Osgoode Digital Commons: Disseminating Osgoode’s Scholarship and Heritage


A historic timeline of the Osgoode Digital Commons.

In 2012 librarians at the Osgoode Hall Law School Law Library began thinking about establishing an institutional repository that would capture and disseminate faculty scholarship created at the Osgoode Hall Law School. Initial objectives for this institutional repository were:

  • to provide open access to
    institutional research at Osgoode through self-archiving;
  • to create global visibility for
    Osgoode’s scholarly research;
  • to collect the content in a
    single, easily accessible location;
  • to store and preserve other
    Osgoode digital assets, including unpublished or otherwise easily lost
    literature, for example, so-called “grey” literature and other ephemeral
    literature such commissioned reports, studies and policy documents.

Bepress Digital Commons was selected for three reasons: first, the interface was clean, well thought out and could be easily customized to reflect Osgoode’s own brand; second, there was a large network of law libraries already using this platform and by using it Osgoode could connect with and participate in the “commons” that is a feature of Digital Commons; and third, Bepress provided a consultant and technical support staff dedicated to keeping our content safe, secure and findable.

Osgoode Digital Commons (ODC) was “soft launched” in January, 2014, and by May of that year law library staff had added about 2,000 resources which included the complete collections of the Osgoode Hall Law Journal (OHLJ), the Journal of Law and Social Policy (JLSP) and the Comparative Research in Law & Political Economy Paper Series (CLPE) (now the Osgoode Legal Studies Research Paper Series (OLSRPS)).

After just 4 months of online exposure, before any “official launch” was announced, ODC had already attracted over 69,000 full-text downloads. Still true for ODC traffic today, most of those downloads were articles attributed to OHLJ. However, this was already an early indication of how highly legal researchers and members of the public regarded scholarship that comes out of the Osgoode Hall Law School.

For the remainder of 2014 ODC staff efforts focused on collecting and uploading research papers by Osgoode faculty. This process included securing the appropriate copyright clearance to ensure that these papers could be offered as open access under a Creative Commons 4.0 license.

As ODC continued to grow it became a respected part of the digital landscape. In 2015 the collection of Osgoode scholarly work had reached a point where it made sense to acquire SelectedWorks, an additional feature that showcases the work of faculty as individual scholars. This provided an additional avenue of exposure and another entry point for the discovery of Osgoode scholarship.

Osgoode Digital Commons new downloads per year

Full-text downloads continued to increase as both new and historical scholarship was discovered by a public hungry for information. ODC is optimized for discovery which makes Osgoode scholarship appear at the top of mainstream web search results. Subsequently in 2016, after only 2 years of online activity, ODC reached one million full-text downloads!  

In addition to scholarly work, additional information created by and about Osgoode Hall Law School was collected and made available. This included historical information, aspects of student life, class pictures, special events, guest lectures and other expressions of Osgoode as place. By 2018, the online momentum of ODC continued to increase achieving a record 2 million full-text downloads.

Osgoode Digital Commons cumulative downloads per year

Now, as we approach the end of 2019, we have crossed another significant milestone. With a readership that now reaches many, many individual researchers, over 2,300 institutions, and with a global reach into almost 200 countries, we have now distributed 2.5 million full-text documents to the world!

Congratulations to everyone on this amazingly successful dissemination of Osgoode’s scholarship and heritage!

* Many thanks to Teodora Naydenova for preparing the graphics for this post!

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