Community Engagement Through Digital Collections

Locally created digital collections hosted by a university library can help to develop and strengthen the university’s connections to the campus and the broader community. I, Carol Hixson, Dean of the Poynter Library, first experienced this at the University of Oregon Libraries when the department I chaired took on the task of completing a small grant that involved a collaboration between the University of Oregon Libraries and the Tamástlikt Cultural Institute of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla in Pendleton, Oregon. The collection that emerged from that collaboration, Picturing the Cayuse, Walla Walla, and Umatilla Tribes is a remarkable collection documenting a period in time of an oppressed group of people. It is also a thing of great beauty and power that returned control of their cultural heritage to a people who had lost control over a small piece of their history. More about the history of the project can be found on the About page within the archive for the collection. But the story that those pages do not tell is of the relationship that grew between the Institute, the Libraries, and the people working together to build the collection. The power of that connection changed my life and the lives of many of us in the Libraries. We cut our digital teeth on a complex, visually stunning, culturally sensitive, and historically significant collection and we did it in partnership with the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla.  It remains one of the most important community collaborations of which I have been a part.

There are many other tales of community engagement and partnership from within the University of Oregon Libraries Digital Collections, but those stories are for another day.

Here at the Poynter Library of the University of South Florida St. Petersburg, our efforts seem very modest in comparison to the resources and staffing of the University of Oregon Libraries. But the intention to build and strengthen community partnerships through our locally created digital collections is one of our guiding principles. It can be seen in the work we have done with COQEBS, the Concerned Organization for Quality Education for Black Students, Inc. where we have created an archive of their groundbreaking work and ongoing efforts to improve the lives of African-American students in Pinellas County and to hold the Pinellas County Schools accountable to those students. It can be seen through our partnership with the Florida Humanities Council where we built with them the archive for all issues of Forum : the Magazine of the Florida Humanities Council. It can be seen through the collection we built to showcase the work of the St. Petersburg Arts Alliance and to give them a stable home. There are many other examples of partnership supported through the Poynter Library’s digital collections and we hope there will continue to be many more.

We invite the community to contact us with their projects and ideas so that we can build new and strengthen existing partnerships. Much can be accomplished through goodwill and starting small. Contact me personally at hixson at usfsp.edu or through the contact email for our Digital Collections Team at digcol at nelson.usf.edu

 

Faculty Experts Featured Collection

76% of tentured or tenure-track faculty at USFSP have established professional portfolios in the USFSP Digital Archive. These portfolios can all be accessed in the Faculty Works section of the Digital Archive where they highlight the scholarship and teaching success of USFSP’s outstanding faculty.

facultyworks
There are currently more than 3300 items in these faculty collections that are being viewed hundreds and thousands of times from around the world and that have helped get the word out about what is happening at USFSP.

A new collection of Faculty Experts now provides a spot where faculty expertise is identified by subject and linked with contact information about them. 34% of USFSP’s tenured or tenure-track faculty have already signed up for this important new feature that is designed to connect the community with the expertise of USFSP faculty.

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Premiere Digital Collection at USFSP

Almost a year ago, the Digital Collections Team at the Poynter Library started working with the Florida Humanities Council (FHC) to make available digitized versions of their publication Forum in the USFSP Digital Archive. Through this partnership between the Library and the Florida Humanities Council, the USFSP Digital Archive hosts online issues of Forum, a magazine published for the membership of that organization. Issues include a variety of short articles and vignettes that focus on various areas of the humanities, including history, literature, folklore, anthropology, arts, music, and dramatic performance, with a focus on Florida and various communities. Frequently, the editors of Forum publish issues that focus on a broader theme, such as environmental awareness or building a sense of place. Issues are hosted by the USFSP Digital Archive in an agreement that allows for broader exposure of the articles in Forum. The collection is almost complete, with only a few earlier issues still to be digitized.

The collection is full-text searchable and contains thumbnail images of each issue’s cover, as well as a detailed description of the contents of each issue. All authors who have written for the journal are indexed, as well. Check out the collection at: http://dspace.nelson.usf.edu/xmlui/handle/10806/4821, scroll through the index of authors, check out the most current issue available in the archive (Summer 2013 as of today), and search on your favorite topic to discover some of the gems that the Florida Humanities Council has been bringing to its membership for years.

Our hope for the future is to be able to assist the FHC with making audio content they have captured widely available to the world, in addition to the written word represented through Forum.

Orphan Works in the United States

The U.S. Copyight Office has been looking into the issue of orphan works. In their background statement on the issue at: http://www.copyright.gov/orphan/ they note that: “The Office has long shared the concern with many in the copyright community that the uncertainty surrounding the ownership status of orphan works does not serve the objectives of the copyright system. For good faith users, orphan works are a frustration, a liability risk, and a major cause of gridlock in the digital marketplace. They have opened up a section for comments. One of the best letters, from the standpoint of libraries, was submitted in March 2013 by the New York Public Library at: http://www.copyright.gov/orphan/comments/noi_11302012/New-York-Public-Library.pdf

Educate yourself on the different points of view expressed on this site.

Orphan Works

One of the challenges faced by libraries, archives, and museums as they work to create digital collections is copyright and “orphan works.”  According to the EIFL Guide on Orphan Works,  “A work is described as an ‘orphan work’ if it is in copyright, and if the holder of the copyright cannot be identified, or cannot be found. It can be difficult and costly to trace the rightholder because:

  • the author may be unknown, or may be deceased leaving no locatable heirs;
  • where a publisher or institution holds the rights, it may have ceased to exist with no legal successor, or it may have merged with another entity – the records about copyright ownership may be lost;
  • the work may include within it other works, such as photographs or diagrams (called embedded works) with their own separate rights, one or more of which may be orphaned.”

The challenge as the EIFL Guide explains is that:

“Copyright protection is automatic from the moment that a work is written down. There are no requirements for the author to register the copyright or to notify any authority.2

  • Progressive extension of copyright terms make it more difficult to identify and locate rightholders in the future. Copyright protection in a literary work for an author typically lasts for about 120 years.3
  • Technological advances mean that more creative content than ever before is available online for discovery and re-use – books, blogs, articles, reports, videos, photos, music.

The problem of orphan works affects contemporary materials as well as older works, especially for online content that has no rights information or metadata identifying the rightholder.

Libraries hold tens of millions of works in their collections of high historical, social and educational value containing materials both in-copyright and in the public domain, published and unpublished, in-print and out-of-commerce.”

This is a problem faced around the world, even when details of copyright protection within countries vary. Check back for more on this topic.

Welcome to USFSP Digital Collections

The Nelson Poynter Memorial Library of the University of South Florida St. Petersburg (USFSP) is leading the way in the creation of digital collections of rare and unique materials for the benefit of the USFSP community and people around the world. Slightly over two years ago we created the USFSP Digital Archive which has grown to over 6500 items of scholarship, research, community engagement, and institutional memory. We are working to develop new collections of born-digital and digitized materials of interest to the University and the communities we serve. In this space, we will be highlighting our work, as well as drawing attention to efforts around the world to build and maintain collections of digital materials for the edification and entertainment of students, scholars, and the intellectually curious people of the world.

Check in with us, follow us, and join us on the road to discovery!