University Libraries, ITS collaborating to create storage via Huskie Commons Digital Repository

Photo of laptop computerA new online library for NIU’s scholarly materials and products, the Huskie Commons Digital Repository, is being developed by the University Libraries and Information Technology Services (ITS).

Once completed, this repository will “provide a long-term secure digital space where faculty and staff can place their publications, data sets and other research materials,” said Patrick Dawson, dean of libraries.

Dawson said believes this approach to data management will open new avenues for faculty to present their work and help current and future researchers outside of the university access and learn from NIU scholars.

Huskie Commons also will benefit faculty and staff applying for grants that require data management plans.

Drew Vandecreek, Digital Initiatives director, said that the repository “will allow the university to meet standards recently introduced by major granting agencies like the National Science Foundation, mandating that all funded projects provide for the secure storage and free dissemination of their research materials and findings in digital formats.”

To support those applying for such grants, the Huskie Commons staff will work with the Office of Sponsored Projects to create appropriate data management plans.

Because of their many benefits, institutional repositories are becoming more commonplace on university campuses as a way to secure and preserve the intellectual output of the faculty and staff. NIU did not embrace the idea, however, until partners from the Libraries’ Huskie Commons staff and ITS’s broadband network came together.

“The time is right for ITS and the libraries to launch this service,” said Wally Czerniak, associate vice president for Outreach, Engagement, and Information Technologies.

ITS has been building a broadband network for more than five years and recently, in partnership with NIU’s Broadband Development Group, brought in the largest grant in NIU history ($68 million) to further expand the network.

As ITS directs the construction of this high-speed network expansion to over 1000 miles of fiber optic cabling throughout the northern Illinois region during 2011 and 2012, the Huskie Commons Digital Repository will serve to highlight the types of information-sharing that are possible with NIU’s enhanced fiber optic network.

And, because this network will connect the region’s schools, hospitals, municipalities, businesses, public libraries and other community agencies – 644 “anchor institutions” at last count – scholarly works will have a much wider distribution throughout the web-using public in the region as well as around the globe.

To develop activities like the Huskie Commons Digital Repository, which utilize the broadband network, the Division of Outreach, Engagement, and Information Technologies and the Division of Research and Graduate Studies are organizing work groups around topics such as arts and culture, business, education, energy and environment, government, health care and public safety. These groups will work with community partners to create broadband network activities that benefit the university and meet vital regional needs.

For more information on the Huskie Commons Digital Repository, contact Vandecreek at drew@niu.edu or (815) 753-7179 or Lynne Thomas at lmthomas@niu.edu or (815) 753-0255.

For more information on NIU’s strategies for developing use of the broadband network, contact Marilyn Bellert at mbellert@niu.edu or (815) 753-8051 or David Stone at dstone@niu.edu or (815) 753-9282.

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