Reflecting on collecting. Monday, Dec 8 2008 

Receiving feedback on my digital collection, there are a few issues I’d like to discuss (with myself?) 🙂  I think the first issue I had beyond getting permission from professors to use their work was making a meaningful collection out of what I was able to get.  Admittedly, I could have organized better.  There is a fine line between digital collection and repository.  I’m pretty certain my collection at this point would be better described as a repository.  If you want to be really mean (and accurate) it is pretty much a document dump as it stands.  What I should have done differently is the structure.  I should have made depth to the collection instead of having everything listed on one page rather haphazardly.  I should have had the professor’s names be links and then had their respective syllabi listed in chronological order.

What might be a good idea to include are some other things involved with the courses.  I think it might be a good idea to digitize the handouts and study guides that they prepare as well.  I think that might preserve more transferrable knowledge than the syllabi themselves.  Especially when many faculty don’t change the assignments from course to course year to year.

One thing I think would have made my project much more interesting and better overall would be searchability.  I can add tags until I’m blue in the face, but at the end of the day the user will have to go in and search for what they want by hand, metaphorically speaking.  Publishing this type of collection in a searchable format would add infinite levels of value and usability.

Another idea would be to expand the collection to syllabi and associated resources from other universities.  One thing that great text collections have (JSTOR, Project Gutenberg, etc.) is appeal to a large group of users, not just a selected handful. It would be neat to compare both the course offerings and also the content of individual courses.  Perhaps it could benefit faculty by helping them decide what creates an excellent masters’ level program.  Workloads could be standardized, ideas could be shared and discussed based on the information provided in my digital collection.

It was not clearly explained that the purpose of my collection was that my collection was intended to be a syllabus archive. Honestly, I thought that was clear based on what I was collecting, but then I forget that most people don’t think like I do.  Collecting these things is not a showcase by any means.  Syllabi aren’t pretty or dazzling by themselves.  At least, I don’t think so.  I looked at my collection as a way of preserving knowledge from one generation of grad students to another.  It is also a way to understand the changes and developments in the discipline of history of science and how the assignments given in these syllabi reflect methodological, epistemological, and historiographical trends.

Finally, and most shallowly, I wish my collection could have more visual interest. I wish I could have colorful, more interactive menus and prettier texts and even a few choice digital images from our  HSCI Collections image collection.

Overall I’d say my collection isn’t a total loss, it’s more of a jumping off point.  Despite the things I wish I could change or fix I still think it’s a valuable project as a syllabus archive.


A new database of immigration legislation Monday, Dec 8 2008 

In response to the growing confusion spurred on by the influx of legistlation related to immigration, the Migration Policy Institute has put together a database of legislation from all 50 states.  They state “This database contains all bills and resolutions related to immigrants or immigration that were considered by state legislators across the nation.  At present, the database contains all immigration-related legislation for 2007.  Data for 2008 and historic 2001-2006 data will be added in the coming months.”

You can search by Region or state, Legislative typography, Bill status, Subject of the Legislation,  and Year.  Overall a terrific resource for anyone who deals with immigration law or serves an immigrant population.


Pulitzers for all! Monday, Dec 8 2008 

NEW YORK For the first time, the Pulitzer Prizes will accept submissions from online-only news outlets, but require that they be “text-based” submissions from news organizations that are updated at least weekly and include original reporting.

Pulitzer Administrator Sig Gissler told E&P that “we are expanding the Pulitzers to include many text-based newspapers and news organizations that publish only on the Internet.” At the same time, they are “stressing” that all entered material should come from news outlets that publish material at least weekly, “are primarily dedicated to original news reporting, are dedicated to coverage of ongoing stories and that adhere to the highest journalistic principles.”

Gissler said the change, to take effect with the upcoming 2009 prizes, is occurring as part of the prizes’ effort to “keep up with the changing media landscape.”

Asked, for example, if a news outlet such as Huffington Post — which is a mix of personal blogs, link aggregation and original reporting — would be eligible, he declined to comment saying he did not want to discuss any individual outlet.

Gissler stressed that Web sites of magazines and broadcast and cable outlets will not be eligible because they are primarily part of news outlets that are not connected to newspapers. Also, sites that call themselves online “magazines” would be ineligible (this might pertain to Slate and Salon).


With the Pulitzer Prize committee finally recognizing digitally born journalism, this is an important development for the digital community.  Things like this reflect the tide of public opinion, new media are becoming more respected by the public at large and by the intellectual community.  Developments like this can encourage those with reservations about moving forward into the digital age (with a collection or otherwise) feel like their efforts are important.

CCC Launches Ozmo for Online Content Thursday, Dec 4 2008 

CCC Launches Ozmo for Online Content Licensing

Copyright Clearance Center (CCC; has announced the beta launch of Ozmo (, a web-based service that makes it easy for independent content creators to license the use of their work for commercial purposes and for content users to tap into the user-generated content found online. Ozmo puts artists and writers in control; they select their license terms and set the price for the use of their content. Then, CCC puts its 3 decades of licensing expertise to work. CCC handles the entire licensing process, and all payments go through Amazon’s Flexible Payment Service when a license is purchased. With Ozmo, buyers know instantly that they have the right to use the content and sellers know how their content is being used.

There are no setup fees with Ozmo, and content creators can license as much content as they want. Payment is collected from the buyer when the rights are purchased. Ozmo even helps sellers track and manage sales and buying trends. Ozmo supports the Creative Commons CC+ protocol for bridging the gap between commercial and noncommercial licensing. Content creators can apply the Creative Commons link for noncommercial use and the Ozmo link for commercial use.

Buyers, such as design firms, publishers, bloggers, and other journalists, who want to tap in to the fresh content available through Ozmo can do so by searching the Ozmo website or clicking on the Ozmo link wherever they find it online. CCC handles the billing, the buyer receives the license by email, and the content creator gets paid.


This is fantastic!  Perhaps this will make the exchange of copyrighted materials easier (if not just faster!).  This could have a profound impact on digital collections now that copyright clearance can be obtained by email.  I particularly like that the creators of the works can set a price on the use of their work, and that Ozmo will support creative commons which will help libraries and consortia utilize copyrighted materials in a noncommercial way.  Copyright is moving into the 21st century. 🙂

West Point to digitize soldiers’ stories. Thursday, Dec 4 2008 

West Point Oral-History Project Will Make Soldiers’ Stories Available Online

The U.S. Military Academy, in West Point, N.Y., has established a video oral-history project that will collect the stories of soldiers of all ages and make them available online for students, historians, journalists, and the public. The project, created by the academy’s history department, already has a preview site with a video explaining its goals, but the site’s formal unveiling won’t come until sometime in 2009.

“Soldiers’ personal stories are a largely untapped mine of military insight and historical testimony,” said Todd Brewster, a former journalist who is director of the project. In addition to recording battlefield stories of soldiers — including those now deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as those who served in conflicts as far back as World War II — project leaders hope to interview senior policy makers, among them former secretaries of defense and state. Besides video, the project will collect audio recordings and textual materials.


What a great way to keep history alive.  Not to mention, war sounds more horrible through the 18-24 year old eyes of those who lived through it.  It also helps us appreciate the true nature of the sacrifice those that fought for this country have actually given.  Not to mention it is going to make a wonderful digital multimedia collection of great interest and value to historians, students, journalists, and the public at large. I do think that it would be interesting to compare the experience of the West Point graduates to other soldiers that served.  Is recording only the graduates of this academy selective history?  Of course, no single institution can interview and preserve the memories of every soldier who served but it does bring up an interesting conundrum about the limits of a single digital collection.

A cool digital archive. Monday, Dec 1 2008 

Researching information for my 10 Things assignment, I came across the mention of a really neat digital archive called PubMed central.  What is it?  Well, it just so happens to be an archive of the results of research conducted using grants from the National Institutes of Health. According to the website, “PubMed Central (PMC) is the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) free digital archive of biomedical and life sciences journal literature.”  This archive is a direct result of the openness movement that aims to make information readily available to the public as well as the NIH Public Access policy.  This Public Access Policy, “…ensures that the public has access to the published results of NIH funded research. It requires scientists to submit final peer-reviewed journal manuscripts that arise from NIH funds to the digital archive PubMed Central upon acceptance for publication. To help advance science and improve human health, the Policy requires that these papers are accessible to the public on PubMed Central no later than 12 months after publication.” This is great for researchers and the public at large because now we can see what advances have been made thanks to public funds from the NIH.  A list of the journals indexed. Overall this archive is not only a great way to keep informed about scientific advances, it is also a model for other public institutions to follow to make the knowledge they create available to the world at large. It’s about time for a little transparency in government, and I think the NIH is leading the way.

The dangers of the digital age. Monday, Dec 1 2008 

From the Boston Globe: 

 The turn to online research is narrowing the range of modern scholarship, a new study suggests.  Rebecca Tuhus-Dubrow of the Boston Globe reports about a study that indicates that “the boom in online research may actually have a “narrowing” effect on scholarship. James Evans, a sociologist at the University of Chicago, analyzed a database of 34 million articles in the sciences, social sciences, and humanities, and determined that as more journal issues came online, new papers referenced a relatively smaller pool of articles, which tended to be more recent, at the expense of older and more obscure work. Overall, Evans says, published research has expanded, due to a proliferation of journals, authors, and conferences.”  Here we see the biggest dilemma facing digitization efforts.  Will it ever be enough?  Access to journal articles is a wonderful result of the Internet age, but at what expense?  I can honestly say that I am guilty of taking the easy way out in research and doing brief pointed online searches through JSTOR and LISA and being completely satisfied with the results.

What does this mean for the academic library?  Well, in short, we need to remind our users that not everything is available electronically and that perfectly good (perhaps better) resources are to be found in print.  We also need to be aware of the newest digital services and the scholarly journal compilation databases and what they do or do not index.

Perhaps this study can be a call to arms for the digitization movement.  It just might spark a new generation of librarians and information professionals to remedy this situation by increasing the number of publications that are available online.  Maybe it could spark a digital TOC movement.  If journals all included their tables of contents, researchers would be able to find more information from a more diverse group of sources.

The link: