Growth of Digital Collections at USFSP

Since 2011, the Nelson Poynter Memorial Library has been creating digital collections that celebrate the history, scholarship, and community connections of USF St. Petersburg. To date, efforts have been focused on the USFSP Digital Archive which has almost 13,000 items (about 1/4 in Community and Campus Outreach, 1/4 in Scholarly Works, and 1/2 in University Archives) that have been viewed over 4,700,000 times from over 100 countries around the world.

Featured collections from and for the community include the archive of Forum : the Magazine of the Florida Humanities Council, St. Petersburg Arts Alliance publications, the archive of the student newspaper, The Crow’s Nest, the work of COQEBS (the Concerned Organization for the Quality Education if Black Students),

and Harbor Notes Weekly.

In the Scholarly Works section, you can learn about the work of 76% of our tenure-track faculty, see who some of our Faculty Experts are, enjoy some of our Faculty Research Lightning Talks, or see some of the cutting-edge research being carried out by our undergraduate and graduate students. In the University Archives section, you can learn about the history of USFSP, including the work of our Regional Chancellor Dr. Sophia Wisniewska or keep up on the ongoing work for the University’s Vision 20/20 Strategic Plan. As the digital collections mature, the Library is now preparing to create digital collections that feature the rare and unique materials donated to the Library in support of the Florida Studies Program, Anthropology, Marine Science, World Languages, and more. These are exciting times for the Library, the University, and our community.

If you want to be part of the effort, please visit the web site in support of the USFSP Digital Archive. Check back here for updates as we move forward.


Part of USF but Autonomous

In the April 1 edition of the student newspaper The Crow’s Nest an article by staff columnist Frank Kurtz addressed the issue of USF System membership and the benefits.

While the Nelson Poynter Memorial Library reaps numerous benefits from USFSP membership in the USF System, we are an autonomous library reporting to the USFSP Regional Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, Dr. Norine Noonan. The Poynter Library has no reporting relationship to USF Tampa, except through our Regional Chancellor who reports to the President. Mr. Kurtz incorrectly stated that if the University of South Florida St. Petersburg (USFSP) were to leave the USF System “all of the volumes in the Nelson Poynter Memorial Library would have to be returned to the main campus. So would the desks and chairs and computers.” This is not the case. The books, furniture, and computers have been purchased by funds specifically allocated to the Nelson Poynter Memorial Library, either through private donations or through USFSP budget allocations. They are the property of USFSP and the autonomous Poynter Library.

However, one of the greatest benefits that we derive from USFSP’s membership in the USF System is the access to over a million electronic resources that President Genshaft has declared to be System resources. Through agreements reached between the libraries of the USF member institutions, we pay a share of the cost of licensing and providing access to these resources. Our share of the costs is determined based roughly on the numbers of students who attend USFSP, along with the academic courses and programs that USFSP offers. USF Tampa shoulders the labor costs associated with acquiring and making these resources available and is also currently susidizing the costs of access to electronic books. Were we to try to “go it alone,” the Poynter Library could never afford to provide access to the same set of electronic resources. We are fortunate that USF St. Petersburg is part of the USF System and we would not want it to be otherwise. But we wouldn’t lose our books, furniture and computers if USFSP withdrew from the USF System.

If you want to know more about the the benefits of USF System membership regarding electronic resources, I encourage you to read the Library’s report  at

British Library Sets an Example

In a recent press announcement, the “British Library  has announced its intention to join the UK’s MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) platform FutureLearn Ltd, offering participants of its online courses access to the Library’s unique digitised resources. The Library will be the first non-university research institution to join the initiative, and is among five university partners…”

The press release goes on to note that FutureLearn Ltd was the first MOOC in the UK and it “was launched by the Open University last December and includes partnerships with eighteen UK universities. Existing Library digital resources will be made available on FutureLearn, complementing plans for large-scale participation in online lectures and courses which are due to start later this year. The Library’s freely available digital collections include over 800 medieval manuscripts, 40,000 nineteenth-century books and 50,000 sound recordings, and continue to grow each year.”

The UK has a tradition of providing government support to higher education and digital initiatives. In 1966, the Labour Party’s general election manifesto contained a commitment to establish what they were calling the University of the Air. Prime Minister Harold Wilson won re-election with an increased majority and in September 1967 his Cabinet set up a Planning Committee ‘to work out a comprehensive plan for an open university’.

Founded in 1969, the Open University was the world’s first successful distance teaching university. Open University admitted its first students  – 25,000 – in January 1971. Its name Open University refers to the fact that it was wide open to anyone and did not require any prior educational qualifications. It did require students to take two foundation courses before moving on to higher level courses and eventually a Bachelor’s degree. Read more of the history of the Open University on its web site here:

Even today, under a Conservative Party government, support for the Open University, online education, and digital initiatives continues in Great Britain. Speaking in India, Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron said: “Britain boasts some of the best universities in the world. This innovative new offer led by The Open University will mean that Indian students can access some of the best teaching and learning online from their home in Mumbai or Delhi. I’m delighted that Futurelearn is expanding to include more British universities and the British Library. I hope it will encourage many more Indian students to take the next step and study with a UK university.”

Through its example in joining FutureLearn, the British Library is solidifying the role of libraries in supporting the development and success of online education around the world – an example that the Poynter Library, in its own modest way, is following.

For more information, read the Library’s Press announcement:

Open sesame!

This week (October 22-28, 2012) is Open Access Week, a week when the worldwide academic and research community celebrates the open access movement and works to increase awareness of faculty, students, and the general public of the benefits – immediate and potential — of Open Access.

Open Access (OA) literature has been defined by Peter Suber, a world-renowned expert on the topic, as:

USFSP has an open access digital archive established in March 2011 and hosted by the Nelson Poynter Memorial Library at The first such archive established within the USF System, the USFSP Digital Archiveis is for the faculty, students and staff of the University of South Florida St. Petersburg to publish, deposit, archive, and share journals, conference or other presentations, pre and post-print articles, instructional resources, student projects, theses, dissertations, and university archival materials. The archive currently has more than 4700 items, including:

Open Access is one part of a growing open worldwide movement that encourages the free sharing of the world’s knowledge. Whether through Open source software, Open access (to research), Open data, Open content, Open courseware, or Open educational resources, the world’s researchers, government and private funding agencies, and taxpayers are pushing for anyone anywhere to be able to get the data and information they need to live and learn successfully.

Check out the USFSP Digital Archive and you’ll be pleasantly surprised at what you can find.

Paperless Promotion and Tenure Process

A recent article in the Chronicle wonders if institutions have developed any mechanism for handling promotion and tenure files in a paperless fashion. The Poynter Library has done this for the past two years in a limited fashion. Scanned articles, CVs, faculty statements, etc. have been placed into secure digital collections that are accessible only to authorized individuals. So far, we have utilized this process only for promotion files from the College of Business and the Library. But the technique could be utilized for tenure files as well.

To get a sense of what this looks like, you can visit the existing collections in the USFSP Digital Archive at:

While you will be able to see the names of faculty under review and see that there are materials available, you will not be able to access those materials unless you have been authorized by the Deans of the affected units.

If you would like to explore this for next year’s tenure and promotion process, please contact me at or 873-4400.