By Stephanie L. Gross, Librarian
Electronic Reserves & Scholarly Communication
In May 2018, Yeshiva University Libraries launched the Yeshiva Academic Institutional Repository, otherwise known as YAIR, the official institutional repository, of Yeshiva University, created as part of the strategic plan drawn up to guide YU’s future planning.
At the helm of the project was Hao Zeng, head of library web and digital services, who chose a cost-effective, open source platform, DSpace, to host scholarly output of both faculty and students. (DSpace is used by universities all over the world, such as Princeton, Cornell, and New York University, to name a few.) Stephanie Gross, librarian for electronic reserves and scholarly communication, took on the outreach and processing of material to be posted. Teamwork has been essential and has included collaboration with staff from Archives as well as Metadata Services. A key enhancement since the summer is the use of colorful thumbnail images to enrich the visual experience for both publications and the collections to which they belong.
The collection began primarily as an open-access showcase for both faculty publications and student theses and dissertations. The idea behind making all work “open access” is to allow scholars and researchers across the globe to read intellectual and creative output by Yeshiva University’s community without charge.
Here’s a quick look at the YAIR inventory:
- Faculty Publications (Articles, book chapters, books): 339
- YU Dissertations Index: 3647
- Honor Student Theses / Special Projects: 315
- YU Publications: 123
- Student Publications(club Journals, newspapers): 106
- Visitors in 2019: 165,811
As the project has progressed, other repository collections have been created. For instance, back issues of student publications have been scanned, annotated and posted. Some have been out-of-print (and out-of-view) for over decades. This summer, these publications were added: The Azrieli Papers, Gesher, Nahalah, Chronos, The YU Clarion, Derech HaTeva, Kol Hamevaser, The Orthodox Forum, Science and Ethics, The Exchange (SSSB), Horeb, Kol, Kol Hamevaser, Perspectives in Psychology, Prism, Ten Da’at and Yeshiva University Undergraduate Research Abstracts. Consultations with faculty advisors and department chairs have provided positive feedback. Just recently, faculty members from the Sephardic Studies faculty as well as the Belz School of Music expressed interest in contributing articles and book chapters to the repository. Popular titles from the Michael Scharf Publication Trust (think Orthodox Forum and Maimonidean Studies) are also included. Couldn’t make a book talk? Now Library book talks are available for viewing on YAIR. And dissertations from as far back as 1945 are being retrospectively scanned and added to the IR on a regular basis. (See The Life And Work Of Rabbi Joseph D’Trany by Rabbi Moshe Blech, z”l) .
Gross has been a very ardent advocate for the repository and sees it as the proper home not only for academic publications but also for any records generated by anyone at the University. “For instance,” she noted, “we encourage staff to submit any of their work to YAIR, which could be in the form of writings, podcasts and other forms of presentation.” She is especially keen on getting PDFs of the many publications across the campuses, especially of back issues that might be held by University alumni.
Many faculty, both active and emeriti, have heeded Gross’ call-to-action, becoming what she calls YAIR “power users.” Dr. Richard Steiner, for example, has contributed over 30 works which are available, open access, to the global public. Daniel Pollack, a prolific professor at Wurzweiler School of Social Work, is a great fan of the repository. “Having articles posted on YAIR ensures not only their timely visibility,” he noted, ”it also provides a permanent home for them. I am very grateful to have this repository available for faculty use.”
Dr. Aaron Koller, professor of Near Eastern Studies and chair of the Robert M. Beren Department of Jewish Studies, is thankful for the way YAIR opens access to scholarship “that used to live primarily in expensive academic books or in journals available in university libraries. YAIR allows us to put our work in a place that anyone with an internet connection can access, and so helps with the dissemination of knowledge – which is the fundamental purpose of a university.” He added that “since the broader community—through tuition and donations—funds our work, it’s gratifying to be able to share the results of that work with the broader community in return.”
“A great deal of time and effort has been invested in getting this project up and running,” said Gross. “I’m hoping that the repository will be adopted by many as a dependable resource for research and institutional memory.”