Digital Scholarship @ The Libraries

Inspiring innovative digital scholarship at the OSU Libraries and beyond

Month: September 2013

Refocusing our Efforts; why have a digital initiatives program

When I first arrived at The OSU Libraries and set out to meet with my new colleagues and talk about the Libraries’ big successes, some of my general ideas for a digital initiatives program, and to start fleshing out some of the identified needs – inevitably, the conversation would eventually shift towards specific projects, specific needs and specific solutions necessary to fill in some of the gaps that people saw in the Libraries.  These conversations were really important, and they help to underscore something that I knew about The Ohio State Libraries before making the move – that the Libraries is filled with an innovative group of doers – people that see needs and look for solutions.  It’s an approach that has allowed the Libraries to do a number of very innovative things.  In fact, the week I arrived, the Libraries was just rolling out the King James Bible Virtual Exhibit (, a prototype exhibit for the Libraries as it looks for new ways to provide a flexible set of tools to empower collection managers and curators with the ability to easily create both permanent and temporary virtual exhibits.  When you couple this type of innovative work against the new Libraries’ strategic plan ( and the clear mandate to explore digitizing more content, making available more unique collections, providing better opportunities for researchers and instructors to discover and use the Libraries print and digital resources – the desire to jump to looking at the next thing, the next project is an understandable one.

At the same time, the strategic plan recognizes the need for the Libraries to take a much more holistic approach to how we consider our digital initiatives program and architecture…or in other words, consider how we develop solutions to support the myriad of existing and future digital projects and do so in a way in which they exist as part of a much larger whole.  This idea represents a clear shift in how we think about the support and creation of a digital projects and collections, as today, many of our resources exist as parts of isolated information silos.  Some of these silos are the results of infrastructure decisions where projects become entangled within specialized, proprietary collections software due to lack of better alternatives; and sometimes these silos can be more organizational, as projects tend to live mainly within a single department and are thus created to meet a specific departmental need.  The strategic plan recognizes that these silos exist, and seeks to find ways to create a more integrated digital initiatives environment.

Continue reading

Advice from journal editors for early-career researchers

On Tuesday, September 24th in the Ohio Union Traditions Room, a panel of six journal editors from a variety of disciplines gathered to give advice to early career researchers on getting their work published. The editors were Dr. George Billman (Editor-in-Chief, Frontiers in Physiology), Dr. Leonid Polyak (Editorial Board, Marine Geology), Dr. Stephen Rosenstiel (Editor, Journal of Prosthetic Dentistry), and Dr. Caroline Wagner (North American Editor, Science and Public Policy Journal). Dr. Lynn Elfner (Acting Editor,  Ohio Journal of Science) served as the moderator. The panel was affiliated with the annual Research Expo, and was sponsored by the Libraries’ Publishing Program, the Health Sciences Library, and the Office of Research.

The discussion was lively and very informative, and because there was so much interest in the event (and a sizable wait list), we wanted to share some of the advice more widely. The following are the questions that were asked of the panel, and summaries of the responses.

Continue reading

Planned Obsolescence…now with a book plate

plannedObsolescence_smallEach fall, the OSU Libraries undertakes a book plating program to recognize newly tenured or promoted OSU faculty. Run by the Acquisitions Department, the program allows each faculty member to select a book that will be purchased and added to the collection with a name plate recognizing their achievement. On September 1st, I became an Associate Professor with tenure, and, while it took me a while to get around to filling out the form, it took all of five seconds to settle on a title. My book selection is Planned Obsolescence, by Kathleen Fitzpatrick.

In addition to the book itself, the Libraries creates a commemorative program that includes the list of the year’s honorees, the books selected, and a personal statement about each one. When asked to finish the sentence, “I selected this book because…” in less than 150 words, this is what I wrote:

No one writes more clearly or persuasively about the changing landscape of scholarly publishing than Kathleen Fitzpatrick, now the Director of Scholarly Communications for the Modern Language Association. Planned Obsolescence was at once a clarion call for much-needed reform, an experiment in alternative publishing methods, and a focusing of the tools of humanistic inquiry on the process and products of humanities scholarship. In it, Fitzpatrick dissects the history of authorship and peer review, examines the nature of texts in the digital environment, explores the difficulties of preserving new forms of scholarship, and lays out a possible model for the future of publishing. As a librarian working in scholarly communications, this book and the accompanying blog have been a source of inspiration and a roadmap for understanding the challenging terrain of scholarly production in the humanities. It should be required reading for academic librarians, humanities faculty and students, administrators, and publishers.

My heartfelt thanks to my colleagues for granting me tenure, to Dracine Hodges and the Acquisitions Department for their yeoman’s work on the book plating program, and to Kathleen Fitzpatrick, for the inspiration she continues to provide. This book plate’s for all of you.

Digital Preservation Policy Framework – part 2

Last week I focused the Purpose and Scope, and the Principles outlined in the Digital Preservation Policy Framework document. This week I will concentrate on the Categories of Commitment and Levels of Preservation portions of the document.

 Categories of commitment

  • Born digital materials.  Examples:  ETDs (Electronic Theses and Dissertations), institutional records
  • Digitized materials (no available or usable analog).  Examples:  Unique audio and video from Music/Dance & Special Collections.  This category also includes digitized materials that have annotations or other value-added features making them difficult or impossible to recreate.
  • Digitized materials (available analog). Examples:  TRI Actress scrapbooks, Suyemoto Papers, Rubin Collection of Lantern Slides, and the Lantern.
  • Commercially available digital resources.  Example: e-journals (Project Muse, JSTOR)
  • Other items and materials.

We can’t do everything.  These categories are meant to be seen as guidelines.  Developing solutions for “born digital” resources informs solutions for other categories.  But it does not imply that these assets are more valuable or important than any other categories and/or our traditional analog materials.  The categories of commitment add another dimension to discussions of stewardship.  For example, digitization of materials that are in danger of format obsolescence, or that depend on superseded equipment, may create an urgency for action, but only if the content of the materials is judged to be essential.

Continue reading

Digital Preservation Policy Framework


One of the lessons learned by the Strategic Digital Initiative Working Group (SDIWG) last week is that it takes two posts to present a new policy document.  In this post, I will introduce the OSUL Digital Preservation Policy Framework which has been reviewed by the Executive committee and forwarded to the Strategic Digital Initiative Working Group (SDIWG) for incorporation into their work.  The framework was developed by a task force on Digital Preservation in conversation with many of you.  Members of the task force were Peter Dietz, Dan Noonan and me.

The framework document addresses a number of challenges including rapid growth and change in technology, sustainability, and need for expertise. The focus of this post will be the Purpose and Scope, and the Principles portions of the document.  For the presentation to Admin Plus, SDIWG members led discussions of case-studies illustrating issues facing the Libraries.  The discussion questions we used are included in the hope that they will stimulate further discussion in units across the Libraries.

Continue reading

OSU Digital Initiatives Program Guiding Principles and You


This is the second part of a two post set commenting on the OSUL’s new Digital Initiatives Program Guiding Principles.  In the first post ( I discussed some of the background and reasoning behind the development of the Guiding Principles.  Today’s post provides the principles and tries to briefly unpack how these Principles will impact the decisions being made around digital initiatives at OSUL.


Earlier this week, I provided some information around the process that the SDIWG ( and the OSUL had taken around the development of a set of Guiding Principles for the Digital Initiatives Program.  The goal in developing the Principles is to provide a framework for evaluating how the OSUL expands and develops its digital initiatives program and infrastructure.  As noted previously, the OSUL has undertaken a number of digital initiatives projects throughout the years.  These projects have led to the digitization of countless digital objects, partnerships with faculty, and exceptional digital resources that are being used every day to support the teaching and research mission of the university.  At the same time, these projects were just that – project based.  By and large, the OSUL’s digital initiatives infrastructure is made up of a conglomeration of siloed solutions that meet the needs of very specific projects, but offer the library minimal opportunity to look more holistically at our collections.  In my presentation to AdminPlus[1], I included the following slide:

Applications in Use for digital library projects

This slide represents a small, incomplete list of the applications being utilized to host digital library collections/services and represents current individual silos of information within our infrastructure.  These silos complicate a number of critical processes, including the ability to simplify discovery of local collections, the creation of sustainable digital exhibits, flexibility in our reformatting efforts, and long-term preservation that goes beyond simple byte-level validation.  As the library looks to expand both the creation and reach of our digital assets, taking a closer look at how we can make some deliberate choices around our larger digital initiatives architecture should provide benefits throughout the OSUL.

Continue reading

Fall Meeting of the Editors’ Group


Image by flickr user Nic McPhee, licensed under CC BY-SA

All OSU faculty, staff, and students who edit scholarly journals are welcome to join the OSU Journal Editors’ Group for its fall quarterly meeting.

Wednesday, September 18th, 2-3:00 PM
Thompson Library, room 165
University support for editors
Provost Joseph Steinmetz

The meeting will consist mainly of open discussion on the topic. If you are interested in attending, please RSVP by email to Melanie Schlosser.

Developing the OSU Digital Initiatives Program Guiding Principles


The Strategic Digital Initiatives Working Group (SDIWG) is formally announcing the completion of the OSUL Digital Initiatives Guiding Principles.  These principles represent a fundamental shift for the OSUL Digital Initiatives Program, providing a vision for OSUL digital architecture and a framework for how to get there.  The document is made up of 11 principles, focusing on the key themes of: innovation, iteration, collaboration, and user-driven design.  This two part series of posts will provide the background behind the development of these Principles (9/3/2013) and will provide some context around how these Principles will impact the OSUL Digital Initiatives Program (9/5/2013).


One of the most challenging and interesting part of starting a new position and a new program is the opportunity to look at problems with fresh eyes, and work with new colleagues as you work to learn and understand the unique culture that makes up an organization.  In a lot of ways, that describes my first four months here at the OSUL.  While digital initiatives at OSUL isn’t necessarily a clean slate (lots of great work has already been done by a lot of people), the development of a new Digital Initiatives Program is a large-box, a box that sometimes doesn’t seem to have well defined boundaries.  And in a sense, that’s what I’d like to talk a little bit about today, the process that the Strategic Digital Initiatives Working Group[1]  (SDIWG) has been doing to help bring some shape to the program, and produce a set of guiding principles that not only help to provide a roadmap of sorts for the Digital Initiatives Program but also create a shared set of expectations for members of the OSUL as the Libraries’ undertakes a significant revision of its digital initiatives architecture.  As the Libraries looks at how we reshape our digital initiatives architecture, these Principles will be one of the foundational documents helping to guide that work.

Continue reading