Guest Blog: Librarians (Still) Want Your Books

A row of books sit on a shelf, the lettering is faded and reads "Popular Science Monthly".
A row of books sit on a shelf, the lettering is faded and reads "Popular Science Monthly".
The Opie and Van Pelt Library's archive contains many bound treasures. Preserving today's publications has digital assistance. Credit: Nick Adrian

In her guest blog, repositories librarian Annelise Doll explains why we need digital documentation and how to best share your work.

Global in scale, academic publishing is no stranger to the digital environment. From major publishing houses to small society presses, all have an online presence for their books, journals and proceedings. Almost since their online creation, the debate surrounding academic publications has been the question of access. Who gets access, at what cost and who pays? Decisions abound for the research author, who too often faces a series of hurdles in their mission to have their work made discoverable, accessible and valuable to their research community.

 About the Author


We librarians know the issues of copyright, open access, subscription models and metrics are a lot to take in when an author ultimately just wants to make their work available. We’re here to help! We can advise you on any of your publication concerns and we also offer a publishing option. Specifically, meet our friend Digital Commons @ Michigan Tech, the University’s digital repository.

Digital Commons: A Tool

Digital Commons is a web-based repository platform offering worldwide access to research, scholarship, campus publications and other creative works by members of the Michigan Tech community.

By publishing books with open access on Digital Commons @ Michigan Tech, authors retain their copyright and control the subsequent use of the work through a Creative Commons license. Under the license, readers may copy and share the work without changes in a noncommercial context as long as proper attribution is included.

Digital Commons @ Michigan Tech

Digital Commons @ Michigan Tech, the University's digital repository, offers worldwide access to Michigan Tech's scholarly works. The repository hosts a wide variety of content, including books, journal articles, research data, campus publications and more.

Works like The Encyclopedia of North American Drosophilids and “Printing 3D Models for Chemistry” that are published open-access (OA) are often considered open educational resources (OERs). These openly available, online instructional or reference materials can be used as alternatives to expensive course materials or as supplemental content. As the home of Michigan Tech’s digital repository, the Van Pelt and Opie Library promotes and assists with OA and OER projects.

Fruit Flies: A Case Study

When a couple biologists began their journey to share everything they knew about fruit flies, they didn’t plan on publishing a multivolume encyclopedia. But with the help of co-author Tessa Steenwinkel, an undergraduate studying biological sciences, and the library staff, that’s exactly what happened. Last November, The Encyclopedia of North American Drosophilids: Volume 1: Drosophilids of the Midwest and Northeast and Volume 2: Drosophilids of the Southeast were published with open access on Digital Commons @ Michigan Tech.

The idea for the work was born eight years ago, when John Jaenike, professor of biology at the University of Rochester, visited Thomas Werner, associate professor in biological sciences, as part of a Michigan Tech-funded faculty mentoring grant. Per John’s request, Thomas set up baits to attract local drosophilids prior to John’s arrival. When the two went out to inspect the baits, Thomas was amazed by John’s ability to identify the fruit fly species without any guide or visual aid. The next morning, Thomas asked John to teach him everything he knew about fruit flies, even offering to take on the painstaking process of producing images of each species. 

National Open Education Week

 Join the Van Pelt and Opie Library staff for events March 1-5, 2021, to learn about and celebrate open educational resources. There will be a discussion on Digital Commons and OERs via Zoom on Thursday, March 4th, at 4pm: 

Thomas was determined to ensure John’s extensive knowledge was preserved for future generations, and together in 2017, they published “Drosophilids of the Midwest and Northeast,” the first iteration of their work, through the University of Rochester. As the two began plans for updating and expanding the book, they looked toward Michigan Tech for a long-term online host. Enter Janice Glime, professor emerita in biological sciences. She’d recently found herself in a similar situation with “Bryophyte Ecology,” her own evolving, open-access book. Having successfully transitioned the work to Digital Commons @ Michigan Tech, she recommended Thomas contact the library to see if the digital repository would be a good fit for “Drosophilids of the Midwest and Northeast.”

We were delighted to hear from Thomas and John. In my role as the scholarly communications and repositories librarian, I added the work and a description, called metadata, to Digital Commons @ Michigan Tech. By including metadata, an International Standard Book Number (ISBN) and a stable URL, I ensured the work is fully described and therefore highly discoverable.

The Encyclopedia of North American Drosophilids volumes are a welcomed and popular contribution to Digital Commons @ Michigan Tech. Within the first week after publication, the two works boasted a combined 275 downloads from countries across the globe. The library congratulates the authors and is proud to partner with them in making their work available.

Michigan Technological University is a public research university founded in 1885 in Houghton, Michigan, and is home to more than 7,000 students from 55 countries around the world. Consistently ranked among the best universities in the country for return on investment, Michigan’s flagship technological university offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, computing, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, social sciences, and the arts. The rural campus is situated just miles from Lake Superior in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, offering year-round opportunities for outdoor adventure.