IRLS 675 Unit 1: A Physics Digital Collection

A New Digital Collection
The  initial task in my course on building and managing digital collections (IRLS 675) is to “gather a small collection of digital objects” about 15-20 items such as images, text files, and other documents. Of course, there needs to be a “unifying theme” with the objects I pick.

Example of an Educational Physics Collection
I found a good example of a digital collection built around a unifying theme at http://digitallibrarian.wordpress.com/  The collection described by the blogger is a digital collection of 50 or so resources for Physics Teaching Assistants (TA’s0 who teach undergraduate Physics students. See the Physics TA Library at http://www.compadre.org/GradTA/index.cfm? Physics TAs are normally graduate students with little experience of teaching.

Goal of the TA Collection
The goal of the digital collection for Physics TAs is to “help bridge the teaching experience gap by providing targeted resources that help to improve the teaching practice of new TAs.” The resources include links to teaching resources and articles introducing Physics TAs to Physics Education Research. Most of the resources are links to material available on the Internet. However, there is a clear purpose and goal for the digital collection.

A Research Collection for Faculty and Students?
As I work in the Physics Department of a local college. I decided to build a digital collection focused on the research interests of our faculty and students. Our Physics/Engineering Department has six faculty members with interests in Medical Physics, Plasma Physics, Physics of Solid Materials, Mechanics, Astronomy and the Philosophy of Science and Theology.

Physics Collections
Many physicists are publishing papers in open access repositories such as INSPIRE. See http://inspirehep.net/info/general/project/index INSPIRE is a high energy physics “information system” where the Physics community can contribute and search for material.

I focused on material that could be interesting to the faculty and found some papers in .pdf format at http://web.mit.edu/redingtn/www/netadv/welcome.html   This website is organized like the earlier Yahoo Directory mentioned in the Clay Shirky ontology reading this week at http://www.shirky.com/writings/ontology_overrated.html but it did aloow me to download some physics research papers through its links to arXiv.org withopen access to 870,425 e-prints in Physics, Mathematics, Computer Science, Quantitative Biology, Quantitative Finance and Statistics.” See http://xxx.lanl.gov/ I found a review paper on dark matter substructure and dwarf galactic satellites while using this website as well as a paper on the philosophy of classical and quantum mechanics.

Cambridge University Repository
Searching for physics repositories with Google led me to a D-Space Repository at Cambridge University in England. Cambridge has had a number of Noble Prize winners in Physics. The Cavendish Physics Laboratory has deposited a number of papers in its portion of the D-Space repository. The repository can be searched at https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/handle/1810/198332  I found a video on sustainable energy at https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/handle/1810/218394 which can be downloaded as well as a video interview with John Polkinghorne who is widely read by our Physics faculty and students. See  https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/handle/1810/215304 These videos are over 300 MB so I am wondering if my digital collection will be able to handle these sizes.

Physics and Theology
I downloaded another .pdf item on physics and natural theology from the Internet Archive. The item was published in 1833 but may be of interest to one of our faculty members. See http://archive.org/details/astronogenphysics00whewuoft

English: Close-up of a plasma between the two ...

English: Close-up of a plasma between the two electrodes of a Jacob’s Ladder. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Access Terms
Some of the terms used to access the system could be form broader categories of Physics such as quantum mechanics and classical mechanics or medical physics. However, The Cambridge Repository may be worth studying for some access terms. The digital objects in the repository are also classified by type which I think would be helpful to users. WordPress also has some tags generated by this post that could be useful as they would be from a user perspective.

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