Monday, August 23, 2010

Highest Praise for Litchfield, Florence Ducal Capital

R. Burr Litchfield’s Florence Ducal Capital has received another rave review. Laurie Nussdorfer, analyzing the book in the latest issue of The Journal of Interdisciplinary History, writes, “If there were a book ideally suited to appear in a digital edition, it is this magisterial study of the social geography of Florence in the first century of the Medici grand dukes.… The E-Book partners brilliantly with Litchfield’s online gazetteer… [a] magnificent resource.… The book’s real value…is to provide a model for how to analyze and visualize a society in transition. As such, Litchfield’s example will hopefully inspire similar studies of other urban communities and ultimately foster a genuinely comparative history of urban change.”

We could not agree more. This title is both born-digital and open-access. See a complete list of our XML titles.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Scott Palmer Surveys the Digital Humanities

In the latest News Net (May/June 2010, 50.3) of the American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies, Scott Palmer’s “Academic Publishing in the Digital Age” surveys the current landscape of digital humanities: JSTOR, MUSE, the JSAH, the university presses and the “digital transition,” various e-book platforms and e-readers, including the Kindle and iPad. He examines the Institute for the Future of the Book, George Mason University’s Center for History and New Media, Web 2 and 3 capabilities, the impact of mega-corporations like Microsoft, Apple and Google, and the efforts of government and private foundations, including NEH, MacArthur, Mellon and ACLS. Among the “impressive” multimedia projects he cites is ACLS Humanities E-Book’s XML series

Prof. Palmer then devotes many of his final remarks to the importance of a new digital literacy among humanists themselves and the opportunities and challenges that this new fluency carry for the academy. “We should be prepared to be buffeted by continuing whirlwinds of change,” he concludes. 

Scott Palmer comes to the topic with first-hand knowledge and experience: he is the author of HEB’s XML multimedia version of Dictatorship of the Air (Cambridge UP, HEB e-book, 2007) and now serves as editor-in-chief of The Russian Front website. 

Friday, August 6, 2010

Who’s Reading HEB

While we do not track individual users or sessions, every month we compile statistics on the breakdown of our subscribers by FTE size, by Carnegie classification, by more general type of institutions, and by country. These numbers offer some interesting information on our readership, where it is concentrated geographically, and at what types of schools. received another rave review. 

HEB currently has 633 institutional subscribers with a combined FTE of 5,335,916, according to the latest figures available. Of these 633 institutions nearly three-quarters (463, or 73.1%) are at college and universities, and these have a combined FTE enrollment of just over 3.5 million. The second-highest concentration of institutional subscribers is among the 125 non-U.S. schools for a combined FTE of just over 1.7 million, or 19.4% of the total. After that the next-highest grouping is among secondary schools (28, or 4.42%) with a total enrollment of 19,308.The latter tend to be the traditional prep schools where the humanities continue to hold a central place in the curriculum.

If we look at the classifications by type of institution, an interesting pattern begins to emerge. As one might expect, the largest concentration by FTE (1.7 million) is among the 80 Extensive schools: the highest level research institutions offering doctoral degrees. (32 Intensive schools provided 5% of the total or an FTE of 438,205). Yet the highest number of schools (113) is among the Master’s I designation: the smaller public and some private baccalaureate colleges that also grant Masters degrees. The next largest in numbers (89) is currently among institutions granting Associate’s degrees. Though small in FTE (460,772 total), the number of these schools is significant, since it appears to indicate (borne out by direct anecdotal information) that schools are using HEB for collection development to stretch acquisitions dollars or to serve new constituencies and accrediting criteria. In the middle stand the three levels of baccalaureate institutions, the various levels of traditional liberal arts colleges (113 schools in all or 17.8%), for a combined FTE of 190,152. In the past, many of these schools, we were told, acquired HEB not so much for its content (many of these titles are already in their print collections), as for HEB’s exemplary nature as a highly peer-reviewed digital collection. While quality remains key, these liberal arts libraries are also now leading a trend in acquisitions away from print and toward the digital.

Returning to those 125 non-US schools, subscribers are spread across the globe in 29 countries. As one might expect, Anglophone nations predominate, with the United Kingdom (30), Canada (25), Australia (12), and Ireland (7) together accounting for 59% of non-US institutions and a combined FTE of 1.26 million. All the continents are included. China, where HEB has begun a new initiative, has 8 institutional subscribers. In India HEB is currently in the middle of several large-scale, college consortial trials.

FTE is no guarantee that anyone at an institution is reading online or using HEB, yet our usage stats bear out the general picture: from 2008 to 2009 hits across the entire collection, then about 2300 titles, rose almost 54%, from 3.3 million to 5.1 million, while the total number of subscribing institutions (and FTE) stayed fairly stable, rising about 3%. This means that the collection continues to be more and more intensively used and embedded in online catalogs and course syllabi. In further HEB News posts, we’ll continue to report regularly on the top titles being used in the collection.