This week we had a really interesting visit with the president and CEO of Bepress, Jean-Gabriel Bankier, and Bepress’s Director of Strategic Initiatives, Dr. Irene Kamotsky. They showed us some of the new dashboard and analytic features they’re releasing this spring for their Digital Commons platform. We asked them for more granular information about use of our Digital Commons instance – we want to understand who uses it, and go beyond that impressive but somewhat mysterious 10 million downloads number. In response, they showed us a new dashboard that allows us to drill down and see, for example, how industry giants like Apple and Boeing are downloading our student work. We can also see the geographic distribution of use of individual works – fascinating stuff – one was a senior project on bridge construction, downloaded by someone working at a transportation center in northern Russia. We had a great discussion about the different value and uses of institutional repositories – what matters to institutional research offices, university marketing, students seeking faculty advisors, industry seeking faculty experts, and more. Bepress is also doing some pretty cool things with representing 3D images of research and creative work – from protein structure models to beautiful wooden chairs.
Our library faculty and staff do a huge amount of teaching – you reached over 11,000 students last year, and increased the number of teaching sessions by 25%. But that’s not all – in addition to the awesome work you are doing to create new online learning resources (research guides, instructional videos, etc.), the Academic Services team has stepped up to the plate in a big way to design and deliver a new credit-bearing course this spring: HNRS 270 – Selected Topics: Library Research Methods For Honors Students. Brett and collaborators from the library plus four Honors teaching faculty are working on the syllabus now, and it looks like an amazing course, covering research using library resources but also research ethics, citation management and ethics, data visualization, and awareness of disciplinary variety of research methods and opportunities.
A couple of things got me thinking this week about our prison system and culture. Last week I heard Professor Victor Rios (UCSB) talk to a standing-room only audience about the “hyper criminalization of youth of color,” and the way that labels (“at-risk youth”) can stifle the promise that every young person should represent. Dr. Rios also made an impassioned argument for investing in education, not prisons. This week at the regular meeting of Cuesta College Library’s advisory board, we heard from the director of the prison library at the California Men’s Colony. The relationship between prisons and libraries is a pretty profound one; in just one case, where “prisoners [were] sentenced to a literature discussion group in lieu of prison time,” recidivism dropped by over 50%.
Have a great weekend,