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Spotlight on Open Access Resources

September 14, 2020

Raising awareness of—and encouraging adoption and use of—open access resources is central to the Libraries’ mission and initiatives to contain the affordability of higher education and strengthen Drexel’s connection to the scholarship. From its own informational webinars and training sessions to joining the Open Textbook Network (OTN) to appointing numerous Library Faculty Fellows to support efforts to promote open access on campus, the Libraries continues to find new ways to promote and support open access at Drexel.  

Beyond the Drexel Libraries, numerous organizations, archives, libraries, and museums also help connect researchers and students to information by providing free access to their digitized collections. Here we feature a few interesting and innovative open access resources available to anyone around the world, focusing on those of interest to Drexel faculty and researchers.

Selected Datasets:  A New Library of Congress Collection

The Library of Congress recently released its new Selected Datasets Collection. Researchers can now download datasets of the Simple English Wikipedia, the Atlas of Historical County Boundaries, sports economic data, and urban soil lead abatement from this online collection.

What’s in the collection?

This initial set of 20 datasets represents the public start of an ongoing collecting program tied to the Library of Congress’ plan to support emerging styles of data-driven research, such as text mining and machine learning. The collection includes:

  • Rodney Fort’s Sports Business Data Pages is an openly available aggregation of professional sports economics data from the early eighties to present, including several XLS files documenting individual leagues, player salaries, and more, with plenty of documentation and reference materials.
  • The Atlas of Historical County Boundaries includes GIS and KMZ files that comprehensively document the size, shape, and location of every U.S. State (plus Washington, D.C.). There is also an abundance of historical and technical context provided by the project team in sidecar PDFs.
  • FMA: a dataset for music analysis includes thousands of CC-licensed mp3s from the Free Music Archive, along with sidecar metadata files containing track-level information (such as ID, title, artist, genres, tags and play counts), genre IDs, and data generated using LibRosa and echonest (music/audio analysis software). The Library also archived a copy of the FMA git repository in order to capture all the code (Jupyter notebooks, scripts) developed for interacting with the dataset and metadata files.

The Selected Datasets Collection is freely available through the Library of Congress.

Satisfy Your Wanderlust with Captivating Globes from the 17th and 18th Centuries

National and international travel has been limited since March due to COVID-19 and public health concerns. Thanks to the British Library, you can satisfy your wanderlust and your itch for history all in one place.

Earlier this spring, the British Library released an interactive archive of their collection of celestial and terrestrial globes. The online collection includes 3D models of 11 globes — a subset of its historic maps collection. View a 1602 celestial globe by Dutch cartographer Willem Janszoon Blaeu or explore conceptions of the oceans created by various cartographers from 1602 to 1783 and more.

The collection is freely available online via the British Library website.