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Top campus scientists framed by inspired librarian
Koshland Library gives prominence to Berkeley researchers' cover stories

| 02 February 2005

When Beth Weil, head of the Marian Koshland Bioscience and Natural Resources Library, sends e-mail to the faculty, there are two subject lines guaranteed to draw a quick response. In a time of budget cuts and astronomical subscription prices, one is the ever-dreaded "Journal subscription canceled." The other message this one welcome reads "Soliciting research covers."

"Faculty sometimes show up within minutes," journals in hand, says Weil, who in the late 1990s started publicly displaying journal covers that showcased the work of Berkeley researchers.

"Getting a journal cover is a prestigious thing," notes Weil. But all too soon, a campus researcher's pride and joy gets bound between covers and shelved in the stacks. The project "seemed like a good way of preserving covers and making the work done at Berkeley more visible," she says. If the researcher whose work made a journal's cover can supply a copy of the issue in question, the library has the cover scanned, mounted, and laminated for permanent display.

By now, more than 150 campus research covers are on display in a temporary exhibit outside the entrance to the library (in 2101 Valley Life Sciences), and filling four walls of the reading rooms inside the library. All manner of bioscience and natural-resource journals from Neuron to Restoration Ecology are represented. The earliest, a 1972 issue of Scientific American, features research on "Brain Changes in Response to Experience" by Berkeley professor Marian Diamond et al.; the most recent were published in 2004.

Faculty and graduate students are often seen visiting their covers, and incoming and prospective graduate students are known to linger over this unabashed display of Berkeley research prowess. "Not many institutions," says Weil, "have such an abundance of covers."