September 2021

Scholars Portal Newsletterr

In This Issue:

Confused by an acronym? Check out the OCUL Acronym Glossary. If there’s something we’re missing, you can email to suggest an addition!


What’s New at Scholars Portal?

  • Join us in welcoming Yuriy Czoli as our new Data Services Programmer!
  • The Back to School with Scholars Portal 2021 webinar was held on September 14. View the recording on YouTube.
  • We’re partnering with the OCUL Data Community to launch a new guide, Data on Racialized Populations, to aid information professionals and researchers in searching for data on Indigenous and racialized peoples and groups. The guide includes many descriptions and links to data collections held in ODESI, and will also be featured on the ODESI home page later this fall.
  • Building on the successful OCUL Historical Topographic Maps Digitization Project, we’ve partnered with the University of Toronto Libraries (UTL) to provide access to an additional set of historical topographic maps covering all of Ontario and parts of Canada at the 1:50,000 scale. Stay tuned for the release later this fall!
  • Ask a Librarian opened for the fall semester on Tuesday, September 7, with fall hours: Monday-Thursday 10-10, Friday 10-5, and weekends 12-6. The fall schedule will run until Friday, December 10, with a closure on Monday, October 11 for Thanksgiving.


New Content

New on Scholars Portal Journals:

New on Scholars Portal Books:

  • Bloomsbury Collections: scholarly titles from Bloomsbury Publishing (UofT only).
  • Azrieli Foundation: a collection of Holocaust survivor memoirs.
  • Coming soon: a target in Alma/SFX/360 for Open Access titles on Scholars Portal Books.

New geospatial datasets in Scholars GeoPortal:

  • DMTI 2020 CanMap Content Suite: over 100 layers of Canadian geospatial data including points of interest, vegetation regions, boundaries, and roads.
  • DRAPE 2019 imagery: orthophotography of the Eastern Ontario region.
  • City of Mississauga 2020 imagery: aerial photography of Mississauga region.

New surveys in ODESI:

  • Labour Force Survey, June and July 2021: a monthly survey on the labour market activities of Canada’s working age population.
  • Canadian Tobacco and Nicotine Survey, 2020: a survey on the prevalence of cigarette smoking, vaping, and cannabis use among Canadians.
  • Social Policy Simulation Database, version 28: a product designed to assist those interested in analyzing the financial interactions of governments and individuals in Canada.


Spotlight: Laurier Library, the CNIB, and Scholars Portal Journals

The spotlight is an opportunity for members of the OCUL community to share how Scholars Portal services fit into their work. This edition’s spotlight was contributed by Mark Weiler and Ashley Shaw at Wilfrid Laurier University. 

Mark Weiler (Wilfrid Laurier) and Bart Kawula (Scholars Portal) have been working to adjust Scholars Portal Journals (SPJ) to be more usable for blind screen reader users (as previously discussed at Scholars Portal Day). We made the search results more navigable, added a form to report accessibility problems, and created a guide to help screen reader users learn the platform more quickly.

Having this relationship proved helpful. A little later, the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) asked Mark to teach university-level library research to visually impaired high school students attending a virtual summer camp. The students were from across Canada and preparing for post-secondary education.

Mark included Ashley Shaw, the Laurier Library Web Accessibility Student Advisor, in co-preparing and co-teaching the sessions. Ashley is a Master’s community psychology student at Laurier, a research associate at the CNIB, a board member of Braille Literacy Canada, and an expert JAWS user herself.

Drawing on her research, Ashley explained to Mark how the lesson also created an opportunity for new partnerships that can increase capacity to proactively remove obstacles. Mark reached out to Bart and Laurier’s assistive technologist. As we prepared the lesson plan, Mark relayed obstacles to Bart who adjusted the SPJ interface.

Our lesson had students look up an open access article in Laurier Library’s Omni and find it on Scholars Portal Journals. We prepared for students who would be using both screen readers and screen magnifiers. We recorded a podcast for the students and Bart welcomed the students with a message too. This level of responsiveness is not something we’d ever get from a vendor.

The biggest challenge we encountered, however, was finding a properly tagged PDF in the vast SPJ collection. Improperly tagged PDFs create a second-class reading experience for users of screen readers and Braille displays. How can we all work together to remove such obstacles to participation in communities of scholarship? Perhaps this is another opportunity! If you’d like to join us, please reach out to us!

Mark Weiler is the Web & UX Librarian at Laurier Library, Ashley Shaw is the Web Accessibility Student Advisor at Laurier Library, and Bart Kawula is the Web & Discovery Services Librarian at Scholars Portal.


The Nitty-Gritty

New and improved features:

  • The back-end of Dataverse is now hosted on the Ontario Library Research Cloud (ORLC), Scholars Portal’s cloud storage service. This means that all data deposited is now replicated at least 3 times across the 5 geographically-distributed storage nodes, and storage can be expanded more easily in the future as needed.
  • Preservation metadata is now available in Scholars Portal Books. If you open a book from the Canadian University Press collection (the first collection to be processed for preservation), metadata about the preservation status of the title such as file format and fixity is accessible by clicking on the “Details” tab.
  • We’re in the process of upgrading our Open Journal Systems (OJS) instances to the latest version of the software, 3.3. This upgrade will introduce a number of new features and improvements, including published article versioning, article previews before publication, and accessibility enhancements.

Bug fixes:

  • We resolved an issue with the “read it here” button for some Open Access articles, so now users can go straight to the full text.
  • We fixed a problem with the “search by author” feature on the Journals platform and optimized the search for more relevant results.
  • We resolved an issue with files getting stuck in the ingest process for Dataverse, which prevented the publication of a dataset.

Many thanks to all those who reported bugs to us or assisted in testing! If you spot any problems, please report them via our built-in feedback forms or to


Your Feedback!

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Scholars Portal is committed to providing all users with equitable access to our consortial services and resources. To provide feedback on the accessibility of this newsletter or to request an alternative format, please contact

Next edition: January 2022

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