All posts by Randy Souther

I'm a Reference Librarian at the University of San Francisco's Gleeson Library, and I run the Joyce Carol Oates web site, Celestial Timepiece.

Why Digitize KKK Newspapers?

Gleeson Library has contributed funds to support a project to digitize and provide open access to Ku Klux Klan newspapers from the 1920s, and we now have early contributors’ access to the newspapers that have been digitized so far.

The project is in its early stages, but is already being used for analysis in national media.

Overview from the project website:

From its birth immediately following the Civil War to its re-awakening inspired by the film Birth of a Nation in 1915 through today’s fractured organizations using the Klan’s name, the Ku Klux Klan has occupied a persistent place in American society.

The Klan’s national newspaper had a circulation larger than the New York Times.

To understand today’s version of American nationalism, we need to go back to the 1920s when the Klan re-emerged as a slick and successful recruiting and marketing engine that appealed to the fears and aspirations of middle-aged, middle-income, white protestant men in the middle of America. At its peak in 1924, Klan paid membership exceeded 4,000,000 and its national newspaper, the Imperial Night-Hawk, had a circulation larger than the New York Times.

The goal of this project is to assemble a comprehensive and hopefully complete collection of KKK newspapers into a fully-searchable open access database.  The collection features national Klan publications (for example: the Imperial Night-Hawk and the Kourier) as well as regional and local Klan produced papers (i.e., Sgt. Dalton’s Weekly, Jayhawker American, and the Minnesota Fiery Cross).  The collection will also include a smaller set of papers sympathetic to the Klan (i.e., The Good Citizen and The Fellowship Forum) and a few important anti-Klan publications (Tolerance and The Record). A complete title list may be found here.

The collection will be hosted on the Reveal Digital platform, which will provide controlled access to funding libraries until the collection moves to open access.

From the Slums and Gutters of Europe
From The Badger American, August 1923. A foreshadow of presidential candidate Donald Trump in 2015? : “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best.”

Why Digitize KKK Newspapers?

Contributed by Dr. Thomas R. Pegram, Professor of History, Loyola University–Maryland, and author of One Hundred Percent American: The Rebirth and Decline of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s.

The degree to which Klan newspapers drew from ordinary currents in American life in the 1920s is stunning. These newspapers detail the extent to which the Klan movement was anchored in American traditions of fraternalism, sociability, business and civic practices. That makes the appeal to exclusivity, the anti-Catholicism, and the assumed white Protestant ownership of American institutions that are also apparent in Klan newspapers so powerful.

The Klan newspapers of the 1920s are a reminder of how current divisions over immigration, race, and citizenship are deeply embedded in American history.

Sentiments that are now considered radical or located on the fringes of American society actually existed side by side with mainstream American beliefs and practices. Openly bigoted and reckless publications such as Colonel Mayfield’s Weekly contrast in style with more conventional publications such as the versions of the Fiery Cross that appeared across the Midwest, but all Klan newspapers shared the same bedrock beliefs that American democracy existed for only white Protestant Americans. Some, like Chicago’s Dawn offered frank denunciations of ethnic and Catholic Americans that reveal the extent to which American pluralism was contradicted by American tribalism. The Klan newspapers of the 1920s are a reminder of how current divisions over immigration, race, and citizenship are deeply embedded in American history.

Top Image: From The Badger American, March 1924. KKK Newspapers database.


Altmetrics and PlumX: More Ways to Measure Your Scholarly Work

Discussions of measuring scholarly work often revolve around the “Impact Factor” for journals, and counting—in various ways—how many times your work has been cited in other scholarly works (see h-index, for example).

If you’ve ever felt that this citation-centric view of the scholarly world does not fully capture the value of your work—trust that feeling! Citation counts may not be a very useful measure if you’re not publishing in fast-moving STEM fields.

If you’ve ever felt that this citation-centric view of the scholarly world does not fully capture the value of your work—trust that feeling!

Citations as the primary assessment measure for scholarship is something of a historical accident — for decades being not the best, but simply the only way to quantitatively measure scholarly impact.

Today there are growing numbers of alternative metrics, or altmetrics, that can be used to both supplement traditional citation metrics, and measure alternative formats (from the peer-reviewed article) such as books and book chapters, videos, blog posts, slide presentations, etc. Examples of altmetrics include number of article downloads or full-text views in databases; books held in library collections; and view counts of videos.

Altmetrics can also include social media metrics such as tweets and Facebook likes which can help measure the attention a piece of research is getting, or indicate how well it is being promoted.

How To Get Altmetrics for Your Work

Plum Print

Gleeson Library subscribes to PlumX, which is a major provider of altmetrics (as well as traditional citation metrics). The best way to get altmetrics for your work is to make sure you are depositing your work in the library’s Scholarship Repository. You’ll see the “Plum Print” on your work’s landing page, and expanding the Plum Print will display all of PlumX’s metrics for your work. You’ll also see Plum Prints showing up for many works in major databases such as Scopus, CINAHL, and Fusion!

Image: Plum Bowl by Alan Levine

Why You Need to Publish Open Access

Your mom was right

Your mom was right when she told the child-you to eat your vegetables: they’re good for you. End of story. I’m not your mom, or even your boss, but I’m going to tell the article-writing-you to publish open access, because it’s not only good for you, it’s also the right thing to do.

Why is it good for you?

It’s good for you because articles published open access are cited more often than articles that are not. Let me repeat that, because you look like I just offered you a free trip to the Bahamas: articles published open access have more impact (as defined by being cited by other articles) than those that are not open access.

This makes perfectly logical sense: an open access article, by definition, is available for anyone to download and read. No cost, no barriers. Compare this to a more traditionally-published article where online access is behind a “paywall”—you have to pay the publisher to download the article, unless you’re privileged enough to belong to an institution whose library has pre-paid the publisher for access to their articles. In this most-common scenario, many, if not most people leave the paywall without the article. To put it more simply: open access = more readers = potentially more citations—and that’s good for you.

Research impact of paywalled (not OA) versus open access (OA) papers:


You can see from the table that for every field, open access papers have greater impact than non-open access papers.

(Thanks Éric Archambault, Grégoire Côté, Brooke Struck and Matthieu Voorons for making this information open access!)

Why is it the “right thing to do”?

If you care about social justice, you should publish open access. Could your research be of benefit to underprivileged communities, other researchers without access to high-cost journals, health workers providing urgent patient care?  Is there a research field where open access would not benefit less-privileged researchers around the world? Then don’t lock your work behind a paywall!

Publishing open access is a concrete means to “fashion a more humane and just world”—part of the vision and mission of the University of San Francisco—and it ought be the default position of the University.

How do I publish open access?

There are many ways, but let’s keep it simple: just do what you normally do—publish in any journal you want. But then give a copy of your paper to your Library’s institutional repository (IR). They’ll make it available open access. (USF folks: Contact Charlotte Roh, Scholarly Communications Librarian, for more details:

It’s as simple as that.

The student becomes the teacher

Administrators, granting organizations, hiring and promotion committees are all-too-often caught up in trying to quantify research “impact.” Their guiding star is the Impact Factor—the celebrity journal metric—famous for being famous, and valuable primarily as a brand to be sold.

But instead of chasing the Impact Factor like paparazzi, here’s something you can really believe in:

open access download map

This is a map of about a day’s worth of downloads from Gleeson Library’s open access Scholarship Repository. As you can see, downloads are happening all over the world.

What are they downloading? The two most popular downloads are:

The first has been downloaded more than 13,000 times; the second more than 23,000 times!

If you don’t recognize these high-powered faculty authors, it’s because they’re not faculty— they’re students. Now look again at the subjects of these works, and look at the map.

Reading Comprehension. Students with Disabilities. Newborn Umbilical Cord Care: downloaded worldwide. This is social justice in action, viewable in near-real time on a Google map; this is not an impact “factor,” but true impact.

By simply publishing open access, these USF students have had more real impact in the world than any number of high-calibre faculty publishing in (paywalled) high-Impact Factor journals. Administrators, granting organizations, hiring and promoting committees, take note.


The Foghorn: A Student History of USF

If newspapers publish the “first rough draft of history,” it is fascinating indeed to view those rough drafts from the perspective of USF students. Gleeson Library is in the process of digitizing back issues of USF’s student newspaper, the “Foghorn,” and the first major batch is available now.

The parallels between some articles from nearly 50 years ago and similarly-themed contemporary articles (from the San Francisco Foghorn website) are striking, and invite many questions …


Black student Union issues demands
From the November 8, 1968 issue of the San Francisco Foghorn, part of Gleeson Library’s Digital Collections.
BSU list of demands
From the March 10, 2016 issue of the San Francisco Foghorn on the newspaper’s website.
Blacks rap, whites listen in Black Power town hall
May 3, 1968 issue of the San Francisco Foghorn (go to page 5 to view), part of Gleeson LIbrary’s Digital Collections
Black Student Union hosts USF Black Out in solidarity with Mizzou
From the November 19, 2015 issue of the San Francisco Foghorn on the newspaper’s website.
  • What has changed between 1968 and 2015-16, and what has not?
  • Do these articles give you the “whole picture”?
  • What was happening at USF in 1968? In the Bay Area, the nation, and the world?
  • Is the context significantly different in 2015-16? If so, in what ways? If not, why not?
  • How are the students’ strategies for change different?
  • Were these events/issues also reported in the professional newspapers such as the San Francisco Chronicle? If so, how is the reporting different? If not, why not?

You might begin to answer some of theses questions by browsing issues of the Foghorn, and seeing the world of 1968 from a USF student perspective.

The USF community can also look into Gleeson Library’s historical and contemporary newspapers and newspaper collections such as these (myUSF login from off-campus):

Historical Newspapers

Contemporary Newspaper Collections

The Foghorn, or San Francisco Foghorn as it is currently titled, is USF’s official student newspaper dating back to 1903.  The earliest issues were published under the title “Ignatian” and “Ignatian News“.  The University Archives currently holds print copies of the earliest issues of Ignatian from 1926 and onwards. This collection is now digitized and made full-text searchable online.

As of this writing, issues from 1926 through December 1992 are available online.  The rest of the collection will be available in Spring 2017.

Reference Desk Moving / Computer Lab Closing

Construction work in the Reference Room on the 1st floor of the library will begin the morning of Wednesday, July 20th, and be completed before the start of the Fall semester.

Reference Desk Services
During this time, Reference Desk services will move to the 2nd floor group study area, and remain there until construction work is completed.

Reference Room Computer Lab
The Reference Room Computer Lab will be closed during construction. ITS computer labs are available on the 1st floor of the library in the north-east part of the building, and on the 2nd floor along the windows on the north side of the building.

USF students, faculty and staff can also checkout laptop computers at the Access Services desk.

“Carl” the Fog

Just a plea, to resist the branding ™ of nature, including the mysterious Fog of San Francisco.

@KarlTheFog (Twitter account) is fun, in a trivial way, but a wholly inept (and in-apt) branding of our city’s fog.

But if you insist, or can’t resist, may I suggest, as more apt (or ept):

“Carl” the Fog.

The fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.

—”Carl” Sandburg

“Carl” the Fog. Photo by Randy Souther

Library Systems Downtime on Saturday

Library systems will experience necessary upgrades on Saturday, January 16 beginning after 10 AM and lasting an estimated 4 to 6 hours.

Systems that will be unavailable during this time include:

  • Library Databases from off-campus (on-campus access will still be available)
  • Library Catalog
  • Interlibrary Loan
  • Your Library Record

Fusion will remain available for searching, but not for full-text retrieval.

Please contact us if you have questions.