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CVM Librarian Captures
Prestigious Award

Trenton BoydThere are few constants in any organization: Technology advances, facilities modernize, people move on. For nearly 39 years, Trenton Boyd has been a constant at the MU College of Veterinary Medicine. The CVM’s first professional veterinary librarian has worked for every dean to lead the College with the exception of Dr. A.H. Groth, who was the then School of Veterinary Medicine’s first dean.

Part of Boyd’s job is to ensure that even when literature pertaining to veterinary medicine changes, what is replaced is not lost. However, one area of preservation is particularly challenging. “Grey literature,” which refers to materials that are not generated through a standard publisher, such as reports, white papers and proceedings for symposiums, is notoriously difficult to track and acquire, but frequently important in scientific research.

His efforts to highlight the need to preserve grey and archival literature recently earned Boyd the Murray Gottlieb Prize for the best unpublished essay on the history of medicine and allied science by a health sciences librarian.

Over the years, Boyd has developed a reputation for his ability to collect the grey literature of veterinary medicine. Approximately a year and a half ago, a colleague asked Boyd to help draw together seven preservation-minded librarians to brainstorm solutions to the grey literature and veterinary school archives challenge. In the first of three meetings, the group spent three days in a think tank environment at Texas A&M. The next step in their campaign was to publicize their efforts, which group members did last April during a meeting of the United States Agriculture Information Network.

“I spoke about all of the things that hadn’t been saved by various veterinary schools,” Boyd said of the session.

Following his presentation, an audience member proposed that he write a paper on the topic and suggested the Gottlieb contest.

“I delved into the topic and did a lot of research. It was a lot more involved than I thought when I started, but I had some colleagues encouraging me to keep with it.” He looked into the possible loss of publications, such as patent medicine company catalogs that tout the benefits of their products, and tracked whether 41 veterinary medicine schools that are no longer operating had materials preserved anywhere. He described the 100 hours of research as not difficult, just time consuming. “I still didn’t think I’d win, but I did,” he said.

The final result was his essay, “The Lost History of American Veterinary Medicine: The Need for Preservation.”

In addition to a $100 prize and registration paid to the 2009 Medical Library Association Annual Meeting, Boyd’s paper will be published in the Journal of the Medical Library Association, and has been accepted for presentation during the International Congress on Medical Librarianship/International Conference of Animal Health Informational Specialists in Australia in September.

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Last Update: February 29, 2012