In January, 2010, my library formed a Scholarly Communication Group, of which I am a member. One of our first activities was to honor a recent faculty publication (Broadway : an encyclopedia of theater and American culture by Thomas Allen Greenfield) that involved many campus authors. After this celebration, we have struggled a bit to find our role at this small liberal arts college.
In search of a well defined purpose for our group, I attended the recent Spring Conference of the Western New York and Ontario chapter of the Association of College and Research Libraries (WNY-O ACRL). The conference theme was “Getting the Word Out: Scholarly Communication and Academic Libraries.” I was hoping to get some ideas of things that we could do NOW, and to look at how we might be able to grow our scholarly communication efforts over time. I wasn’t disappointed.
What can we do now?
- We can help faculty interpret their publishing contracts, suggesting the SPARC author addendum when appropriate.
- We can do the research and legwork to help faculty find a good journal to publish something new in. They are probably already familiar with journals in their primary research area, but if their interests lead them in new directions, we may be able to help find a publication venue that meets their needs.
- We can recommend tools and programs to help scholars manage digital information. Bookmarking from Delicious, Connotea or Diigo. PDF and reference management with Zotero or Mendeley (among others). Customizing research databases like Scopus. And lots more.
- We can recommend programs and tools to better enable intra- or inter- campus collaboration (webinar software, Google Docs, etc.)
- We have always offered assistance with literature searching and research consultations, now these activities can be combined under a heading of Scholarly Communication Services
What do I want our library do in the future?
- Develop an institutional repository for undergraduate presentations, faculty publications, conference posters and presentations and anything else that folks want to put in it. We need to set up a repository, figure out how we will manage it, and what we want in it.
- Work with faculty to develop plans and strategies for managing their research data (especially now that NSF grant applicants may be asked for a “Data Management Plan”). We need to learn about data management. I suspect that many of our current skills will transfer nicely, but I need to learn a bit about it.
- Assist faculty with NIH Pub Med Central Deposits (this shouldn’t be too hard to get started with, but we have very few NIH grant recipients at the moment)
- Present faculty colloquia about scholarly communication issues. I think we are getting started on this.
The conference sessions also gave me some important insight about how to discuss scholarly communication issues with faculty and administrators. Austin Booth and Charles Lyons from the University of Buffalo presented the results of some surveys and discussions they’ve done with faculty to gauge faculty interest and knowledge of scholarly communication issues. The short story is that (no surprise) faculty aren’t particularly interested in the serials crisis. They are interested in their own publishing opportunities. As a result, the question of open access (either gold or green via institutional repositories) may best be framed in terms of the impact on faculty publication. Although there is still some debate, the studies evaluating the impact of open access seem to point to an increase in citations to articles that are freely available.
Although it was brief (just one day) and small (no more than 50 participants) it was an excellent conference that gave me a lot of ideas for the future of scholarly communications in our library.