Farewell from Susan Knippel

After working at the ISU Library for over 40 years, I have decided to retire and see what else life has to offer. I have seen so many changes in the library over the years, I thought I should share some of the experiences I have had.  When I started in the Library in 1974, my first job was putting call numbers on the books.  Mind you, this was back in the day when they were written by hand inside the book. The library did not have computers then; we had a physical card catalog then. Once we had computers and the card catalog was online, we added online searching and CD-ROMS. Now, most databases are hosted elsewhere and “in the clouds”.

For the last 2 ½ years, I have been a part of the Digital Repository with Harrison Inefuku. It quickly became apparent the work was too much for the 2 of us.  So, Lorrie Smith was added to the department.  I think Lorrie and I were too much for Harrison to handle, so Hope Mitchell was hired to keep us in line.  The work has grown so much that we added one more person to our staff, Susan Rappenwolf.  Susan retired in January and has been replaced by Lisa Gilbert.

People often ask, “What do you do in the Digital Repository”?  It all starts when faculty, staff, and graduate students submit their vitas to us.  From there, we check for copyright permissions from the publishers, upload the articles we have permission to post, and create a personal webpage for each participant in the DR which provide links to the articles.  I should mention that we provide access to more than just journal articles.  There are also book chapters, conference presentations & posters, project reports, patents, theses and dissertations, and so much more.

People are now asking me what I plan to do in retirement.  I have a husband who is already retired and needs someone to keep him on task completing his “honey-do list”.  We are both active in music and have an enormous amount of music which needs to be organized. I also plan to do more traveling. I’m looking to spend the month of February away from our Iowa winter and enjoying the beaches in South Padre Island, Texas.

So, as they say in “The Sound of Music”, “So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, goodbye
goodbye, goodbye, goodbye.”

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New in the DR

Hi, I’m Lisa Gilbert and I’ve recently started working in the Digital Repository. I began working in the Library as a student, graduated with a degree in History, and came back to work full-time a little over a year later. Throughout my 20+ years, I have worked at many public service areas in the Library, the last was in the Media Center. I’ve always enjoyed interacting with the public as well as working with the collections. Since Sue Rappenwolf’s retirement, I will be taking over her old departments, which included the College of Veterinary Medicine and many of the life sciences departments, such as Entomology and Natural Resources and Ecology Management.

photoI’m still learning the ins and outs of the Digital Repository, as it is quite different from my previous work. I’m excited to be involved in this new and growing area. I believe the Digital Repository is a valuable and useful tool for people to read what our faculty, staff and students have researched or studied and the Digital Repository makes it easy–one place to go rather than searching multiple sites.

The Anthropology Symposium

Four months after my last post, I’m here again to write something of a swan song for the DR@ISU blog, as I was among the Spring 2016 candidates for graduation this past weekend and will be leaving our department shortly. That said, it has been a great pleasure to take on a personal project as my last one here, uploading the latest installment of the Anthropology Symposium onto the DR website. As an anthropology student, I have been personally involved in presenting and organizing the symposium since its inception, and so I have been very excited at the prospect of finally uploading this year’s proceedings onto the library website. Including both poster and podium presentations from all three of our subdisciplines taught at Iowa State University – biological, cultural, and archaeological anthropology – it is my hope and the hope of our faculty that in the future this symposium’s presence in the DR will serve as a useful instructional tool, as well as allowing our presenters to carry their research with them wherever an internet connection exists.


Screenshot of the “Anthropology Symposium” event community in DR@ISU.

In my first year here at Iowa State, my home department began a symposium to highlight student research and to give our students an opportunity to present in a conference setting, hopefully preparing them for their later professional and academic careers. Although I have been involved with this program for the entirety of its duration, it was only this year that I was successfully able to help bridge the gap between my workplace and my academic home. During the planning meetings I brought up the Digital Repository and the valuable role it could serve for our department, and during work-hours I talked with our coordinator about the details of getting symposium proceedings uploaded and what our options might look like. Although it became our first uploaded event, the fourth symposium looked much like the previous ones. It had two sessions of podium presentations, one showcasing archaeological and biological research, and the other containing sociocultural presentations. This year, the keynote was delivered by Dr. Grant Arndt, professor of cultural anthropology and American Indian studies on his research with Ho-Chunk powwows. Before him, keynotes had been presented by our other seasoned faculty, including Dr. Jill Pruetz, Dr. Matthew Hill, and Dr. Maximilian Viatori. Afterwards, a poster salon and reception concluded the event, allowing both undergraduates and graduates to have another mode of delivering their research, which ranged in breadth of scope from South African gentrification, to language-trained bonobos, to genomic analysis in forensics.

Even though much of the mechanics of this project were the same as any other I’ve undertaken, there was something different about taking on a project so close to my own academic life. It has been very satisfying to make my last project one which benefits both my work environment and my academic environment. As I leave both areas to move on to the next stage of my life, I hope I can look back on this and see that it started a ball rolling to help bring both areas closer together. In parting however, there are many people I want to thank. Thanks to my supervisors Hope Mitchell and Harrison Inefuku, and to all the other people I have worked with in Parks Library. Thanks to Kate Simmons who helped to organize the first symposium, and to Drs. Stacy Lindshield and Grant Arndt, who have helped continue it. And thanks to all the students who have participated in the Anthropology Symposium, past and future.

Ben Spick

Benjamin Spick is a recent graduate of Anthropology and Religious Studies. They began working with the Digital Repository in November 2012. Their future plans are to seek work in student affairs and advising before pursuing graduate studies.

Integrated Crop Management News

After nearly a year of large and small projects, I am back here to write about my latest undertaking here at DR@ISU, and some unforeseen consequences of my work. After my time working on the Iowa State University Veterinarian, my next large project has been uploading current and retrospective issues of another series of life-science publications, the Integrated Crop Management (ICM) News reports published by ISU Extension. Topics covered in ICM reports span a range of agricultural disciplines – from plant pathology to agricultural and biosystems engineering – and include articles on nitrogen loss in soils; assessment of hail damage to crops; slugs and crops; and many other topics of interest to farmers across the state. Now for the first time, all online versions of the reports – which were first uploaded by Extension as early as 1998 – are available in one digital location.

Integrated Crop Management News

Screenshot of the “Integrated Crop Management News” event community in DR@ISU

Previously, digital versions of the articles had been stored and indexed between two websites. Articles published between 1998 and 2007 had been published online under the Integrated Pest Management domain, a project of Extension which has sought to provide information and research provided by Iowa State University’s faculty and staff on scouting and diagnosis of crop pests and pathologies. Meanwhile, articles from 2007 to the present have been published on a new site devoted to ICM issues, which include those of Integrated Pest Management and other issues as well.
Before I took on this project, other staff members in our department had uploaded articles from 2011 through 2013 onto DR@ISU, while 2014 and 2015 were as of yet incompletely uploaded and nothing before 2011 had been touched. That said, most of my work was already cut out for me, compared with previous projects I have undertaken: all of the articles I would be dealing with were already online across two websites. My task then was to convert the articles’ webpages to PDF format and upload them onto our website. Beginning in mid-summer, I worked my way back from 2011 through 1998 when the first articles were published digitally, as well as keeping up with the more current articles as they were published on the Extension website.
In terms of content, much of this project has been similar to the Farm Progress Reports, which were among my first projects as a new student in this department in 2013. Both publications are produced by faculty and staff involved with agricultural Extension at our university. As such, in uploading these and other Extension publications, I have not only become more familiar with common topics of agriculture (not my area of study), but also more familiar with the names of faculty and staff which produce them. In the last three years working here, I have come to recognize both the names of professionals at my university that I have never met in person, and also their areas of expertise. I have come to know that John Sawyer publishes about soil fertilization and fertility; or that Gregory Tylka studies nematodes and their impact on crops; or that Alison Robertson researches and writes about fungal infections in crops; all without having met, worked with, or studied under any of these people. Yet I realized last semester that I have closer ties to some of these people than I might have thought as an Anthropology major: in talking with one my departmental colleagues, I discovered that she had worked with Dr. Robertson in a plant pathology lab as an undergraduate here. At that moment, I realized that though I had not met Dr. Robertson in person while my colleague had, we could both knew things about her to varying degrees, and could have a conversation about plant pathologists in the midst of a luncheon for Anthropology students, of all places. While I have long recognized that my job here with the DR@ISU has given me a broader perspective of the university, I have now realized new implications of that broadened perspective, even if they are as small as a conversation over pizza with other students.

Ben Spick

Benjamin Spick is a senior in Anthropology and Religious Studies. They began working with the Digital Repository in November 2012.

BepressU: Repository Manager Certification Course, 2015

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend the Bepress Repository Manager Certification Course in Berkeley, CA. The training took place over three full days where we covered what feels like almost every topic under the sun in relation to repositories and was hands down some of the best training I have ever received!

A final photo after graduation with the official Digital Commons mascot.

A final photo after graduation with the official Digital Commons mascot.

Day one of the training went over some of the more basic functions of the Digital Commons software. Our repository is several years old, but this was still an excellent overview of various functions that we have been slacking on, such as including Search Engine Optimization terms and descriptions. Day two dived into some more in depth uses of the Digital Commons software, such as publishing, open educational resources, generating reports, and storing data sets. On day three, we wrapped up with some sneak peeks of the new Selected Works updates and offered us a chance to explore more topics in depth with lightning round tables.

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First Year Seasoning

srapp102015I finished my first year with the Digital Repository and it has been a year of learning new search strategies and finding my comfort zone. The department is teaming up to make sure every vita that comes in has been checked, rechecked, and checked again. There are so many different pathways for each item we handle and the DR handles every vita, every article, and every presentation, as the precious item it is.

I have come to respect the work our faculty, staff, and students put into their research. I see the bibliographies, the charts, the evidence of laboratory experiments, and I realize how much people put of themselves into their works. The scope of my tasks revolves mainly around the Life Sciences and Veterinary Medicine, thus I have the opportunity to scan articles concerning plants, animals, and the interaction and evolution of life on Earth.

As a team, the members of the DR are always stepping up to help each other, giving me the opportunity to work with faculty members from science, engineering, and the liberal arts. My friends who teach are encouraged to submit their vitae if they haven’t done so. I promote our efforts outside the library. I must seem at times like a passionate fool, but the philosophy behind the Digital Repository is what moves a library, sharing ideas freely, without reservation.

This is one of the coolest jobs I have ever had.

Happy One Year to Me!

Happy One Year Anniversary to me! It has most definitely been a whirlwind of a year! I’ve been thinking a lot this past week about how I wanted to write this blog. The obvious thing to do would be to highlight all our accomplishments over the last year (and, of course, subtly take credit for all of them…), but really all I’ve been able to think about is how much more we still need to accomplish. We’re fine tuning a new workflow management system in Trello, Lorrie and I are working on overhauling the setup of our participating faculty list, the list of projects goes on and on!

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My First Year


Looking back at my first year in the Digital Repository:  Well it started on May 19, 2014 at 1pm in the afternoon….alright, I promise I am not going to give you play by play of each day!  My time here did start on that lovely sunny day and I am still very happy I made this jump into the Digital Repository.  As I said, time flies by and I feel on one level I have learned so much and on another level I know I still have so much more to learn.

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