A network for new and aspiring library professionals
Day 1: Open Access (OA), data and scholarly communications were the focus of the day in terms of keynotes & looked at the following:
The first plenary was delivered by Ann Rossiter and in addition to providing a background to SCONUL she explained that their shared mission was to “provide faster access to world knowledge”. Ann gave an overview of how things have changed:
Library budgets have flat lined over last few years, however, content is increasing: budget for content takes up a large portion this; which is problematic. Ann stated that libraries have become as efficient as possible already; they don’t want to cut content, but are at a crunch point. So how can we change the dynamics?
Ann states that publishers could come up with a list of changes libraries can make – thus both parties can deliver efficiency through these partnerships.
In terms of OA, as a nation we have made the decision to embrace OA but the transition has been too slow and too expensive – why? Hybrid journals are less competitive than OA journals, which has a real impact on libraries: 60% of research is hidden behind pay walls! Publishers need to get on board with and embrace OA, they need to adjust their business model: including moving away from print subscriptions, embracing off-setting now (as reputation matters) and being realistic about library budgets.
Libraries need to avoid being wedded to traditional ways of doing things and need to re-engineer scholarly comms in the meantime (before all content becomes OA) – thinking about how much can be done collaboratively. Profiteering publishers: beware! Your profits may cushion you from the need to innovate until it’s too late.
Ann’s session was thought provoking and very well received by the audience (she even got a round of applause during her session!).
The second plenary, delivered by Michael Jubb, focused on progress towards OA. Michael stated that there are 447 different OA policies across funders in Europe. All of the policies have been carefully thought through but there are strong differences between them e.g. licences, green, deposit. They change often, are difficult to understand (the language/terminology needs addressing e.g. self-archiving – doesn’t accurately describe the process!) and can also be difficult to find. In terms of facts:
OA success in the UK is good but much work to be done says Jubb, focusing on policies, workflow, researcher understanding, compliance, costs. If we want a way to a better future for OA publishing, we need to work together for a shared purpose and to tackle challenges.
The third plenary, delivered by Charlie Rapple, focused on reputation management and how our role lies in supporting the personal brands created by researchers. In doing this we need to look at where researchers are putting their output e.g. Facebook and how we can monitor this – e.g. tools such as Kudos.
“Open access – the funder perspective”
There is a catch 22 for OA: researchers can’t move because of reputation, publishers because of business and universities because of rankings. Funders, large and small, need to share best practice and introduce greater consistency in OA policies and outcomes. Publishers need to provide clarity on pricing for products (including big deals) and transparency is needed with no non-disclosure as its public money. If there’s more transparency/clarity on APCs there can be a discussion on what this is actually paying for in this publishing process; this could lead to a change in prices. Funders have to be committed, prudent, and swift when implementing OA.
“Open scholarly communications data”
“Meet the new professionals”
Siobhan was joined by Anna Theis and Dom Fripp in the session, all of whom spoke about their career to date including their current roles, provided tips to other new professionals including where to look for jobs/how to get experience, their insight into library schools and what experienced professionals could learn from new professionals. The key theme, from all of the new professionals presentations, is the ability and willingness to collaborate and liaise with external teams. Kate Price (UKSG chair) mentioned thus session as one of her conference highlights.
The message I took away from this first day is that simplification is needed in terms of terminology (if we struggle with it, what hope do our users have) and policies. There is also a need for greater need for transparency on behalf of publishers. Business models and working practices will need to be adapted, by libraries and publishers, in addition to a rethinking of the fundamental basis of their approach to working together (collaboration), in which respective interests are more closely aligned.
Day 2: the focus of the day in terms of keynotes was user engagement/experience and looked at the following:
The first plenary was delivered by Donna Lanclos who talked about UX and its use in finding out what our users are doing and adapting accordingly. Donna explained that qualitative approaches allow us to pull back and think of how our work is embedded. The “lived experience” of academics is not closed, therefore, we need to counter these institutional modes of practice e.g. one-stop shop, hierarchies etc. We can’t get to the “lived experience” with analytics, neither can we just take the students word for it, thus different methods need to be employed e.g. cognitive mapping. Cognitive mapping can be used to show us all the places people work and how, including the bus, the communities students engage with, whether online and offline, networks of people and resources are all factors. The rich data generated in these exercises (in addition to interviews) can be revisited over and over again, and give us a sense of where people are digitally and why. Conversations after these mapping experiences are really important as you can find reasoning/motivations behind these actions.
Thus when you know what these motivations are you can explore alternative ways of meeting them; this practice leads to fewer assumptions and more grounding. In order to build systems that will really be used, we have to understand the many connections and experiences of users. We don’t have to control people’s practices to help them to be good practitioners, in the same way we can educate them so they can make good choices about which tools they use and not just how to use tools.
In terms on content Donna also said that we should be asking “why must it be closed” rather than “why should we open it?” and be honest about the reasons.
The second plenary, led by Andre Avorio, was about Open Music Library; which was not fully open and thus prompted a lot of debate on Twitter and also in the Q&A session. The key point from this session (for me) was that despite the increase in CC content available, music is hard to find, discover and and use (music is dealt with quite poorly by both Google and discovery systems).
The third plenary was delivered by Sarah Pittaway and focused on engaging students in order to shape services. The aims of the project were:
Partnership and collaboration were cited as being key to the success of the project. Students became partners/change agents (2 student coordinators), who are actively involved in delivering the library service e.g. carrying out surveys/questionnaires, focus groups & projects such as top tips for library users, inductions, creation of mascots. However, Sarah informed us when taking on ideas from students it is important to make them aware of the limitations in what can be done. Added benefits of this project included changing staff culture – positive change in behaviour, and has raised the library’s profile.
This theme continued in the breakout session I attended:
“Students, customers or partners? Ensuring the student voice is heard through effective market research”
Both University of Liverpool and the University of Birmingham libraries employed market research to look at many areas e.g. social media, signage, discovery service, space. This research involved the use of surveys and workshops to gain user input in order to improve services. At Liverpool this was carried out by students and has led to a new Student Library Partnership group which is beneficial to both library staff and students.
The message I took away from the first half of the day is that it is important to speak to our users to find how they work/interact and thus adapt our processes/systems (where possible) to align with this.
The following lightning talks were both very powerful and provided an insight into libraries and publishers in developing countries including the isolation and challenges faced and also principles for engagement:
“Transition from in-trays to inbox to internet: using an online source workflow management system to improve electronic resources work processes”
The impetus for Queen’s University Belfast using an online workflow management system to improve e-resources work processes came from:
They opted for open source as there was no additional money. They were looking for something modifiable to their needs & needs of e-resources and after conducting research found Trello had been implemented within a library environment so opted for this. Geraldine then gave us a demonstration of Trello explaining the features are benefits; this was really useful because although we (NLPN) use Trello for our organisation I was not aware all of the functions available e.g. sending emails directly to Trello.
Final plenary sessions:
Cameron Neylon – “Investing in scholarly futures: communities, funding and the reimagining of research communications”. Cameron began his session talking about culture and how the culture of researchers is being mega busy, focused on being better than everyone else, rankings, imposter syndrome. Publishing has a lot of women in it, but is quite a masculine culture nonetheless. Publishers believe they’re focused on quality assurance, intellectual property and service but in argument they use retail analogies. Cameron tells us that in order to understand anyone’s position on scholarly publishing ask about Sci Hub and listen to the answer e.g. the language of liberation vs the language of theft and piracy. We were told that property and copyright of little interest to researchers, who just want access, however, it is publishers who are the ones concerned with theft and piracy. Publishers and researchers define assets differently: money vs time = different investments. Thus conversations on changing nature of scholarly comms are going nowhere because different groups are focused on different interpretations, however, researchers need to take back control. We need to think beyond capital investments to the time and investment input by researchers, finding a common language, having conversations between publishers, researchers, librarians.
The last plenary was delivered by Emma Mulqueeny and focused on 97ers – those “born digital”. Emma stated the following things about 97ers:
Emma ended her talk by stating that “IP is dead in the water in the next ten years” and with this new generation the response should be to publish everything!
This conference would be a really useful for those involved in or interested in research support as there was a lot of focus on researchers (how to support them, how they work etc.) and open access (from a funder perspective, progress in this area etc.). There were a lot of bursaries available for this conference so if this is an area you’re interested in make sure you check out the bursaries for next year’s conference (we will tweet about this when they’re released) and also look at our guide to applying for bursaries.
Links to other people’s write ups/video blogs:
Jo Alcock’s blog post including video reviews
Beth Tapster’s blog post
Ruth MacMullen’s blog post
Susan Hill’s post for UKSG
Detailed feedback from some of the delegates via UKSG
Link to presentations on slideshare
Link to Storify we have curated