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The University Libraries have recently announced plans to digitize their entire holdings of Master’s theses and doctoral dissertations. This collection, which includes over 9,000 titles written from 1924 to the present, will be scanned and made available online as part of Loyola eCommons, the university’s newly created digital library of research and scholarship.

Loyola eCommons is a networked repository system established to collect, preserve, and provide access to scholarly works produced by the Loyola University Chicago community related to research, teaching, and learning. Sponsored by the University Libraries, this resource will support the creation of knowledge through the open-access dissemination of a wide variety of material, for the benefit of students, faculty, staff, and the larger academic community.

The main goal of this project is to provide greater recognition and exposure to the wealth of information and scholarship that these dissertations and theses represent, but there are a number of other benefits as well. Prior to this project, the majority of these works have only been available in hard copy in the library, or available through costly online databases. Placing these titles in Loyola eCommons will not only make them more widely available, but will also provide a way to preserve them for future generations. (Many of the earlier titles were written on acidic paper, and have begun to decay and crumble.) These works also constitute a valuable record of the academic heritage of the university, which should be celebrated and shared with the world.

In addition, there is also a humanitarian benefit to this initiative: the open-access availability of dissertations and theses has proved to be a huge boon to scholars in developing countries where access to expensive scholarly journals and research databases is limited by economic or political circumstances. Our mission speaks to the need for “knowledge in the service of humanity” and “learning and leadership in openhanded and generous ways to ensure freedom of inquiry, the pursuit of truth and care for others.” Through this project, Loyola eCommons will embody a tangible expression of these core values, providing an online gateway to an abundance of scholarly information created by faculty and students.

Dissertations and theses will be scanned and converted into PDF files, to be accompanied by descriptive information such as the author, title, author abstract, academic department, date, and degree conferred. These files will then be made available online via the Loyola eCommons web site under a Creative Commons license, which stipulates that all copyrights remain in the hands of the original author, that any re-use of the material (such as a quotation in a journal article or other publication) must be properly attributed, and that the work cannot be modified or used for any commercial purpose (except by the original author). These restrictions protect the intellectual property of the author while at the same time allowing for robust online dissemination.

For more information, visit Loyola eCommons, or send an email to ecommons@luc.edu.

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Focus Groups Announced

The University Libraries invite faculty to participate in a series of focus groups to help us better understand the research and publication practices of faculty and to develop services and systems that support scholarly communication and the dissemination of knowledge created on campus.

In these focus groups, participants will get to see a sneak preview of Loyola eCommons, the library’s planned online resource to collect and showcase faculty work, provide feedback, talk about your research and publication practices, and discuss how the library can better support collaboration, intellectual property management, and dissemination and preservation of your scholarship.

We’ll be convening these groups on a handful of different days, at both LSC and WTC — you can choose the session that works best for you:

  • Tuesday, October 18: 2:00 pm – 3:30pm (WTC, Corboy 727)
  • Wednesday, October 19: 10:00 am – 11:30 am (LSC, Info Commons 315)
  • Thursday, October 20: 3:00 pm – 4:30 pm (LSC, Info Commons 315)

Sign up here: http://libraries.luc.edu/ecommons_focus_groups

The library will provide snacks and refreshments for all sessions.

(Note: If none of the times listed work with your schedule, but you’re still interested in participating, there is an option on the sign-up form to schedule another time.)

We sincerely appreciate your interest in our project, and your participation. Your input will help inform the libraries’ efforts to increase the impact of your work.

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Loyola eCommons

The project/system formerly known as “the digital repository” now has a name: Loyola eCommons.

(Say it loud and there’s music playing…)

This name speaks to the library’s desire to create a resource that will provide a common space for the dissemination and preservation of a wide variety of scholarship, pedagogy, historical material, and creative works. Indeed, it is our aspiration that this resource will serve as a collective showcase for the entire university community. It will also be a “commons” in a more traditional sense, acting as a kind of online academic public square for the unfettered exchange of information and knowledge.

The name is a deliberate nod to the hugely successful Klarchek Information Commons, which brings together technology, services, information resources, and people to facilitate a wide range of scholarly activities. And like the IC, we hope that Loyola eCommons can become a vital part of academic life on campus and the University Libraries’ efforts to promote “knowledge in the service of humanity.”

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Digital Commons Selected as Repository Platform

After much deliberation, the University Libraries have decided to use Digital Commons as the software platform for the digital repository project.

Digital Commons is a hosted institutional repository (IR) software platform which offers the features of a traditional IR (storage, management, retrieval, and online dissemination of digital assets) as well as professional-grade publishing software, management tools, and individual faculty and researcher pages. Digital Commons is developed and maintained by Berkeley Electronic Press (bepress).

There are a number reasons why this selection was made. This system meets a very high percentage of our stated functional requirements (especially with regard to faculty-centered features, an area that the other systems under consideration were lacking on). The fact that the system is hosted also means that the library will be able to get it up and running much more quickly, allowing us to spend more time focusing on outreach and content development, and less time on server/system configuration.

Digital Commons is used by dozens of academic institutions in the U.S., including many major research universities.

Some examples can be found at the links below:

We are confident that Digital Commons will provide a solid foundation for building collections, collaborating with scholars, and promoting the repository as a locus of scholarly activity for the Loyola community.

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** This survey is now closed. Thanks to everyone who contributed their time and opinions.**

To inform the development of the digital repository project, the University Libraries are conducting a survey of faculty. Answers will help inform crucial decisions about how to best allocate resources and services.

The survey takes approximately ten minutes to complete. Responses are confidential. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and opinions on this endeavor.

The project’s main goal is to develop a digital library to share and store the products of teaching and research. This resource will facilitate greater worldwide discoverability and visibility of material created by the Loyola academic community, and facilitate long-term preservation of research.

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Dean of the University Libraries Robert Seal will lead a discussion on digital repositories and the potential for a repository at Loyola. Over the past decade, libraries have been leading an effort to create digital libraries to store and share the intellectual output of faculty and ensure long-term preservation of research and scholarship. Learn about and provide feedback on the University Libraries’ plans for creating a digital repository for faculty scholarship at Loyola.

Come on by on Thursday March 17, 2011 from 4:00 – 5:00 pm for wine, hors d’oeuvres and conversation with your colleagues in the Quiet Reading Room on Level 3 of the Klarchek Information Commons (Room 317).

Commonalities is an ongoing dialogue in support of teaching sponsored by Information Technology Services, The Office of Learning and Technology Assessment and The University Libraries.

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Faculty Advisory Committee Formed

In order to ensure that the planned digital repository meets the needs of its intended audience and that faculty and administrators have the ability to comment on the objectives and goals of the project, the University Libraries have convened an advisory committee representing a wide variety of stakeholders from across the university academic community.

The Advisory Committee provides a structured forum for project leaders to present ideas and updates on the development of the repository to faculty, staff, and administrators representing key stakeholder groups. The Advisory Committee will: provide feedback on proposed project plans; help set priorities; facilitate a dialogue on open access and scholarly communication practices at Loyola; offer advice on how to market the repository to the campus community and encourage participation; help identify and recruit content for the collections; and assist with integrating the repository into existing institutional research infrastructure and workflows. Committee members will serve as liaisons for the project to their respective offices or departments and to the university at large.

Advisory Committee, FY2011-12:

  • Robert Seal, Dean of Libraries (chair)
  • Fred Barnhart, Associate Dean for Library Services and Collections
  • Megan Dougherty, Assistant Professor, School of Communication
  • Eben English, Digital Services Librarian
  • Steve Jones, Professor, English
  • Robert Mc Nees, Assistant Professor, Physics
  • Chulin Meng, Head of Library Systems
  • Kelly Moore, Associate Professor, Sociology
  • Bill Sellers, Director, Office of Research
  • Jim Sibenaller, Director, Enterprise Architecture & Project Management, Information Technology Services
  • George Thiruvathukal , Associate Professor, Computer Science
  • Nancy Tuchman, Vice Provost

Faculty and staff interested in serving on the advisory committee should contact Robert Seal, Dean of Libraries, at rseal [at] luc.edu or 773-508-2657.

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White Paper: A Digital Repository at Loyola

The University Libraries have released a white paper which provides an introduction to digital repositories and the open access movement, and lays out the rationale for the creation of an online platform to collect, organize, preserve, and provide online access to research and teaching materials here at Loyola.

Click here to download the paper, “A Digital Repository at Loyola University Chicago.”

Questions and comments about the paper should be directed to Eben English, Digital Services Librarian, at eenglish1 [at] luc.edu or 773-508-2686.

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As part of the goals laid out in the LUC Libraries Strategic Plan, 2010-2013, the University Libraries will create a digital library of research materials to provide improved access to the products of scholarship and teaching created by members of the Loyola community.

The plan, which is available here, includes the creation of a digital repository as part of the overall goal of re-envisioning the library’s collections to meet the evolving needs of Loyola faculty, staff, and students.

From the plan:

As scholarly publishing evolves, delivery of content will increasingly be through new means and in new formats. . . . The strength, depth, and continued growth of the library’s collection remain core indicators of both the library’s quality and reputation and the University’s commitment to success. We will continue to build both print and digital collections through acquisitions and digitization of unique local collections.

The following actions are important to our success in implementing this strategy:

  • Build a digital repository to enable the best use of unique and original material by the university community. The digital repository will be used by the library to organize, preserve, and provide online access to documents and media originated at Loyola, with potential benefits of increasing use of this material and freeing space for other uses in the library facilities. This repository may include Loyola faculty and student works; governance, committee, and other university documents; theses and dissertations; and other pertinent resources.
    • Work with faculty and other campus constituencies to determine the emphases and content of the digital repository.
    • Expand current digital special collections by adding more content. Create new digital collections, including a digitized rare book collection. Develop skills in digital resource creation as we – the University, the library, and the faculty – begin to create our own resources and repositories.

This University Libraries look forward to collaborating with the university community on the development of this project.

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