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A few weeks ago at Brown University, book conservation technician Marie Malchodi opened yet another leather-bound book, one of more than 300,000 rare volumes in the hold of the John Hay Library. With surgical precision, she turned the pages of a medical text once owned by Solomon Drowne, Class of ’73 (1773, that is.). And there, in the back, she found a piece of paper depicting the baptism of Jesus. It was signed:
“P. Revere Sculp.”
Ye gods! Had Marie Malchodi just made contact with Paul Revere, of Boston, silversmith? Revere, who knew of the fiery need to share vital information, would have appreciated Ms. Malchodi’s galloping reaction, which was:
“I have to show this to somebody.” More from The New York Times.
20 years of cowardice: the pathetic response of American universities to the crisis in scholarly publishing
Although their record is pretty bad, universities could still play a major role in making scholarly publishing work better – and save themselves money in the process – with two simple actions:
--Stop the flow of money to subscription journals. Universities should not renew ANY subscriptions. They should, instead, approach them with a new deal – they’ll maintain payments at current levels for 3 more years if the journal(s) commit to being fully open access at the end of that time.
--Introduce – and heavily promote – new criteria for hiring and promotion that actively discourage the use of journal titles in evaluating candidates.
Harvard vs. Yale: Open-Access Publishing Edition
Earlier this week, Yale university student, Emmanuel Quartey, posted a video interview with the school's librarian, Susan Gibbons, in which he asked her about open-access publishing. Her response was far more ambivalent than the Harvard faculty council's. Though she noted that open-access journals are more accessible, she worried that asking younger faculty to publish in open-access (presumably less prestigious) journals could jeopardize their chances to attain tenure. In essence, prestige would stay put but tenure would move away from younger Yale professors. So, the library would continue to support both open and closed-access journals. You can read her full answer below or check out the video interview.
Carrier librarian to sail on 'Semester at Sea'
This fall, one JMU librarian will step out of the library to set sail toward the places he’s only read about in books.
Jonathan Paulo, the education librarian in Carrier Library, will embark on a “Semester at Sea” from Aug. 23 to Dec. 7. Organized by the University of Virginia, Semester at Sea acts largely like a college campus — but on a ship.
The MV Explorer, a 590-foot passenger ship, is equipped to carry more than 800 passengers. With nine state-of-the-art classrooms that include overhead projectors, close-circuit televisions, wireless Internet access, a multi-media lab, pool and three dining decks, the ship’s a floating campus.
Berkeley library not thrilled about yarnbombing
One creative contribution to the newly reopened North Branch Library was not seen by the crowds of supporters who turned up on Saturday to celebrate the library’s return to service. Local “yarnbomber” Streetcolor had made some custom knitted coverings for the new circular bike racks outside the library — but they barely saw the light of day as they were quickly removed by librarians displeased with the rogue artistic action.
Is Academic Publishing Finally At A Crossroads?
So, where does that leave us? Libraries are grumbling, funders are disquieted, and individual faculty members are happy to sign petitions of protest. But none of this addresses what I see as the key issue: faculty give these journals this much power because they rest entire careers on them. You get tenure based on your academic publications. You submit your publications list when you apply for grants and funding. Look at any academic C.V. and you'll see that it's structured so that the big name journals in which the person has published are listed promptly. It's one of the first things that gets looked at when someone applies for an academic job.
A Harvard faculty committee says that the situation is "untenable" and asks faculty members to publish in open-access publications.
"What we see here is pure rentier capitalism: monopolising a public resource then charging exorbitant fees to use it. Another term for it is economic parasitism. To obtain the knowledge for which we have already paid, we must surrender our feu to the lairds of learning."
Craigslist thread reveals subculture of sexual activity in UNC's Davis Library
“Out of curiosity one day, we were all in the library because, you know, there’s all kinds of weird shenanigans. We decided to look in personals and there it was,” said Davis Library employee and student Matthiew Morel, referring to the Craigslist posts.
Morel said he has only seen evidence on the seventh and eighth floors.
“The higher you go up, the more likely you are to encounter it,” Morel said.
A tale of two libraries and a revolution
This is a tale of two libraries and how they’re being transformed. One of them is our own Firestone: the Gothic hull with its distinctive interior decorative scheme, half “Mad Men,” half World War II submarine; its carrels where seniors used to confine themselves like the hermits of the ancient Syrian desert; and its lower floors, the caverns measureless to man, where a German friend, looking a little desperate, said to me,“Tony, this library is not user-friendly,” and disappeared down dark rows of books, never to be seen again (I think he may still be down there).