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Author: Richard Naples

Richard works in the Digital Services Division of the Smithsonian Libraries and helps to manage data for Research Online, the bibliography and repository for scholarly output at the Smithsonian Institution.

Women in Research

Mary Agnes Chase, ca. 1960 from Flickr
Mary Agnes Chase, ca. 1960 from Flickr

As part of my duties in wrangling data for Smithsonian Research Online, I worked on a project to collect and ingest the historic legacy of published scholarship produced by Smithsonian researchers since the Institution’s inception in 1846. The main focus of my participation is cleaning and preparing the data, but I find it hard to resist not paying attention to its historic significance. I’ll admit occasionally getting lost thinking about what it was like to be on the front lines of natural history research, identifying and describing new species.

Library Hacks: Creating Animated GIFs

beating heart animation
From A system of anatomical plates of the human body by John Lizars (1840?)

It might be a sign of a twisted mind, but I can’t help imagining illustrations and pictures from old books coming to life. Lucky for me, we live in a time when tools for making my twisted dreams come true are readily available. Below, I’m going to go through the basic steps I take in order to turn images collected from our digitized books into the animated GIFs the Smithsonian Libraries posts to its Tumblr blog.

Tumblr: A slightly irreverent look at the Libraries collections

Frederick Godman Insecta. Lepidoptera-Rhopalocera , 1879-1901
Frederick Godman
Insecta. Lepidoptera-Rhopalocera , 1879-1901

If you’ve spent any time deep in the heart of libraryland, then you surely have encountered ephemera, marginalia, stunningly beautiful bookplates, funny advertisements, and other semi-random stuff in the stacks that yearned to be shared, so we’re doing just that through the microblogging platform Tumblr.

Hirshhorn Library Welcomes UC Berkeley Externs

Externs with Ai Weiwei’s Circle of Animals / Zodiac Heads

It is no secret that today’s job market is a dog-eat-dog world. With unemployment rates at record highs, the future that many college graduates see on the horizon is a grim and scary place. However, University of California, Berkeley has created a program to help better prepare their students for the post-graduate battlefield. The Externship Program creates opportunities for students to get hands-on experience in a chosen career field during their winter break. The program is made possible by UC Berkeley alumni who generously share their time with undergraduates who are ready to explore a career. Depending on the sponsors availability, the externships can range from one day to one month. Although many other notable universities such as Cornell, USC, Boston College, and University of Pennsylvania have similar externship programs, it is still a relatively unknown opportunity. Below, Haley and Kaylie share their experience working at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.

Altmetrics: the cat’s meow?

at least kitty has nine lives

This past week, you might have noticed the many news stories about killer cats. The research study about domestic cats’ impact on nature concluded that cats kill up to 3.7 billion birds and 20.7 billion mammals every year. Did you happen to pick up that the senior author on the paper was Peter Marra of the Migratory Bird Center, a research unit of the National Zoo, and one of his cowriters was Scott Loss, also of the MBC? While we are always excited by and proud of the research output of the Smithsonian, this is an example of a scholarly article having an impact in the public sphere—i.e. beyond just the scientific community. Does that matter? How does it matter? Is there a way for the organization sponsoring that research to measure impact of research output like this? These are the kinds of questions we can finally begin to tackle with the use of altmetrics.

Spotlight on Open Access at the Smithsonian Libraries

 

Founder James Smithson
Founder James Smithson

James Smithson bequeathed his fortune to the people of the United States with the clear impetus for the “increase and diffusion of knowledge.” The Smithsonian Libraries takes that message to heart by striving to connect ideas and information to you, and all whom we serve. Consider this an overview of Open Access (with capital O and A) and open access (lowercase o & a) here at the Libraries. Long story short: if you have access to the internet, you have access to an increasing number of quality, peer-reviewed journals and scholarly publications (as long as you know where to look).