Internet Reviews

Joni R. Roberts is associate university librarian for public services and collection development at Willamette University, email: jroberts@willamette.edu, and Carol A. Drost is associate university librarian for technical services at Willamette University, email: cdrost@willamette.edu

Literary Hub: The Best of the Literary Internet. Access: https://lithub.com/.

In 2015, Morgan Entrekin, Grove Atlantic president and publisher, together with 70 partners in publishing and elsewhere, launched Literary Hub, a website that aims to be “a single, trusted, daily source for all the news, ideas and richness of contemporary literary life.” The site was developed by Andy Hunter, cofounder of Electric Literature. The sites editorial partners range from large and small publishers, journals, bookstores, and nonprofits, whose numbers have increased to more than 240. They include Simon & Schuster, Graywolf Press, The Paris Review, City Lights bookstore, and PEN America. Overseeing the project is Editor-in-Chief Jonny Diamond, founding editor of The L Magazine and Brooklyn Magazine.

Booklovers, writers, librarians, and higher education English and Creative Writing programs can all find value in this site, which focuses on literary fiction and nonfiction. Every day, new and original content appears throughout the entire site. In “Craft and Criticism” are longer essays on literary topics, and this section includes “Craft and Advice” and “On Translation” pieces. Drawing from their publishing partners, the site posts poetry, short stories, and excerpts of novels from their forthcoming works in the “Fiction and Poetry” section. Under “News and Culture” are 15 categories, such as “History,” “Film and TV,” “Bookstores and Libraries,” etc. In 2017, they added a blog called “The Hub” and the “LitHub Radio” section, home to a podcast network that also contains some audiobooks.

Two subsites were added in 2019, “CrimeReads” and “Book Marks.” “CrimeReads” has a similar structure to “LitHub,” but the “Book Marks” site is the real jewel in the Literary Hub crown. It is an aggregator of book reviews. Books that have been reviewed by three or more syndicated sources are selected, after which the staff vets and categorizes the reviews as rave, positive, mixed, or pan. “Book Marks” reviews are interwoven throughout the entire Literary Hub website.

Literary Hub differs from similar sites, such as Bookish and Book Riot, in that it does not try to sell books. Links to books or articles in the Literary Hub will go to the publisher’s website or to IndieBound.org, a community of independent bookstores, but not Amazon. The founder’s aim was to create a site for informed conversations about contemporary literature, and the Literary Hub happily succeeds at this goal.—Doreen Simonsen, Willamette University, dsimonse@willamette.edu

The Macaulay Library: Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Access: https://www.macaulaylibrary.org/.

The Macaulay Library of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology describes itself as the “premier scientific archive of natural history audio, video, and photographs” in the world. Students and researchers can get free online access to more than half a million audio recordings, nearly 60,000 videos, and a staggering 15 million images. The collection understandably focuses on birds, but mammals, reptiles, and amphibians are represented, as well. The library is an integrated part of the many birding resources offered by the Cornell Lab, including eBird, an online database of bird observations, and Merlin, a free bird identification app for iOS and Android mobile devices.

Formerly known as the Cornell Lab’s Library of Natural Sounds, the Macaulay Library has been collecting audio and video recordings since 1929. In 2013, the library completed a massive digitization project to make the entire historic collection—more than ten terabytes of audio recordings—freely accessible online. The collection continues to grow primarily through contributions from both professional and citizen scientists, and offers recently uploaded media as well as older materials digitized from the “traditional” archive.

Users might be surprised to realize that audiovisual files and images cannot be downloaded. Users are encouraged to create a free account, and, after logging in, they are able to request files for download. Requests for any commercial use require a licensing agreement, with fees quoted at the time of request. The library does provide embed codes so that images and media may be shared easily online.

The search interface is not particularly intuitive, and may be easier for experienced researchers to navigate than for students. For instance, when searching by species or location, users cannot search by keyword, only by exact species name. Typing “ostrich” into the search box brings up three dropdown suggestions: “Common Ostrich Struthio camelus,” “Somali Ostrich Struthio molybdophanes,” or “Common/Somali Ostrich Struthio camelu/molbdophanes” and the third option offers no results. Users cannot simply search by keyword, they must select one of the suggested options. This may be handy for knowledgeable birders looking for a specific species, but may prove daunting to novices who must select from long lists of options when trying to do a more general search. For example, “owl” brings up more than 80 species.

Despite the potential for frustration with the search interface, the Macaulay Library has a truly robust and valuable collection of multimedia materials, particularly for those researching birds.—Eli Gandour-Rood, University of Puget Sound, egandourrood@pugetsound.edu

Women Writers Project (WWP). Access: https://www.wwp.northeastern.edu/.

The Women Writers Project describes itself as a “long-term research project devoted to early modern women’s writing and electronic text encoding.” The texts are by pre-Victorian women writers between the years of 1400 to 1850 in all genres, including drama, epistolary, poetry, and natural history. The project began in 1988 at Brown University but moved to its current home at Northeastern in 2013. It contains more than 400 texts. The Women Writers Project resources are “Women Writers Online” (WWO), “Women Writers in Context,” “WWP Lab,” and “Women Writers in Review.”

The texts themselves are only available in the Women Writers Project through the subscription database, “Women Writer’s Online.” The free resources in the project are assignments and syllabi incorporating texts from the WWO. The assignments employ open pedagogy and collaborative learning. “Women Writers in Context” contains essays and exhibits written by scholars. “Women Writers in Review” is a collection of 18th- and 19th-century reviews, publication notices, literary histories, and other texts responding to works by early women writers. The reviews are available full text on the website.

The website’s value is in its treatment of these works and its contribution to digital humanities. The “WWP Lab” section contains visualizations of the texts in WWO. There is a scatterplot of text categorized by genre and person, organization, or place names; a vector toolkit; and a gallery of visualizations that includes maps, bibliographic visualizations, graphics identifying dramatic speakers by gender, fictional correspondence networks, and the corpus at-a-glance. Some of the data is available for download. For librarians wondering how to get involved with digital humanities or electronic text encoding, WWP provides a model project complete with a guide to scholarly text encoding.

This site’s usefulness is not as an anthology of pre-Victorian texts but as a guide for interacting with the texts. The works are available for no cost on other sites, but the lesson plans, essays, and visualizations are not. The website would be useful to those interested in pre-Victorian literature and women’s studies.—Delores Carlito, The University of Alabama at Birmingham, dcarlito@uab.edu

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