Publications

2021
Knowlton, Steven A.Liberian County Flags in Historical and Cultural Context”. Raven: A Journal of Vexillology 28 (2021): , 28, 57–90. Print.Abstract
The flags of Liberia’s counties are often derided in social media forums as “childish”, “poorly designed”, or “ugly”. However, such judgments, derived from European flag design traditions, fail to account for the cultural and political context in which the flags were created. This paper explores the historical circumstances of their introduction in the mid-1960s—a time of rising discontent among indigenous Liberians opposed to the government dominated by Americo-Liberians. The introduction of county flags—which draw upon Americo-Liberian quilting traditions and serve as a genre of flag design unique to the nation—served the political and cultural purposes of the ruling elite. This paper also addresses the reception by European and American audiences of flags employing an African artistic tradition, and how that reception is reflected in social media discussions of Liberian county flags.
knowltonliberianflags.pdf
2020
and Knowlton, Steven A., Clay Moss. “Mississippi Votes Yes on a New Flag”. Vexillum (2020): , 27–31. Print. mississippivotesyesonanewflag.pdf
Knowlton, Steven A.How Mississippi Changed Its Flag, Following Bans On the Confederate Flag In the Military and Sports”. Vexillum 11 (2020): , 11, 16–23. Print. howmississippichangeditsflag.pdf
Knowlton, Steven A.A Rapidly Escalating Demand: Academic Libraries and the Birth of Black Studies Programs”. Libraries: Culture, History, and Society 42 (2020): , 4, 2, 178–200. Print.Abstract
In the late 1960s, many universities created Black Studies programs in response to student demands. Because of the rapidity with which Black Studies became a discipline on campus, academic libraries faced challenges related to building collections and providing services for students when little time was available to plan for the changes. Within the context of political debates of the day, both within and outside of library administration, the responses of academic libraries to student demands leaned toward supporting a “liberal” vision of Black studies as an academic discipline similar to other disciplines, and away from supporting a “radical” vision of Black studies as a means of community empowerment. This article examines the responses of four academic libraries—at New York University, Rutgers University, Princeton University, and the University of Pennsylvania—to the advent of Black Studies on their campuses between 1966 and 1971.
rapidlyescalatingdemand.pdf
2019
Knowlton, Steven A.The Minute Man Flag and the Army-Navy ‘E’ Flag: Unifying Symbols for the American Home Front in World War II”. Raven: A Journal of Vexillology 26 (2019) (2019): n. pag. Print. minutemanflagknowlton.pdf
2018
Howard, Sara A., and Steven A. Knowlton. “Browsing Through Bias: The Library of Congress Classification and Subject Headings for African American Studies and LGBTQIA Studies”. Library Trends 67.1 (2018): , 67, 1, 74-88. Print.Abstract

The knowledge organization system prepared by the Library of Congress (LC) and widely used in academic libraries has some disadvantages for researchers in the fields of African American studies and LGBTQIA studies.  The interdisciplinary nature of those fields means that browsing in stacks or shelflists organized by LC Classification requires looking in numerous locations.  As well, persistent bias in the language used for subject headings, as well as the hierarchy of classification for books in these fields, continues to “other” the peoples and topics that populate these titles.  This paper offers tools to help researchers have a holistic view of applicable titles across library shelves and hopes to become part of a larger conversation regarding social responsibility and diversity in the library community.

browsingthroughbiaspublished.pdf
Knowlton, Steven A.The Foundation of Cossitt Library and the Inauguration of Library Service to African Americans in Memphis and Shelby County”. West Tennessee Historical Society Papers 71 (2018): , 71, 38-64. Print.Abstract

The quasi-public library of Memphis, the Cossitt Library, was founded as a philanthropic institution in 1888. The first branch that served African Americans was established within the walls of the LeMoyne Institute. Later, service was extended through another branch in Howe Institute—which was later closed—and then a standalone branch that moved several times in the 1930s before settling on a plot on Vance Avenue.  The discrepancy between funding and services offered to African American and white Memphians both shaped and was shaped by the strictures of Jim Crow segregation in the South.

knowltonfoundationofcossitt.pdf
Knowlton, Steven A.Flags for the Fallen: Use of the American Flag in Funerals of Police Officers and Military Personnel”. Vexillum 1 (2018): , 1, 18-23. Print.Abstract
The use of flags as funeral palls is explored through the lenses of history, anthropology, semiotics, and sociology.
knowltonflagsforthefallen.pdf
Knowlton, Steven A.‘Since I Was a Citizen, I Had the Right to Attend the Library’: The KeyRole of the Public Library in the Civil Rights Movement in Memphis.”. An Unseen Light: Black Struggles for Freedom in Memphis, Tennessee. Lexington: University of Kentucky Press, 2018. 203-27. Print.Abstract
The segregated public library in Memphis, Tennessee, was the site of the some of earliest successful activism against the regime of racial separation in the Bluff City. In 1958, Jesse Turner filed a lawsuit that ultimately led to the total desegregation of the library in 1961, and in 1960 a series of sit-ins led by students from LeMoyne College and Owen Junior College kicked off a city-wide campaign of direct action that led to the desegregation of most public facilities in the city by 1963.
knowltonsinceiwasacitizen.pdf
Knowlton, Steven A. 'Show Me the Race or the Nation without a Flag, and I Will Show You a Race of People without Any Pride': The Flags of Black Nationalist Organizations as Disambiguating Responses to Polysemic National Symbols”. Raven: A Journal of Vexillology 24 (2018): , 24, 27-61. Print. knowlton_flags_of_black_nationalist_organizations.pdf
Perkins Barton, Gail, George E. Relyea, and Steven A. Knowlton. “Rethinking the Subscription Paradigm for Journals: Using Interlibrary Loan in Collection Development for Serials”. College & Research Libraries 79.2 (2018): , 79, 2, 279-90. Web. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Many librarians evaluate local Interlibrary Loan (ILL) statistics in order to affect collection development decisions concerning new subscriptions. In this study, the authors examine whether the number of ILL article requests received in one academic year can predict the use of those same journal titles once added to library resources. There is little correlation between ILL requests for individual titles and their later use as subscribed titles. However, there is strong correlation between ILL requests within a subject category and later use of subscribed titles in that subject category. An additional study examining the sources from which patrons made ILL requests shows that database search results, not journal titles, dominate. These results call into question the need for libraries to subscribe to individual journal titles rather than providing access to a broad array of articles.

bartonrethinking.pdf
2017
Knowlton, Steven A.‘The Older It Gets, The Colder It Gets’: Time Required for Cataloging of a Book Affects the Likelihood of Its Circulation.”. Technicalities 37.5 (2017): , 37, 5, 1, 4-6. Print. knowlton-theolderitgets.pdf
Knowlton, Steven A.Coloniality, Westphalian Sovereignty, and Flag Design: The Francophone African Case”. Flag Research Quarterly 15.2 (2017): , 15, 2, 8-14. Print. colonialityetc.pdf
Knowlton, Steven A.The 'Negro Branch' Library in Memphis: A Case Study of Public Services in a Segregated Southern City”. Libraries: Culture, History, and Society 11 (2017): , 1, 1, 23-45. Print.Abstract

Memphis was a pioneer among southern cities in providing segregated library services to African Americans in 1903. However, those services were unequal to
services offered to white citizens, and subject to political forces aimed at perpetuating white supremacy. By the 1930s African Americans had become a crucial voting bloc that supported the political machine of “Boss” Crump, who dominated city government between 1927 and 1954. Improved library service was one of many civic amenities that were provided in African American ommunities as part of an unstated bargain between the Crump machine and African American voters of Memphis. The library became one of many community-building institutions that helped a generation of African American
leaders in Memphis prepare for the struggles of the civil rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s.

knowlton-negrobranchlibrary.pdf
Grissom, Andrew R., Rachel Elizabeth Scott, and Steven A. Knowlton. “Perpetual Access Information in Serials Holdings Records”. Library Resources and Technical Services 61.1 (2017): , 61, 1, 57-62. Web. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Many librarians find it difficult to compile information about perpetual access to
their e-journals because it may be scattered across numerous license agreements.
Rather than creating and maintaining a database for perpetual access information
that is separate from the order records and holdings information found in
integrated library systems (ILS), the University of Memphis is using Innovative
Interfaces’ Sierra ILS. By leveraging fixed and variable-length fields to record
perpetual access information, we can perform queries and generate reports that
are helpful in making collection development and preservation decisions.

grissom_et_al_perpetual_access.pdf
2016
Jabaily, Matthew J., James R. Rodgers, and Steven A. Knowlton. “Leveraging Use‐by‐Publication‐Age Data in Serials Collection Decisions”. Charleston Conference 2016, pp. 292-302. Web. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Traditionally, usage figures for electronic serials have lumped all years of publication together. New tools give librarians information about usage according to the year of publication. They allow us to analyze the usage of current material separately from usage of content published in prior years. The relative value of current subscriptions and backfiles has important collection development implications. For example, many libraries subscribe directly to titles that are offered in aggregated databases, but with embargoes. The relative value of current content distinguished from prior years may be useful in reevaluating such subscription decisions. This paper discusses tools and techniques for analyzing usage by year of publication according to several measures—including COUNTER’s JR5 report, Google Analytics, ILL reports, and token reports, and discusses how librarians can use these tools to aid in decision‐making about serials collection development decisions.

leveraging_use-by-publication-age_data_in_serials_collection_deci.pdf
Knowlton, Steven A, and Adam C Sales. “Flag Proportions: Thoughts on Flag Families and Artistic Unity within Displays of Multiple Flags”. Flag Research Quarterly 9 (2016): , 9, 1-6. Print.Abstract

The proportions of a flag are an integral part of a flag’s design, and often reflect the history of the country. However, when flags are grouped for display, a uniform set of proportions is used for all flags. The scientific and aesthetic basis for that decision is discussed.

knowltonsales-flagproportions.pdf
Knowlton, Steven A. “A Two-Step Model for Assessing Relative Interest in E-books Compared to Print”. College and Research Libraries 77.1 (2016): , 77, 1, 20-33. Print.Abstract

Librarians often wish to know whether readers in a particular discipline favor e-books or print books. Because print circulation and e-book usage statistics are not directly comparable, it can be hard to determine the relative interest of readers in the two types of books. This study demonstrates a two-step method by which librarians can assess the appeal of books in various formats. First, a nominal assessment of use or nonuse is performed; this eliminates the difficulty of comparing print circulation to e-book usage statistics. Then, the comparison of actual use to Percentage of Expected Use (PEU) is made. By examining the distance between PEU of e-books to PEU of print books in a discipline, librarians can determine whether patrons have a strong preference for one format over another.

knowltontwostepmodel.pdf
2015
Robinson, Bess, Perveen Rustomfram, and Steven A. Knowlton. “Everyone Has a Place at the Table – Now What? Making the Best of the Meetings You Lead and Attend”. Tennessee Libraries 65.3 (2015). Print.Abstract

ou know how you feel after a really good meeting…ignited, excited, empowered…part of something larger than yourself?! Meetings can inspire community, spark ideas, and advance progress toward establishing and achieving goals. Meetings can also be enervating—a frustrating waste of time for everyone involved. This articles presents ideas for how to prepare for and facilitate good meetings—in-person and online.

everyone_has_a_place_at_the_table_-_now_what.pdf
Knowlton, Steven A, Iula Kristanciuk, and Matthew J Jabaily. “Spilling Out of the Funnel: How Serials Cancellations Affect Interlibrary Loan Use and Patron Access to Materials”. Library Resources and Technical Services 59.1 (2015): , 59, 1, 4-12. Print.Abstract

Academic libraries that cancel serials titles typically offer interlibrary loan (ILL) as an alternative means to access these titles.This study examines how serials cancellations affect ILL usage and how reliance on ILL affects patrons’ access to content. By analyzing the number of ILL requests from canceled titles, the authors found that cancellations have a very small effect upon overall ILL usage. With the help of Google Analytics, the authors counted patron requests for link resolver access that were converted to ILL requests. When the link resolver was unable to generate a link to full text, it displayed a message to that effect on a link resolver landing page and presented the patron with a choice to request the title through ILL. Google Analytics recorded traffic to and from the link resolver landing page and generated a data set for this study. Analysis of collected data, including ILLiad records, shows that after patrons identify desired articles that require ILL, they only submit ILL requests 31 percent of the time. This means that for every successful ILL request, there are at least two articles desired that are never requested. Implications for collection development are discussed.

spillingoutofthefunnel_1.pdf
Knowlton, Steven A, and Lauren N Hackert. “Value Added: Book Covers Provide Additional Impetus for Academic Library Patrons to Check Out Books”. Library Resources and Technical Services 59.3 (2015): , 59, 3, 112-119. Print.Abstract

Publishers attract readers to books and inform them about the books’ contents by adding information to the books’ covers. In many academic libraries, the dust jackets of cloth-bound books are discarded. This study was a physical inventory of 1,319 recently published books in an academic library, and comparison of circulation statistics between different cover types. By every measure, books with publisher-supplied information on the cover circulated at a higher rate than books with plain covers. The implications of our findings for collection management are discussed.

value_added.pdf
2014
Knowlton, Steven A. 'A Democrat for All the People': The Historic Election of Harold E. Ford, Sr., to the United States House of Representatives.”. Tennessee Historical Quarterly 73.4 (2014): , 73, 4, 280-311. Print.Abstract

In 1974, Harold Ford became the first black Congressman from Tennessee. His narrow victory over the incumbent was due to a favorable redistricting, dissatisfaction with the Republican party, and his own political savvy and shrewd messaging. The story of Ford's rise and ultimate victory is covered.

a_democrat_for_all_the_people.pdf
Knowlton, Steven A, Adam C Sales, and Kevin W Merriman. “A Comparison of Faculty and Bibliometric Valuation of Serials Subscriptions at an Academic Research Library”. Serials Review 40.1 (2014): , 40, 1, 28-39. Print.Abstract

Despite their professional training and study in the development of research collections in academic settings, librarians often consult with or even defer to faculty in selecting materials. Faculty often use various methods of evaluation that tend to emphasize qualitative data or even anecdotal evidence. Bibliometric analysis offers emerging tools to quantify these decisions, reflecting fundamental principles of library science. This study compares faculty choices of serials subscription cancellations to the choices that would have been predicted using a bibliometric tool, the California Digital Library Weighted Value Algorithm (CDL-WVA). Faculty choices differed significantly from the decisions predicted by CDL-WVA. However, as the bibliometric score increased, so did the rate of match between faculty choice and decisions predicted by CDL-WVA. Implications of these findings for collection development are discussed.

comparison_of_faculty_and_bibliometric_valuation.pdf
Knowlton, Steven A. “Contested Symbolism in the Flags of New World Slave Risings”. Raven: A Journal of Vexillology 21 (2014): , 21, 71-94. Print.Abstract

During a number of slave risings, the slaves fighting for freedom displayed flags.  This article discusses known instances of such flag use and analyzes them within the anthropological construct of "contested symbolism."

knowlton_slave_risings_flags.pdf
Knowlton, Steven A. “Power and Change in the U.S. Cataloging Community: The Case of William E. Studwell’s Campaign for a Subject Cataloging Code”. Library Resources and Technical Services 58.2 (2014): , 58, 2, 111-26. Print.Abstract

The U.S. cataloging community is an interorganizational network with the Library of Congress (LC) as the lead organization, which reserves to itself the power to shape cataloging rules. Peripheral members of the network who are interested in modifying changes to the rules or to the network can use various strategies for organizational change that incorporate building ties to the decision-makers located at the hub of the network. The story of William E. Studwell’s campaign for a subject heading code illustrates how some traditional scholarly methods of urging change—papers and presentations—are insufficient to achieve reform in an interorganizational network, absent strategies to build alliances with the decision makers.

knowltonpowerandchange.pdf
Knowlton, Steven A. “Print, Electronic, or Both? How Libraries Choose a Format When Purchasing Books”. Tennessee Libraries 64.2 (2014). Print.Abstract

The choice of formats for monograph acquisitions is an important decision, not easily made. This program will survey how several different libraries make the decision about which format should be chosen for which books. To see the reasoning behind other libraries’ choices may be helpful in determining your own collection development policies.

print_electronic_or_both_published_version.pdf
2013
Knowlton, Steven A. “Evocation and Figurative Thought in Tennessee Flag Culture”. Raven: A Journal of Vexillology 20 (2013): , 20, 23-54. Print.Abstract

The Tennessee flag and its constituent parts are widely used in the state by private organizations as well as the government. This paper addresses the reasons for its popularity, noting that its design, by virtue of an effect called pragmatic unity, evokes the Confederate Battle Flag. The paper also notes that the use of a three-star symbol outside of the context of the flag still calls to mind the flag, due to an effect called visual synecdoche.

evocation_and_figurative_thought.pdf
Knowlton, Steven A. “Explaining the Black Freedom Struggle in Memphis: Selected Reviews”. Tuckasegee Valley Historical Review 19 (2013): , 19, 85-103. Print.Abstract

Historiographic review of books on the Civil Rights Movement in Memphis by Laurie B. Green, G. Wayne Dowdy, Michael K. Honey, Sherry L. Hoppe and Bruce W. Speck, and Bobby L. Lovett.

explaining_the_black_freedom_struggle_in_memphis.pdf
2012
Knowlton, Steven A. “Applying Sebeok’s Typology of Signs to the Study of Flags”. Raven: A Journal of Vexillology 19 (2012): , 19, 57-97. Print.Abstract

Thomas A. Sebeok developed a scheme within semiotics for distinguishing among types of signs. This article discusses Sebeok's six types of signs and how various flags can be identified as one or another type of sign.

applying_sebeok.pdf
2009
Knowlton, Steven A. “Criticism of Cataloging Code Reform, As Seen in the Pages of LRTS (1957-1966)”. Library Resources and Technical Services 53.1 (2009): , 53, 1, 15-24. Print.Abstract

The history of cataloging rules is often written as a story of continuous improvement toward a more rational and efficient code. Not all catalogers, however, have been in agreement that reform of the cataloging code has been improvement. The debate of the 1950s and 1960s over cataloging code reform, hosted in part by LRTS, is an example of conflicting values in the cataloging community. Seymour Lubetzky's proposal for a cataloging code based on logical principles eventually became the Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules, but many catalogers of the period felt that other values, such as tradition and the convenience of the user, also deserved consideration in the cataloging code.

criticismofcatlogingcodereform.pdf
Knowlton, Steven A. “How the Current Draft of RDA Addresses the Cataloging of Reproductions, Facsimiles and Microforms”. Library Resources and Technical Services 53.3 (2009): , 53, 3, 159-65. Print.Abstract

The cataloging of microforms and other reproductions has been difficult throughout the history of cataloging codes, particularly due to the "multiple versions problem," The proposed new cataloging code, Resource Description. and Access (RDA), seeks to clarify the relationship between reproductions and originals by applying the principles of Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records (FRBR) to cataloging. While the use of FRBR principles does help to identify the relationships between works in the catalog, RDA as currently designed is challenging for the cataloger and includes many data that may prove to be difficult for catalog users to understand.

howthecurrentdraftofrda.pdf
2007
Knowlton, Steven A. “Continuing Use of Print-Only Information by Researchers”. Journal of the Medical Library Association 95.1 (2007): , 95, 1, 83-88. Print.Abstract

To assess the question of whether online availability affects the distribution of published medical literature, this study examined the impact factors of a number of medical journals before and after they went online.  No effect of online availability on impact factor was observed.

continuing_use_of_print_only.pdf
Knowlton, Steven A, et al.Microforms in a Linked World: Using OPACs and Other Web Applications to Improve Access to Content in Microform”. Microform and Imaging Review 36.3 (2007): , 36, 3, 121-26. Print.Abstract

This article describes methods that libraries use to make content in microform more visible to patrons through libraries' discovery tools.

microforms_in_a_linked_world_-_published_version.pdf
2006
Knowlton, Steven A. “A Preview of the New Cataloging Code”. MLA Forum (Michigan Library Association) 51 (2006). Print.Abstract

The current cataloging code, Anglo-American Cataloging Rules, Second Edition (AACR2), was originally published in 1978 and implemented by American libraries in 1981, and various revisions have been published occasionally since then. Despite the revisions, the fundamental approach of AACR2 remains unchanged from its original edition. In light of the many changes that libraries have encountered in their collections, access services, and patron behavior, the library community is preparing to adopt a new set of rules in 2008.

knowlton_mla_forum.pdf
2005
Knowlton, Steven A. “Three Decades since Prejudices and Antipathies: A Study of Changes in the Library of Congress Subject Headings”. Cataloging and Classification Quarterly 40.2 (2005): , 40, 2, 123-45. Print.Abstract

The Library of Congress Subject Headings have been criticized for containing biased subject headings. One leading critic has been Sanford Berman, whose 1971 monograph Prejudices and Antipathies: A Tract on the LC Subject Heads Concerning People (P&A), listed a number of objectionable headings and proposed remedies. In the decades since P&A was first published, many of Berman’s suggestions have been implemented, while other headings remain unchanged. This paper compiles all of Berman’s suggestions and tracks the changes that have occurred; a brief analysis of the remaining areas of bias is included.

knowlton_three_decades.pdf