The current archive of Honduran archeological data at Kenyon College is an Ohio Five Digital Scholarship project, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Jenna Nolt, Digital Resources Librarian, explained that “Digital Commons gave us the technology to get grant funding for something the faculty on this project had been trying to do for years.” This includes making the data open access. The researchers turned to the library’s IR, Digital Kenyon, to showcase their material. Through innovative use of flexible publication structures as well as curatorial expertise, the library was able to translate an archive of data into a vibrant open access online research hub. The researchers are pursuing external funding to digitize and make accessible all of their data, and the library’s ability to manage that data through the IR can help both the grant-writing process and data needs once the grant is received.
Kenyon is a small liberal arts college, and Jenna underlines that the administration has been supportive of responding creatively to the new digital demands on libraries. Part of the new needs lie in faculty grants—there are seven active Ohio Five Digital Scholarship projects at present. The library offers technical expertise to faculty pursuing digital scholarship grants, detailing the capabilities of the repository services available. Jenna wears a lot of hats managing the IR, including technical resource for grant-writers and curation expert. Her dedication shows in the valuable library services offered through the IR.
The IR offers an innovative way to display data sets which is user-friendly and encourages readers to browse. The challenge was to preserve the existing organization of over 30 years of archeological data and yet make it accessible to researchers today—a solution was found through the expertise of library curation. Jenna explains “we broke the set down into types, customized the metadata for each type, and created a key to using the collection.” Jenna cites the flexibility of Digital Commons as essential to this accomplishment; it allows the data to be accessed in a number of ways, as she put it, “stretching the parameters of what an IR can be.”
The “Four Valleys Archive” consists of paper, photographic, and digital records from archaeological investigations conducted in Honduras (1983-2013). The archive is a pilot of four archeological sites in Honduras and the complete physical collection consists of over 100 sites. The data is unique, and many of the sites have been destroyed, making this research an essential resource for understanding Honduras’s prehistory. Searching the archive can be done by types of data, including Analysis Sheets, Catalog Sheets, Drawings, Excavation Reports, Field Notes, Lot Cards, and Photographs. Scholars familiar with the collection ran numerous test searches to ensure accuracy. This library-led organization, following the original data categories, fulfilled the needs of all stakeholders: faculty, students working on the project, and the Ohio Five Digital Scholarship funding.