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The Three Muskebeers win the LSG quiz

GillianMackenzie30 May 2019

A few weeks ago, the Library Social Group (LSG) hosted a pub quiz at the College Arms on Store Street, after a slightly extended (ahem, two-year-long) hiatus.

Five teams pitted their wits against each other, having their knowledge of cover versions, pop culture and close-up library objects tested to the limit. Quiz co-hosts Phil Leonard and Gillian Mackenzie guided teams through six rounds, who were competing for the £30+ cash prize, plus for the coveted LSG Quiz trophy!

The winning quiz team, The Three Muskebeers

All of the teams taking part performed respectably (a word used repeatedly on the night), but the ultimate champions were The Three Muskebeers (although, there were four of them in the team).

We got some really positive comments about the evening (not least that the quiz itself was a “well-oiled machine”), which we hope will encourage more quizzers and teams to join us next time:

“The Library Pub Quiz was the perfect opportunity to meet colleagues I don’t already know or hardly ever get to see, and then alternately suffer the embarrassment of my own ignorance or boast over my superior pop culture knowledge. In other words, a really great night!”

Thanks to all who came along, and see you again soon for another round.

 

 

 

Annual convention of the Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies (ASEEES)

Wojciech AJanik13 December 2018

Last week I had an opportunity to attend the 2018 Annual Convention of the Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies (ASEEES) in Boston, Massachusetts. ASEEES is the leading international organization dedicated to the advancement of knowledge about Central Asia, the Caucasus, Russia, and Eastern Europe in regional and global contexts.

ASEEES convention.

It is one of the largest gathering of professionals (academics, librarians, publishers, etc.) working in the field of Eastern Europe and Eurasia in the world, so it was great opportunity to meet colleagues from a plethora of organisations, to exchange ideas, make new links, and discover new opportunities, and of course the right place to highlight our own work and achievements.

Round table The Global Encyclopedia of Informality: Towards Understanding of Social and Cultural Complexity at the 50th Annual ASEEES convention.

The convention lasted four days and was filled with panels and meetings. I was able to attend a number of panels, ranging from “Russian Imperial Cultural Heritage Abroad: 1917-1945”, chaired by Edward Kasinec from Columbia University, to “Copyright and Related Rights: A Look at the State of Play in Publishing, Music Licensing, and Broadcast Media” chaired by Janice T. Pilch, a library colleague from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. I found the panels, and especially the discussions that followed, to be very useful and informative. I also attended a UCL SSEES and UCL Press related event: round table “The Global Encyclopedia of Informality: Towards Understanding of Social and Cultural Complexity”, which was chaired by Elena Denisova-Schmidt from the University of St. Gallen and attended by Predrag Cveticanin from the University of Nis, as well as Eric D. Gordy, Michal Murawski and Alena Ledeneva, all from UCL SSEES.

Finally I participated in the roundtable panel: “Leveraging E-resources to Foster Access for Libraries”. The panel was chaired by Angela Cannon from the Library of Congress and my roundtable partners were: Liladhar R. Pendse from the University of California, Berkeley, Zina Somova from East View Information Services and Gudrun Wirtz from the Bavarian State Library. Among other issues we discussed how scholars researching Eastern Europe are using new publishing technologies and initiatives to disseminate their output and to reach new audiences. I used this opportunity to highlight research output related to Slavonic and East European studies/themes that can be accessed via UCL Press or UCL Discovery. Finally, at the ASEEES Committee on Libraries and Information Resource Membership Meeting, I provided a summary report on behalf of the Council for Slavonic and East European Library and Information Services (COSEELIS) of which UCL SSEES Library is a part.

The Harry Elkins Widener Memorial Library.

I also had an opportunity to visit the Widener Library, an important part of the Harvard College Libraries that is also home to Harvard’s Slavonic collections, where I met library colleagues working in the Slavonic section of the Widener Library.

The convention provided me with the opportunity to discuss some potential projects with colleagues. The project met with interest and offers of support from colleagues from Harvard Library, the Hoover Institute, the New York Public Library and the Bavarian State Library.

All in all I found my participation at the convention as very helpful and informative. Both the knowledge and professional contacts gained during the conference will be very useful in my work and future projects.

 

Boston. View from the Massachusetts Bridge.

Join us for a Twitter debate: Open Access Books: The authors’ side of the story

AlisonFox21 June 2018

Hashtag: #OAauthors

Date: 27th June 2018 

Time: 14:00 – 15:00 BST

Open Access monograph publishing has been steadily gathering momentum over the last few years. Funder policies are being introduced to promote an increase in OA publishing, new OA publishers and university presses are being set up, and publishers around the world are escalating their OA output. As a result, scholarly content is now becoming readily accessible to an extremely diverse global audience, able to reach some of the most isolated and impoverished areas of the world.

Yet we rarely hear from academics and researchers about their experiences with publishing Open Access monographs. Why do authors choose to publish via OA? What are the main benefits they’ve witnessed? And how does publishing OA books and monographs differ from publishing traditionally?

In this compelling Twitter debate, host Alastair Horne will welcome a distinguished panel of academic authors from around the world and explore what it is like to publish their books via Open Access. Whether you are a researcher considering your publication options, a publisher wanting to know more about the academic’s perspective on OA, or an institution weighing up the pros and cons of OA publishing models, this session will provide a great insight into academic authors’ current attitudes towards OA.

Confirmed participants include:

  • Dr Paul Breen (University of Westminster), author of Developing Educators for The Digital Age (University of Westminster Press); @CharltonMen
  • Professor Owen Davies (University of Hertfordshire), author of Executing Magic in the Modern Era: Criminal Bodies and the Gallows in Popular Medicine (Palgrave); @odavies9
  • Professor Christian Fuchs (University of Westminster); author of Critical Theory of Communication (University of Westminster Press); @fuchschristian
  • Dr Haidy Geismar (UCL), author of Museum Object Lessons for the Digital Age (UCL Press); (@haidygeismar)
  • Professor Bob Sheil (UCL), editor of Fabricate (UCL Press); @bobsheil
  • Professor Laura Vaughan (UCL), editor of Suburban Urbanities: Suburbs and the Life of the High Street (UCL Press) and author of the forthcoming book Mapping Society: The Spatial Dimensions of Social Cartography (UCL Press); @urban_formation

 

Chinese New Year 2018

JulieCheung-Inhin15 February 2018

Ah, Chinese New Year.

This year marks the year of the dog.

Food, lion dancing, animal zodiac signs… food. Fireworks. More food. Red packets. FOOD. Most of us are probably familiar with that time of year (around January or February – this year it falls on the 16th Feb), when the Chinese celebrate the start of a new year. However, with a greater number of Chinese living in other countries, you might not be familiar with how some of the customs have evolved into their own identities. With that in mind, welcome to Julie and Andy’s handy guide to (or rather personal experiences of) New Year celebrations of the Chinese diaspora. Far out. (Literally.)

Julie (Archaeology and Bartlett Libraries)

I was born and bred in London (quite specifically, the south of London) but my parents were born in Mauritius. My grandparents (and beyond) were from South China, a place called Meixian in the Guandong province. The Sino-Mauritian population is small, at around 3%, but the diversity of Mauritius is such that Chinese New Year is still celebrated throughout the country, and in fact is a festival celebrated more widely than Christmas – something I was always bemused by. Having experienced CNY over there for the first time a few years ago, however, I can see why; it was certainly an experience I want to relive again soon (waistline be damned!).

So-called because the cooking process causes the ball to crack (into a smile!).

Unsurprisingly, CNY is a time for the family, so we spent a lot of time visiting the proverbial extended family and, everywhere we went, we would eat. The Chinese have a special Chinese New Year cake called nian gao, but in Mauritius it’s called gato la cire. (“That sounds like French!” I hear you cry. Well done! Mauritians, like myself, speak Creole, which is like a slang form of French, and gato la cire literally means wax cake.) We will also eat some Sino-Mauritian snacks, many of which are fried (they love frying food over there). A few of my favourites are tien yen nain (round sweet balls made of glutinous rice, sweet potato and sesame seeds), Chinese laughing balls (fried dough balls covered with sesame seeds) and a simple fried cracker made of dough and sesame seeds known as crammy’s crab. That’s a lot of sesame.

Homemade and delicious!

Of course, these will all be supplemented with classics such as prawn crackers (which we call sipek) and dumplings. You’ll notice that some names are French, some English, and some Chinese – being a multicultural country, all Mauritians, whether of the Chinese, Indian, African or European persuasion, will be familiar with the big holidays such as CNY and will enjoy the food, so they will all have their own names for them. The names I use here are the ones I’m most familiar with!

We keep to quite a few of the well-known traditions too. Chinese New Year can be a lucrative time for children (or, technically, anyone who isn’t married yet!), as they receive those all-important red packets of money known as foong-pao. (Note, foong-pao is the Hakka Chinese word for what is known as lai-see in Cantonese). Another important aspect of CNY is the lion dance. Go to the West End’s Chinatown in London on the Sunday nearest to CNY and you’ll see acrobatic lions outside the restaurants heading for a cabbage before ‘eating’ it. Likewise in Mauritius, shops, businesses, or perhaps even a rich family(!) will have a lion dance outside their premises, accompanied with clashing cymbals, drums and gongs, to ward off evil spirits and bring in good luck.

Let ‘s make some noise! (Maybe not in the library, though.)

Similarly, Chinese families will also set off firecrackers in front of their homes, the idea being that the loud noise will scare off any evil spirits. Firecrackers are set off at certain times of the day, and throughout the day the sound of firecrackers can be heard across the island. Visiting relatives, I remember seeing red confetti all over the streets of Mauritius, where a Chinese family had set off their crackers. Perhaps my most memorable experience of CNY in Mauritius was being stood outside my uncle’s house as he set alight a stream of crackers, vaguely concerned that the largest cracker at the top was about to detonate and I was caught between an impending explosion and a much-taller-than-me wall. It was… intense.

Andy (Library Finance)

Julie, thank you for sharing such a wonderful insight into the Chinese/Mauritian New Year.

My parents were fortunate to embrace CNY when in Jamaica and enjoyed the celebrations much as you have described. Similarly, the festival was an important date in the calendar.

Unfortunately, since arriving in the UK in the 50’s, they broke tradition having lost contact with the Chinese Jamaican community.

So despite both my parents being half Chinese, some of the oriental traditions have been lost and I’m having to relearn the culture. Shameless to say, even my 8 year old, who is also of German/Hungarian extraction, may be ahead of me. Only this week he was preparing for today saying Happy New Year in Chinese and describing the beautiful customs that you highlight. In particular, foong-pao  …….but he cleverly left out the cleaning of his room!

A few weeks ago I asked a friend what he was doing for CNY and the reply was “helping to clean the house.” I thought, that seemed a little strange, especially as my memories of a traditional Jamaican New year was very different. An all night party from 31st December with rum punch, curry goat and guests from what seemed like ‘all of North West London’.

The penny eventually dropped, although food and drink is at the centre of most New Year celebrations, the Chinese New Year philosophy also entails ‘Spring cleaning’. All the old useless things are discarded and the home given an overhaul to bring in the year new. It’s a very special time for family and friends to enjoy, like playing Mah Jung and celebrating health and prosperity. The traditional party lasting as long as 15 days!

Kung Hei Fat Choi to all our Chinese colleagues and I hope our fellow Library staff might also get the opportunity to celebrate this weekend too!!

Happy New Year!

Links for Further Reading!

Discover your animal zodiac and what lies ahead for you this year here.

Superstitious? Here’s a handy guide of what to avoid during CNY…!

Fancy joining the celebrations? Time Out has a few suggestions here.

Love Data Week 2018

DanielVan Strien12 February 2018

This week is the 3rd international Love Data Week. ‘Similar to Open Access Week, the purpose of the Love Data Week (LDW) event is to raise awareness and build a community to engage on topics related to research data management, sharing, preservation, reuse, and library-based research data services.’ Several Research Data Management teams from London universities have joined forces to run a series of data related events.

Most events are open to all UCL research staff and research students and library staff are also welcome to attend. During the Love Data Week we will also be publishing a number of data case studies on UCL’s Research Data Management Blog.

You can find an overview of the events below;

A full listing of events is available to share.

For any UCL-specific questions, please contact the UCL Research Data Support officers at lib-researchsupport@ucl.ac.uk.

Brexit and Beyond book launch

AlisonFox30 January 2018

On the 29th January, UCL Press launched its new open access book Brexit and Beyond: Rethinking the Futures of Europe, edited by and Benjamin Martill, Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Dahrendorf Forum, LSE and Uta Staiger, Pro-Vice-Provost (Europe) and Executive Director of the UCL European Institute, to a packed lecture theatre of around 180 people.

The event was organised in collaboration with the UCL European Institute (http://www.ucl.ac.uk/european-institute) and featured talks by some of the book’s contributors Chris Bickerton, Reader in Modern European Politics, Cambridge, Helen Drake, Professor of French and European Studies and Director of the Academy of Diplomacy and International Governance, Loughborough University London, Simon Hix, Harold Laski Professor of Political Science, London School of Economics and Political Science and Kalypso Nicolaïdis, Professor of International Relations, and Director of the Centre for International Studies, at the University of Oxford. It was chaired by Quentin Peel of Chatham House, and introduced by the book’s editors. A news article about the event and the speakers was featured on UCL’s homepage – read it here.

Given the highly topical subject of the book and the high-profile authors, both the editors and UCL Press were keen to publish the book as quickly as possible, and we sped up the production process to just 3 months in order to capture the wave of interest and to be as up-to-date and relevant as possible. This has paid off, as an extract from the book was featured in The Telegraph on 22nd January.

Hopefully the event and the combined promotional activities of UCL Press, UCL Media Relations and the UCL European Institute will generate more media interest, but in the meantime we highly recommend Brexit and Beyond to anyone following the Brexit debate who is keen to hear the views of leading academic experts from around the world. Download it free here.

Doing Outreach: ‘Telling Tales of Independence’ at the Bloomsbury Festival

SallyPerry23 January 2018

Photography: Christian Fisher, Bloomsbury Festival 2017

To some ‘Doing Outreach’ might sound more like a points-winner in Strictly Come Dancing than a legitimate pursuit for an academic institution, yet it is not only legitimate but essential to what we do. Outreach is the means by which we share with our community and the wider world what we teach, what we research and, of particular relevance to us in UCL Library Services, the treasures we care for.  It is relevant to everyone, regardless of their role in the university, as it not only demonstrates our value but also gives us the opportunity to bring together people who previously shared nothing but curiosity, but might go on to solve problems and create new knowledge.

So for anyone who has ever considered putting a toe in the Outreach water but has yet to go further, here is a brief insider view of a recent event.

The Bloomsbury Festival is an annual enterprise:

“a five-day celebration of the area’s pioneering creativity. Presenting an inspiring programme of arts, science, literature, performance, discussion and reflection, each October the Festival shines a light on the radical imaginations, institutions, and 11,000 residents that shape contemporary Bloomsbury.”

UCL has supported the Festival since it began in 2006, and for the second time was the Saturday Hub, bringing together most of the festival events for that day on the main UCL campus. The stalls were a mixture of UCL research-focused presentations and outside businesses, with street food, music and dance provided by the Festival organisers. Traditionally the Festival has a theme – a broad concept such as ‘Light’ or ‘Language’ or (for this year) ‘Independence’. This gives a useful focus for planning an event, but is sufficiently flexible to encompass many interpretations.

Like many outreach projects, our event (Telling Tales of Independence) developed somewhat organically and we finally focused on aspects of the personal independence made possible through reading, creativity and performance. Sam Duncan, IOE Senior Lecturer in Adult Education and Literacies, discussed her Reading Aloud in Britain Today research with visitors, and invited them to contribute to her data collection by completing surveys or signing up for interviews. Theo Bryer, (Lecturer in IOE’s Culture, Communication and Media Department) and Rebecca Wilson (IOE ICT Teaching Support Analyst), both recently returned from introducing ‘agile film making’ with iPads in a variety of schools in India, presented some of the films and a poster explaining the project.  For younger visitors, performer Laura Mitchison (of community interest company On the Record) read aloud from story books from the IOE Curriculum Resources Collection, and children (and in more than a few cases grownups) were able to explore their creativity by making puppets and designing for them superpowers or award-winning talents.

The weather, a crucial factor in outreach endeavours such as the Bloomsbury Festival, was not kind and led to last minute changes in the positioning of stalls and performances. Even so 3790 visitors came through the Gower Street gates of the UCL campus, and another 1242 came to the Institute of Making. There were 30 stalls set up in and around the North and South Cloisters, and 26 performances took place during the day.

So what did we learn about Doing Outreach from our Telling Tales of Independence experience? Here are a few of the many lessons:

  1. Prepare to be flexible. One of the excitements (and challenges) of one-off outreach events such as Telling Tales of Independence is the unknown. You have to be prepared to throw your best-laid plans to the wind, and do what works when circumstances dictate. Our planned story times, for example became ‘stories on demand’ when we realized that arrangement was more suited to the flow of visitors.
  2. Being part of a large mixed event rather than an individual one might take you out of your comfort zone if you like familiar surroundings and control over arrangements, but it will bring in more visitors, have wider reach, and enable you to meet fellow ‘outreachers’.
  3. 11am to 5pm feels a lot more than 6 hours when you are presenting an outreach event. Arrange for reinforcements for the later part of the day if possible.

And what did we feel we achieved? Well based on the conversations held, the surveys completed, the puppets created and the stories enjoyed, it seemed visitors appreciated and engaged. We hope they left with a better understanding of what UCL is about and enthusiasm for the possibilities presented. Introductions were made – with UCL colleagues, with visitors, with perhaps potential students – that might one day lead to something that would not have happened if we had not ‘outreached’. So on reflection, a worthwhile day’s work.

Frankfurt Book Fair, October 2017

AlisonFox24 October 2017

Posted on behalf of Lara Speicher, Publishing Manager, UCL Press

The Frankfurt Book Fair is the oldest and largest book fair in the world. Founded in 1454, it has taken place regularly ever since, and it attracts more than 7,000 exhibitors from over 100 countries and over 278,000 visitors annuallydownload(2016 figures). It has five separate halls each with several floors. The Fair has a dual purpose: for most international publishers it is a trade fair where they come to do business every year: to sell international rights, and meet with suppliers and other collaborators and colleagues, and that is what the first three days of the Fair are devoted to. For many of the German publishers, it is very much a Fair to promote their new books to the public, and visitors come at the weekend to see the displays of books and attend author presentations.

Each year there is a country of honour, and this year it was France. The Fair was opened by Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Emmanuel Macron, demonstrating the importance of the Fair to international trade and culture. Every day on the German news there are reports from the Fair’s activities, showing the central place it holds ifbfn the country’s calendar.

This year was the first year that UCL Press exhibited. We had a small stand in Hall 4.2 where we were surrounded by other UK and European university presses, and other science publishers and small scholarly publishers. I attended for the first three days then Jaimee Biggins, UCL Press’s Managing Editor, came to look after the stand for the weekend and attend a Convention of International University Presses (see here for more).

I had over 25 meetings during the three days I was there, and among those I met were other university presses and other institutions with whom we have collaborative projects already happening or in development, such as Chicago and Cornell University Presses; other university presses for sharing of knowledge and information, such as Sydney University Press and Wits University Press; publishing associations with whom we are collaborating such as the Association of American University Presses, the Association of European University Presses and ALPSP; our existing suppliers and distributors such as NBN, OAPEN, JSTOR and Science Open; and potential new suppliers and collaborators.

Among the most interesting of this last category was a company called Baobab who distribute both print and ebooks to African university libraries. As an open access publisher with a mission to disseminate scholarly research around the globe, I was particularly keen to hear whether Baobab might be able to help UCL Press distribute its open access books to African university libraries. It turned out that Baobab has an existing service that distributes free ebooks on behalf of NGOs and aid agencies that UCL Press can take part in. Although OA books are made freely available online, ensuring that they reach targeted communities is not always easy since OA supply chains for monographs are not fully developed. So this new partnership is very encouraging and exciting, and it meets one of the key drivers of UCL’s global strategic objective of ‘increasing independent research capability around the world’ by making high-quality scholarly research freely available.

All in all it was a very worthwhile event for raising UCL Press’s profile, strengthening our existing relationships, and forging new ones, and we are already planning Frankfurt 2018!

The International Convention of University Presses

AlisonFox23 October 2017

Posted on behalf of Jaimee Biggins, Managing Editor, UCL Press

The Frankfurt Book Fair is the world’s largest trade fair for books. It takes place in October every year. UCL Press had a stand at the Fair this year where we could showcase our books, and have meetings with other academic publishers and suppliers. While at the Fair, I attended the 5th International Convention of University Presses. The Convention featured about 100 representatives from more than 22 countries and each year it offers an opportunity to discuss new trends in international academic publishing. It is a great way to network with other university presses and those working in academic publishing and gain an international perspective.

The topic this year was ‘Translation: Unlocking New Worlds of Ideas’. The day focussed mainly on foreign language authors who want to be translated into English. The keynote ‘What factors determine the circulation of scholarly books in translation?’ by Gisèle Sapiro (Director of Research at the CNRS –The French National Center for Scientific Research) set the scene for the discussion. It sparked quite a debate especially around the funding for translation of scholarly works. Scholarly books are costly to translate and do not sell many copies, so there is quite a dependence on subsidies. Other sources of funding are international organisations and private foundations. Also interesting to note is the trend of scholars choosing to write in English so they will be read right away – this is sometimes at the sacrifice of publishing in their national language. There is also a certain pressure by publishers on academics to publish in English to gain access to the widest readership possible.

In the round table discussion there was a presentation of different translation grant programmes, with speakers from organisations in countries such as Canada, Germany, Norway and France all outlining funding programmes that support translation. It was interesting to hear about schemes to support authors by offering grants which cover the cost of translation and also expenses such as book launches and promotional activities. All of the programmes aimed to make academic books more visible through translations. The criteria for this funding varied – for example the Council for the Arts, Canada, base their funding on the impact, merit and feasibility of the project. Unfortunately it is a trend that there are many more applications received than grants available. Astrid Thorn Hillig from the Association of European University Presses said that university presses need to come together collectively to claim the importance of translations and support more translations.

The day ended with pitching of a number of projects for translation by various publishers. Each speaker had two minutes to pitch their potential project, offering a synopsis of the book, and the selling points which provide a case for it to be translated. All in all the day was a real eye-opener into the world of translation and was a great way to connect with international colleagues.

Join IAS & UCL Press for the launch of Sri Lanka at the Crossroads of History

AlisonFox26 September 2017

Join the UCL Centre for the Study of South Asia and the Indian Ocean World, the UCL Institute of Advanced Studies and UCL Press to celebrate the publication of Sri Lanka at the Crossroads of History, edited by Zoltán Biedermann (UCL) and Alan Strathern (Oxford).

Date: 30th October 2017, 6-8pm

Location: UCL Institute of Advanced Studies

All welcome, but registration is required

The peoples of Sri Lanka have participated in far-flung trading networks, religious formations, and Asian and European empires for millennia. This interdisciplinary volume sets out to draw Sri Lanka into the field of Asian and Global History by showing how the latest wave of scholarship has explored the island as a ‘crossroads’, a place defined by its openness to movement across the Indian Ocean. Experts in the history, archaeology, literature and art of the island from c.500 BCE to c.1850 CE use Lankan material to explore the history and historiography of Sri Lanka, the Indian Ocean region, kingship, colonialism, imperialism, and early modernity.

Read more about the book here.