SSH Minutes 2007 Annual

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WESS Social Sciences & History Discussion Group

ALA Annual Conference, Washington DC

Saturday, June 23, 2007, 4:00-5:30pm

Doubletree Washington, Chairman’s Room

Present: Frances Ott Allen, Peter Allison, Elizabeth Bennett, Dick Hacken, Thea Lindquist, Ed Oetting, Anna Shparberg, Jason Reuscher, Paul Vermouth, Agnes Widder.
Gordon Anderson, WESS SSH Discussion Group Chair, convened the meeting at 4:05pm.

I. Welcome & Introductions/News from Institutions

Attendees introduced themselves and shared institutional news. Dick Hacken encouraged attendees to contribute to the German-language newspaper access in North America Wiki established under the aegis of the GNARP Collection Development Working Group, which he chairs. The Wiki is available at: German-Language Newspaper Access in North America. Information about titles includes institutional holdings, modes of access, and format. German-American newspapers in German are also welcome. So far holdings have been entered for Brigham Young University, the Center for Research Libraries, and the University of Colorado at Boulder.
Dick also announced that he has expanded his EuroDocs Wiki page to include all European countries (48) and areas for prehistoric and ancient Europe. He encouraged attendees to contribute. Please contact Dick ( for further information.

II. Review of Social Sciences & History Web

[n.b. Since the WESS meetings at ALA Annual, work has proceeded apace in moving WESS Web from Dartmoutn to BYU. Thus, the URLs embedded in this document may change.]
What works and what could be enhanced/changed about the SSH Web site was the main focus of discussion. Dick will make a proposal to the WESS Executive Committee about switching the pages from HTML to Wiki format. The group agreed this would be a good place to start with the SSH Web site redesign. The main advantage of the Wiki format is that the work of making changes to the SSH pages could be spread out among contributors instead of asking Reinhart Sonnenburg, the WESSWeb webmaster, to make them.
The SSH Web site could move to Wiki format page by page over time. The search box on the left frame of the Wiki allows searching across all pages. Wiki pages can been seen as private rooms or gated communities – editors would still maintain editorial control over their pages but others could contribute and thus help with keeping pages relevant and up-to-date. The WESSWeb Iberian, Scandinavian, and Book Fair pages are already in Wiki format. Dick suggested that any WESS member could contribute to Wiki pages to start, though we could consider expanding beyond the membership later on. He discovered that leaving the pages open to any potential contributor does not work well. Some sort of oversight and password for editing is needed.
Conversion from HTML to Wiki format is relatively simple. Conversion machines are available on the Web, and a help screen on the WESSWeb Wiki explains step-by-step how to contribute. A discussion page for each individual resource page on the Wiki is one feature we could use if desired. A general blog could also be linked. The watch feature can automatically notify contributors when changes are made to Wiki pages. With the exception of some individual pages, most of SSHWeb is on the Dartmouth server with the rest of WESSWeb. Gordon will look into contacting the SSHWeb editors with information about switching to Wiki format if they so desire.
The suggestion was made that we include instructional materials on SSHWeb pages, which are now mainly dedicated to resources. Other subject areas we might think of adding to SSHWeb include anthropology and government documents.
Next steps: Gordon will send an email to the SSH list about the Executive Committee’s decision on Dick’s proposal. If the Committee gives the go-ahead, he will contact Reinhart to find out who SSHWeb editors are.


Another task is to evaluate the SSH list. Gordon will get in touch with Ceres Birkhead, who administers the list the University of Utah, about its current status. Also, he will obtain sign-up lists from recent SSH meetings and ask that attendees be added to the SSH list, with instructions to unsubscribe if they so wish. Gordon may send a message to WESS-L encouraging any interested members to subscribe to the SSH list.

IV. Report on the GODORT Pre-Conference

Gordon attended the GODORT Pre-Conference, International Documents in an Electronic Age: The Open Internet and Beyond: Challenges, Tasks, and Tools for All Libraries [1], on Thursday, June 21. He discussed the various presentations given. Mary Gay Anderson from Florida International University gave a presentation on international documents relevant to SSH. She presented the information in the same way she would to upper-level undergraduate or graduate students. She indicated to Gordon that she would be willing to speak at a future SSH meeting if invited. [Gordon – can we add a link to any handouts or presentation information?] He will move forward with arranging a presentation if SSH members are interested.
The University of Pittsburgh is digitizing EU documents. Historical government documents are also very important and of interest to many in the group.

V. Choosing the 2007/2008 Chair and Secretary/Chair Elect

We agreed to begin the practice of having a Chair and a Secretary/Chair-Elect in place for each meeting year (Midwinter & Annual). The Chair sets the agendas and leads the meetings. The Secretary takes attendence, records the meeting proceedings, and posts them to the SS&H wiki page (soon to be established). Gordon volunteered to serve as SS&H DG Chair for 2007/2008, and he called for nominations for the position of Secretary/Chair Elect. This item of business was left unfinished at the meeting and will be continued by e-mail discussion and possibly formal approval at the next meeting in Philadelphia in January 2008.

VI. Other Business

The group concluded by briefly discussing the acquisition of foreign-language materials. There was a question about how closely a subject-collection librarian should follow circulation statistics in making selection decisions. This is of particular concern in the acquisition of foreign-language materials when circulation statistics show a much higher use of English-language materials than of non-English materials, and that resource-sharing arrangements are constantly improving.
[n.b. from GA] While improved resource-sharing practices and arrangements are indeed a boon to scholars’ access to foreign-language titles, another effect is a potential decrease in individual library holdings of European-language books and journals. In 2006 the Association of Research Libraries’ Global Resources Network (ARL/GRN) report published a report entitled Changing Global Book Collection Patterns in ARL Libraries [2]. A salient statistical finding in this report is that while the number of foreign-language titles held in North American libraries has increased, the number of copies per title has decreased. Whether this is or not a negative effect on scholarship, this definitely has implications for those companies that supply North American libraries with European-language books and journals.

Respectfully submitted by Thea Lindquist.

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