Thursday, 28 November 2013

Am I bovered, though?

There have been a few rumours flying around that Thomson Reuters, who own the well-known database 'Web of Knowledge,' were going to withdraw the contents of their database from Primo Central - known to you and I as the 'Articles & more' quick search in Library Search - and other aggregator services such as Summon and Ebsco.

Without trying to denigrate Web of Knowledge at all, my response to this was "Do I look bovered?"  The fact is that most (if not all) the content would still be included from other sources (Elsevier, JSTOR, etc), so it would make little difference. 

In any case, for most of the subjects I support, the existing 'Articles & more' (with or without Web of Knowledge) is of dubious benefit, and I prefer to direct students either to an alternative aggregator (namely Google Scholar) or (and this is my preference) to good quality specialist databases - namely Proquest Art databases, JSTOR, or Art Full Text, or FIAF International Index to Film Periodicals.

The reason for Thomson Reuter's apparent hesitancy with regard to aggregated search was said to be that they wanted users to use their interface as their primary search environment for authoritative search.  And I can see why.  Web of Knowledge is unique amongst multidisciplinary databases in that their principal feature is how few, rather than how many journals it indexes.  They pride themselves on quality, and exclusivity.  In the sciences in particular, this is a great advantage, making this a leading databases in science - and in particular for systematic reviews.

Within the arts and humanities, Web of Knowledge, is used much less frequently, despite there being a specific index for arts & humanities (the Arts & Humanities Citation Index).  This currently indexes only 82 art journals (I think only three of these are specific to photography) and only 33 journals in the areas of film, radio and TV.  So, quite limited;  however, as these are reckoned to be  the most influential journals in the relevant field (by the panel appointed by Web of Science to decide these things) it is worth looking to see which are the chosen journals.

Subsequent to the rumours, Web of Science has issued a statement confirming that they are in fact not withdrawing their records from Primo Central.  They have also announced that they will be collaborating with Google Scholar to provide seamless movement to and from Web of Knowledge, which will be interesting (and might help revitalise both).  This is a neat collaboration given that an early article setting out the principles of Google’s algorithm back in 1998, cited Eugene Garfield - founder of ISI, who originally developed Web of Knowledge.

Web of Knowledge will also be launching a new interface early next year, which should make searching their current - rather difficult - interface easier.  I look forward to it.

Web of Knowledge
Search Web of ScienceSM
Copyright 2010 Thomson Reuters   

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Pictorial works - subject headings

This is a little tip for you.  The standard subject heading used by libraries for books of pictures is "pictorial works."  This seems logical enough; however, few people would use this as a search term when looking for photography, and would therefore miss out on some books.

If you are looking for books with photographs of Britain, try searching for "pictorial works" AND Britain (as well as the more intuitive photography AND Britain).  It is important to do this, as the catalogue record for books of photographs sometimes do not refer to 'photographs' or 'photography' at all but do use the term "pictorial works"!

As an example, compare the results for these two searches (I have used the subject field in advanced search for these examples):

petroleum AND photography

petroleum AND pictorial works

The first 'obvious' query retrieves two results; but the second less obvious query retrieves two additional results.

You could argue that this is just poor cataloguing; and you might be right.  Certainly, Edward Burtynsky's monumental book, Oil, ought to include additional subject headings, including ones related to photography.  (You can see a fuller record on COPAC here). However, the broader point is that in order to search catalogues effectively, it helps to understand the language that they use to describe resources - particularly in the subject fields.  

After all, it is not only 'pictorial works' which is a non-intuitive term, but also 'petroleum.'  Search for oil AND photography or oil AND pictorial works and your results are even more unsatisfactory.

Enjoyment is our duty

I've recently watched Slavoj Zizek's new film, The Pevert's Guide to Ideology, which has just come into the library.  Like it's predecessor, The Pervert's Guide to Cinema, this is a cinematic thesis which draws from Zizek's writing, and uses films as points of illustration and analysis. Although I sometimes felt his argument jumped around a bit, and I was left wondering how some of the points he was making linked together, it was a hugely entertaining and thought-provoking film.

There were some great clips used as illustration, drawn from an eclectic mix of films, which I have listed below.  Where they are available on our TV archive, Box of Broadcasts, I have also provided links, so that, if we want, we can revisit the whole film.

A press release for the film is available in the contact section of the film's website:

They Live (1988) / John Carpenter

A Clockwork Orange (1971) / Stanley Kubrick

West Side Story (1961) / Robert Wise & Jerome Robbins [ON DVD]

Taxi Driver (1976) / Martin Scorsese

The Searchers (1956) / John Ford

Jaws (1975) / Steven Spielberg

Triumph of the Will (1935) / Leni Riefenstahl [ON DVD]

The Eternal Jew (1940) / Fritz Hippler

Cabaret (1972) / Bob Fosse

I Am Legend (2007) / Francis Lawrence

Titanic (1997) / James Cameron

The Fall of Berlin (1950) / Mikhail Chiareli

Full Metal Jacket (1987) / Stanley Kubrick

Mash (1970) / Robert Altman

If (1968) / Lindsay Anderson

The Dark Knight (2008) / Christopher Nolan [ON DVD]

The Loves of a Blonde (1965) / Milos Forman

The Fireman’s Ball (1967) / Milos Forman [ON DVD]

Brief Encounter (1945) / David Lean

Brazil (1985) / Terry Gilliam

The Last Temptation of Christ (1988) / Martin Scorsese [ON DVD]

Seconds (1966) / John Frankenheimer

Zabriskie Point (1970) / Michelangelo Antonioni [VIDEOTAPE]

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Screen Resources

London Screen Archive
A significant upgrade to the LSA online catalogue is underway.  You will be able to access this from their website:

BFI Player Launched
The BFI Player provides a mix of free and pay-per-view content.  UK audiences can watch contemporary and archive films in the comfort of their own home.  Watch now at:

Other On Demand services
One of the films you can watch on the BFI player is 'The Selfish Giant' by Arbor director/writer Clio Barnard.   If you go to The Selfish Giant website, you will see a number of other On Demand sites to choose from: Curzon Home Cinema; BT; Virgin Media; EE; Film Four; Blinkbox [from Tesco]; Sky Store; Google Play; and Volta.