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Himmelfarb Headlines - February / March 2013

Tool of the Quarter - Introducing the Health Sciences Research Commons: Himmelfarb Library's New Institutional Repository

Last summer Himmelfarb Library subscribed to Digital Commons to manage the Library's growing institutional repository. The Health Sciences Research Commons (HSRC) was established to gather, archive, and disseminate the research output of the schools of Medicine and Health Sciences, Public Health and Health Services, and Nursing. The initial repository launched in 2009 was housed on an open source site sponsored by the Washington Research Libraries Consortium. It offered storage space and accessibility but was not visually appealing and was missing many desired searching and organizational features. Digital Commons brings a new level of functionality and appeal to the HSRC.

Digital Commons software is used by libraries, universities, and corporations worldwide to house repositories and digital collections. It was originally developed as a publishing platform for open access journals and much of that functionality is built into the software and available for use, including peer review management services. To see how journal publications are managed and displayed, check out the Cuentos issues already up on HSRC. Cuentos is a humanities magazine published by the MFA Department of Internal Medicine annually, featuring art work, poetry, essays, and short stories.

The Health Sciences Research Commons currently houses 670 items (and growing!) authored by faculty, staff, and students in the three schools and Himmelfarb Library. Many of these are full-text and can be downloaded directly from the HSRC site. Each school has its own collection space which is further broken down by departments and programs. Users can easily browse the publications of a particular department or can search for the contributions of individual authors. Publications can be searched by title, subject, document type, or keyword.

Because the HSRC on Digital Commons provides an enhanced searching and management environment, Himmelfarb Library staff members are working on transitioning the Faculty Publications Database to this new platform. This will help make faculty publications more accessible and make them discoverable to researchers worldwide. Digital Commons makes publications on their site available for indexing by services like Google Scholar and even helps to boost them in Google Scholar retrieval.

The Library is always looking for new content to add to the HSRC. For more information on what content to submit and how, check the Author FAQ on the HSRC site or contact Christopher Cook at

Himmelfarb Health Sciences Library | The George Washington University
2300 Eye St., NW, Washington, DC 20037 | Phone: (202) 994-2850 | Fax: (202) 994-4343