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PSU Librarians Attends Summit to Improve Student Success with Open Textbooks

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Using open textbooks can save students hundreds of dollars per year. Creating awareness of open textbooks as an option remains a challenge, which is why PSU librarians Karen Bjork and Sarah Beasley attended the Open Textbook Network (OTN) Summer Institute Aug. 9-12, 2016 at the University of Minnesota.

The OTN, an alliance of nearly 250 colleges and universities across the country, supports developing strategies for advancing open textbook programs on their campuses. PSU joined the OTN in 2015. Over the last year, the OTN has grown by nearly 175 members. The institute focused on strategies to increase campus awareness of the negative impact high textbook costs can have on students’ academic performance.

Published under a Creative Commons license, open textbooks are available to students for free. Faculty can custom edit the textbooks to meet their needs. By using open textbooks, students can save thousands of dollars over a college career. The OTN has already saved students an estimated total of $3.1 million in textbook costs. PDXOpen, PSU Library’s open textbook project, has saved PSU students $61,000 since its first textbooks went online in 2015.

“Open textbooks eliminate the cost barrier between students and their learning,” said David Ernst, director of the Center for Open Education and executive director of the OTN. “The institutions in the Open Textbook Network are all committed to improving student success through the use of these textbooks.”

“Textbook affordability is a huge issue for our PSU students. Working with the Open Textbook Network helps us find solutions to decrease the cost of textbooks and course materials,’’ said Marilyn Moody, Dean of the PSU Library.

The Open Textbook Network also hosts the Open Textbook Library, the first searchable online catalog of open textbooks, many of which are reviewed by faculty at OTN institutions. Currently, more than 260 textbook titles (including PDXOpen books) are available for use.

More Information:

You may also contact Karen Bjork, Head of Digital Initiatives  or Sarah Beasley, Research and Instruction Services Manager.

Branford’s Bean Closes Aug 12

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getting coffee from a vending machine, 1969
Vending machine coffee at Portland State, 1969, from the University Archives Digital Gallery

The coffee and snack bar in the Library, Branford’s Bean, will close on Friday, August 12 and remained closed for the rest of the summer.

Branford’s Bean will re-open the week before fall term.

Apply to Attend OpenCon

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Portland State University Library and Research and Strategic Partnerships are pleased to sponsor a scholarship for one early career researcher to attend OpenCon 2016.

“OpenCon is more than a conference. It’s a platform for the next generation to learn about Open Access, Open Education, and Open Data, develop critical skills, and catalyze action toward a more open system for sharing the world’s information—from scholarly and scientific research, to educational materials, to digital research data. OpenCon 2016 will be held in Washington, DC on November 12–14.”

Eligible applicants must be early career professionals, with 10 years or less experience post-terminal degree in their field.

The scholarship recipient will agree to serve as an “open” ambassador at Portland State. This entails writing a short (no more than 750 words) blog post that will be used for the Library’s news, Research and Strategic Partnerships Quarterly Report, and other PSU communication channels to highlight your experience at OpenCon, and to further conversations in the PSU community about all forms of open.

To apply, please fill out the application form.

Application deadline: August 15

Notification: by September 30th

For questions please contact Emily Ford, Urban & Public Affairs Librarian and Scholarly Communication Co-Coordinator, forder@pdx.edu

Dark Horse Collection Reaches 10,000

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darkhorselogo_optimizedAs of Friday, July 15, 2016, Portland State University Library has cataloged more than 10,000 titles from Dark Horse Comics.

As the official archive of Dark Horse publications, Portland State University Library began cataloging Dark Horse books, comics, graphic novels, and more in 2007, and the work continues to this day.

Dark Horse gives copies of all materials produced by Dark Horse to PSU Library, resulting in a complete and preserved collection of the Dark Horse corpus. It is a unique browsing and research collection of comic books, graphic novels, collected editions, related books, statues, figures, and other materials.

Cover image from Call of Duty Black OpsCataloging Technician Teresa Stapelberg cataloged the 10,000th item, one of the variant covers for Call of Duty: Black Ops III, #1.

The browsing collection is available on the third, fourth, and fifth floors of the Library, along the curved windows. There is one copy of every Dark Horse comic book, graphic novel, collected edition, and book. The collection is available for reading in the Library or for checkout.

The research collection contains one copy of every Dark Horse comic book, graphic novel, collected edition, book, print, poster, statue, figure, and all other products. The research collection is available by appointment in Special Collections on the Library’s first floor.

The Dark Horse Comic Collection at Portland State University Library provides a unique legacy for Oregon’s premier comics company.

Learn more about the Dark Horse Comic Collection at Portland State University Library. 

Karen Bjork Named 2016 IR All-Star

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Congratulations to Karen Bjork, named a 2016 IR All-Star! This recognition comes from Digital Commons and bepress, the company that provides the platform for PDXScholar, the institutional repository (IR) of Portland State University.

Karen BjorkKaren is the Head of Digital Initiatives in PSU Library and manages PDXScholar and the Digital Initiatives Unit.

The announcement from Digital Commons says it best:

“We are very pleased to announce the first of our 2016 IR All-Stars: Karen Bjork, Head of Digital Initiatives at Portland State University. Over the past several years Karen has been a vocal and enthusiastic member of the Digital Commons community, most especially with her tireless advocacy for cost-saving Open Educational Resources.

PDXScholar’s core mission is to provide a publishing outlet for scholarly work that does not fit other publication models. Since 2013 this has included PSU-authored open textbooks, created in response to the campus-wide ReTHINK PSU Provost’s Challenge and subsequent funding. Karen, with the help of her team, developed and managed the entire process, including vetting submissions, working with authors to complete and edit their manuscripts, and ensuring the addition of final touches like cover art. There are currently eleven books in the repository’s PDXOpen collection and more on the way in the coming months.  This initiative has already saved students $59,000. This collection is a clear way for the library to align with key campus missions.

“Textbooks are just one of PDXScholar’s strengths. According to Marilyn Moody, Dean of the Library,

‘Karen… has a proven track record of inspiration efforts to make our collections vibrant. Karen also has an innovative and ongoing approach to engaging stakeholders in order to support their scholarly communications needs. She works with faculty, students, and staff with tact, humor and patience.’

Under Karen’s direction, PDXScholar has become an extensive and diverse repository with over 12,000 papers and nearly 725,000 downloads in the past year.

Indeed, Karen has worked hard to develop a wide range of collections, including partnerships with Special Collections and University Archives as well as with a number of research centers and institutes on campus. PDXScholar also boasts a wide range of traditional faculty papers, campus conferences and symposia, and journals and newsletters. At a school that prides itself on high-quality student work, Karen has recognized and highlighted the value of undergraduate research and projects, making sure to prominently feature a variety of undergraduate work in PDXScholar as well.

One of the things we most appreciate about Karen is her willingness and eagerness to share her strategies and her passion for repository management. Last fall, she presented an informative bepress webinar about her work with Open Educational Resources at Portland State, and she has presented on related topics at a variety of conferences. Most recently she helped coordinate the first Northwest Institutional Repository User Group, held at her home institution. We look forward to continuing to work closely with Karen in the future as she continues to push PDXScholar to the forefront of university repository standards.

Please join us in congratulating Karen on all her hard work!”

We are delighted to see this recognition of Karen’s work and her many contributions to Portland State University. Congratulations, Karen!

New Issue of McNair Online Scholars Journal

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The latest issue of the McNair Scholars Online Journal is now available. The theme for the 2016 issue is “Wings Outstretched: New Contributions in Undergraduate Research.”

Articles in the issue cover a range of topics: support for democracy among Russian youth, development of the annual killifish, faculty-student relationships, intimate partner violence, black carbon in the Arctic, impacts of microaggressions, and ribosomal proteins.

The Portland State University Ronald E. McNair Scholars Program works with motivated and talented undergraduates who want to pursue PhDs. McNair Scholars are juniors and seniors who are first-generation and low income, and/or members of under-represented groups. The program introduces the Scholars to academic research as well as strategies for getting into and graduating from doctoral programs.

The McNair Scholars Online Journal is published in PDXScholar and is freely available online.

Read Volume 10, Issue 1 of the McNair Scholars Online Journal.

2016 Master of Urban and Regional Planning Workshop Projects Available

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Each year, graduating students in Portland State’s Master of Urban and Regional Planning program produce community-based applied planning projects for Portland and other local communities. This year’s projects are now available online in PDXScholar.

Cover from Lents project
A new MURP project focuses on Portland’s Lents neighborhood.

Planning projects require the development and evaluation of alternatives and include recommendations for courses of action. They are problem-centered and geographically-focused, and incorporate innovative public involvement efforts.

The six new projects, created by teams of four to six students, cover a range of topics:

Workshop projects have won an impressive fifteen state and six national awards in the past twenty years for the creative problem-solving evident in the products.

Learn more about MURP projects. 

View and read MURP projects through PDXScholar.

Updated: Find It @ PSU Links Missing from Google Scholar

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July 19, 2016 Update
This has been fixed! Links to PSU Library resources are now showing in Google Scholar.


Because of an update to the Library’s catalog software over the weekend, the Find It @ PSU links in Google Scholar are not showing.

This seems to be a problem with the catalog software and not something we can fix here at Portland State. Other libraries, including Summit libraries, who use the same catalog software are experiencing the same problem.

The software vendor, Ex Libris, is working with Google to get this fixed as soon as possible. We’re hearing now that the solution, in process, might take up to a week.

This means that, if you use Google Scholar, you might not be able to click directly to articles that the Library owns and you can access.

In the meantime, if you are looking for an article, please search the PSU Library catalog or ask a librarian for help.

We will update this post as we have additional information.

PSU Library Catalog

Ask a Librarian