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.