Remembering Aaron Swartz

©2015 Digital Disruption Partners, LLC

Today, we remember Aaron Swartz on the sixth anniversary of his death.

Although Aaron Swartz (1986-2013) initially saw copyright as an obscure issue not worthy of his energies, he grew to view aspects of copyright law as tools in larger systemic problems. In the academic community, a few very lucrative publishers control most of the access to research. This situation creates ecosystems of global inequality and greatly limits the legal teaching and sharing practices often needed for learning and scientific advancement. Alongside these ideas, Swartz participated in the creation of the Open Library and the Creative Commons and wrote the Guerilla Open Access Manifesto. He led the initiative that brought down SOPA, as he saw this legislation as a tool for government censorship.

Considered a brilliant prodigy, Swartz participated in the creation of RSS feed at the age of 14. He went on to co-found Reddit and become an activist for an internet that would allow freedom of speech, access to government and academic resources, and much more. In 2013, the American Library Association awarded him the James Madison Award posthumously.

Learn more about Aaron Swartz’s life and his many contributions not mentioned above:

Aaron Swartz’ Google Scholar profile

Akbarzadeh, A. (Director). (2015). Killswitch. [Video file]. Random Media.

Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society. (2018, June 12) Aaron Swartz on The Open Library [Video File].

F2C2012. (2012, May 21). Aaron Swartz awesome speech Internet freedom [Video File].

Knappenberger, B., et al. (2015) The Internet’s own boy: The story of Aaron Swartz. [DVD]

Lessig, L. (2014). The unstoppable walk to political reform.

Peters, J. (2016). The idealist: Aaron Swartz and the rise of free culture on the Internet. First Scribner hardcover ed.

Swartz, A. & Lessig, L. (2015). The boy who could change the world: The writings of Aaron Swartz.

Swartz, A. Aaron Swartz.

The GSU library recognizes the complexities of barriers influencing the sharing of scholarly research and academic resources and supports legal initiatives to make such content more accessible to the world. As an author, you may have options for releasing your content. Learn more about author’s rights, rights reversion, and options for posting your content in Scholarworks@GSU. If you are an author wanting to make your scholarship more accessible, please contact Laura Burtle. What about course content? The GSU library supports the creation, adaptation, and adoption of open and affordable course content. Learn more on the Open Education guide or contact Denise Dimsdale for more information about free or affordable course content.

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Free digital textbooks from the University of North Georgia Press

In partnership with the Affordable Learning Georgia initiative, the University of North Georgia Press offers a number of free digital textbooks. Most of the free digital textbooks include a Creative Commons license that allows them to be uploaded to iCollege and shared with the world. Most also have options to purchase an affordable print copy.

Here are a few UNG Press digital textbooks that might catch your interest, or go here to see all of their free digital textbooks.



Introduction to Art: Design, Context, and Meaning

The digital version is free with a CCBYSA license. Individual images throughout the work are clearly cited with licensing information under each image. The Digital version is free with no login required. Get a Print version for $29.99.





British Literature I: Middle Ages to the Eighteenth Century and Neoclassicism

The digital version is free to download and share with no login required. This book is nearly 3000 pages and is divided into 4 parts. You may print what you need yourself, or the individual sections are offered for purchase at an affordable price.





World History: Cultures, States, and Societies to 1500

The Digital version is free to download and share with no login required. Get a print version for $29.99.





If you don’t find what you need here, take a look at the GSU Library’s Open Education Guide. Or, contact Denise Dimsdale, Affordable Learning Georgia Library Coordinator, at the GSU Library. The GSU Library is happy to assist instructors with locating open resources, publishing open content, and locating course content and library resources that provide affordable options for students and pedagogical opportunities for instructors.

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Meet a Librarian: Ellen Barrow

Who is Ellen?  

Ellen is a Librarian Assistant Professor at the Perimeter College Clarkston library. She provides reference services, teaches library instruction classes, and is the subject liaison for Anthropology, History, Political Science, and World Languages. Her research is focused on the history of American abolitionism and the impact of making historical artifacts accessible to undergraduate students.  

What and where has Ellen studied? Did she always plan to be a librarian? 

Ellen earned a Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology from University of South Dakota, and a Masters of Library Science from Emporia State University in Kansas. She has completed some post-graduate Humanities studies at California State University – Domingo Hills.  

Ellen planned on becoming an Anthropologist, before becoming a librarian. However, during her undergraduate career while working on research projects, Ellen worked at the law library. She loved the environment, the people, and the opportunity to teach research skills to other students.  This work experience prompted her to attend graduate school for a library degree.  

Where else has Ellen worked?  

Right before she came to Perimeter College Clarkston, Ellen was the director of a public library in South Carolina. Aside from libraries, Ellen’s work experience runs the gamut! She’s worked on a ranch, attended welding school, washed dogs, and worked in a greenhouse. Ellen also worked several lambing seasons. She uses some of the skills that she learned helping sheep have their babies in her current work with students–patience and expect the unexpected.  

What does Ellen think is important about the Clarkston campus? 

Clarkston is one of the oldest campuses at Perimeter. The people are wonderful, and there is an enormous amount of diversity. Clarkston is a pretty campus with a lot of trees and lots of parking! 

Quick Facts About Ellen: 

Cake or pie?: Her mother’s apple pie. Ellen continues the tradition using the same recipe.  

Favorite Book: The Last Crossing by Guy Vanderhaeghe 

Favorite Movie: Days of Heaven (1978) starring Richard Gere, Brooke Adams, and Sam Shepard.  

Hot tea or iced tea?: Hot tea, specifically PG Tips, a very good British black tea. It’s a “power tea that will make your spoon stand up!” 

Pets: A cat named Mihira. She adopted this charming, sweet cat from PAWS Atlanta in 2006. He’s a big love bug who’s constantly purring at everyone he meets. Mihira also loves watching television. He’s partial to The Waltons, Daniel Boone, TCM classic movies and anytime another animal appears on the screen!

Interviewed by Jennie Law

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Johnny Mercer Tribute Concert on GPB

Johnny MercerMissed the Johnny Mercer Tribute Concert earlier this year?  You’re in luck, GSUTV recorded the concert and it will be aired on Georgia Public Broadcasting Sunday December 9th at 7:00 pm and again on Tuesday December 11th at 6:00 pm.

It’s been said that getting through the day without hearing one Johnny Mercer song is almost impossible—and why would you want to? Georgia’s own Johnny Mercer wrote the lyrics to over 1,400 songs, including four Academy Award-winners. From the light-hearted “You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby” and “Jeepers Creepers” to the cinematic “Hooray for Hollywood” and the timeless “Moon River,” Mercer wrote words and music for an American century.

Hard-bop trumpeter and vocalist Joe Gransden and beloved blues, jazz, and gospel singer Francine Reed join the Georgia State University Jazz Band’s tribute to Mercer’s incomparable legacy, as they perform a selection of his many hits and new arrangements of some of his unpublished works.

Want to know more? Visit the Johnny Mercer Collection at Special Collections and Archives or contact Kevin Fleming, archivist, Popular Music and Culture Collection, at 404-413-2880 or

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Oral History Project Planning 101

“An oral history interview generally consists of a well-prepared interviewer questioning an interviewee and recording their exchange in audio or video format.”

-Donald Ritchie, Doing Oral History

Oral histories can include official interviews with important figures. They can include family histories, and they can document the ways that communities or neighborhoods have grown and evolved over time. Oral histories can also provide a history for under-documented communities, when no official records or narratives exist.

While published accounts and archival records can tell you “what happened,” oral histories can tell you how decisions were made in order to facilitate events and what it felt like to watch, participate in, or be affected by these events. They can provide an insider’s perspective, and they often provide multiple, sometimes competing narratives. Awash with memory, personal interpretations, humanity and emotion, they can make history come alive.

Archivists at Georgia State University have a long history of documenting communities through oral histories, and on Saturday, December 1, from 1:00-4:00 pm, they will share their knowledge and advice during a new Oral History Project Planning 101 workshop.

This workshop will take place at Georgia State University’s Clarkston campus and is free and open to the public. Registration is required, and space is limited. See below for the details or visit the library’s event page.

Oral History Project Planning 101

Do you have an idea for an oral history project but need help developing a plan? Attend this workshop presented by Georgia State University Library’s Special Collections & Archives to find out what steps you need to take to shape your idea into a viable project. We’ll share what’s worked for us (and what hasn’t), review key decisions you should make before starting, and help you create a project plan.

Attendees and archivists from our June oral history workshop.


  • Small group breakout sessions
  • Personalized advice from Georgia State University archivists
  • Hands-on interviewing practice
  • Discussion of ethical & legal issues
  • Preservation & storage tips
  • Equipment recommendations & more!

Hands-on interviewing practice.


Saturday, December 1st, 2018, 1:00 PM-4: 00 PM


Georgia State University Library
Clarkston Campus, Building CL
555 N. Indian Creek Dr.
Clarkston, GA 30021


Register here: 


For more information contact us at 404-413-2880 or

Want to find out about similar events? Visit the Special Collections & Archives website and follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Thank you and we hope to see you soon!

-The Special Collections & Archives team

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Upcoming Workshop: Teaching with Primary Sources: Using Sources to Build Narratives

WSB radio banner“Teaching with Primary Sources” is an ongoing series of workshops designed to introduce faculty and graduate student instructors to creative strategies for incorporating a range of primary sources, including but not limited to archival, digital, and/or subscription primary sources, into classroom instruction.

Kevin Fleming, Popular Music and Culture Archivist, and Jill Anderson, Humanities Instruction Librarian, are offering the “Teaching with Primary Sources: Using Sources to Build Narratives” workshop for faculty and graduate student instructors. This workshop will be held on Monday, December 3,  1pm to 3pm, in the Colloquium Room, Library South 8, on the Atlanta campus.

In this hands-on workshop, attendees will be the “students” for an exercise utilizing primary materials from Special Collections and Archives and from the Library’s general collections. The workshop will suggest creative ways to introduce a research activity or project by developing a narrative from a selection of primary sources.

The exercise will be followed by discussion and brainstorming on other creative ways to use these resources for teaching.

Register on the library events calendar. Contact Jill or Kevin if you have any questions. Please join us!

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Announcing Textbook Transformation Grants Round Thirteen, Due Jan. 14, 2019

Affordable Learning Georgia is issuing a new Request for Proposals for Textbook Transformation Grants with applications due by January 14, 2019. Projects have a maximum Final Semester of Spring 2019. Affordable Learning Georgia’s Textbook Transformation Grants are intended to:

  • Explore and expand new and affordable approaches to textbook transformation, including the adoption, adaptation and creation of Open Educational Resources (OER), the adoption of materials available through GALILEO and USG libraries, and the use of other no-cost and low-cost digital materials.
  • Provide support and time to faculty, librarians, instructional designers, and their institutions to implement these approaches.
  • Lower the cost of college for students and contribute to their retention, progression, and graduation.

To apply:

  1. Read the Request for Proposals Document.
  2. Read the Rubric for Peer Review.
  3. Fill out the Word version of the Application Form and keep this form for your records.
  4. Fill out the Online Application Form.

Webinar Archive for Round Thirteen
View Request for Proposals

For more information, contact Denise Dimsdale, Affordable Learning Georgia Library Coordinator, at the GSU Library. The GSU Library is happy to assist instructors with locating open resources, publishing open content, and locating course content and library resources that provide affordable options for students and pedagogical opportunities for instructors.

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Paywall: The Business of Scholarship

Banner image for open access week 2018

Watch Paywall, the movie. (It’s a free movie.)

Have you ever been prompted to pay for an article that you need for your research? If so, you’ve seen what we call a paywall. The GSU library subscribes to hundreds of databases to give faculty and students access to research, but even wealthy universities such as Harvard can’t afford much of the needed research. As GSU faculty and students, if you are prompted to pay, you can request items through Interlibrary Loan which is a free service for you.

Even though, as students and faculty, you can get articles to journals that GSU does not subscribe to for free, there are still problems associated with the high cost of scholarly research. Impacts range from rising tuition costs to the information needs of those not affiliated with a university to solving the world’s problems such as access to clean water, knowledge about medical research, solving issues related to poverty, and more.

In celebration of Open Access week, the GSU library encourages everyone to view the movie, Paywall: The Business of Scholarship. The movie explains why academic publishing is a $25.2 billion a year business with for-profit publishers making a 35-40% profit margin. This profit margin is greater than some of the most successful Tech companies in the world. Paywall explains the problems and discusses why open access is a viable solution to many of the problems associated with scholarly publishing.

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Research in the Raw: Greg Lisby

photograph, Prof. Gregory Lisby, Communication

Prof. Greg Lisby

In the past 25 years, Communication Law has shifted its focus dramatically — from an emphasis on protecting freedom of speech to protecting the money-making opportunities resulting from freedom of speech, from a focus on the First Amendment to a focus on Intellectual Property Law. This is what the Supreme Court meant when it stated that copyright is the “engine of free expression,” which is based on the premise that people do not engage in free expression without the ability to profit financially. Whatever one thinks of this new conceptualization of free expression, it is what has led us directly (if we may steal an alliterative phrase from Perry Mason) to “The Case of the Smiling Simian Selfie.”

Can a non-human take a selfie, and if so, who owns the photograph? Communication law expert Gregory Lisby, Professor and Chair of Communication at Georgia State University and a licensed attorney in the state of Georgia, will be discussing the infamous “monkey selfie” case, stemming from apparent “selfies” of macaque monkeys taken using photographer Greg Slater’s equipment and which were later published in newspapers in the summer of 2011.

In his presentation “‘Selfies,’ Ownership and Copyright in the Digital Age,” Greg will be discussing these images in the context of questions of personhood, originality, intellectual property ownership, and, of course, whether a monkey can be an author Greg will discuss the infamous 2013 “monkey selfie” case and place it in the context of legal ownership. Greg is the second speaker in the University Library’s new Research in the Raw series.

one of the monkey "selfies" in dispute

Not Prof. Lisby

Research in the Raw is a series of informal talks in which GSU faculty members share work-in-progress. The series is brought to you by the Library’s Department of Research and Engagement.


Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2018


Colloquium Room, 8th Floor Library South

Register to attend


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M.H. Ross Papers Highlights

For this final blog post about the M.H. Ross Papers, the team who worked on the digitization project are highlighting our favorite pieces from the collection.

Kathryn Michaelis, Digital Projects Coordinator, Digital Library Services

Over the course of this year, I have spent a lot of time with the oral histories in the Ross collection. My choices reflect the general nature of these recordings and highlight Ross’ down-to earth personality.

Coal miners (Hess, Hornyak, Elekes, Belotsky, Merriweather), interviewed by M.H. Ross, 1971-05-17

This is an interview that Ross did with a group of coal miners who talk about their work and unionizing experiences in the early 20th century. You can tell that Ross loved talking to miners, and he encouraged them to express their true opinions and to talk about their lives honestly.

M.H. Ross, interviewed by Jane Ross Davis, 1986-09-16 (part 2)

Of the nearly 200 audio and video recordings in the collection, there are six recordings of Mike Ross being interviewed by his daughter Jane “Jancy” about his life. They all contain detailed descriptions of his experiences, and this is the beginning of the audio (the first part is transcript only). I love hearing him talk about his life in such an informal, unvarnished way.

Jeremy Bright, Library Technical Assistant – Digital Projects, Digital Library Services

For me, this is representative of Ross’ commitment to progressive values at a very early stage in his life and career. Not only did Ross volunteer his time for other progressive candidates and organizations, but he ran his own campaigns for both local and national politics, embracing a political platform that would still be considered progressive 70 years later. Through his papers, Ross’ passion and dedication to addressing and remedying racism, anti-semitism, sexism, and prejudice of all forms is made clear.



Anne West Ross: Union Maid by Jane Ross Davis, 2006 [L2001-05_120_23]

This is one of my absolute favorite documents in the Ross collection. Created by his daughter Jane Ross Davis, this booklet compiles and contextualizes news clippings, correspondence, songs from the labor movement, and photographs to describe her relationship to her family and the “family business,” specifically focusing on her mother. Anne West Ross, Mike Ross’ wife, was a union organizer in her own right and continued to dedicate herself to the labor movement (as well as a host of other progressive causes) after marrying Ross and beginning a family with him. There are so many moments in which she is the pivotal figure in Ross’ success, and this booklet is a way of engaging with that history.


Laurel Wilson, Sponsor Funded Office/Clerical, Library Technical Assistant, Digital Library Services

I’ve come to greatly admire Mike Ross and his wife Anne (Buddie), and their lifelong commitment to empowering the American people most in need, even at great personal cost. My selections are representative of Ross’ unwavering belief in the power of the people; that hardworking men and women of all walks of life can participate in the American Dream if united in the pursuit of fairness and opportunity for all.


Morenci: Diary of a Strike is a film produced by the United Steelworkers of American to document the strike of Phelps Dodge Corporation copper miners in Morenci, Arizona in 1955. This rare film provides an excellent education on the inner workings of a strike in the middle of the 20th century and highlights not only the diversity and closeness of a family-oriented union community, but the strength of unity and cooperation in labor, as well. This film also features Mike Ross in his role as union arbitrator.


The Man Who Stole Your Vote speaks to the eclectic nature of the M.H. Ross Papers. This educational comic book, released in 1952 by the National Research Bureau as part of the Good Government Series, colorfully teaches the power of representation—or lack thereof. American enfranchisement has been hard-fought and won through generations, and this material very well fits in with Ross’ belief in equal, participatory government.




The M.H. Ross Papers is available online thanks to a $48,865 grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission. You can explore the collection or get started with the Finding Aid

Previous M.H. Ross Blog entries:

New Digital Collection: M.H. Ross Papers

M.H. Ross Runs for City Council in Charlotte

A Young Man of Conviction – The Early Years of M.H. Ross

Sacrifice – The Rosses in the South

Panel to Discuss M.H. Ross: Labor Leader and Coal Miner’s Advocate


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