1. What is the purpose of this site?

The rise of the blogosphere presents exciting new opportunities for research libraries and the institutions they support.

Spartan Ideas has been launched as a curated aggregation web site, open to a public audience, offering re-blogging of posts selected by MSU librarians with responsibility for electronic ephemera.  The re-blogged material consists of blog items originally posted elsewhere by members of the MSU community:  faculty, staff, retirees, and currently enrolled students.   Topical scope extends to any matter of bibliographic collection AND current blogosphere interest.

2. What is the purpose of this site? What gets re-posted (“aggregated”) here?

Material is eligible for possible inclusion in Spartan Ideas if all of the following apply:

  • It has been previously published to a blog site by an individual who is either (i) a current or retired MSU faculty or staff member or (ii) a student who is currently enrolled in an MSU degree program.  Such individuals are almost always identifiable from their inclusion in https://search.msu.edu/people/.
  • The identifiable author has given, or assisted the University to obtain, all necessary permissions for the re-posting.
  • The material being re-posted is lawful and complies with both the “Spartan Ideas Terms of Use” and the MSU Acceptable Use Policy for Information Technology Resources, which is available at http://itservices.msu.edu/guidelines-policies/aup.html.

Some blogs accept posts from multiple individuals.  Such posts are eligible for possible inclusion provided the authorship by a specific individual is unambiguous.  Thus, for example, an anonymous blog post is not eligible.

As is the case with the selection of any privately published material for inclusion in the collections of the MSU Library, the final decision whether or not to re-post eligible material in Spartan Ideas — and also whether, how, and how long to preserve such material in the MSU Library collections — will rest with the responsible members of the MSU Library staff.

3. May posts include non-print (e.g., video or audio) media, data tables, or other supplemental material?

Yes, if they were present in the post on the original blog site and are otherwise eligible for re-posting.

4. Who decides what gets posted?

Per #2 above, the responsible members of the MSU Library staff make the decision.

The MSU librarians currently supporting Spartan Ideas include:

5. How long are aggregated re-posts kept?

Privately published material in the collections of the MSU Library may become subject to de-accession at any time, at the sole discretion of Michigan State University.

At present, no de-accession of Spartan Ideas aggregated re-post content is envisioned. De-accession of comments on the postings are addressed separately; please see #14, below.

6. Where can I find more posts similar to one I like?

To ensure the eligibility of material for aggregation as re-posts in Spartan Ideas, the site of each re-post’s original posting is identified in every post.  Often, the original posting site would be a good place to look for similar material.

7. Does MSU endorse the content of the material posted?

No.  Like every library at a major research university, the MSU Library routinely collects material to which no institutional endorsement attaches.  The material variously may be political, religious, or satirical in nature.  It may also be — or be perceived to be — polemical, indecent, bigoted, or empirically incorrect.  Nevertheless, illustrative examples are collected.  Acting within the law, research libraries and their librarians make acquisition judgments based on the scholarly and creative utility and importance of the materials:  not on societal acceptability or political correctness.

Consistent with the foregoing remarks, no University endorsement of the content of re-posted blog materials is implied or may be inferred from inclusion of a re-posting in the Spartan Ideas aggregation.  Collection decisions reflect the professional judgment of MSU librarians that the re-posted material is of current and/or long-term interest, as a reflection of the engagement of contemporary members of the University community (i.e., “Spartans”) with the life of the mind.

8. What if I disagree with something that is posted?

A good starting point would be to ask oneself what one would do if in disagreement with the contents of a book, film, periodical, or any other library resource.

As asserted by Justice Brandeis, joined by Justice Holmes, in their concurrence in Whitney v. California (274 U.S. 357), “the fitting remedy for evil counsels is good ones”.  The temporary opportunity to make comments is provided on each re-post within the Spartan Ideas aggregation; please see #12, below.  Such comments will be accepted for a limited time, and displayed for a limited time.  However, just as the attachment of comments or other annotations is not a characteristic of the books in a research library collection, comments on the re-posts in the Spartan Ideas aggregation is neither recommended as, nor intended to be, the sole or primary method by which to remedy posts with which one disagrees.   For example, superior courses of action might be to comment on the post at its original blog site (see #6, above) where more topically focused reader interaction with the author may be anticipated, or to address the issue in one’s own blog (see #11, below).

9. What should I do if I already blog and want my current posts aggregated, or I know of another Spartan’s blog that should be aggregated?

Reader assistance in identifying sources of material eligible for re-posting in Spartan Ideas is appreciated.  Please send an e-mail regarding any sites you wish to nominate to any of the librarians listed in #4, above.

If the nominated blog is your own, please include an explicit statement of permission to re-post your blog entries, in the following form:


Except as I may otherwise specifically indicate within them, I own my blog entries in my blog entitled ________________ at http://_________________________ .   My blog entries are personal in nature and are not made on behalf of any organization.  I hereby grant Michigan State University continuing permission to re-post my entries from that blog within the “Spartan Ideas” re-posting aggregation site at no cost to MSU.  I understand that I may revoke such permission prospectively at any time by e-mailing sowards@msu.edu, but only with respect to those of my entries not previously re-posted to Spartan Ideas.

10. How can I start blogging if I am not already?

Spartan Ideas contains information on establishing personal blogs at a variety of sites that provide information for their creation and maintenance.

11. How do I comment on a Spartan Ideas re-post?

Comments are maintained for Spartan Ideas posts using a utility called Disqus.  It is invoked by pushing the button that appears beneath each Spartan Ideas re-post.

Please note that comments are accepted and maintained for a limited period, uniform for all posts that are compliant with the Terms of Use. Comments that are not compliant with the Terms of Use are subject to immediate deletion. If commenting is attempted on an archival post, the utility may not be available.

12. Does MSU endorse the comments?


13. How long are comments accepted and retained?

At launch, the plan is to close and delete comments thirty days after the re-post date of the blog item to which they refer.  The period will be adjusted based on site experience.

14. Why are the rules different for posts and comments on them?

Posts are individually pre-selected by librarian bibliographers from other blog sites for re-posting, as a part of a permanent collection.  By contrast, comments are volunteered by Spartan Ideas readers and appear temporarily without such MSU Library selection or other monitoring, except for compliance with law, regulations, and institutional policy

15. Are other universities launching similar sites?

Yes, although the specific structures and the rules of the sites vary.  See, for example:

  • http://blogs.berkeley.edu/
  • http://today.duke.edu/opinion
  • http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/

16. To whom should I direct questions or criticisms about Spartan Ideas?

Please call (517-884-6391) or e-mail (sowards@msu.edu) Steven Sowards at the MSU Library.