Category Archives: Open Access

Humans (not robots) digitize newspapers

Here at the library’s Digital Commons team, we are building a digital version of The Gatepost student newspaper collection. (The print version lives in our Archives and Special Collections, as always.)

Doesn’t Google do that?

No. Actually, humans put newspapers on the internet. Sure, we use computers and cameras, and lots of software tools. But overall, the process of digitization is more manual than automatic. It involves a lot of planning and prioritizing as a team.

Human eyeballs, hands, and good judgement are required every step of the way.

Essentially, we are stitching together searchable PDF documents of each issue from hundreds of scanned images, organizing them, adding background information, and finally serving documents up on the internet, such that Google can crawl and index them, and users can find what they want.

We will publish the finished product on our repository website, DigitalCommons@Framingham, so that anyone can search the FSU student newspaper back issues for names and events of the past. We plan to roll out a decade or two of the paper at a time: the Thirties, the Forties, etc. For each volume, we will highlight some notable campus events, personalities, or artwork on the website so that the high points don’t get lost among the dozens of issues.


What’s the benefit of digitizing newspapers?

We can never quite anticipate who might find our treasures useful, but we believe that open access to our collections will enrich intellectual and artistic work of the future. It’s vital for us to share the collection to anyone with an internet connection and an interest in the content.  I hope that the digital newspaper archives will be valuable to all sorts of users.

Possible users of the collection:

  • Explorers of the history of journalism, teacher education, and 20th century collegiate life
  • Nostalgia-seekers
  • Current campus group officers who want to read up on the group’s past adventures, successes, and follies
  • Genealogists and descendants of Framingham community members


We look forward to sharing our history with you! We will keep you updated with more Gatepost digitization news as it happens.



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Filed under Archives/Special Collections, guest blogger, Open Access, Resources, Technology

Open Access II: Consider a Move to Open Course Content

By Justin Daras

As a faculty member, it is likely that the cost of textbooks is on your mind when planning your next class. However, the prices students are paying may be higher than you think—leading to academic disengagement and potentially poor learning outcomes.

Inside Higher Ed reported on a 2014 poll that found that 65% of students have forgone purchasing a textbook due to price, and 94% of them “were concerned that their grade would suffer because of it.”[1]

Another 48 percent of students said the cost of textbooks affected how many and which classes they took each semester. At the same time, 82 percent of students said free online access to a textbook (with the option of buying a hard copy) would help them do “significantly better” in a course.[2]

One estimate puts the increase in textbook prices between the years 1978–2014 at 945%, outpacing both the Consumer Price Index (262%), and the cost of medical care (604%) during the same period.[3] In 2014, the Wall Street Journal published an estimate that students “typically [spend] between $600 to $1,200 a year” on textbooks.[4]  The College Board’s Average Estimated Undergraduate Budgets for 2015-2016 puts the total cost of books and supplies for students in public colleges at $1,298 for the entire academic year,[5] suggesting that textbook prices are not going down any time soon.

At this point, you might be asking yourself “What can I do?” At the individual level, faculty have few levers to pull with publishers. You cannot prevent them from revising even the most basic texts every year or two; from including single-use electronic content that hinders the reusability of texts; or from simply raising prices yearly at a rate that students are forced to fold into their student loans, and end up paying off over 10 years. The best signal faculty can send to textbook publishers is to stop expecting students to buy textbooks in the first place.

Two major efforts are working to bypass the financial barriers posed by the reliance on commercial textbooks for course content. First, there is the open textbook movement, now sometimes referred to as Open Textbooks 2.0. Open textbooks once had a reputation of being the projects of individual authors, tailored to specific institutions, and even classes—making appropriation time-consuming for faculty hoping for an overlap between the books and their own syllabi.

The contemporary model of open textbooks is collaborative, peer reviewed, and designed to directly substitute for the commercial textbooks traditionally assigned by instructors. Both OpenStax College and The Open Textbook Library are sources of the open textbooks many faculty are using in their classes today. There is significant academic leadership and funding behind these efforts. For example, OpenStax is a product of Rice University, and is funded in part by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The Open Textbook library is a network of universities and libraries that includes the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Temple University.

Second, faculty should be aware of Open Educational Resources (OER), which are freely available digital course content. Open educational resources include OpenStax CNX (Rice University), OER Commons, and Merlot (peer-reviewed). These OER collections include individual webpages, learning exercises, interactive mini-sessions and simulations, and even full university courses from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. All are free to use for students and teachers.

As the curator of the university’s physical and digital collections, the Henry Whittemore Library is uniquely suited to helping faculty and departments:

  • Search for and evaluate open textbooks and OER
  • Examine the library’s digital and print collections and integrate them into Blackboard and reserves/e-reserves collections
  • Work with faculty who want to develop their own open textbooks

Commercial textbooks will likely always exist, and publishers can bring to bear a lot of resources to develop content suitable for the university classroom. But, at what price? Open educational content, written by faculty, and peer-reviewed by faculty, puts subject material into your hands to use as you see fit—and into students’ hands without regard to their ability to pay. Open educational content may not be a fit for the course you are designing today, but it can be next semester.


[2] Ibid.

[3] Cited in:



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Open Access

By Justin Daras, Reference Librarian

Imagine if every student could write a paper on the topic of their choice, and every faculty member could develop new courses and conduct research, never having to worry if the library had full-text access to articles on any topic? What if traditionally marginalized fields like LGBTQ, Women’s, and Latino & Latina Studies—to name a few examples—could expand the scope of their scholarship by reaching broader audiences, increasing their citation impacts, and eliminating the costs of providing access to their subject-specific journals?

This is not a far-fetched fantasy about making the cost of scholarly journals affordable. It is about engaging with a movement called Open Access (OA) that could make these scenarios real by making journal articles free to access. Walt Crawford, in his report “Open Access: What You Need to Know” (2011), defines OA as literature that is “available online to be read for free by anyone, anytime, anywhere—as long as they have Internet access.” This does not mean authors are not compensated for their work or copyrights are violated. Open Access means that scholars remove financial barriers for readers by publishing in journals that make articles free for anyone to access. Open Access allows the same peer-reviewed process employed by many pay-to-access journals—so the academic record can continue, as rigorous as it is now, but for everyone to read.

Traditionally, authors, such as Framingham State’s professors, conduct research that they may or may not be paid to do (funded vs. unfunded research). Authors then write scholarly articles examining their work, and submit them to journals that conduct peer-review. The peer-review is also typically done by other scholars for free. The journals then process, promote, and publish the articles, and then libraries pay to access the journals. The cost of subscribing to these journals is the reason why when you search our library’s databases, you cannot get full-text access to every article. We simply cannot afford to pay for everything. No one does, not even Harvard or MIT. And this is why OA is such an important idea.

There are barriers to transitioning to OA that students should know about. First, academic inertia puts pressure on scholars to publish in certain high impact non-OA journals in order to qualify for tenure—publish or perish. Second, there is sometimes a perception that because OA journals are free, they may be less desirable than pay-to-access journals—a paradox of value. Third, as OA is a relatively new movement, there may not be a journal specific enough for a given subject area—a catch-22.

We encourage students to educate themselves on OA, and how it affects their ability to study and make the university a diverse and academically challenging place to be. The library publishes a research guide on Open Access that covers many resources. The Right to Research Coalition website also includes information for students, student government, and professors. We urge Framingham State students, faculty, and administration to make Open Access a priority on campus.

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Filed under Copyright, guest blogger, Open Access, Uncategorized

Edit-a-thon on History of Normal School Movement

Edit-a-thon on History of Normal School Movement

Librarians and lovers of history met to edit and create entries on Wikipedia in honor of Open Access Week 2013

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by | October 29, 2013 · 2:22 am

Come Celebrate Open Access Week at Framingham State

Come Celebrate Open Access Week at Framingham State

By: Shelby Wood

Ever have trouble finding secondary articles for a research paper? Personally, I have been up for hours in the library trying to find an article for a paper that was due the next day. Well, Framingham State University is offering Open Access Week a celebration of research now offered free on the Internet.

Secondary sources are a hard thing to find. Many times, you find one, get half way through the paper and find that to read the rest of it you need to pay money, or agree to an account somewhere. That’s not what students want when they are panicking about a research paper; these sites that people go to end up scamming them and then they are out of luck for a secondary source.

The purpose of Open Access Week is to support open access research. Open Access means free availability to full text article for anyone. The articles are scholarly and peer reviewed for any student or faculty.

The Whittemore Library has given students the option to use secondary sources of their choosing from the schools website. Often times the articles that are chosen are not sources that students wish to use with information that would help them.

The goal of the week is to just do public good. To help students find information that will help them with projects and papers.  The week seeks to provide exposure for a wider audience to resources that they will be able to access now, and long after they leave Framingham State.

By celebrating Open Access week we also increasing the public’s visibility of the work done by authors who might have otherwise remain unknown. The more students learn about Open Access Week and how it affects everyone the more they will gain using Open Access resources. Faster learning and a more adaptable pace for research are two possible benefits.

Also offered with Open Access week is the Wikipedia Edit-a-thon on Thursday from 9am-2pm. Topic discussed will be the history of education in Massachusetts and more!

Open Access not only affects students here at Framingham State but also the public. All over the world Open Access week should be celebrated, making it known that research and articles can be read and written about no charge. Free education is something to be highly celebrated.

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Open Access Overview

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First-Year Seminar. First Class.

In the spirit of open access, I am posting my First Year Seminar syllabus, powerpoint and the agenda for today’s class.

Today I will cover:

First-Year Foundations: Seminar 9/11/09 Agenda

I.                    Introductions; Mackenzie passes out index cards

II.                  Explanation of syllabus and campus passport; introduction to Tumblr

III.                Brief tour of campus resources: The Real Deal

IV.                Create a class name

Introductions: Pair up, and introduce yourselves to each other (name, where your are from). Share why you chose Biology as a major. After a brief discussion, you will introduce each other to the class.

Every seminar class will begin with The Real Deal. Share something that made your life here at FSC better or give us the Real Deal – something you’ve experienced that could be better. Share ideas on how to improve. I can post your ideas on Tumblr.

IMPORTANT – Reflection assignment Due Oct.6: Describe a day in your life at FSC. Watch this video: Can you relate with the students in this video? How is your experience different or the same? What would you change to make learning a better experience?


The syllabus for the class is here:


Today’s presentation is to highlight some of our resources on campus. Here is the presentation:


I will also go over the blogging platform Tumblr. Here is a guide:

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Filed under Open Access, Training