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.

Tolerance

As I welcome new and returning students to our campus, I thought it would be good to revisit the topic of Tolerance that I first addressed on my website in July 2010.

Tolerance Sculpture

Built into the walls of the Nelson Poynter Memorial Library, inside and outside, are sculpted bronze hands holding words representing the enduring values of scholarship: tolerance, diversity, wisdom, courage, inspiration, justice, beauty, and truth. These were designed by USF alumnus Robert Calvo, the artist also responsible for the building’s stunning atrium artwork featuring three sculptures representing the great ancient libraries of Alexandria, Nineveh, and Pergamum. (One of those hanging sculptures forms the header of this blog.)

The first value, tolerance, is the foundation for all scholarly endeavors in the modern university. The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) Online defines tolerance as “the disposition to be patient with or indulgent to the opinions or practices of others; freedom from bigotry or undue severity in judging the conduct of others; forbearance; catholicity of spirit.To tolerate is defined by the OED as “To allow to exist or to be done or practiced without authoritative interference or molestation“. Wikipedia defines tolerance as “the ability to accept something while disapproving of it.

The American Association of University Professors’ Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure, first adopted in 1940, adheres to the value of tolerance when it states that “Institutions of higher education are conducted for the common good and not to further the interest of either the individual teacher or the institution as a whole. The common good depends upon the free search for truth and its free exposition.” Academic freedom, based on tolerance, makes it possible for a faculty member to teach a class that a politician may not approve of. It is tolerance within the parameters of academic freedom which makes it possible for students to present a point of view in a class or on a paper that the majority may not agree with and for them to be protected in voicing that opinion. (Academic freedom and tolerance don’t mean that students don’t have to present logical arguments and data to support their point of view in class, however.) Tolerance demands respect for differences: different opinions, different modes of expressions, different appearances, different cultures. Tolerance – respect for differences – does not mean agreement or acquiescence: others are equally free to disagree, respectfully.

The American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights, first adopted in 1939, embodies this tolerance for different points of view. In fact, libraries are charged not only to tolerate different points of view but also to champion and fight for them.

I. Books and other library resources should be provided for the interest, information, and enlightenment of all people of the community the library serves. Materials should not be excluded because of the origin, background, or views of those contributing to their creation.

II. Libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues. Materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.

III. Libraries should challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment.

IV. Libraries should cooperate with all persons and groups concerned with resisting abridgment of free expression and free access to ideas.

V. A person’s right to use a library should not be denied or abridged because of origin, age, background, or views.

VI. Libraries that make exhibit spaces and meeting rooms available to the public they serve should make such facilities available on an equitable basis, regardless of the beliefs or affiliations of individuals or groups requesting their use.

As Dean, I welcome you to the Nelson Poynter Memorial Library where your unique beliefs and opinions will not only be tolerated, but will also be championed. Throughout this academic year, the faculty and staff of the Poynter Library will offer many events, exhibits, and talks that embody these principles.

Welcome to the 2014/2015 academic year!