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We’re in the middle of Banned Books Week, an annual awareness event that celebrates the freedom to read and draws attention to the detriment of censorship.  We often take for granted material that is available to us.  There are several websites highlighting this campaign which are listed below.

Banned Books

We at Hirsh actually have a couple of titles that made the top 10 banned books of 2013!












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I recently convinced myself that August is National Tomato Month. Possibly because I have spent the last several weeks gorging on the beautiful New England tomatoes making their way to the Boston farmers’ markets and local farm stands.

Imagine my dismay when I discovered that August celebrates many foodstuffs, including sandwiches, catfish, and peaches, but according to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, National Fresh Tomato Day falls on April 6th.

Now, if you dragged yourself through many, many miserably damp days in March and April of 2014, you know for a fact that there was not a local, sun-ripened, fresh tomato to be found in Boston on April 6th. And I’m not the only person who thinks August is the time to celebrate the glorious tomato. Consider the world-famous, tomato-centric celebration known as La Tomatina in Buñol, a small Spanish town in Valencia that attracts over 30,000 people every August.

Courtesy Aaron Corey CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Courtesy Aaron Corey CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

This is the perfect time to enjoy beautiful ripe tomatoes of all varieties. They are also a superfood, rich in Vitamin C and fiber, as well as beta-carotene and lycopene. Read more about the health benefits of eating tomatoes in the Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter.

If you’re looking for new ways to enjoy tomatoes, here are a few of my favorite recipes:

And of course, you can always just eat a perfectly ripe tomato all on its own, preferably over the kitchen sink.


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Ahh, summer!  When the misery of winter is but a distant memory, and we are all baking in the heat collectively!  Other than no need to justify ice cream, one of the best things about summer are all the free events you can take advantage of.   Summer is the perfect time to discover Boston with some of the free events highlighted below:

Lastly, a great resource to search for free or low cost events in Boston all year round is the Boston Calendar.

Enjoy summer while it lasts!

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Happy May Day everyone!  This month is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month and why not spend these longer days out and about.  There are many things to do in Boston like walk the Freedom Trail, go for a bike ride, train for a fun run, or sail along the Charles!  As Boston is “America’s Walking City” there is plenty to explore.  Below are some helpful links to help you get fit!  Perhaps you’ll start today by participating in a Maypole dance!



Image courtesy of Open Clip Art

Rise to the President’s Challenge…Make physical activity part of your life

HealthFinder: National Physical Fitness and Sports Month

You’re It. Get Fit! A Guide to Fitness and Activity Fundamentals

WalkBoston: Maps




Next Tuesday, April 22nd Dr. Dan Jay of the Sackler School with be giving a talk at the Broad Institute for the Cambridge Science Festival.  He will discuss how his scientific experience has played a role in the creative process.  For more information on his artwork, the talk, and the festival please see the links below.


Dan Jay


Image via Senator Stabenow’s Flickr stream

The saga over the fate of the Agricultural Act of 2014, aka “The Farm Bill,” has finally ended. Earlier this month, President Obama signed the bill into law, praising the bipartisan legislation.

However, given the complexity of the bill and its wide-ranging implications, many of us are begging to know, what exactly is in the “The Farm Bill,”?

Ed O’Keefe and the staff of the Washington Post has “perused the 959-page farm bill to call out some neat, new and interesting anecdotes that might not normally see the light of day.”

Check out this insightful article:

“Hemp, farm-raised fish, food labels and food stamps: What’s in the farm bill?”

No, it’s not a spiffy button that you wear, it’s a neat bookmarlet that allows for the collection of information about paywalls standing in the way of research. The button was dreamed up by Medsin-UK and the Right to Research Coalition (Washington DC), as a way to gather information about how frequently and where researchers are running into paywalls, as well as to try and provide the user with an open access version of the blocked content.  From the “About” page for the project:

Every day people around the world such as doctors, scientists, students and patients are denied access to the research they need. With the power of the internet, the results of academic research should be available to all.  It’s time to showcase the impact of paywalls and help people get the research they need. That’s where Open Access Button comes in.

The Open Access Button is a browser plugin that allows people to report when they hit a paywall and cannot access a research article. Head to to sign up for your very own Button and start using it.

Vision for the Button:

“A fair and just world in which access to research is a reality for all”

Mission of the Button:

  1. A tool for advocates detailing quantitative and qualitative information about the lack of access to scientific literature

  2. A tool for the public and professionals to more easily access scientific literature within the current system

  3. Creation of a platform for further innovation.

Sign up for your very own button HERE and be a part of the Open Access movement.




In honor of Thanksgiving, we have set out to describe the ‘evidence’ behind the traditional Thanksgiving dinner. Enjoy…

Cranberry Sauce
Cranberries for preventing urinary tract infections.
Jepson RG, Williams G, Craig JC.
Cochrane Database Systematic Reviews. 2012 Oct 17
Findings:  “…cranberry juice cannot currently be recommended for the prevention of UTIs”
Bottom line:  Well, cranberries are still pretty tasty.


Stuffing and Mashed Potatoes
Low-carbohydrate diets and all-cause mortality: a systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies.
Noto H, Goto A, Tsujimoto T, Noda M.
PLoS One. 2013;8(1):e55030. Epub 2013 Jan 25.
Findings: “Low-carbohydrate diets were associated with a significantly higher risk of all-cause mortality and they were not significantly associated with a risk of CVD mortality and incidence.”
Bottom line: Eat the stuffing.


Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potato for type 2 diabetes mellitus.
Ooi CP, Loke SC.
Cochrane Database Systematic Reviews. 2012 Feb 15
Findings: “There is insufficient evidence to recommend sweet potato [as a therapy] for type 2 diabetes mellitus.”
Bottom line: Sweet potatoes are still very good for you if you have type 2 diabetes (but leave the marshmallows off the top, capesh!).

and, of course…

Does Turkey Make you Sleepy?
Ballantyne, C.
Scientific American. November 21, 2007
Findings: Goble, goble, zzzzzzzzzzz…..

Bottom line:  Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!


Contributed by Research & Instruction Librarian, Amy LaVertu.


In yesterday’s post, we mentioned that the White House OSTP recently issued a memo mandating public access to federally funded research, including the related data sets.  So what’s so great about open data anyway?

Ensuring open access to the data behind the literature will play a key role in seeing that the scholarly communication system evolves in a way that supports the needs of scholars and the academic enterprise as a whole.”   SPARC: Open Data

According to Dan Gezelter, of The OpenScience Project, Open Science encompasses four fundamental goals:

  • Transparency in experimental methodology, observation, and collection of data
  • Public availability and reusability of scientific data
  • Public accessibility and transparency of scientific communication
  • Using web-based tools to facilitate scientific collaboration

 –e-Science Portal for New England Librarians: Open Science


And what about the humanities?

  • As reported in an article from Inside Higher Education, many humanists see tagged, linked open data as the way to provide for cross-disciplinary research
  • Using open data would increase the relevance of cross-disciplinary research to broader communities, including the general public
  • The ability to use open data from various fields would open up new avenues of research and collaboration within the humanities and beyond

We hope you had a great Open Access Week! Visit the Scholarly Communication at Tufts website for the latest news on open access, author’s rights, and copyright.


Seal_of_the_Executive_Office_of_the_President_of_the_United_StatesIn February 2013, the director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy released a memo directing major federal funding agencies to develop plans to make the published results and digital data sets of federally funded research freely available to the public within one year of publication.  Agencies with R&D budgets of more than $100 million, including NIH, NSF, NEH, USAid, among others are impacted.  This directive dovetails with the recent bipartisan public access bill FASTR introduced into both the House and Senate.  It is also in line with the mandate already in place by NIH, but expands to include data, not just journal articles.  (Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post about open data!)

The exact details of how this will roll out are still forthcoming, but, rest assured, various groups at Tufts are monitoring developments.  We are looking forward to working with our researchers to comply with the federal requirements as they are established.