Artists, academics, and students often want quick access to images and other forms of media for use in projects, and anyone online may want an image to include on social media or in a blog post. Normally, you’d need to worry about copyright restrictions and licensing fees when re-using images or media, but some content falls under the public domain. According to Stanford University Libraries, public domain is defined as “creative materials that are not protected by intellectual property laws such as copyright, trademark, or patent laws. The public owns these works, not an individual author or artist.” Works can fall into the public domain for a number of reasons: because the copyright has expired (in the US, works published before 1923 or if the copyright owner fails to renew the copyright), if the copyright owner purposely dedicates the work to the public domain, or if copyright law doesn’t cover that type of work.
How can you quickly find these works in the public domain, though?
Some major libraries have created portals to publicize their public domain digital collections, and these portals can be a helpful way to quickly find interesting images and media that can be freely shared and re-used without copyright restrictions.
Library of Congress (LOC): The LOC recently announced the creation of a Free to Use and Reuse page, which “features themed sets of content (such as travel posters, presidential portraits, Civil War drawings) that are all free to use and reuse.”
Now on to library news that caught my eye from the past few weeks:
Farewell, PubMed Commons: The NCBI Insights blog announced on February 1 that comments would no longer be accepted through PubMed Commons after February 15, and comments from PubMed Commons will no longer be visible after March 2. PubMed Commons always seemed like a really interesting idea (allowing researchers to comment on PubMed articles), but it unfortunately sounds like usage of the feature was too low to justify (“comments submitted on only 6,000 of the 28 million articles indexed in PubMed”).
Virtual U.S. Copyright Office Card Catalog: In late January, InfoDocket described a new Virtual Card Catalog proof of concept website released by the Library of Congress (LOC), where users can browse through almost 18 million scanned images of cards in indexes from 1955-1970 and 1971-1977. The site isn’t very practical for fast, easy searching, but it sure beats actually going onsite to the Copyright Records Reading Room. I’ve written in the past about what a pain in the neck it can be searching for pre-1978 copyright registrations, so I’m very happy to see that LOC is finally making the digitized versions of the catalog cards available online (even if the viewing options are a bit clunky). To celebrate, you can browse through Walt Disney copyright registrations from 1955-1970.
Medieval Manuscripts Online at the British Library: Information Today posted an announcement that the British Library “made 50-plus rare medieval manuscripts and early print editions freely available via its Discovering Literature: Medieval resource”, including “the single surviving manuscript of Beowulf, the first complete translation of the Bible into English, an illustrated print edition of The Canterbury Tales, and the first English-language work written by a woman.” You can also read fascinating articles analyzing the works, such as a look at Monsters and heroes in Beowulf and an incredible article describing the evolution of Old English.
So much library news (and amazing digital collections to explore), so little time.
While browsing Twitter last week, I came across an article in Nature describing an interesting new database called Dimensions. The article “Science search engine links papers to grants and patents” by Richard Van Noorden explains how “Dimensions not only indexes papers and their citations, but also — uniquely among scholarly databases — connects publications to their related grants, funding agencies, patents and clinical trials.” The database, launched January 15th by Digital Science, offers both free and subscription versions. I wanted to explore in a bit more detail the different versions of Dimensions, learn about the data coverage, and try a few test searches in the free version of the database.
The Dimensions website offers a comparison chart of the features for the different versions of the database (Dimensions, Dimensions Plus, and Dimensions Analytics).
Dimensions: The free version of the database offers access to more than 89 million publications, with information on linked grants, patents, and clinical trials. This version of the database also includes 20 million researcher profiles (currently in beta) and includes citation based metrics and article-level Altmetric data.
Dimensions Plus: This subscription version of the database includes “fully interlinked database with publications, grants, patents, clinical trials with more than 124m records”, access to additional search, filter, and data aggregation options, and access to the Dimensions Search API.
Dimensions Analytics: This subscription version includes all features of Dimensions Plus, as well as a reviewer identification tool, portfolio reporting functionalities, additional research classification systems, and private instance or custom integration of the database with client systems.
Dimensions uses full-text indexing, research categories based on New Zealand Standard Research Classification (ANZSRC) system (and applied at an article level using AI/machine learning), institution disambiguation using the GRID database, and author disambiguation (using ORCID data) to improve retrieval.
Publication metadata comes from “openly-available databases together with those with permissive content licenses, such as PubMed, PubMed Central, ArXiv and CrossRef. “
Grant data was originally collected by “ÜberResearch (one of the six businesses in the Digital Science portfolio creating Dimensions)” in an effort to create a grant database, and the grant data has now been integrated into the broader Dimensions database. The documentation also states:
Grant data should not be taken as a complete view on all research related funding, as we pointed out in a recent report. It covers project-based funding from different types of funders (government, multinational, charities etc.)
Dimensions includes Altmetric data for each article, displayed on the article details page.
Patent data is provided by “the Digital Science portfolio company IFI Claims” and currently covers about nine patent authorities.
Testing the Free Version of Dimensions
I did a quick test search on the free version of the Dimensions database, where you can search across about 89 million publications. Users can conduct a keyword search across full data or title/abstract only, or the user can paste in a document abstract to find similar articles. No advanced search fields seem to be available in this free version, although the help center does describe how basic Boolean operators, parentheses and quotes can be used in the keyword search form.
The results list includes filtering options like publication year, researcher name, field of research, publication type, source title, journal list, and open access. Results can be sorted by relevance, publication date, RCR, citations, or Altmetric Attention Score.
An “Analytical Views” tab on the right side of the results list displays top fields of research, a graph of publications by year, and top source titles.
After selecting a publication title from the results list you can view:
Citation and abstract data.
Supporting grants (no links to grant records provided in free version of database).
Patent citations (no links to patent records provided in the free version of the database).
Linked clinical trials (no links to clinical trial records provided in the free version of the database).
Links to external sources, such as publisher sites and PubMed.
Options to view the PDF (if open access) and to add the article to your library (if logged into a ReadCube account) are also available on the article details page.
I’m always excited to see linked research objects, and Dimensions takes a large step forward with linking a variety of research output, ranging from publications to patents and clinical trials. I hope government-funded databases like PubMed and PubMed Central can take a pointer from Dimensions and eventually include more linked content, such as links to related USPTO patents and applications, clinical trials from ClinicalTrials,gov, related federal grant information, and access to full research data sets.
I never took an archives class in grad school, but I’ve always found historical archives, especially at the state level, fascinating. Between classes, I was occasionally drawn to the Maryland Room at Hornbake Library, where I had my first real experience using microfiche to explore old copies of a local gazette.
I recently got back from a wonderful Thanksgiving in Texas with my in-laws, so here’s a quick look at a few digital collections related to Texas history found through the LOC’s State Digital Resources web guide:
The Handbook of Texas Online – This website from the Texas State Historical Association offers articles about Texas history, organized under sections like Texas Day by Day, Texas Music, Civil War Texas, African American Texas, Tejano History, Houston, and Texas Women.
Example: Read a detailed entry (with some fantastic photographs) about the history of the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center in Houston. Did you know the Space Center Houston visitor center was designed with help from Walt Disney Imagineering?
The Portal to Texas History – This online portal hosted by the University of North Texas (UNT) allows visitors to explore over 500 digital collections, like the Texas Digital Newspaper Program, where you can search through full-text digitized copies of old newspapers and newsletters from across Texas dating back to about 1820. One feature I particularly liked about the portal was the option to explore by location, so you could limit your search results to only records related to specific counties in Texas.
These digital collections can be great resources for genealogical research, academic historical research, or just plain old curiosity about local history. I know I need to dig into digital collections for Maryland as soon as I get a chance.
The Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the Medical Library Association (MAC-MLA) 2017 Annual Meeting was held in Staunton, VA from October 21-24, and the meeting was a whirlwind of powerful, innovative ideas shared through presentations, posters, and even live-Tweeting. Here’s a quick rundown of my key takeaways from the meeting, including important themes highlighted during the keynote presentations, interesting resources, and professional development opportunities from MLA and the National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NNLM).
The overarching theme of this year’s meeting was “facing your fears” (yes, it’s close to Halloween), and each of the four keynote speakers discussed different topics related to librarian, patron, and researcher fears:
Impostor Syndrome – Do you ever feel like you’re an impostor in your profession? Dr. Michael Southam-Gerow of Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) discussed how anyone (but especially women and students/professionals from minority populations) can suffer from “impostor syndrome/impostor phenomenon”, where they worry about the validity of their achievements in their chosen field. Dr. Southam-Gerow also discussed techniques to overcome these “impostor” feelings. The slides from the presentation are available here.
Open Science – Dr. Maryrose Franko of the Health Research Alliance (HRA) presented on addressing funders’ fears about open science. Dr. Franko outlined common fears about open science (cost, administrative burden, and burden/uncertainty for researchers) and described how HRA, the Center for Open Science, and other partners are working to promote and strengthen open science initiatives like open access publications, data sharing, and preregistration. Her presentation slides can be found here.
Health Justice and Health Literacy – Dr. Beth St. Jean of the University of Maryland, College Park gave an introduction to health justice and its relationship to health literacy, health outcomes, and information avoidance. She also discussed strategies to help information professionals improve health literacy among patrons and decrease information avoidance. Her presentation slides can be viewed here.
Critical Librarianship – Derrick Jefferson of American University provided an overview of critical librarianship, which “seeks to be transformative, empowering, and a direct challenge to power and privilege.” Jefferson provided examples of critical librarianship in action and resources to learn more about the movement through Critlib.org and the #critlib on Twitter. Jefferson’s presentation slides can be accessed here.
These are a few of the interesting new resources I learned about at the meeting:
NNLM RD3 – This is a fantastic website created by NNLM to help health science librarians learn the fundamentals about data science and data management. (I also wrote about this resource in my MLA 2017 takeaways post.)
PubMed Labs– Use this test site from the National Library of Medicine to explore new features and tools that may be added to PubMed, and provide direct feedback to the NCBI team.
Open Science Framework (OSF) – OSF is a “free, open source service of the Center for Open Science“. Researchers can collaborate and manage projects through OSF, including storage of data and files, access control, and the ability to link third party services to the platform. Users can also search through collections of pre-prints, project registrations, and posters/presentations from conferences.
NEJM Resident 360 – This online resource from the Massachusetts Medical Society (publishers of the New England Journal of Medicine) can be used by residents and medical students to participate in discussions, find career and study tips, and find interesting learning resources from NEJM. The Learning Lab, Resident Lounge, Career, and Discussions sections are free to explore, while the Rotation Prep section is only accessible through NEJM institutional or individual subscriptions.
Systematic Review Tools – I learned about several interesting free systematic review resources from the poster “From screaming to screening: An evaluation of free systematic review software” by Elizabeth Moreton, Jamie Conklin, Leila Ledbetter, Rebecca Carlson McCall, and Jennifer S. Walker. Users can search for systematic review software through the Systematic Review Toolbox, and free systematic review tools that may be useful to try include Colandr and Rayyan.
I love exploring digital collections, so it’s probably no surprise that I’m an enormous fan of the Internet Archive. The Internet Archive is a non-profit library that hosts digital versions of billions of archived webpages and millions of books, texts, audio recordings, videos, images, and even software programs. Many people are familiar with Internet Archive due to it’s Wayback Machine collection of archived webpages (about the closest we currently get to preserving the internet), but the other collections on Internet Archive also deserve attention for the wonderful, educational, and sometimes bizarre text and media artifacts they contain.
Searching the Internet Archive
The Internet Archive includes both a simple search form accessible in the upper right corner of the page (which allows you to search across metadata, full text of books, TV captions, or archived websites) or an advanced search with fielded search forms or the option to search with lucene query syntax.
When exploring the collections, I personally prefer to just select the icons for web, text, video, audio, software, or images in the upper left corner of the screen and then choose to view all items for that specific media type (like All Video).
I’m then able to use the side filtering options to narrow my search by criteria like subject, collection, creator, or language. I can also search across the metadata within that specific collection or media type.
Strange Collections: Text, Video and Audio
I’m just going to focus on three media types in this post (text, video, and audio collections), but I hope to explore software, image, and web collections in a future post. Here is just a quick sampling of some of the interesting collections to explore on the Internet Archive:
This is just scratching the surface of the Internet Archive’s digital collections. Be careful about beginning to explore the Internet Archive, since once you get started, you may go down a rabbit hole that will take hours to find your way out of (like spending 3 hours listening to old-time radio shows).