Upcoming Multicultural Events

As part of the Poynter Library’s renewed focus on issues of diversity and inclusion, we will be hosting a series of events in 2014/2015 to promote conversation between the USFSP community and people from many different backgrounds. The University’s strategic mission places an emphasis on being inclusive and supportive of diverse backgrounds. As I’ve mentioned before in this space, libraries in the United States abide by the American Library Association’s Bill of Rights which asserts that librarians have a responsibility to ensure that all points of view are represented in our services and collections. To bring this principle to life, the Library is hosting a series of events to encourage conversation, reflection, and questioning of assumptions about other people.

The first event is scheduled for November 6 at 6 p.m. in Poynter Corner. Jean-Charles Faust, the President of the French-American Business Council of West Florida and French Honorary Consul will be speaking about “The French Economic Presence in the Tampa Bay Area.” Co-sponsored by the Library and the Department of Society, Culture, and Language, the event is free and open to the public. French wine and cheese will be served.

On November 18, on the Library’s first floor, we will be holding our first “Living Library” event. Following a model utilized by libraries around the world in the Human Library movement, this event takes the concept of inclusion to a new level and challenges us all to confront our preconceived notions about people from different backgrounds. Individuals from the local community and from USFSP have volunteered to participate as “Living Books” available for checkout for short conversations about their background and experiences, just as in this image from a Human Library event in Copenhagen. HUman Library Event in CopenhagenThe intent is to encourage conversation and understanding among people who might otherwise not have a chance to interact except at a very superficial level. USFSP students and others will benefit from broadening their awareness of the world around them. Starting at 9 a.m. and going until 11 a.m., there will be four separate discussion sessions with 10 minutes in between for people to move to another individual “Living Book” for a new conversation. Following the morning discussions, food from different cultures will be served at an informal luncheon served in the Library’s Poynter Corner. Dr. Vikki-Gaskin Butler, Instructor, Psychology and Interdisciplinary Social Sciences at USFSP, will be leading a wrap-up discussion of the morning’s event at the luncheon. This event is free and open to the public and is co-sponsored by USFSP’s University Advancement office

Come broaden your outlook at the Poynter Library.

Upcoming Discussion on The Cost of Textbooks

On Thursday, October 23 from noon to 1 p.m. in the University Student Center, the Poynter Library and USFSP Student Government will be sponsoring a panel discussion on the Rising Cost of Textbooks : What’s the Answer? There will be four panelists who will each be addressing the issue from a different perspective:

  • Mr. Jay Hartfield, Manager, USFSP Barnes & Noble Campus Bookstore (the bookstore perspective)
  • Dr. Han Reichgelt, Regional Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, USFSP (the faculty and administrative perspective)
  • Ms. Tina Neville, Head of Library Research and Instruction, Poynter Library (the Library perspective)
  • Mr. Juan Salazar, Student Government Representative and Psychology Major
    (the student perspective)

I will take five minutes to introduce the topic and the panelists. Each panelist will then have five minutes to outline their perspective. After all panelists have spoken, those in attendance will be encouraged to share their comments and questions.

This discussion is one of a series of events being sponsored by the Poynter Library in commemoration of International Open Access Week and it is also one of the regular Lunch & Learn Series coordinated by the Division of Student Affairs. All students, faculty, and administrators will be invited and encouraged to share their experiences.

Banned Books and Censorship

September 21-27, 2014 is Banned Books Week, a time when libraries around the world celebrate the freedom for anyone, anywhere, to read what they want. To commemorate Banned Books Week, library faculty, staff, and students have designed an exhibit that showcases some of the books that have been restricted, removed, or challenged at schools and libraries across the United States.

The American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom maintains lists of books that have been challenged and explains the controversies surrounding some of these books. Restrictions on books come from religious organizations, governments, parents, people with different points of view – from people and groups all over the world. The attempt to control what people think (by restricting their access to information and ideas) is a worldwide phenomenon. Almost everyone can point to a book or a website or a TV news station or a film that they find personally offensive. But, as I’ve explained in this space before, libraries in North America are committed to the principle of providing full access to all legal information.

Come to the Poynter Library and explore the world. We will help you find and utilize the information you want and need for your studies, research, and personal enjoyment.

SHARE and Access to Research

The Association of Research Libraries (ARL), the Association of American Universities (AAU), and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) have partnered to develop an initiative to ensure the preservation of, access to, and reuse of research. Called SHARE (SHared Access Research Ecosystem), the initiative is intended to “develop solutions that capitalize on the compelling interest shared by researchers, libraries, universities, funding agencies, and other key stakeholders to maximize research impact, today and in the future. SHARE aims to make the inventory of research assets more discoverable and more accessible, and to enable the research community to build upon these assets in creative and productive ways.” SHARE’s goal is to be a mechanism to increase open access to research data and to publications resulting from that research.

SHARE developed partially in response to the Obama administration’s February 2013 Policy Memorandum that called upon federal agencies with annual research and development budgets of $100 million or more to provide the public with free and unlimited online access to the results of that research, including access to research data. With the federal government funding of billions of dollars in scientific research each year, there is a growing expectation that the results of this federally funded research will be openly and freely available to other researchers and to the general public in a timely manner in order to advance science and accelerate innovation, as well as lead to medical breakthroughs.

With the University of South Florida St. Petersburg’s renewed commitment to research, as articulated in the new Vision 20/20 strategic plan, it is critically important for USFSP’s faculty researchers to stay informed about all aspects of the open access movement and to understand their rights and responsibilities, especially if their research is funded by federal grant money. Through the USFSP Digital Archive, as well as through the research project being conducted on the management of research data at USFSP, the Library is positioned to assist College faculty in complying with federal funding guidelines.

To read more about the SHARE initiative, check out the Share Knowledge Base blog.

To learn more about the USFSP Digital Archive and how we are working in concert with SHARE and other international initiative on open access, contact me at hixson at usfsp.edu or the Digital Collections Team at digcol at nelson.usf.edu

Diversity and Inclusion at Our Core

On November 12, 2010, I posted a message on my Dean’s Messages web site on the topic of diversity. The message addressed one of the sculpted bronze hands embedded in the walls of the Poynter Library. One of those sculptures extols the value of DIVERSITY. I originally wrote about diversity as a response to a student who had contacted me wanting to know why we had hosted an exhibit on Black History but hadn’t done an exhibit on Irish Heritage Month. In the summer of 2013, I again addressed the issue when a student wrote to President Genshaft complaining about what she considered pornography in the Library because we were advertising a talk on the 1964 Florida Legislative Investigative Committee’s Report on “Homosexuality and citizenship in Florida” by using an image from the state government document showing two bare-chested men kissing.

These concerns from USFSP students, along with recent incidents in our community and around the country, make it clear that the topic merits much more discussion. For that reason, I am reposting my original message, with some additions.

The KKK incident in the City of St. Petersburg’s Stormwater Department that happened in October 2013 but was reported on by the Tampa Bay Times on August 16, 2014 is one indication of how close to the surface tensions around diversity really are. The August 9, 2014 shooting of an unarmed African-American teenager in Ferguson, Missouri and the subsequent reactions in that community and around the world have highlighted our need for closer self-examination and renewed commitment to a diverse, inclusive society. The ongoing battle in the courts about same-sex marriage is another manifestation of how divided we as a people are regarding diversity and inclusion. There are countless examples from around the country and the world of people wanting to be included in all the benefits enjoyed by others and accepted as they are and sometimes negative reactions from other members of society.

What is diversity and why do we consider it one of the core values of the University of South Florida St. Petersburg and the Poynter Library? Diversity in the U.S. has often been a political hot-button, serving to divide rather than unite us. One of the definitions given in the Oxford English Dictionary is “a point of unlikeness; a difference, distinction; a different kind, a variety.” One simple definition, then, is variety in who we are and how we live.

Wikipedia lists many kinds of diversity, including political diversity, ethnic diversity, diversity training, biodiversity and more. Under political diversity, Wikipedia asserts that the term is used “to describe differences in racial or ethnic classifications, age, gender, religion, philosophy, physical abilities, socioeconomic background, sexual orientation, gender identity, intelligence, mental health, physical health, genetic attributes, behavior, attractiveness, cultural values, or political view as well as other identifying features.”

In its statement on diversity in its mission and vision, the University of South Florida St. Petersburg asserts its “dedication to the diversity of human beings as well as diversity of ideas and viewpoints.” Respect and tolerance for different backgrounds, different abilities, different physical characteristics, different points of view, and different modes of self-expression are the cornerstones of our university. By accepting our right to be different and to be uniquely ourselves, we are able to call on a wider array of resources as we face new challenges. In diversity, we are strong.

We in the Nelson Poynter Memorial Library support and celebrate the diversity of our students and faculty, the university, our local community, and the world around us. Libraries actively strive to present multiple points of view. This is a principle that is well defined within the North American library community, as outlined by the American Library Association in the Library Bill of Rights. To this end, we will continue to host a wide variety of lectures and debates representing diverse points of view; we will continue to mount exhibitions on wide-ranging topics such as military history, Black history, Gay pride, Native American identity, Jewish culture, the Holocaust, Women’s History and more; we will continue to develop collections of materials that reflect a full range of viewpoints on important topics in support of the University’s courses and programs; we will continue to strive to serve all of our students in the ways that they need, such as our services to students with special needs through improving our Assistive Technologies Room and more.

The Nelson Poynter Memorial Library is a safe haven for all people and ideas. Come to the library (physically or virtually) where we will strive to make you feel safe to ask questions and explore the world around you, value you for who you are, and encourage you in your journey of self-discovery, self-expression and lifelong learning.

The Library this year will be developing a formalized diversity program. As we proceed, we will be inviting members of the campus and the broader community to take part and share experiences and insights. Drop me a note at hixson at usfsp.edu or call me at 873-4400 if you would like to be part of the discussion.

Relax, Study, Connect

The Library just acquired eight new comfy chairs that have places for you to plug in and connect your devices (phones, iPads, etc.) while you sit in a quiet spot and read, study, or just catch up with the world through your phone or other device.

These chairs are located in the stacks on the second and third floors of the Library and are part of our ongoing effort to redesign our space and make it comfortable, convenient, and connected. The third floor is designated as a quiet floor so use of cell phones should be limited to texting with the sound turned off, out of consideration for others around you.

If you’re new to USFSP, you can read about more of our efforts to redesign the Library in earlier posts on this blog under the topic of Library Design.

Unlike the USF Tampa Library or some other libraries at big universities, the Poynter Library has not received a special allocation for redesign. We depend upon the support of donors to help us transform the library to be the kind of place that our students want and need. Everytime you enjoy a new chair, computer, or collaboration station, know that someone in the community cared enough about you to make a donation so that we could serve you better.

How The Digital Revolution Can Fix Scientific Publishing

The TechCrunch blog recently posted an article by Daniel Marovitz, CEO of Faculty of 1000, discussing the need to revolutionize scientific publishing. The article, entitled How The Digital Revolution Can Fix Scientific Publishing And Speed Up Discoveries outlines the need for open access publishing and sharing of new research, including failed research, without ever using the words Open Access. He discusses the stranglehold that a few publishers have on scientific publishing, noting that:

The primitive publishing model employed by these publishers is actually a detriment to science. Research paid for by taxpayers is often restricted behind pay walls, major breakthroughs that could potentially save lives languish in articles whose publication is delayed for no reason. In some cases, published findings that have passed a traditional peer review process are subsequently found to be fraudulent.

In this brief article, he outlines a series of problems and solutions such as Delays in publishing. The solution he proposes includes a new breed of journal that “arranges formal, invited peer review for articles that have been published online before review, thereby allowing access to information usually months before a traditional journal.”

He also identifies Anonymity of peer reviewers as another problem with the current scholarly publishing model, noting that “Expert peer reviewers are by default working in the same area which may also make them competitors, creating incentives to be overly critical, or even to deliberately try to hold back a study that competes with their own work.” The solution he proposes is for journals to follow the lead of BioMed Central and publish the names of reviewers, which he believes will “foster a culture of transparency and dialogue, which are fundamental to good science.”

A third problem Marovitz identifies is what he calls the File Drawer Effect which is when “Scientists try to publish in the top journals in their field to compete for a small number of jobs” and “As a side effect, scientists don’t publish work that will not directly advance their career.” The solution he puts forward is to “encourage the publication of negative results, and even allow “research notes,” which can describe just a single experiment rather than a complex study. Researchers can also upload slide decks to Slideshare, and deposit data in repositories such as Figshare, or topic-specific databases.”

The final problem he identifies is Lack of Available Research Data which he defines as when “The underlying data behind published studies are also typically kept hidden while researchers try to build their careers by maximizing the number of new discoveries they can get out of the data they produced.” His proposed solution is to publish the research data and the analysis code. and he notes that there are an increasing number of repositories where such data can be hosted.

It’s a good article and it outlines many of the key issues succinctly. It would have been an even stronger piece, I believe, if he had acknowledged the efforts of the worldwide Open Access movement and the role that institution-based digital repositories, like the USFSP Digital Archive, can play in helping to revolutionize scientific publishing (indeed, all scholarly publishing). It would also have been a stronger piece had he acknowledged the effect that the Office of Scientific and Technology Policy has had by directing Federal agencies with more than $100M in R&D expenditures to develop plans not only to make the published results of federally funded research freely available to the public within one year of publication but also to require researchers to account for and manage the digital data resulting from federally funded scientific research. As I wrote in a previous blog post on Data Management, several library faculty received an internal research grant to investigate the needs for USFSP in this area.

Open Access to research results and research data matters to our faculty, our students, and our community. It’s a complex issue but it merits wide discussion within the University.