Friday, 30 September 2011

Ruth Rikowski's 47th News Update

Hope everyone had a good summer.

We spent time in both Suffolk and Bangor, which was all very lovely! Then, the rest of the summer was spent doing lots and lots of sorting!

Anyway, my newsletter this quarter consists entirely of new entries to our ‘Flow of Ideas’ website, apart from one item about my ‘Serendipitous Moments’ blog.

So, happy reading!!

‘Capitorg’ by Glenn Rikowski is now on our website, and here is what Glenn says about it:

“This paper is my first writing, relating to my first public appearance (apart from seminars / lectures with my own students), for three years – apart from the eulogy for my father’s funeral (written on 21st February 2009).

Furthermore, Dublin was only my second trip outside the UK in 32 years; so in many respects it was something special for me. It felt a bit like the first leg of a ‘comeback’ tour!

I would like to thank the people in the Praxis & Pedagogy group at The Graduate School of Creative Arts and Media (GradCam) in Dublin for inviting me (especially Glenn Loughran). They were wonderful hosts.

The paper was completed in London at breakneck speed (during the ‘marking madness’ season) on 23rd May 2011, and was delivered to an audience at The Graduate School of Creative Arts and Media, in Dublin, on 25th May. It was revised on 27th May, went through further editing and proof reading on 6-7th September, and was finally posted to The Flow of Ideas on 8th September 2011.

The full reference and link to the paper is:
Rikowski, G. (2011) Capitorg: Education and the Constitution of the Human in Contemporary Society, A paper prepared for the Praxis & Pedagogy Research Seminar, The Graduate School of Creative Arts and Media (GradCAM), Dublin, Ireland, 25th May 2011, available online at ‘The Flow of Ideas’:

Note: the paper reads better if you click onto the ‘Print Friendly’ option at the end of the page.

The tremendous flyer for the event can be viewed at:

Praxis & Pedagogy
The group is convened by Glenn Loughran, artist, activist, and PhD Scholar at the NCAD and GradCAM. Other members include John Buckley (NCAD/GradCAM), Edia Connole (NCAD/GradCAM), Susan Gill (DIT/GradCAM) and Thomas McGraw-Lewis (DIT/GradCAM).
The group convenes Wednesdays bi-weekly.

For more information on joining the Praxis & Pedagogy seminar series, and/or related activities see or email the group at
Praxis & Pedagogy is at:
Written by Glenn Rikowski


This report on the Montessori Method was written by Jonathan France, one of Glenn’s students, in his final year in Education Studies at the University of Northampton. Jon France graduated with a First in Education Studies and Politics in summer 2011. He also came to my book launch for ‘Digitisation Perspectives’ earlier in the year, which was very nice. This report is now in the ‘Contributions’ section of our website.

The report was written as a short assignment for the Adventures in Educational Theory & Practice module (EDU3028) that Jon studied during the 2010-2011 academic year.

France, J. (2010) Report on Montessori, 30th November, Education Studies, School of Education, University of Northampton, online at ‘The Flow of Ideas’:


This essay was written by another of Glenn’s students - Dishi Phillips. Dishi also got a 1st in summer 2011 in Education Studies and Psychology, and she wrote this when she was a final year student in Education Studies at the University of Northampton. This essay is now in the ‘Contributions’ section of our website.

It was written as an assignment for the Education, Culture & Society module (EDU3004) that Dishi studied during the 2010-2011 academic year.

Phillips, D. (2011) School Culture and Fear of a Blank Planet, an essay written for EDU3004 ‘Education, Culture and Society’, Education Studies, School of Education, University of Northampton, 10th January, online at ‘The Flow of Ideas’:


Here is an essay written by another of Glenn’s students - Brianna Haberman-Lawson, who also got a 1st in summer 2011. She wrote this when she was a final year student in Education Studies at the University of Northampton. This essay is now in the Contributions section of our website.

It was written as an assignment for the Education, Culture & Society module (EDU3004) that Brianna studied during the 2010-2011 academic year.

Haberman-Lawson, B. (2011) Education and Bonus Culture, an essay written for EDU3004 ‘Education, Culture and Society’ module, Education Studies, School of Education, University of Northampton, 10th January, online at ‘The Flow of Ideas’:


This is an essay written by Brad Dymond (another of Glenn’s students) when he was a final year student in Education Studies at the University of Northampton. He also got a 1st in summer 2011, in Education Studies and Economics. This essay is now in the Contributions section of our website.

It was written as an assignment for the Education, Culture & Society module (EDU3004) that Brad studied during the 2010-2011 academic year.

Dymond, B. (2011) Competition and Markets in Education, an essay written for EDU3004 ‘Education, Culture and Society’ module, Education Studies, School of Education, University of Northampton, 10th January, online at ‘The Flow of Ideas’:


An essay that our middle son, Victor Rikowski wrote during his final year at Bangor University is now available on our website. It is entitled ‘Rage: writers change the world’(leading on from the original question which was ‘Do certain theatrical productions challenge social injustice? Of so, then how?’). The essay (written for an English Literature module) looks at various political plays and the effect that these can have or not have on society. As Victor says in his opening sentence of this essay:

“The six theatrical productions that this essay shall explore are those which use a wide variety of dramatic techniques to challenge various social injustices.”

And Victor concludes his essay powerfully in the following way

“ ..there is little doubt that all of the plays cited in this essay have posed some kind of challenge against social injustice. The social and political end to which these challenges are aiming for or could even be capable of within the sphere or radical social and political change is something that, perhaps, remains to be realized. However, it is a solid fact that no work of art has ever created or inspired any kind of lasting and substantial political change and it is likely that it never will. Of course, there is always the argument that raising political and social awareness is a political and social means to an end in itself. However, sometimes this argument of ‘cultural change’ is simply not enough. After all, cultural change is a temporary and fleeting decoration upon the giant scale of corruption involved with elements like capitalism, war, poverty, power and exploitation. In the face of these demons that cover the globe, what significant threat can a relatively small theatrical production with a moral conscience pose? As seen at the end of Ravenhill’s S & F when the characters feed each other ready-meals, the only thing we truly have is each other. In the face of the modern world and all of its problems, whether the issues are the financial crisis, war, poverty or whatever concerns us, there is one thing that unites us all which political theatre gives inspiration to and helps to resurrect: the hope for better days. You only get one life after all, and this hope is one of our strongest weapons against social injustice. All that remains now is to use it.”

Victor really enjoyed this ‘Rage’ course and obtained a 1st for this essay.

I recently reviewed ‘Libraries and Society’, edited by David Baker and Wendy Evans and this is now on our website, at:

This is another Chandos book, published earlier this year (2011). I also went to the book launch for the book that was held at CILIP HQ.
Further details about ‘Libraries and Society’, along with information about how to order the book, can be found on the Woodhead/Chandos Publishing website at:

8. SERENDIPITOUS MOMENTS’ BLOG – ‘The Moment’, ‘15 Female Professors’ and ‘Learn to Sing’

There are 3 new items up on my ‘Serendipitous Moments’ blog. A blog about Douglas Kennedy’s latest book, ‘The Moment’ – a great read. Also, a link to an article entitled ’15 of the First Female Professors in History’, and an entry about singing lessons.

Best wishes


30th September 2011

N.B. Thanks to Jasmine Hall for informing me about the article ’15 of the First Female Professors in History’ (see item 8 above) and many thanks to all those that contributed to our website.

Friday, 8 July 2011

Ruth Rikowski's 46th News Update

Times they are a-changing; moods they are a-changing.

Anyway, whatever – this newsletter (a little late) is a joint effort between Glenn and I.

Glenn spoke in Dublin in May 2011 and he saw this as the first leg in his ‘comeback tour’, as he calls it, leading on from his father’s death in Feb 2009 and alienation from some aspects of academic life. So, for this and other reasons, the sections on ‘Marxism and Education’ in this newsletter (1-4) are written by him and the remainder is written by me.

Glenn’s aim over the last 30 years or so has been very much to re-invigorate Marxism and Education. And from there to take the topic to new heights; breaking new theoretical ground. Single-authored volumes on this topic by him have yet to be written, but they will be in time.


On 25th May 2011, I gave my first public performance (apart from the eulogy at my father’s funeral, and lectures / seminars with my students at Northampton) since 4th July in Rhodes 2008 – for nearly three years. I was invited by the Praxis & Pedagogy Group of the Graduate School of Creative Arts and Media (GradCAM) in Dublin to give a talk. The convenors of the Praxis & Pedagogy Group had read my Battle in Seattle: Its Significance for Education (Tufnell Press, 2001) and wanted me to expand on topics therein. However, given that little of substance has happened to the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) since Seattle in 1999, I did not see much point in that. The Praxis & Praxis Group were interested in the concept of human capital, which permeates education and training policy documents in Ireland, as well as in the UK. Thus, I ended up speaking on that topic.

The title of my talk was: Capitorg: Education and the Constitution of the Human Contemporary Society. The ‘Capitorg’ (meaning ‘capitalist organism’) was an idea originating from Soowook Kim. He based the idea of the Capitorg on my work on the form of the human in capitalist society of the late 1990s and early 2000s. You can see Kim’s original article at:

I based a short article on Kim’s work interesting work, called Planet of the Capitorg in 2007, which you can see at:

The Praxis & Pedagogy Group produced a fantastic flyer for the event, which you can view at:

I produced a 15,000 word paper for the event: the most substantial writing for nearly three years. This will come out soon at our The Flow of Ideas website. About 6,000 words is new material. The rest in stuff jammed together from previous papers, but with some refinements and brief additions.

The Praxis & Pedagogy Group website is at:

My advert for the event (along with quotations from my work and the work of Peter McLaren and Ramin Farahmandpur) can be found at:

Graduate School of Creative Arts and Media, Dublin:

Many thanks to folks in the Praxis & Pedagogy Group (and especially to Glenn Loughran) for inviting me to speak. They were great hosts. After having turned down so many invitations to speak and write over the last three years in particular, this event can be viewed as the first part of my ‘comeback tour’.

Glenn Rikowski


For the second gig in my ‘comeback tour’, I have been invited by Cliff Jones of the International Professional Development Association (IPDA) to do a Keynote talk at their forthcoming annual conference in November, at Aston University, in Birmingham. I will speak on Higher Education in Crises of Capital and Labour. For more on this, and the IPDA Conference in general, see:

Glenn Rikowski


For over 30 years now, I have been developing Marxist educational theory; or, more precisely, theorising education within the totality of capitalist social relations. Thus, for me, it is a momentous occasion when new works on Marx / Marxism and Education appear.

The first I would like to draw your attention to is Critical Education Against Global Capitalism: Karl Marx and Revolutionary Critical Education, by Paula Allman.

This first came out in 2001, and was published by Bergin & Garvey in hardback only. Now, at last, it is in paper back (and much cheaper). Sense Publishers have produced an excellent version, with some new material in the Introduction by Paula. In my view, this is the best book on Marx / Marxism and Education we have today.

For more details and Helen Colley’s introduction, see:

In contrast to Paula’s excellent book is Jean Anyon’s Marx and Education which came out a few months ago (Routledge, 2011). I have not reviewed it myself, but here I will say two things. First, Robin Small’s Marx and Education (Ashgate, 2005), whilst nothing near the quality of Paula Allman’s book, at least indicates that the author knows a fair bit about Marx and his views on education in capitalist society and the transition to communism. Secondly, I find it incomprehensible how anyone could write a book called Marx and Education and not mention Marx’s 3 volumes of ‘Capital’. Apparently, it was not a problem for Jean Anyon. There have been a number of reviews of Anyon’s book already, but for me, it is Curry Malott’s review of Anyon’s book that provides a compelling view regarding the quality of Anyon’s rendition.

Review details for Jean Anyon’s Marx and Education:

For Curry Malott, see:

For details on the book (including how to order it), see:

Finally, the publishers Continuum, through Professor Richard Bailey, the Series Editor for the Continuum Library of Education Thinkers (see:

have invited me to write a book on Karl Marx and Education. I declined the offer, mainly because I do in fact want to write such a book (and have done for many years) but not be confined by working to some kind of formula; as Jean Anyon did on her Marx and Education, which was part of the Routledge ‘Key Ideas in Education’ Series, edited by Greg Dimitriadis and Bob Lingard. I have something original to say on the issue of ‘Marx and Education’, which, like so many other topics in Marxist educational theory, will have to wait until my stint as a teaching / driving / marking machine comes to an end (or at least a decline in its intensity).

Glenn Rikowski


In 2004, with Tony Green, I set up the world’s first book series on Marxism and Education: the Palgrave Macmillan Marxism and Education Series. From 2006 I was no longer one the Series editors, but the Marx and Education Series has really developed and Tony Green has facilitated an interesting range of publications under its banner.

Some of the forthcoming books in the Marxism and Education Series (Palgrave Macmillan) are:

Marxism and Education: Renewing the Dialogue, Pedagogy and Culture’ edited by Peter Jones

‘Educating from Marx: Race, Gender and Learning’ by Shahrzad Mojab and Sara Carpenter

Mike Cole’s Racism and Education in the U.K and U.S. – Towards a Socialist Alternative, was recently published as part of the Marxism and Education Series. See:

For a comprehensive list of titles in the Series, see:

Glenn Rikowski


And the rest is by me!!


Peter McLaren, Michael Peters
and their partners, Nathalia Jaramillo and Tina Besley, respectively, have all obtained academic positions in New Zealand and will be leaving the USA and going to New Zealand later in the year. And what a beautiful country to live in! We have also been invited to give talks/stay with them.

Tony Ward (one of the contributors to my digitisation book) will certainly be able to see more of them and hopefully work with them in one way or another.

We wish them all the very best with their new adventures.


There are just 2 new items on my ‘Serendipitous Moments’ blog – ‘Capitorg’, which is about Glenn’s talk in Dublin and ‘Moving’, stating simply that Glenn and I are moving forward and are thinking what to do next; where to go next.

7. BOOK LAUNCH FOR ‘LIBRARIES AND SOCIETY: role, responsibility and future in an age of change’ edited by DAVID BAKER AND WENDY EVANS, CHANDOS PUBLISHING, OXFORD, 2011, ISBN 978 1 84334 131 4

At the invitation of Dr Glyn Jones at Chandos publishing, I attended the book launch for ‘Libraries and Society’, held on 6th May at the Ewart Room, CILIP, London. It proved to be an enjoyable event.

‘Libraries and Society’ is in 25 parts and has a number of different contributors.

As it says in the publicity for the book, it:

“…reviews both the historical and future roles that public, private, academic and special libraries have in supporting and shaping society at all levels. Key aspects of library provision and the major challenges that libraries now face and will continue to face in the future are considered. The book also focuses on the emerging chapter in cultural, economic and social history and the library’s role in serving diverse communities within this new era.”

I particularly like the cover of the book, showing the development of man and reading; from parchment, to paper to ebooks.


The UCL Digitisation lunch time talks are fading into the background for me. There are not going to be any more talks until the autumn. And when I asked whether they would like me to give a lunchtime talk based around some of the themes in my digitisation book (thinking that it was something that could be of mutual benefit, especially as one of the contributors to the book was a UCL lecturer), this was the reply that I received:

“Dear Ruth,
thanks for your offer to speak.

As you say, we are postponing the lunchtime talks until the start of the
new academic year in the coming autumn. We already have an extensive
programme of speakers from within UCLDH and the wider UCL community
which is our focus. Rossella is currently confirming those slots but we
are already over subscribed.”

As I pointed out, one wonders what the definition of ‘the wider UCL community is’. Also, that my energy needs to be preserved and used wisely! Anyway, we will have to see what transpires.


A school friend of mine, who is a member of the Royal Society of Protection for Birds (RSPB) sent me details of a petition, asking me if I would urge others to sign it. So here it is. The RSPB say:

“Dear Supporter,

A new UK Government review called the 'Red Tape Challenge' is threatening all environmental legislation with the axe. We cannot let this go unchallenged.

We all value the natural world. We all appreciate how fragile it can be. And we all know how vulnerable nature and special places for wildlife are to the ravages of unrestrained human activity.

We also all appreciate that to safeguard our precious wildlife and environment we need to give them legal protection. Wild birds and their nests need to be protected from damage and disturbance. Special places need to be protected from development and preserved for future generations. The Wildlife and Countryside Act does both of these things.

There are 277 other pieces of environmental legislation and regulation in the UK covering everything from National Parks and marine protected areas to greenhouse gas emissions and clean air.

All of our vital environmental safeguards are now under threat. The UK Coalition Government's Red Tape Challenge is aiming to scrap as much regulation as it can. It has put all legal protection for the environment up for grabs. Protection which is a measure of a civilised society, and is the result of reforms won since our charity was created in the nineteenth century.

The RSPB has played a leading role in securing much of this legislation and we will not stand by and allow it to be put at risk.

Please step up for nature and support our campaign to secure the future of this essential legislation.

We have prepared a template e-mail for you to send to the Business Secretary, Vince Cable, who launched the Red Tape Challenge - copies of which will be sent to the Cabinet Office and the Treasury.

Yours sincerely

Mike Clarke
Chief Executive”


We are delighted to say that our middle son, Victor Rikowski, obtained an Upper Second Class Honours degree in ‘Music and Creative Writing’ (which also included some English Literature - poems and plays) from Bangor University. We are now looking forward to going to the graduation ceremony next week.

All in all Victor got a lot out of his degree and the whole experience. As well as obtaining a good degree, he also set up a band, ‘Cold Hands & Quarter Moon’ (and wrote most of the songs for the band), obtained some 1sts, made lots of friend, played at a lots of gigs, performed in some plays, had a good social life in general and did quite a lot of mountain climbing and walking in the beautiful North Wales countryside.

He is currently in the process of compiling a CD of the music of ‘Cold Hands & Quarter Moon’ and he will take this along to his graduation.

Now it is time for him to move on with his life. He is taking on board the next phase of it really enthusiastically and has already obtained work, which he is very much enjoying.

We are obviously very proud of Victor and his achievements and wish him all the very best for the future.

Best wishes


8th July 2011

N.B. Many thanks to Tina Sinclair for providing information for item 9.

The next newsletter will be distributed at the end of September 2011.

And finally … check this out……

‘Life is Jerky’ – a video by Carlos Escano, featuring Peter McLaren:

Thursday, 31 March 2011

Ruth Rikowski's 45th News Update

As I said on my blog, these newsletters for the foreseeable future will now be quarterly, rather than monthly (and I have just realised that I have not sent a newsletter out for 4 months!). Anyway, quarterly newsletters have become necessary to enable me to have more time and space to move on with other things in my life, and right now, for various reasons, I very much want and need to do that!

1. BOOK LAUNCH FOR ‘DIGITISATION PERSPECTIVES’ – EDITED BY RUTH RIKOWSKI The first item in this newsletter is about the book launch for my edited book ‘Digitisation Perspectives’ (Sense Publishers, Rotterdam, The Netherlands, 2011), which was published recently – see


ISBN 978 94 6091 297 9 (pbk); 978 94 6091 298 6 (hdbk); 978 94 6091 299 3 (e-book)

Price: £35.00 (pbk); £75.00 (hdbk)

The launch was held at University College London (UCL) on Wednesday, 16th February 2011 (and many thanks to David Nicholas, Director of Department of Information Studies, UCL for making that possible). It went very well; I even found myself with a waiting list which demonstrates, I think, the level of interest that there is in the book and in the topic in general!

There was, in particular, a great level of interest from people in the UCL Centre for Digital Humanities. There were some 45-50 people there altogether (restricted by room size and refreshment budget!). This included academics, information professionals, students, librarians, publishers, friends and neighbours etc. There was, indeed, a lovely mix of people.

There were 4 speakers altogether: these were Andy Dawson, Julianne Nyhan, Paul Catherall and myself.

Andy Dawson, Senior Teaching Fellow and MSc Information Science Programme Director, Department of Information Studies, University College London, introduced it. He spoke about my links with UCL, going back to when I studied for an MSc there, in the early 1990s.

Julianne Nyhan, Teaching Fellow in Dept of Information Studies, UCL, then said a few words. Julianne is the maternity cover for Melissa Terras, Senior Lecturer in Electronic Communication at UCL, who wrote the first chapter in the book - ‘The Rise of Digitization: an Overview’.

Paul Catherall is an Elearning Support Librarian at the University of Liverpool. Paul spoke about Part 2 of the book, ‘Digitisation and Higher Education’, which included his own chapter ‘Learning Systems in Post-Statutory Education’. Paul’s talk gave the audience a feel for the meat of the book!

Ruth Rikowski: then, I gave an overview of the whole book, also aiming to bring some humour and passion into it all! I emphasised how this was primarily a scholarly book and that the political message in it was low key, compared with my other 2 Chandos books. I spoke about some of the benefits to be gained from digitisation, such as easy access and good searching facilities, but also made it clear that, as far as I was concerned, digitisation could never totally replace hard copy material. I love books for example; hard copy books that I can take anywhere with me: on the train, to bed, to the dentist etc. etc. The whole feel of them; they are like my friend. An ebook could never, ever be the same for me. There are also the health risks of course. In addition, I highlighted the Houstons chapter, which I think is particularly special, focusing on the digitisation of ancient manuscripts and includes some lovely digital pictures of ancient manuscripts. I also explained how the book emerged out of an edited issue on Digital Libraries in the ejournal Policy Futures in Education – see

There was a relaxed atmosphere at the launch, and plenty of conversation and networking. Chandos Publishers were also there, with copies of my Chandos books (‘Globalisation, Information and Libraries’, 2005 and ‘Knowledge Management: social, cultural and theoretical perspectives’, 2007). I also made copies of some of my articles freely available, including a piece about ‘The Feminist Library in London’ which was written by myself and Anne Welsh (a UCL Lecturer in Cataloguing) in 2009. I spoke about the possible digitisation of some of this feminist material.

‘Digitisation Perspectives’ includes contributions from 22 experts around the world and there is a Foreword by Simon Tanner, Director, Digital Consultancy in the Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King’s College London. I mentioned some of this briefly at the launch, but as this was a launch and not a conference or seminar I obviously did not go into too much detail. Therefore, some further information is given below:

First of all, below are some further details about the contributors.

Lori Bell – lecturer at San Jose State University School of Library and Information Science and adjunct lecturer at University of Illinois; ex-Director of Innovation at Alliance Library System, USA.

Peggy Cabrera – Assistant Librarian, San Jose State University and library liaison to Environmental Studies, Global Studies and Humanities Dept at SJ. Also written on recruiting and training librarians.

Paul Catherall - E-Learning Support Librarian, Liverpool University. Studying for PhD in blended e-learning at Manchester Metropolitan Univ.

Susan Copeland – Senior Information Adviser (Research) at Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen. Member of Board of Directors of Networked Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations.

Isaac Dunlap – Professor and Information Systems Coordinator at Western Illinois University Libraries.

Dieu Hack-Polay – Senior Lecturer in International Human Resources Management at London South Bank University.

Ron Houston – obtained PhD from University of Texas at Austin. Since 1987, directed and taught for non-profit educational corporation ‘Society of Folk Dance Historians’, an archive and library of information pertaining to history and practices of recreational international folk dancing.

Heather Joseph – Executive Director of Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC), USA, founded by Association of Research Libraries, in 1997. Responsible for SPARC’s overall program development and negotiates partnerships with scholarly publishers.

Yehuda E. Kalay – Dean of Faculty of Architecture and Town Planning at Technion, Israel Institute of Technology. Prior to that, for 18 years was Professor of Architecture at University of California, Berkeley and co-founded & directed Berkeley Center for New Media. Published over 100 scholarly papers & 8 books, including books on architecture & new media.

Mary-Carol Lindbloom – executive director of South Central Region Library Council. Was Coordinator of Renaissance Island, in Second Life, based on Tudor Britain.

Kate Littlemore – Academic Support Manager for Schools of Arts and Applied Sciences at University of Northampton.

Jia Liu - was Associate Professor at Dept of Information Management, Peking Univ, China. Implemented project on metadata and its applications in the digital library; involved in 2 projects on digital reference service in Germany.

Mengxiong Liu – Professor and Engineering Librarian at San Jose State University.

Tatiana Nikolova-Houston – manuscript illumination and calligraphy artist in Austin, Texas. Obtained PhD from University of Texas at Austin

M. Paul Pandian – Head of Library and Information Resource Centre at Institute of Mathematical Sciences, India.

Tom Peters – CEO of TAP Information Services, USA, a small company founded in 2003 to help libraries and other organisations to innovate.

Kitty Pope – Was Executive Director of Alliance Library Systems.

Leburn Rose – Academic Registrar, London South Bank University, former Head of Department of Maths, Stats and Foundation Studies.

Alan Rosling – Academic Support Manager for Schools of Health and Business at University of Northampton.

Melissa Terras – Senior Lecturer in Electronic Communication in Dept of Information Studies, University College London and Deputy Director of UCL Centre for Digital Humanities. Research focuses on use of computational techniques to enable research in arts and humanities.

Tony Ward – architect, builder and critical pedagogue. For 20 years in New Zealand, directed Community Design Studio, working with students in real-world situations for marginalised communities.

I also commissioned 3 of these contributors to write books for Chandos Publishing. These are: Paul Catherall, Isaac Hunter (‘Hunt’) Dunlap and Jia (‘Jessica’) Liu.

Paul’s book is entitled ‘Delivering E-Learning for Information Services in Higher Education’ (2005)

Hunt’s book is entitled ‘Open Source Database Driven Web Development: a Guide for Information Professionals’ (2006)

Jessica’s book is entitled ‘Evaluation of the World-Wide Reference Service in the Libraries’ (2007)

‘Digitisation Perspectives’ is in 6 parts:

Part 1: ‘Background and Overview to Digitisation and Digital Libraries’ This includes chapters by Terras and Pandian and 2 by myself (Rikowski), the 2nd of which also looks at some of the complexities of digitisation, such as sophisticated search engines.

Part 2: ‘Digitisation and Higher Education’ This includes chapters on student mental models (Rosling and Littlemore); electronic theses (Copeland); learning systems (Catherall) and digitisation in scholarly communication and academic libraries (Dunlap).

Part 3: ‘Digitisation and Inequalities’ This includes chapters on hegemony and the web (Ward) and digitisation in Africa (Hack-Polay and Rose).

Part 4: ‘Digital Libraries, References Services and Citation Indexing’ This section includes chapters on the digital reference service (J. Liu) and citation indexing in the digital library (M. Liu and Cabrera).

Part 5: ‘Digitisation of Rare, Valued and Scholarly Works’ This includes chapters on the digitisation of ancient manuscripts (Nikolova-Houston and Houston); SPARC (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) (Joseph) and scientific scholarly publishing and new media (Kalay).

Part 6: ‘Futuristic Developments of Digitisation’ This includes chapters on personal computing devices and mobile technology (Peters) and virtual libraries (Bell et al).

I am also proud to say that the cover was designed by our son Victor Verne Rikowski. He also filmed the speakers at the launch on our small digital camera.

In regard to the future, I am sure that, in one way and another, the themes in the book will be taken forward further. In particular, I know that one of the contributors and a colleague of mine, Dr Dieu Hack-Polay at London South Bank University, is planning to hold a seminar at South Bank around the themes in the book in the autumn of 2011.

I have also been invited along to the lunch time talk sessions run by the UCL Centre for Digital Humanities, and can and will raise topics covered in the book as and when seems appropriate.

One of the attendees at the launch, Eric Jukes, who also reviews many books (particularly books on digitisation) kindly emailed me saying that he had recorded the speeches at the launch and could download an audio version on to a CD and send it to me. He did; and I was very pleased with it. It is of a good quality. I was also able to stand back and assess the impact (or otherwise) of the talks from a distance, as it were. Upon listening I thought the talks fitted together well overall, with both Andy and Julianne providing brief introductions and overviews, Paul going into depth on one section of the book, and giving people an idea about the meat of the book and Ruth aiming to provide a passionate and enthusiastic overview, with some further information about how the book became a reality, and how my other books fitted into the overall mould. Eric Jukes kindly said that if any people would like a copy of this CD of the talks at the book launch for ‘Digitisation Perspectives’, then he can happily provide copies. So, if you would like this, do get in touch with me.

Finally, if any of you want a review copy of the book and/or if want to purchase a copy of the book, do let me know. The book is also available as an ebook in libraries.


Well, having not sent a newsletter out for 4 months, the entries on my ‘Serendipitous Moments’ blog have been mounting! There are no less than 12 items! However, do not despair (LOL); the endurance is over!

Seriously, I have decided that along with my newsletters, this activity also needs to be seriously curtailed. Thus, I will no longer be regularly reviewing/annotating the novels that I read, and indeed, entries on ‘Serendipitous Moments’ in general now will be rare. I have never reviewed/annotated the novels that I read in this way before (apart from briefly in my early teens but on paper then, of course). I became enthusiastic about the idea of giving readers an actual hands—on feel for my love of the novel (as well as books in general) as it were, and the important, indeed, powerful effect that books have on me, have always had on me, and indeed, always will have on me. And books must be wonderful for so many people, of course. It is one thing to talk about it; but sometimes it is nice to actually demonstrate it. At the time, I also found it to be therapeutic. Hence, my decision, but I cannot be spending all my time and effort on this – that would, indeed, stop me making so much progress on my own novel writing and other things that I want to do with my life. So, we move on. But I hope it has provided some interest and enjoyment to some, at least!

Anyway, since my last newsletter there have been 10 reviews/annotations of novels added to the blog; one item about music and one about my book launch.

I read some modern and some classical novels during this period. The modern novels were ‘The Other Woman’ by Jane Green; ‘P.S. I Love You’ by Cecilia Ahern; ‘Moonlight Eyes’ by Emma Blair; ‘An Apple for Eden’ by Emma Blair; ‘Sweethearts’ by Emma Blair; ‘Darkest before Dawn’ by Katie Flynn, ‘Jemima J.’ by Jane Green and ‘Girl Friday’ by Jane Green. I very much enjoy books by Jane Green, Emma Blair and Katie Flynn.

The classical novels were ‘Pride and Prejudice’ by Jane Austen, ‘The Mayor of Casterbridge’ by Thomas Hardy and ‘Jude the Obscure’ by Thomas Hardy.

I enjoyed nearly all of it, apart from the Cecilia Ahern book – I certainly do not intend to read any more novels by that particular author!

Re-reading ‘Pride and Prejudice’ proved to be very enjoyable and also worthwhile, as I got some new and different things from the novel, that I had not seen quite so clearly before (in particular, the number of similarities that I actually have with Jane Austen myself!). And re-reading the 2 Thomas Hardy novels was very fortuitous as it coincided in a very timely way with my decision to stop reviewing/annotating the novels that I read. It all fitted together extremely well. Anyway, read more about that on the blog itself. And so we move on.


Well, well, well – I have a little teaching back at London South Bank University. It is a long, long story, but anyway….there it is, I have come out on the winning side, as it were, and it is useful for me at the current time. Also, as stated above, Dr Dieu Hack-Polay a colleague of mine at London South Bank University, is planning to hold a seminar at South Bank around the themes in ‘Digitisation Perspectives’ in the autumn of 2011. So, that’s all good news.


Another surprise for us; Glenn spotted in the Daily Telegraph a small piece that mentioned green councillor for Stroud, Gloucestershire, Philip Booth (who we first made contact with following on from him blogging about cuts in libraries in Gloucestershire and relating it to my globalisation book).

The piece was in the Daily Telegraph, on 2nd March 2011 (p.5) entitled ‘Video spoofs ‘Nazi’ library cuts’. I asked Philip Booth what it was all about. Apparently, a video clip was uploaded on to YouTube, that shows Hitler in his bunker, in the last few days of his life, with sub-titles of him wanting cuts in Gloucestershire libraries, but finding opposition! The clip is taken from the 2004 film, Downfall. Philip Booth said that is was ‘great stuff’ and then got accused of causing offence and scoring political points. He apologised on his Ruscombe Green blog, saying that he certainly did not mean to cause offence. He said that he got some 200 comments in response to it all, and that most of them were very supportive. So, well done indeed, Philip, for raising the issue and for getting people’s attention! I must say that the video clip is also very funny; better to laugh than to cry and all that!

Here is the link to the video:

And as Philip said, at least it has enabled the shocking library cuts in Gloucestershire to get more exposure.

Leading on from this, we also then discovered that Phil Bradley, Vice-President of CILIP (Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals) also made a video about library cuts nationwide (focusing more on CILIP itself), using this Hitler clip, with sub-titles about the cuts. See:

It is an ingenious idea I think; perhaps, if similar such videos were made up and down the country, about library cuts in the various regions, then we might be on to an effective campaign to stop this horrendous entourage. But of course, there needs to be the will to do this, and the belief that it can succeed. But beware of the possible consequences otherwise.

See this interesting piece about book burning:

At the end of the piece it notes the fact that the 19th century German Jewish poet Heinrich Heine, wrote in his 1820-1821 play Almansor the famous admonition, “Dort, wo man Bücher verbrennt, verbrennt man am Ende auch Menschen": "Where they burn books, they will also ultimately burn people."

So beware – do something before it is too late. What??!! Scream!!


Leading on from this, we then found out about another video, which is brilliant, this time about fighting for the survival of the NHS (with Mc Nxt Gen). It is entitled ‘Andrew Lansley Rap’. The message is that ‘The NHS is Not for Sale’. The rap talks about the White Paper on liberating the NHS, private companies moving in and much else besides. At certain points, the artist is seen sitting by a gravestone with the words ‘RIP NHS – 1948-2011’.

At the end of the video it quotes from Aneurin Bevan, famously saying that the NHS: “Will last as long as there are folks left with the faith to fight for it.”

6. BOOK LAUNCH and BOOK REVIEW FOR ‘ EVE ON TOP: women’s experience of success in the public sector’ by DAVID BAKER and BERNADETTE CASEY, CHANDOS PUBLISHING: OXFORD, 2011, ISBN 978 1 84334 495 7; £47.00

At the kind invitation of Dr Glyn Jones at Chandos Publishing, I attended the book launch for the Chandos book, ‘Eve on Top’, on 17th December 2010. The launch was held in the grand surroundings of the Athenaeum Club, in Pall Mall, London. It proved to be a very enjoyable evening, with nice nibbles and interesting conversation.

In regard to the book, as it says on the book flyer: “Eve on Top takes an in-depth look at the position of women in senior positions in the public sector using a case-study approach, based on ten ‘successful’ women and their background, upbringing, career progression, successes and failures, challenges and experiences.”

There is also a Foreword by Harriet Harman, who says that what we learn from the experiences of these women “…will no doubt be a useful input to future policy debate, and new ideas about how we can ensure that the growing pipeline of female talent in Britain makes it to the top.” (pp. xiii-xiv)

A worthwhile aim indeed, albeit rather romantic.

Unfortunately, though, these women were so busy and successful that none of them were able to actually make it to the launch! Still, I had a nice and interesting talk with both Bernadette Casey herself and her daughter and learnt some more about the book and the motivation behind it. Several members of Bernadette’s family were there, which I thought was also rather nice; and is a touch that I like to add to my own work as well of course (such as having 2 of our sons sing at my first book launch). I also got to talk to the other Chandos members of staff and to Wendy Evans, the organiser of the event.

In addition, I have written a review of the book, which is available on our ‘Flow of Ideas’ website at:

Finally, Chandos also now distributes a newsletter which contains some interesting news items, such as items on blogging and the Internet.


Heather Dawson of ALISS (Association of Librarians and Information Professionals) organised an interesting visit to the British Film Institute Library, which I went along to on 9th December 2010. I was drawn to the visit, in particular, because our youngest son, Gregory Rikowski is studying for a degree in Film Studies. He has been a member of the BFI and has seen some interesting and unusual films there.

Before I went on the visit I thought the library was housed at the South Bank, along with the BFI itself. So, I was rather surprised to find that, instead, it was rather tucked away in Stephen Street (off Tottenham Court Road). Some other attendees also thought this, so I wasn’t the only one, thank goodness!

I was also surprised to discover just how big the library was and what a truly wonderful collection is there. We learnt that the collections are amongst the best in the world. There are some 60,000 books; 6,000 periodicals and 2 million cuttings (including every film released in UK since 1945 and TV since the 1960s). There is also Screen Online; an online encyclopaedia for British film and TV. In addition, Research Viewings can be undertaken by appointment, for researchers. All this and much more besides is available in the library. And here is the website:

The two members of staff showing us round tried to be optimistic, but it was quite apparent that something was not quite right. Then we learnt that they had been informed that very day that there was to be a 15% cut in the BFI budget, that there were to be redundancies and that their jobs were not safe! Dear oh dear.

And here is a piece about the BFI cuts in the London Evening Standard (of 17th December 2011).

The piece highlights the fact that there are 460 BFI staff members and that 37 of these are likely to go. Also, that by strange coincidence, the library is likely to be relocated to the South Bank but that the digitisation programme will be going full steam ahead. Whatever will be left after Cameron et al have done their worst, one wonders.


At one of the social dances I go to, I found out quite recently that Marie Bragg, the mother of Billy Bragg also attended the dance on a regular basis. The next minute I am told that she has terminal cancer, then a couple of weeks after that she has died. I never got to talk to her, which now saddens me.

Anyway, at the very least, I thought I could include a brief news item about it, as it also provides a wonderful opportunity for us to think a little about the wonderful work that her left-wing singer and song writer son, Billy Braggs does.

As well as being a great singer and song writer (with many songs around peace issues), Billy Braggs is also a real library activist, and has been involved in many and various campaigns against library cuts. He spoke in Dorset in February 2011, about proposed library cuts, for example (where the proposal is to close 20 of the 34 libraries there). See

Billy Bragg’s website can be found at:


I am very pleased to say that my blog ‘Ruth Rikowski Updates’, which comprises these newsletters, is being archived by the British Library, as part of their UK Web Archive. See:

That’s all for now.

Happy Easter

Best wishes

Ruth 30th March 2011

N.B. Next newsletter will be distributed at the end of June 2011.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Quarterly Distribution of Newsletter

This is to inform all subscribers and those interested in reading 'Ruth Rikowski's News Updates' that for the foreseeable future this newsletter will now be circulated on a quarterly rather than a monthly basis.

So, the next newsletter will be distributed at the end of March/beginning of April 2011.



Monday, 24 January 2011

Book Launch for 'Digitisation Perspectives'

There will be no newsletter in January or Febrary 2011 from me, because I am organising a book launch. See details below:



Ruth Rikowski (ed)

Sense Publishers, 2011

ISBN 978-94-6091-297-9 (pbk); 978-94-6091-6 (hdbk);
978-94-6091-299-3 (e-book). £35.00 (pbk); £75.00 (hdbk)

Cover designed by Victor Rikowski

Part of Book Series:
‘Educational Futures: Rethinking Theory and Practice’
Series Editor: Michael A. Peters

Wednesday 16th February 2011, 17.30 - 20.00

Wilkins Terrace Restaurant
University College London
Gower Street
London, WC1E 6BT, England

Introduced by Andy Dawson, Senior Teaching Fellow and MSc Information Science Programme Director, Dept of Information Studies, UCL
Other speakers: Paul Catherall, Julianne Nyhan & Ruth Rikowski

Refreshments provided

Book includes contributions from 22 experts worldwide. Foreword by Simon Tanner, Director Digital Consultancy, King’s College London, saying the book:
“…seeks to address and answer some of the big questions of digitisation…It succeeds on many levels…”
Topics covered include: electronic theses, search engine technology, digitisation of ancient manuscripts, citation indexing, reference services, digitisation in Africa, new media and scholarly publishing. Final chapter explores virtual libraries, posing some interesting questions for possible futures.

Places limited: R.V.S.P.