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Boston Library Consortium Networking Day 2013: Strategic Thinking about Copyright for Libraries in a Digital Environment presented by Kevin Smith, J.D.

This week I went to the annual networking day for the Boston Library Consortium, an association of 17 academic and research libraries working together to provide better information to our patrons.

The speaker this year was Kevin Smith, J.D., a lawyer librarian (yes, those exist) who is an expert in copyright law for libraries.  He works at Duke University and also writes a widely regarded blog on scholarly communication.  The following are my notes from his presentation entitled “Strategic Thinking about Copyright for Libraries in a Digital Environment.”  Please feel free to ask me for any clarifications (to the best of my ability) in the comments.

  • When we open a library and let the public in, we are taking risk. We plan and mitigate for them [risks]. Copyright should be no different. It’s not all or nothing.
  • Digital environment has rewards
    • opportunity to create new knowledge
    • new ways to reach community
  • Think about copyright in terms of the mission of your organization
  • In the past 5 years, there’ve been an unprecedented number of lawsuits [against libraries regarding copyright]. So far, libraries have won all of them.
  • Kirtsaeng vs. John Wiley
    • doctrine of first sale applies to any material manufactured with consent of owner in the US [ie it doesn’t apply to pirated copies]
    • this leaves the status quo in place
    • Courts like libraries. They understand and appreciate what libraries do.
    • Library Copyright Alliance
    • copyright cuts across partisan lines
  • New Challenges: MOOCs and mass digitization
  • Author’s Guild vs. Hathi Trust
    • AG argued that what HT was doing with the scans, not the making of the scans themselves, was what was wrong
    • AG argued that libraries shouldn’t be allowed to rely on fair use
    • Judge said no, libraries can rely on fair use
    • Judge said fair use can support a mass digitization project
    • Is it fair use to digitize for greater access? We don’t know yet/it depends
    • Courts like transformative use
    • purpose –> even if the work itself isn’t change, its purpose is now for a different audience
    • Judge said these instances are transformative:
      • indexing
      • preservation
      • access for persons with disabilities
  • Strategy for Mass Digitization
    • recognize some material is public domain
    • seek permission from prominent or large-scale rights holders
      • people who are most likely to object and are possible to find
      • watchfile –> writers, authors, and their copyright holders
    • rely on transformative fair use
      • improve the context of the transformation (frame it)
      • fair use supports good library practice and good pedagogy (teaching)
    • have a “talk to” policy
      • a talk to policy is not a take down policy
      • you can learn a lot from people who originally call angry
  • GSU and UCLA
    • 70 of 75 excerpts on ereserve were deemed fair use
    • strict length limit of 10% or 1 chapter, whichever is less, was used
    • if we’re within limit, the subsequent semester rule (ereserves can’t be duplicated from one semester to the next) is impractical and unnecessary
  • non-transformative fair use
    • not clear that new form of access is transformative
    • ereserves are generally not viewed as transformative
    • address with context and creativity
    • It doesn’t have to be transformative to be fair use. It helps but isn’t necessary.
    • 4 factors of fair use
      • purpose
        • usually in favor of libraries
      • nature
        • usually in favor of libraries
      • decidedly small
        • can go either way
      • impact on market of original
        • This usually weighs against as long as holder is providing way to get license for digital use. If there is no way to get a license then it weighs against the copyright holder.
  • Strategy for eReserves
    • balance forms of access
      • having all the readings available digitally looks bad
      • balance purchases, licenses, and fair use
    • for fair use, stick to small portions
      • 10% isn’t the law, but it’s a good rule of thumb
    • always keep course site closed
    • be creative
      • think about what makes your site a unique exercise in pedagogy
    • seek permission when larger excerpt is needed
  • Strategy for Streamed Videos
    • almost anything shown in face to face classroom is legal
    • students are not a market that rights holder is allowed to exploit
    • look for ways to enhance the case
      • works that are unavailable
      • works where it’s difficult to contact rights holder
      • special pedagogical needs ie language instruction
  • Strategy for MOOCs
    • two separate MOOC tracks:
      • teaching content
      • course readings
    • teaching content
      • clearly transformative fair use but it’s more limited
      • be as obvious about transformative use as possible
      • link to original when possible
      • seek permission
      • Remember creative commons is a form of permission. Use creative commons when possible. For example, if it can be illustrated with any picture of a tomato, find a creative commons one.
    • course readings
      • when seeking permissions, talk to the marketing guys! MOOCs are a great marketing opportunity
      • MOOCs are new and are a huge opportunity
      • remind faculty of open access options, such as putting their author’s final draft into the institutional repository
  • Conclusion
    • balance risk with reward
    • If we don’t take at least some risks, we won’t get any rewards
    • Avoid extremes
  • Q and A
    • Tiered pricing has no legal support for academic use
    • fair use argument is harder to make the larger the scale. ie if it’s for a 30,000 person MOOC as opposed to a 25 person face to face class.
    • copyright law defines fair use for educational purposes as “teaching activities in classroom or similar space normally dedicated to instruction”
    • Dissertations are a work of public scholarship. The university can set what requirements they want to for issuing degrees. Indefinite embargoes should not be accepted, although a case could be made for the traditional 6 month, 1 yr, 2yr, or 5yr. 5yr should be an exception though.
    • Gray markets, such as ebay and Costco, are very important industries.

For more information on fair use, copyright, and libraries, please see my posts Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Academic and Research Libraries and On Open Access (OA) and Institutional Repositories (IRs).

On Open Access (OA) and Institutional Repositories (IRs)

October 19, 2012 Leave a comment

I recently went to a town meeting on Open Access (OA) and our Institutional Repository (IR).  (Universities and colleges have our own town meetings, because we’re basically our own mini-towns).  This meeting spurred me on to do a bit of a blog post on OA and IRs.  I’ll first give a brief explanation of OA and IRs, including links to some resources for more information, and wrap up with my own thoughts.

OA is the concept and movement within academia that access to academic literature should be free online and free of most copyright restrictions.  The idea is that for knowledge to flourish the exchange of ideas should be as free and fluid as possible.  Because this is a concept and movement this means that not everyone agrees with this idea.  Agreement and support of OA also varies drastically by area of specialty.  The sciences are the most supportive of OA, particularly Physics.  This is evident by the existence of the website arXiv.org, which provides “open access to 792,606 e-prints in Physics, Mathematics, Computer Science, Quantitative Biology, Quantitative Finance and Statistics.” The humanities are less so.  This has to do with the culture of the different disciplines. The sciences are more focused on teamwork and sharing new knowledge as quickly as possible, whereas the humanities tend to be more concerned with ruminating on ideas.  The pace is simply faster in the sciences than in the humanities, and OA is more useful in that environment.

Utilizing and supporting OA comes across in a few different ways.  There are OA journals, which are free to use, but not necessarily free to submit an article to.  To those concerned, the submission fee does not guarantee acceptance of an article.  It is simply there to help the OA journals function.  Studies on the percentage of OA journals charging a fee vary rather widely on their final numbers.  These fees are of concern to faculty members, though, because they can quickly go through grant money that could have been used in other ways just paying submission fees.  Although there originally was concern as to the quality of OA journals, OA does not negate peer-review.  There are many peer-reviewed and respected journals; the PLOS ones in particular spring to mind, but you can see a listing of all OA journals at the Directory of Open Access Journals.  Academics can support OA both by submitting to and reading OA journals, and institutions can support OA by giving articles published in OA journals equal consideration when doing tenure reviews.

OA can be pursued in traditional publishing as well, however.  Frequently faculty members do not fully understand what is happening with their copyright when they sign contracts with a publisher.  The creator owns the copyright of an item at the moment of creation. He or she does not need to register it.  This is not always clear to people because from 1923 to 1963 (in the US) you did have to register your copyright and re-register it every 28 years.  Anything published before 1923 in the US is officially in the public domain aka free of copyright.  This is why mashups such as Pride and Prejudice and Zombies can happen.  What all this means is that the author of the paper owns copyright until they sign it over to the publisher, and they do not have to kowtow to all of the demands of the publisher.  OA advocates encourage authors to return the contract to the publisher unsigned with a SPARC Addendum attached.  This addendum gives the publisher some rights over the paper/article/book while retaining some for the author.  What this essentially means is that the author retains certain rights over his or her article that most faculty members think they have anyway.  Only now it’s legal.  For instance, this addendum gives the author permission to deposit their paper in an Institutional Repository or include it in a group of pdfs of publications on their personal website, as long as it is properly cited to the journal of first publication.

A popular way for publishers to support OA while still staying in business, beyond agreeing to SPARC Addendums, is the concept of an embargo.  An embargo means that articles are available exclusively through subscription and fees for a set period of time (usually from 6 months to 2 years), and after that point they are available through OA.  The qualm some advocates of OA have with this model is that for certain fields of study, particularly in the sciences, the embargo period is long enough that the article will be practically irrelevant by the time it is available openly, thereby defeating the whole purpose of encouraging collaboration and free flow of ideas behind OA to begin with.

If you are interested in learning more about OA, check out Peter Suber’s book Open Access.  You can also check out this this handout that explains the OA spectrum in an infographic style.

So what do Institutional Repositories (IRs) have to do with OA?  An IR is a curated collection of all academic publishing, as well as collections such as photographs taken by anthropologists, created by scholars associated with the institution.  The IR is the institution’s research portfolio.  It’s important for the institution to be able to demonstrate to interested parties the valuable work their scholars are doing.  The connection to OA is that the current restrictive copyright contracts publishers send to authors frequently make it impossible to include their works in the IR.  The SPARC Addendum addresses this, but an institution can also address this concern by making it a mandate that all scholarly work done while at their institution be deposited in the repository.  This gives the author a prior commitment that is usually already covered in the contract.  A pioneer in the world of IRs is MIT’s IR: DSpace.  Check them out to get a feel for what an IR is like.

So what do I think about all of this?  I can understand and sympathize with all three sides (universities, scholars, and publishers).  The publishers are concerned that they will go out of business if everything is available immediately in OA.  As an indie author, I can easily see how valid that concern is.  Frankly if OA does take off the way, say, literary zines have, most journals will go out of business.  Yes a few big name zines are still surviving, and most zines also sell a print version and do alright with that, but publishing as we know it must change for OA to take hold.  Of course one doesn’t want that in one’s own industry.

I can also understand the dual view scholars hold.  Academic journals are peer-reviewed, and while OA journals can be, they aren’t necessarily.  OA can seem like a scary free-for-all with no verification of facts or quality.  Things don’t always become popular because they’re good.  But on the other hand if your audience is other scholars, aka the peer part of peer-review, then it should work itself out anyway.  Not to mention the fact that OA journals can mandate peer-review if they want to.  Similarly, I get it that scholars usually want to share their work with anyone interested and to that end want to post the pdfs on their website.  The problem is, though, if a person can get your article just by googling it and going to you instead of the publisher then we’re right back to putting the publisher who published you in the first place out of business.  But if publishing changes the way we think it will, then that would be a moot point anyway.

As far as IRs go, I truly see their value for gray literature.  Things like posters from poster sessions, dissertations and theses that are frequently not available or searchable otherwise, etc… but I also think an institution obsessively collecting a copy of everything every scholar has done is a bit redundant.  Not that the institution shouldn’t ever broaden to that level of collection and archiving, but since IRs are so new, it might be better to focus in on the gray literature for now.

Overall though the change won’t really happen until institutions start accepting OA publications in the tenure process. Until that point all scholars must publish in traditional journals in order to secure tenure.  It seems to me that the power is really in the hands of the universities.  The universities must decide: what do we want true scholarship and academic achievement look like in the 21st century?

Research Data Management Services (Social Sciences Librarian Boot Camp 2012)

After the GIS hands-on session, I attended one final session presented by Katherine McNeill, Social Sciences Data Service and Economics Librarian at MIT.  This was a great session and included a discussion portion for sharing of ideas and challenges with colleagues.

  • There is a tradition of being able to replicate scientific results.
  • The NSF and NIH have data sharing requirements.
  • MIT librarians saw an opportunity to support faculty as data producers not just data consumers.
  • They now have a research data management team that provide: a workshop, website, data storage, and consultations.
  • The individual consultations consist of: initial meetings; advice on documentation, intellectual property, confidentiality, data conversion and file format issues; and facilitate deposit of data in archive or repository
  • Recommends “Conducting a Data Interview” by Witt and Carlson
  • Don’t be afraid to reach out to faculty.
  • It can be difficult for specialists to figure out how to make data accessible to undergrads or the everyman.
  • Issues to Consider
  • What is your organizational culture?
  • Assess the needs of your researchers.
  • Relationship to other departments in the university.
  • Relationship between data specialists and subject librarians.
  • Do the issues span disciplines or are they discipline specific?
  • Facilitating compliance without coming across as police.
  • Educate users to expect this service.
  • Determine level of service to be provided.
  • Learning from other institutions.
  • Recommended resources: IASSIST, Digital Curation Centre, ICPSRARL Resources for Data Management Planning
  • In conclusion, build on your expertise.  Be pioneering, thoughtful, proactive.  Let what faculty need be your guide.  Reach out to your colleagues.

Faculty Panel on Research Methods (Social Sciences Librarian Boot Camp 2012)

“Anthropological Methods” Dr. Sarah Pinto, Tufts University

  • anthropology–study of human behavior in its cultural context
  • What do you want to learn?
  • How do you want to learn it?
  • People are complicated.  Worlds are complex.
  • Zora Neale Hurston was not just a writer, she was also an anthropologist.
  • Franz Boaz was the father of anthropology.
  • Anthropology can be done at home.
  • It requires constant reflection on oneself.
  • Work with people. Don’t enact on them.
  • It is not objective in search of fact but interpretive in search of meaning.
  • There are four principles of anthropological fieldwork.
  • #1 participant observation–to learn about what’s going on in people’s lives, you have to spend a lot of time with them.
  • #2 interviewing/conversation
  • #3 fieldnotes–there is tons of interesting writing on anthropological notetaking
  • #4 reflexivity–perspective, co-authorship, politics of the encounter
  • Recommends Tristes Tropiques by Claude Levi-Strauss (memoir, originally in French, translated into English)
  • Recommends In the Realm of the Diamond Queen: Marginality in Out-of-the Way Place by Anna Tsing
  • Data is inherently messy but when you put it together it gives us the richness we were looking for.

“Exploring Social Psychology” Dr. Keith Maddox, Tufts University

  • social psychology–scientific study of how individuals think, feel, and behave in a social context
  • We tend to want to conform to the norms others have set.
  • We’re different people when we’re with other people than when we’re by ourselves.
  • What makes social psychology scientific is all in the method.
  • Three guiding principles of social psychology
  • #1 reality is a social construction–we perceive our ideas of others more than how they are in fact
  • #2 determinants of behavior–person(ality) x situation = behavior
  • #3 the power of the situation–personality is often overemphasized.  We fail to take into account the situation the person is in.
  • Tools of the trade include: questionnaires, rating scales, statements, movements, body language, self or observer reported
  • Tricks of the trade (overcoming challenges).  When people know they’re being studied, they might alter their behavior.  How to combat this?  Use deception, for instance, mislead people in the instructions to think we’re studying one thing when really we are studying another.  Use of confederates.  Field experiments.
  • Social Psychologists must balance a number of concerns.  Scientific rigor, setting that is psychologically valid, and ethics.

The Ethical Challenges of Information Usage in the Age of Digital Media (Social Sciences Librarian Boot Camp 2012)

Yesterday (Friday, June 1st), I went to the Social Sciences Librarian Boot Camp hosted by Tufts University’s Tisch Library.  I’ll be posting my notes from the various sessions I attended, with the exception of the GIS session in the afternoon, since that was more hands-on than note-taking oriented.  First up are my notes from the keynote, presented by Dr. Amy Glasmeier..  I fully admit they are a bit sparse since I was also juggling my morning coffee and a strawberry filled croissant. 🙂

  • Libraries can be centers for visualization of data.
  • Scientists right now use Excel spreadsheets to keep track of data. We need better software!
  • Ever increasing world of tailored information.
  • Professional development will be critical.
  • Who will train the trainers?
  • Don’t wait to be asked by the faculty or students for help.  Be proactive.

 

 

Evidence, Bias, and Use…Oh, My! (MLA12 Seattle: Complementary and Alternative Medicine Section)

So at the meeting, librarians present their papers that were accepted to the conference.  These are organized into groups of four sponsored by one of the MLA’s sections.  I’m pleased to say that on Monday I made it to an entire session.  Complementary and Alternative Medicine includes everything from yoga to special diets (veg*nism, gluten-free) to acupuncture to traditional Chinese medicine to etc….  I appreciate CAM because it tends to look at the patient as a whole instead of just the diseased body part.  Plus I was curious as to what the presentations would have to say.  One thing that it is important to know.  Cochrane is a database of systematic reviews.  A systematic review is a study of the studies done.  It then summarizes what we know so far.  Think of it as centralized scientific study information.  The other thing to know is that in Western medicine, a treatment is come up with and then tested before it is used with people.  In CAM, the treatments are already in practice, so traditional randomized control trials (RCTs) used in Western medicine aren’t super-applicable.

“Cochrane Complementary and Alternative Medicine Systematic Reviews: An Analysis of Authors’ Comments on the Quality and Quantity of Evidence and Efficacy Conclusions” by Robin A. Paynter

  • CAM limited by RCT-driven evidence-based practice
  • 10% of database are CAM topics
  • Cochrane has a project to develop a classification scheme of CAM topics.
  • 47 out of 53 Cochrane groups have at least one review on a CAM topics
  • Treatment ares cover everything from vitamins to yoga
  • dietary intervention has 37 studies
  • Cochrane expresses concern over poor study designs.
  • Difficult to determine active content in plant-based meds
  • Significant groupage of comments around insufficient evidence and no effect.
  • cross-cultural issues

“Alternative Research Education in a Post-R25 World: Assessing Acupuncture and Oriental medicine (AOM) Student Attitudes Toward Research and the Scientific Method” by Candise Branum

  • Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine–AOM
  • R25 grants intend to develop research literacy and view research as a bridge between Western medicine and CAM
  • Acupuncture Practitioner Research Education Enhancement (APREE)
  • AOM student interest in research declined with years in school, a 2006 study found
  • Do students recognize the benefits of AOM research? Overwhelming yes.
  • Students at schools without dedicated research departments were very unsure about the impact of research.
  • Feelings about research slope toward the negative over time.
  • Students see the benefits of research but that doesn’t necessarily mean they like it
  • A lot of students want to stay alternative and not become complementary
  • If they don’t want to be attached, they’re not gonna want to use the bridge of research.

“Complementary and Alternative Medicine’s (CAM’s) Research Agenda and Its Unique Challenges” by Jane D. Saxton

  • In 2007: 38.4% of adults used CAM over the previous 12 months.  Also, adults spent $33.9 billion out of pocket on CAM.
  • NIH funding to CAM is only 0.5% of the overall budget.
  • CAM is individualized not standardized.  (It’s adjusted to fit the patient not one standard applied to all patients).
  • Whole Systems Research (WSR) is a term coined in 2002.  It is an approach to studying non-linear, whole systems of care.
  • Use of pragmatic RCTs: measure effectiveness, don’t use placebos, patient-centered outcomes (transformational change)
  • CAM is the opposite of Western meds.  The treatment is already in use, whereas Western medicine is proposed, tried, then used.
  • You don’t need to know the biological mechanism in order to know its effectiveness.
  • MeSH terms currently available: complementary therapies, nonlinear dynamics, systems integration
  • We need more funding, different approaches, Whole Systems Research!
  • Please take a moment to check out the libguide of this presentation.

“Hitchhiker’s Guide to One Corner of the Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) Universe” by  Ron LeFebvre

  • Vitalists are more interested in information (they “know” it works).
  • Empiricists value EBM but may not be great at finding what they’re looking for.
  • Chiropractors don’t like to be associated with medicine.  Use terms like “health care” and “practice” with them.
  • A good chiropractic search string: spinal manipulation OR chiropractic OR manual therapy
  • New graduates are more likely to be EBP savvy.
  • “There’s nothing that makes you more skeptical about research than studying it.”
  • There is no widely-used, well-regarded point-of-service tool to serve chiropractic interests specifically.  They do use Dynamed though.
  • PEDRO–database for physical therapy/exercise therapy that is also useful to chiropractors

Q and A

  • Diet is odd.  Sometimes it is viewed as an alternative medicine, sometimes not.  If it’s a non-western diet, though, it’s considered alternative.
  • NIH funded PROMIS is focused on patient-reported outcomes, particularly in treating anxiety/depression.
  • N-CAM databse has outcome scales and measures

What Librarians Talk About (MLA12 Seattle: Plenary 3: Janet Doe Lecture by Mark E. Funk, AHIP, FMLA)

The first plenary is given by the MLA president, the second by someone who is not necessarily a librarian but has something interesting to say that will aid us in our profession.  The third plenary, however, is given by a librarian.  Mark E. Funk’s presentation was entitled, “Our Words, Our Story: A Textual Analysis of Articles Published in the Bulletin of the Medical Library Association/Journal of the Medical Library Association from 1961 to 2010.”  Here are my notes.

  • An analysis of the words revealed four key areas that librarians talk about: environment, management, technology, and research.
  • Although we talk more about building than people, that gap is narrowing.
  • We are basically almost not talking about books, but we are increasingly talking about journals.
  • Reference is steady.  Searching is increasing.
  • Information is the #2 word.
  • As our information world becomes more complicated, we are talking more and more about teaching.  “I predict teaching will become ever more important.”
  • We are now concerned about what we can do to improve health.
  • New groups we’ve reached out to include: clinicians, consumers, and patients.
  • We use management words to tell our story.
  • We are no longer running our libraries like academic environments; we are running them like businesses.
  • We are early adopters and write about it.
  • Sometimes new technology becomes so embedded in our lives that we don’t mention it anymore.  For example, you say you talked to someone but don’t mention the telephone.
  • Our attention has shifted from automating to digitizing.
  • We don’t talk about the internet.  We talk about the web and navigation.
  • The word with the sharpest rise and fall is: Gopher
  • IMRaDification of our profession.  (IMRaD–Intro, Methodology, Results, Discussion)
  • MLA strategic plan encouraged us to do more research, and we responded.
  • Hockey Stick terms–little to no use, sharp recent uptake.  May indicate future usage but it could be a drastic rise and fall. Only time will tell.
  • EHRs are white hot now. (EHR–Electronic Hospital Record)
  • Why do we study history?  It’s very good at explaining change.  Answers the question, how did we get here?
  • De-emphasis on physical.  Emphasis on information.  Prefer evidence-based.
  • Emphasis on health.  Expanded audience.  Outside the library.   Teaching people.
  • Libraries more business-like. Technophiles. More research articles using IMRaD.
  • History can hint at the future, but it can’t predict it.
  • Our story is being written every day.  We can’t skip chapters to see what happens next.

Statistical Literacy and Techniques in Library Research and Practice (MLA12 Seattle: Research Section)

So at the meeting, librarians present their papers that were accepted to the conference.  These are organized into groups of four sponsored by one of the MLA’s sections.  I was a bit late to the Research Section, since I got caught up at the poster exhibit, but here are my notes for the two presentations I did see that day.

“The Analysis and Translation of Unpublished Health Sciences Data: Extra Innings for the Library Profession” by Wallace McLendon, David Potenziani, and Susan Corbett, AHIP

  • The ability to use data to answer questions brings more work to library.
  • When people say they want to access data, they really want the information that can be derived from it.
  • analytics: reactive vs. proactive
  • Libraries hold and curate data. Expand that to analysis.
  • Do more to reach administrators in terms of competitive intelligence.
  • Don’t define your job too narrowly.

“Hitting a Home Run: Statistician Consults at the AG-VET MED Library Improve Research Design Quality” by Ann Viera

  • Medical libraries are partnering with statisticians.
  • Librarian-statistician partnership to improve research design.
  • The alternatives search was occurring too late in the process to improve animal welfare.  This frustrates the librarian and angers the researcher.
  • Access to statistical reports needs to be happening earlier in the research program.
  • Consulting on stats improves animal welfare.
  • Having the statistician in the library improves the concept of library as space.
  • Providing access to the statistician protects faculty from becoming overburderned.
  • Do it right or do it over (in research and construction).
  • Doing the research before designing the study helps you design the study correctly the first time.

Friday Fun! (Book Recs From My Job!)

Hello my lovely readers!

I had a wonderful vacation last weekend, thanks for the warm thoughts.  It was awesome seeing my dad and visiting the family in general.  Plus I got lots of sleep.  Also last week I got my stitches out (and by that I mean I took them out myself) and was finally able to resume most of my fitness routines this week!  I still can’t do girl pushups because it hurts to put that much pressure directly on my wound.  More reasons to work up to guy pushups, yes?

So last week our campus news magazine came out, and they went around asking doctors and professors from different departments for various book recommendations.  It was really fun to see from a group of people (scientists) that stereotypes say “don’t read for fun.”  So I thought I’d share the recs that made it to my own wishlist with you all today.  Descriptions all swiped from the book blurb, because I obviously haven’t read them yet!

  • The Social Transformation of American Medicine: The rise of a sovereign profession and the making of a vast industry by Paul Starr
    “Winner of the 1983 Pulitzer Prize and the Bancroft Prize in American History, this is a landmark history of how the entire American health care system of doctors, hospitals, health plans, and government programs has evolved over the last two centuries.”The definitive social history of the medical profession in America….A monumental achievement.”–H. Jack Geiger, M.D.”
  • Overdiagnosed: Making People Sick in the Pursuit of Health by H. Gilbert Welch, Lisa Schwartz, and Steve Woloshin
    “A complex web of factors has created the phenomenon of overdiagnosis: the popular media promotes fear of disease and perpetuates the myth that early, aggressive treatment is always best; in an attempt to avoid lawsuits, doctors have begun to leave no test undone, no abnormality overlooked; and profits are being made from screenings, medical procedures, and pharmaceuticals. Revealing the social, medical, and economic ramifications of a health-care system that overdiagnoses and overtreats patients, Dr. H. Gilbert Welch makes a reasoned call for change that would save us pain, worry, and money.”
  • Righteous Dopefiend (California Series in Public Anthropology) by Phillippe Bourgois and Jeffrey Schonberg
    “This powerful study immerses the reader in the world of homelessness and drug addiction in the contemporary United States. For over a decade Philippe Bourgois and Jeff Schonberg followed a social network of two dozen heroin injectors and crack smokers on the streets of San Francisco, accompanying them as they scrambled to generate income through burglary, panhandling, recycling, and day labor. Righteous Dopefiend interweaves stunning black-and-white photographs with vivid dialogue, detailed field notes, and critical theoretical analysis. Its gripping narrative develops a cast of characters around the themes of violence, race relations, sexuality, family trauma, embodied suffering, social inequality, and power relations. The result is a dispassionate chronicle of survival, loss, caring, and hope rooted in the addicts’ determination to hang on for one more day and one more “fix” through a “moral economy of sharing” that precariously balances mutual solidarity and interpersonal betrayal.”
  • How Doctors Think by Jerome Groopman
    “How Doctors Think is a window into the mind of the physician and an insightful examination of the all-important relationship between doctors and their patients. In this myth-shattering work, Jerome Groopman explores the forces and thought processes behind the decisions doctors make. He pinpints why doctors succeed and why they err. Most important, Groopman shows when and how doctors can — with our help — avoid snap judgments, embrace uncertainty, communicate effectively, and deploy other skills that can profoundly impact our health.”
  • Your Genes, Your Health: A Critical Family Guide That Could Save Your Life by Aubrey Milunsky, MD, DSc
    “New advances in genetics have dramatically expanded our ability to avoid, prevent, diagnose, and treat a wide range of disorders. Now, more than ever, families need to know about these new discoveries, especially as there are some 7,000 rare genetic diseases that afflict about 1 in 12 of us. In Your Genes, Your Health, Aubrey Milunsky provides an invaluable and authoritative guide to what you should know about your genes. Illustrated with poignant family histories that underscore the lifesaving importance of knowing one’s family medical history and ethnic origin, the book highlights the importance of recognizing seemingly unrelated disorders in a family as due to the same gene mutation and it outlines the key genetic tests needed for diagnosis, detection of carriers, and prenatal diagnosis. Many genetic disorders are discussed including cancer, heart disease, autism, mental illness, birth defects, neurologic disorders, diabetes, obesity and much more. The message of this book is clear–know your family history, be cognizant of your ethnic origins, seek appropriate consultations, and opt for meaningful genetic tests. Recognition of your risk(s) enables prompt preemptive action. By knowing your genes, you may save your life and the lives of those you love.”
  • Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President by Candice Millard
    “James A. Garfield was one of the most extraordinary men ever elected president. Born into abject poverty, he rose to become a wunderkind scholar, a Civil War hero, and a renowned and admired reformist congressman. Nominated for president against his will, he engaged in a fierce battle with the corrupt political establishment. But four months after his inauguration, a deranged office seeker tracked Garfield down and shot him in the back.
    But the shot didn’t kill Garfield. The drama of what hap­pened subsequently is a powerful story of a nation in tur­moil. The unhinged assassin’s half-delivered strike shattered the fragile national mood of a country so recently fractured by civil war, and left the wounded president as the object of a bitter behind-the-scenes struggle for power—over his administration, over the nation’s future, and, hauntingly, over his medical care. A team of physicians administered shockingly archaic treatments, to disastrous effect. As his con­dition worsened, Garfield received help: Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone, worked around the clock to invent a new device capable of finding the bullet.
    Meticulously researched, epic in scope, and pulsating with an intimate human focus and high-velocity narrative drive, The Destiny of the Republic will stand alongside The Devil in the White City and The Professor and the Madman as a classic of narrative history.”

I hope some of these will make it to your wishlist as well!

Happy weekends!

The Impact of Interdisciplinary Study and Research on Library Spaces

April 15, 2010 1 comment

Both my Academic Librarianship and Librarianship for Science and Technology classes have been discussing the move in academia and science toward interdisciplinary work and research.  Why would a bunch of librarians be discussing that?  Well, how our patrons work and study directly impacts how we help them accomplish what they need to do.  For years the disciplines were clearly stratified, and that led to the creation of separate spaces for different disciplines–particularly separating science and the humanities.  Now that interdisciplinary work is in vogue some libraries and librarians are trying to mesh the branches and library spaces back together again.  I’m not so sure that’s the best idea.

People need to feel not just welcomed but also at home in a place if it’s going to become a home away from home.  If we want repeat patrons, patrons who come and stick around, patrons who get excited about the library and want to learn to use the resources, then having a vast undefined space isn’t going to cut it.  People like their space to reflect who they are.  It’s cool for a scientist to walk into a room and see brain models.  It’s fun for a women’s studies student to walk in and see a poster of Margaret Mead.  Sure, both of those things can be in one room, but at the academic or special library level that reads as unfocused.  Not to mention the ease of use that results from being in the science library and knowing that the librarians present are specialists in your area of study.  In an integrated library, you might luck out and get the science librarian on the reference desk, but it’s equally likely that you’d get the history librarian.  Sure, they could go get the science librarian or have you make an appointment with her, but that’s not as easy, is it?

Similarly in the virtual world it’s a lot easier to quickly use a website geared toward a specific audience than to use one geared toward everyone.  That’s why public libraries have sections of their website devoted to children, teens, and adults.  They could make one page dedicated to everybody, but that would be hard to do and hard to use.  Now I know you’re thinking that just because an academic library is planning on integrating all its branches into one building it doesn’t mean that they won’t create multiple websites for different users.  Well, I ask, if you wouldn’t do that online, why would you do it physically?

I’m not saying there isn’t a place for interdisciplinary spaces in the academic and special libraries.  There absolutely is.  I love the idea of study spaces designed for interdisciplinary work, but what I like even more is the idea of an interdisciplinary branch library with a librarian or two specializing in interdisciplinary work.  That would be truly helpful to our patrons, not eliminating all distinction altogether.