‘Underutilized, consider discarding’

Cambridge University asks: How to “provide training solutions for scholarly communication” in the UK? Not usually, it would seem from reading this article, by inviting along the member of the library school staff who teaches such things…

“It is fairly universally acknowledged that it is a challenge to engage with library schools [in universities] on the issue of scholarly communication, despite repositories being a staple part of research library infrastructure for well over a decade. There are a few exceptions but generally open access or other aspects of scholarly communication are completely absent from the curricula.” (my emphasis)

Amazing: one would have thought that Open Access — along with all the other ‘public and free-to-access’ online sources from Google Books to data sources — would have been covered in a compulsory double-module for an entire semester of the second year of a degree in librarianship. But apparently not, though no doubt there are a few unremarked exceptions quietly doing good work.

Note that this new article has an associated Google Docs list of the (currently very minimal) UK provision for Scholarly Communication training provision, including a useful linked list of online caches of free training materials.

The introduction to this Google Doc further suggests that such training is not always present even at the Masters degree level, or is not there of sufficient duration and quality…

“… the traditional educational route for library workers through a Masters degree does not always equip them with an adequate level of knowledge [on open access, copyright and research data]”

The implication of the Cambridge University article is that other professional groups may have to be asked to provide such training to researchers, since librarians as-a-class seem to be so unwilling to engage with these pressing topics. It seems yet another indicator that librarians as-a-class are at risk of being labelled: ‘Underutilized, consider discarding’.

How to reclaim downloaded pictures that should be public-domain

How to reclaim downloaded pictures that should be public-domain:

1. Remove watermark logos. InPaint ($s). Has a cheesy home-page, but it’s been tested and works really very well, even on fairly faint logos. Use the magic wand, in combination with the tolerance slider, to select the letters or symbols you want to remove. Can save your letter-picks as a repeatable mask, but that mask can only be applied on a repeat picture of the same size. (Also available as a separate InPaintBatch version for batch processing, of things like time-stamped video frames).

2. Remove hidden watermarks and embedded metadata. Batch Purifier ($s). Tested, works fine, quick and easy to operate.

3. Up-res your pictures. Perfect Resize (now known as On1 Resize, $s). Exactly twice the size should work well. There are presets for portrait, landscape, low-res JPG etc. May also help to remove steganographic watermarks.

4. Clean-up. Photoshop ($s) or your favourite paint software. Crop edges; remove any crude colour-cast (often added on old photos); lift overly-dark shadows with Photoshop’s Shadows/Highlights tool; do some quick spot-repair on damage and mould spots.

5. Colourise (optional). Akvis Coloriage. Tested, but expensive and not great. Rather garish results, though if you spend a day learning it and experimenting you may do better. Probably works best with quite simple crisp portraits. For old postcards, someone with an artistic touch may have quicker and more artistic results by using a new Photoshop layer. Set the layer to Colour blend mode at 80%, then manually paint areas in with a soft brush.

Fully automated recolouring — guided by only a half-dozen colour-dabs — is coming in a few years, but at 2017 is still at the ‘SIGGRAPH demo’ stage, rather than the ‘retail Photoshop plugin’ stage.

You can also hire a coloriser for a mere $5 on Fivver, of course, but you probably want to make sure they’re doing it by hand.

Also, you want to remember that if your original find has been colorised already, from an obviously b&w source, then it’s no longer public domain but a new work. In which case you might want to note the title or geographic location of the work and try to find where their original came from, as it might be in b&w somewhere deep in Archive.org, Hathi, or similar archival websites. If an eBay scan of an old postcard, another vendor may have a better and larger scan. The free Irfanview + a plugin will let you view Archive.org’s highest-res .JP2 scans as Windows thumbnails.


PastPin by Geopast, challenging the public to geo-locate and time-tag photos of unknown location/time, uploaded by 115 selected institutional contributors to the Flickr Commons.

A nice cleanly designed service for public domain pictures, but page-loading assumes that you have superfast broadband, and that your broadband isn’t already being saturated with other downloads and music streaming. It also seems to be calling images from the often-slow Flickr, which slows it down even further. Lovely idea, but too grindingly slow for the majority of Internet users.

Added to JURN

Defendant, The (Australian Chesterton Society)

Journal of Interactive Media in Education (Open University, UK)

Animal Behavior and Cognition

Journal Of Litter And Environmental Quality (Keep Britain Tidy)

SCAR Bulletin, Reports, Newsletter, and Occasional Publications (The Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research)


Biogeographic Atlas of the Southern Ocean (selected free chapters)

Online Library of the Wild Trout Trust (British Isles)

“Automated book index making” post – updated

I’ve updated and expanded my Christmas 2017 post “A survey of automated book index making software”. New bits…

PDF Index Generator 2.4 tested, specifically its very useful new “capitalized phrases only” automated query-filter which allows you to grab only personal names and longer place names, with a short tutorial on finding and using this feature…

More tips on Java security, re: the security nightmare that is Java being needed to run PDF Index Generator.

Also, the genuine freeware Index Generator 5.5 has just updated to 5.8, adding new features such as a “word list import and export feature” and “index support for alphanumerical words”.

The future of learning and the independent scholar

High quality long-form journalism on “The future of learning and the independent scholar”, from Karl Schmude in The Spectator Australia…

“In this essay I will focus on three things – firstly, to sketch the contribution of the independent scholar to the world of learning in the past, and more broadly to the world of culture; secondly, to reflect on changes in university and academic life that have affected the capacity, and even the existence, of the independent scholar; and thirdly, to highlight the potential for independent scholarship in present-day culture, given that the university has now come to dominate the world of learning, and even of vocational training.”

The British edition of The Spectator sporadically nips behind a paywall, but this is from the Australian edition and is free for me.

Schmude is writing from a Catholic perspective, so the essay entertains a few hobby-horses which canter around aimlessly for a few lines, but when he’s sticking to the topic it’s a stimulating read. Worth it for the phase “immune to the insinuations of conformism” alone…

… he was largely immune to the insinuations of conformism.