The Dark Archive

by Agnes Gambill 

July 24, 2020

Call for Submissions - RECAPP 2020

The Office of Research, The Office of Student Research, and University Libraries are excited to virtually host the second annual Research and Creative Activity at Appalachian (RECAPP) event during the week of September 14 - 18, 2020.

This event celebrates all research, scholarship, and creative endeavors - funded and unfunded - of Appalachian Faculty and Staff. The event will be comprised of virtual sessions held synchronously and asynchronously throughout the week, culminating in a live zoom-cast awards ceremony for the Chancellor's and Provost's Awards for Excellence in Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activity, followed by an informal Q&A with award recipients. Faculty and staff will present digital posters, oral presentations, art, and/or performances.

All presentations will take place throughout the week of Sept 14 - 18, 2020. Presenters will have the option for a moderated Q&A session along with their presentation (there will be a limited amount of these) or you may choose to upload a brief video introducing or providing commentary on your work. More details about these options will be provided upon notification of selection.

○ Digital Poster
○ Art Piece
○ Oral Presentation
○ Virtual Performance (all performances must be recorded to ensure optimal viewing experience)

Please submit your research, scholarship and/or creative endeavor abstract or information to be part of this event!

Presentations will be chosen to display a wide range of different topics and disciplines.


by Agnes Gambill 

March 19, 2020

Why Publicly Available Research & Data are Critical to Combatting the COVID-19 Outbreak

Debate over the pros and cons of open access is coming to a halt amidst the dire need for open research and data to combat the present public health crisis.  Now, ears are pricked.  

On March 13, 2020,  the Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), Trump's Coronavirus Task Force, government science leaders, science ministers, and chief science advisors across the world asked scholarly publishers to make all COVID-19-related research and data immediately available to the public.  Officials note, "basic science research and innovation will be vital to addressing this global crisis ... it is particularly important that scientists and the public can access research outcomes as soon as possible."[1]

In the United States, research that is federally funded must be made freely available to the public within 12-months of its publication in a journal.  The White House is now considering a change to this policy, which would make federally funded research available immediately upon publication without the interference of paywalls.  If implemented, this policy would closely mirror efforts by a consortium of European research funders, known as cOAlition S, whose "Plan S" also calls for immediate access to government funded research. 

Publishers, traditional opponents of the proposed policy, state that making research immediately available would "hinder the peer-review process, stifle innovation, and tip the publishing business into chaos."[2]

The COVID-19 outbreak has persuaded publishers to change their stance.  At least 100 academic journals, societies, institutes, and companies have already signed a commitment to make research and data on COVID-19 freely available, and that number continues to grow.  Similar statements have been made during other outbreaks, including the 2009 flu pandemic, the 2014-16 Ebola epidemic, and the spread of the Zika virus in 2016.[3]    

Orchestrated collaboration for the public good, such as making COVID-19 related research publicly available, serves as a reminder to universities and researchers to advocate locally for open access principles within the academic community in order to support the research enterprise.

More information on Open Access at Appalachian State University can be found here.

More information on Open Access Week 2019 can be found here.

[1] The White House, Office of Science and Technology Policy, President Trump's Science Advisor and Government Science Leaders from Around the World call on Publishers to make all COVID-19 Related Research Publically Available (March 13, 2020).  

[2] Subbaraman, N., Rumours fly about changes to US government open-access policy, (Dec. 20, 2019).  

[3] Yasinski, E., Journals Open Access to Coronavirus Resources, The Scientist (Feb. 13, 2020).  

By Agnes Gambill

March 15, 2020

At the time of writing, universities and schools have closed in 49 countries due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Library consortia and individual libraries across the world are working around the clock to ensure that library services and resources are not disrupted.  Many classes have moved online, as recommended by the World Health Organization, government officials, and various health agencies.  Fortunately, many vendors are generously providing free/discounted access to content until this challenging time passes.  For more information on available resources, please contact your Library Liaison.    

The International Coalition of Library Consortia issued this statement, urging publishers to lift restrictions on photocopying and interlibrary loan limits, waive user limits to licensed digital content, make research and data about COVID-19 available through Open Access, and enable flexible fair use analyses. 

Library Copyright Specialists in the United States have also issued a statement on analyzing fair use during a public health crisis.  The key takeaway: "It is evident that making materials available and accessible to students in this time of crisis will almost always be a fair use.  As long as we are being thoughtful in our analysis and limiting our activities to the specific needs of our patrons during this time of crisis, copyright law supports our uses.  The fair use doctrine accommodates the flexibility required by our shared public health crisis, enabling society to function and progress while protecting human life and safety."   

Appalachian State University has issued copyright guidance for remote/online teaching and research here.  Library Liaisons who have participated in the Appalachian Copyright Academy have suitable copyright knowledge to address your questions for using copyrighted content in times of crisis, such as global health pandemics.  Contact the Scholarly Communications Office for further information or assistance.   

by Adam Sheffield

September 23rd, 2019


I recently traveled four hours from our library in Boone all the way to Whitesburg, Kentucky to attend an audio/visual Community Archiving Workshop, hosted by Appalshop. Myself and twenty-four other participants worked hands on with some of Appalshop's newly donated materials. Caroline Rubens, Archivist for the Appalshop Archive told me,

"Thanks to our participants, Appalshop Archive now has inventory-level catalog records for:

  • 29 micro and regular cassettes from John Verburg's oral history collection
  • 16 DVCam and MiniDV videotapes of raw footage shot for the film Morristown by Anne Lewis
  • 1 16mm reel of original negative from Appalshop's early film collection"

For me, it was exciting to see a small example of what archivists deal with, and how that process affects my job in digitization. I've always been fascinated with what digital preservation does for the accessibility of our historical materials. After attending this workshop, I discovered a new appreciation for what our library's Special Collections team must encounter, from inventorying, assessment, conservation and preservation plans, and so much more. This experience not only encouraged me in my position, but also helped identify the area of the library that most of us never see. I'd like to see Appalachian State host an event similar to this. 

By  Adam Sheffield 

August 20, 2019 


DSI recently wrapped up a summer community partnership project with the Park Service, members of Appalachian's Department of History and the Blowing Rock Art & History Museum


This project involved scanning Cone family photographs, Flat Top Manor blueprints, and other rare documents. Moses H. Cone may be best known for his blue jean textile empire, but his Blowing Rock estate also produced internationally recognized apples. Many of the materials scanned can be seen at the museum from now until the end of November.


Be sure to stop in Thursday August 22nd from 11:00am - 12:00pm for Scholars & Scones. This event features Jordan Calaway, the development officer for the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation, speaking on the protection and preservation of the Moses H. Cone Memorial Park. 

by Agnes Gambill

stack hackLibrary patrons who visit Belk Library & Information Commons are often unaware of the extent of IT expertise, development, and resources that keep libraries running and relevant for 21st century needs. As technology evolves, the need for diverse, fresh ideas on how to improve library services is paramount to the future of libraries.

To raise awareness about library innovation, Belk Library is pleased to sponsor AppHack X, an 18-hour long hackathon or code festival held at Appalachian State University in April. AppHack is an initiative to increase tech entrepreneurship, tech savviness, and code literacy worldwide. During the hackathon, teams of students join forces to develop software and other tech tools, using a diverse array of skills ranging from design, marketing, and development. While students are working on their projects into the early hours of the morning, AppHack X will provide video-gaming, free food throughout the night, and plenty of coffee. Belk Library will be awarding the StackHack prize for the best project designed to improve library services.

Also, Belk Library acknowledges that diversity unlocks innovation. Thus, in honor of Diversity Celebration Week, Belk Library is proud to sponsor Diversity Wildcards at AppHack X, which will be awarded as door prizes to students who bring fresh perspectives to the hackathon. AppHack is hosted as a joint operation between the Women in Computer Science club (WICS) and the Appalachian Society for Computing, Informatics, and Innovation (ASCII).

Image designed by Laura McGinn.

by Agnes Gambill

Did you know that journal subscriptions cost universities and libraries millions of dollars? Even Harvard can’t afford the rising prices.

Open access is the free, immediate availability of research and scholarship on the internet. Open access breaks down traditional barriers to knowledge-sharing, including paywalls, price hikes by publishers, and copyright/licensing restrictions, and ensures that knowledge can be accessed by anyone. The result of this movement is paramount: ideas are born, discoveries are made, life-saving breakthroughs are developed, and creativity is encouraged all because of the interconnected, global networks developed through barrier-free research dissemination.

Appalachian State University recognizes the value of open and universal access to research and scholarship.

To find out more about open access journals, scholarly publishing, open educational resources, and author’s rights, please contact Scholarly Communications for further information. For more resources, check out Appalachian’s LibGuide on Open Access and ACRL’s Open Access Toolkit.

Please join us in celebrating Open Access Week @ App State, March 18–22, 2019.

by Joyce Ogburn

The Google Dataset Search tool was just released to aid researchers in searching and finding relevant data among myriad datasets on the web. With the requirements of funding agencies to share research data, an increasing number of datasets are now available, in addition to data that has been shared for some time via the Internet. The new tool is a nice complement to Google Scholar, which searches and delivers research publications, preprints, theses and dissertations, blogs, reports, and more.

Here’s a screenshot from a search for “population of North Carolina”: 

Google Dataset Search example


The tool can be found through this link: Google has also developed guidelines for making datasets easier to discover.



by Adam Sheffield

On Tuesday, February 20th, Dr. Beth Davison took her latest documentary film project, “Dulatown,” to the Caldwell Heritage Museum in Lenoir, NC, for its first public screening. The half hour long film tells the story about a small community in the Lenoir area that began in the late 1800s, when a slave owner began giving land to children resulting from a relationship with one of his slaves. The bulk of the documentary highlights the descendants of these children, and how they come together at a family reunion, where both African American and white relatives reunite. The film’s first screening was a huge success, having filled the venue to its capacity.



Dr. Davison serves as professor in Sociology, Director of Interdisciplinary Studies, and Co-Director of University Documentary Film Services at Appalachian State University. This project began over a year ago, and during the process, received library support from members of the Digital Scholarship & Initiatives (DSI) team. In order to assist Dr. Davison in collecting historical photographs for the project, DSI set up a community scanning event in Dulatown, where people brought in their photos to be digitized. Many of these photographs are featured in the film, and DSI also plans to eventually provide digital access online using Omeka. Adam Sheffield, DSI’s Digitization Specialist, also served as an advisor for “Dulatown,” helped conduct many of the interviews, and was one of the main videographers for the project.




by Adam Sheffield

This morning I drove to work, again listening to FM radio, because for the past few weeks a CD has been stuck in my car’s CD player, hindering my dominance over what I want to hear. Shortly after I arrived at work, I attempted to briefly read some of today’s headlines. One headline in particular caught my eye. According to Business Insider, “Best Buy is pulling CDs from stores, and people are not happy.” To some, especially younger generations, CDs were never really important anyways, because they have grown up in a world listening to music by streaming it with services such as Spotify or Apple Music. Older generations greatly appreciate radio broadcasts and/or their vinyl records (which are making a significant come back and growth in popularity). So who are these people that are so upset with the decline and end of CDs? Well, despite the fact that my car is currently choking on a CD, I am one of those people.

You see, I grew up in a time when CDs were the NEXT BEST THING. Let me tell you why. Before I had CDs and especially before my cars came standard with built-in CD players, I was listening to cassette tapes. Don’t get me wrong, cassettes had their place, and many still remain in great musical collections. But... cassettes were not made to last. Long story short - in the blink of an eye cassettes could get twisted, stretched and torn in the tape deck, or the most dreaded flaw - the tangled knotty mess that could only be tediously fixed with some patience and an arrow eraser. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, then bless your heart. 

Another reason why tapes wouldn’t make it to eternity, is that cassettes were magnetically recorded. Basically, a thin magnetic coating contains the recorded data and stuck to a strip of plastic film. Over time, the magnetization deteriorates and separates, making the cassette useless. So even if you took the greatest care of your cassettes, they’ll eventually die on their own.

So along came CDs. These discs could hold music, data, and eventually led into developments such as DVDs and Blu Ray etc… Like most digital formats, there is some compression and data loss, lowering the quality of the sound coming from the CD’s music, but overall CDs worked well for playing back music. You could make copies of your favorite musical artists and store them on CD, so you didn’t have to sacrifice the original. Delicately chosen mixed CDs were just as popular as mixed tapes were in the 80s and 90s. There was even a time when illegally downloading music online and burning those songs to CDs was common. CDs, for better or worse, changed the music industry. Despite some externalities, it seemed as though CDs would be around foreve

Even though CDs use a digital format, they are still considered a physical media. Like their predecessor, cassette tapes, these physical items have a shelf life. The chemicals used to manufacture a CD will eventually breakdown, causing the CD to deteriorate and become useless. CDs can get scratched or cracked, and then they’re done for. As long as you have the files to load back onto a CD, your music can live another day.

So now we come to the real reason why Best Buy and other retailers are going to stop stocking their shelves with CDs. Digital music files are now more portable than ever. Mobile devices use internal storage or internet-based distributing to access files, and playback can now enjoyed via auxiliary/USB inputs or even wireless Bluetooth connections. As awesome as CDs once were, they required a device at least the size of the CD themselves in order to listen to them. Our society wants everything to fit in the palm of our hand.

My bottom line: Yes, I know that CDs are on their way out. I am saddened to hear that such a large part of my music listening history has become a thing of the past. CDs carried me through some of the most influential years of my life. I will always have those memories. Thanks to digitization and rapidly evolving technologies, I will always have my music too. I just won’t have to worry about it getting stuck in my car’s six disc changer anymore.