A small collection of resources about the University of California ‘negotiation’ with Nature Publishing Group

This week, the University of California announced a possible boycott by faculty and researchers of Nature Publishing Group.  UC felt they had to act after NPG was proposing a 400% increase in the UC site license subscription cost.  The proposal is for faculty to stop submitting articles to the journal, stop reviewing articles, resign from editorial boards, etc., in addition to canceling subscriptions to NPG journals.

Open Access - one solution to exorbitate journal prices

Official resources about the ongoing issue:

A small selection of commentary by people smarter than me:

Is this the start of something?  I emailed the Chronicle of Higher Education article to the faculty listserv at my institution, and one person actually responded saying ‘thank you’ for sending along the article.  The library is just now formulating plans for an Open Access Week event on Campus – could this raise faculty awareness of some of these issues?

Is this what was needed to bring the problems with the scholarly research and publication economy to light?  Or will all of this be forgotten by the time the fall semester starts?

I guess we’ll find out.

Faculty workshops, discussions and library initiatives: My big ideas and plans

In addition to my normal stuff (library instruction, reference, web design, committees) I’m been thinking about various discussions/workshops/plans for the future I’d like to pursue over the next few months:

lightbulb. Courtesy of Flickr user Tim Cummins
  • A faculty workshop about managing research and teaching information.  Most faculty are overwhelmed with information for their scholarly activities.  Some of them are familiar with citation managers (Endnote, Zotero, etc.) but not all.  I’d like to offer a workshop to discuss various free and not-free citation and document managers, as well as bookmarking tools like Connotea, CiteULike, delicious and Diigo.  I’ve explored many of these tools.  Some work for me, some don’t.  Faculty may appreciate being introduced to some of them.
  • A faculty workshop about creating assignments that effectively teach students literature research skills.  Some faculty aren’t interested in having a librarian come to their class and teach an information literacy session.  Would they be interested in how to make their assignments a bit better?  I recently chatted with a faculty member and gave him some feedback on a library assignment that he regularly gave his students – it hadn’t been updated in years, nor had he ever received feedback.  I was able to tell him what questions we were seeing at the reference desk.  He was thankful for the feedback.  I’m not sure that faculty would respond to a workshop like this, but it may be worth trying.
  • A series of campus-wide discussions.  The new “Scholarly Communication” group at my library is starting to think about ways to engage the college faculty and what role the library (and librarians) play in promoting/assisting/recognizing faculty scholarship.  We are talking about hosting (with the teaching and learning center) a discussion on open access.  Perhaps there could be a series of discussions about trends in Scholarly Communication:  digital humanities, sharing data, discovery of research via social networking, unusual new publications (incorporating video, for example).
  • Preserving student scholarship.  Each Spring, SUNY Geneseo hosts Great Day: “a college-wide symposium celebrating the creative and scholarly endeavors of our students.”  After Great Day, some of the posters are displayed for a year or two in the library or other academic buildings, but many are lost.  What if the library tried to preserve digital versions of these posters and presentations in an institutional repository?  What would be involved (organizationally)?  How do we deal with copyright?  What options do we offer students? Creative commons? Transfer copyright to Geneseo?  Maintain copyright?  Access?
  • Should I try to convince library staff to adopt an open access policy for their publications?  Gold?  Green?  (See Peter Suber’s excellent introduction to OA for definitions.)  Would folks object to such a policy?
  • I would love to have a discussion with library staff about the future of librarianship.  Recent discussions at the ScienceOnline2010 conference, friendfeed discussions, blog posts and other items make me think about where my profession is headed.  I would love to sit down with my colleagues to chat about it.  Trying to find a time when more than two or three of us can get together?  That’s the challenge.

There’s the list that I thought of this afternoon.  Nothing groundbreaking, but it should keep me busy for a little while.

Library Day in the Life

Round 4 of the Library Day in the Life project is today.  Here is what I spent my time doing:

8:15am – Arrive at work.  Check email, resolve some scheduling issues regarding March CHEM 216 (Organic Chemistry) information literacy classes.  Thank my non-sciencey colleagues profusely for helping me teach seven 2 hour sessions in one week.

9-10am – Head down to a “satellite” library to look at Department of Agriculture documents with the Government Documents librarian.  We discuss what to keep and what to ditch and what to catalog.  Brief discussion of unused library space and the use of USGS documents and the scanning of NYS Museum docs.  Run into a biology faculty member.  Remind myself to stop by and see him when I am next in the Integrated Science Center.

10am – Tea.  Because life is better with tea.

10:10-11:45am – Work on a lesson plan for an upper level math class I will teach later this afternoon.  Teaching students about how to determine the intended audience of a particular article, resources to help spark research topic ideas, and basic search strategies.

11:45am – Tea and lunch and phone calls.  Talk with director of the Teaching and Learning Center about having a brown bag luncheon about open access.  He likes the idea, now I just have to find folks to come and get the thing organized.

12:15pm – Spend 15 minutes shopping online trying to find a dress for a wedding in May.  Give up.

12:30pm – Fix an IM chat widget for our new libguides implementation.  At least, I think it’s fixed. [Discover later tonight that it wasn’t fixed. Hmmm.]

12:45 – 2pm Organize and plan for a series of information literacy sessions in three biology classes with one professor.  Three different sessions are later this week.  Create survey about the primary literature to send to students to see if they can pick out a primary research article when they see one.  See poll

2pm – Discussion with associate director about library support for scholarly activity and why librarians need to stop going to library conferences.  He wishes there was library representation at this conference.

2:15pm – Tea

2:30 – Review lesson plan for this afternoon’s math information literacy session.  I know the less about the math and computer science literature than the natural sciences, so preparing for this session takes longer than normal.

3pm – Work on a blog post for the Milne Library News Blog.

3:15pm – Work on a blog post for this blog.

3:30pm – Download the latest podcasts and update my iPhone so I have something to listen to on my way home.

3:50pm – Head to the classroom for my information literacy class to set up tabs on computer.

4pm – Teach a session on understanding audience, finding a topic and finding literature for an upper level Math seminar class.

5:15pm – Go home.

7:00pm – Receive a thank you email from the Math professor regarding our class earlier in the day.  Do a little happy dance that it went well.

Why academic librarians need to stop going to library conferences

ala conference - 'the stacks'
The vendors at the ALA conference, "The Stacks". From flickr.com user Squid!

And start going to the conferences our users – especially the faculty we work with – go to.

OK, we don’t have to completely stop going to library conferences, but unless we engage with our users more fully, I think we run the risk of being forgotten.

A bit of background.

At the ScienceOnline2010 conference, two librarians held a session attempting to tell scientists and researchers about library tools that were available.  The ensuing discussion between librarians and scientists solidified some ideas that I’ve been having for a while now about the library world.

Overall, there was a disconnect between the library world and the research world.  Scientists and scholars aren’t aware of what librarians do, beyond the whole ‘buying books’ thing.  And I don’t think that librarians are spending enough time listening to scientists and scholars to figure out what they really need and want.

After reading about this discussion online, a medical researcher responded in a blog post with a rather provocative title about what he thinks librarians can do for researchers.

Librarians – we need to listen to what the researchers are saying, and we need to play an active role in the discussion.  As a profession, I think we are more insular than we should be.  This needs to change.

That’s why we need to start attending the same conferences as the scholars we serve.

By engaging more fully with our users, we will better understand their needs (perhaps even anticipate some of them), and the library conferences we do attend will be more useful.

So, to that end, even though the freebies are more plentiful, I will not be attending the ALA annual conference this summer.  Hopefully, I will head to Denver for the Geological Society of America national meeting in October.  And perhaps the year after that I will make it to the American Chemical Society conference.

Why did I become a librarian? Blame my dad.

I just encountered the “Library Routes Project“, started in October, 2009, to document how librarians came to the profession.  In reading through some of the entries, it strikes me that my story is not unique – many of us came to the profession almost accidentally, at the recommendation of a friend or family member or through a serendipitous discovery of a magazine article about librarianship.

My Dad
My dad provided the push I needed to get my MLS

My short story is that my dad suggested it.

Have you thought about library school?  You should really look into it.

As usual with his pieces of advice, I ignored him for a few years before finally coming to the conclusion that he was absolutely spot-on.

When my dad first mentioned the idea, I was working as a geology lab instructor.  I had finished a graduate degree in geology (from Kent State University) in 2001, and I wasn’t quite sure where I wanted to go from there.  I knew I didn’t want to be a lab instructor for the duration – I wanted a career that had opportunities for advancement and the opportunity to try new things.  Neither was a part of my lab instructor position.  I explored a lot of options:  a degree in environmental engineering? a PhD in Geography? a PhD in Geology?

A question from a student in one of my lab courses brought me back to my dad’s advice.

I have this printout here, but I can’t find the rest of the article.

The student had found a citation from GeoRef, but didn’t have the knowledge or skills to connect the citation with the full text of the journal article.  We talked about it, and he seemed surprised to learn that there were bound journals over in the library.

I started researching ways to help my students with their research skills, and came across the concept of “information literacy“.

I realized that, as a librarian, I could help students in this way.

I started library school in 2005 and started working at my current position a few years later.

My job as a science librarian combined my love of research, my massive curiosity and my interest in educating college students.  As a science librarian, I get to be closely connected to scientific research and help students along their path to becoming scientists.

Thanks, Dad.

I really like my job

smiley face stickers courtesy of Flickr user South Carolinas Northern Kingdom
smiley face stickers courtesy of Flickr user "South Carolina's Northern Kingdom"

I enjoy searching for information – tracking down obscure citations and rejoicing over finding a related article in a different field.  I love a search that goes from online resources to older print materials and back again.

I was asked recently to work with a faculty member to do a literature review for a journal manuscript in science education, and I have been having a lot of fun tracking things down.

I had a starting place – a list of preliminary sources and a rough draft of the paper – to guide my work, but it took off in many directions.

So, what techniques have I pursued?

  • Starting from the preliminary bibliography, I can examine the works cited sections of those papers to find additional relevant material.
  • In addition, I can use Scopus to track citations forward in time.
  • Exploring keywords in multiple databases.  Like any search, there isn’t just one way to describe the topic we are searching.
  • Using Google and other specialized search engines to explore the web.  There is  a lot of science education material on the web that has been posted by various educators.

I was working with a topic I found interesting, in a field I am familiar with, with a faculty member who is nice to work with.  It all adds up to job satisfaction.

Librarians and Open Access – What are we Actually Doing?

ResearchBlogging.org

The librarians I’ve met at workshops, at conferences, and on the web, are generally strong supporters of open access. My impression has always been that our professional philosophy of providing information to our users free of charge (to them) fits very nicely with the philosophy of the open access movement.

Recently, I’ve started to wonder if our actions with regard to open access have any correlation with our professed opinions.

A recent article in the (subscription only) journal College and Research Libraries seems to support the idea that while we talk the talk, we aren’t very good at walking the walk, so to speak.

Kristi L. Palmer, Emily Dill, & Charlene Christie (2009). Where There’s a Will There’s a Way?: Survey of Academic Librarian Attitudes about Open Access College and Research Libraries, 70 (4), 315-335 Issue TOC

In this study, the authors surveyed academic librarians about their attitudes and certain actions regarding open access.

The authors conclude that while librarians believe that libraries should be educating users about open access and encouraging faculty to publish in open-access journals, they aren’t actually engaging in conversations about these activities. Librarians are also hesitant about devoting library resources to support open access.

One significant problem with this study was the failure to examine the publishing actions of librarians.  The actions discussed in the article mainly involved reading about open access and talking about open access with colleagues and faculty.  I was disappointed when reading the article, because to me, publishing in open access journals is one of the highest profile actions a librarian can take in support of open access.

In fact, if librarians are to have any credibility with others when we encourage them to explore open access publishing options, shouldn’t we be publishing in open access journals ourselves?

Symptomatic of the problem seems to be the lack of high-impact open access journals in library and information studies.  Open access journals in librarianship exist – there are 96 listed on the Directory of Open Access Journals website – but many of these service particular countries, specialties or publish infrequently.

This is something that librarians can change – publish in an open access journal, then talk about the experience with your colleagues and the faculty at your institution.  Support your beliefs with measurable action.

UPDATE – A College and Research Libraries Pre-print was posted this morning – The Open Access Availability of Library and Information Science Literature (PDF) – indicating that 27.5% of articles from the top 20 library journals could be found in open access full text online (either on the publishers website or in an institutional repository). So we aren’t publishing in OA journals, and we aren’t self-archiving most of the time either.