Digital repository offers a campus portal to global publishing

In April, the University Library rolled out a new digital repository. The online resource offers Iowa State faculty, students and staff an open-access portal to publish and find research, scholarship and more -- all at no cost to users.

As part of the worldwide Digital Commons network of online repositories, ISU's participation gives formerly unpublished work unlimited exposure. This includes scholarly works such as theses, reports, presentations and conference papers.

"The purpose is to promote and increase the visibility and availability of the scholarly and creative output of the university," said David Gregory, associate library dean for research and access administration.

Departments and individuals interested in participating in the digital repository can contact Harrison Inefuku, 4-3180.

Global access

Gregory said repository material is optimized for Google and other search engines, adding the work of ISU faculty, staff and students to the list of results for online queries. The repository also has its own search function.

"We're aware most people are finding their way through Google," Gregory said. "We've seen hits from more than 150 countries. Some of the material is becoming very visible."

Gregory said other institutions have seen past research get "new life" when added to a repository. That includes work done by retired faculty that may be available online for the first time.

"That is one of the benefits of a repository," Gregory said. "Now some of the material that predates electronic publication is getting its first life online and the likelihood of people finding it is much greater."

Building a bank of information

Digital repository coordinator Harrison Inefuku has populated the site with more than 4,000 documents since April. He worked with subject librarians to help identify material for the pilot period, and word about the repository is spreading.

Inefuku said ISU's repository items have been downloaded more than 175,000 times, with as many as 2,000 downloads daily. Topics on the current list of top downloads range from Polish complicity during the Holocaust, to cost-effective hydrogen sulfide removal technology.

More than just white papers

Research and scholarship aren't the only items that can be uploaded. The repository also includes back issues of course catalogs and the Iowa State Daily; administrative documents, such as strategic plans and annual reports; and even a pair of patents from the ISU Research Foundation collection.

The digital repository isn't just for the written word, either. Inefuku said multimedia creative works can be uploaded to the repository. Audio, video and image files can be added -- including downloadable files or embedded streaming video.

What's ahead

Gregory said they've just begun to scratch the surface of what can be done with the digital repository software. For instance, it can help create and publish journals while managing the peer review process. Conferences can be planned, conducted and later published -- all within the digital repository.

"We're working our way up to that," Inefuku said. "The repository comes with a powerful publishing tool, so if they want to start new journals, that's a possibility."

Meanwhile, as the project expands, Inefuku said they plan to respond to requests as users learn more about the repository.

"It really depends on what the faculty and staff at Iowa State need," Inefuku said.