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Poster Sessions

Patents and Privilege: Using patents to teach that information has value

Presented by

  • Heidi Gauder (Roesch Library, University of Dayton)
  • Bridget Retzloff (Roesch Library, University of Dayton)


Patents are not only useful for STEM fields, but they can also be intriguing primary source documents for researchers. They describe innovation, reference other inventions, and provide a timeline of the history of technology in the U.S. Our founding fathers valued innovation so much that they included protections in the U.S. Constitution. For these reasons and more, the librarians at this academic library developed two workshops that introduced students to the value of patents, how to research patents, and their place in our city’s own history of innovation. However, although patents protect innovation, in doing so, they have also historically privileged those inventors who are in a position to create and to afford the application fees. As part of the workshop, students were asked to map the addresses of the inventors, the results of which played along race and class lines across the city. These results facilitated a discussion about the lack of representation in the patents and why. Using the ACRL Information Literacy frame, Information has value, this poster will show attendees how patent history reads as a history of exclusion but also an opportunity to discuss the complexities of patents, research, and innovation.


Intro Video

Supplemental Documents


Heidi Gauder is the Coordinator of Research and Instruction at Roesch Library, University of Dayton. She chairs of the University Libraries instruction team; responsibilities include scheduling, assessing, and coordinating the work of the team. She also leads the Roesch Library research team, working to schedule and provide research services to campus constituents and visitors.

Bridget Retzloff is a Librarian and Lecturer at Roesch Library, University of Dayton. She provides research services and library instruction as a member of the University Libraries research and instruction teams. She also contributes to the processing of archival materials in University Archives and Special Collections.

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