When you hear the phrase “digital repository,” what springs to mind? A few years ago, before I earned my master’s in Library Science and Archives Management, my mental image was a scramble of files and databases and question marks (“repository????”). Thankfully, my knowledge has since improved.
Iowa State University’s own Digital Repository @ Iowa State University is celebrating its second birthday this month and is nearing 1.4 million downloads from the site. As the semester winds down and theses are published, it’s a good time to talk about what the Digital Repository (DR) is and how it serves the Iowa State community.
In a nutshell, the DR provides a home for free public access to scholarship created by Iowa State students, faculty, and staff. Visit the repository and see for yourself: many articles written by our community members are available for download in a single click.
The kinds of scholarly materials that can be uploaded to the repository cover a broad spectrum. Popular types include journal articles and manuscripts; theses and dissertations; conference proceedings, presentations and posters; extension and outreach publications; patents; and audio recordings. The Digital Repository Coordinator, Harrison W. Inefuku, is always looking to help, though, so if you have an alternative not listed above, he’s happy to talk with you about uploading scholarly output from ISU to the DR.
While the Digital Repository is not a part of the Special Collections Department – it is part of the University Library as a whole and can be found via our main web page – we find ourselves working with and thinking about the repository often. As the record-keeper for collections from professors and alumni, University Archives houses lots of academic papers and publications created by Iowa State departments, faculty, staff, and students. In addition to the obvious, such as master’s theses and doctoral dissertations, we collect publications and papers that document individual departments’ histories, the campus’s architectural evolution, short-lived student publications, and social events and societies.
Lest you think the DR @ ISU is the only place to find digital records from the University online, next time we will talk about the University Library Digital Collections. If you are too excited to wait, check out blog posts related to Digital Collections at ISU Preservation Department’s blog!
In the same way that Wikipedia sometimes acts like quicksand, I can get lost while exploring the DR website. Some of my favorite ways to interact with its contents include:
- A sunburst (also pictured above) showcasing the Digital Repository’s contents by discipline and subject. I checked out some Home Economics resources regarding canning recently in preparation for summer’s bounty.
- A map that shows what papers are being downloaded and where. Recently, someone in Kiev was downloading a thesis regarding European bark beetles.
- Lists of the most popular papers and most recent additions to the repository.
Harrison has also created a number of resources that go into more detail about how the repository can help students, faculty, staff, and other members of the University community. If you are curious about how the repository works, who does that work here at ISU, and how important issues such as copyright are handled, see these online documents regarding outreach.
Harrison enjoys meeting with people to discuss the repository’s value and uses, too, so if you’re still curious, contact him – and tell him that Special Collections sent you.