Open call for papers by the new OA International Journal of Heritage, Memory and Conflict

„The HMC covers the fields of memory studies, cultural studies, museum studies, Arts and media and performative studies, postcolonial studies, ethnology, Holocaust and genocide studies, conflict and identity studies, archaeology, material culture and landscapes, conservation and restoration, cultural, public and oral history, critical and digital heritage studies.“

The Fate of Books

Apart from the “book collecting” category, this blog also belongs to the “true crime” category. A special interest of mine, and the reason behind this blog’s name, is the life and death of individual books. Burning books is usually associated with Nazism and the Spanish Inquisition, but book destruction (libricide) has been practiced throughout history, and is probably more common today than it ever was. I was always interested in reading a blog which focused on the history of libricide, and since I haven’t found one yet, I figured I might as well start my own.

Sale of the Royal College of Physician’s historical books and manuscripts

„Dear ExLibrans

You might know that I’m the academic supervisor of a London Arts and Humanities Partnership-funded Collaborative Doctoral Award with the Royal College of Physicians. It began last year, and it is based both at the RCP and the IES. The topic is ‚Women’s Ownership of Medical Knowledge in Tudor and Stuart England, 1485-1714’, With the support of the heritage supervisor at the RCP, the PhD candidate has initially consulted 4,000 items, roughly half of the total within her scope. Because women’s marks of provenance were systematically ignored during previous cataloguing drives, and are therefore uncatalogued, the PhD candidate will require access to the physical collections throughout the project.

The RCP pledged to support her project. However, it has now decided to explore the sale of its historical collection, through auction. In addition to objections that others have raised about the dissemination of English cultural heritage and the risk to the museum and archive’s accreditation by Arts Council England, a sale would impact upon the RCP’s commitment to support this taxpayer-funded research project.

An open letter of protest against the sale has been signed by nearly 500 members of the RCP, echoing concerns published in media including The Times and Apollo. If you also have concerns about the sale, please consider joining hundreds of non-members in protest at

You likely have already received messages about this sale, and I apologise for adding another to your inbox—but please do share with anyone who might be interested.

With best wishes


Dr Elizabeth Savage FRHistS FSA
Senior Lecturer in Book History and Communications“ (EXLIBRIS-L)

See here

„The Royal College of Physicians’ plan to sell its rare books would be a serious medical error“

„Christina Faraday covers the Royal College of Physicians‘ plan to sell rare books for Apollo. There is also a petition opposing the sale, started by two former curators of the RCP collection.“

See here:

Archival Returns


UK National Archives: Access denied (Guy Walters)

„The next time you settle down in the evening to enjoy the latest work by your favourite historian, treasure it, because it may be their last for a while. This is for the simple reason that historians are effectively being denied access to one of the most essential tools of their trade — the National Archives.

For many, this non-ministerial government department may just be an ugly slab of 1970s concrete that sits on the Thames in Kew, but it is actually nothing less than the nation’s memory — for it is here that millions of documents produced by the British state during the past thousand years are held. From the Domesday Book to the measliest memorandum sent by the lowliest civil servant in the most wretched ministry, nearly everything could be looked at by anybody, so long as they could prove their name and address.

But now, thanks to absurd new access restrictions, it has become all but impossible for historians to carry out any decent amount of research there. These restrictions do not just hamper professional historians and PhD students, but also anybody using the archive to look up, say, what great-great-uncle Eric got up to on the Western Front, or even the documents associated with his divorce.

The current restrictions are oppressive. Kew is only open for four hours and 50 minutes per day, four days per week. On these days, visitors are only permitted to access nine documents, and they are only allowed to visit once a week. A small number of two-day appointments are available, during which visitors may access 20 to 40 documents from the same record series. Access to computers, microfilms, research advice and copying are no longer provided.

In addition, it appears that booking a slot to visit the archives is about as haphazard and difficult as booking Oasis tickets back in the 1990s. I have been told of many instances in which slots are taken within one second of the booking page being opened, which is no doubt a product of a reported tenfold oversubscription.

This means there is a de facto lottery in place to access the National Archives, and even if you are lucky, you are only permitted to consult a handful of documents.“

Peter Suber on Open Access News

Many thanks to Peter Suber for answering my questions!

OATP = Open Access Tagging Project

How you are finding Open Access (OA) OA news?

I’ve done it in different ways over the years. At first I used a tool called WebSite Watcher. When you use WSW to follow a web page, it alerts you whenever the page changes. I followed the front pages, the news and announcement pages, and the FAQs, of all the OA-related organizations I knew. I also flagged the blogs of people who frequently wrote about OA, and the table-of-contents pages of journals that frequently published about OA. Altogether, I flagged more than 3,000 pages. WSW is very fast in delivering its updates, and if you flag enough pages, it’s very comprehensive. But at the same time it returns many false positives, in my case, changes unrelated to OA.

I later shifted to a large set of Google Alerts and TalkWalker Alerts. Each alert was based on a hand-crafted boolean search for some OA subtopic I wanted to cover. Google Alerts tends to err on the low or scanty side, and TalkWalker Alerts tend to err on the high or plentiful side.

I’ve always used my inbox, and subscribed to a large number of OA-related discussion forums and newsletters. I also sign up for RSS feeds from journals that frequently publish articles about OA.

Today I depend mostly on my inbox and Twitter. On Twitter, I follow nearly all the OA-related organizations that have Twitter accounts, omitting some that don’t tweet in English. I want the non-English news, for myself and for OATP, but I generally rely on other OATP taggers to get it. Twitter can be very good at gathering together alerts to new work. This is true not just for OA but for other topics I follow, such as US politics.

How much content of the OATP is from you?

I used to distinguish OATP „discovery“ from OATP „tagging“. Discovery is to find something worth tagging, and tagging is to tag it. When I had grant support for OATP, I used some of the grant money for staffers, who did about half the discovery and most of the tagging. When I discovered taggable OA news, I usually passed it on to the staffers for actual tagging.

But I let the grants expire in late 2018, and since then OATP has been in an all-volunteer phase. Because I no longer have staffers to tag what I discover, I tend to tag what I discover myself, at least when I have time.

OATP isn’t my main job by a long shot. But my main job requires me to stay on top of what’s happening in the world of OA, which is fortuitous for OATP. My approach is to read all that I can, for my job, and then share what I read or learn by tagging it for OATP. The reading is the primary work, and by comparison the tagging is a small extra task.

I don’t have time to read everything, of course, not even everything that crosses my desk. My advice to other OATP taggers is to tag what you notice *and* think is worth sharing, and I try to follow that advice myself.

Some taggers systematically search for new developments in areas that matter to them, such as OA in their country, OA in their field, or OA on a certain subtopic such as OA policies, OA journals, OA repositories, OA books, open data, OER, or copyright. Others simply tag what they encounter, without taking special pains to encounter more than they already do. I welcome both kinds. As they join the project, in enough fields and countries, bringing their different interests and perspectives with them, OATP becomes more and more inclusive.

How has the OA news landscape changed?

In my view, OATP is still the most comprehensive source of OA-related news, and has been since it launched in 2009. Some people even complain that it’s too comprehensive. However, there are ways to make your OATP feeds more selective.

The OA news landscape has changed in part because OATP has become better known. Just last month, the OATP Twitter account (@oatp) got more followers than my personal account, which I regard as good news for the project and for the spread of OA news.

Do you use Twittertags to find OA news?

No, not unless I’m running a special search. For staying up to date, I just use the accounts I’ve chosen to follow. But when I tweet about OA, I try to use the tag #openaccess to help those who follow it.

Is there a public mirror of your G+ blog?

Yes, but I was hoping to tidy it up a little before pointing to it in public. In my page on the history of OA, I give details on the preservation and searchability of my past blogs. The best preservation copy of my Google+ blog is the one at Conifer. Unfortunately, it’s only about 85% complete, and the landing page says, „This collection has no public lists.“ That sentence is not correct and not under my control. I’ve asked the company to remove it or let deep-link to the actual collection. Meantime, go to the Conifer link above and click on the „Browse All“ tab.

By Lilian Thorpe – CC BY-SA 3.0, Link


Reassembling Scholarly Communications: Histories, Infrastructures, and Global Politics of Open Access


The Royal College of Physicians in London has been accused of “selling off the family silver” over a proposal to auction a bequest of rare books (Paywall)

„The books, bequeathed in 1680 by the Marquess of Dorchester, include one of the 12 surviving first editions of The Canterbury Tales, a psalter owned by John Dee, astronomer to Elizabeth I, and The Recuyell of Historyes of Troye, by Raoul Lefèvre the first book printed in English on the Continent.“


„Henry Woudhuysen, the rector of Lincoln College, Oxford, and a former president of the Bibliographical Society, said potential donors would question whether it was safe to give valuable items. “Speaking personally, there are at least three things wrong with [the proposal],” he said. “It destroys the integrity of a superb historic library; it raises questions about the moral right of the current trustees to dispose of material that has been in the college’s care for nearly 350 years; and it means that faith in the College to look after its treasures for future generations will be damaged.”“ (Times)

„The Royal College of Physicians faces a revolt by more than 400 members over a plan to sell treasures to plug a £3 million hole in its finances.

A letter signed by fellows and members of the college, including Sir Mark Walport, the government’s former chief scientific adviser, warns that a proposed auction of rare books would be “a serious dereliction of duty”.“



Collection of smartphone images of collections materials

„Sometimes when people contact the Folger to ask questions about items in our collections, the easiest way to provide an answer is to take a quick photo of a particular detail. This has resulted in a growing collection of smartphone images of collections materials. We are now making them available in the Folger Reference Image Collection. These images are shared under the CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication License (CC0 1.0), so anyone can copy, modify, distribute, and perform the work, even for commercial purposes, all without asking permission.“

Need help? Don’t ask the National Library of Wales! Taylor and Francis isn’t providing page numbers (initial and end page). To quote the article of Cyrus (partially in Google books) correctly I asked on September 24 the National Library of Wales. Today I received an answer: „We have this publication as an electronic access only from our reading rooms. I will check tomorrow for the information you require.“.

Google Scholar et al.

Martín-Martín, A., Thelwall, M., Orduna-Malea, E. et al. Google Scholar, Microsoft Academic, Scopus, Dimensions, Web of Science, and OpenCitations’ COCI: a multidisciplinary comparison of coverage via citations. Scientometrics (2020).

„New sources of citation data have recently become available, such as Microsoft Academic, Dimensions, and the OpenCitations Index of CrossRef open DOI-to-DOI citations (COCI). Although these have been compared to the Web of Science Core Collection (WoS), Scopus, or Google Scholar, there is no systematic evidence of their differences across subject categories. In response, this paper investigates 3,073,351 citations found by these six data sources to 2,515 English-language highly-cited documents published in 2006 from 252 subject categories, expanding and updating the largest previous study. Google Scholar found 88% of all citations, many of which were not found by the other sources, and nearly all citations found by the remaining sources (89–94%). A similar pattern held within most subject categories. Microsoft Academic is the second largest overall (60% of all citations), including 82% of Scopus citations and 86% of WoS citations. In most categories, Microsoft Academic found more citations than Scopus and WoS (182 and 223 subject categories, respectively), but had coverage gaps in some areas, such as Physics and some Humanities categories. After Scopus, Dimensions is fourth largest (54% of all citations), including 84% of Scopus citations and 88% of WoS citations. It found more citations than Scopus in 36 categories, more than WoS in 185, and displays some coverage gaps, especially in the Humanities. Following WoS, COCI is the smallest, with 28% of all citations. Google Scholar is still the most comprehensive source. In many subject categories Microsoft Academic and Dimensions are good alternatives to Scopus and WoS in terms of coverage.“

Most newspapers and scholarly print periodicals were not used at all