A logistical problem for the Center for Government Studies (CGS) at NIU has turned into a valuable partnership with university libraries that will preserve CGS materials and make them more easily accessible to readers around the world. NIU Libraries’ Huskie Commons—a digital repository for collecting, preserving, and providing access to scholarly and artistic works created by the NIU community—now hosts the center’s policy profiles, white papers, and other reports.
These materials from the CGS, which is part of the Outreach, Engagement and Regional Development Division of the NIU, are housed alongside materials from each college and division of the NIU. Graduate student theses and dissertations, academic honors program capstone projects, faculty research papers, and undergraduate research posters are all part of what promises to be a comprehensive digital collection of research. and art from UNIU.
The CGS reports available on Huskie Commons offer knowledge on a wide range of issues relevant to civic leaders here in Northern Illinois and around the world.
“Since the establishment of the Center for Government Studies in 1969, our interdisciplinary staff have helped bring NIU expertise to local governments and public service organizations throughout the region and beyond,” says CGS Director , Gregory Kuhn. “For the past 50+ years, our staff members have written reports, undertaken analysis, created strategic plans, conducted investigations, and explored pressing issues facing civic leaders. This information is valuable both as a historical record and as a tool for current and future decision makers. »
The center’s recent study of the economic impact of community colleges in the state of Illinois, for example, provides valuable data on both the return on investment of community colleges for individual students and the impact community colleges as engines of economic growth. The CGS report on the fiscal implications of population decline and demographic shifts for rural communities offers an important decision-making tool for small towns grappling with issues related to property taxes and economic development. Their recent age-friendly community action plan for the city of Woodstock, IL, provides a model for other cities that want to better serve older residents and ensure a vibrant community for years to come.
“Whether you are a faculty member working on scholarship or a think tank like us that focuses on the analysis and application of theory and concepts, at a research university we are all about exchange of ideas,” says Kuhn. “Being able to take a sample of our writing and put it somewhere where it’s accessible allows us to exchange ideas with someone we may never meet. We may never meet because of the passage of time or the miles that separate us, but we can always learn from each other and share ideas. This has always been the goal of scholarship and publication, but it has been difficult to share information limited to a printed document. The possibilities of digitization are a wonderful opportunity to archive previous work and share ideas with others near and far. »
“The Huskie Common is a key part of the Libraries’ mission, not only to provide information resources to the NIU community, but also to organize and disseminate the amazing research and scholarship happening at NIU,” says Fred Barnhart , Dean of NIU. Libraries. “It’s been our mission for over a hundred years and it will continue into the future, although formats may change.”
Bringing these possibilities to life is the work of Jaime Schumacher, Director of Scholarly Communications at NIU Libraries, specializing in digital collections and scholarship.
Schumacher says stewardship most accurately summarizes the primary purpose of Huskie Commons.
“We don’t just store digital documents,” she says. “We maximize their discoverability because we generate keywords and then expose the files to multiple indexing services, which increases the chances of someone finding them when they search.”
“Our management also includes digital preservation activities,” continues Schumacher. “We generate multiple copies of each document and we evaluate the longevity of file formats, migrating that file format so that it is still accessible for future generations. We provide a durable link for documents, so you can access your files from the same link, regardless of any updates we make to file formats and storage locations.
Schumacher is particularly enthusiastic about working with the Center for Governmental Studies to make his work more accessible to scholars and practitioners around the world.
“Many CGS reports are specific to rural communities,” notes Schumacher. “In our region, we are fortunate to have a center for government studies right here and to have people invested in this field of study. But there are many other rural areas across the country and the world that do not have this privilege. By delivering this material in a way that’s easier to discover than it used to be, we’re extending the knowledge of CGS to as many people as possible. »
In addition to managing NIU publications in the future, Huskie Commons will soon be able to provide real-time usage statistics to CGS and other communities that host their commons materials.
“Over the next few weeks, departments and individuals will be able to see how many people are accessing their material, from where in the world they are accessing that material, in real time. We’re going to provide this data for everything in Huskie Commons, and it’s going to be extremely useful metrics for the campus,” Schumacher says.
Learn more about the NIU Center for Governmental Studies on the CGS website. Learn more about Huskie Commons on the Huskie Commons website. View CGS reports, documents and policy profiles in the CGS Huskie Commons collection.