Posted by & filed under Careers in Librarianship, Library Resources.

Written By: Melissa Gamez-Herrera


Willis Library provides many materials and services, which patrons and students may be surprised to learn exist. I am the GSA in the Digital Projects Unit of Willis Library, and I digitize primary materials for institutional partners to contribute to the Portal to Texas History. I have worked on projects like the CC Cox Collection, the National WASP WWII Museum Collection the Maude Kitchen Tintypes, and many more. I also digitize books, photographs and other objects for the UNT Digital Library! This kind of work requires much in terms of time, technology and know-how. As a graduate student in the College of Visual Art and Design (CVAD), I am on my way to earning an MFA in Photography. The Digital Projects Unit was in search for a GSA that had technical experience in photography, and began a relationship with the Photography Department in CVAD. As an MFA student in Photography, I originally set out to only focus on the artistic expression of making photographs. When I discovered an opportunity to work for the Digital Projects Unit here in Willis Library I jumped at the chance to work here. I have been here for the past two years, digitizing materials primarily using the Phase One system—a tethered capture camera system used by many institutions to digitize cultural heritage materials.

Photo and Digitization

In digitization, we aim to preserve materials in a digital format so that the item, through proxy of the computer screen, will be available to a worldwide audience for the foreseeable future. “Digitization is the conversion of any type of original, be it paper, photographic prints or slides, three dimensional objects or moving images into a digital format.” (Astle & Muir, 2002. p. 67). This digital format can exist in a variety of formats that many of us with some computer proficiency may recognize, such as .TIFF and .JPEG. There is much information in Library Science scholarship which examines access and preservation goals that digitization can solve, as well as some of the challenges that can arise from this method of preserving cultural heritage. My main experience in this field has been through photography, using it as a tool to digitize cultural heritage materials.

Copy stand with Phase One/DT Photon system in the Digital Projects Unit

Copy stand with Phase One/DT Photon system in the Digital Projects Unit. Photo by the author

The Phase One system is a system standard for commercial photographers and has widely been in use for preserving images of cultural heritage materials. Technical knowledge pertaining to photography is effectively applied to digitize collections in libraries and other cultural institutions. This includes museums, too! Photography has a significant place in digitally preserving cultural heritage materials like books, music, photographs (including negatives), written oral histories, and many others. The Phase One capture system allows us to capture high resolution images of the materials we wish to digitally preserve, and that align with the Federal Agencies Digital Guidelines (FADGI). Primary sourced cultural heritage images, videos, sound files and more are also made widely available on the internet through databases like the Portal.

Artists Using Primary Sources

There is an incredible amount of overlap for artists, like myself, who seek primary sources for research, and for the purpose of artmaking. Students in art can take advantage of what the Portal to Texas History and the UNT digital library have to offer. As an artist, there are many possibilities for using the Portal to Texas History for source materials such as news articles, photographs, and other primary sources. I have used video clips themselves from the Portal in my own work, as primary source research, as well as speaking to the ideas I want to communicate. This is an important aspect to creating research-based art today. Also, I have used other databases like the Newspaper Archive to create a stab bound book pertaining to my research. To take advantage of these databases that provide primary sources to make artwork is both relevant to history and the current day.

Artist Book Part 1. Photo by the author

Artist Book Part 2. Photo by the author

There is not much scholarship written which documents and examines the use of primary sources by artists and its importance. However, from first-hand experience, digital primary source databases, have heavily informed my practice. Primary source research has also allowed me to articulate the historical and theoretical aspects of my artwork so that it can exist within the context of contemporary art. In this way, primary sources that are digitally preserved become further established through the way we think about art and through our engagement with history.

Astle, P. J., & Muir, A. (2002). Digitization and preservation in public libraries and archives. Journal of Librarianship and Information Science, 34 (2), 67–79. Retrieved from

KXAS-TV (Producer). (1988, August 14). News Clip: Mexico Dr. [Video file]. University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, Retrieved from

Posted by & filed under Library Resources.

Written by: Sephra Byrne

One of the challenges that every library from small, local public libraries to the academic libraries of large research universities face is how to spend their budget in a way that serves the most patrons. University of North Texas (UNT) Libraries are no exception to this struggle. The current purchasing budget at UNT Libraries sits around seven million dollars, and while this leaves a lot of freedom, that freedom can also present a challenge (UNT Libraries, 2020.) How can we as librarians make sure that the books, databases, and journals that we spend money on are really serving you, our patrons, with your learning, teaching, and research needs? We generally evaluate these resources in three ways: through analyzing individual resources like in the graph above, through our annual serials review, and through evaluations of entire subjects.

Many of the purchases of smaller items like individual books come from recommendations by our patrons and the liaison librarians they work with. This works well on a small scale, but it is possible that we are either buying too much of one subject or too little of another subject. One of the ways we try to avoid this is through periodic evaluations. Every year about five or six subjects are chosen on a rotating basis to be evaluated. This means that a subject is assessed every ten years. The assessment starts with looking into things like what classes are required for that major, the number of students majoring in that program, the research interests of faculty, and recent dissertations. Once we know these things, we can consider what students, faculty, and staff working in that subject area need. These needs are then compared against what we already have. We can also check on the quality of what we have by using comparing what we have against the Choice’s Outstanding Academic Titles (OAT) lists for books and looking at the rankings of journals we offer in the Journal Citation Reports (JCR). Finally, the information about how often resources like books, journals, and databases is collected in order to gauge how well what we have in that subject area is used. These pieces of information are compiled into a report detailing the strengths and weakness of that what we offer for that subject. After creating this report, it can be reviewed by both librarians and a departmental representative so that we can earmark money for making improvements over the course of the next year.

Evaluations are good for looking at the quality of what we offer for each subject area as a whole, but UNT Libraries pays for hundreds of electronic journals and resources on an annual basis. These e-resources range from collections of movies and music1 to 3D models of anatomy complete with lessons and quizzes2 to raw data sets3. The cost of these e-journals and e-resources can range from less than fifty dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. With this much money at stake, it is important to know whether these resources are well-used. This is done on both an ongoing and case-by-case basis. Every year all the databases, eBook packages, journals, and other resources above a chosen price-point are ranked by their total usage, the inflation of their costs, and their cost per use. Once this ranking has been created, resources at the bottom of the ranking can be put on the “endangered species” list. This means that they will be more carefully watched, promoted, or in rare cases, cancelled all together.

More in-depth and individual evaluations are often needed on a case-by-case basis. This is done for a variety of reasons. Sometimes, the price of a specific resource is up for negotiation and the librarians negotiating want to know more about the resource and its value. This sort of analysis is also done when new resources are being considered. Instead of trusting that a recommended resource will be well-used, similar journals or databases can be considered to see how well-used they are and how the proposed resource might fit into what we offer. One of the main ways that we can measure the value of a resource is through a simple cost per use calculation. The graph shown in the header is an example of a cost per use calculation where the usage for that resource was collected from our databases along with the costs for each specific resource. The annual cost was then divided by the usage for that year. We look at this cost per use calculation as well as trends in the usage so that we can make a recommendation based on evidence.

Here at UNT Libraries, we are working hard to develop better ways to assess and enhance our collections using evidence to make decisions. You too can have an influence on our collections here at UNT Libraries. If there is a book, journal, or resource that you think we should purchase but currently do not have, you can suggest purchases here, or you can e-mail us at about any questions you might have. We really value your input when making decisions, and we enjoy helping you find what you need to be successful here at UNT. Also, if you want to see more visualizations of our collections data and recent evaluations from our Collection Assessment department, feel free to visit our Tableau profile. Many of the visualizations there are updated regularly with monthly usage data. What do you think?
Please leave a comment below.
1 Do you like theatre? You should check out Digital Theatre+ for a lot of recorded theatre productions as well as behind the scenes information. We also subscribe to Naxos which has a wide variety of music from pop to jazz to classical.
2 Primal Pictures Anatomy has 3D interactive models of human anatomy and learning modules for Speech Language Pathology and Audiology topics.
3 Check out Sports Market Analytics for extensive sports data or Morningstar for economics data that is updated daily.

UNT Libraries. (2020). Updated Report 2020. Collection Assessment. Denton: University of North Texas Libraries. Retrieved January 13, 2020

Posted by & filed under Research Help.

Written by: Hui-Yu Hsiung

When writing a research paper, you will need to consult a variety of sources of information. For some research papers, you may be required to use primary sources. What are primary sources? Sources of information are often categorized as primary and secondary sources based on their originality. Primary sources refer to “original materials created at the time under study that have not been altered or distorted in any way” (Meroño-Peñuela & Hoekstra, 2014, p. 282). They are first-hand, authoritative information of an event, a person, an object at the historical time period created by persons who participated in or directly observed the event described. What is defined as a primary source varies from discipline to discipline. For example, in art and literature fields, primary sources are creative works, such as paintings, novels, poems, video or audio recordings, photographs, and music scores. In social sciences, primary sources focus on census statistical data, field notes, interview transcripts, and speeches. In STEM and law fields, primary sources include academic journal articles reporting the design and findings of original research, government documents, patents, and court records. Besides, other common primary sources include autobiographies, diaries, personal correspondence, and internet communications on emails, blogs and social media.

In contrast, secondary sources interpret or analyze primary sources. They are “documents that relate or discuss information originally presented elsewhere, written after the fact with the benefit of hindsight” (Meroño-Peñuela & Hoekstra, 2014, pp. 282-283). These resources often provide detailed reference information on primary sources. In general, they can be found in books and scholarly journals. The commentary, criticism and interpretation of works are key secondary sources in art and literature fields. In social sciences, STEM and law fields, secondary sources are the interpretation of raw statistical data, reviews of law and social policy, as well as scholarly journal articles that analyze or synthesize results of original research.

A well-done research paper uses both primary and secondary sources. They complement each other. Primary sources provide direct access to authoritative information about your topic while secondary sources give you an overview of background information on the topic showing how the topic relates to existing research. When writing a literature review, secondary sources are most useful. To learn more about primary and secondary sources, and how to determine the relevance and reliability of a source, the UNT Libraries has a comprehensive library guide on Beginning the Research Process. As always, feel free to leave comments or contact Ask Us with any questions you may have.

Meroño-Peñuela, A. & Hoekstra, R. (2014). What is linked historical data?. In Janowicz K., Schlobach S., Lambrix P.,& Hyvönen E. (Eds), Knowledge Engineering and Knowledge Management. Proceedings of the 19th International Conference on Knowledge Engineering and Knowledge Management (pp. 282-287). Cham, Switzerland: Springer International Publishing.

Posted by & filed under Library Resources.

Written by: Scholar Speak Team

2020 Balloons

2020 Balloons by cottonbro licensed under Pexels

Back in January 2019, Graduate Service Assistants (GSA) at UNT Willis Library started a blog, Scholar Speak, as a medium to bridge the gap between students, patrons, and their library where we are continuing to discuss topics and events related to UNT Libraries. As of Spring 2020, Scholar Speak team includes Anima, Frances, Hui-Yu, Madison, Sarah and Utsav.

This month, Scholar Speak is celebrating its first year and we would like to thank all our contributors and readers of 2019! We have a total of 15 posts and we are looking forward to have new posts, contributors and readers.

If you are a graduate student working for UNT Libraries and/or have an idea for a scholarly blog post that could benefit our readers, the GSAs in Access Services would like to formally invite you to submit your ideas and write a post for our Scholar Speak blog.

For more information, please email or directly contact GSA Madison at

Have a wonderful year of 2020 and feel free to leave suggestions or comments in the comments form or simply AskUs. We would love to hear from you.

Posted by & filed under Research Help.

Written By: Emily Cornell

At the beginning of your research, you may simply have a subject. You’re writing a paper on Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley or sustainable tourism—but you’re not sure what’s exactly out there in terms of information resources. Besides utilizing keyword searching, executing a subject term search can help you locate all the resources UNT has cataloged under a specific subject, since the associated subjects are assigned as access points (“Access Point,” n.d.).

screenshot of subject term search from our catalog with orange rectangle highlighting the "Subject" dropdown

Screenshot of subject term search from our library catalog

Subject searches, in the case of the first example, are different from an author search because the subject search will bring up all resources within the catalog that are “about” Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley and not “by” Shelley. A subject search for the author also brings up criticism and biographies that are directly related to the author as a subject.

Another way to utilize subjects in your search on the catalog is by starting your research journey from one specific catalog record. If you find an item that you’re interested in, there’s a simple way to see what else is within the catalog that is “like” it in terms of subject.

screenshot of item record from our library catalog with orange rectangle highlighting the Subjects located under more item details

Screenshot of item record from our library catalog

For instance, if you found a book on the topic of sustainable tourism in the UNT catalog and you wanted to see what else UNT has that is “like” that book in terms of subject, look under ”Subjects” in the “More Item Details” section of the page. Looking at the subjects of an item allows you to find even more specific subjects, such as is the case with sustainable tourism and the more specific topic of sustainability in heritage tourism, or more broader terms.

Conducting research in college is difficult enough—sometimes you’re learning how databases work, how a new essay structure operates, or how to research an unfamiliar topic and don’t know where to begin. Understanding the different ways to utilize the catalog and its features to your advantage can be liberating and stress relieving.

I hope that in your next research endeavor you’re able to test out the Subject search feature and find more valuable resources!


Access Point. (n.d.). In J. M. Reitz (Ed.), Online Dictionary for Library and Information Science. Retrieved from

Posted by & filed under Careers in Librarianship, Library Resources.

Written By: Madison Brents

Are you fascinated by all things old and rare? As an aspiring librarian, I certainly am. However, despite this fascination, I have never visited UNT’s Special Collections Library because I found it intimidating and felt like I could not go if I did not have a reason. Thankfully, I recently had the opportunity to interview Special Collections Public Services Librarian Meagan May to learn more about this department of the UNT library. If you only have a vague idea of what a Special Collections Library does, and how to use it, then this interview should be as beneficial to you as it was for me!

  • What is a special collections library?
    A special collections library is one that houses and preserves rare and archival materials and collections. One of the main things that set apart special collections from general collections is that the materials generally do not circulate. This isn’t too keep people from accessing them, but rather to ensure that materials are kept in safe conditions. At UNT, our Special Collections include rare books, oral histories, university archives, historical manuscripts, maps, microfilm, photographs, art, and artifacts.
  • I was surprised to see there are items in the collection one would not normally expect, such as items that are not old, or items that are not even books. Could you talk more about that?
    There are a ton of items in our collection that fall outside of those categories! We have toys, games, comics, art, posters, maps, clothing, posters, buttons, quilts, and even the odd hamster skull and preserved gecko. One of our more popular collections, particularly when it comes to class visits, is our Photography Study Collection. We have a growing collection of prints, portfolios, and books by notable modern and contemporary photographers. Several of the artists in the collection have works also owned by major museums and institutions – so it really is a unique opportunity to view them together and isn’t something many would expect us to own.
  • Is there an item in the collection that is very popular among patrons?
    I don’t know if I would say there is a particular item, but everyone seems to really enjoy looking at our Miniature Book collection. We have over 3,000 items in that collection, all of which are books under 4” in height. A large number of these miniatures are on display in the Hughes Reading Room and include antique miniatures, fine press miniatures, artists’ books, propaganda miniatures, mass-market miniatures, Texana miniatures, and several miniatures that were at one point considered “the smallest book in the world.” It’s definitely worth checking out if you haven’t had the opportunity, and it’s actually the collection that brought me to UNT Special Collections for the first time as an MLS graduate student.
  • Who can use UNT’s special collections library? Do those who wish to visit need to make an appointment?
    Anyone can visit and use UNT’s Special Collections library! You don’t have to be a researcher or even a member of the UNT community to come visit. We have an exhibition space in our Reading Room that holds semester long exhibits as well as our Miniature Books display that is available to be viewed by anyone and everyone during our open hours. However, if you’re interested in requesting materials, the timeline is a little different. We have a small space onsite where we keep some of our more popular items and collections, but most of our materials are stored offsite. Because of this, there’s generally a 24-48 hour wait time between when a request is submitted and when it is available to be viewed. Once the material is onsite and available though, no appointment is needed to come in and view it.
  • Do you have advice for students who are interested in utilizing special collections for their research but don’t know where to begin?
    My best advice is to reach out to us. Conducting research with primary sources and other special collections materials is a learned skill that takes practice, and we understand that. Our staff is always happy to meet with researchers and assist them with everything from how to locate materials in the catalog and our finding aids to showing them best practices when it comes to viewing, handling, and understanding materials.
  • When I was doing research for this interview, I noticed a lot of articles talking about the importance of primary sources. Could you maybe expand on what those are and how it applies to special collections?
    Primary sources provide raw information on people, places, and events, which is why archival materials such as correspondence, scrapbooks, records, journals, and other similar items are considered so important to scholars and their research. Special collections and archives everywhere work to make sure these items are preserved and cared for because, without them, we would lose those first-hand accounts and insights into the past.
  • Is there anything else you think students should know about special collections?
    Please come check us out! Next time you’re in the library or have a few minutes to spare between classes we’d love to see you. We have an amazing student-staffed service desk that’s always excited to tell you more about our collections, help you request or access materials, and show you around the reading room.
I did not realize the extent of special collections, and after talking with Meagan I find it much less intimidating. Thank you to Meagan for agreeing to an interview, and for providing so much useful information. I know I will be traveling to the 4th floor of Willis to visit the Special Collections library, and I hope you will join me.

If you have any additional questions contact, or contact Special Collections directly at

Will you start using this library service? Comment down below!

Posted by & filed under Databases and Journals, Library Resources.

Written By: Frances Chung

You may have come across the term “open access” while searching for journal articles online. Open access (OA) refers to publications that are “digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions” (Suber, 2015). On the other hand, closed access journals charge readers or their institution a fee to view articles. Many journals and databases offered through your institution are closed access and may be paid for by student fees and grants.

OA was initially created in response to high journal costs that made research and information inaccessible to those without large budgets. Nowadays, there are many ongoing discussions about the economics behind OA and its sustainability. Furthermore, because OA is a relatively new publishing model, some fields doubt its reliability and resist its use.

One of the biggest misunderstandings about open access is that it is low-quality and not peer-reviewed. In truth, many OA journals follow peer-review processes similar to that of closed access journals and uphold high publishing standards as well. In every academic field, there is at least one OA journal ranked at or near the top in terms of impact. As Suber (2015) states, “OA is compatible with every kind of peer review and doesn’t presuppose any particular model.”

An open access repository stores and provides access to journal articles. A well-known OA repository is PubMedCentral (PMC), which is funded by the National Institute of Health and provides full-text articles in biomedical and life sciences. A directory of over 4,000 OA repositories can be viewed on the Directory of Open Access Repositories (OpenDOAR).

Some databases or library catalogs allow you to narrow down results to open access items only, while others like the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) consist exclusively of open access journals. DOAJ contains about 12,000 open access peer-reviewed journals in the science and humanities. It is independent and funded by sponsors, members, and publishers. You can search for articles using the basic or advanced search options, or by using the Browse Subjects feature.

Screenshot of DOAJ homepage

Screenshot of DOAJ homepage

Interested in learning more about Open Access? Check out the UNT Libraries’ Open Access Guide or Open Access @ UNT. As always, feel free to reach out to Ask Us if you have any questions or comments.


Suber, P. (2015). Open Access Overview. Retrieved from

Posted by & filed under Careers in Librarianship, Research Help.

Written by: Anima Bajracharya

Whether you are a college freshman or a recent graduate, you may be in search of a job. You may be ready for the interview, but you are looking for something to set you apart from other candidates. At that point, ePortfolio can be a great opportunity to showcase yourself in more than just a one-page resume.

So, what is an ePortfolio?

“An e-portfolio is an online display of your skills and talents. It’s specifically targeted to employers or others you’d like to impress for educational or professional reasons. So, it’s more serious and comprehensive than information you share with friends” (Rowh, 2008, p.26) or put on your resume.

UNT students have free access to an ePortfolio platform which stays with all students even after graduation. You can access ePortfolio through myUNT website, under resources. Just use your EUID and password to login.

Screenshot of UNT resources from myUNT website with orange box indicating ePortfolio

Screenshot of UNT resources from myUNT

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Posted by & filed under Research Help.

Written by: Hui-Yu Hsiung

A DOI is like a UPC barcode on a scholarly journal article, appearing as a character string or a website URL. You may have seen one before without knowing what it is used for in academic publishing. According to the DOI Handbook, DOI is an acronym for Digital Object Identifier. It is a form of persistent identification for digital objects and other resources on the Internet, such as electronic journal articles, books, or datasets. The DOI system was developed by the International DOI Foundation (IDF), with the goal to provide a framework for managing intellectual content.

A DOI consists of a unique, alphanumeric string of characters that is divided into two parts: a prefix and a suffix, separated by a forward slash.

Here is an example of what a DOI looks like:

However, the more recent practice is to present a DOI in URL format:

The prefix begins with a directory indicator “10” followed by a period and a registrant code “5860.” The registrant code is a unique number of four or more digits assigned to an organization or an individual that desires to register the DOI for a publication. “crl-322” is the suffix provided by the registrant as a resource ID to identify a specific digital object. In the case of journals, a suffix is assigned and arranged by the publisher, which can be any alphanumeric string generated in arbitrary or structured order.

There are many features in the DOI. One of the key features is uniqueness. Because the DOI is registered with a central database, each digital object has its own unique combination of letters and numbers as an identifier to ensure the digital content is easily extracted and accessible in the network environment. Another feature is persistence. The DOI serves as a stable permanent link to access the digital object. Unlike an ordinary URL that can be removed or is no longer valid, the DOI always remains the same, despite changes in its location over time. In addition, as the DOI is associated with metadata describing the digital object and its content, in the event of any change, the DOI is updated accordingly. Lastly, a unique DOI allows interoperability between identifiers and metadata. The DOI can be used in conjunction with other identifiers, such as the ISSN of a journal or the ISBN of a book, to support efficient cross-referencing.

So where to find the DOI? The DOI is located on top of the first page of a journal article, or near the copyright notice.

Two screenshots that show DOI locations within database article records

Screenshots of articles by Shema et al. in DOAJ CC BY-SA and Amelia Anderson in C&RL CC-BY-NC

However, not all articles have DOIs. Articles published before 2000 are less likely to have DOIs assigned, but many publishers now add DOIs to their old journal articles. If you do not see the DOI, use CrossRef to look up the DOI by title or author. You can also use DOI Resolver to find the article and its full citation information if you have the DOI of a journal article.

A DOI makes the access to digital objects, like online journal articles, easy and efficient. Therefore, many citation styles (e.g. APA and Turabian) now require the inclusion of DOIs in citation references, if available. For detailed information on how to properly cite various sources according to different style manuals, the library has style manuals in print and online, as well as a citation style guide. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Ask Us.


International DOI Foundation. (2015, October 17). DOI handbook. Retrieved from

Posted by & filed under Library Resources.

Written by: Angela Whitfield

One of the most popular materials checked out at the Library Services Desk is our course reserve collection. Mystery often swirls around the phrase “course reserve,” because it is a library term that is not used anywhere outside of academic libraries, not to mention the different rules that determine how an item is placed on reserve.

So what exactly is a course reserve? A course reserve is an item that has been selected as required or recommended reading for a class and is being held behind a library services desk. These items can be checked out by students taking the class and often have shorter check out periods than items in the general collection. Shorter check out periods ensure other students in the class an opportunity to check the item out.

The most common items placed on course reserve are textbooks. Textbooks placed on course reserve are personal copies provided by the faculty member teaching the course and are not purchased by the library. Due to this condition, the library does not have textbooks on reserve for every single class. It may be worth mentioning to the instructor if there is ever a need for a textbook course reserve for your class.

Other items that may be placed on reserve are books from the library general collection and e-reserves. If an instructor selects a book for reading in a class and the library already owns a copy, then the instructor can request it for course reserve to ensure it is available for the class to read. These can be physical items placed behind the library services desk for reduced check out periods or they may be a link in the catalog that connects to an e-book or journal article.

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