Monthly Archives: April 2018

Theme Thursday – Evolution of Revolution

On this last Theme Thursday of the 2017-2018 academic year, we consider a quiet revolution happening within academic publishing. The publishing revolutionaries aim to make all publicly funded research – and possibly all research – freely available to any curious reader. This is in contrast to the current conventional publishing model in which researchers use grant money to conduct studies, which are then published in an academic journal that is funded by journal subscriptions. The radical change, which has been discussed in previously smoke-filled rooms in universities and publishing houses alike for at least the past 10 years, is being driven by weighty institutions such as the National Science Foundation.

Only occasionally does the matter enter the consciousness of those outside the arena, as it did for example at the end of last year, when a recent Nobel Prize winner called for academics to stop submitting their work to the pukka journals such as Cell, Nature and Science. Dr Randy Schekman, who runs a laboratory at the University of California, called for the boycott because he believes researchers and scientists are being inappropriately influenced by the need to get their work disseminated by these prestigious publications. He also claimed that the top-flight journals, aware of their prestigious position, artificially restrict the number of papers they accept.

At first sight the change to so-called open access might not seem so revolutionary; surely scientific research should be freely available to all? What really is the big deal? The answer, in part at least, is vast sums. Elsevier, the world’s largest academic journal publisher – producing more than 90 journals including The Lancet as well as several others aimed at psychiatrists and allied professionals (e.g. Schizophrenia Research, Biological Psychiatry and Psychiatric Research) – in 2012 had a margin of 38% on revenues over $2 billion. Similarly, in 2011, German-owned Springer, which acquired BioMed Central in 2008, made 36% on sales of almost $9 million.

Here are a couple resources in Ames worth your time, to help you catch up on issues related to Open Access and scholarly publishing.

Opening science: The evolving guide on how the Internet is changing research, collaboration and scholarly publishing, by Sönke Bartling [and] Sascha Friesike, editors

The state of scholarly publishing: Challenges and opportunities, Albert N. Greco, editor

Digitize this book!: The politics of new media, or why we need open access now, by Gary Hall

Open access: What you need to know now, by Walt Crawford

The access principle: The case for open access to research and scholarship, by John Willinsky


Why does this matter to you? One thing your tuition dollars help support are subscriptions to databases and journals. All those times you Google an article or access something on campus (or off-campus with your campus ID and password), you’re accessing materials the library pays for through agreements. So you benefit when materials are more broadly available.

Resources for National Park Week

Did you know that it’s National Park Week this week? In celebration, the Scout Report has put together a great list of online resources related to national parks in the United States and beyond. These include Rose Aguilar and Laura Flynn’s article “Your Call: The history of Native Americans and National Parks,” NASA’s National Parks from Space, and the Open Parks Network.

Photo courtesy of Dave Sizer.

You can start exploring all of these amazing resources here. And who knows? Maybe they’ll even lead you to explore a national park or two.



Reading Day at The Ames Library

We have a lot planned for Reading Day on Wednesday, April 25th, including some puppy therapy with Jameson the Vizsla puppy on our first-floor patio! (Special thanks to Professor of Nursing Noël Kerr for letting us host him.)

Massage slots are filling up fast, so make sure to drop by Professor Lindenbaum’s office as soon as you can. Don’t forget to bring any questions about your final research papers and projects, too–Lindenbaum will be available from noon until 10 p.m. to help you find some last-minute sources, search Ames Library databases, and manage your citations.

Theme Thursday – Evolution of Revolution

It’s the end of the semester. We’re all tired and stressed out and just about done with learning. So let’s take a break from all that with a bit of comedy.

Consider this text to help you get through the next few days.

Women’s Comedic Art as Social Revolution: Five performers and the lessons of their subversive humor

Though comic women have existed since the days of Baubo, the mythic figure of sexual humor, they have been neglected by scholars and critics. This pioneering volume tells the stories of five women who have created revolutionary forms of comic performance and discourse that defy prejudice. The artists include 16th-century performer Isabella Andreini, 17th-century improviser Caterina Biancolelli, 20th-century Italian playwright Franca Rame, and contemporary performance artists Deb Margolin and Kimberly Dark. All create humor that subverts patriarchal attitudes, conventional gender roles, and stereotypical images. The book ends with a practical guide for performers and teachers of theater.

New Libraries Join I-Share

Four new libraries have just joined the Consortium of Academic and Research Libraries in Illinois (CARLI) I-Share program! The new libraries are the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library, Springfield; the Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership, Chicago; the Moody Bible Institute, Chicago; and the McHenry County College Library, Crystal Lake. Says CARLI’s Senior Project Management Coordinator, “With the addition of these libraries’ collections, the I-Share union catalog now contains 14.7 million unique bibliographic records representing the holdings of 90 CARLI member institutions. The combination of this enormous consortial collection with I-Share’s resource sharing services gives I-Share library patrons ready access to a collection that ranks among the world’s greatest research libraries.”

Photo courtesy of Randy von Liski.

To create an I-Share account and start borrowing books and other items from this wealth of libraries, click here. The full list of member libraries is located here.

Free MIT Press ebooks

Want to help MIT Press better understand how people read books? Interested in getting your hands on some pre-publication MIT Press books? Want to be entered to win some of those books once they’re published? Then this opportunity might be for you:

We at The MIT Press actively welcome feedback about our content. To this end, we’re pleased to announce that we’ve recently partnered with Jellybooks of London to test our books pre-publication, offering readers a unique opportunity to share their thoughts with us and be heard.

Jellybooks was founded by two MIT alumni, and specializes in reader analytics. Jellybooks modifies ebooks so that a participant’s reading data can be recorded at the click of a button. This data is used to help publishers better understand how readers interact with their books, enabling them to publish better books in the future.

As a part of this initiative, we are making reading samples (50 to 150 pages in length) of not yet published MIT Press books available to participants as free downloadable ebooks. All participants will also be eligible to win one of several copies of the final published books that we will be raffling off.

Participants will aid The MIT Press in its mission to publish compelling, groundbreaking content, and will also receive exclusive early access to not yet published MIT Press titles.

Ready to receive your free MIT Press ebooks and let us know what you think? Click below to choose two books from a list of eight that we are testing.

You can choose from the selection of eight non-fiction books direct from Jellybooks here.

National Library Week: Ames Edition

University librarian Karen Schmidt explains the #AmesAdvantage in this recent article from The Pantagraph!

“Pointing to an area outside of her first floor office in Ames Library, IWU librarian Karen Schmidt said, “When I came here 11 years ago, shelves were filled, end to end, with unbound periodicals.” Now, she noted, only a small area is devoted to printed periodicals.

But despite how libraries have changed, Schmidt said, “At the end of the day, it’s still about critical thinking, finding good resources and helping students become part of the scholarly conversation.”

One thing that’s been lost to some degree with the increasing use of digital rather than printed materials is what’s sometimes called “serendipitous discovery” — material randomly stumbled across while searching through stacks of books or an old-fashioned card catalog.

For example, Schmidt said, when a student picked up a printed journal for a particular article, they might find related, helpful material in the same journal. In the digital age, they just get the article requested.”

What’s your favorite aspect of The Ames Library?

Photo by Crystal Boyce.

Theme Thursday – Evolution of Revolution

Every year, hundreds of new words and phrases that come from internet slang are added to the dictionary.

Some of them are abbreviations, like FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) and YOLO (You Only Live Once). Others are words that have been stretched into more parts of speech than originally intended — like when “trend” became a verb (“It’s trending worldwide”). Others still have emerged as we adapt our language to new technologies; think “crowdfunding,” “selfie,” “cyberbullying.”

You might notice how many of these “new” words are actually just appropriated, meaning they are pre-existing words that are combined or given entirely new meanings. For example, “social network” became a word in the Oxford English Dictionary back in 1973, referring to the physical activity of networking in a social atmosphere. In the 1990s, people began using the term to refer to virtual engagement, and that became an official definition in 1998.

For Theme Thursday this week we think about the evolution of language.

Slang and Sociability: In-Group Language among College Students by Connie Eble

Juba to jive: A dictionary of African-American slang, edited and with an introduction by Clarence Major

Slang from Shakespeare: Together with literary expressions, compiled by Anderson M. Baten

Dictionary of Afro-American slang by Clarence Major

Green’s dictionary of slang, by Jonathon Green

The Oxford dictionary of modern slang, by John Ayto and John Simpson

The seeds of speech: Language origin and evolution, by Jean Aitchison

Eve spoke: Human language and human evolution, by Philip Lieberman

The domestication of language: Cultural evolution and the uniqueness of the human animal, by Daniel Cloud

Tools, language, and cognition in human evolution, edited by Kathleen R. Gibson and Tim Ingold

Distance education and languages: Evolution and change, edited by B”orje Holmberg, Monica Shelley and Cynthia White

The ape that spoke: Language and the evolution of the human mind, by John McCrone

Interested in more? Watch this series, available through Kanopy. Speaking in Tongues: The History of Language is a 5 part series. Currently there are more than 6,000 languages spoken around the world. This five-part series traces the history and evolution of language and attendant theories and controversies while evaluating the scope of linguistic diversity, the dissemination of language, the expansion of language into written form, and the life cycle of language. Prominent figures in the field of linguistics–Noam Chomsky, John McWhorter, and Peter Ladefoged, to name only three–are featured.

Theme Thursday – Evolution of Revolution

Watt’s steam engine, developed in 1781, set the stage for the first industrial revolution. But it wasn’t until a century later that the widespread adoption of electricity and the internal combustion engine brought about the second industrial revolution.

The information age didn’t really get going until the 1970’s and that’s led to what to what many are now calling the new industrial revolution, which incorporates computer aided design and advanced fabrication techniques like 3D printing. However, the next revolution, in energy, is already underway.

This Theme Thursday, Ames presents resources to help familiarize you with the energy revolution.

China’s new energy revolution: How the world super power is fostering economic development and sustainable growth through thin film solar technology, by Li Hejun; foreword by Ai Feng

The clean tech revolution: The next big growth and investment opportunity, Ron Pernick and Clint Wilder

Crossing the energy divide: Moving from fossil fuel dependence to a clean-energy future, Robert U. Ayres, Edward H. Ayres

Sustainability: A reader for writers, by Carl G. Herndl, University of South Florida

Zoom: The global race to fuel the car of the future, by Iain Carson and Vijay V. Vaitheeswaran

Energy for the 21st century: A comprehensive guide to conventional and alternative sources, by Roy L. Nersesian


Need a quicker summary? Check out this video, available through Kanopy.

This film journeys across America to shine a light on the communities and individuals who are at the forefront of the clean energy revolution, taking practical steps to transition from fossil fuels to renewable power.

Solar, wind and water could power the planet by the year 2050, according to experts in the film, substantially reducing carbon emissions. What’s needed is the social and political willpower to make the change on a large scale.

Two model towns are highlighted for their exemplary steps towards clean energy: Greensburg, Kansas, and Lancaster, California.

After a devastating tornado in 2007, the town of Greensburg decided to rebuild and “go green” with 100% renewables, harnessing the very energy that destroyed them by building wind turbines. A local politician admits that many residents were skeptical at first, but soon realized “It’s common sense.”

The city of Lancaster set a goal to become the nation’s first “net zero” community, and now runs on solar power with panels installed on practically every rooftop available and even new structures. The mayor notes the economics of renewables are a “no-brainer” as they’ve offset many energy costs.

The film also highlights the broader citizen movements for clean energy, showcasing especially how the youth of today are helping to lead the change.

The Future of Energy illustrates that renewable power on a large scale is not just a dream, but rather a viable option already being implemented by many communities, cities and businesses. The examples and solutions highlighted are designed to inspire others to consider adopting clean, renewable power as a smart choice with substantial economic, public health and environmental benefits.