ScholarSpace

Think locally and post globally

There's a common misperception that a community college concentrates its energies on teaching and training without much thought to scholarly work. But at JCCC, one particular "space" clearly refutes that misnomer: ScholarSpace@JCCC

ScholarSpace is a digital repository for the scholarly and artistic work created by the faculty, staff and students of JCCC. ScholarSpace had 46,936 article views and more than 19,000 downloads in 2011, and the repository currently houses nearly 500 works, said Barry Bailey, associate professor and librarian at Billington Library

The idea for ScholarSpace came from fellow librarian Judith Guzzy. Guzzy was researching the best way to archive JCCC’s digital images (such as the college’s collection of World War II artifact photos, fashion photos and past photos of JCCC people and events). She discovered that other institutions were also “capturing the intellectual output” of its community to allow it to be shared. 

“I noticed that JCCC faculty were deeply involved in writing books, chapters, and journal articles as well as delivering presentations and developing learning aids,” Guzzy said. 

“I listened to faculty members report on their sabbatical projects during professional development days, and I remember thinking how valuable it would be to capture these projects in a digital repository and enable JCCC’s research and innovation to be accessed globally.” 

From those beginnings, ScholarSpace was launched in 2008 and has expanded dramatically, growing in interactions by more than 200 percent in only three years. 

It became the official reference and repository for the Summer Institute on Distance Learning and Instructional Technology (SIDLIT) held annually at JCCC. Presenters upload their papers, slide shows or other related information into ScholarSpace each year. 

It's also the home of student work. Pat Decker, director, honors, chooses which papers from her honors students will be included in ScholarSpace. The papers are part of honors contracts and are often presented at a forum where the general public is invited. Still, attendance is often limited to family, friends and instructors of the papers' authors. In ScholarSpace, however, the papers find new audiences across the globe, since all papers are searchable through search engines with a scholarly bent like scholar.google.com

In fact, the most viewed paper on ScholarSpace is not from a professor. Former honors student Courtney Masterson holds that claim to scholarly fame with her paper, “Invasion of the Honeysuckle.” The compelling title (sounding a bit like a scary late-night sci-fi movie about killer flowering vines) led to 1,890 downloads from 2010-2011. 

Decker said she was happy that the most-viewed article was a research project from an honors student. “ScholarSpace provides a needed venue to showcase and recognize exceptional student work. We have some amazing students at JCCC, and I’m pleased that they have an opportunity to make their work available to others,” she said. 

While papers make up the majority of entries, all types of works can be included. Bailey said he has been working with Stuart Beals, retired professor, to include in ScholarSpace his documentary on a World War II warship. Beals already contributed a paper to ScholarSpace regarding the importance of a liberal-arts education at JCCC

One major hurdle to securing content for ScholarSpace is securing the rights to the work. In some cases, such as work supported by a governmental grant, open access to the resulting work is necessary as part of the grant's stipulation, and ScholarSpace quickly fills the bill. However, in other cases where work has been previously published elsewhere, Bailey and copyright librarian Mark Swails, assistant professor, work with authors and publishers to get permission to include it in ScholarSpace. 

“Some people have discounted community colleges as content creators, but people still do it, even if it’s not the basis of what they’ll be judged by. The desire to contribute to their fields is strong. "[The cliché] 'The quest for knowledge’ – I hate the sound of that, it sounds so stupid – but it’s true,” Bailey said. “To create something of great value, it needs to be shared.”