Senior Vice President, Open Collections & Infrastructure
Associate University Librarian for Research and Digital Strategy
In early 2020, ITHAKA launched a new initiative, JSTOR Open Community Collections, to understand better if/how the JSTOR platform might be used by institutions to make their primary source/special/distinctive collections more discoverable and accessible to researchers (who are looking for primary sources in their research) and faculty (who are increasingly looking to teach with primary source materials). ITHAKA invited institutions to publish their open collections on the JSTOR platform, for a pilot period that would end in December 2022, to test two primary hypotheses: (1) that making this content available in the JSTOR channel will increase its usage footprint and make those collections more discoverable to researchers globally; and (2) that co-locating these primary source collections alongside the important secondary literature (journal articles, book chapters, research reports) already on the JSTOR platform will allow researchers to find this content in context and make the research process more seamless. In the subsequent 24 months, 200+ institutions have published 800+ collections on JSTOR, including Vanderbilt, who published their first open collection to JSTOR in June 2020.
Vanderbilt was hoping to broaden its audience, to reduce the cost of digitization and description, and to expand access to digital infrastructure among staff in special collections and other areas of the library. The pilot period took place during the pandemic when many staff were working remotely, so Vanderbilt also needed a system that would be easy to set up and use. In these respects, the pilot proved successful. Beyond making digital collections more accessible, the integration of JSTOR Open Community Collections with Portico also promises to facilitate Vanderbilt’s digital preservation program. This session will discuss what Vanderbilt has learned during the pilot period; how their participation in the initiative has helped them think about their repository and preservation strategies; current limitations of JSTOR Open Community Collections; and how their collaboration with JSTOR has been received by library staff and the constituencies they serve.