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KU Scholar Works takes research to world

Program's publishing power lands deal

Using the publishing power of KU ScholarWorks, Susan Craig, art and architecture librarian, helped land a partnership with AskArt.com, an online art database.

Her 2006 work, "Biographical Dictionary of Kansas Artists," is a rich collection of more than 1,700 artists who called Kansas home before 1945.

Right at home in database format, the searchable archive – or eBook – makes it possible for researchers to locate an artist by name, town or subject. KU ScholarWorks creates a living dictionary, and a stable URL allows libraries across the country to catalog the award- nominated work.

Given the depth and breadth of her project, Craig's efforts attracted the attention of AskArt.com, an online resource that features more than 52,000 American artists. The site is used primarily for collectors and art galleries, and offers a tremendous amount of information crucial to the art world.

When the president of AskArt.com contacted Craig with an offer to exchange a personal lifetime membership to their site for permission to upload "Biographical Dictionary of Kansas Artists," Craig countered with a proposal for campus-wide access. The current agreement provides six months of access campuswide, and AskArt.com has agreed to seek private support to underwrite the cost of long-term use.

"This partnership highlights the importance of KU ScholarWorks as a powerful resource in many fields," said Craig. "I'm pleased to be part of this program, and I look forward to seeing it grow in the coming years."

Research conducted by KU faculty members is regularly cited in publications around the world, but a new online repository is helping push it even further.

KU ScholarWorks, a digital collection of peer-reviewed research, conference papers, supplements to published items and books produced by KU faculty, has recently been made available to the public. The program stores the work and makes it easily accessible to information seekers.

Holly Mercer, coordinator of digital content development for the KU Libraries, said there are nearly 1,000 research articles and journal publications archived in the program. So far, the items have been downloaded more than 210,000 times and viewed more than 370,000 times.

Making the program available to the public has significantly increased the traffic within the program.

"People are finding the items in KU ScholarWorks," Mercer said. "It's indexed in Google and other major search engines. People are finding their way there."

The program is effective at helping people find the research for several reasons. Often people don't have access to an academic journal that publishes research useful to an individual's academic purpose. Every item in KU ScholarWorks has a permanent, citable URL that will not change. Faculty can give the URL to colleagues who request copies of publications. Plus, with the ever-increasing dependence on Internet search engines for information gathering, it makes sense to harness it as a resource to proliferate KU research, Mercer said. A digital repository also can help keep research in the public eye longer than a regularly published journal.

Mercer mentioned the long tail theory, which states that wider (electronic) distribution channels tend to increase readership for older, yet still relevant, research. Among print library collections, about 20 percent of items circulate regularly. When the idea is applied to online collections, the percentages are reversed, and about 80 percent of the content is viewed regularly.

Three percent of the items in KU ScholarWorks have been downloaded at least 1,000 times, and 31 percent have been downloaded at least 500 times.

Allison Rose Lopez, public relations and marketing manager for Information Services, said KU ScholarWorks is taking advantage of evolving technology to archive and present the university's research.

"It's storing the information we're developing here for the KU of the future. But it's for more than just posterity. This is a new way of sharing knowledge."

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