Archive for May, 2014

Cites & Insights 14:6 (June 2014) available

Posted in C&I Books, Cites & Insights on May 28th, 2014

Cites & Insights 14:6 (June 2014) is now available for downloading at http://citesandinsights.info/civ14i6.pdf

The print-oriented two-column version is 16 pages long. You may also view or download a 32-page one-column 6×9″ ereader-oriented version at http://citesandinsights.info/civ14i6on.pdf

This issue includes three sections:

The Front: Beyond the Damage (pp. 1-4)

Libraries that subscribe to Library Technology Reports should, some time in the next few days or weeks, receive “Big-Deal Serial Purchasing: Tracking the Damage”–and academic libraries that don’t subscribe to LTR may want to purchase this edition from ALA Editions. It brings last year’s The Big Deal and the Damage Done forward to cover 2002-2012 and offers a tighter and more sophisticated view of the situation. (Spoiler alert: Things got worse from 2010 to 2012)

Simultaneously, I’m publishing Beyond the Damage: Circulation, Coverage and Staffing, a book looking at some other aspects of academic libraries and how they changed between 2002 and 2012. It’s available in two forms, each $45: a 130-page paperback with color graphs–or a site-licensed PDF ebook with precisely the same content. Easiest way to find it: go to Lulu.com and search “Crawford beyond damage” (no quotes needed)–that currently yields just the two versions.

Media: Mystery Collection, part 7 (pp. 4-12)

For the first time, most of these movies are in color–which doesn’t necessarily mean they’re better, as this is also (I believe) the first time I’ve given up on movies before they’re finished in five out of 24 cases. There are some gems, but also some real dross here.

The Back (pp. 12-16)

Little snarky essays on a variety of things, not all of them entirely humorous.

Next time…

As previously announced, the next issue (which might be the July issue, the July/August issue, or the Summer 2014 issue) should appear some time in June and will be a single- essay issue delving into the realities behind the Beall list–including not only original research but a control group!

After that…well, there’s still time to become a supporter or sponsor of Cites & Insights.

Mystery Collection Disc 42

Posted in Movies and TV on May 21st, 2014

Seducers (orig. Death Game), 1977, color. Peter Traynor (dir.), Sondra Locke, Colleen Camp, Seymour Cassel, Beth Brickell. 1:31 [1:26]

Blame it on a mild ongoing headache if you like, esp. one probably connected to eyestrain (a long boring story that goes away soon).

Or blame it on sheer incompetence on the part of the moviemakers.

In either case, after several weeks without watching an oldie, I was looking forward to this. Until it started. I made it through the bizarre credits sequence. I made it through the opening sequence, and to the Real Plot, where this apparently well-off middle-aged man is temporarily deserted by his hot young wife on his 40th birthday (there are reasons), and two young women show up at his front door in a driving rainstorm asking directions to a neighbor’s house he’s never heard of.

And we’re off. And after another 10 minutes—his being a gentleman, his rebuffing combined advances from the two young women (both of whom have gotten naked in his palatial bathroom) for, oh, 30 seconds, partial nudity, suggested three-way action, and an odd breakfast the next morning—I couldn’t. I just did not give a damn what happened to anybody in the movie, perhaps immediately following what seemed to be a lengthy still shot of spilled ketchup with multiple layers of music over it.

So this isn’t a review. Maybe this is a minor masterpiece. Maybe it’s noteworthy schlock. Maybe it was the highlight of Sondra Locke’s film career (not sure whether she’s the young woman with a look that suggests that she regularly lunches on crocodile heads). I’ll never know.

After giving up and writing this non-review, I looked up the IMDB reviews. Now that I’ve read them, I’d guess the chances of my ever going back to see the rest of this movie are considerably worse than the chances of my winning Power Ball. (Which I don’t play.) Especially if that damn song gets played again. Not rated.

Kill Cruise (orig. Der Skipper), 1990, color. Peter Keglevic (writer, dir.), Jürgen Prochnow, Patsy Kensit, Elizabeth Hurley, Franz Buchrieser. 1:38.

Maybe I’m getting less patient or maybe I just hit a bad run. This movie is considerably less awful than Seducers, but after getting halfway through (with difficulty) I found that I just didn’t give a damn what happened in the rest of the movie.

It all begins with a storm at sea that kills or badly harms two people on a boat, with the survivor giving his tale to the Gibraltar portmaster the next day and saying he’ll head back out soon, because what’s the point otherwise? Six months later, he’s become a barfly, every day saying he’ll head back out soon… Meanwhile, two young British women (typically wearing relatively little clothing) are hanging out in a cheap hotel, singing and dancing (badly) in the California Club the guy hangs out at, and trying to go…somewhere. (One wants to go back to England; the other doesn’t.) Somehow, they wind up convincing the guy to take them from Gibraltar to Barbados. His estimated time to get to Barbados in a motor-assisted sailboat is four weeks.

Beyond that, it’s various tensions and paranoias, all with a soundtrack that’s hard to hear and a style that’s hard to care about. I gave up. Maybe you’d like it better. (Reading some of the IMDB reviews, I’m not sure why Barbados—the destination mentioned at least a dozen times—gets turned into Bermuda.) Not rated.

The Sell Out, 1976, color. Peter Collinson (dir.), Oliver Reed, Richard Widmark, Gayle Hunnicutt, Sam Wanamaker, Vladek Sheybal, Ori Levy. 1:41 [1:26]

By far the best movie on this disc so far—but that only means it was good enough so I watched the whole thing. It involves some solid actors (such as Richard Widmark and Oliver Reed) and a plot that, although it involves a few too many accidental deaths, at least makes a twisted sort of Spy vs. Spy vs. Spy sense.

We open with the start of an auto race, at which one driver is shot at long range. Then a KGB higher-up drops by a CIA outpost-head’s place, they share a drink, they open up this cabinet full of photos, many of them crossed out. Time to cross out another name (another former agent) on one side—and for the next on the other side to come up, since apparently that’s the long game. The next one, in this case, is Gabriel Lee (Reed), a double agent who defected to the Communists—and the action begins, taking us to Israel, where the double agent has an old friend, Sam Lucas (Widmark), an American agent who has supposedly actually retired (which seems implausible) with his wife.

Lots’o’plot after that, with repeated betrayals, until a somewhat flat ending. Near the ending, we get the final twist, such as it is. Along the way, car chases, shootings, explosions—hey, it’s a spy picture. I’m guessing the extra 15 minutes wouldn’t make much difference.

Certainly not great drama, but at least watchable; I’ll give it $1.00

Crime Boss (orig. I familiari delle vittime non saranno avvertiti or “The families of the victims will not be felt”), 1972, color. Alberto De Martino (dir.), Telly Savalas, Antonio Sabato, Paola Tedesco, Giuliano Persico, Guido Lollobrigida. 1:33.

“Sociopath Makes Good”—a better title, and a reason why I don’t feel particularly good about finishing this flick, even though I did so. There’s not one character that I found worthwhile or cared about; Telly Savalas as an important aging Mafioso Don may come close, but not that close. The protagonist is a country boy who comes to the city (Milan, I guess) to make good in the crime scene and shows his cleverness and utter ruthlessness to good effect, eventually moving up to the big leagues, where, of course, he betrays his mentor.

Good Italian and German scenery. Filmed very wide screen and not panned-and-scanned (but it’s not an anamorphic disc: when you zoom, you’re expanding not very much visual information, although it’s watchable). A protagonist (Antonio Sabata) who always uses his full name, Antonio Mancuso, and seems to expect others to do so as well. Overall, it’s…meh. Charitably, $1.00.

Triple digits!

Posted in C&I Books, Cites & Insights on May 13th, 2014

Thanks to somebody (or some college) in Canada, The Big Deal and the Damage Done has now reached triple-digit sales (counting each of, well, five site-licensed ebook versions as four sales).

I do appreciate these last-minute sales. Current plans are to remove the book (in both versions) from sale on May 21, 2014–next Wednesday. That could change by a day or so either way. (That’s a week later than the originally announced cutoff.)

The new book, Beyond the Damage: Circulation, Coverage and Staffing, which complements the Library Technology Reports issue that replaces The Big Deal…, will become available about a week later–in two versions, a full-color paperback and a site-licensed ebook, the two having the same price.

A gentle reminder: If you care about Cites & Insights and think it’s worth keeping, please help. The support/sponsorship drive has so far garnered all of three supporters. Or maybe you’re sending the appropriate message…

 

Academic library circulation always down

Posted in Libraries on May 2nd, 2014

I thought I did a pretty good job of demolishing this long-standing myth (“all academic libraries have falling circulation”) in the March 2013 Cites & Insights. looking at circulation between 2008 and 2010. I was astonished to see at least one high-profile academic librarian dismiss my findings saying there were Studies saying this was true (all such studies based on either a subset of libraries or the *overall* figures), therefore…well, the “therefore” wasn’t quite clear, but had to be either “you’re doing the math wrong” or “the facts don’t matter.”

My sense is that the facts don’t matter to librarians who want to use “circulation’s falling everywhere, that’s just the way it is” as part of an argument to stop bothering with collections–but that’s a complicated argument.

I’m starting to work on a self-published book that will serve as a complement to the 2002-2012 study of academic library serials, “books” (all acquisitions except current serials) and “remainder” (everything else) spending. The complement will look at some other factors–circulation per capita, book coverage, book spending per capita, professional librarians per thousand students and overall staffing per thousand students. (Expect to see it in late May or early June.)

In working with spreadsheets to make this book reasonably easy to put together (I’m learning to love named Excel columns a lot) I found it worthwhile to add yes/no columns showing rise or fall of some metrics (where no change counts as a rise, but absolutely no change almost never happens). This made it easier to answer three subsidiary questions to the first question.

The first question: Is it true that all academic libraries show falling circulation from year to year?

The answer: Not even close–and I’m making it tougher by using circulation per capita, given that academic libraries serve a lot more students now than they did in 2002 (about 30% more overall).

For any given biennium, between 35% and 45% of all academic libraries have higher per capita circulation than they did two years ago. (As far as I can tell, the “all” isn’t remotely true for any significantly large subset of academic libraries.) (45% was 2010 compared to 2008, the best biennium for circulation growth.)

A related question: Well, then, is it true that all academic libraries have lower circulation in 2012 than they did in 2002, even if there were some temporary rises?

The answer: Closer, but still not even close. The percentage of libraries with more circulation per capita in any given year than in 2002 ranges from about 36% to about 25% (for 2012). That’s still one out of every four libraries.

Those were easy questions. The three others are a little tougher, and they deal with extremes:

First: What percentage of academic libraries have had rising circulation per capita every biennium since 2002?

The answer, as far as I can tell, for the 2,594 libraries I’m studying (which represent 95% of all academic library spending–ones excluded either weren’t around for the full 2002-2012 period or failed to respond to the NCES survey in either 2002 or 2012): Very few: actually six, or 0.2%.

So if you wanted to cast the most negative light possible, you could say that (almost) all academic libraries have seen circulation drop during at least some portion of the last decade.

Second: What percentage of academic libraries have had falling circulation per capita every biennium since 2002?

Now, actually, this to me is the implication of the (paraphrased) universal assertion: the answer to this question should be 100%, or very close to it.

The actual number: 153 libraries or 5.9%.

That’s right: Only six percent of academic libraries have had consistently falling circulation per capita from 2002 through 2012.

Third: What percentage of academic libraries have had higher per capita circulation than 2002 in every biennium since then?

This is a different question than “how many have consistently grown?” as a library could, for example, have 10% more circulation in 2004 than in 2002, then drop 5% in 2006…

The answer: 208 or 8.1%.

So: more libraries have consistently had higher circulation since 2002 than they did in 2002, than have had consistently falling circulation.

And, of course, most libraries are in the middle–just under 94% have seen circulation grow some times and shrink some times.

But that’s not a convenient message if you’re trying to dismiss collections.

 

 

 

Not ready and other notes

Posted in Cites & Insights on May 1st, 2014

For several months now, Cites & Insights for a given calendar month has emerged on the first or second day of the previous month.

There have been good reasons for this–getting ahead to leave room for the Library Technology Reports project and staying ahead for a while primarily.

That’s not happening for the June 2014 issue, and a few notes on what is happening may be useful. Or not.

The Slowdown

To be honest, I haven’t written any copy for Cites & Insights since, oh, about a week before the May issue appeared–in other words, more than a month at this point. (“I haven’t been writing at all” would be close, but not quite accurate.)

There are several reasons for that:

  • I decided to try starting out a possibly-silly project and felt I could spare some time for it. Still not convinced whether it’s silly or not, but it’s also 80% done, so… And it’s taken a lot of time.
  • I did spend time on a followup to the LTR project (and on revisions to that project), which will emerge late in May 2014.
  • It appears that the project–which involved spending hours and hours and hours staring at both displays (which are different sizes and at different distances) and dealing with small type may have finally pushed me over the edge on eyestrain, to the point where I’ve had a varying headache for better than a week now. (I also visited an opthalmologist, got the first new prescription in six years, and now find it very believable that this is the problem: my right eye moved from profoundly nearsighted to very nearsighted, a three-diopter change, so it appears that it’s always struggling with the current classes. I won’t have new glasses for a week or so. I’m hoping they arrive early.)
  • Attempting to reduce the eyestrain slows down the project–and the headache discourages other writing in any case. (Stopping the project entirely might not matter much–after all, as long as I’m wearing glasses and reading, watching TV, enjoying nature, anything, there’s new eyestrain.)
  • Then there’s motivation. My attempt to find a core group of supporters and sponsors started out slow (three people) and stopped cold. It’s still at three people. Meanwhile, more than 3,000 read the Beall essay and more than 1,400 so far have read the Bohannon essay. (The ebooks-and-pbooks essay also had strong readership.) But apparently (almost) nobody thinks it’s worth throwing a couple of bucks at. This does not give me huge motivation to start writing more.

The June 2014 Issue

There will be a June 201g4 issue. It will announce and promote the Library Technology Reports issue (not for my own financial gain: LTR is a one-time payment, with no royalties–but I think it’s an important and timely report) and discuss the self-published book that accompanies it for those wanting to explore further.

Not clear whether there will be anything more to the issue; if there is, it’s likely to be “The Back” or something like that.

Expect a short issue. Expect it in very late May 2014.

The July 2014 Issue

This issue will be based on the project. It will be a single-topic issue. I have no idea how long it will be–10 to 22 pages seems like a good initial guess. It should be interesting for a bunch of people. It represents a form of real-world research that sensible people wouldn’t attempt; I won’t necessarily admit to OCD, but there’s a touch of it in this case.

It will come out no less than a week after the June 2014 issue. Otherwise, “when it’s ready”–I’m guessing sometime in mid-June.

Meanwhile, I’ll also be setting time aside to help my wife with a genealogy-based book (a very special occasion), trying to preserve my health, and generally relaxing.

After July 2014?

I honestly don’t know.

A little more support/sponsorship surely wouldn’t hurt.

It’s exceedingly unlikely (based on past track record) that C&I will just disappear at that point.

I just don’t know.

 

 


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