Information and Society


October is Open Access Month!

Posted by: Hillary Corbett


200px-Open_Access_logo_PLoS_white.svgThis year, Snell Library is expanding the celebration of International Open Access Week to the whole month of October! We have a great schedule of programs lined up for the month that will highlight different resources and initiatives that promote open access to information, as well as open-source tools for research support. You can find the complete listing of events below.

We’ll also be in the Snell lobby on Monday, October 5, from 11:30-1:00, talking about why Open Access is so important for everyone — whether you’re a researcher in a developing country without access to expensive journal subscriptions, a patient trying to access information about a health issue, or a filmmaker hoping to change the world. Stop by to grab a schedule for the month…and one of our laser-cut Open Access bookmarks, made in-house!

Open Access Month: Schedule of Events

Tuesday, October 6
Storing and Sharing Files Using the DRS
12:00-1:00 p.m. | DSC Media Lounge, 211 SL
Curious about Northeastern’s Digital Repository Service? This session will include a demonstration of uploading, searching, and browsing in the DRS, an overview of highlighted DRS content, and a forum to ask questions about the DRS and how it’s being used at Northeastern. Refreshments will be served.

Tuesday, October 6
Zotero in 30 Minutes
2:00-2:30 p.m. | DSC Media Lounge, 211 SL
Learn about using Zotero, one of the most well-known free, open source citation management tools, to organize your research. Track and gather all of your research in one place and automatically format citations and bibliographies—bring your laptop to get started right away. Refreshments will be served.

Wednesday, October 7
Digital Humanities Open Office Hours
1:00-2:00 p.m. | DSC Media Lounge, 211 SL
Understanding copyright and fair use in the Digital Humanities will be the focus of this week’s regularly scheduled DH Open Office Hours.

Tuesday, October 13
Storing and Sharing Files Using the DRS
3:00-4:00 p.m. | DSC Media Lounge, 211 SL
Curious about Northeastern’s Digital Repository Service? This session will include a demonstration of uploading, searching, and browsing in the DRS, an overview of highlighted DRS content, and a forum to ask questions about the DRS and how it’s being used at Northeastern. Refreshments will be served.

Wednesday, October 14
DSG & NULab Fall Showcase
3:00-6:00 p.m. | 90 SL & Digital Scholarship Commons
Angel Nieves, Associate Professor, Director of American Studies and Co-Director of the Digital Humanities Initiative at Hamilton College, will speak in room 90 from 3:00-4:00. Then join us in the DSC from 4:15-6:00 to meet others interested in digital scholarship and learn about recent developments in DSG and NULab projects. Refreshments will be served.

Tuesday, October 20
All About Archives! Finding Primary Sources Housed at Northeastern and Beyond
12:00-1:00 p.m. | 421 SL
Primary source material gives researchers a first-hand look at the past. Giordana Mecagni, University Archivist and Head of Special Collections, will showcase some of Northeastern’s unique collections, and Jamie Dendy, Head of Research and Instruction Services and History Librarian, will demonstrate some of his favorite open-access collections of primary sources. Refreshments will be served.

Thursday, October 22
Data Management Plans and the DRS
12:30-1:30 p.m. | DSC Media Lounge, 211 SL
How can you effectively share and preserve research data while fulfilling grant requirements? This session will describe the library’s support for research data management, including the DMPTool as an option to generate data management plans, and the Digital Repository Service as an option for preserving and sharing research data. Refreshments will be served.

Tuesday, October 27
Open Tools for GIS: Google Maps
2:00-3:00 p.m. | 421 SL
Bahare Sanaie-Movahed, the library’s new GIS Specialist, will demonstrate how Google Maps can be used for creating open-access GIS projects. Refreshments will be served.

Wednesday, October 28
Wikipedia Edit-a-thon
4:00-8:00 p.m. | DSC Media Lounge, 211 SL
Join us to improve Wikipedia’s coverage of under-represented groups in Massachusetts and U.S. history. This hack-a-thon style session will focus on editing and updating Wikipedia pages in a group setting. You do not need any prior experience with Wikipedia to participate, just bring a laptop and a power supply. Refreshments will be served.

Thursday, October 29
Textbook Affordability and Open Educational Resources
12:00-1:00 p.m. | 421 SL
Nancy Pawlyshyn, Assistant Teaching Professor in the Graduate Education program, will be joined by representatives from Academic Technology Services and Snell Library to discuss how Open Educational Resources can be implemented in the classroom as alternatives to high-cost traditional textbooks. A student will provide the undergraduate perspective on textbook affordability. Refreshments will be served.

Friday, October 30
Sourcing Multimedia for Your Course
12:00-1:30 p.m. | 140 SL
The Internet offers a variety of public domain and Creative Commons images, movies, and documents that may be used to support teaching and learning. Learn strategies for finding relevant media and crediting the media appropriately. Hosted by Academic Technology Services.

Friday, October 30
Creating Interactive Open Educational Resources
2:00-4:00 p.m. | 140 SL
This course will show you the basics of using Storyline to create interactive educational resources. You’ll learn how to incorporate multimedia, create your own text, audio, and image content, and create interactive features. Finally, we’ll discuss options for publishing on the web. Hosted by Academic Technology Services.

Posted in: Information and Society, Library News and Events, Research Online, Scholarly Communications


Boston Library Consortium signs letter to President Obama about Open Educational Resources

Posted by: Hillary Corbett


In June, the White House called for suggestions from the public for its third Open Government National Action Plan, to be released later this year. The purpose of this plan is to increase transparency in government as well as support open research and learning tools, which were identified as areas for development in the first two National Action Plans. The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC), an international group of academic research libraries, has responded to this call with a letter advocating for increased support for the development of open educational resources. The Boston Library Consortium, of which Northeastern University is a member, has added its name as a signatory of this letter. We are proud to voice our support for open educational resources!

Open educational resources (OERs) are freely accessible learning objects that support teaching and learning at all levels – from kindergarten through higher education. Because they are openly licensed, educators can customize OERs or create mashups of different resources to provide their students with the material that best meets their teaching objectives. OERs include textbooks, audio and video materials, tests, software, interactive modules, and much more. Many are peer-reviewed either before or after being publicly released, so teachers can be assured of their quality.

OERs benefit students as well as educators—they serve as free alternatives to costly traditional textbooks. A recent NBC News story about the astronomical increase in textbook prices (more than triple the cost of inflation since 1977) quotes an incoming Northeastern first-year student on the struggle to afford college textbooks. OERs would help him and thousands of others get a high-quality education at a more affordable price. The Open Education Group, which conducts an ongoing review of empirical research on the use of OERs, reports that studies show students and educators using OERs are satisfied with the quality of these resources and that learning outcomes are equivalent to or better than those in classrooms using traditional resources.

Instructors and students, are you interested in learning more about open educational resources? Check out my guide to OERs and textbook alternatives, and please feel free to contact me if you have further questions.

Posted in: Information and Society, Research Online, Scholarly Communications


Lawsuit Against the MBTA for Unlawful Censorship of Condom Campaign Ads

Posted by: Claudia Willett


Did you know that in 1994, the AIDS Action Committee sued the MBTA for unlawful censorship of a subway campaign featuring the use of condoms?  Seems hard to believe, but you can read all about it in our Archives and Special Collections, which has received a donation of new material from former AIDS Action Committee Director Thomas McNaught (1991-1996).

This donation adds to the existing AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts Records in the Northeastern University Archives and Special Collections.

While processing the new materials I noticed the photo of Captain B. Careful on the Boston Common. It stood out  for a few reasons. His sheer ingenuity for costume design. The huge smile on his face even though it was noticeably cold outside.

Captain B. Careful, Condom Campaign. AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts, Inc. (M61, Box 42, Folder 14.)

Less tangibly his image stood out to me because he symbolizes a continuity in Boston’s legacy of advocating for the power of knowledge and striving toward equal rights and opportunity for all. 

In 1992,  AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts (AAC)  introduced New England’s first public service television AIDS prevention campaign directed at gay men.

They also launched the United States’ first statewide transit campaign for AIDS awareness by placing condom posters on 437 buses throughout Massachusetts ultimately leading to a legal battle with the MBTA.

Highlights of the collection include:

  • photographs and press
  • outreach material regarding the condom campaign
  • materials on the AAC’s education and prevention campaigns
  • documentation regarding the AAC’s lawsuit against the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority (MBTA) for unlawful censorship of a subway campaign featuring the use of condoms in 1994

Posted in: Archives and Special Collections, Information and Society, Staff Interests


Our Marathon: The Boston Bombing Digital Archive – WBUR Oral History Project Announces Lesson Plans

Posted by: Claudia Willett


In the wake of the events that occurred on April 15, 2013 at the 117th Boston Marathon and on April 19, 2013 in Watertown, Northeastern University English Professor Elizabeth Maddock Dillon and Assistant Professor Ryan Cordell recognized the obvious need for a space where people could tell and share their stories with each other.  They believed that sharing stories from survivors, families, witnesses, visitors to the city, and everyone around the world touched by the event will speed the healing process, and wanted to create that space as a gift to the community.

Together, they established the Our Marathon: The Boston Bombing Digital Archive, a crowd-sourced, digital archive of pictures, videos, stories, and social media related to the Boston Marathon bombing.  Thus far, they have acquired an archive of almost 10,000 items, 3 interactive exhibits, and 3 major collections.


[April 21, 2013, from the Public Submissions collection]

This summer, I contributed to this remarkable endeavor as a Simmons School of Library and Information Science (SLIS) graduate summer intern sponsored by the Northeastern University Archives and Special Collections Department and supported by the Project Co-Director James McGrath. In addition to exhibit building and social media, the main task of my internship was to create lesson plans for schoolroom use.

Because children were affected by this crisis as well, the team at Our Marathon thought it would help the healing process for children to use the Our Marathon archives—to remember and share stories in the safety of their own classrooms.  Additionally, it can be difficult for teachers to navigate the complex questions young students ask and a resource like the digital archive can work as a great tool to facilitate age appropriate discussion.

To that end, I helped create a Teaching Resources page for Our Marathon. This page showcases five lesson plans for Kindergarten through Grade 12 that utilize Letters to the City of Boston and The Copley Square Memorial collections,  and the WBUR Oral History Project as the basis for a teaching unit. These lesson plans are designed to demonstrate mastery of grade and subject appropriate Common Core Standards.

Hopefully, these assignments will generate more student submissions to the archive as well as create a platform for an important dialogue amongst students and teachers. I look forward to reading about their experiences in the Our Marathon archives.

Posted in: Archives and Special Collections, History, Information and Society, Library News and Events, Read, Listen, Watch, Research Online


New: Free Access to 400,000 Digital Images from Metropolitan Museum of Art

Posted by: Rebecca Bailey


Exciting news! New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art announced recently that “more than 400,000 high-resolution digital images of public domain works in the Museum’s world-renowned collection may be downloaded directly from the Museum’s website for non-commercial use—including in scholarly publications in any media—without permission from the Museum and without a fee. The number of available images will increase as new digital files are added on a regular basis.”

The Met calls this initiative Open Access for Scholarly Content (OASC). When searching their online image collection, look for the OASC icon, which designates images that are part of this initiative. These images may be used for non-commercial purposes, including school assignments, presentations, scholarly publishing, or personal projects. (Read more about the OASC policy in the FAQ.)

This decision by the Met follows a very welcome recent movement among galleries, libraries, archives, and museums (the so-called GLAM organizations) to make more of their digital image content freely available when possible. This benefits the organizations by increasing public awareness of and generating publicity for their collections. And of course it benefits all of us to have greater access to cultural content worldwide!

Here are some links to more such programs:

The initiative known as OpenGLAM, which is helping many museums to open up more of their content, has a longer list of these types of efforts on their website. You can learn more about OpenGLAM from their FAQ. And be sure to check out the amazing image collections listed above. Happy exploring!

Posted in: Architecture, Art, Information and Society, Read, Listen, Watch, Research Online