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I am in the Durham/RTP area this weekend attending the ScienceOnline2010 conference. This is the fourth year of the conference, and my third year of attendance. Although the conference doesn’t officially start until Saturday, there was a series of workshops, food tours and lab tours on Friday for early arrivals, and a gala reception Friday evening with the keynote speaker.

I kicked off this year’s conference with a morning workshop on institutional repositories (IRs) at the Park Research Center in RTP. Dorothea Salo, librarian at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, led the session “Repositories for Fun & Profit.” In keeping with the relaxed atmosphere of the conference, an official lecture was quickly dismissed in favor of a guided conversation among our small but interesting group: 4 researchers, 4 librarians and 1 consultant.

Our conversation focused on questions/topics posted to the wiki prior to the workshop, and one of the big points we discussed is the growing need for access to data sets. Unfortunately most repository systems, including DSpace, are not able to adequately handle large data sets, as the IR structures do not provide the necessary flexibility. In light of this, and other issues, several prominent early IR adopters in the United States are exploring the possibilities of system migration.

In relation to IRs, we also talked about the importance of working with graduate students to educate the next generation of faculty about scholarly communication issues. Dorothea promoted the benefits of electronic theses and dissertations (ETD) archiving requirements for achieving the dual goals of educating students and populatingIRs. I was quite proud to learn that Wake Forest was ahead of UW-Madison in implementing a required ETD program!

Another point of discussion focused on Open Access (OA) policies, both funder/government and faculty-driven. Dorothea shared that she believes that as the novelty of faculty policies such as those passed at Harvard, MIT and Stanford begins to wear off, more OA policies will be implemented as people realize that the sky hasn’t fallen.

Following the workshop and a lunch break, I wove my way through Duke Forest in Durham to the Duke Lemur Center for an afternoon lab tour. The Duke Lemur Center is the largest lemur preserve worldwide, housing 210 prosimian primates – 190 of which are lemurs, the others are prosimians from Sri Lanka and Vietnam – including the largest collection of aye-ayes (17 of 40 in captivity), and Romeo, the ONLY diademed sifaka living in captivity. The goals of the center are research, education and conservation, as lemurs are endangered species. Lemurs are found only on Madagascar, and it is believed that there are approximately 70 different species on the island. All lemurs are prosimians, but not all prosimians are lemurs. Some species are diurnal, others nocturnal, and one species, mongoose lemurs, switch between diurnal and nocturnal seasonally.

Currently, the diurnal lemurs are housed in temperature-protected enclosures, but after temperatures are sustained above 45 degrees (mid-April or so), the lemurs are released to live in the forest on the preserve. At mealtimes, they are gathered by a signal (e.g., beating a tambourine ), and they are fed specialized diets which, depending on the species, might include grub worms, bananas, collard greens, or Monkey Chow (made by Purina!). The nocturnal lemurs live in a separate facility at all times, where their “day” has been flip-flopped: bright lights simulating sunlight come on around midnight, prompting them to sleep while researchers normally sleep, and go off around 9:45am, waking them at “night” to facilitate research during normal business hours.

I learned a LOT of fascinating facts about lemurs that I won’t share here, but here is one fun fact: there are only two primate species with blue eyes: blue-eyed lemurs and humans. Some would include spider monkeys as a third, although their eyes are more gray-blue than true blue. As a blue-eyed human primate, I found this particular fact most interesting! The center is available for tours year round (call ahead to schedule), and if you ever have the opportunity, I strongly encourage you to go!

After the lemur tour, I took advantage of my proximity to Duke’s campus to scoot over to Perkins Library for a late-afternoon meeting with Kevin Smith, Duke University’s Scholarly Communications Officer, and Will Cross, a current UNC MILS student interning with Kevin who also works at UNC’s House Undergraduate Library. I had not been to Perkins in over 10 years, so after chatting about OA policy implementation strategies and Will’s post-graduation plans, Kevin gave me a quick tour, highlighting The Link, which combines IT support service (similar to The Bridge) as well as a Mac lab, study space with funky furniture, and class, seminar and group study rooms. VERY cool space!

By the end of the day, I was too tired to drive back to RTP for the gala reception (I’m staying in Durham), but as it was hosted at RTP Headquarters, I am sure it was a lovely affair. I also know that by being at a blogging-oriented conference, I’ll find plenty of coverage of what I missed!