DH and Open Access

23/01/2014 § Leave a comment


Image courtesy of the J. Murrey Atkins Library at UNC Charlotte

Open access refers to free and unrestricted online access to publishing, especially scholarly research. Examples range from articles, theses, and dissertations to conference presentations. In some cases, open access work is free of copyright or licensing restrictions, meaning researchers can copy, use, and distribute the work as long as the author is properly credited. Sometimes open access is delayed and journals will provide access to articles after an established embargo period, usually six months to a year. Open access intersects with digital humanities where research in the humanities is concerned.

Open access began as a response and solution to expensive journals and databases. The ever-increasing costs of these subscriptions limit the ability of many universities and libraries to provide access to information and knowledge. Even scholars at institutions that do have large budgets may experience difficulty accessing information. Items may only be available via interlibrary loan from select institutions, which can take time to receive, especially if they are already being used by other researchers. Though it does offer a solution to the information gap, open access can be a controversial subject. Some scholars are hesitant about open access, as they fear having work copied or stolen. Others worry that open access limits the effects of peer review or results in scholars having less control over their work. Those in favor of open access have rebuttals to these concerns. Since open access scholarship is available to anyone, anywhere, for no cost, scholars have the opportunity to have their research read by a much wider and more diverse audience, broadening the scope of academic conversation and debate. The more a work is accessed, the greater the potential for recognizing (and thus, limiting) plagiarism, especially since more readers equals more citations.

Image courtesy of the Australian Open Access Support Group

I’ve had the good fortune to work directly with open access on a project archiving the MFA in Studio Art theses and MAEd in Art Education applied projects at the university where I’m employed, which is one example of the benefit of open access to digital humanities. Our goal is to make the final work of the graduate students publically accessible via the institutional repository (IR). Previously, only print copies of the theses and applied projects were kept in the department. The department will still keep print copies, but the electronic versions allow for instant access on campus and beyond. The benefits of including graduate student work in the IR are huge for students, faculty, and the institution. Graduate student work doesn’t often have the chance to be widely read or referenced beyond committees and peers, but the IR makes student work accessible to a worldwide audience. Archiving scholarly research in the institutional repository increases the visibility of the university’s faculty and and student work. The IR is indexed by Google so it’s easily accessible to researchers outside the institution. Each work in the IR gets a permanent URL that students can put on their website or CV. This helps immensely on the academic job market. A benefit especially useful for art and humanities students is the ability to use different media, such as images and video, which is ideal considering the merging of art, humanities, and technology. Prints are not always able to showcase the vivid color, texture, and depth of images, plus they are not easily available to the public. Digital images can be manipulated at 360 degrees to allow viewers to see entire installations, archaeological sites, and more. The possibilities are endless.

The IR is run by digital archivists who are kept up to date on the latest archival standards for the digital preservation of documents. The electronic theses and dissertations have a much better chance of survival than their print counterparts. The IR itself is searchable by issue dates, authors, titles, subjects, or keyword. Students are expected to add their work to the IR, but are given the chance to embargo the work for six months before it’s available online. The institution does not make any claims over the work; it simply makes the work easily accessible. When the project to archive and make available online art graduate student work was first proposed, we had a favorable response from faculty, but I’ve heard getting approval to make theses and dissertations publicly available can be a real challenge. This is an issue those hoping to work in academic libraries or digital archives will have to face.


ACRL Scholarly Communication Toolkit
Open Access by Peter Suber
What is Open Access – SHERPA/RoMEO
What is Open Access?
Open Access Overview
Right to Research
Open Access Scholarly Information Sourcebook (OASIS)
Open Access Week

What are your thoughts on open access and its relation to digital humanities?

The HLS 2013 Librarian Gift Guide

10/12/2013 § 2 Comments

We thought it would be fun to put together a gift guide for library students. In fact, it inspired us to create our own Hack Library School Pinterest account where you will find this entire guide plus more under the Librarian Gift Guide board. See anything you like? Have other recommendations? Let us know and have a wonderful holiday!

Stocking Stuffers:

Bookmarks! I especially love the Book Darts from Schoolhouse Electric, but the Ruby Slippers bookmark from Etsy store kiranichols is a fun option.

Jane Austen or Shakespearean Insult bandages.

Giant bookworm microbe for your favorite bookworm


Out of Print is your one-stop shop for literary-themed shirts, sweaters, jewelry, tote bags, phone cases, notebooks, and more. They focus on classic book covers and I can attest to the quality of their products. Highly recommended and suitable for he, she, or kids!

The Love Your Librarian line from Etsy shop AlisonRose is amazing. You can purchase t-shirts for both men and women or a tote.

The Meet Me at the Library t-shirt from Etsy shop abjectbirth is another great option to show off your library pride. It’s available in heather gray or tan. (Ladies, fair warning, it does run small)

What could be more charming than an I Am Mr. Darcy t-shirt from Etsy shop Brookish? By the way – this shop has tons of Pride and Prejudice items.

Perhaps this Real Men Love Cats (yes, they do) t-shirt from Etsy shop RCTees?

Did anyone else decide to be a librarian when they were five after watching Beauty and the Beast? If so, Etsy shop GoFollowRabbits makes the perfect skirt for you.


Wannabe Miss Elizabeth Bennetts will fall for this lovely Pride and Prejudice scarf from the Smithsonian Institute.

Gents will rock this Dictionary Page bow tie from Etsy shop DPDomesticities.

The Great Gatsby cufflinks Etsy shop from Bookity will keep you looking sharp.

I’m not much of a cook but I know I would rock the kitchen if I had an apron from HauteMessThreads. Personally I love the Star Trek TNG apron, but if Harry Potter, Star Wars, Marvel, or Disney is more of your thing, this shop has you covered.


I’m sure we all have a few reads on our holiday wish list, but here are a few options you may want to consider.

I’m making it a mission to collect Penguin hardcover classics and I’d love to start with Homer’s Odyssey. I admire the simple yet elegant design.

The Atlas of New Librarianship by R. David Lankes looks is a must read for library students and new professionals.

Well-Read Women: Portraits of Fiction’s Most Beloved Heroines is a perfect gift for bibliophiles who also love art.

I’ve heard great things about Career Q&A: A Librarian’s Real-Life, Practical Guide to Managing a Successful Career by Susanne Markgren and Tiffany Eatman Allen.


The Pride and Prejudice board game. Yes, it exists.

Mugs. There are so many cute library-themed mugs out there, but I am partial to this one by Etsy shop kadarut.

The Botticino Marble Coasters (in multi) at Anthropologie are swoon-worthy.

Ideal Bookshelf makes the best book prints. You can select a curated theme, like fantasy or young adult, or request your own custom design based on your favorite reads.

Make your house smell like your favorite author with the Paddywax Library candle series.


BookBook makes amazing vintage-inspired leather cases for Macs and iPads. They recently came out with the BookBook Travel Journal which has room for your iPad (though I’m sure you can fit other tablets), power adapter, cables, and more. The perfect conference accessory!

Notecards make wonderful gifts and, bonus!, work well for thank-you notes after interviews. The Penguin Book Cover set has an amazing variety while the Jane Austen set features sentiments from the author herself.

Other ideas?

INALJ publishes an annual gift guide called For Librarians, Buy Librarians.

Gift Ideas for the Librarian in Your Life by Sarah Roark Schott.

Are online LIS students doomed?

13/11/2013 § 14 Comments

Hello fellow hackers! I’m excited to join the Hack Library School team. For my first post, I thought I’d tackle the subject of online MLIS programs, even though this has been discussed on Hack Library School in the past.

You see, recently on Hiring Librarians some hiring managers have criticized online LIS education, stating that they are wary of hiring graduates who have obtained a MLIS degree online. This even prompted a survey on biases against online library school. Library Journal noticed this and followed up with a discussion of the widespread trend of online programs, concluding that, while becoming more common, they still have a way to go before being accepted by the entire library community. Oh no! Does this mean online LIS students won’t be hired after they graduate? Are we doomed? I don’t think so. It’s clear there are still major misconceptions and confusion about how LIS programs work. Of course, each school is different, but online MLIS degrees are every bit as valid as degrees earned in person.


Image from http://www.myeducation.com

Why opt for online programs in the first place? There are a variety of reasons. Perhaps you work full-time. Or there isn’t a library school nearby and you can’t relocate due to family obligations. I completely get the appeal of traditional programs. In a perfect world, I would have applied to programs that had a dual MLIS/MA in art history, which would have involved moving to another state. But, I’m not able to relocate right now and I didn’t want to delay my degree. There is only one library science program in my state and it’s entirely online. I could have considered other online programs, but I didn’t because of cost – I get tuition assistance as a university employee, but only if I attend an in-state school. Online classes are not for everyone and that’s perfectly okay. However, for others, like myself, they are a necessity.

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