Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Journal Review at UNC Health Sciences Library

The current economic crisis has dramatically affected nearly all sectors of society at every level--locally, nationally, and internationally. The University of North Carolina is no exception, nor is the UNC Health Sciences Library. Updates on the university situation are available online.

To address the reduced budget for FY 2009-2010, which begins July 1, the Health Sciences Library is currently undertaking a comprehensive review of journal subscriptions, both electronic and print, in order to determine which titles might be dropped as a cost-savings measure. Journal subscriptions comprise approximately 95% of the library's acquisitions budget, so budget cuts significantly and directly impact the library's collections.

Users of the Health Sciences Library can learn more about the journal review process on the HSL web site. The site provides an FAQ, timeline, and cancellation criteria. Users are also invited to provide feedback online on journals that are candidates for cancellation. The library is committed to ensuring the development and maintenance of a strong research collection, and thus highly values input from potentially affected users.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

North Carolina Dedicates Eugenics Historical Marker

On June 22, 2009, the North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program dedicated a new marker in Raleigh to commemorate the victims of the state's Eugenics Sterilization Program, which was authorized by the North Carolina legislature in 1929. The Eugenics Board was created in 1933 to review all sterilization requests, and between 1929 and 1974, over 7,600 individuals were sterilized. In 1972 the Eugenics Board became the Eugenics Commission before being abolished in 1977.

Eugenics was a neologism created by Sir Francis Galton, who elaborated his theory of improving natural selection for humans in his 1883 work, Inquiries into Human Faculty and Its Development. Sterilization laws were later adopted by over 30 states in the U.S., but were challenged in 1927 in the U.S. Supreme Court case, Buck v. Bell, 274 U.S. 200. In upholding such laws, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes delivered the opinion of the Court, infamously asserting:
"It is better for all the world if, instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind. The principle that sustains compulsory vaccination is broad enough to cover cutting the Fallopian tubes. Jacobson v. Massachusetts, 197 U.S. 11. Three generations of imbeciles are enough."

The General Assembly of North Carolina currently has two bills pending related to eugenics: House Bill 21 (Eugenics Program--Support and Education) and Senate Bill 179 (Sterilization Compensation). For further information on this legislation and the history of eugenics in North Carolina, please see an earlier Carolina Curator post.

In addition, Special Collections at UNC Health Sciences Library has digitized all volumes of the Biennial Report of the Eugenics Board of North Carolina [1934-1966], as well as North Carolina journals and documents in public health and other areas as part of an ongoing digital initiative.

Note: The images below are from the Historical Marker Database; full entries are available online for Indiana, the first state to pass eugenics legislation, and Virginia, the source of the landmark Buck v. Bell sterilization case.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Bullitt Club Lectures Now on iTunes

A new listening option is now available for the lecture series sponsored by the Bullitt History of Medicine Club: iTunes! The Carolina on iTunes U initiative hosts a variety of audio, video, and multimedia content from across the University of North Carolina, including health affairs, law, information and library science, journalism, and more.

Educational in nature, the digital content is free and ranges from lecture podcasts to tutorials to special events coverage. As the organizers state, "The initiative's primary goal is not only to provide a foundation for intelligent technology integration with measurable pedagogical impact and campus-wide benefit, but also to serve as a model for intra-campus partnerships and federated governance of a major technology-driven project."

Bullitt Club lectures for 2008-9 can be found by navigating to the School of Medicine section of Carolina on iTunes U or can be accessed directly. One can listen to individual lectures via streaming audio, download individual or all lectures in their entirety, or subscribe to podcasts, which will deliver new content directly as it becomes available. The iTunes software itself is free. At present there are nine lectures from the 2008-2009 lecture series on iTunes. These lectures are also available from the Bullitt Club web site. The new speaker schedule for 2009-2010 begins this September--stay tuned!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

UNC Medical Student Wins Bean Student Research Award

For the third time in four years, a UNC medical student has won the William B. Bean Student Research Award from the American Osler Society. This year Chris Dibble, currently a third-year MD/PhD student, took the honors for his proposal entitled “Osler and Trudeau: The North American Campaign Against Tuberculosis.” Chris last year also won the inaugural McLendon-Thomas Award in the History of Medicine sponsored by the Bullitt History of Medicine Club for earlier research on Dr. Edward Livingston Trudeau [1848-1915], and presented his essay at a Bullitt Club lecture in November 2008.

UNC is linked historically to Dr. Trudeau and his sanitarium in Saranac Lake, New York through two well known individuals. Dr. Henry T. Clark [1917-2008], former UNC Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs, was an intern and fellow at the Trudeau Sanitarium from 1940-1943. Dr. Clark’s papers are archived in the Southern Historical Collection in Wilson Library; a finding aid is available online. Dr. Louis Round Wilson [1876-1979], University Librarian and first director of the UNC School of Library Science, was a patient at the sanitarium in 1916, during which time he wrote letters to Edward Graham Kidder and maintained a “Tuberculosis Record Book.” These items and many others are part of the Wilson Papers housed, appropriately enough, in Wilson Library, for which Dr. Wilson is the namesake; a finding aid to the collection is available online.

Previous winners of the Bean Award are James Fraser in 2008 and Lee Hampton in 2006. James’ project title was “Molding an Independent Specialty: Plastic Surgery in Postwar America, 1919-1941” and Lee’s was “Albert Sabin and the Western Hemisphere Polio Eradication Campaign.” Both students gave earlier versions of their research at Bullitt Club lectures.

The Bean Award supports “research in the broad areas of medical history and medical humanities,” and carries a $1500 cash prize and $750 travel stipend for students to present their work at the annual meeting of the American Osler Society. As part of the application for the award, candidates must submit “a letter of support from a faculty sponsor who will assume responsibility for planning and guidance of the fellowship.” At UNC, this role has been played by Dr. H. Michael Jones, Clinical Professor of Pathology in the School of Medicine. Dr. Jones is an active member of the American Osler Society and the co-creator of Ask Osleriana, a searchable database available online.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Grants Awarded to HSL for Digital Initiatives

Note: See June 21, 2010 blog post for announcement of second year NC ECHO award for $42,675.

The UNC Health Sciences Library has just been awarded $34,850 for the first year of a $94,050 three-year NC ECHO digitization grant project funded by the State Library of North Carolina through the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA). Building on a pilot project that resulted in the digitization of historical North Carolina journals in public health, dentistry, and eugenics, the proposed North Carolina History of Health Digital Collection will contain over 800 volumes (approx. 300,000 pages) of core journals in medicine, public health, dentistry, pharmacy, and nursing from 1849 to 1977.

These materials document the development of health care and the health professions and are thus a significant part of the state’s cultural heritage and history. The digital library will be keyword searchable and browseable, and will provide consolidated online access to materials that are currently difficult for students, researchers, and the public to find and utilize in print. The digital library will also provide historical context for the digital resources and K-12 educational materials for selected content. Daniel Smith, Special Collections Librarian, is the principal investigator and project manager, and will coordinate each phase of the grant.

HSL and the University Library were also successful in obtaining other grant funding from the State Library. HSL's NC Health Info was awarded $54,057 for its consumer health portal, and the University Library received several awards:

:: "Ensuring Democracy Through Digital Access," a collaborative project between ECU's Joyner Library, the State Library of North Carolina, and the North Carolina Collection in Wilson Library, was awarded $124,693 for year one of a two-year project.

:: "Driving Through Time: The Digital Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina," a project of Wilson Library, received $74,553 for year one of a two-year project.

:: "Creating Online Access to Legacy Finding Aids," a project of Wilson Library, received $73,695 for year two of a three-year project.

:: "North Carolina Maps," a collaborative project of the North Carolina Collection in Wilson Library, the North Carolina State Archives, and the Outer Banks History Center, received $144,284 for year three of a three-year project.

The State Library's support will go far to develop and enhance UNC's digital collections for the use of researchers everywhere. A list of all grant awards for 2009-10 is available online. 185 projects were approved for a total of $4,717,109. These awards are made possible by LSTA grant funding from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), a federal grant-making agency. Congratulations to everyone!

Note: The images below are from the Health Bulletin of the North Carolina State Board of Health.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Ranking Journals in the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine

The editors of over 50 journals in the history of the science, technology, and medicine have published a joint editorial in their respective publications entitled, “Journals Under Threat: A Joint Response from History of Science, Technology and Medicine Editors,” in protest of the European Science Foundation’s (ESF) proposed European Reference Index for the Humanities (ERIH). The background for ERIH is described on the ESF web site as follows:

Anecdotally, it is widely assumed that much of Europe’s Humanities research is first class. However, it is not possible to easily gather or access empirical data to support this claim. Nor is it possible to compare Humanities excellence with other sciences. . . . Nevertheless, in the view of funding bodies such as the ERC, it is becoming increasingly important to identify and compare Humanities excellence at a supra-national European level.

ERIH intends to contribute to the creation of appropriate tools to achieve this and operates as a process led by academics for academics. At present, it is a reference index of the top journals in 15 areas of the Humanities, across the continent and beyond. It is intended that ERIH will be extended to include book-form publications and non-traditional formats, and will also form the backbone of a fully-fledged research information system for the Humanities. This would be the first step towards the development of a framework that will enable Humanities excellence to be assessed and verified.

The editors, however, assert that the ERIH “initiative is entirely defective in conception and execution.” The ESF has employed expert panels to rank humanities journals into three tiers (A, B, and C) as part of the initial lists for the index, and as noted in the joint editorial, journals in the History and Philosophy of Science were evaluated by a committee of four, which the editors state “cannot be considered representative.” They also cite the 2007 report by the British Academy, “Peer Review: The Challenges for the Humanities and Social Sciences,” that concludes that “the European Reference Index for the Humanities as presently conceived does not represent a reliable way in which metrics of peer-reviewed publications can be constructed.”

The editors make the following public demand:

Along with many others in our field, this journal has concluded that we want no part of this dangerous and misguided exercise. This joint Editorial is being published in journals across the fields of history of science and science studies as an expression of our collective dissent and our refusal to allow our field to be managed and appraised in this fashion. We have asked the compilers of the ERIH to remove our journals titles from their lists.

In response to the joint editorial, the ESF this month posted “The European Reference Index to the Humanities: A Reply to the Criticism,” an attempt at reconciliation which concludes:

ERIH is led by scholars for scholars and the feedback mechanism enables scholars to communicate their views directly to the Expert Panels, and to the Steering Committee. The feedback that is being submitted by individual scholars and scientists as well as by expert communities will have an important role in the updating of the “Initial Lists”. In full recognition of the early stage of the process, and the shortcomings of the present version of the ERIH, we would like to ask the editors of journals to reconsider their decision not to contribute to the process, and to let the project benefit from their critique and comments.

Among the journals participating in the joint editorial are the Bulletin of the History of Medicine (the organ of the American Association for the History of Medicine), Medical History, Social History of Medicine, Early Science and Medicine, and dozens of others.