Category: Library NewsBlog

Van Pelt and Opie Library Earns 2023 State Librarian’s Citation of Excellence Award

The J. Robert Van Pelt and John and Ruanne Opie Library (VPOL) employees have been awarded a 2023 Citation of Excellence for exemplifying excellence in customer service. The Library of Michigan Foundation and the Library of Michigan support this annual award, which is open to public, school, academic and special libraries across the state of Michigan.

“Good libraries help meet the needs of their users. Great libraries change communities for the better. The J. Robert Van Pelt and John and Ruanne Opie Library has become a central part of Michigan Technological University and made the Houghton and Hancock area a better place to live,” said Randy Riley, Michigan’s state librarian, after presenting the award.

Receiving it reaffirms the VPOL’s dedication to fostering a welcoming and enriching learning environment. We are proud to share this achievement with the entire Michigan Tech community. We are especially grateful to collaborators who added letters of support that highlighted the VPOL’s high level of service.

Erin Matas, library director, has been consistently supportive and celebratory since news of the citation. “I’m grateful and inspired by our library’s selection for this prestigious award,” said Matas. “It’s a heartfelt and well-deserved acknowledgement of the efforts of our library employees and the tremendous support we receive from our local community and valued partners at Michigan Technological University. Libraries truly play a transformative role in shaping vibrant communities.”

Learn more about The Michigan Library Association awards! Or more in-depth about other recipients honored with recognition.

Introducing Searching Sideways Week at VPOL!

This week the Van Pelt and Opie Library invites you to re-imagine how you search for information, by turning it on its side. Are there searching shortcuts that would make your work a lot easier and quicker? What databases might the library provide for you that would provide a more straightforward search process? And how can you amp up your skills so you are searching like a fact checker would?

At the VPOL our aim is to help make you efficient and effective searchers so we are dedicating the week to sharing tools and methods that will elevate how you find information. Throughout the week expect to see featured tips & and tricks from the library and chances to give it a try yourself. Join our Bad Info: Search Like a Fact Checker Workshop on February 17, 2-3 PM in Library 244 (registration here) to up your searching game and show off your ability to tell quality information sources from bunk by entering our Searching Sideways Contest for the chance to win one of three $15 coffee cards. For the contest, simply share a link to an online source that at first glance appears less than trustworthy, but actually contains quality information.

Stop by our “Ask Us” station all week (or any other week too) for help honing your search skills, to set up a consultation for more in depth help, or arrange a searching workshop on-demand for your class or study group.

Now let’s start searching sideways!

Celebrate Black History Month with the Black Student Association

Black History Month is among us! It is a time of learning, observance, and most of all…celebration! Please join the Black Students Association (BSA) in celebrating BHM by contributing to the exhibit in the library. This exhibit will be up all month starting February 1st, and all members of the Michigan Tech community are invited and encouraged to submit any form of art (painting, poem, drawing, poster, etc.) to be included in the exhibit. The theme is all things Black Excellence, Innovation, & Joy. The exhibit is meant to be uplifting and the theme is intentionally broad to inspire creativity. Don’t worry about being an artist! Just have fun. Submissions can be made to the CDI weekdays from 9am to 5pm either anonymously or leave your first and last name for credit. Deadline to submit is Monday, January 31st, COB. Not sure what to submit? Please join us on Friday, January 28th from 4-7pm at the library (room 244) where we will provide free canvases, paint, poster boards, markers, and construction paper for those interested. Hope to see you there!

For any questions about submitting art or the exhibit please contact Jailynn Johnson, BSA President, at or Dr. Mayra Morgan, with the CDI, at

The Black history month exhibit by BSA will be up the entire month of February on the main floor of the Van Pelt and Opie Library, The exhibit will be accompanied by a display featuring books recommended by BSA students, including newly purchased titles.

Popping the Filter Bubble

Individuals are bombarded daily by a mass of information curated just for them. Join librarians and other experts from Michigan Tech’s campus for an interactive discussion called “Popping the Filter Bubble” as part of the Bad Info Project on Wednesday, Nov. 3 from 5-7 PM in the Van Pelt and Opie Library’s East Reading Room. 

Discussion facilitators, which include faculty, lecturers, and staff from a range of departments on campus, will each present relevant research to help participants better understand the role of algorithms, information filtering, and strategies to work around them. They will then lead small-group discussions on each topic so that participants can actively engage with and manage the flow of information around them. 

Library events are open to all faculty, staff, students, and community members.

This event is made possible in part by a grant from the Michigan Humanities, an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, and by funding from the Department of Humanities at Michigan Tech.

Digital Commons OA Collection

Yesterday we discussed graduate students’ options for publishing OA and CC licensed works on Digital Commons @ Michigan Tech, but this isn’t the only group of husky authors that go the extra mile to make their work accessible and reusable at no cost to the public – numerous members of the Michigan Tech community do!

The Open Educational Resources collection on Digital Commons @ Michigan Tech highlights a variety of faculty, staff, and student works that were published on the repository or through 3rd party publishers that are available full-text to the world. In only the last month, these works have been downloaded over 25,000 times from 150 different countries, showing the vast reach that open scholarship has. View the complete Digital Commons Readership Dashboard for these works here.

CC Licenses and ETDs

Many academic institutions maintain an institutional repository. These repositories increase access to the scholarly work produced by their community by gathering it in one online location and providing the public with no-cost full-text downloads to the extent possible under copyright law. Digital Commons @ Michigan Tech, Michigan Technological University’s institutional repository, has published master’s reports, master’s theses, and dissertations (ETDS) since 2013. The graduate student authors of these works have the option to make their works available Open Access (OA) for free. To date the repository features over 1,800 OA ETDs which would otherwise exist behind a publisher’s subscription paywall unless the author paid a fee. 

New this year, students that opt to publish their work OA will also have the option to apply a Creative Commons (CC) license to the work. These free, standardized licenses allow authors to explicitly state how and under what conditions their copyright-protected works may, or may not, be used by others. Works with a CC license are still protected by U.S. copyright laws and authors retain their copyright. The addition of the Creative Commons license option provides graduate student authors with a simple way to control the reuse of their work. Additionally, all six CC licenses require attribution to the original author, ensuring ethical standards in publishing are maintained. The six CC licenses available to Michigan Tech graduate students can be viewed here: For more information on copyright and licensing in relation to master’s reports, master’s theses, and dissertations, see the Van Pelt and Opie Library’s guide here: 

Check out the entire collection of Michigan Tech’s ETDS on Digital Commons @ Michigan Tech here: 

Publishing OA – interested in getting started in OA?

The goal of Open Science, making the results of research freely accessible to all, leads naturally to an open access publishing model. Today there are many ways to share research findings and supporting data. Repositories, whether based on discipline or university affiliation, have long played a significant role in providing access to scholarly articles prior to their final publication or as homes to open books, data, or models. Open access publishers and their journals have gained credibility and publish many highly cited articles. And an increasing number of subscription-based publishers offer OA publishing options in their journals.
See our Open Access guide ( or contact library for more information.

Open Access Week – Open Science

Open Science is not new. In fact it may be older than you think. The concept of sharing scientific knowledge can be traced to 17th century Europe, where the demand for shared knowledge and discoveries was so great it gave birth to scholarly societies and academic journals. Built on the notion that scientific research best benefits humanity when shared, open science encourages free or open access to the processes and products of research. This may include open peer review, methodology, tools, research results, data, and subsequent education tools.

Michigan Tech is no stranger to the principles of Open Science. The University hosts the Astrophysics Source Code Library ( and Michigan Tech Open Source Hardware initiative ( In the last five years at least 1450 scientific articles have been published open access by Michigan Tech faculty and researchers. And the university’s repository, Digital Commons @ Michigan Tech continues to grow its collections of OA works.

Want to learn more? Contact us at!

Open Access Week 2021

The 2021 Open Access Week Advisory Committee chose the theme “It Matters How We Open Knowledge: Building Structural Equity.” OA week is October 25-31 this year and to celebrate, the library is sharing a series of posts related to this theme. Today, we share with you part of the Advisory committee’s discussion of the theme itself:

“This year’s theme intentionally aligns with the recently released UNESCO Recommendation on Open Science, of which Open Access is a crucial component. Circulated in draft form following discussion by representatives of UNESCO’s 193 member countries, the Recommendation powerfully articulates and centers the importance of equity in pursuing a future for scholarship that is open by default.

Open Science should embrace a diversity of knowledge, practices, workflows, languages, research outputs and research topics that support the needs and epistemic pluralism of the scientific community as a whole, diverse research communities and scholars, as well as the wider public and knowledge holders beyond the traditional scientific community, including Indigenous Peoples and local communities, and social actors from different countries and regions, as appropriate. (UNESCO Recommendation on Open Science, Page 7)”

Read the entire discussion of this year’s theme on the OA Week blog here: 

Tomorrow we’ll explore exactly what the term Open Science means and why it’s important for an institution like Michigan Technological University.