Digital Scholarship @ The Libraries

Inspiring innovative digital scholarship at the OSU Libraries and beyond

Month: August 2013

New Technology Meets Old


Image courtesy of

The Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee Theatre Research Institute (TRI) at OSU Libraries owns a remarkable collection of glass slides from the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  The Joel E. Rubin collection of “pose slides,” unique to a type of theater now largely forgotten, offers a fascinating subject for researchers in the history of theater, and a meeting of new technology with old for the Libraries’ Digital Imaging Unit.


Image courtesy of

Glass slides, covered with hand-painted or photographic images, were projected with a device called a magic lantern projector.  Magic lanterns were used in many types of public shows, in lectures, and in people’s homes.

TRI Curator Beth Kattelman offers some background on the use of pose slides in theaters:

“The pose slides are artifacts from a vaudeville entertainment known as the ‘pose plastique,’ an early form of ‘living slide show’ that was very popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. These were acts in which performers would strike a pose recreating a famous sculpture or painting. Sometimes the pose plastique performer(s) would be costumed in and surrounded by white fabric, with only his or her head showing. The performer would strike a pose while a pose slide was projected upon them.  The white costume and stage functioned as a blank screen, thus allowing the projected image from the slide to ‘fill in’ the costume and scenery.”

Photo reference 1  C12 Salome

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Demystifying ETDs: Anatomy of an ETD record

This is the final post in our “demystifying ETDs” series. The first post looked at the process for current ETDs, and the second looked at digitized theses and dissertations. This one will ‘dissect’ an ETD record in the OhioLINK ETD Center. As an example, we will look at one of the most frequently downloaded ETDs in the OhioLINK ETD Center: a dissertation by Charlotte Weber titled Making common cause?: western and middle eastern feminists in the international women’s movement, 1911-1948.


First, a note about accessing it: All ETDs may be accessed by a “Permalink,” which starts with “” This URL is used in the records in the Libraries’ catalog and OCLC’s WorldCat database. It is the URL that should be used whenever the ETD is cited in a bibliography or reference list.

The title and author’s name are near the top of the page. The Permalink is under the author’s name.

Then follows more information:

Year and degree: This line also includes the institution and major.  In this example, we have a doctoral dissertation written in 2003 at Oho State.  The author’s major was in history.

Abstract: This is a brief description or summary of the document. The initial display is truncated, but you can click “More” to see the whole abstract.

Committee: At minimum, as in this case, the advisor’s name is listed.  Authors often include the names of everyone who served on the committee (at OSU, this is usually three or four persons).

Pages:  This is simply a statement of how many pages are in the document.  This ETD has 236 pages.

Keywords: These are included at the discretion of the authors.  Many authors choose not to list any keywords or phrases.  The author in this example listed five keywords and phrases. Each term is hot-linked as a keyword search back into the ETD Center. As of this writing, the last keyword in this example, “orientalism,” is also used as a keyword by the authors of 17 ETDs from six OhioLINK institutions.

Recommended Citation: This area provides links to Refworks, RIS, and Mendeley (each of which may require a separate log-in). Clicking on the arrows next to “APA Citation,” “MLA Citation,” and “Chicago Citation,” will show the citation in each of these styles.  (N.B.: “Chicago” means “Chicago Manual of Style.”)  However, the citations don’t include the Permalink, which needs to be filled in manually.

Files: This line starts with the document number. All ETDs produced at OSU start with “osu”, which is followed by a string of numbers and the file type extension.  In this case “.pdf” for a PDF file.  The size of the file is in parentheses. Following the size, are “View”  (which opens another window to view the document) and “Download” (which automatically saves the document to the computer).  For an example of an ETD with multiple files, go to this ETD page.

Document number: As described above, all of Ohio State’s ETDs start with “osu”.

Download count: This is a counter of the number of times the documents has been downloaded. As of this writing, this ETD has been downloaded 163,920 times!

Then, near the bottom, there is a copyright statement, followed by the line, “This open access ETD is published by The Ohio State University and OhioLINK.”  All non-embargoed ETDs are openly accessible, meaning that the ETD Center is crawled and indexed by Google and other search engines.

Demystifying ETDs: Digitized theses and dissertations

This is the second of three posts on demystifying electronic theses and dissertations (ETDs). The first post looked at the process for submitting, approving, and making available current ETDs by OSU students. This one examines the process used to provide access to older, print theses and dissertations.


Several years ago, OSU implemented a program to digitize “pre-ETD” theses and dissertations.  Although there are several factors and flows involved, the main drivers for this program are increased accessibility, preservation, and interlibrary lending. The university makes these works available for the purposes of research and scholarship.

Digitizing and submitting

The basic flow for digitized ETDs is this: A document is requested for interlibrary lending or otherwise identified for digitizing. A copy is pulled from the stacks, notes are entered into the record for that copy, which is then made unavailable for further requests. It is scanned to a PDF file, which is then submitted by a Libraries staff member to the OhioLINK ETD Center using the same process that current ETD authors use for theirs. The Graduate School sees that it is an older document, checks for machine-generated errors, and releases it to the ETD Center.

Making discoverable

Catalogers receive notification emails for the digitized ETDs just as they do for the current ones. These older documents already have records in the catalog and WorldCat, so these records are updated to include the URL for the online copy.

Next time…

The last post in this series will look at the anatomy of an ETD record in the OhioLINK ETD center.

Demystifying ETDs: Current theses and dissertations

Image by flickr user quinnanya, CC BY-SA

Image by flickr user quinnanya, CC BY-SA

The quantity of student-produced scholarship and research here at Ohio State is staggering. The oldest Ohio State thesis/dissertation dates from the late 1890s.  Since then, more than 82,000 theses and dissertations have been written by OSU students and deposited with or had access provided through the Libraries. Since Autumn 2002, all doctoral dissertations have been required to be electronically submitted to the OhioLINK ETD Center.  (“ETD” means “electronic theses and dissertations”.) The requirement for electronic deposit to the ETD Center was extended to masters theses (except for those in Creative Writing) in 2009.

In addition to the required electronic submission of new theses and dissertations, the OSU Libraries are digitizing older theses and dissertations to make them more accessible, and in some cases as a means of preserving and presenting the contents of crumbling documents that can no longer be safely physically handled. These documents are also added to the ETD Center.

This is the first in a series of  three posts demystifying the process by which Ohio State ETDs are submitted and made available online. This post looks at current ETDs, the next will examine the process for digitizing and making available historic ETDs, and the third will examine the anatomy of a record in the ETD Center.

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Does Digital Scholarship Have a Future? (link)

Does Digital Scholarship Have a Future? (EDUCAUSE Review Online)

In the essay linked above, Edward Ayres, president of the University of Richmond, looks at the history of digital scholarship efforts, the challenges they face in the present, and their potential for future impact in the academy and elsewhere. It’s lengthy, but well worth reading if you’re interested in the ways digital technology is changing  scholarship. A very brief excerpt:

“By radically extending the audience for a work of scholarship, by reaching students of many ages and backgrounds, by building the identity of the host institution, by attracting and keeping excellent faculty and students, by creating bonds between faculty and the library, and by advancing knowledge across many otherwise disparate disciplines, innovative digital scholarship makes sense. It can pay some of the democratizing dividends claimed for MOOCs at the same time that it can strengthen the time-proven culture of knowledge creation. Digital scholarship is the missing part of the cycle of productivity that we have long believed our investments in information technology would bring to institutions of higher education.”

The Getty Open Content Program (link)

The Getty Open Content Program

The J. Paul Getty Trust announced this week that it will provide unrestricted access to and reuse rights for high-quality digital images of many items in its collection. According to James Cuno on the Getty Iris,

The initial focus of the Open Content Program is to make available all images of public domain artworks in the Getty’s collections. Today we’ve taken a first step toward this goal by making roughly 4,600 high-resolution images of the Museum’s collection free to use, modify, and publish for any purpose.

This is an exciting step for the Getty, and great news for scholars, artists, and others. Read the full post or click the link to the Open Content Program above to learn more.

Engaged librarianship: Learning through teaching Japanese manga

Editor’s Note: This is the second of two posts on engaged librarianship by Maureen Donovan, the Japanese Studies librarian at OSUL. In the first post (Digital scholarship as a tool for engagement), Maureen explored the ability of digital tools to increase engagement when used as part of active listening.

Developing a research collection of Japanese comics (manga), I was baffled by the sheer volume of these popular culture artifacts coming out annually. Not knowing how to choose among so many, I organized a freshman seminar, “Analyzing the Appeal of Manga,” to investigate which works are likely to have lasting value. My role was to organize the seminar, with students bringing questions each week to discuss with each other. Is it the art? The characters? The stories? What’s important in this work and why do we care what happens? As I listened to their discussions, criteria for determining quality (usually relating to great storytelling and character development) became clearer and I found myself pulled into further engagement in this field. Among other things, I learned how savvy students are at sharing and accessing these works online. In the context of global youth culture the students knew about a new Japanese publication or film within hours, while impressive online encyclopedias and bibliographies made it easy for them to research existing works. Of course, one cannot ignore such issues as copyright infringement through “scanlations” and other controversial aspects of global youth culture. Still, the information skills that these students had developed through interest in manga or anime prepare them for participation in the “global information society.” Meanwhile, I learned a lot about manga during the six times I taught that course, providing a foundation for my engagement in this field that continues to evolve.

With an eye toward developing the scholarly potential of the manga collection, I found myself drawn into investigating the origins of manga in Japan, because I knew that eventually people would want to delve into how these brilliant cartoonists learned their craft. Who were their teachers? Where did all this creativity come from? Inevitably those researchers have started using the collection I am building. As I meet with them, I hear about problems they encounter in doing research using manga as primary research materials, which leads me further into active engagement, building resources to support them. That’s how the project to index the issues of Jiji Manga, a 1920s newspaper cartoon Sunday supplement that I have been collecting, was initiated. Fortunately I had the assistance of a wonderfully talented graduate student, Hyejeong Choi, who actually did the work of indexing. That index is now one of the “most popular” pages on the library’s wiki, with over 73,000 views on the main page, in addition to thousands of views for each of the over 500 pages for individual issues. Researchers worldwide as well at at Ohio State use this index to study Japanese history, early manga, culture of the 1920s and many other topics.

Working with manga also brought me into greater awareness of the global flow of information, which led to developing a course on Understanding the Global Information Society with Miriam Conteh-Morgan, and teaching it in International Studies. That course is built around questions too: What is information?, What is a globally networked information society?, How are work and play being transformed in today’s global information society? As a teacher my role is to construct a learning environment where students explore those questions, but as they report on their projects my awareness grows apace. I find myself bringing what I learn about the evolving global scholarly ecosystem through teaching this course — and listening to my students’ reports — to discussions when I meet faculty and other researchers in the course of my work as Japanese Studies Librarian. There’s a continuum of engagement between teaching and research, all revolving around the new knowledge creation and sharing processes that form the basis of today’s global information society.

Digital scholarship as a tool for engagement

Editor’s Note: This is the first in a two-post series on engaged librarianship by Maureen Donovan, the Japanese Studies librarian at OSUL. The second post will focus on Maureen’s experience collecting, teaching, and creating tools for the study of manga (Japanese comics).

In his post about engaged librarians, Craig Gibson described a “collaborative landscape of scholarly method and practice”. I realize the key for participating in this for me always involves active listening. Of course when scholars discuss research findings or explain the subjects they are studying it can be fascinating, but I find myself pulled into more active engagement when they start mentioning things like the pitfalls they face, work-arounds they devise, or frustrations they encounter in the course of research. Active listening involves asking questions. I press for more details, want to know the circumstances, ask for their ideas about potential solutions, wonder how many others face the same problems. And, being the Japanese Studies Librarian, I often respond by developing resources for the Japanese studies wiki.

A specific example is a page on Japanese photography resources created when someone mentioned how hard it was to find such books in the library’s catalog. I collected some citations, thereby “curating” content held in different library collections at Ohio State. By responding to this specific need with an openly accessible wiki page — rather than a private email communication — the possibility of wider impact opens up. Lately there is a lot of interest in visual information; still, I am simply amazed when I realize that this wiki page has received over 19,000 views so far. Truly, my listening and responding to one scholar’s needs by collecting/curating some citations brought me into engagement (however superficial) with many others.

Does creating online resources like the wiki change or increase my engagement? Indeed it does! On a daily basis I use new technologies (especially wiki and twitter, as well as blogging) to bring library resources, databases, web resources to the attention of people who might be interested and this has really increased my engagement. In the past it might have been enough to select a book and let it wait on the shelf until someone picked it up. Now it seems that acquiring and cataloging resources are only initial steps that enable the possibility of engagement. But only by proactively pursuing opportunities to connect researchers with our materials, following up on careful listening during conversations, can it begin.

In 2010 Janice Mutz and John Dupuis gave a talk on “Our Job in 10 Years: The Future of Academic Libraries” at the Ontario Library Association Super Conference in which they threw out a question which is very relevant to the topic of librarian engagement. They asked, “When you see a great big room full of books, do you see it as something alive or as something dead?” I find that using wiki, blog and twitter to promote or curate content makes it come “alive” and brings me into active engagement with people, into connecting resources with researchers.