The Kelvin Smith Library (KSL) has recently taken steps to improve user experience online. Two new developments include the recent archivization of CWRU student newspapers dating all the way back to the mid 1800s, as well as a new authentication system online that makes signing in remotely easier.
The new authentication service, the OpenAthens software, was brought on because of flexibility and security. A shift towards Single Sign-On (SSO) has been encouraged as it eliminates the need to install a Virtual Private Network which can be blocked and isn’t always user friendly or compatible.
Using the SSO, it will be easier to pinpoint instances of unauthorized use and access and thus prevent cyber fraud and crimes. For Jose O. Diaz, associate director for Academic Engagement Services at KSL, information security is a prime concern. Research libraries can face a variety of cyber threats, including the unauthorized use of library resources, which is why OpenAthens works. Users only need to remember one username and password and will be less likely to forget or write it down and compromise security. The new software will not require CWRU students to download, install or run any software, which will increase user security.
This was especially important for the staff when discussing campus wide implementations. As Diaz explained, KSL’s Research Services Librarians are currently working directly with each academic department to reach faculty and students. Reminders of this new service have been published both online and in print media, and KSL staff are ready to help CWRU’s community.
In addition to improving security for its users, KSL has increased access to information.
A new database of newspaper archives has been released that contains searchable PDFs of newspapers from 1862 to 2010. From the Western Reserve Souvenir to The Observer, it is now possible to glimpse history that occurred on campus through online access. Helen Conger, Archivist at Case Western Reserve University Archives, explained how the mass digitization project came to be.
While assisting a Freedman Fellow with article scannings, archivists began scanning full newspapers of articles being requested from 1968. Conger explains that “newspapers in the past were printed on highly acidic paper that becomes very brittle over time. This means that they crumble and tear very easily. We decided it would be better to handle the newspaper once and not have to go back and scan different parts of it as more requests were made over time.” Hence the pilot project began in the Spring of 2016. In a combined effort, staff members prepped the newspapers and did quality assurance while student workers did the actual digitization for the years of 1968-1975.
Seeing the success of the initial project, the archivists decided to digitize a total of 6,263 issues numbering 55,769 pages. In 2018, deciding that the scanning was taking too long, KSL decided to accelerate the digitization by outsourcing it. The Library funded the outsourced digitization and multiple companies worked on the project with Hudson Archival digitizing the remaining issues from microfilm copies. Veridian provided article segmentation and created PDF files for each issue.
The project was recently finished, and KSL is keen to showcase how their efforts will benefit users in the community. Now that people do not have to physically go to the archives, students will see the benefits. Some classes that regularly use archival sources for projects or research papers, or graduate and undergraduate students using archival sources for their theses, dissertations or capstone projects will now have better access. Conger emphasized that the archive is also a great time management resource as students can plan their research time in the University Archives to focus on archival sources that have not been digitized yet.
As for future plans, Conger sees possibilities of future digitization of campus newspapers that are published for faculty and staff as well as other digital material—images, yearbooks, commencement programs—available in Digital Case.