Birkbeck Library’s image collections have been added to JSTOR as part of their growing Open Community Collections. This initiative means that students and researchers can find primary source materials from libraries, museums and archives in the same place as secondary ones, like articles and ebooks. JSTOR is already popular with our users and the 81 million people using it worldwide will now be able to see our collections, too.
This short screencast presented by Emma Illingworth, Subject Librarian for Science at Birkbeck, gives you an overview of the challenges and opportunities presented by the move from traditional journal subscriptions to transformative agreements which aim to make content, such as journal articles, open access.
Each year, thousands of items are deposited by our academics on BIROn (Birkbeck Institutional Repository Online). The Library hosts these items and tracks the number of downloads each receives. We also have data on the proportion of items which are Open Access.
To help you understand the numbers, we’ve created this visualisation. (You can also find the data behind this listed at the bottom of the post).
As can be seen, deposits of articles are increasing and so the number of Open Access outputs by Birkbeck authors is also increasing. With the coming implementation of Plan-S and new initiatives such as the UK Scholarly Communications Licence, we might see the proportion of OA articles going up even more in the future.
Follow @BIROnbbk on Twitter to keep up to date with the latest deposits.
The data contained in the above infographic is listed below.
Total Items: 22,199
Full-text files: 8,736
Total Downloads: 2,130,722
Full text by Department:
Applied Linguistics – 50.31%
Biological Sciences – 42%
Computer Science – 44.95%
Cultures & Languages – 19%
Geography – 43.72%
Earth & Planetary Sciences – 34.67%
Economics, Mathematics & Statistics – 73.88%
English, Theatre & Creative Writing – 56.97%
Film, Media and Cultural Studies – 30.42%
History of Art – 23.54%
History, Classics & Archaeology – 23.79%
Iberian & Latin American Studies – 100%
Law – 28.58%
Management – 47.78%
Organizational Psychology – 37.54%
Philosophy – 29.05%
Politics – 25.85%
Psychological Sciences – 38.3%
Psychosocial Studies – 29.5%
Note: Iberian & Latin American Studies have 3 deposits, which helps account for their 100% full-text.
2007 – 3,158
2008 – 36,567
2009 – 39,941
2010 – 51,897
2011 – 67,358
2012 – 83,482
2013 – 42,042
2014 – 146,037
2015 – 152,715
2016 – 296,085
2017 – 233,463
2018 – 338,037
2019 – 639,940
Dewaele, Jean-Marc – Applied Linguistics and Communication
Eve, Martin Paul – English, Theatre and Creative Writing
Fuhs, Carsten – Computer Science and Information Systems
Johnson, Mark H. – Centre for Brain and Cognitive Development
Access to ejournals and ebooks is a massive part of the service that the Library provides. In this post, one of our E-Resources librarians, Karen, talks about how they managed the temporary access to additional online resources when publishers and platforms made their content open during the early part of the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes the guidance provided to staff and students to help them make best use of the temporary access to the additional content.
Back in March when Birkbeck, and therefore our library, had to close due to the rise of COVID-19 I don’t think I was alone in hoping that this was something that was going to be over within a few weeks at most and that normality would return. For me, this was only a blip; we all would be back in no time to support our students.
Obviously, things changed very quickly and at the forefront the e-resources team was making sure our students knew what resources were accessible and available to them. Our library website overflows with information that explains what databases can be accessed. Our ejournals can be searched, ebook titles are available on the catalogue, and our ‘LibGuides’ match specific resources to the various subjects offered – and so much more. However, not only did COVID-19 bring a lockdown but for the library world it also brought an enormous tidal wave of ‘free’ information. Publishers big and small, various educational institutions and specialist schools opened their virtual doors and invited us all in to access what would normally be password- or paywall-protected information.
There has always been free information out there, ‘Open Access’ demand is continually growing and gaining more prominence each year. It is a topic hotly discussed and debated but when suddenly there is no restriction on vital information that supports students in an online academic world, what do you do? The obvious answer is you take everything you can.
It is an understatement to say we were bombarded with a lot of information. The offers that were coming through had to be checked, queried, understood and – most importantly of all – shared when established as valid. Some e-resources that were being offered seemed too good to be true and, when investigated further, were indeed discovered to be too good to be true and, therefore, notably ‘dodgy.’
Us librarians are a sturdy bunch and are not put off by a bit of sifting and sorting and that is what was done. By wading through the ocean of information of what resources where available the ‘Free Access to Online Resources’ library guide was born. The guide promoted publisher offers such as those by Oxford University Press who opened their specialist Collections, and by Science Direct who made their 326 textbooks available. JSTOR made over 30,000 ebooks available, while De Gruyter had 75,000 ebooks for use. Different university presses – Chicago, California, Project MUSE, to name a few – made their online journals freely accessible. Free publisher trials to resources were also a major offer and from March until July we participated in over 30 trials covering everything from Law and Business to Science, Art and History.
The ‘Free Access to Online Resources’ guide needed to be updated daily. The guide explained what could be accessed and how, when and where. It also indicated the resources that where not limited to Birkbeck students and staff only – resources that anyone could access. Specific COVID-19 resources made freely available by publishers and health institutions were highlighted as well as open online digital collections from museums around the world. Information on wellbeing was also provided in the guide, due to isolation being a cause for concern in this COVID-19 world. Being able to highlight free resources for support was extremely important.
Since this LibGuide was created it has had over 10,000 views and it is still available. What is being made freely available by publishers or organisations has reduced, but the guide is still here to highlight places to check for freely available ebooks, journal articles and other research outputs.
Sharing is caring and there are very good resources freely available out there: make use of our ‘Free Access to Online Resources’ guide especially this Open Access week – perhaps you’ll find that bit of ‘surprise’ research that is of value to you!
While the COVID-19 pandemic has greatly affected teaching, it has also had a major impact on research at Birkbeck. We spoke to Dr Fiona Tasker about her work, and how COVID-19 and Open Access have influenced it. Fiona is a Reader in Psychology at the College, and took time out of her busy start to the academic year to discuss with us her research in the time of a pandemic.
What were your main research topicsbefore the COVID-19 lockdown?
My research interests typically lie in social developmental psychology, family psychology, and LGBTQ psychology. I’m interested in family relationships, identity development of adults and children, and children’s social and emotional development in both non-traditional and new family forms. For example, much of my research has been on LGBTQ-parented families, post-divorce families, and families formed by adopting children or through assisted reproduction.
How has this changed since COVID-19?
There were BBC reports suggesting that COVID-19 and the lockdown placed more young people back in family environments, often closed off from their usual support networks, and that this might particularly affect vulnerable young people who were unsupported in their families. Around May reports from community organizations began to be released on the web on how lockdown was affecting LGBTQ young people, such as the LGBT Foundation’s Hidden Figures report.
So, at the beginning of lockdown, we started the LGBTQ* UK COVID-19 Lockdown Experiences Project together with colleagues, led by Jorge Gato, at the University of Porto similarly concerned about the pandemic and the LGBTQ community in Portugal. This took the form of a short anonymous survey, aimed at LGBTQ* people between 18 and 35. We sought to find out about their experiences during this Coronavirus pandemic. We received over 400 responses to this first survey. Since then the international project has grown to include Italy, Sweden, Brazil, Chile, Mexico and Israel too.
So there was certainly a clear path from the pre-COVID work to this project.
What inspired this change?
Seeing the community need for action during the pandemic, I wanted to be doing something useful during the lockdown. While others have volunteered doing things like mutual aid, I wasn’t in a position to do that. But I realised could put some research in motion and contribute to the greater good in that way.
It’s about being responsive as a researcher to situations that arise, and about what you can do to highlight a problem and contextualize it within a particular field.
Existing research helped us see how LGBTQ young people could be vulnerable, but we also know that LGBTQ communities are often efficient at networking within online communities and good at mobilising quickly. So our research questions examining the psychological well-being of LGBTQ people consider both vulnerability processes and also the strengths and resilience people have built up too.
What was your experience of Open Access and preprints before this pandemic started?
I would usually use Research Gate to access preprints, either asking other researchers for private copies of their work or, if they had uploaded it, the public version. However, preprints are not peer reviewed, so there is a reliance on researcher integrity and you have to be aware of this.
I don’t share anything that hasn’t yet been peer reviewed. When publishing, there is often a lot of small print about what an author is allowed to do with a preprint version of a paper. I usually use the Library’s publication repository BIROn. I like that the Library has the expertise to understand the small print and ensure that I’m not breaking the rules the publisher set out. I do often mirror the BIROn papers on ResearchGate, which increase the exposure of my work.
Have you used preprints during this lockdown period?
I’ve not released any preprints, but we do have a paper under currently under review for a special pandemic issue of the Journal of Homosexuality which cites many preprints. These preprints account for 10 out of the 29 references in the paper. Which is a little higher than I’d usually expect.
At the beginning of lockdown, when we were looking to apply for funding for this current project, we knew there was very little out there on the topic. Our funder, The British Academy, require that we undertake a literature review to show that the project is grounded and would contribute to the academic field. So we had to use preprints in the literature review as that was where the relevant literature was.
Another example of using what was out there were the BBC News reports, reports by the EC and UN, and by community organizations that I mentioned earlier. This was again more evidence that this research would be important and deserved funding.
So the preprints, and the reports, went into the application to build the case that this was timely and relevant research.
Can you tell us about the expanded survey you are running now?
It’s been expanded in response to LGBTQ* community feedback. We were being approached by those over 35 with a desire to be represented. We also wanted to ask more on the pandemic experience, so there are more targeted questions on challenges and opportunities due to the pandemic. These questions were formed out of the first survey respondents’ written comments on the wider impact of the pandemic on their lives.
Dr Fiona Tasker is currently running an expanded second survey for the UK LGBTQ* COVID-19 Lockdown 18-60 Experiences Research Project.
For details on the survey, including how to take part, visit the project web page.
Open Access Week is a global event, now in its tenth year. It is an opportunity for the academic, library and research community to learn more about the benefits of Open Access and to share their experiences with colleagues, and to inspire wider participation in making Open Access a new norm in scholarship and research.
At Birkbeck we usually organise a range of online and in-person activities, such as panel discussions and workshops, as well as opportunities to share your thoughts on OA topics. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, this year we have opted for a series of blog posts written by our librarians. Through these we aim to highlight what Open Access means for the Library and the collections. We’ll focus on ebooks and ejournals, demonstrating the importance of making content available openly as well as offering some insight into the power of platforms and publishers. We’ll also provide an overview of the barriers we face as a library service in being able to truly participate and contribute to the Open Access movement.
We invite you to start the week by watching and listening to a short screencast from Professor Martin Eve on The Ethos of Open Access.
This guest blog by Birkbeck MA Victorian Studies student Imogen Grubin discusses her collection of early twentieth-century editions of Victorian literature. Imogen was a finalist for this year’s Anthony Davis Book Collecting Prize, organised by UCL Special Collections. To our delight, several Birkbeck students submitted entries for the prize, and we are happy to be able to feature Imogen’s runner-up entry and to have her share her thoughts on book collecting with the readers of Bookish.
I have been collecting books for a while, but never considered myself a ‘collector’, or even that my books could be called a collection. When I saw the Anthony Davis Book Collecting Prize hosted by UCL, however, I started looking at my books in a new way and realised that some of them told an interesting story about publishers in the early twentieth century. Even though they were all cheap and have never been considered rare, they actually show a lot about reading habits and publishers’ traditions.
The collection I put together for the Prize consists of mostly Victorian novels published in the twentieth century: The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins, Romola and Silas Marner by George Eliot, Westward Ho! by Charles Kingsley, Elmer Gantry by Sinclair Lewis, and three collections of short stories: The Toys of Peace and Other Papers by Saki (pen name of H. H. Munro), The Author of Beltraffio, The Middle Years, Greville Fane and Other Talesby Henry James and Island Nights’ Entertainmentsby Robert Louis Stevenson.
I bought these for no more than £3 each, partly because, for me, reading an old novel in an old book adds to the charm of the story being told. The mystery of where they were before, and sometimes of when they were published, adds to my enjoyment.
The first four books, by Collins, Eliot and Kingsley, were published as part of the Collins Clear-Type Press, cheap reprints of popular novels. Probably because they were cheap editions, they have no date of publication in them, although similar editions online most commonly put them between 1910 and 1920, with some as early as 1902 or as late as 1960. They are similar in colour and size but do differ slightly. Romola and The Moonstone have a decorative pattern directly above and below the novel’s title and author on the spine whilst Westward Ho! and Silas Marner have a decorative leaf pattern all the way down the spine and the author’s autograph on the front cover.
After collecting these, I started to look for books from other publishers around the same period to see how they compared or differed. Elmer Gantry, published in 1930, is the book most like the Collins editions. It is the same shade of red as the Collins books, has Sinclair Lewis’s signature on the cover and has a decoration all the way down the spine, although not of leaves, but is a slightly larger size. It was published as part of a ‘Collected Edition’, so may have been purposefully adopting similar traditions to the Collins Clear-Type Press to try and appeal to a certain readership. It was published by Jonathan Cape, a London publisher and one of the first British publishers to seek out American novels, and so may have been trying to appear more ‘English’.
The other three books differ greatly. The collection of Saki stories is a blue volume with a decorated spine and the author’s signature on the front. The spine, however, lists the author both as Saki and H. H. Munro, making it appear more formal and perhaps marking it as more expensive. Both Island Night’s Entertainment and the collection of Henry James’s stories have their titles rather than their authors’ signatures embossed on the front covers, possibly signifying greater expense at the time of publication.
I collected these books because I was interested in how different publishers tried to make their books stand out or fit in. I find it wonderful that even cheap editions were made to look beautiful. I bought them because I wanted to read them, but in doing so began, unknowingly, to build a collection. Competing for the prize made me realise that any group of books can be a collection, and that anyone can be a collector just from buying the books that interest you.
At the heart of the university, an academic library space offers fertile possibilities for interdisciplinary research, cross-department discussion and serendipitous discovery. At Birkbeck we offer a variety of study spaces, diverse print and electronic resources, and specialist staff to support researchers. Since our refurbishment last summer, we’ve also been able to provide a space for teaching and events – something that had been lacking before.
This February, we utilised this new space to run a series of
events celebrating both LGBT+ History Month and Love Data Week.
Founded in 2005, in the wake of the abolition of Section 28, LGBT+ History Month is well embedded in the UK library world, particularly in public libraries. At Birkbeck, we’ve celebrated the month with displays of LGBT+ books from across disciplines.
Love Data Week is an annual celebration of research data. It’s an international event, which has been hosted in the College by the Library for the last three years. Previous events have included interdisciplinary panels, workshops, and cross institution collaborations.
Library staff were able to draw from the wealth of experience of our academic staff and students to produce some enjoyable and thought-provoking events, culminating in a cross-over LGBT+ History Month/Love Data Week event.
The LGBT+ History Month events celebrated Birkbeck’s poets
and writers from our Creative Writing department. Course Director for the MA in
Creative Writing, Julia Bell, read
extracts from her new book of essays Radical
Attention. This was followed
by a lively conversation with fellow lecturer Richard Hamblyn. Later in the
month, we hosted an Evening of Queer Poetry with poets Fran Lock, Valentine Carter, Golnoosh Nour and Keith Jarrett. We hold many of the
collections by these writers, as well as the full run of the Mechanics’ Institute
Review, an annual literary review published by Birkbeck’s Creative Writing
For Love Data Week 2020, we ran two training sessions: An Introduction to Research Data Management, and Data Management Plans for Postgraduate Students. Both were organised in collaboration with the Birkbeck Graduate Research School.
The LGBT+ History month/Love Data Week cross-over event was titled Researching LGBTQ+ Communities: openness, ethics and consent, and explored the interplay between open research and participant groups who may require anonymity. Two Birkbeck researchers, Fiona Tasker, an academic in the Department of Psychological Sciences and Ralph Day, a doctoral researcher in contemporary history, presented their work.
Fiona talked about her work with LGBT+ parents. She took us through the three ‘waves’ of research on same sex parenting mothers, then presented some ideas from her work on a fourth wave. She also showed very interesting data from the Empowering Adoptive Families survey on adoption for non-traditional parents, and alternative data from the family mapping exercise. A copy of Fiona’s slides are available at the bottom of this post .
Ralph provided insight into the early
years of the London Lesbian and Gay Switchboard. He presented data from the log
books, described the challenges faces by the operators, and the sort of
information they would record while facing these challenges.
Despite Ralph and Fiona drawing from different disciplines and consequently using a different set of methodologies and research assumptions, it was a useful discussion, in part due to these very differences. The audience was made up of students, academics and library staff with differing interests and research backgrounds, and our new teaching room provided an inclusive space for exploration and sharing of experiences.
Fiona is currently running a LGBTQ* UK COVID-19 Lockdown 18-35 Experiences Online Survey. This is a short survey for those in the 18-35 age group, which looks at experiences during the current pandemic and lockdown. If you are interested in taking part in this timely research, you can follow this link to the survey and information sheet.
Both Love Data Week and LGBT+ History Month will return in 2021, as well as many other exciting events hosted in Birkbeck Library. Look out for updates on our News and Updates page.
Tim Spring, Senior Library Assistant (Acquisitions and Metadata), writes:
Birkbeck Library has an amazing image collection and I’ve always been intrigued by the people and places in these photos. Within the ‘Birkbeck History’ collection there is a set of photos taken of the family mausoleum of George Birkbeck, located in Kensal Green Cemetery. I don’t live too far from there, so a few months ago I decided to go explore and see if I could find it myself.
the Birkbeck mausoleum
made me wonder how many other places in London have a link to the College. I started off with some
and very quickly found out that most of them have a blue plaque somewhere in
London. I also started to learn about the history of the College, and it turns out
that Birkbeck’s influence can be seen all over London.
This year Birkbeck is celebrating 100 years as a member of the University of London.
In the Library we
have a small group working on projects for this occasion and it was here that we came
up with the idea of creating walking tours of Birkbeck
history in London.
The first tour is an exploration of Birkbeck buildings, from the site the College was founded
at through to our current location. This walk takes you all over central
London, starting at the Strand, then heading towards the Barbican, and eventually ends up at the main Birkbeck
building on Torrington Square.
The other two walks will take you past the homes of notable Birkbeckians. Some of the more famous figures on these walks include Rosalind Franklin and T. S. Eliot, but there are many other interesting people that passed through Birkbeck’s door over the years, such as Professor Dame Helen Gwynne-Vaughan, pictured below. My hope is that these tours will get you to enjoy going for a walk in London whilst also discovering more about the history of Birkbeck. We are a unique institution with a rich past and I think a lot of people would be surprised by what they learn about the College and all the interesting people who have helped make it what it is.
13,000 people from across the globe came together on Saturday 20th
June to watch the online world premiere of Infinite Potential: The Life and Ideas
of David Bohm. The recording of this screening is now freely available to watch
online, any time. This new feature-length documentary sheds light on the life,
ideas and work of the groundbreaking Birkbeck scientist David Bohm, Einstein’s
“spiritual son”, whose archive is held here at the Library.
Q&A panel session with Paul Howard, the film’s director and producer,
Professor Basil Hiley, quantum physicist and longtime collaborator of Bohm, and
Dr Jan Walleczek, Director of Phenoscience Laboratories (Berlin), chaired by
Susan Bauer–Wu, followed the premiere and is also available to watch online: Q&A panel session
There’s another opportunity to watch the film online with a different Q&A panel which has been organised to celebrate the Dalai Lama’s 85th birthday as well as his lifelong love of science. Since the mid-1980s the Dalai Lama has engaged in dialogue with scientists, including David Bohm, around the broad topics of psychology, neurobiology, quantum physics and cosmology. Register for this screening and Q&A panel.