Category Archives: University Presses

Moving the JHUP book archive (AKA Project Silverfish)

By Davida G. Breier


I became the fulfillment operations manager for Hopkins Fulfillment Services (HFS) in January 2010. My job description included several tangential tasks, including ordering archive copies of recently released titles and the laissez-faire management of the off-site JHUP archive. For many years HFS had its own distribution warehouse, but in 2001 HFS partnered with Maple Logistics Solutions and stock was moved to Pennsylvania. At that point, the archive was transferred to a warehouse in Hampden, a Baltimore neighborhood near JHUP’s offices. After several failed attempts to visit the archive location, I finally made it there in July 2013.


The warehouse served multiple purposes, including being a print shop and graveyard for unloved office furniture. Unfortunately, it was ill-suited for the purpose of archiving books. The space wasn’t climate controlled, and it was immediately evident that damage was occurring from damp, dust, and possibly very small wildlife.

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Furthermore, the books were shelved in such a way as to appeal to spelunkers. Bringing order to chaos is probably my greatest strength (and weakness). I immediately, and naively, offered to take on moving the books to a safe, dry location.


Initially, I thought this would be a simple project. I calculated supplies, time, space, and cost based on spreadsheets, and spreadsheets never lie.

The project estimate was based on existing data about the archive.

The project estimate was based on existing data about the archive.

I completely underestimated how many books were in really storage. Ultimately, there were almost twice as many as the data led me to believe. I also underestimated how much I would grow to hate the feel of sticky, dusty plastic shrink wrap used to protect the books a decade or more ago. The plastic (and its deterioration) became the bane of this project.

In the end, I told the JHUP director that it would take three months to complete the project . . . three months in dog years, apparently.


Paul Peroutka, Malcolm Wallace, Erik Smist, and I moved the books from the warehouse to a Press conference room in stages. Initially, Cordellia Yokum and I worked on cataloging books, but other HFS projects demanded our time, so I hired two student workers over the course of the project to help clean and catalog. Darlene Sparks, Olakunle Omolabi, and Linda Edmonds all helped clean and bag the books. Malcolm built countless boxes. This was a team effort that took two years to complete.

Because the books had spent years in the warehouse, we had to deal with some damp, dust, and mold. We kept a dehumidifier and an air purifier going at all times in the conference room. The shrink wrap used to initially protect the books had begun to damage them. Over time, it contracted and began sticking to books with glossy dust jackets and laminated covers. It had to be cut off carefully, and the residue had to be removed from the books with minute amounts of Goo Gone. Once clean and dry, the books were bagged and ready to be cataloged.

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For ease of locating books, and in the interest of possibly working with the JHU Sheridan Libraries in the future, we decided to organize the books by year. For example, box 1965C contains books published in 1965. Each book in the box was placed in a sealed Mylar bag stickered with a 1965C label. As boxes were filled, they were transported to the new storage facility and arranged in stacks by year.

When assessing materials and cost, I realized that a childhood spent in comic book stores was finally useful (and no one is more concerned about budget-conscious, semi-fanatical preservation than comic book aficionados). We used archival quality Mylar bags, short boxes, and wraparounds that allowed the boxes to be paired and then stacked.

Paul transported completed boxes to the EZ Storage facility, two blocks south of the Press buildings. During the course of the project he had to navigate ongoing construction on Charles Street and the 26th Street collapse.


The revised count of books in the archive totaled 16,545, with an additional 86 books added that were found, but were not yet in our database. Total books in the archive now stands at over 17,000, with new books added each month. For new books, we use month and year to catalog (e.g., the first December 2015 box will be labeled 201512A).

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The final step of the project was making the books more visible in Allbooks, our internal database. Allbooks manager Bob Oeste created a new section in the database and imported all the new archive locations into it.

archive now stands at The archive now holds more than 17,000 volumes, with new books added each month.

The archive now holds more than 17,000 volumes, with new books added each month.

Within the first few weeks of completion of the project we had more requests to view and use archive books than we had in the last four years.

One book was scanned to create a print on demand file. As we look back at the books in the archive, we are also looking forward at the potential these books hold. They now stand the chance of coming back into print and being added to existing scholarship. And order was brought to chaos.

Davida G, Breier is the fulfillment operations manager for HFS at Johns Hopkins University Press.


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Religion, politics, and Charlie Sheen

By Kathryn Marguy

Of all the celebratory hullabaloo surrounding the release of Adele’s latest album, my favorite has to be Saturday Night Live’s “A Thanksgiving Miracle” sketch. The scene opens with a family gathered around the table for Thanksgiving. As they pass around the sweet potato casserole, various members of the family start bleating close-minded, occasionally racist commentary about current events. As tensions rise, a young girl, the smallest guest at the table, slowly rises and walks to the nearby stereo to blast Adele’s single, “Hello.” The adults immediately abandon their griping and sing along in synchrony. In typical SNL fashion, the scene unravels into absurdity, and it is glorious and I love it.

But (also in typical SNL fashion) the sketch raises an issue that is all too real: how is one to cope with the strong, often incorrect commentary of those you’re spending Thanksgiving with? Without Adele’s sultry siren’s call, how can you successfully traverse a conversation with your family’s Archie Bunker?

The answer? Cold, hard facts.

That’s where America’s Oldest University Press comes in. We’ve compiled a list of six books that will help you drop some knowledge on those Thanksgiving guests who might need an extra nudge toward reality. Within the pages of these books are many quotable quips to use in discussion. They’d also make great presents for those seeking more answers (bonus: they’re easy to wrap). We can’t guarantee these books will smooth a kerfuffle, but it’s always a good idea to go into a situation prepared with evidence-based reasoning. Plus, you can use the code “HDPD” for 30% off these enlightening texts!

Already on the road? You’ll be happy to know all of these books are available in an electronic format for on-the-go reading.

The holiday season is upon us, curious readers. Spread good cheer and a little bit of knowledge this year.

callahanThe Science of Mom, by Alice Callahan, PhD

It seems everyone has an opinion about proper parenting (this includes those with and without children). Whether you face discussions of co-sleeping, baby’s nutrition, or the absurdly volatile matter of immunizations, Dr. Alice Callahan has you covered.

formisano15Plutocracy in America, by Ronald P. Formisano

This is a big one. Dr. Formisano’s data-driven book gets to the root of inequality in America. After reading its easy-to-digest chapters, you’ll be able to share relevant statistics and information about legislation without batting an eye as you ladle gravy over your potatoes.

paulImmunity, by William Paul

Let’s face it, the topic of Charlie Sheen is ripe for conversation, no matter how dignified your dinner guests. It’s easy to caricature his situation to make assumptions about HIV. Shut down erroneous chatter with a comprehensive look at immunology from the man who led innovation in the field for the past three decades.

smithDiversity’s Promise for Higher Education, second edition,
by Daryl G. Smith

Beyond flashy headlines and dramatic images, the lack of diversity in higher education identifies a problem not with football players or student protesters, but with institutional leadership. Dr. Daryl Smith provides tangible solutions to the growing issues with diversity on college campuses.

prasadEnding Medical Reversal,
by Vinayak K. Prasad, MD, MPH, and Adam S. Cifu, MD

We’d like to think new treatment and tests represent advances in the field of medicine. But what happens when doctors start using a medication, procedure, or diagnostic tool without a robust evidence base? Medical reversal, that’s what. Drs. Prasad and Cifu help readers discern best medical practices based on facts, not Cousin Brittney’s assurances.

dowdGroundless, by Gregory Dowd

The elephant at every Thanksgiving table is the genocide of Native Americans that shortly followed the first Thanksgiving. Groundless looks at rumors and tall tales that pervaded early-American culture, many of which cast aspersions on Native Americans. In this fascinating book, historian Gregory Dowd refutes numerous folk stories, including the legend that the English gave smallpox blankets to Powhatan’s people.

Kathryn Marguy (@pubkat) is a publicist at Johns Hopkins University Press.


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Filed under Cultural Studies, Current Affairs, Education, For Everyone, History, Holidays, Politics, Public Health, Publishing News, University Presses

One link for each of MUSE’s 20 years

For this “Throwback Thursday” of University Press Week, we’re pleased to point to a terrific post on Project MUSE Commons that celebrates 20 years of innovation, service, and success. “Twenty years may not seem like a big anniversary, especially compared to many university presses, but for a digital publishing venture twenty years is almost like a centennial!” Cheers to MUSE and the university press community!


MUSE Commons logo

Read the post “One Link for Each of MUSE’s 20 Years.”



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Filed under AAUP, Academia, Digital Content, MUSE, Publishing News, University Press Week, University Presses

Back in time

by Greg Britton

For University Press Week, JHUP’s editorial director considers the future of scholarly publishing.

Most attempts to imagine the future fall short. This becomes more true the more specific our guess is. In Back to the Future II, Doc Brown sets the clock on his time machine ahead precisely to October 21, 2015. Of course, the filmmakers got most details of what life would be like in 2015 wrong. Over breakfast that actual morning, my daughter asked why we didn’t have hoverboards. The only thing I could think to say was, “because we don’t have a flux capacitor strong enough.”

Greg B post Back-to-the-FutureWhat did Stanley Kubrick get right in 2001: A Space Odyssey? Those teaching the novel 1984 know they have to remind students that George Orwell was writing about the future he saw, one that now predates their own birth. In his 1895 novella The Time Machine, H. G. Wells had the good sense to set the future far enough away—802,701 AD, to be precise—thus avoiding such disappointments. As humans we have a primal desire to predict the future, which is remarkable because we are so bad at it. It’s easy to guess, hope, or even dread what’s around the chronological corner, but it is almost impossible to get it right.

So it is with questions about the future of the scholarly publishing. I was first asked to speak about the “Future of the Book” in the early 1990s back when symposia like this were happening everywhere. Guessing what would happen wasn’t particularly hard, but looking back at what I said now makes me cringe. I got almost nothing right: books didn’t go away, nor did independent bookstores. The codex wasn’t supplanted by files delivered on floppy disk or CD-ROM. Although we did see a dramatic consolidation in trade publishing, it left remarkable opportunities for upstart independent and scholarly publishers. The Internet was only a hint of what it is today. It was a world before Amazon and a sole surviving bookstore chain. We had not yet heard of Kindles, apps, or smartphones. Still, we feared that the book, a five-hundred-year-old technology, was on its deathbed.

In thinking back to those early conversations, it seems that any predictions about format were wrong. The book didn’t go away, but it morphed into a fascinating array of other delivery systems. We can read books on our laptops, our phones, our televisions, and, well, on paper. In the future, we can anticipate that formats won’t really matter—readers will chose how they want the content when and where they want it. Content will leapfrog from technology to technology.

Second, we might anticipate that content will be infinitely more interactive than it is now. We see hints of this with adaptive learning systems that tailor content to a students’ needs. I imagine a time when books will communicate with each other, forming a true network of information that links content across time and space. Readers, too, will communicate with each other through annotations; entire conversations will happen alongside the text itself.

To do this, it will be essential for publishers to become hyper-cooperative not just with each other (around common technologies, copyrights, and standards), but with librarians, technologists, scholarly societies, and the scholars themselves. It is utopian to imagine a library of the world’s knowledge, but who would have predicted the improbable success of Wikipedia two decades ago? Scholarly publishing has always been a group effort. Collaboration will be essential in the future.

So, what is the future of scholarly publishing? I will hazard a guess. I think it will be innovative, interactive, and multimodal. It will be collaborative, interdisciplinary, and global. It will be essential. I can say this with even greater confidence: it will be really, really cool. And, of course, I will come to work on a hoverboard if we can build a flux capacitor strong enough.

Greg Britton is the editorial director in the books division at Johns Hopkins University Press. Follow him on Twitter at @gmbritton



Filed under AAUP, Academia, Publishing News, University Press Week, University Presses

OP (but not forgotten): The unlikely story of “Mr. Bones”

By Becky Clark

For University Press Week, JHUP’s director of marketing looks back on one of our most surprising publishing successes.

Leon Schlossberg

Leon Schlossberg

Once upon a time, years before cell phones, the Internet, and Project MUSE, the bestselling item from the Johns Hopkins University Press was a three-dimensional anatomical skeleton developed by Leon Schlossberg, one of America’s foremost medical artists.

From the time of its introduction in 1961 until manufacturing was discontinued in 2003, the 18-inch polyethylene and vinyl skeleton, “Mr. Bones,” was a sensation, even making an appearance on NBC’s Today Show in 1974. The 1985 release of a 35-inch model—“L.L. Bones,” named in honor of a certain catalog company in Maine—was covered by the Los Angeles Times.

Mr Bones 1Alas, the end of the twentieth century brought changes in the anatomical model business. The market softened, and sales of the hand-assembled Hopkins skeletons were hurt by cheaper models manufactured offshore. After a phenomenal 42-year run that generated more than $3.5 million of revenue, the Press made the difficult decision to declare Mr. Bones out of print.

Astute collectors might be able to buy a used Mr. Bones model—distinguished by Mr. Schlossberg’s copyright notice on the back of the left tibia—from eBay or other resellers. And there are several copies of Mr. Bones and L.L. Bones (one decorated with a purple mylar cape) in the Press offices. The few remaining pristine models are safely ensconced in the Press archives.

Becky Clark is the director of marketing in the books division at Johns Hopkins University Press.

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Five design awards for JHU Press at the New York Book Show

NYBS posterJHU Press art director, Martha Sewall, shared the wonderful news that an armful of JHUP books won awards at the recent New York Book Show. She reports that the annual event, sponsored by the Book Industry Guild of New York, is “a big show that includes entries from New York publishers along with university presses.” Congratulations to Martha and her talented team for this much-deserved recognition from book industry colleagues. We invite you, in spirit of celebratory excess, to use promo code “HDPD” to receive a 30% discount when you order your copies of these award-winning books.

youth1st Place Book – Trade, Quality Paperback
Field Guide to the Natural World of Washington, D.C.
by Howard Youth

Kimberly Glyder, Text and Cover Design
Robert Schreur, Production Coordinator

Olmstedss2posted1st Place Book – Scholarly Publishing
Frederick Law Olmsted: Plans and Views of Public Parks
edited by Charles E. Beveridge, Lauren Meier, and Irene Mills

Maia Wright, Text and Cover Design
Robert Schreur, Production Coordinator

Shumway_Rock Star3rd Place Book – Cover Design, College (Scholarly) Publishing
Rock Star: The Making of Musical Icons from Elvis to Springsteen
by David R. Shumway

John Barnett, Cover Design
Robert Schreur, Production Coordinator

epsteinMerit Award – College (Scholarly) Publishing
Sublime Noise: Musical Culture and the Modernist Writer
by Josh Epstein

Tracy Baldwin, Cover Design
Glen Burris, Text Design
Robert Schreur, Production Coordinator

rosenMerit Award – Cover Design, College (Scholarly) Publishing
A History of Public Health, revised expanded edition  
by George Rosen

Martha Sewall, Cover Design
Robert Schreur, Production Coordinator

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A few thoughts from JHUP publicity manager Kathy Alexander (before she retires this week)

Guest post by Yasmine Z. Kaminsky

Kathy, MissKathy Alexander, the publicity manager in the books marketing department at JHU Press, is retiring this October after fourteen years at JHUP. In her retirement, Kathy is looking forward to spending time with her family, writing a cookbook, focusing on her music, traveling, sewing, and painting. She is the coauthor of Chessie Racing: The Story of Maryland’s Entry in the 1997–1998 Whitbread Round the World Race, published by JHU Press in 2001.

YZK: What made you decide a career in publicity was for you?

KA: I sort of fell into it. Years ago, I was the PR person for the local syndicate, Chessie Racing, in the Whitbread Round the World Race, 1997–1998. I quit a good job so that I could travel around the world with the crew. I flew from port to port, helping to set up camp, dealing with the media, and taking reporters out for a sail. It was a nine-month adventure. After I was over, I decided to write a book about it. I promptly convinced the person who financed the syndicate to pay me to write it. We called it Chessie Racing, and Hopkins Press published it. Not long after its publication, my publicist took another position at the Press and asked if I was interested in his position. I went in to my interview the very next day. Landed the job. The rest is history.

YZK: Could you describe a typical day at JHU Press?

KA: The answer is that there is none. Absolutely none! In publicity you are constantly reacting. You see something in the news, and you’re crafting your pitch and reaching out to reporters who are following the story. You’re searching your database, Googling around, and making cold calls all over the place. If you score an interview, you might have to teach your author/expert how to do an interview by skype, or just an interview. (Remember to smile; I swear you can hear a smile. A phone interview—stand up! It will keep you focused on the conversation.)

An author lands a review or an interview and suddenly you’re Facebooking and Tweeting and sending a note to the sales reps so they can utilize it.

A colleague calls in sick, and suddenly you’re working on her books as well as your own. That can bring a bit of a learning curve with it. You know the books and authors you are working on. You probably won’t know theirs as well.

And then there are always review lists and meetings, getting books to events, and who knows what emergency might pop up.

YZK: During your time here, you have worked with hundreds and hundreds of books. What, exactly, do you think makes a book marketable?

KA: That’s the million-dollar question. I’m probably better equipped to tell you what makes a book catch the media’s attention. If the topic is in the news, it has a shot. If the author is a willing partner and is available, it has an even better shot. For example, hep C, traumatic brain injury, and presidential transitions are in the news. I can pitch our books, Hepatitis C, The Traumatized Brain, and Before the Oath. A few years ago, these topics might have gone unnoticed. Now the media is interested. The next time there is a plane or train crash, we’ve got it covered.

It’s what’s in the news or of interest to reporters, and—and this is a key and—an author who is a willing partner. If an author says, “I’ve written this book and I’ve done my work,” that doesn’t give you a lot to pitch. I much prefer an author who is willing to get out there. I firmly believe their job is not over when the book is published. In fact, it has just begun. An expert with a book is a publicist’s dream come true. In today’s market, that means they have to be willing to take interviews, blog, lecture, etc., etc. I don’t want to take over my authors’ lives, but I do want them to be an involved partner.

YZK: What have been your favorite parts about working at the Press?

KA: I really like my colleagues. They’ve made it fun to come in every day. They are creative and kind and smart and thoughtful, and they always have my back, and I like to think they feel the same about me.

Then I have my authors! There are some authors that I absolutely love working with: Leslie Day, Martha Kumar, Frank Mondimore and Don Lincoln. It’s not the topic; it’s the author. These four have each had multiple books and recent books, so I’ve spent a lot of time with them and they are fresh in my mind. For me, the ideal author is a willing author who is proud of his/her work, has a sense of humor, and is open to new ideas and old ideas. Gosh, now I’m suddenly thinking of my other authors that I’m particularly fond of. There are so many.

YZK: What advice do you have to someone starting to dip his or her toes into publicity?

KA: I would try to get a job or an internship or volunteer position at a publishing company, a magazine or newspaper, and/or a radio or television station. Learn what they’re looking for in people and how they do things. As a publicist, you’re going to be selling your product to the media; you’re going to be selling stories, selling experts—learn what the media need, what they want, how they want it, and how fast they need it. Your future publicity/sales pitches will be much, much easier to craft and craft well. Get yourself comfortable online because that’s where the media is going these days. Talk to other people in the field. Talk to other publicists. Talk to PR people. If you can’t land an internship at a radio or a TV or a print place, ask if you can have an informational interview. You want to find friends or family who can make an introduction, and you want to ask if you can do just an informational interview. Network! Make friends with every single one of them. You want to get it to the point where they know your name six months down the road. Never be afraid to network. In addition to helping you find a job, it will help you WITH that job. Publicists can’t by shy.

Oh, and never leave a job on a bad note. You never know when you’ll need a former connection!

Yasmine Kaminsky, a student at Johns Hopkins University, studies English and interns in JHU Press’s marketing department.




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Filed under Behind the Scenes, Food / Cooking, Marketing, University Presses

Don’t miss the 2015 Baltimore Book Festival, September 25-27

BBF 2015 logo-bbfLook for books from Johns Hopkins University Press at the Ivy Bookshop tent at this year’s Baltimore Book Festival!  The Festival takes place at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor  this weekend–with great music, food, and books, books, books (and more books).  The Ivy tent on Rash Field features a JHUP table with a display of some of our latest regional titles, and several of our authors will speak and sign books during the weekend. Read on for more information and a 2015 festival map.

Friday, September 25, 3:00 p.m. at the Inner Harbor Stage
Michael Olesker, Front Stoops in the Fifties: Baltimore Legends Come of Age
Charles W. Mitchell, Travels through American History in the Mid-Atlantic: A Guide for All Ages

Saturday, September 26, 12:00 p.m. at the Ivy Bookshop Stage
Martha Joynt Kumar, Before the Oath: How George W. Bush and Barack Obama Managed a Transfer of Power


Saturday, September 26, 12:30 p.m. at the Food for Thought Stage
John Shields, Chesapeake Bay Cooking



Filed under American History, Baltimore, Book talks, Current Affairs, Food / Cooking, Press Events, Regional-Chesapeake Bay, University Presses, Writing

Are you reading Project MUSE Commons?

Our friends over at Project MUSE have created a wonderful blog called Project MUSE Commons to highlight the amazing range of journals and books they make available to readers around the world. The Staff Spotlight feature, written by Alyssa Weinstein, has been a great introduction to some of the talented and dedicated colleagues who make MUSE such a highly-regarded member of the scholarly community. We are pleased to excerpt portions of three posts here, and we cordially invite you to read the full interviews and much more at Project MUSE Commons.

Project MUSE Commons logo

Michael SeidingerStaff Spotlight: Michael J. Seidlinger

It’s not surprising that at a place like Project MUSE, the people who work here are as interesting as MUSE itself. We want our readers to get to know our people a little better. We start this new staff spotlight series with Michael Seidlinger, production specialist at MUSE. Michael is a writer and the owner and operator of an independent press.

1. What brought you to Project MUSE?

Dean Smith was a professor of mine while I was in the graduate publishing program at George Washington University. He was one of the few professors that I really connected with, frequently chatting about publishing goals, publishing trends, and so forth. I believe it was in November or December of last year, via the GW cohort Facebook group, that Dean posted about an opening at Muse. I applied and mentioned it to Dean, who told me that it was a wise move. Skip the interview process, the move to Baltimore, and the first day, week, month—here I am, at MUSE, happily part of the team.

2. We hear you are an author. What do you write?

Yeah, but I feel like most of us are authors in that we all carry along with us a suitcase full of stories, dreams, and aspirations, just waiting to be told. I feel like what an author, specifically a “published one,” does is cannibalize and curate those stories, the material that most of us hold dear, into some readable form. In that sense, I write fiction affected by experience, marked by memory. In another, more direct sense, I write surrealist fiction, mostly novels and novellas. I cannibalize all that I’ve felt and reuse those emotions, memories, and feelings as raw material for the page. I am both proud and ashamed of being a cannibal. And yet, I’m still doing just that—so I don’t know what that says about me.

3. Have any of your books made it to MUSE or been reviewed on MUSE?

Yes, and that was quite the surprise. A novel of mine called The Fun We’ve Had, which was published in May of 2014, was recently reviewed by a journal that publishes with MUSE—American Book Review. I still remember when I was zoned out, working as usual, headphones on, focus attuned to the computer screen, any other workday really, pushing the task at hand, when David, a fellow colleague and friend of mine, walked up and let me know that he was splitting/processing the review. Given that I had pretty much forgotten all about that book, and everything it took to make it a reality, I guess you could call that an amazing surprise, the stuff that could truly “make” a day.

The the entire interview here.

Lora CzarnowskyStaff Spotlight: Lora Czarnowsky

Project MUSE’s customer support coordinator, Lora Czarnowsky, is one of MUSE’s longest time staff members. What I bet you didn’t know is that, besides doing so much hard work here, she also volunteers, raised three awesome kids, and is very active in all of her communities. Keep reading to learn more about this awesome lady!

 1. You have a very rich heritage. Tell us about it.

I come from a very mixed background, which is always fun. My  family is  of Irish, French, German and Native American ancestry. Growing up as a mixed race woman, I’ve been able to view life through different lenses. I would say I identify with my Native American roots most of all. I am what is known as Metis. Métis are people of mixed European and Indigenous ancestry, and one of the three recognized Aboriginal peoples in Canada. I grew up during some explosive times and got to witness a lot of this first hand.  Realizing we have third world conditions within the United States truly opened my eyes.

2. What is your favorite Native American ritual?

It’s really not a ritual, but one of my favorite things is a good powwow. We come together as a community and offer prayers, sing, feel the heartbeat of the drum, and dance. It’s a time to feel like family again.

3. How have your roots helped to shape the way you see the world?

I have been to powwows across the country, spent time on Pine Ridge, and marched on Washington with AIM (the Native American Movement) and other groups. I have seen a people with great pride and big hearts fighting to save their culture. Native Americans are the forgotten minority. Our children have the highest suicide rates and that is because they have lost hope of a future. I have seen men Sun Dance till they collapsed as the entire community gathered to support their prayers. It’s hard not to be humbled when you see the real side of Native American life.

Read the entire interview here.

Steve AllenStaff Spotlight: Steve Allen

Steve Allen has been with Project MUSE for just about four years. He currently works in tech and is one of the more hilarious bloggers to appear on the Commons. See his post, “How Lincoln Drove Me Crazy.”

1. You just joined the tech team after being in production for three years. What is it like looking at MUSE from a totally different perspective?

The similarities are there. The job changes, but the little things all stay the same. Production has little issues with our systems that no one vocalizes because they don’t matter in the grand scheme, just like tech. As a weird hybrid-bridge person in the position of having recently transferred, I could identify some of these issues and try to find fixes. Production makes content go, and tech allows production to make content go. They’re still related, but on the tech side now, it’s less about making the content go and more about trying to help the people who actually do the work. It’s different, but with the same goal.

2. You have some really cool hobbies. Can you tell us about two of them and explain what got you into them and why you love them?

You know, “cool” is a really subjective word. And then to further clarify and categorize my hobbies as “REALLY cool” is . . . difficult to reconcile for me.

I paint miniatures and create landscaped tables on which one might play various war games. So “cool,” I think, is an impossibility, and “really cool” should be immediately thrown out the proverbial window, but I’m okay with my hobby being “different.” Different is way easier to justify.

I mean sure, I spent years honing a craft. That’s pretty cool. But wait, the downward slope begins. I have many, many tubes of acrylic paints and brushes of different sizes and shapes ranging from really small to “there are three fibers coming out of this fulcrum.”

I’ve spent maybe too long deciding on color schemes and the proper allocation of tones between cloth, skin, leather, and metallic surfaces, making sure I have enough contrast between layers while still retaining the unity of a theme. I’ve spent definitely too long cutting sections of solid foam insulation, sanding and texturing, then choosing the right equipment and products to create fantastical landscapes that look satisfying, but also allow dice to roll across unimpeded.

Also, I play Dungeons & Dragons and build all my computers at home. If I’m going to check the “plays tabletop war games” box on my nerd scorecard, I may as well check all of them.

3. Tell us about your pets.

Right now I have a corgi named Loki. He’s calmed down a lot from his puppy days, but is still way, way into Frisbees. He’s basically the best Frisbee retrieval device on the face of the Earth. No sentient being has come close to taking that title from him.

We had a border collie named Butters on loan for a while from my mother-in-law, but it wasn’t a good fit. Loki’s a one-dog-per-house kind of dog. The jealousy to fur ratio there is basically 3/1, and that guy has two coats of fur. They did the math, and it equated to “You pet me now, don’t even look at that border collie. I can smell you thinking about it and that’s terrible.”

Read the entire interview here.

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My summer at the Press: a bookworm’s tale

Guest post by Yasmine Kaminsky

Growing up in a suburb, summer meant two things to me: ice cream and books. If I was lucky, the two came hand in hand. Most afternoons, my brother and I, snow cone devotees, strained our ears to be the first to hear “The Entertainer” play from the ice cream truck’s speakers. The best afternoons, though, were the ones when our library’s massive bookmobile wound its way along our neighborhood’s streets.

YasmineI would run full-speed toward the bookmobile and wave my library card in the air for entry. It was with both sheepishness and awe that I gazed at the colossal, nearly bursting shelves inside. Bright and heavy with beautiful hardcovers turned soft through re-readings, the shelves were full of stories: glass slippers and curious monkeys and French schoolgirls walking in two straight lines and a talking Pooh Bear, too. Our librarian was always ready to supply me with my next adventure. I guess you could call me lore-struck.

My whole life, literature has guided me. It has been my entertainer, my instructor, my comforter, my challenger, my inspiration. Although I have been a declared English major for only about a year at Johns Hopkins, I have known since a young age that I want to live a life surrounded by books. It feels only natural, then, to be spending my summer at a place where books are made, the Johns Hopkins University Press.

I began working in the marketing department of the JHU Press as their publicity coordinator in late June. I will admit that on my first day I was a bit intimidated. By that, I mean, despite rehearsing the routine the day before, I walked the wrong way to work after getting off at the bus stop on 27th, heartily attempted opening the front door before our receptionist Andrea buzzed me in and, by mid-afternoon, was fairly certain I had broken the scanner. (Don’t worry! The scanner is actually whole and well.)

I can assure you, though, that my new-hire nerves did not last long. After all, it is hard not to feel at home when Kathryn is a Harry Potter fan; Jack has endless book suggestions; Kathy knows all the vegetarian restaurants in Baltimore; Susan brightens the department with flowers; Robin offers mango ginger chews and beet soup; and our authors reply to emails with sweet messages that never fail to make my day. I feel extraordinarily fortunate to be working in a supportive environment where I feel included and appreciated by the people with whom I work and where my daily tasks consist of more than just intern drudgework.

As a result, this summer has been a whirlwind of exposure to the “real world” of publishing for me, and I have been most certainly surrounded by some beautiful books. (Shout out to Couldn’t Prove, Had to Promise; Finding Your Emotional Balance; The 160-Character Solution; and Otherworldly Politics, which have all nudged their way onto my ever-hungry, ever-growing reading list.) Although my day-to-day antics have, of course, included some typical intern duties (I’m that person periodically hogging the scanner and becoming thoroughly familiar with the green files housed on the third floor), I have been a part of some exciting projects as well.

I have read countless reviews of our books and selected heart-warming blurbs to post online for our authors. I have helped our publicists create review lists so that our titles can find their way into readers’ loving arms. I have attended a launch meeting, during which representatives from various departments discussed how to approach upcoming titles, and have taken copious notes. I have talked to our authors about their marketing questionnaires, which are designed to help the marketing team reach their books’ target audiences, and I have proofed publicity kit materials promoting our writers. In other words, I have been doing my best to get some good books under the right pairs of eyes.

When it comes down to it, what I love about JHU Press is that, every morning, I am excited to be here. So far, I have learned even more than I could have imagined, and for that I am grateful. However, I am forever a Curious George at heart, and I realize that there is still a lot to learn. I plan to use the rest of my time here not only mastering the fine art of filing (believe me, it is an art), but also continuing to learn as much as possible about publishing—and, of course, like any good bookworm, I plan to read many, many books as well. Preferably with a snow cone in hand.

Yasmine Kaminsky, a student at Johns Hopkins University, studies English and interns in JHU Press’s marketing department.



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