Archive for May, 2007

RED Newsletter, Spring 2007

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2007

Edited by Rosalind Crone and Katie Halsey

The last few months have been busy ones at the RED nerve centre in the IT department at the Open University. Earlier this year, we were joined by three new members of the RED team: two Research Associates, Jenny McAuley and Sarah Johnson, and a data input assistant, Isabel DiVanna, who are all doing excellent work finding and entering reading experiences. Thanks to David Wong, our technical developer, our new online form is up and running, and getting lots of use, and an experimental version of our search functions has been built. We are grateful to all of you who have been using the online form to enter reading experiences, and thanks also for your feedback on it.  Our trial online launch is now also complete, and we are indebted to all those who took the time to try out our search functions and complete our user feedback form. Feedback was in general positive and enthusiastic, and we will make every effort to act on your suggestions for improvements to our current version when it goes fully live in June this year.

But the Reading Experience Database is not, and never will be, only about technology.  It is, of course, also about the people whose enthusiasm for the project makes it possible. At the heart of the project is the individual reading experience, and we are, as always, extremely grateful to all our volunteers who have been busily entering a wide range of fascinating material, from the reading experiences of heavyweight Victorians such as John Ruskin, Thomas Carlyle and Charles Dickens to descriptions of the reading of more humble cobblers, butchers and printers. We would like to take this opportunity to welcome all our new volunteers to the project.

Public and academic awareness of RED is crucial to the eventual success of the database. We have therefore been busy presenting conference and seminar papers, and giving talks in many different places.  We are grateful to those who have helped us to spread the word, and particular thanks are due to Graham Allen, Siobhán Collins, Carrie Griffin and Mary O’ Connell of the Making Books Shaping Readers project at University College Cork, Nick Roe and Andrew Pettegree of St Andrews University, Luke Houghton of University College London, Alison Beer, Richard Daniels, Joanne Withers and Claire Harris of Hillingdon Libraries, Anne Henry and Andrew Taylor of Cambridge University, and Willard McCarty of the London Digital Text and Scholarship seminar.  We will be at the Society for the History of Authorship, Reading and Publishing (SHARP) conference in Minneapolis in July with a RED panel, and also at the Beyond the Book project conference in Birmingham in September.

We are continuing to update the RED website regularly, especially our events page with details about relevant calls for papers, essay collections and forthcoming conferences, seminars and workshops. If you would like to advertise an event on the site, or in the next issue of RED Letter, please contact us. If you have a book for review, or if you would like to review a particular book for the website, please get in touch.


We are delighted to welcome Dr. Shafquat Towheed to the RED team.  Shaf will be taking over from Mary Hammond as Project Supervisor at the Open University.  Mary is leaving the OU to take up a Senior Lecturer position at Southampton, but will remain closely associated with the RED project as a member of our Management Group.  We will miss her, but wish her every possible success in her new job.