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Prickman honored with Arthur Benton University Librarian’s Award for Excellence

Greg Prickman, head of Special Collections at the University of Iowa Libraries, was honored March 31 with the 2015 Arthur Benton University Librarian’s Award for Excellence.

The Arthur Benton University Librarian’s Award for Excellence recognizes a member of the UI Libraries’ professional staff who has demonstrated outstanding commitment and leadership in furthering Libraries’ mission serve the University community.

The honor includes a $1,500 award for professional development that will support the recipient’s research projects or publications related to library services. This award was made possible by an endowment from Dr. Arthur Benton, Professor Emeritus in the Department of Neurology, University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.

In letters of support for this award, the selection committee noted Prickman’s commitment to furthering the Libraries’ role in the University’s academic mission, as well as his professionalism and responsiveness to researcher needs.

Timothy Barrett, Director of the University of Iowa Center for the Book and Associate Professor in the UI School of Library and Information Science, nominated Prickman for the award. Barrett notes that Prickman’s work “resulted in the UI being selected as the site for the Folger Shakespeare First Folio traveling exhibit. Greg’s leadership shines in the midst of a complex but very promising event for the UI Libraries, all participating units, and the UI overall.”

Prickman also earned praises from Adam Hooks, Assistant Professor of English, who notes a climate of accessibility that Greg has created for scholars.

“Greg’s vision for the library has transformed the learning experience for students at the University of Iowa,” says Hooks. “Thanks to the significant digital projects sponsored by Special Collections, the intellectual and material resources at Iowa are accessible to students around the world.”

 Jennifer Burek Pierce, Associate Professor in the UI School of Library and Information Science, writes of Prickman’s ability to empower his staff to assist researchers. Burek Pierce notes that “those with whom we work in Special Collections clearly feel empowered to do their best work, to look for interesting and new ways to connect with users. As the head of Special Collections, Greg is instrumental in allowing this to happen, in the example he sets, in his development of responsive policies, and in hiring.”

The Arthur Benton University Librarian’s Award for Excellence Award is given annually. Past recipients include Kari Kozak, Jen DeBerg, Dottie Persson, John Forys, Edward Miner, Kathy Magarrell, Kären Mason, Dave Martin, and John Schacht.


University of Iowa Alumni Association “Lifelong Learning” event

The University of Iowa Libraries is proud to present an exhibition of materials and experiences related to the work of UI alumnus and faculty astrophysicist James Van Allen, 36MS, 39PhD. The UIAA invites you to join Greg Prickman, head of UI Libraries Special Collections, as he guides you on a tour of the Main Library’s new gallery space, featuring an exhibition of Van Allen’s stellar career. Artifacts, writings, photos, and recordings launch visitors into the heart of the Space Age to tell the compelling story of the Iowan’s groundbreaking discovery of the Van Allen Radiation Belts.

WHEN: Wednesday, April 6, 2016, 6 p.m.
WHERE: The University of Iowa Main Library, 125 W. Washington St., Iowa City
COST: This lecture is FREE and open to the public; however, RSVPs are encouraged.

Pre-registration for this event has ended, however, walk-ups are welcome and may register at the event.

See more at:

Details found here:


LIBRARY SERVICES: Paging Service and CIC borrowing

NEW PAGING SERVICE—Beginning January 4, 2016, you can request up to 10 items for pickup at the Main Library through our catalog. Please request materials before 12:00 a.m. midnight for pickup after 12:00 p.m. noon the following business day. Requests received on a Friday will be ready the next Monday.

UBorrow_Logo—When you have immediate need for items that are not available from the University of Iowa Libraries, search UBorrow. UBorrow enables you to find and request books directly from 15 major research libraries, with combined collections of more than 90 million volumes.

Learn more about and search UBorrow at


Free Movie: CinemAbility

The Universtiy of Iowa Libraries is proud to present a screening of the documentary CinemAbility on Thursday, November 12 at 6:30pm in Shambaugh Auditorium.

From the early days of silent films to present day, from Chaplin to X-Men, disability portrayals are ever changing. This dynamic documentary takes a detailed look at the evolution of “disability” in entertainment by going behind the scenes to interview Filmmakers, Studio Executives, Film Historians, and Celebrities, and by utilizing vivid clips from Hollywood’s most beloved motion pictures and television programs to focus attention on the powerful impact that the media can have on society.

Do disability portrayals in the media impact society or does the media simply reflect our ever-changing attitudes? Has the media has had a hand in transforming the societal inclusion of people with disabilities? CinemAbility shows how an enlightened understanding of disability can have a positive impact on the world.

Featuring Academy Award Winners Ben Affleck, Jamie Foxx, Marlee Matin, Helen Hunt, Gina Davis, and narrated by Jane Seymour.

The movie is 1 hour and 40 minutes.

This screening will include open captioning and audio description. Please note that the audio description will be audible to the entire audience.  


Discussions in Progress: About Military Life


Discussions in Progress: About Military Life is a four-day event series offered by Military & Veteran Student Services in the Center for Diversity & Enrichment and the UI Libraries.

The events will be held Monday, November 9 through Thursday, November 12 in the Main Library Learning Commons. 

This event series is designed to:

  • teach students how to engage in civil discourse about controversial issues.
  • debunk common stereotypes of military life and wartime experiences.
  • use the popular video game “Call of Duty” as an entry point to discuss specific issues such as violence in media, stereotypes in gaming, the effect of life-like graphics on game content, and video games’ effect on the brain.
  • honor our veterans on Veteran’s Day by encouraging all students to engage in discussions with veterans, get to know them, learn about their experiences and travels, discover how veterans’ perspectives enrich our campus, and create a sense of campus community that includes our UI student veterans.

Each day will begin with a Call of Duty tournament from 11:30 am until 2:30 pm in Group Room 1103/1105, with opportunities to engage in conversation with UI student veterans during the tournament. 

Immediately following at 2:30 will be a discussion on various themes related to video games. Discussions will be in Group Area E.

Monday: “Gamer to Gamer”  As gamers with different life experiences, a veteran (Ben Rothman) and a non-veteran (Kaitlin Jones) will lead a conversation about varying perspectives on the video game “Call of Duty.”

Tuesday: “Video Games & Art” Matt Butler, UI Libraries Digital Scholarship & Publishing Studio, will talk about video games as art, tracing how advances in technology have enhanced the realistic look and feel of the gaming environment. Has visual realism prompted game developers to make controversial narrative choices?

Wednesday: “Video Games & the Brain” Michael Hall, UI faculty in psychology and neuroscience, will talk about research on video games and the brain, including areas of the brain activated by gaming, gaming’s effect on the brain’s pleasure centers, early data on whether gaming can be neuroprotective, and what too much gaming can do to the brain.

Thursday: “Stereotypes & Video Games” Hannah Scates Kettler, UI Libraries Digital Scholarship & Publishing Studio, will talk about stereotypes and gaming. Arguably more than any other media, video games challenge/re-inscribe our notions about identity. Who gets to participate in gaming? What roles are gamers encouraged to adopt? Do video games promote more fiction than reality regarding military service?

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all University of Iowa-sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires a reasonable accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact Brittney Thomas in advance at 319-384-2439.


Guest Post: Open Access Publication Just Makes Sense

During the month of Open Access week (October 19-25) we will be highlighting a number of guest posts from University of Iowa Faculty and Staff who have personal experience with Open Access.  We appreciate their contributions.

The seventh, and final post, is by Kelly Cole, Associate Professor and Departmental Executive Officer, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Department of Health and Human Physiology.

Open Access Publication Just Makes Sense

According to the PLOS organization, “Open Access ..stands for unrestricted access and unrestricted reuse” of peer-reviewed original scholarly work (emphasis added).  I’m tempted to stop right there.  Unrestricted access and unrestricted reuse of our discoveries that mostly were supported by public funds and hence deserve to be in the public’s hands rapidly (and the NIH agrees).  With digital access worldwide assured by the world-wide-web, we assure the second of the two basic tenets of modern science – dissemination (the first being discovery).  What else is left to debate?

This is the simple, honest motivation for me to publish in Open Access journals – rapid, worldwide dissemination.  The profit-driven and slightly unsavory alternative has been well-discussed from the very first thoughts about the possibility of open access publishing; namely print publishers (in paper or digital format) who own the rights to the published articles, then charge fees for digital access, and who then require permission for reuse at a fee (they own copyright).  (We’ve all been through the copyright torture when we attempt to write a chapter in a book using figures from our published work.)  Clearly, these are the expected policies of a for-profit, bottom-line enterprise, and a partnership with scholars that worked to the advantage of both parties.  I accepted that early in my career.  The model worked in its own perverse way, and it was the only game in town for world-wide dissemination, not to mention its role in career advancement through peer-review and the need to publish in high-impact journals for maximum gain.

The burgeoning success of Open Access publication, along with digital media and the world-wide-web, clearly shows that it is time to move on.  The remaining barriers to each individual scholar for deciding whether or not to publish in Open Access seem to be rooted in decisions about career advancement; that is, the need to publish in elite, supposedly high-impact journals.    Last year Prof. Bernd Fritzch wrote a wonderful entry to this blog site concerning the eroding utility of journal impact factors, and the ongoing evolution of newer ways of tracking citation impact of a scientist’s work (such as the h-index and others).  It would seem that with digital access (and digital searching), amplified further by open access, the impact of a paper is now less a matter of where it was published, and more a matter of the content of the paper (as it should).

I too remember long days in the library with Index Medicus, tracking down papers, which then evolved into Current Contents mailed to your lab periodically.  We didn’t have time to scour every possible key word or topic heading (remember, we were turning pages in a catalog and we couldn’t use arbitrary key words and the magic of Boolean operators).  We focused first on the keywords and terms that made the most sense (and were always amazed when someone turned up an important paper that escaped our search), and then on a subset of high-impact journals.  Many of these journals were high impact because of the shared, tacit agreement amongst our peers to publish our best work in just the places where we all tended to look first.

Folks, those days are over.  With digital search across large, publicly supported databases, our work can be found just about anywhere, barring our poor choices of titles or keywords.  That means your work will be found in Open Access journals, and it will be cited based on the merits of your scholarship and not just the reputation of the journal. This scenario continues to evolve, but the direction seems clear and we’re building speed.  Prof. Fritzsch asked the question “Are we witnessing a revolution in information flow…?”  I’m wondering if Bernd asked the question as a rhetorical device.  It seems to me the answer is a resounding ‘Yes’!


Guest Post: Interview – Kembrew McLeod on Open Access

During the month of Open Access week (October 19-25) we will be highlighting a number of guest posts from University of Iowa Faculty and Staff who have personal experience with Open Access.  We appreciate their contributions.

The sixth guest post is by Kembrew McLeod,  Professor of Communication Studies at the University of Iowa and an independent documentary producer. A prolific author and filmmaker, he has written and produced several books and documentaries that focus on popular music, independent media and copyright law.

See all of Kembrew’s Iowa Research Online deposited publications here.

Q: Two of the publications you have deposited in the IRO received an extraordinary number of downloads in the first half of this year, “Freedom of Expression: Overzealous Copyright Bozos and Other Enemies of Creativity” (had 1772 from Jan-July 2015), and “Genres, Subgenres, Sub-Subgenres and More: Musical and Social Differentiation Within Electronic/Dance Music Communities“(had 1347 from Jan-July 2015). Could you tell us a little about these two publications?

Freedom of Expression was my second book, which originally was published by Doubleday-a trade press that miraculously allowed me to license it under a Creative Commons license. These licenses make it easy for authors to legally encourage the sharing of their work, and it has been an enormously successful project (since 2004, millions of books, songs, etc. have been published under Creative Commons licenses). “Genres, Subgeners, Sub-Subgenres and more” is an article I wrote when I was a grad student, which happens to be one of my most cited publications.

Q: Were there specific reasons behind putting these two publications in the IRO?

Quite simply, I wanted to make it easy to share my work, and by putting it in the hands of librarians, I knew that it would be properly archived and made accessible to the public

Q: Have you seen any benefits from having these works available freely and openly through the IRO?

Yes, definitely. By making it accessible, it increases the chances that other scholars (and, more generally, the public) might be exposed to my writing. This has certainly increased the number of other scholarly publications that have cited my work, which is obviously a good thing.

Q: What are your general thoughts on the value and importance of academics making their work open access?

Open Access is hugely important. In fact, I no longer publish in journals that have overly restrictive copyright policies. The final straw was when I was prevented from sharing one of my own articles because Digital Rights Management (DRM) crippled the PDF file. DRM is a technological protection system that limits the number of times-or the ways in which-a work may be copied and distributed. After I emailed the PDF of my article to my undergrad class, a student tried to print out a copy of my article. Unfortunately, all that was printed out was a blank sheet of paper, save for a notice at the bottom that read: “Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.”

I had no idea Blackwell, the company that published it, set limits on the distribution of my own article, though I’m not at all surprised. I can’t think of a more disturbing, yet poetic, expression of copyright-gone-mad than a blank sheet of paper where published research should be. The most insane thing is that I got the PDF from a database that the University of Iowa subscribes to-which means that the state paid me a salary to produce knowledge, and then my library had to pay a private company to access that knowledge, and on top of all that I was still prevented from distributing my own writing!


Guest Post: Expectations Exceeded – My Experience With The Open Access Fund

During the month of Open Access week (October 19-25) we will be highlighting a number of guest posts from University of Iowa Faculty and Staff who have personal experience with Open Access.  We appreciate their contributions.

The fifth guest post is by Matthew Uhlman, Urology Resident, University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.

Expectations Exceeded – My Experience With The Open Access Fund

Thanks for the chance to write about our experience with the open access (OA) fund here at Iowa. To introduce myself, my name is Matt Uhlman and I’m a 6th year Urology resident at the University. Over my time here, I’ve seen and learned a lot. Being at a large referral center, and in Urology no less, we see plenty of abnormal things and when we come across them, we often look to the mystical “literature” for guidance.

In a number of instances, I found that there wasn’t much written on the things I was seeing and since I find that writing about cases helps me process through them and cement concepts, there were a number of times I, along with colleagues, decided we wanted to write up a case we’d seen. There are very limited options for such papers (case reports), but what I found was OA journals had emerged as a place for them. For a long time, I’d written off such journals figuring they were just filled with the ramblings of people paying to publish stuff that wasn’t really worth my time. However, as I started to look around for case reports, I found they were a really helpful resource as they were effectively mini-review articles on rare things.

During my research year, I had written up a number of cases and when I came across the OA fund at the University, using it was a no brainer. The costs to publish weren’t prohibitive, but were unfortunately a tough sell to the department given the tight budgets we work within. After I learned about the fund, I talked with the librarians who work with it and was happy to learn how eager they were to help me get support. It didn’t feel like I was going to a tight fisted group who would find any reason to not support our efforts, but rather an ally who genuinely wanted to get behind us.

Since that time and with the knowledge of the OA fund, I’ve been able to utilize it another 4 or 5 times, publishing in a number of different journals. An interesting unintended, but positive, outcome from the OA fund has been the opportunity to help a number of medical students publish. Without dedicated research time, it can be tough to find time for long term research projects. Being able to help students write up a case report or short review article has been a great way to get them involved in researching a subject and then contributing to the overall body of medical literature, plus, it looks nice on their resume when they apply for residency!

Looking back over the last few years since I found out about, and started using the OA fund, it’s been a catalyst to being able to publish on the things I’m encountering on a daily basis in residency, not just the things that others deem “worthy”. Case and point, we recently published a paper on the safety of instillation of a chemotherapy compound in the bladder at the time of a specific surgery. We had submitted the paper to a number of journals and had basically been told, “This isn’t a common cancer, nor a common practice. Come back when you have a randomized trial”. For anyone familiar with research, randomized trials take a long time, a lot of coordination, a lot of money and early safety/efficacy data. We decided to go with a more well-known OA journal within Urology and ultimately had the paper accepted and published. After doing so, we started hearing from physicians at different institutions who were interested in starting a trial, now that someone had done the initial safety work. There’s a long way to go, but the first step was publishing our results and the OA fund made that much more attainable.

My experience with the fund at Iowa has been uniformly positive. To anyone thinking about utilizing the funds, I say go for it. It’s allowed me to write about the things I’m seeing, walk with students through the process of publishing and publish on topics that are timely, but don’t always fit into the limited scope of our standard journals. I don’t know if this sort of fund is available elsewhere, but I feel like it should be!

Again, thanks for the opportunity to write about my experience. I hope y’all have a great day!

All the best,



Guest Post: Walt Whitman Quarterly Review Goes Open Access

During the month of Open Access week (October 19-25) we will be highlighting a number of guest posts from University of Iowa Faculty and Staff who have personal experience with Open Access.  We appreciate their contributions.

The fourth guest post is by Ed Folsom, the Roy J. Carver Professor of English at The University of Iowa. He is the editor of the Walt Whitman Quarterly Review, co-director of the Whitman Archive , and editor of the Whitman Series at The University of Iowa Press. He is the author or editor of numerous books and essays on Whitman and other American writers.

Walt Whitman Quarterly Review Goes Open Access

Walt Whitman has always been a kind of open-access author. While he did guard the copyright to his books (primarily because as a bookmaker he was always concerned about having a say in how his physical books looked), he was most concerned with getting his poetry and prose widely and inexpensively distributed. He continually made his work available to publishers overseas, to translators, and to newspapers, magazines, and anthologists. He saw himself as the first democratic poet, trying to create a truly democratic voice, one that broke down hierarchy and discrimination and privilege. For a democratic literature to function effectively, all citizens needed access. When Whitman died, he put his work in the hands of three literary executors in order to make it widely available; he never set up a protective estate that would police access to his published books and unpublished manuscripts and notebooks. The executors quickly published the materials they had, and Whitman’s work traveled into the public domain expeditiously. Anyone today can quote or reprint or put online his poetry and prose without any worries about rights or permissions.

Whitman scholarship has long been marked by this same democratic spirit. Whitman scholars are legendary for their generosity in sharing their work and supporting young scholars who are challenging and questioning the assumptions of previous generations. When Kenneth M. Price and I decided back in the mid-1990s to create the online Walt Whitman Archive, we were determined to make the site open and freely available to students, scholars, and general readers around the world. Thanks to the generosity of the University of Iowa, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, along with other agencies and private contributors, we have been able to keep the growing archive of Whitman’s work and work about Whitman freely accessible to users of the Web.

With the generous support of the UI Library’s Digital Research & Publishing unit, the Walt Whitman Quarterly Review—the international journal of record for Whitman studies, published at the University of Iowa since 1983—went online in 2010. As part of the Iowa Research Online initiative, all back issues of the journal were digitized and made freely available through the new WWQR website. As was the case with many academic journals going online in the early 2000s, WWQR embargoed the most recent year’s issues and made them accessible only to subscribers; meanwhile, we continued producing and distributing print issues. During the five years we have been online, we have learned a great deal about our readership that we never knew when we were solely a print journal—how many readers access our articles, for example. It became clear that most readers—even our print subscribers—were now reading the journal online, and the expensive print issues were largely going unread (like my Sunday print copy of The New York Times, which I have delivered to my house only so that I can have access to the Times online site, where I have read most of what’s in the Sunday paper long before the unread print copy arrives).

We have, since 2010, been making WWQR articles available on the Walt Whitman Archive, where they are linked to the Archive’s bibliography of Whitman scholarship. Readers, then, can access WWQR journal articles either on the Archive site or on the WWQR site maintained by Iowa Research Online. This past year, I began discussions with members of the WWQR Advisory Board, with digital librarians at Iowa, and with my RAs, about moving the journal entirely online as a fully open-access publication. There was surprisingly little resistance and in fact some very real enthusiasm, and the decision solved what were becoming increasingly problematic financial concerns. The costs of printing and distributing the print copies, as well as the costs of paying for a subscription fulfillment service, were steadily increasing, even while our subscriber base was holding steady. To make the transition, we have added compositing work to the tasks the WWQR RA now handles, and our first issue—the first number of volume 33 of the journal—appears this week, appropriately, as a contribution to Open Access Week. In collaboration with the Digital Scholarship and Publishing Studio, we have added color and undertaken some modest re-design in order to create a new look that works effectively online while also maintaining the feel of the thirty-three-year-old journal. I’m proud of what we have been able to accomplish in a short period of time, and I look forward to working with the Studio to make the full transition to a new-old journal, available worldwide to anyone interested in Whitman—a journal that is now taking a giant step toward realizing Whitman’s dream of free and equal access to the ongoing understanding of the ever-evolving democratic writing that Whitman initiated, nurtured, and continues to sustain.


Guest Post: On generous scholarship

During the month of Open Access week (October 19-25) we will be highlighting a number of guest posts from University of Iowa Faculty and Staff who have personal experience making their work Open Access.  We appreciate their contributions.

The third guest post is by Meenakshi Gigi Durham, distinguished scholar, teacher, and writer whose work centers on media and the politics of the body. Her research emphasizes issues of gender, sexuality, race, youth cultures, and sexual violence.  She holds a joint appointment in the Department of Gender, Women’s and Sexuality Studies.

See her Iowa Research Online deposited publications here.

On generous scholarship

A vital aspect of doing academic work is disseminating the knowledge we create so as to maximize its potential to have positive effects on the world. That’s why I’m a fan of institutional repositories. The impetus in the United States today seems to be to corporatize and commoditize education, somehow turning it into a for-profit enterprise instead of a public good. Institutional repositories are a great way to challenge and resist that impulse, returning us to the recognition that research is a crucial element of a collective vision of social progress.

I lived for years in a resource-poor country, and I know that even in the wealthier nations, there are many institutions and scholars who don’t have access to the treasure trove of databases we are privileged to use every day via the wonderful library system at the University of Iowa. But scholarship can’t happen without access to up-to-date knowledge; as scholars, we build on the work that advances our fields. It’s always been inspiring to me that some of the world’s greatest ideas and inventions have been catalyzed by an encounter with some prior work: Galileo read Copernicus and came up with his theory of heliocentrism; Srinivasa Ramanujam read G.S. Carr and made groundbreaking contributions to number theory; Toni Morrison read Virginia Woolf and went on to write Nobel Prize-winning novels. Connecting with the thoughts and ideas and perspectives of others inspires and informs us. We need to make sure the next great scholar can read everything he or she wants to. Part of our work is facilitating the discoveries of the future. That takes generosity and a social conscience —that’s the spirit behind teaching, just as it is behind scholarship.

So whenever I can, I contribute my writings to Iowa Research Online. I offer my work humbly, as part of a community of thinkers whose aims are to change the world for the better. It’s truly gratifying that my IRO papers have been downloaded far more often than they have from commercial journal websites or databases. I hope they are contributing to the way others are thinking about the issues I study: gender, sexuality, and the media. I hope they are sparking new ways to think about these issues, and I hope those ideas will translate into the real goals of my own work, which include social justice, gender equity, and an end to sexual violence.