Libraries Introduces OHIO Open Library – OHIO University Libraries

Libraries Introduces OHIO Open Library

Graphic design by Chance Brinkman-Sull/Ohio University Libraries


Mark Barsamian, an associate lecturer in mathematics, finished an early draft of his geometry textbook years ago. Because he wanted the book to be free of charge to students, he simply published it on his own website and continued making edits to the book for many years.

Although the text was used by his own students and viewed from places around the world, he hoped for a platform to house his work that would allow him more informative usage data.

“I knew that the page was being viewed, but I could not tell how many people had actually downloaded the book,” he said.

So, he began looking for other online sites to be a platform for his work, and that began his work with OHIO Open Library, the Libraries’ new online institutional repository. Barsamian’s open-access textbook became the first work available on the site.

“[OHIO Open Library] is a space where we can manage and make available works that are created by [members of the OHIO community],” said Janet Hulm, assistant dean for collections and digitization strategies.

The repository will allow both faculty and students to work free of charge and to make works freely available worldwide, Hulm added. OHIO Open Library works through bepress’ Digital Commons, a platform that hosts many other universities’ repositories.

Because the OHIO Open Library is in its early stages, exact guidelines and submission processes are still being developed, she said, but added the repository will likely include open-access materials such as textbooks, journals, articles and student publications.

“We are trying to come up with [guidelines] that are narrow enough and manageable enough to keep things focused, but broad enough to include different kinds of works that come down the road that we have not already anticipated,” Hulm said.

Damon DeBorde, head of metadata services at the Libraries, said as the team continues to develop the repository, they welcome feedback from both faculty and students.

“We are at the stage [in which] we are very open to ideas from faculty and students,” he said. “We do want to hear ideas, so we can collaboratively work with those groups to make those ideas into a reality.”

Unlike the traditional idea of a publisher, those running the OHIO Open Library will not review or edit the material—although a peer-review process is available and can be managed through the platform. Turnaround time for publication can happen in a matter of days rather than the often-months-long publishing process of commercial publishers. DeBorde added the publishing credits will belong to the author(s) of each work.

Both DeBorde and Hulm said one of the many benefits of the OHIO Open Library is that because it works through bepress’ Digital Commons, the content will be easily discoverable.

“The people who are working behind the scenes work really closely with Google and Google Scholar to make sure the metadata is available through Internet searches, so people worldwide can get to it,” Hulm said.

Although Barsamian will not work with monitoring the platform, he said he looks forward to learning what others have to say about his textbook and seeing where and how often his work has been downloaded—two additional benefits of the repository.

Hulm said until formal guidelines and an application process are set up, any students or faculty interested in submitting work on the repository can email her or DeBorde.

“The name we selected for our institutional repository, OHIO Open Library, reflects the simplest intentions we have for it,” Hulm said. “To be a library (definition in a broad sense) of digital works authored [and] created by Ohio University faculty, staff and students, which is freely available and accessible to anyone with Internet access.