Digitization and Special Collections: Access, Equity, and Preservation

Virtual reality view of the Garibaldi Panorama

Providing digital access to distinctive scholarly materials in our collections continues to grow in importance as part of the Library’s mission. For example, as reported previously, recent grants are enabling us to digitize a significant portion of the vast Hall-Hoag Collection of Extremist and Dissenting Propaganda, which provides critical insights for understanding our times. Indeed, this may be the largest digitization project of contemporary Archival materials; when it is finished, we will have scanned around 900,000 pages of materials from 1950 to 1999.

Digitization allows students and scholars working in any location to view rare materials without incurring the financial and other burdens of traveling to consult them on-site. Moreover, where digital access to materials is available, it also helps reduce handling of the original objects and contributes to their preservation. In the last three years, scanning activity at the Hay has generated around a terabyte of data.

Patrons who need scans of particular collection items that are not already digitized may submit requests through the Hay’s Aeon system. (Any researcher can do this — as a Carnegie Library, the Hay is open to the public.) Generally, we try to limit scan requests to a maximum of five folders or 300 to 400 pages so that we can be equitable among patrons. Depending on the material, a consultation with the Library’s Collections Care staff may take place to determine if there are preservation or handling concerns that may limit what is possible. 

The staff members who complete the image capture of the physical object in order to create the digital files possess a wide range of specialized skills including building custom supports for fragile materials and three dimensional objects as well as operating complex software and equipment in the Library’s camera room and on location. Lindsay Elgin, Senior Library Technologist, wrote “A more typical look at the camera room” about photographing an album of watercolor prints from the Anne S. K. Brown Military Gallery. Lindsay also photographed the narwhal tusk from the 2015 The Unicorn Found: Science, Literature, and the Arts exhibit at the John Hay Library (photo above). You can read more about that shoot in Lindsay’s blog post, “The Unicorn of the Sea Comes to Brown.”

To facilitate greater access to our materials, we have removed any fees associated with digitization or scanning.

We ask patrons to allow four to six weeks for scanning requests to be completed, but we often turn them around quicker than that. Material requested by Brown instructors for their courses are given priority. To facilitate greater access to our materials, we have removed any fees associated with digitization or scanning. This allows researchers of all backgrounds to begin their research without having to incur costs and also allows researchers to start doing preliminary research without needing to travel to Providence. Over the past 12 months, the Hay has scanned over 50,000 pages for patrons. The Martha Dickinson Bianchi papers (Ms. 2010.046) collection and the Hortense J. Spillers papers, 1966-1995 are examples of collections from which numerous researchers have requested a significant amount of scanned material over the past couple of years.  

The Hay also digitizes material at high resolution to meet preservation needs or in response to requests for exhibitions. Such requests have generated about 3.5 terabytes of digital files. In both cases, high-quality scans provide substitutes for original materials that are too fragile to be handled directly or displayed. 

High resolution scans also serve the needs of scholars creating digital projects requiring the display and study of collection items. For example, Hay staff are currently assisting with the “Sounding Spirit” project being developed at Emory University. Approximately 200 items from the Hay’s collection are being digitized, and the scans will ultimately be hosted on the project’s website and will also be available through Brown’s own digital repository. Scanning is not simply a mechanical process. The Library’s staff experts process and review all of the digital files for quality and edit them to create master files of all of the images. 

Indeed, staff members at the John Hay Library are involved at every step of the digitization process, lending their expertise to researchers in need of consultation about the materials to transporting material to be digitized from the Library Annex to photographing fragile materials and non-print objects and scanning print materials to reviewing and delivering digital files to our patrons. We are dedicated to supporting scholarship at Brown and beyond and recognize the importance of extending the reach of Brown’s incredible special collections materials and look forward to continuing our work to make these items digitally available to researchers around the world.

Best Bets for Full Text Access to Journal Articles in the Health and Biomedical Sciences

Brown has thousands of online journals, but sometimes it’s hard to know the best route for quick access to the articles you need. Streamline your research workflow with these tips for quickly accessing full text:

  • Using PubMed? Use the Brown-specific URL, then click on the “Find It” icon in the abstracts to ensure you’ll see all available subscriptions or interlibrary loan options.
  • LibKey Nomad is a browser extension that allows users to seamlessly authenticate and download PDFs when a journal article is detected. The LibKey icon shows across different platforms, from subscription library databases like JSTOR, to open databases like PubMed and Google Scholar, publisher journal pages, and even Wikipedia references. 
  • Have a PMID or DOI? Go to Libkey.io, enter it into the search box, and LibKey will show you our access options. 
  • Configure Google Scholar to connect to Brown. Set Brown as your default library by going to Settings→ Library Links→ search for Brown→ select Brown University Library→ Save.
  • Want to keep up with professional reading? Create a bookshelf of your top journals with BrowZine. With BrowZine, you can easily follow titles of interest, be notified when new articles are published, and save/read articles on your device of choice.

For more detailed guidance, see Full-text article access.

Library Data Management and Publishing Support Services

The University Library’s research data management and publishing support services are available to all Brown-affiliated faculty, staff, and students, including clinical faculty with Brown credentials. Learn about our full array of research support services at https://library.brown.edu/info/research-support-services/.

Electronic Laboratory Notebooks (ELNs)

In 2022 the University renewed its license for LabArchives electronic lab notebooks. LabArchives has no limit on file storage and is 21 CFR part 11 compliant. Principal investigators can create project notebooks for themselves and each lab member, and share them with external collaborators. In compliance with Brown’s Research Data and Research Materials Management, Sharing, and Retention Policy, the PI will retain ownership and access to all members’ notebooks and may retain and share a copy with any departing team member. 

LabArchives Education

Brown’s license also includes LabArchives Education, for use in lab courses. LabArchives Education allows instructors to create a course lab notebook containing protocols and assignments; students and TAs may be given different levels of access, and both individual and group work are supported. Contact the Library for support at [email protected] or sign up for training on research or educational ELN use.

Preparing for NIH’s new Data Management and Sharing Policy (DMSP)

The National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) new Data Management and Sharing Policy goes into effect on January 25, 2023, and the Library is ready to support its new requirements. Our Data Management and Sharing Plan (DMP) consulting service can connect researchers with funder templates and Brown resources for managing and sharing data. Contact the Library for support at [email protected] or access Brown’s guidance and submit a draft DMP for library review by logging into and using the DMPTool and following the prompts.

Support for Brown’s Faculty Open Access Policy

In 2021, the Brown faculty adopted a Faculty Open Access Policy, which calls upon faculty to deposit either a copy of a working paper (pre-print), a final peer-reviewed manuscript, or an open-access publication in a not-for-profit repository such as Brown’s branded-space within BioRxiv or MedRxiv; a funder’s publication repository such as PubMed Central (PMC) or NSF-PAR; or the Brown Digital Repository (BDR). Contact us for support at [email protected].

Support for Public Access Compliance

On August 25, 2022, the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy (OSTP) released a memo requiring federal funding agencies to develop plans to make publicly-funded publications and data available to the public without an embargo period. Agencies will be developing these updated public access policies over the coming years. As always, if researchers need help complying with current National Institutes of Health (NIH) or National Science Foundation (NSF) public access mandates, like depositing a non-compliant paper in PubMed Central, contact the Library for support at [email protected].

New Resources: McGraw Hill Medical Suite plus Expanded DEI Titles, More

Full McGraw-Hill Access Medical Suite 

The Library recently upgraded our subscription to the full McGraw-Hill Medical Suite. In addition to AccessMedicine, we now provide access to 16 McGraw-Hill Medical and specialty collections, including AccessPediatrics, AccessPharmacy, AccessEmergencyMedicine, and JAMAEvidence. These collections include critical textbooks, test prep materials, procedures videos, calculators, and more. You can find all of these resources through our access to McGraw-Hill Medical, or read more about them on our McGraw-Hill handout.

New DEI collection and enhanced ebook access

In addition, the Library purchased access to new ebook collections. From Lippincott-Williams we have added the Ovid Diversity, Equity, and Inclusivity (DEI) collection, along with the 2022 Core Collection from Doody Enterprises, expert reviewers of biomedical publications. These additions will provide access to top rated publications in biomedical fields ranging from allergy/clinical immunology to vascular surgery. The easiest way to access these titles is via [email protected].

Even more science titles

We were also able to add hundreds of recent medical, biomedical, and life sciences titles from Springer Publishing. All of these are now available through BruKnow, the Library’s online catalog. If you would like a detailed list of titles, please contact the HBLS team. 

Brown Library publishes five new volumes in the “Race & … in America” digital book series

Open access publication expands series delving into comparative perspectives on the roots and effects of racism in the U.S.

For the second year running, the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America at Brown partnered with the Office of the Provost on the pioneering Race & … in America webinar series, a systematic investigation of the foundational and enduring effects of anti-Black racism in America. Over the course of the 2021-22 academic year, the series again served as a virtual platform for the Brown community to think through the myriad, complex ways that race defines American society and to share these insights with each other and the public at large. Exploring the arts more fully, five new panels featuring Brown faculty continued to generate critical engagements with society’s most fundamental and urgent questions. The informed and illuminating discussions deepened knowledge and awareness in the service of promoting a more just and inclusive community and world. The Race & … in America digital publication series, now complete with 13 volumes, amplifies the impact and extends the reach of this important and timely panel series.

Developed by Brown University Digital Publications in close coordination with Tricia Rose, Chancellor’s Professor of Africana Studies, Associate Dean of the Faculty for Special Initiatives, and Director of the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America, the Race & … in America digital publication series re-presents the compelling original panel discussions with expanded content and resources in an innovative, interactive format, designed to heighten understanding and broaden critical conversations.

“As the Brown community continues to tackle the contentious and important subject of anti-Black racism, the Race & in America series allows us to increase awareness of the factors fueling racial injustice through the expertise of Brown’s faculty,” said Provost Richard M. Locke. “We recognize that all members of our community need the courage, dedication and willingness to work on transformational change. We fully support the digital delivery of this critical content for greater access and broader community reach.”

As an open access publication, the digital series provides enduring, barrier-free access to knowledge, and has been developed with universal design principles for equitable use by all persons, including those with disabilities. In addition, the series features responsive design — readable on all digital devices, from smartphones to desktops — and robust highlighting, annotation, and sharing tools that encourage deep reader engagement and allow users to interact with one another.

“Brown’s long-standing leadership in the study of race in American society is matched by its pathbreaking history in the use of technology to convey innovative scholarship in new and newly powerful ways,” said University Librarian Joseph Meisel. “Like the initial volumes in the digital series, this new set of topics adds more penetrating insights by leading scholars that can continue to be studied and discussed, shaping how we think about some of the most challenging questions in our society and culture.”

The digital series consists of 13 volumes:

Each of the thirteen volumes in the series includes:

  • A recording of one of the 90-minute panel discussions that took place throughout the 2021-2022 academic year
  • Student Voices podcast episodes in which Brown University students engage the panelists in follow-up discussion 
  • Recommendations for entry-point materials on the subject
  • Multimedia resource collections of readings, online exhibitions, podcasts, and other materials referenced during the panel discussions
  • Suggestions for further exploration

Brown University Digital Publications — a collaboration between the University Library and the Dean of the Faculty, generously launched with support from the Mellon Foundation with additional support from the National Endowment for the Humanities — creates exciting new conditions for the production and sharing of knowledge. Widely recognized as accessible, intentional, and inclusive, Brown’s novel, university-based approach to digital content development is helping to set the standards for the future of scholarship in the digital age. 

Questions about the Race & … in America digital publication series can be addressed to Allison Levy, Director of Brown University Digital Publications ([email protected]). 

Exhibit / Akan Gold Weights: Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology Collection

On View: John Hay Library, Willis Reading Room (May 26 – December 16, 2022)

Mrammuo depicting a sawfish (HMA 98-38-50)  Gift of Mr. Peter Klaus and Dr. Anita Klaus.

For centuries the Akan people of West Africa used gold dust as a primary form of currency in everyday transactions and as part of an extensive trade with the North African Muslim states. To measure precise amounts of gold dust, an elaborate system of weights was devised. Akan Gold weights called abrammuo (singular, mrammuo) are closely linked with the Akan verbal arts of proverbs and are visual expressions of Akan culture and values. For the Akan, gold (sika) symbolizes the embodiment of life force (kra) and is considered the partner of the sun on earth.

Dates: May 26 – December 16, 2022
Time: John Hay Library Hours
Location: Willis Reading Room, John Hay Library, 20 Prospect Street, Providence

Exhibit l Artistic Impressions of Brown University

The John Hay Library by Jill Armstrong, n.d.

“Artistic Impressions of Brown University,” features a collection of over 30 drawings, watercolors, etchings, and architectural plans depicting the Brown campus and East Side of Providence created by local architects, students, and international artists. 

Curated by Ray Butti, Senior Library Expert

Dates: May 26 – August 15, 2022
Time: John Hay Library Hours
Location: Exhibition Gallery, John Hay Library, 20 Prospect Street, Providence

Brown University Library Celebrates National Public Health Week 2022

In keeping with the theme of National Public Health Week 2022, Public Health is Where You Are, below are some relevant projects, initiatives, and resources from the Brown University Library.

Subscription resources available via the Library

A search for “public health” as subject retrieves these results in BruKnow, the Library catalog. You may use the filters on the left side to refine results by format, library, language, and more. Sign in with your Brown credentials to access or request any of the results.

Key academic research databases, books, journals, and other resources for Public Health can be found here: libguides.brown.edu/PublicHealth.

Freely-available online resources for reliable health information

KFF (Kaiser Family Foundation)

Nonprofit organization focusing on national health issues, as well as the U.S. role in global health policy. KFF develops and runs its own policy analysis, journalism and communications programs, sometimes in partnership with major news organizations. KFF serves as a nonpartisan source of facts, analysis and journalism for policymakers, the media, the health policy community and the public.

MedlinePlus.gov

Offers high-quality, relevant health and wellness information that is trusted, easy to understand, and free of advertising, in both English and Spanish. It is a service of the National Library of Medicine (NLM), which is the world’s largest medical library and a part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Global Index Medicus

Provides worldwide access to biomedical and public health literature produced by and within low-middle income countries. The material is collated and aggregated by the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office Libraries.

More freely-available online resources can be found here: libguides.brown.edu/ConsumerHealth

Center for Digital Scholarship projects

Learn more about the Twitter projects on Black Maternal Health and My Body My Choice that the Library’s Center for Digital Scholarship (CDS) staff have collaborated on with faculty. Information about other CDS projects can be viewed on the CDS website.

Special Collections

Request access to special collections materials at the John Hay Library on Alcohol and Addiction Studies, ACT UP Rhode Island, and more! Find information about many special collections holdings and researching and accessing to special collections.

Brown Signs Read and Publish Agreement with Cambridge University Press

No Article Processing Charges for Brown authors who wish to publish articles via gold open access with Cambridge University Press

Many authors would like to publish their scholarly articles gold open access (OA) but are deterred by the article processing charge (APC) assessed by the publisher — sometimes as high as thousands of dollars. With Brown’s recent Read & Publish agreement with Cambridge University Press, corresponding authors at Brown who have manuscripts accepted for publication from the 1st of January 2022 and publish in Cambridge’s journals will no longer have to pay the APC for gold OA, augmenting OA publishing options at Brown, providing Brown community members with free access to Cambridge titles, and enhancing global access to scholarly work by Brown researchers.

With gold OA, the final published version of the article — the “Version of Record” — is permanently and freely available online for anyone, anywhere to read. 

Read more about the Read & Publish agreement here and the process here. This agreement strengthens Brown’s commitment to OA and facilitates compliance with the Brown University Open Access Policy, adopted by the faculty in 2021.

Questions about Brown’s Read & Publish agreement with Cambridge University Press? Visit [email protected] or contact [email protected]

Announcement | BruKnow: Library’s Updated Search and Catalog System

Rockefeller Library Circulation Manager Kimberly Silva

BruKnow — the Library’s updated search and catalog system named by Brown students — went live on August 18, 2021, delivering enhanced searching capabilities.

Learn more about using BruKnow!

We Welcome Your Questions and Feedback

Have questions or comments about BruKnow? Email us at [email protected] or submit anonymous feedback.

Sign Up for User Testing

Interested in helping the Library refine BruKnow? Sign up for user testing! All Library patrons with current access to the catalog are invited to participate.

Why a New System

The software company ExLibris acquired the company that provides the Library’s current system (including Josiah), which dates back to the 1990s. The Library decided to proactively migrate to the integrated library system offered by ExLibris, known as “Alma,” and its search counterpart, “Primo.” BruKnow is the Library’s Primo. ExLibris has been working with Library staff to customize the system for our unique catalog and users.

Enhanced Searching

The updated system will yield more extensive catalog resource results, offer more refined search tools, and provide many user-friendly features like saved searches, notifications for new items relevant to saved searches, smart spelling correction, virtual browsing of physical items, and “best bets.”

BruKnow the Name

Undergraduate students Isabel Kim ’22 and Michal Loren ’23 each individually submitted “BruKnow” as a name suggestion during the students-only naming contest hosted by the Library during Spring and Summer 2021. 93 students submitted 125 name suggestions. A group of ten students composed of members of the Library Advisory Board, the Graduate Library Advisory Council, and identified through the Undergraduate Council of Students narrowed the submissions down to five finalists. 223 students voted for their favorite name among the finalists, and BruKnow was the most popular choice.

The students who suggested the names that made the short list in addition to BruKnow:

  • Amita Sastry ’20, MD’24
  • Harshini Venkatachalam ’23
  • Daniel Wexler ’22