The active librarian community in Ohio shouldn’t surprise me anymore, but it still does when I discover yet another local group or event dedicated to a niche aspect of libraries. Ohio IR Day on Friday, October 24, 2014 exemplified the communal desires of Ohio librarians. Even though this was the first time, there were over 30 participants for this all-day event, most from academic libraries with one from the Ohio History Connection (previously the Historical Society) and even a Kentucky librarian.
As a part of Open Access week, Ohio IR Day focused on institutional repositories (IRs), online collections of digital material which could include anything from text to photos to videos. To begin the day, Ann Connolly from Bepress enumerated the needs and the possible work of students and faculty that can be met and housed in an IR. For example, while everyone agrees that big data is important, smaller data also requires organization and preservation to remain useful. Connolly then showcased numerous creative, novel ways in which Ohio uses IRs to display and disseminate even non-published items. I will highlight my favorites, though they all were amazing. The University of Dayton’s IR has photos and videos of mineral samples so that students can view them online in addition to lab setting, offering more flexibility. Cedarville University posts student photography portfolios and exhibitions, a perfect way to extend the reach of beautiful and though-provoking images. Finally, the College of Wooster captures oral history of local farmers, recorded by students to bring the community and local history into the education process. Current uses of IRs demonstrate that librarians as well as scholars have a broader consideration for what is beneficial as digital material in an online collection.
The 10 lightning round speakers covered everything from set-up and servers to soliciting and scanning content. Again, I am only going to touch on a few speakers for this post. Lois Hamill from Northern Kentucky University discussed her process of gradually transitioning the University Photographer photo collection from single-computer access to a network to a website and now to an IR in order to better serve their users. It was interesting to hear about the different steps and the time it took to transition, since it is easy to take for granted online collections rather than consider how long and what it took to achieve the online presence. Elizabeth Shook from Wright State University discussed their innovative use of prepending EZProxy to their OpenURLs in the IR to allow for seamless use of material outside of it; the session even lasts beyond the first click so that users can easily traverse the IR and other resources without needing to login repeatedly. Marsha Miles from Cleveland State University shared her streamlining and automating their IR process, creating marcos and scripts and making use of Google Drive to help with batch processing and revision. The range of conceptual to technical talks provided a complex and overall complete survey of the various topics and aspects of IR. It was a great mix of speakers for such a day.
The day ended with birds of a feather, the small group discussion, of particular topics surrounding IRs. In the content recruitment group, we had a couple of people who were just starting IRs along with many who have worked with IRs for a while so there was a lot of information sharing and cross discussion. One fact that a few confirmed is that adding ETDs to IRs drives views and downloads, as they have a wider reach in content and for others’ research than local collections. All of the small groups seemed just as chatty, filling the room with a hearty buzz despite it being mid-afternoon. Everyone’s passion for IRs, their content, and users was apparent and made the day that much more fun.
As for takeaways from Ohio IR Day, the first that comes to mind is that the attendees of the event are wonderful resources themselves and willing to share what they know. The second is creativity abounds with infinite possibilities that IRs provide for sharing content and ideas, with many great examples shown throughout the day.
This fabulous event was put on by Jane Wildermuth, with help from Elizabeth Shook and Andrew Harris from Wright State University and held at the State Library of Ohio. Many thanks goes to them for planning such a great day for librarians to share their experiences with IRs. Everyone in attendance agreed that this should be a regular meeting, with volunteers willing to help. Again, active Ohio librarians unite! I certainly look forward to the next Ohio IR Day.