About | Iowa State University Library (2024)

What to expect
Digital Collections provides free online access to over 20,000 of the Iowa State University Library’s rare and unique resources. Many of its resources have been digitized from the library’s Special Collections and University Archives. The resources support the teaching, learning and research needs of scholars, educators, students, and the public. New items are added on a regular basis. If you’re interested in contributing to or creating a digital collection, pleasereach out. You'll find the ISU Digital Initiatives Selection Policypublicly available in our Digital Repository.

The resources are organized into thematic categories spanning science, technology, agriculture, natural resources, political movements, historic events, ISU faculty, students, alumni, Iowa State University, and the State of Iowa. These include student yearbooks, photographs, maps, books, letters, diaries, and more. All digital files are accompanied by metadata - or descriptive, technical, and administrative information related to the resources to provide greater context. It is our hope that you peruse, browse, learn, and enjoy.

Please Note
Digital collections materials come from a broad range of sources and time periods. Some of these materials may be offensive, disrespectful, or contain negative stereotypes. Their presence should be viewed and considered within their historical context. They do not represent the views of Iowa State University or the Library, which strives to create and maintain a welcoming and inclusive environment.

How to Find the Collections
For the most general use, browsing is an option. You can casually look through any or all our digital collections by topics, dates, material types and other areas.

If you know what you are looking for, you can use the advance search feature to target item(s) more specifically. If you would like to view the items you see here in-person or “irl,” you only need to ask Special Collections and University Archivesstaff and they will happily gather the materials for you. Seriously. Just ask.

How to Use the Collections
Integrate collection materials into teaching materials.
Though nothing replaces the experience of having a physical object in your hands, the digital platform allows distance viewing and easier integration of materials into class outcomes. You can either encourage the use of the digital collections platform to view and analyze objects relevant to your teaching goals, or develop something a little more robust. A digital exhibit is a great way to facilitate specific experiences and interaction with the digital collections and can make a hands-on project based experience for your students. Examples of past exhibits include:

  • We Are ISU
  • LGBT+ Student Life, at Iowa State University: 1970-1999
  • Women’s Experience at Iowa State from 1960-1969

Create a digital scholarship project
Beyond display, you can create a project that pulls directly from our digital collections to support a research question! Let’s use avIAnas an example. This project was developed to understand the networks and research observations of early Iowa ornithologists and how those sightings contributed to overall trends across North America by connecting directly to the North American Bird Phenology Program. Not only are the digital collections a wealth of historical documents and photographs, but these items may also be thought of as data that can be integrated into database projects, iterated on using programming languages, and revisualized as an interactive dataset.

Build for the community
Though this project pre-dates the capabilities of our digital collections platform, the ISU Art Map is an example of a way to create a community resource built on digital collection materials. Since digital collections are available to the public, anyone in the community can interact and benefit from these materials. Digital Scholarship & Initiatives not only supports the development and integration of the digital collections into projects, but strongly encourages that the result is a public-facing contribution to communities beyond campus.

Available On and Off Campus
Most collections should be available to users on and off campus. Occasionally, collections may be restricted to on-campus use only, and this will be noted in the description. If you have issues accessing the online materials,please contact us.

Improve Digital Collections
We are always looking for ways to improve our collections and the digital collection platform. If you have ideas for improvement, we welcome your feedback. As an ongoing initiative, we are creating transcriptions of our digital collections to facilitate full-text, keyword searching, and computational analysis. If you’d like to contribute to this important initiative, please do! Our LibGuidewould be a great starting point.

Collection Development Process

  1. Project proposed.
  2. Stakeholders determine scope and deliverables.
  3. Project evaluated by Curation Services Collection Development Team using selection criteria.
  4. If chosen, project enters the project creation workflow.
  5. Project assessment and selection.
    1. ​​​Specific materials identified for inclusion.
    2. Individual materials assessed for inclusion. Considerations include:
      1. Rights, privacy, and ethics
      2. Access and use
      3. Time and effort
  6. Conservation assessment and stabilization.
  7. Digitization.
  8. Metadata generation.
  9. Digital collection added to Islandora, the ISU Library’s digital collections platform.
  10. Digital collection made available to the public.

Discover Additional ISU Collections
While digital collections are vast, it only represents a fraction of the important digital resources available to you. The following are complimentary resources to consider in your adventure:

  • Digital Scholarship & Initiatives (DSI) manages the digital collections. Find out moreabout DSI.
  • Most materials from the Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) have not been digitized. Please visit SCUA’s website to search their detailed descriptions of the collections.
  • Iowa State University Digital Repositoryprovides free and open access to scholarly and creative works, research, publications and reports by Iowa State's faculty, students, staff and administrative units.
  • Iowa State University Digital Press provides open access publishing options.
  • Datashare is an open access repository for sharing, publishing, and archiving research data created by Iowa State University scholars and researchers.
  • Library subscriptions to a myriad ofdatabases and e-resources
About | Iowa State University Library (2024)
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