Supporting the Legacies of Emeritus Faculty Through the IR


Working with emeritus faculty to support their unique needs brings many rewards to both the faculty and the library. The faculty are provided an outlet for their scholarship and continuity of their legacy, and the repository is provided a valuable source of rich content—once one emeritus professor’s work is in the IR, others are quick to follow. “In many ways, I have found the emeritus faculty to be one of the richest sources of content for our repository,” said Paul Royster, Coordinator for Scholarly Communication at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. “They have the content, they have the time, and they have the concern over their scholarly legacy.”

Dr. Paul Johnsgard, an emeritus professor of biological sciences at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, had a number of out-of-print books and several unpublished book-length projects that he feared were too specialized for any commercial publisher to work with. Seeing an opportunity for the repository to both meet Johnsgard’s needs and make otherwise inaccessible scholarship openly available to the public, Royster got permission to upload nearly all of the professor’s work in UNL’s IR. “All told, Digital Commons has allowed me to make unusually effective use of my time since my retirement, and to believe that I can still make my contributions matter and my influence felt at a national and international level. I am extremely grateful,” Dr. Johnsgard wrote in a message to Royster’s dean.

Other campuses have seen similar success with their emeritus faculty contributions to the IR. Alvin Wolfe, Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at the University of South Florida, found that Selected Works was a great place to pull together all of his work on one topic to compile it into a book. Several of the papers, in particular one from 1962, are near impossible to find, so having them become highly discoverable online is giving them new life and making them available to a whole new generation of researchers. Botany Professor Emeritus Wesley Whiteside was able to use the IR to detail the plants in his extensive botanical garden, which has become a showcase for Eastern Illinois University. Similarly, the “Captive Audiences/Captive Performers” collection at Macalester College is by Sears Eldridge, an emeritus faculty member whose groundbreaking work on the role of music and theatre in POW camps can be seen in Macalester’s IR, includes a video interview with him about the project.

The Paul Johnsgard collection in UNL's repository.

The Paul Johnsgard collection in UNL’s repository.