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Some useful online resources

As the so-called “ebook piracy” debate, with its threat of dire consequences for occult authors and publishers and the book trade in general has been under the spotlight of late – see recent articles on Plutonica.Net and The Wild Hunt I thought this would be an opportune moment to highlight some useful online academically-oriented resources – some of which are free. I’ve come across most of these whilst pursuing my tantric interests.

The British Library’s EThOS: Electronic Thesis Online Service is still undergoing beta testing, but it provides an opportunity to search for and order dissertations, some of which can be downloaded for free. In some cases, if a dissertation isn’t immediately available electronically (as a pdf), EThOS will take your order and notify you when the dissertation is available for download. Another good resource for dissertations is ProQuest’s Dissertation Express which, like EThOS, allows you to search for and order dissertations in pdf or hard copy format. Orders for pdf versions get you a limited-time link from which you can download a pdf, whilst hard copy dissertations (which turn up as unbound, single-page sheets) are sent by courier, and are slightly more expensive (say $44 as opposed to $37 for a pdf). Proquest also have a free service – PQDT OPEN which provides free access to some dissertations as downloadable pdf files – one example being Shaman Hatley’s The Brahmayamalatantra and early Saiva cult of yoginis which includes a critical appraisal of David Gordon White’s Kiss of the Yogini.

Questia is an online library where you can search and browse a catalogue of books, journals, magazine & newspaper articles in over 6,000 topic areas. An annual subscription is just over £60, which is not bad, considering the access to information – you can create your own “bookshelf” of publications and bookmark pages within publications. Downloading entire books and articles isn’t really possible, although you can copy-paste small chunks of text. Whilst nowhere as comprehensive in its scope as JSTOR (to gain access for the most part, you need to be affiliated with an educational institution such as a university – although some journals allow single articles to be purchased by non-affiliated individuals) it could be useful, depending on your field.

The University of California Press has an E-Books Collection some of which are only viewable by University of California staff, faculty, and students but there is also a publically-viewable collection of over 700 titles.

Finally, on the audio front, The Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies has a large archive of past lectures freely available for download in mp3 format, with lecture series from well-known scholars such as Gavin Flood and Patrick Olivelle.

5 comments

  1. Pallas Renatus
    Posted October 22nd 2010 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

    It’s posts like these that remind me to be thankful for the things my University provides access to for free… and the VPN that lets me access them from home!

  2. wupidoo
    Posted October 24th 2010 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    Mediated talk is cheap, these days, and I say that’s fair enough.

    As a researcher I receive no money for my work being published in a journal, and as a journal editorial board member I receive no money for peer reviewing the work of others. The publisher obviously makes money from subscriptions, but the margins are diminishing for hard copy. Institutions are able to block subscribe fairly cheaply and even individual subscriptions are often only about £60 per annum for online access to a decent journal, including the archive. Isn’t that just great, though? There should be greater investment in making this aspect of universities universal, I say.

    I have a friend who’s a small press publisher in his spare time. Sure he moans about e-books, but as I’ve pointed out, he will probably always have a customer base who are looking for the ‘value added’ features of his limited edition stuff. Those that copy his work would most likely have not bought the original anyway. He’ll never make a business of it, but so what!!

    I think we can probably also attribute most of the decline in occult book publishing to the shear volume of legitimate free material available on the net (of which this blog is a perfect example) and the ability of people to simply share learning via forums etc.

    Books are merely an over-commodified bi-product of a communication process. You only need to walk into any high street chain to see what happens when you over-commodify.

  3. wupidoo
    Posted October 24th 2010 at 9:02 pm | Permalink

    I also meant to say, there are some interesting animated lectures here:

    http://comment.rsablogs.org.uk/videos/

    • Phil Hine
      Posted October 25th 2010 at 6:26 am | Permalink

      wupidoo – thanks for those animated lectures – brilliant!

  4. Lex
    Posted October 25th 2010 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

    this is amazing!

    I remember reading in an interview with J.G. Ballard, where he wishes he could access the entire Harvard university library from his computer, 10 years down the road, any library now is accessible. (and my computer spell checks everything). Especially love that i can see videos or listen to audio lectures.

    but to quote a random Hip Hop DJ, has the fun of crate digging for records gone because of such easy access, maybe that’s inappropriate but i do miss learning from cooler or more “educated” people. don’t get me wrong, i love that everything is accessible, but I do hate that everything now has been done on my own initiative via my eyes.