March 2010 Issue • Volume 38 • Issue 3

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The Digital Library Gets a Name!

by Margaret Weigers Vitullo, ASA Academic and Professional Affairs Program

The culmination of two years of work is close to fruition, with the naming of the ASA Digital Library. It has been almost a year and a half years since the first call went out for name suggestions for the new digital library of teaching resources (see the December 2008 Footnotes). As we reviewed the 100+ submissions, our goal was to find names that were short, memorable, reflected the purpose of the digital library, and could easily be used in promotional materials. Based on those criteria a list of six "finalists" was sent to the ASA attorneys to make sure they could be trademarked.

Following the recommendations of the attorneys, two of the six names were discarded, leaving us a final list of four potential names. A brief survey was sent to 100 stakeholders, who were asked to rank the remaining names.

Drum Roll, Please!


And now after two long years, the digital library finally has
a name. It will be called TRAILS: Teaching Resources And Innovations Library for Sociology. In keeping with the pre-established criteria, TRAILS is short, memorable, and easily used in promotional materials.

Other work on the digital library is nearing completion, as the ASA Academic and Professional Affairs Program prepares to launch the digital library of sociological teaching materials. ASA members will soon be able to explore TRAILS for themselves. The graphic design "look and feel" for the library has been finalized and all the ASA paper syllabi sets have been digitized and modulized and metadata has been added to each resource (metadata are the "tags" used by search engines to locate resources). This means that from the first day of launch, TRAILS will include more than 2,700 sociological teaching resources.

By the second day, the number of resources in TRAILS is expected to be even larger. Thirty-three ASA members have been recruited to act as area editors responsible for reviewing new materials submitted to TRAILS (see the November/December 2009 Footnotes). New submissions can include syllabi, class activities, lectures, assignments, assessment tools, power point presentations, video clips, images, website lists, and more.

The Copyright of Teaching

TRAILS has been designed with a commitment to the promotion of scholarly teaching and learning in sociology. When making other purchases on the Internet, you may skim (or skip) the "small print" of the legal statements on the site and just click "I agree." Yet, the legal agreements for subscribers and submitters to TRAILS include some important innovations that are designed to support teachers and teaching in sociology. For example, when articles are published in traditional journals, the journal generally claims copyright. In contrast, authors of resources submitted to TRAILS will only license their materials to the ASA, thus retaining copyright privileges that allow them to publish the materials in other forums as they choose. Once a new resource is accepted for publication, TRAILS will automatically generate a cover page that includes a suggested citation. In turn, subscribers to TRAILS will electronically sign an agreement stating that any TRAILS resources they use "either as provided on the Digital Library or as modified by you, will contain a clear and legible citation following the suggested citation provided to you on the Resource Cover Page." In this way, TRAILS creates a new way to give and receive credit for the scholarship of teaching and learning.

The member price for a year’s subscription to TRAILS will be $25, making it affordable while also supporting ongoing site maintenance and eventually off-setting a portion of the development costs.

The long wait for the ASA digital library of sociological teaching materials is almost over. Watch for the upcoming announcement of the launch of TRAILS—leading to great teaching in sociology!

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