Information and Society

17
Sep12

5 ways to protect your valuables

Posted by: G. Karen Merguerian

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Every week you read that student laptops and backpacks disappear from campus lounges, labs, and, of course, even Snell Library. While no method is foolproof in preventing theft, here are some things you can do to reduce the likelihood that your valuables will be stolen:

1. Purchase and carry a laptop lock.  It’s true that a determined thief can use boltcutters or other strategies to thwart a lock, but locks do prevent opportunistic theft by someone walking by and looking for an easy target.  Lock your laptop to anchors on our tables and desks, or to anything secure.  You can find more information about laptop locks at SecureNU.

2. Borrow a laptop lock. We have locks you can borrow at the Circulation Desk on the first floor of Snell Library. Be aware that they may not work with every device (Macbook Air, I’m looking at you!)–which is why buying your own lock may be a better choice.

3. Don’t bring your laptop! We have laptops, ipads, cameras and graphic tablets that you can borrow (along with a lock, by the way!) or just use one of the hundreds of Mac and PC computers on every floor of Snell Library and in the Infocommons.

4. Don’t leave anything unattended. It sounds obvious, but it’s so tempting to think, “I’m sure it’s OK to leave my stuff for a couple of secs and run over to Argo Tea or the restroom.”  Don’t do it–sadly, that’s when most thefts happen. Take your valuables with you.

5. Use your judgment and don’t rely on others. If you tell a stranger to watch your stuff, both the stuff and the stranger may be gone when you return!

If you notice anything missing, please report it immediately to the Circulation Desk on the first floor.  We can check our lost and found and help you to follow up with Campus Security if needed.

Posted in: Information and Society, Serendipity

22
May12

Open Access supporters petition the White House (Updated)

Posted by: Hillary Corbett

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[Update] On June 3rd, the petition supporters reached their goal of 25,000 signatures!

This year, the Obama administration has been actively considering the issue of public access to the results of federally funded research. The administration is currently considering which policy actions are priorities that will it will act on before the 2012 presidential election season begins in earnest. Supporters of  open access to research results hope to demonstrate a strong public interest in expanding the NIH Public Access Policy across all U.S. federal science agencies. As a supporter of open access to information, I agree with them.

On Monday, a petition calling for public access to federally funded research was posted on the White House’s “We the People” site.  If the petition garners 25,000 signatures within 30 days, it will be reviewed by White House staff, and considered for action. I’ve signed the petition, and so have over 7,000 other people as of today.

For more information on open access issues and initiatives in the library, see the library’s information page, the subject guide, or this recent 3Qs with Dean Will Wakeling from news@Northeastern.

Posted in: Information and Society, Research Online, Scholarly Communications

4
May12

Harvard open memo says major journal publishers’ prices are “untenable”

Posted by: Hillary Corbett

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On April 17, 2012, Harvard University’s Faculty Advisory Council on the Library issued an open memo to the Harvard community stating that “major periodical subscriptions cannot be sustained” due to high prices and unreasonable publisher practices. If this topic sounds familiar, it’s because it’s already been in the news recently – in January, mathematician Timothy Gowers-Lee blogged about these issues specifically as they relate to publishing giant Elsevier. In February, a website was created where scholars could sign on to a boycott of Elsevier; as of today over 10,000 signatures have been gathered.

The Harvard memo avoids mentioning specific companies, instead  referring to “certain publishers” that receive close to $3.75 million per year from Harvard for its subscriptions to their journals. Harvard’s expenses for online journal content from just two major providers has increased 145% over the past six years. The memo states, “The Faculty Advisory Council to the Library, representing university faculty in all schools and in consultation with the Harvard Library leadership,  reached this conclusion: major periodical subscriptions, especially to electronic journals published by historically key providers, cannot be sustained: continuing these subscriptions on their current footing is financially untenable. Doing so would seriously erode collection efforts in many other areas, already compromised.”

Harvard University is certainly not alone in struggling with rising subscription costs – it’s been discussed in the professional literature since the 1990s, when publishers introduced the “big deal” pricing model of requiring libraries to subscribe to less important journals along with their subscriptions to essential titles. Only recently, though, have the mainstream media begun reporting on publishers’ questionable practices. Although it’s too soon to say whether the Harvard memo will have any direct impact on the industry, it’s definitely increasing public awareness of an issue that  not only affects Harvard but is jeopardizing the financial sustainability of academia as a whole.

Recommended reading:

Full text of the Faculty Advisory Council Memorandum on Journal Pricing

⇒ “Harvard Now Spending Nearly $3.75 Million on Academic Journal Bundles,” The Atlantic, April 23, 2012

⇒ “The wealthiest university on Earth can’t afford its academic journal subscriptions,” io9.com, April 24, 2012

⇒ “If Harvard Can’t Afford Academic Journal Subscriptions, Maybe It’s Time for an Open Access Model,” Time, April 26, 2012

⇒ “Harvard panel pushes benefits of free journals,” The Boston Globe, April 28, 2012

 

Posted in: Information and Society, Research Online, Scholarly Communications

29
Feb12

Scholars call for boycott of Elsevier over high prices and copyright maximalism [Updated]

Posted by: Hillary Corbett

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Mega-publisher Elsevier has been garnering some negative publicity of late. Last month it was revealed that its political action group funded the re-election campaigns of Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), one of the authors of the controversial Research Works Act (H.R. 3699) that would prohibit open access to articles resulting from government-funded research.

[Update: On 2/27/2012, Elsevier announced it no longer backed the Research Works Act, and the sponsoring legislators subsequently announced they will not pursue the bill further.]

Now, thousands of scholars are signing an agreement to boycott Elsevier in protest of its high subscription prices, its practice of bundling journals (so libraries are forced to subscribe to titles they don’t want), and its support of restrictive legislation like SOPA, PIPA, and the Research Works Act. Although members of the library community have protested such practices by Elsevier and other large publishers for years, this marks the first occasion that members of the research community–the people who write the articles and serve as peer reviewers or editors–have taken a large-scale stand.

Timothy Gowers, a prominent mathematician, wrote a blog post on January 21, 2012, in which he discussed the issues outlined above and asked, “Why can’t we just tell Elsevier that we no longer wish to publish with them?” A reader took up the challenge and created a website where scholars could register their dissatisfaction and refusal to provide free labor for Elsevier in the form of research, peer review, and editorial duties. Within its first ten days of existence, the website has collected the signatures of over 2,700 scholars worldwide.

The boycott has received a lot of media attention, perhaps especially because it has grown so exponentially in such a short period of time. And many writers are asking: because scholars are both producers and consumers of research journals, do they have the ability to disrupt the scholarly publishing system and effect lasting change?

Further reading:

Posted in: Information and Society, Research Online, Scholarly Communications

10
Feb12

Upcoming Workshop at the DMDS: After Effects Basic

Posted by: Jonathan Iannone

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The DMDS is pleased to announce its next workshop which will be held on Tuesday February 21 at Noon time.

To reserve your spot for this workshop please follow this link to make your reservation: After Effects sign up

 

Posted in: Digital Media Design Studio (DMDS), Information and Society