News Category


“You Say Khaddafi, I Say Gaddafi”

This month’s focus – foreign media coverage of Libyan leader, Mu’ammar Al-Qadhafi, past and present.

Develop your research skills and put a little power in your papers. Learn transferable skills that can be applied to nearly all topics.



A Very Brief Introduction to Open Access

by Peter Suber

Open-access (OA) literature is digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions. What makes it possible is the internet and the consent of the author or copyright-holder.

OA is entirely compatible with peer review, and all the major OA initiatives for scientific and scholarly literature insist on its importance. Just as authors of journal articles donate their labor, so do most journal editors and referees participating in peer review.

OA literature is not free to produce, even if it is less expensive to produce than conventionally published literature. The question is not whether scholarly literature can be made costless, but whether there are better ways to pay the bills than by charging readers and creating access barriers. Business models for paying the bills depend on how OA is delivered.


DSPH Pecha-Kucha! October 26

The Digital Studio for the Public Humanities – DSPH – invites you to attend  “DSPH Pecha-Kucha!,” our first public event , on Wednesday, October 26 – from 5 to 6:30 pm at the DLS | DSPH space in the northwest corner of the The University of Iowa Main Library on the ground floor.

We’ll have a half dozen or so pecha-kucha presentations [six minute and forty second PowerPoint presentations of twenty slides displayed for twenty seconds each] showcasing a range of public digital humanities projects on campus.

We hope to have a spirited mix of faculty, staff, grads and undergrads, and community members in the house.

Following the more formal part of the event, we’ll have some hang-out time to allow for more informal public digital humanities conversation. We hope you can attend and we encourage you to invite others for whom this might be of interest.

Popcorn and pop will be served.


Iowa Digital Library adds interactive collection of Madurese folk tales

The University of Iowa Libraries and a UI linguistics scholar have taken an important step toward preserving the culture of an often overlooked Indonesian ethnic group while at the same time opening worldwide access for students and scholars interested in delving deeper into the study of the Madurese language and culture.

William Davies, UI professor of linguistics and one of the world’s leading scholars on Madurese language, has completed the Madurese Storytellers digital collection, which features storytellers from the Island of Madura telling traditional stories along with accompanying English or Indonesian subtitles.

Davies and Surachman Dimyati, a professor at Universitas Terbuka in Jakarta and a UI alumnus, recorded native storytellers performing “carèta ra’yat Madhurâ,” traditional Madurese folk tales and historical narratives. These creation tales, tales of the introduction of Islam to the island, and love stories shed light on the historical and cultural development of the Madurese.

The Madurese are indigenous to Madura, a small island located a few miles off the northeast coast of Java, the main Indonesian island (with a population of more than 100 million.) Government census figures from 2005 put the Madurese population at roughly 7 million, while other estimates range up to 15 million. Regardless of the precise number, the Madurese language is the fourth most widely spoken language in Indonesia, the fourth most populous country in the world. Despite this, the Madurese language and people are not widely studied, in large part due to negative stereotyping by the ethnic majority groups in the country.

This lack of study of the Madurese and their language has left little textual material available to scholars or even to the Madurese people themselves. What exists of original Madurese folk and historical narratives are largely disparate manuscripts held by some individuals or in small collections at regional museums throughout Madurese-speaking areas.

The new digital archive includes an interactive interface to allow the Madurese videos to be viewed with English and Indonesian subtitles. Verbatim transcripts can also be viewed in English, Indonesian, Madurese, and morpheme-by-morpheme glosses used for linguistic analysis. The project is ongoing and as more narratives are recorded and transcribed, they will be added to the collection.

As is the case with folk tales from any tradition, tales can give insights into the roles of men and women, the social hierarchy in society at large, the behavioral expectations for children, values, belief systems, anxieties and fears, and much more that was considered important in society.

The historical narratives not only help keep the language and culture of the Madurese vital, but the video and accompanying text in the electronic archive make these primary source materials directly accessible to scholars in the U.S. and internationally. Researchers in linguistics and across the humanities will benefit from the availability of these unique materials. This multimedia archive embraces new methods of scholarly communication by creating and delivering a resource that would not be possible through traditional publishing modes.

This project has been funded by a generous grant from the Toyota Foundation, as well as the US Department of Education (through a Fulbright-Hays award) and several UI programs. Institutional support in Indonesia has come from Universitas Kristen Petra in Surabaya and Universitas Atma Jaya in Jakarta, as well as Kementerian Negara Riset dan Teknologi and Lembaga Ilmu Pengetahuan Indonesia.

Davies’ project was a UI Libraries’ Creative Scholarship Innovation Award winner in 2010, which provided modest support for a graduate assistant and included a project team of librarians and technologists.

The video and transcriptions are the latest edition to the Iowa Digital Library, which features more than 400,000 digital objects created from the holdings of the UI Libraries and its campus partners. Included are illuminated manuscripts, historical maps, fine art, political cartoons, scholarly works, audio and video recordings, and more. The UI Libraries is a staunch supporter of new forms of scholarly publishing, digital humanities, data curation, and open/linked data.


Organize your citations and learn to use RefWorks in two workshops

The University of Iowa Libraries will offer two introductory workshops on RefWorks. RefWorks is a web-based service that enables you to save bibliographic citations from the library catalog and other library databases. Both workshops will be held in 1015A LIB (1st floor, northwest corner of Main Library, located in the Digital Studio for Public Humanities).

Wednesday, Oct 12, 12:15-1:45 p.m.

Friday, Oct 14, 12:15-1:45 p.m.

In this workshop you will learn to:

* Export citations from a data service

* Create, edit, and delete citations in RefWorks

* Organize your citations and share them with colleagues at UIowa and beyond

* Use RefWorks to easily create and format bibliographies

Librarians will show you how to use RefWorks, and then give you the opportunity to practice with it at the end of the workshop. No registration is required, but seating is limited, so latecomers may be turned away.

Participants should have created personal accounts in RefWorks prior to the workshop. To do this, follow the “Connect to RefWorks” link on the UI Libraries RefWorks web page:

For additional RefWorks training options, including workshops held at the Hardin Library for the Health Sciences, see



Thought Balloons: Talking about Comics, Oct 4

Thought Balloons: Talking about ComicsDrop in at the Main Library’s Comic Book Café and share your thoughts about comics: creating them, reading them, collecting them. Tell us what your favorite comic is (and why). Bring your own creations, or listen to others talk about journaling through comics, or the history of comics, or the comic book industry. Learn about the growing collection of comics and graphic novels in the UI Libraries and some of the comics created by the Federal Government. Anyone who wishes can speak for up to five minutes about some aspect of comic books, but when the egg timer rings, your time is up.


Tuesday, October 4, 2011 “Thought Balloons: Talking about Comics”
11:30 a.m – 1:30 p.m.
Comic Book Café, 1st floor, UI Main Library

Drinks will be provided. Bring your own lunch.

Sponsored by the University of Iowa Libraries.



Civil War crowdsourcing project goes viral

Woo, hoo! We’ve been slashdotted.

This is when a popular website (in this case,, an enormous online community where contributors share web content that others may find interesting, enlightening, etc.) links to a smaller site (in this case, our Civil War Diaries transcription project) causing a huge influx of web traffic that overwhelms the site.

Despite the temporary collateral damage caused to the rest of the Iowa Digital Library, we love that the site is getting so much attention. Our staff is busily upping the RAM on the server and doing all they can to accommodate this onslaught of traffic. (One administrator describes the effort as putting a bandaid on a large flesh wound.) Today we’ve had more than 15,000 visits and more than 30,000 page views as of 3 p.m., where typically we might have 1,000. As someone Haiku’d in the Reddit comments:

Reddit the giant
Wants to pet the small website
Squishes it instead

Transcription is an expensive and laborious process, but the Internet allows us to experiment with “crowdsourcing,” or collaborative transcription of manuscript materials, in which members of the general public with time and interest conduct the transcription. We were inspired by crowd-sourcing efforts like Zooniverse, which enlists “citizen scientists” to help transcribe historic data. But unlike such well-heeled efforts, we lacked a stock of computer programmers or specialized software to manage the job. Instead, we opted for the experimental, low-tech route. Our crack webmaster wrote some PHP code that pulled diary pages into the transcription site, she added a form and some navigation, and just like that the site was born. It’s a homegrown solution that requires staff members to check the transcriptions for accuracy and add them manually to the digital collection.

The end result? A more useful and user-friendly resource, allowing full-text searching of the diary entries, along with easier browsing and reading. Now that an actual crowd has found our crowdsourcing project, we’re well on our way to making this goal a reality.

Nicole Saylor
Head, Digital Library Services


The Forever War is UI Libraries BookMarks Statue

The Forever War is UI Libraries BookMarks StatueIowa City UNESCO City of Literature and three Johnson County public libraries unveiled 25 unique BookMark statues FRIDAY, JUNE 3, kicking off what is believed to be the first public art display in the world to celebrate reading and writing. These gigantic statues were created by artists from throughout the Midwest and will be on display now through the end of October in Coralville, Iowa City, North Liberty, and at the Eastern Iowa Regional Airport. Two to four additional statues will debut in July 2011.

The University of Iowa Libraries statue depicts The Forever War by Joe Haldeman. This ground-breaking novel is one of the most influential works of science fiction written in the last 40 years. It was completed while Haldeman was attending the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and published in 1974 while he was living in Iowa City. He submitted a copy of the first edition as his Master’s thesis.

The Forever War is an oblique depiction of Haldeman’s experience as a soldier during the Vietnam War, and a mind-bending treatment of the concept of time and space, the ways in which human experience is forged by our perception of the times in which we live. In the novel William Mandella is sent many light years across space to engage an enemy species known as the Taurans. Due to time dilation caused by faster-than-light travel, Mandella and his fellow soldiers age two months while time on earth advances by a decade. Haldeman uses this scenario, which most science fiction conveniently avoids, to depict the concept of future shock in tangible terms. The novel becomes a meditative examination of the senselessness of war and the immensity of time and cultural change, with a love story stitching the pieces together on a human scale.

The novel won every major award for science fiction, including the Hugo and Nebula, and it is considered an important work about the Vietnam War. Haldeman wrote two sequels, and the original novel is currently being adapted to film by Ridley Scott. The sculpture, by the artist Jim Kelly, depicts the powered suit of armor that the soldiers in the novel wear, while the interior of the sculpture invites viewers to step inside the suit, by stepping inside the book.

The University of Iowa Libraries is home to one of the largest collections of science fiction fanzines in the world, and this growing body of material is used frequently by faculty, students, and the public for classes, research, and enjoyment. Fanzines document the growth of communities in the pre-internet era, an area of increasing scholarly interest. They are often produced with paper and inks that fade with time, and the Libraries is actively engaged in collecting and preserving these ephemeral pieces for future generations to study—a span of time made easier to comprehend by the writing of novelists like Joe Haldeman.

BookMarks, a public art partnership, is expected to attract many visitors, and shows our community’s spirit for reading, writing, literature, and living in the only City of Literature in the United States. Each BookMark statue is an original collaboration between generous sponsors and talented area artists and designers.   A complete list of sponsors, artists, statues and their locations is attached. A separate map of the statue locations is also included with this information and is available at the BookMarks  website (

Visitors and families are invited to experience the BookMarks project by touring all of the statues and uploading photos of themselves with each statue at the Flickr Photo Sharing page of the BookMarks website (, or on Facebook ( In addition, the public can vote for their favorite statue through an online ballot starting June 20, 2011 at the Iowa City Press Citizen  website ( Winners of the “People’s Choice Award” will be announced at the Iowa City Book Festival’s Day in the City of Literature on Sunday, July 17, 2011.

BOOKMARKS™ BOOK ART OF JOHNSON COUNTY will benefit the Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature and the public libraries of Iowa City, Coralville and North Liberty, when no fewer than 24 of the statues are sold during a public auction in November. The City of Literature USA is designating its share of the proceeds of this public art project to enhance outreach activities that attract visitors to the area such as the annual Iowa City Book Festival. Iowa City Public Library will direct its share of the contributions to increase its early childhood literacy efforts. The Coralville Public Library will utilize the proceeds to enhance Library programming and augment high-use collections. The North Liberty Community Library will use their portion of the funds toward the expansion and renovation project currently underway. The three public libraries in Coralville, Iowa City, and North Liberty have 95,000 cardholders who visited the libraries more than 1.2 million times last year.

The rest of the world became aware of the area’s literary culture two years ago when Iowa City received the UNESCO invitation to join the Creative Cities Network as one of only three Cities of Literature in the world.

Susan Craig, Director of Iowa City Public Library, made the claim that this community cares as much about literature as it does about football. Once she said it aloud, she envisioned the BookMarks project as a way for everyone in the community to celebrate all forms of reading and literature. Her vision of BookMarks statues—modeled after the highly successful “Herky on Parade” in 2004—was met with enthusiasm by all.


Transitions: scholarly communication news is now a blog

Beginning this spring, Transitions, the University of Iowa’s occasional newsletter on scholarly communication issues, will appear as a blog, with postings at regular intervals as circumstances demand. Three blog entries have been posted to date, with topics ranging from copyright and open access journals, to the University of Iowa’s citation and publishing history, to the economics of open access publishing.  You may find links to the blog entries from the Transforming Scholarly Communication web site (under News).  We hope you find the up-to-date blog postings informative and thought-provoking.


UI Libraries commemorates Civil War sesquicentennial with exhibition, digital collection

University of Iowa Libraries has launched a new exhibition and digital collection to commemorate the sesquicentennial of the Civil War, and it’s enlisting the help of a few good men and women (well, lots, really) to help make the collection even more accessible and useful.

The exhibition, “‘Now Do Not Let Your Courage Fail’: Voices from the Civil War,” on display at the UI Main Library through July 30, includes letters and diaries from three manuscript collections held by Special Collections & University Archives that offer intriguing perspectives on the war. The experiences of Ferdinand Winslow, an officer in the Union army; Thomas Rescum Sterns, a soldier in the Union army; and Amanda and Mary Shelton, nurses who cared for soldiers through the Christian Commission, bring to life the everyday reality of the conflict.

Accompanying these manuscripts are artifacts from the war, including two Civil War-era quilts from a private collection and a dress worn to a wedding that is on loan from the Kalona Quilt and Textile Museum.

While viewing the exhibition in person, visitors can access digitized versions of the letters and diaries by scanning codes under each piece. This allows viewers to see pages from these collections that are not on display and follow the stories told through the letters.

The digital collection, which was scanned by UI Special Collections & University Archives, is also available online from any computer through the Iowa Digital Library at

But the 3,000-plus diaries and letters are digitized images — effectively photographs — that require viewers who want to read them to interpret the handwriting of hundreds of different writers. It also means users cannot search the text for particular words or phrases.

To transcribe that much documentation could take decades and thousands of dollars. But UI Libraries is experimenting with “crowdsourcing,” or collaborative transcription of manuscript materials, in which members of the general public with time and interest conduct the transcription and check one another for accuracy in much the same way contributors to Wikipedia help create a collection of data, information and knowledge.

“Crowdsourcing is revolutionizing the study of the humanities by making available to the public and scholars miles of documents that were previously off-limits, difficult to read or unsearchable,” said Nicole Saylor, head of Digital Library Services.

UI Libraries is inviting volunteers to take a few minutes, hours or days to read and help transcribe some of the pages of a Civil War-era diary, which will not only benefit the library and patrons, but give crowdsourcing participants a glimpse into a more personal side of one of American history’s most significant events. To learn more about this opportunity, visit