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.
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.
Benjamin Spick is a senior in Anthropology and Religious Studies. They began working with the Digital Repository in November 2012.
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.
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.
I 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 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!
Last week, Harrison and I had the pleasure of attending the Digital Commons + Great Lakes User Group (DC+GLUG) meeting at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. This was my first time attending, and having heard rave reviews from Susan and Lorrie, I was really excited to learn more about how other repositories are handling many of the issues we encounter.
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.
Before joining Digital Repository @ Iowa State University, I worked for several years in the Library IT. You might wonder how the duties in IT could possibly relate to work in our DR. Continue reading
Meg Johnson, a lecturer in the Department of English, was recently named the winner of the 2015 Vignette Collection Award for her second book, The Crimes of Clara Turlington. The prize comes with a cash prize, publication of the book, and 20 author copies. Congratulations, Meg!
On Wednesday, April 16, the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) brought their Scholarly Communication Road Show to Ames at the Reiman Gardens on the Iowa State University campus. Colleges and universities from all over the Midwest sent representatives to have a discussion about scholarly communication and copyright in our age of information and technology. The whole Digital Repository unit was able to attend and engage in what was an informative and collaborative gathering.
I love Sherlock Holmes. I have read all the novels and short stories, seen almost every movie (maybe missed a couple of Basil Rathbone entries), and really like Benedict Cumberbatch’s modern turn on the detective. And THAT is the operative word.
I am a detective of many things. I find obscure articles from obscure journals and even more obscure conferences. I locate publishers who have gone on to other existences or just went out like a candle flame. I can track a Russian publisher through its various name changes when I don’t know the language and still find the object of my hunt. I dig large holes to find little things, but those little things are important links in a chain of research and knowledge.
Working in Interlibrary Loan was a natural step from having worked in Cataloging, Public Service, and Acquisitions. I knew cataloging metadata well enough that I could search in WorldCat to find the right book, right translation, right journal so that I could order the book, the report, the article that our patron needed. I read well enough in a foreign language to know if I was on the right track or if I needed to look elsewhere. Dates, volume numbers, places of origin, these can all point to the publication that the researcher requests.
Although I rarely have to use the cataloging metadata to locate items in the Digital Repository, the skills in sleuthing still come into play almost every day. Finding permission to publish a journal article or a book chapter is usually fairly easy. We in the DR are familiar with most of the publishers and what the publishers will allow. However, there are a number of publishers that allow publication, but finding a copy of the item requires detective work. Another good situation that requires looking deep into search engines is when the publisher has changed hands or the conference has a new committee every year and you just need that one person to give permission. Finesse. Like a good game of bridge.
Hunting for items, hunting for permissions, it’s a game in many ways but it is important in how it affects the world. If my search finds the right article for another researcher and leads to newer knowledge, then what I do is successful.
So all I can say now is “The game’s afoot!”
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