will enjoy listening to the music and will learn more about the impact of World War II on the people within the African-American community.
Digitizing the Sound Recordings
The sound recordings in the Fort Valley online collection were taken from disc recordings in the Library’s collections. When original discs were unavailable, preservation tapes were used. The analog audio from the discs and tapes was transferred to Digital Audio Tape (DAT) to produce a master source for digitization. Some surface noise and scratching may be apparent on the recordings, since they have not been enhanced or altered in any way from their original state. WAVE, MP3, and RealAudio versions have been supplied for each recording. The WAVE files were created from the DAT tape at a sampling rate of 22,050 samples per second, 16-bit word length, and a single (mono) channel. The MP3 and RealAudio files were derived from the WAVE files through digital processing and were created for users who have at least a 14.4 modem.
“FIDDLE TUNES OF THE OLD FRONTIER: THE HENRY REED COLLECTION” at
http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/hrhtml/ This unique American music collection, released on the 116th anniversary of his birth in Peterstown, West Virginia, features traditional fiddle tunes performed by Henry Reed. Recorded in Glen Lyn, Virginia, by folklorist Alan Jabbour in 1966-67, when Reed was over eighty years old, these tunes represent the music and evoke the history and spirit of the Appalachian frontier. Many of the tunes presented in this collection have enjoyed new popularity during the fiddling revival of the later twentieth century, and are performed today by a new generation of musicians.
The online presentation includes 184 sound recordings, available in WaveForm, MP3, and RealAudio formats; Jabbour’s fieldnotes; and sixty-nine musical transcriptions. New descriptive notes on tune histories and musical features accompany the sound recordings, and an extensive listing of related publications and a glossary of musical provide further avenues for exploration. An essay by Alan Jabbour (with photographs by Carl Fleischhauer, Karen Singer Jabbour, and Kit Olson) discussing Reed’s life, art, and influence accompanies the collection as a special presentation.
Digitizing the Sound recordings
The sound recordings in Fiddle Tunes of the Old Frontier: The Henry Reed Collection were transferred from the original 7-inch, 7.5 ips (inches per second) analog tape reels to digital audio tape (DAT) to produce a master source for digitization. Some transfers were made by the American Folklife Center, and by the Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division Laboratory, using their customary and conservative practices of level, equalization, and noise reduction. WaveForm (.wav), MPEG 2, Layer 3 (.mp3), and RealAudio (.ra) versions have been supplied for each recording. The Wave files were created from the DAT tape at a sampling rate of 44,100 Hz per second, 16-bit word length, and a single (mono) channel. The RealAudio files were derived from the Wave files through digital processing and were created for users who have at least a14.4 modem (8-bit). The RealAudio - G2 files were created for users who have at least a 24 modem. The MP3 files were derived from the Wave files in a batch-conversion process using the MP3 plug-in of Sonic Foundry’s SoundForge software. Some surface noise may be apparent on the recordings, and tracks may start or end abruptly, as on the original recordings. Minimal adjustments to volume were made to certain tracks, and, on the advice of the consultant-collector, some snippets of conversation and fragments of music have been deleted.
Digitizing the photographic prints
JJT Inc., of Austin, Texas, the Library’s pictorial image scanning contractor, produced the digital images in this collection. The company’s scanning setup brings together a digital camera manufactured in Germany with JJT’s custom software. An uncompressed archival or master file was produced for each photograph, as well as three derivative files. The level of resolution employed for the Library’s archival pictorial-image files is now ranging from 3000x2000 pixels to 5000x4000 pixels, depending on the types of original materials. A thumbnail GIF image is displayed for each pictorial image, and a medium resolution JPEG file (at a quality setting that yields an average compression of 15:1) can be displayed by clicking on the image.
Please direct any questions or comments about these and other American
Memory collections to firstname.lastname@example.org
More test sites for CACTUS
The EC funded CANDLE project has chosen more test sites for its exciting digital library management system, CACTUS. The University of Thessaly Library, Greece, Technical University Kosice, Slovakia and Cranfield University, United Kingdom are to install and trial the software. It is already undergoing trials at the partner sites in London, Athens and Florence.
The system gives librarians the tools to understand how electronic resources are being used, the ability to mange usage at a very precise level and the knowledge they need to refine their electronic subscriptions. It collects detailed statistics showing which electronic resources are really in use, by which user groups. It also simplifies access to resources for end users - after their first secure log on connections to a range of resources are all handled automatically and transparently by the software, a form of Single Sign On. The CACTUS system also gives users access to licensed resources from a machine anywhere on or off campus.
It is expected that many more libraries from all around Europe will take the opportunity to use the software. “Mark Pierce, a Technical Director of the Spanish software company, Enware and Project Coordinator said: “We are interested in working with any special libraries that would like to trial the software. We believe that the benefits of the system will be relevant to all sorts of libraries, helping them to rationalise their spending on electronic resources. We know what it is what they want to do - now they have a tool to help them do it.” John Akeroyd, Director of Learning and Information Services at South Bank University, London, who originated the CACTUS concept and are a primary test site said “CACTUS makes it easier for users to access resources, even if they are working off campus. It also promises to give us the information we need to channel our spending onto those electronic resources our users really want to have. It will change the way we manage electronic resources. This is the core of a library management system for the electronic library.”
The feature rich software also offers:
- Customisation of users’ desktops.
- The ability to effectively ration the usage of resources on LANs
- Real time messaging between administrators and users, e.g. to announce end of day close down.
The software is also applicable to any resource centre trying to manage and deliver a mixture of electronic services; it could be used in learning centres, in Internet cafes. The consortium are interested in finding more test sites though this would be on a zero funding basis. Publishers will get the benefit of a more secure environment in which only people who should be able to can access material. They will also benefit from improved understanding of how electronic resources are being used. Swets Blackwell are one of the project partners.
The Candle web site is http://www.sbu.ac.uk/litc/candleFor more information please contact
Andrew Cox, LITC, South Bank University, +44 (0)20 7815 7058,
email@example.com Mark Pierce, Enware, Nunez de Bilbao, Madrid, +34 91 576 02 45,firstname.lastname@example.org News and features from the LA’s popular Library techology supplement are
now free on the Webhttp://www.sbu.ac.uk/litc/lt/ltcover.htmlAndrew Cox, Senior Researcher, LITC, South Bank University, +44 020 7815 7058
Bibliographic Database Free on the Web
The Soybean Insect Research Information Center (SIRIC) database is now available for the first time via the Web.
This bibliographic database was established in 1969 by the Illinois Natural History Survey’s Center for Economic Entomology to collect and index the world’s research literature on soybean-related arthropods. The literature is carefully indexed according to a thesaurus prepared by professional entomologists.
The database may be of interest to those in Agriculture, Crop Science, Entomology, Integrated Pest Management, Natural History and Biology.
Lynn Hanson, Librarian
Soybean Insect Research Information Center
Illinois Natural History Survey - Center for Economic Entomology
1101 West Peabody Drive #144
Environmental and Agricultural Sciences Building MC-637
Urbana IL 61801-4723
Low cost access to the new Oxford English Dictionary Online for Further and Higher Education Institutions in the UK and Ireland
The crown jewel of reference works – the Oxford English Dictionary Online – will be available at a significantly reduced cost to all further and higher education institutions in the UK and Ireland.
From 1 June 2000, students and staff at subscribing institutions will benefit from unlimited access to “the internet’s biggest, most prestigious reference work” (The Guardian).
This opportunity comes as a result of a special 3-year pricing arrangement negotiated by the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) of the further and high education funding councils and Oxford University Press (OUP). Special funding from the Further Education Funding bodies via the JISC, together with special pricing from OUP, means that a network licence to OED Online will cost colleges just £85 including VAT in the first year of the 3-year deal (compared with a standard list price of £600 plus VAT).
This is the first time that further education colleges have been able to take advantage of a JISC-negotiated deal. This is all part of the strategy to enable students and staff in colleges to participate fully in the government’s lifelong learning agenda by enabling access to high quality learning resources via the Internet.
The Oxford English Dictionary Online will join other high quality resources delivered via the Internet through the Distributed National Electronic Resource (DNER).
CHEST will manage this agreement on behalf of the JISC. Please see http://www.chest.ac.uk/datasets/oed/ for full details.
For more information please contact:
Further Information about the Distributed National Electronic Resource (DNER)
This is a JISC strategy for adding value to the UK’s learning, teaching and research resources. The Distributed National Electronic Resource (DNER) is a managed environment for accessing quality assured information resources on the Internet which are available from many sources. These resources include scholarly journals, monographs, textbooks, abstracts, manuscripts, maps, music scores, still images, geospatial images and other kinds of vector and numeric data, as well as moving picture and sound collections. More information is available at http://www.jisc.ac.uk/pub99/dner_vision.html