Open Access is just the Beginning…

By DeDe Dawson
Science & Scholarly Communication Librarian, University of Saskatchewan

Lately I have been making lots of presentations on open access (OA) to faculty, administrators, and other campus groups. Mostly these presentations are well received, but often there is some push-back too. The majority of the push-back is related to stubbornly persistent and widespread misunderstandings or misinformation about what OA is (and isn’t) and how it can be achieved. I can handle that. But occasionally, I also get the “OA is too radical” kind of push-back. This I can’t handle. Because really, OA is just the beginning…

Let me explain.

One of the main reasons we need OA is because the current system of scholarly publishing (especially for journals) is dysfunctional, unsustainable, and inequitable. It has become this way because academia has handed over control of the scholarly literature to large, commercial publishers that care primarily about ownership and revenues (some “non-profit” scholarly publishers are no better). These entities have systematically bought up smaller publishers and society publishers resulting in an oligopoly.

“This consolidated control has led to unaffordable costs, limited utility of research articles, the proliferation of western publishing biases, and a system in which publisher lock-in through big deal licenses is the norm.” (SPARC, 2017)

OA gave the possibility of some relief. But now these same publishers are co-opting OA. They have cleverly incorporated OA as an additional revenue stream in hybrid journals and new OA megajournals. And academia is spending more money than ever, not just on astronomical subscriptions – but now also on article processing charges (APCs) for “gold OA.” All to buy back, or make accessible, research that has already been paid for by grants and faculty salaries. This is not how it was meant to be! OA is still achievable without hemorrhaging more and more funds to commercial publishers. This money can be better spent.

We currently have a system for “green OA” – posting manuscripts in institutional or subject repositories at no cost to authors or readers. We could conceivably bypass traditional journals entirely and simply use networks of interoperable repositories as the infrastructure for scholarly communication, overlaid with platforms to manage peer review and promote discoverability, etc. Academics already provide the content (research papers), and the quality control (peer review, editorial work). And academic libraries can provide the technical infrastructure, curation, and long-term preservation. COAR’s Next Generation Repositories initiative advocates for something along these lines:

“COAR’s vision is to position repositories as the foundation for a distributed, globally networked infrastructure for scholarly communication, on top of which layers of value added services will be deployed, thereby transforming the system, making it more research-centric, open to and supportive of innovation, while also collectively managed by the scholarly community.” (COAR, 2017)

I know, I know, this is not exactly simple. We have considerable ingrained academic culture and incentive structures to contend with (prestige journals and Impact Factors anyone?); but it is worth striving for as a long term goal to free our institutions (and our research) from the commercial overlords. The enormous amounts of money currently tied up in overpriced subscriptions could eventually be redirected to supporting this infrastructure and there’d likely be remaining funds to reinvest in more research or student scholarships.

The trouble is commercial publishers are now seeking to control this infrastructure too. Elsevier has been pretty transparent about its new strategy of buying up software and platforms that support researchers at all stages of the research lifecycle. Examples include Mendeley, SSRN, and bepress. They have also developed Pure, a current research information system (“CRIS”), to sell to university administrators for research assessment and analytics. Elsevier is clearly attempting to enclose all key elements of the research enterprise – to sell back to us (at inflated prices no doubt). This feels strangely familiar… ah yes, it is what they’ve already done with the scholarly literature!

Academia must get ahead of this trend for once. We must be as strategic and cunning as the commercial entities. We must collaborate across institutions and nations. We must maintain control of the infrastructure supporting the research enterprise. The first and most basic step is to financially support open infrastructure as David Lewis suggests in his 2.5% Commitment:

“At the end of the day, if we don’t collectively invest in the infrastructure we need for the open scholarly commons, it will not get built or it will only be haphazardly half built.” (Lewis, 2017).

So, OA is just the beginning. Now we need to move on to supporting open scholarly infrastructure owned and controlled by the research community. We cannot allow this to be co-opted too.

Further reading:
Accelerating academy-owned publishing – In the Open blog post, Nov 27, 2017
Join the Movement: The 2.5% Commitment – In the Open blog post by David Lewis, Sept 29, 2017
The 2.5% Commitment – Short white paper by David Lewis, Sept 11, 2017
Elsevier acquisition highlights the need for community-based scholarly communication infrastructure – SPARC news release by Heather Joseph and Kathleen Shearer, Sept 6, 2017
Elsevier’s increasing control over scholarly infrastructure, and how funders should fix this – SV-POW blog post by Mike Taylor, May 22, 2016
Tightening their grip – In the Open blog post by Kevin Smith, May 20, 2016

This article gives the views of the author and not necessarily the views the Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice or the University Library, University of Saskatchewan.

Evidence and Community Save Libraries

by Cara Bradley, Teaching and Learning Librarian
University of Regina Library

March 22, 2017 was a dark day for Saskatchewan’s libraries. The Government of Saskatchewan released an austerity budget that decimated the province’s public library system. Almost $5 million was cut from public library budgets, with $1.3 million cut from libraries in the province’s two largest cities, and another $3.5 million cut from the regional libraries that provide services to smaller communities and rural areas of the province (http://saskatoon.ctvnews.ca/budget-stops-provincial-funding-for-saskatoon-regina-libraries-1.3337911). These numbers might appear small to larger library systems across the country, but they represented more than half of the library budgets of the regional libraries, and so spelled the end of an interlibrary cooperation system for which the province is famous and the closure of libraries in many communities across the province. The impact was to be nothing short of devastating.

Within days of the budget announcement, an active SaveSaskLibraries campaign was launched. Library users across the province mobilized, and after a campaign that included letter-writing, petitions, social media groups, and protests, the Government of Saskatchewan reversed its decision on April 24, 2017 and reinstated library funding to previous levels (http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatchewan/sask-libraries-budget-reversal-1.4082965).

I’ve thought a lot about the whole series of events, as well as what lessons I (and our library community writ large) might learn from this experience. Here are a couple of my takeaways:

1) Evidence matters. Evidence saved these libraries. Most importantly, it was evidence that these libraries mattered a great deal to the people of Saskatchewan. This evidence took a lot of forms, and included letter-writing campaigns, petitions, and “Drop Everything and Read” protests at 85 locations around the province. The “evidence assault” also included op-eds, media releases, and handouts that corrected the inaccuracies offered by the government as rationale for the decision to drastically cut library budgets. I attended a protest at which a politician was given a document that, point-by-point, refuted the misinformation that had led to the decision. As protest leaders reviewed that document with the politician, I saw a wavering, an uncertainty. The evidence was making a difference.

I have a long-standing interest in evidence based librarianship, but this was the clearest example I have seen of evidence making a difference for libraries. It was powerful.

2) Local community matters. I can’t pretend to speak for all academic librarians, but I think that we tend to find our community with academic library colleagues across the country. Our research tends to be either narrow in focus (our institution) or sector-specific (academic libraries across a wider geographical range). Relatively little of our attention, both research and service-wise, focuses on our local communities. It was this local community—public librarians, library staff, and many, many library supporters–who stepped forward and saved Saskatchewan’s public library system.

We’re missing out. My community is filled with smart, compassionate, library- loving people. I need to learn from them and give back to them. Most of all, I want them on my side when my back is against the wall.

Politics undoubtedly shaped how this all played out—both the decision to cut and the decision to reinstate library funding—but I won’t soon forget the role of evidence and community in saving Saskatchewan’s libraries.

This article gives the views of the author and not necessarily the views the Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice or the University Library, University of Saskatchewan.

The increasing need for ‘evidence’: surveillance and patron privacy

by Tegan Darnell, Research Librarian
University of Southern Queensland, Australia

Although I understand the need for demonstrating value and for evidence-based decision making in libraries in the current socio-political environment, recently I have experienced increasing concern over the ways that academic libraries are collecting data about the movements and behaviour of members of their communities. This is particularly of concern with the increasing use of technology using mobile devices that track members of the library community by location and library resource use.

Analytics packages monitor customer behaviour via smartphones with Wi-Fi capability. One application in particular, which I am going to call “Liquid”, collects unique media access code (MAC) addresses from each phone and then scrambles the code to anonymise the data before storing it on servers. Liquid’s business model concerns my greatly, as it provides the data about your own spaces to businesses (or libraries) for free, and then offers a premium paid service to access the aggregated data of other businesses (or libraries).

On a side note: The Mobile Location Analytics code of conduct was established after this technology had already been trialled for months. Customers were made aware of the technology, resulting in outrage about being monitored. This code of conduct applies only to retail spaces in the United States of America.

Once customer data is collected, it is made available to others for payment. While identifying data is not collected, the age and gender of individuals can be established through the aggregation of the billions of points of data that Liquid already collects. Not only that, but permission from customers is not required or sought. As long as customer name and address are not collected, data that may be identifiable is perfectly legal.

While Liquid itself has a primarily retail customer base, Australian academic libraries are considering (or trialling) this type of technology. While the benefits of having this data about library users are clear to me, it seems that the privacy of users is being minimised or dismissed. The benefits of this sort of data is considered more beneficial to library patrons than the potential risks of their exploitation.

I am sure you are all aware that privacy and confidentiality is fundamental to the ethics and practice of librarianship. The question I have is not whether or not a library should use this sort of tech to track the movement of users. My question is this:

Are data-driven information services and spaces an expectation from users, or are they driven by concerns about funding and library relevancy?

This article gives the views of the author and not necessarily the views the Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice or the University Library, University of Saskatchewan.

Decolonizing Libraries: C-EBLIP Journal Club, November 16, 2017

By Candice Dahl
University of Saskatchewan Library

Decolonizing Libraries (extended abstract)
B. Rosenblum
http://brianrosenblum.net/2015/02/01/decolonizing_libraries/

The Searching Circle: Library Instruction for Tribal College Students
L. Roy, J. Orr, & L. Gienger
European Conference on Information Literacy, pp. 21-32, 2016.

The University of Saskatchewan Library is currently undertaking two strategic action items focusing on Indigenous students. November’s C-EBLIP Journal Club readings were selected with these initiatives in mind. Rosenblum’s extended abstract exposes ways in which libraries (only sometimes unwittingly) support practices of colonization; and Roy, Orr, and Gienger highlight the need to cultivate awareness and understanding of Indigenous worldviews so that they are represented in library services and resources.

The discussion focused on big picture topics such as difference and equality, social and cultural biases, and foundational values of librarianship. Ultimately we considered how libraries can support decolonizing efforts while still recognizing that issues fundamental to reconciliation – such as inherent rights, land, etc. – are much bigger than libraries. We noted that imperatives for change will have to come from a diverse mix of sectors, leaders, and perspectives.

Participants also spoke of challenges facing them as practitioners, such as teaching students to use inadequate and offensive subject headings to help them find materials on Indigenous topics; working with citation styles that are ill-suited to cite traditional sources; responding to writing that doesn’t conform to customary academic standards; and using instructional materials that advance colonial perspectives of authority.

A theme throughout the discussion was the idea of making and/or giving up “space” – be it digital, physical, or structural – for indigenous voices and perspectives to establish a place in libraries and universities so that we might genuinely embody diverse worldviews and exemplifications of knowledge, ability, and success. First we wondered if doing so would rock the foundations of librarianship, and we said yes. Then we asked the question, “If universities were treated primarily as places to learn and enrich minds rather than as places to receive job training, would it be easier to create this kind of space for diversity?” The answer to this question may also be yes, but there is no doubt that this is only one small piece of the decolonization puzzle.

This article gives the views of the author and not necessarily the views the Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice or the University Library, University of Saskatchewan.

Suggested Readings on Diversity and Decolonization

by Lise Doucette
Assistant Librarian, University of Western Ontario

What role does the library have in addressing issues of privilege and oppression? What do we mean when we talk about diversity? How can libraries contribute to decolonization and reconciliation processes? I’ve raised these topics with colleagues at my own institution and beyond, garnering a range of responses from defensiveness and discomfort to thoughtful and critical conversation.

Learning through reading, listening, reflecting, and discussing is essential, and in this post I’ve compiled selected links and brief summaries of reports, conference keynotes, journal articles, blog posts, and books, which often have their own list of references or recommended readings. I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts, as well as recommendations of other readings in the comments below.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Interrupting Whiteness is a book list put together by the Seattle Public Library to support their public programming on “What is the role that white people can play in dismantling white supremacy and its related oppressions?”
• Ithaka S&R’s 2017 report on Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity: Members of the Association of Research Libraries Employee Demographics and Director Perspectives details the results of an investigation on inclusion, equity, and diversity-related issues in staffing of academic libraries. Some of the findings demonstrate a significant lack of self-awareness – for example, libraries that are more racially homogenous than the average see themselves as more equitable and more inclusive than the overall library community, by a larger margin than the more diverse institutions.
• The 2017 ARL SPEC Kit on Diversity and Inclusion documents activities that ARL libraries are currently engaging in and provides materials related to staff development programs that foster an inclusive workplace and climate. It’s an updated and expanded version of the 2010 ARL SPEC Kit on Diversity Plans and Programs.
• Dave Hudson’s article On “Diversity” as Anti-Racism in Library and Information Studies: A Critique (Journal of Critical Library and Information Studies) challenges diversity as the dominant framework of anti-racism in library and information studies.
• Two books from the Litwin Books and Library Juice Press series on Critical Race Studies and Multiculturalism in LIS have been published – Topographies of Whiteness: Mapping Whiteness in Library and Information Science, edited by Gina Schlesselman-Tarango; and Teaching for Justice: Implementing Social Justice in the LIS Classroom, edited by Nicole A. Cooke and Miriam E. Sweeney.
• In the article White Librarianship in Blackface: Diversity Initiatives in LIS (In the Library With The Lead Pipe), April Hathcock examines how whiteness has “permeated every aspect of librarianship, extending even to the initiatives we claim are committed to increasing diversity.”

Decolonization, Indigenization, and Reconciliation

• The Canadian Federation of Library Associations published its Truth and Reconciliation Report and Recommendations in May, 2017, which includes recommendations for decolonizing practices in Access and Classification, Indigenous Knowledge Protection, Outreach and Services, and Decolonizing Libraries and Space.
• The two keynotes from the WILU 2017 conference are available to watch online: Appropriation or Appreciation: How to Engage Indigenous Literatures (Niigaanwewidam James Sinclair) and Librarians, wâhkôhtowin, and information literacy instruction: building kinship in research relationships (Jessie Loyer).
• The keynote from the Access 2017 conference is available to watch online: The trouble with access (Dr. Kimberley Christen). In her keynote, Dr. Christen examines “library and archives practices related to access in the context Indigenous sovereignty, reconciliation, and on-going struggles of decolonization.”
• In her blog post Beyond territorial acknowledgments, âpihtawikosisân discusses the increased presence of territorial acknowledgements in Canada and delves into the purpose and practice of territorial acknowledgements, and the spaces where they happen.
• In 100 Ways: Indigenizing & Decolonizing Academic Programs (aboriginal policy studies), Dr. Shauneen Pete provides a list of “ways to indigenize and decolonize your academic programs [that] is not meant to be prescriptive. This list provides suggestions to help deans and faculty begin to commit to greater levels of Indigenization in their program planning and delivery.”
• In Decolonization is not a metaphor (Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society), Eve Tuck and K. Wayne Yang note that the “easy adoption of decolonizing discourse by educational advocacy and scholarship, evidenced by the increasing number of calls to ‘decolonize our schools,’ or use ‘decolonizing methods,’ or, ‘decolonize student thinking,’ turns decolonization into a metaphor.” However, “Decolonization brings about the repatriation of Indigenous land and life; it is not a metaphor for other things we want to do to improve our societies and schools.”

This article gives the views of the author and not necessarily the views the Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice or the University Library, University of Saskatchewan.

KISS and Julie Andrews: My (unlikely) muses for effective information literacy instruction

by Megan Kennedy
Leslie and Irene Dubé Health Sciences Library
University of Saskatchewan

Perhaps strange bedfellows, but Julie Andrews and the rock band KISS are my muses for effective information literacy instruction.

In the classic film, The Sound of Music, Julie Andrews sings “let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start” – this little ditty has been a guiding principle for all my information literacy instruction thus far in my academic career.

Starting at the beginning is so simple, and yet, at least for myself, I often assume that I can jump ahead. When I began delivering information literacy instruction to students this earlier this year, I assumed a few things:

1. Students would be familiar with and understand some of the jargon I would be using (search engine, catalogue, index, database, metadata, indexing fields/record fields, Boolean operators, controlled vocabulary/subject terms and many other librarian-y terms)
2. Students would have some familiarity with the databases I was going to be talking about because they had used them in the past
3. Students would be familiar with the library website enough that they could comfortably navigate to things I was talking about

After just one session – that admittedly ended with a group of very confused looking students – I realized that this was not going to work; my students needed to know do-re-mi before they could sing! So how did I fix these issues going forward? By always starting at the very beginning and never underestimating the importance of providing simple navigational guidance – it doesn’t do students any good to know the ins and outs of searching CINAHL if they can never find the database on the library website. I’ve also tried to incorporate informal polls/assessments in my teaching to gauge current understanding about the topic I am talking about and to help me assess where more attention needs to be paid and what can perhaps simply be a refresher. Something that still needed to be addressed was the language I was using when talking with students, notably my use of unexplained library jargon.

KISS stands for Keep It Simple, Stupid – a wonderful little phrase I picked up from my high school history teacher. The premise is not novel but I find that this plucky acronym helps to center my focus when explaining particularly “librarian-y” concepts. For example, did you know that the only people genuinely excited to talk about metadata are librarians and other information folks? Students, for the most part, are not interested in the specific details of data about data, discovery, findability, indexing, etc. I learned this the hard way when talking to a student about how citation managers get the information needed to generate a complete citation. Unfortunately for this student, my librarian brain took over and I talked for a good ten minutes about the intricacies and importance of record metadata. The wide-eyed look I got at the end of my speech told me everything I needed to know, I had not kept it simple and had now confused this poor student. I tried again and slowed down and thought about it from their perspective, what are the essential bits of information they need to know to understand this concept (no more and no less)? I then gave the student a much simpler explanation, something along the lines of “metadata is the behind the scenes information of an item that makes it possible for you to find it. Citation managers can read this information from the item to compile what’s needed to make a citation”. I could practically hear the light switch flip on in their head – they got it.

When it comes to information literacy instruction, our tacit knowledge as librarians can be a double-edged sword. It makes us excellent “knowers of things”, “information wizards”, “database Yodas” and other delightful monikers, but it can be a somewhat unnatural and awkward process for us to actively stop and think about what we know, how we know it, and how we can explain it in simple and relatable terms. I let Julie Andrews and KISS lead the way for me* – start at the beginning and keep it simple.

*I also like to imagine Julie Andrews as Maria von Trapp teaching the band KISS to sing using the do-re-mi song so that also keeps things interesting.

This article gives the views of the author and not necessarily the views the Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice or the University Library, University of Saskatchewan.

Research Mentorship: Qualities from Doctoral Supervision

by Selinda Berg
Leddy Library, University of Windsor

During the 2017 Librarians Research Institute, I talked about the uniqueness of doing my doctoral research as compared to the other research I have engaged in. While there are many differences, the defining difference was the firm guidance, clear supervision, and frank, but respectful, honesty of my supervisors. As I come to the final stages of my degree I recognize how incredibly unique and special that relationship is. The experience raises questions about how, within the profession, we can build strong, honest, and trusting relationships that will provide true guidance through the research process?

In conversations about research mentorship in libraries, the interactions are often limited to isolated conversations about: potential methods, options for good readings, tips for interpreting results, offers for proofreading, and of course, sentiments of emotional support to persevere. While these are all important, it is less common to see experienced librarian-researchers providing consistent guidance to their colleagues along the entire research process—from inception of an idea to publication—where each step is accompanied with nudging, pushing, challenging, critiquing, and inspiring.

Working with amazing supervisors is definitely a key part of that privilege of completing a doctoral degree. I reflect on the qualities of my supervisors that I appreciated the most and made the biggest difference:
1. Competence and confidence: The expertise, wisdom, and skills that my advisors shared with me were an essential component of what made my experience so positive. I knew that their insights emerged from their own extensive experiences and their deep understanding of the research process. They presented their viewpoints with a confidence that allowed me to trust that their advice was moving me in the right direction.
2. Firm honesty: There were times that their guidance cut deep. There were times when I thought I had a good idea or I was on the right track when I really wasn’t. Being told that I was wrong did sting. I had wasted precious time and even more, I was embarrassed. However, because of my trust in their words and their ability to explain to me the reasoning, I took it in and I changed course. They were not afraid of the sting their honest insights produced because they did not let me suffer- rather, they walked me through those difficult moments with honesty and strength.
3. Mutual respect: From the onset, I respected the work of my supervisors, but over the course of my degree, our mutual respect grew. As often as they provided me with much needed guidance, they also listened with deep respect to what I had to offer. They recognized and validated that I brought something to the table. I was not required to take every piece of guidance that they offered “as is”; They were willing to be swayed by my insights and my understandings, my voice was respected within the conversations.
4. Unselfish motivation: I recognize that my supervisors are paid to supervise. However, I always felt like their priority was helping me. They were not in this supervisory role to further their own careers, to make themselves look good, or so that they could use my work to get ahead. They always made me feel like this process was truly about me and they were there to guide me through so I truly could reach my potential.

I reflect on these qualities with the goal of considering how it is that we can instill more of these attributes across our own research culture. Not an easy task, but so worthwhile. On twitter, I follow Hugh Kearns, a researcher and writer, who also provides inspiration and motivation to researchers, especially doctoral students. He often reminds the supervisors who follow his feed that PhD supervision is not only about developing the research, but about also developing the researcher. While I am very thankful for the quality of research that I produced under the supervision of my advisors, I am also proud that I feel better equipped to take on the role of researcher.

This article gives the views of the author(s) and not necessarily the views of the Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice or the University Library, University of Saskatchewan.

Five years of LARK, or how birds of the feather flock together

Dr Suzana Sukovic, Executive Director Educational Research & Evidence Based Practice, Health Education and Training Institute (HETI)
@suzanasukovic

Australian LARK (Library Applied Research Kollektive), a grass-roots group connecting professionals and academics with interest in practice-based research, celebrated its fifth birthday last month. Having a professional network of people with similar interests may sound quite straightforward, but there are days when I think it’s a miracle that baby LARK reached childhood by the human measure and, probably, teenage years by measure of longevity of a grass-root group.

With LARK, bird jokes and metaphors are inevitable. We sometimes talk about being birds of the feather. Since C-EBLIP belongs to the same bird species, I’d like to share LARK’s story, a bit of parental pride, and some insights from our five-years long flight.

In 2011, I made an unusual job change and, after many years of working at universities, I started working in an independent high school. In 2012, I initiated a research project at work and thought that some collaboration would go a long way in boosting the study. I also felt a strange sense of isolation in this new sector although connections with information worlds in which I worked before seemed obvious. So, I decided to call professionals from different corners of the library, information, and educational sectors to come to an informal meeting called Let’s talk about research. We gathered after work at St.Vincent’s College (Sydney), had a nibble and a glass of wine, talked about research interests, and had a good time. People were enthusiastic about establishing a network and thought we needed to put in place some structures to support our connections. That’s how LARK was born. My library colleagues at St.Vincent’s College and I decided about the name, I started the blog and a mailing list and invited people to join us. The mailing list had a decent number of members pretty quickly. We were ready to fly.

But, we didn’t. Any baby needs a fair bit of attention. Baby LARK needed attention and lots of patience. It kept quiet and slept a lot. Like most first-time parents, I had some misplaced expectations based on examples I saw (Humanist Discussion Group being the prime example). Where I expected chatter and collaboration, the LARK list offered a deafening silence. My messages to the list felt like sending letters to myself. So, I’d let my daily life take over and LARK slide far to the periphery of my (and everyone else’s) attention. But, whenever that happened, there was someone sending a private message saying how much they enjoyed posts about research. Or, my interpretation of the enthusiasm at the first meeting as one-off occurrence would be corrected by people who’d get in touch to ask when we were meeting next.

So, LARK met again. And again. Some people continued from the first meeting (notably, Alycia Bailey), others joined in for a short or long period of time. Some have become regular companions (shout out to Janet Chelliah and Bhuva Narayan from the University of Technology, Sydney – UTS). We usually had around 15, sometimes 20 people in engaging meetings after work, always followed by dinner. Our colleagues were getting in touch afterwards to say how they’d like to join, but couldn’t on that occasion. During the first couple of years, I expected people would either come in bigger numbers or stop coming altogether. Neither happened. Academics, librarians from university, public, school and special libraries, information professionals, and teachers kept getting together. The gatherings had never been large, but the group thrived nevertheless. With ongoing activities and a need for some support, we joined ALIA (Australian Library and Information Association) in December 2013.

What also happened over time was that people were getting in touch from various parts of Australia to say how they had research interests, but felt isolated and disconnected from research networks. This is how we initiated regular online events in 2016. Our first online event included presenters from Australia and New Zealand. Like face-to-face meetings, online events attracted a solid audience, but not a huge following. They became, however, an important connection point. The most recent webinar in 2017 was also an opportunity to reach out to other professional groups who talked to us about their research experiences reinforcing a sense of interprofessional connection.

LARK’s online presence grew in other ways too. The collaboratively written blog has attracted a fair bit of attention over time. Particularly important were contributions from the ALIA Research Advisory Committee. C-EBLIP’s own Virginia Wilson has become a contributor, too. According to the latest statistics, LARK’s blog attracted over 79200 visits from around the world, well over 700 visits per post.

During a period of a couple of years, Fiona McDonald, Liz Walkley Hall, and I ran the first Antipodean LIS reading group on Twitter (#EBLIPRG). We connected with professional groups overseas and even had a session facilitated from Ireland. LARK had an important role in making #EBLIPRG visible.

In May 2017, LARK branched out from online spaces and Sydney to South Australia. Liz Walkley Hall had already led an active research group at Flinders University and decided to initiate LARK group in South Australia to connect with colleagues from other organisations. The group had an initial meeting and has plans for future events.

Post by post, event by event, LARK has become very visible in the Australian LIS landscape. In September this year we celebrated LARK’s fifth birthday in a research style by organising a seminar titled Holy Evidence! Research in information practice. Yet again, it was a relatively small gathering, but one for which some people traveled significant distances. It was also pleasing that LARK was able for the first time to offer a grant to a LIS student to attend the seminar (congratulations to Crystal Campbell, a student at UTS).

In the first half of the day, we considered the Australian research landscape and heard from a variety of experienced researchers and novices from different sectors and even industries. In the second part of the day, we had a workshop to discuss how to develop a research project from idea to reality, and how to publish research findings. A feeling of connection and genuine engagement in the room was well supported by feedback forms. People greatly enjoyed not only substantial learning, but also each other’s company. It was particularly rewarding to see that people who came from afar were not disappointed. A sense of a connected research community was palpable in the air.

During the seminar, I looked back at the five years of LARK and thought of many dispersed people who are prepared to put effort in making research a reality in LIS practice. Establishing connections between interested people is essential, especially when they don’t even see themselves as researchers. For research you only need curiosity and tenacity; everything else can be learnt, said David Schmidt at the LARK’s seminar when he talked about research capacity building in health in rural and remote areas. With a network of curious tenacious people, learning is much more likely to happen, and it’s also much more enjoyable. A network also makes practice-based research visible.

Another issue is the formation of research bubbles along academic and professional, hierarchical and sector-based divisions. Distinctions between different types of research and interests are real, but often grossly exaggerated. When it comes to research, there are more connections than non-negotiable barriers. With LARK’s participants and presenters from various LIS sectors and allied fields, it has become evident that we have a lot in common when it comes to sharing research experiences and concerns. Groups like LARK open the lines of conversation and help us pop the bubbles.

In the spirit of interprofessional learning, I looked up what biology says on how birds of the feather flock together. They are known for changing direction, possibly to confuse predators. The change can be led by any bird in the flock and others will follow. How birds of a feather flock together…they are democratic claims an article in the Daily Mail interpreting a research study. Without looking into the authenticity of this interpretation, I like the idea that any bird can take a leadership position when it picks up important signals from its place in the environment. I like to believe that this is how a loosely organised group like LARK thrives. People come to the group for a short or long period of time, but they keep up the flight and influence the direction. At the end of the seminar, a few young librarians from various parts of Australia offered their help and expressed their willingness to be more involved with LARK. After a very rewarding research celebration, these offers were a real highlight for me. They are saying to me that LARK will keep flying. For all of us, especially new LARKs ready to fly, it is crucial to have the flock.

C-EBLIP members and readers are invited to join the LARK mailing list, like us on Facebook, use our collection of resources on Diigo and write about their work for the blog. All links are available from the LARK blog.

For more information about the LARK seminar “Holy Evidence! Research in information practice”, see program and this blog post.

This article gives the views of the author and not necessarily the views the Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice or the University Library, University of Saskatchewan.

Supporting Librarians in Contract Appointments

by Elizabeth Stregger, Systems Librarian, Mount Allison University
@estregger on Twitter

Last week was Fair Employment Week in Canada. CAUT and many faculty unions held events and made statements to try to improve conditions for contract and part-time academic workers. My career as a librarian has included contract appointments at University of Manitoba, University of Saskatchewan, and Mount Allison University. The changes in roles and institutions, as well as the terms of the contracts themselves, have created challenges in getting started as a researcher. In this blog post, I want to share some of the things you can do at the individual, library, and institutional level to support your colleagues working under limited-term contracts.

Be open to telling us about your own research journey. I ask my new colleagues about their research as soon as possible. This gives me some context for the research culture at the library. I’ve particularly appreciated it when colleagues have taken a bit more time to tell me about where they got started or about contributions that are less tied to a particular institution or role.

Ask us if we’re interested in collaborating on short-term projects. Using the C-EBLIP Brain-Work post on collaboration by Shannon Lucky and Carolyn Hoessler has helped me to be clear about my goals, skills, and bandwidth in these conversations. I’ve appreciated colleagues who have held research meetings at lunch time or after work to minimize the impact on my day-to-day work. When one of my collaborations led to a conference presentation, a supportive colleague reduced the financial barrier of attending by sharing the cost of driving and an Airbnb.

At the library level, give us the opportunity to do some new work and take part in planning discussions. The background reading and environmental scans in planning discussions are good first steps in the research process. Being part of these conversations makes it easier to think of small projects that are aligned with what the library is trying to accomplish. Being part of a pilot project and a new initiative has greatly expanded my professional knowledge.

Include us in the research culture and campus groups. At the University of Manitoba, librarians on contracts are included in the New Archivists and Librarians Group (NALG), which helped create a sense of community and provided a forum for discussion. At the University of Saskatchewan, I was able to attend C-EBLIP research workshops and the exceptional C-EBLIP Fall Symposium. These events are inspiring windows into practical evidence-based research. At Mount Allison University, I was invited to both university and union sponsored new faculty orientation events. I also participated in the MAFA Research and Creativity Fair highlighting Contract Academic Staff research. These activities have extended my network well beyond the library.

Advocate for research time and professional expense accounts in the collective agreement. Having research days and a professional expense account as a full-time contract librarian at Mount Allison University means that I finally have the same support as my colleagues. I can attend the conferences most relevant to my current interests. I can take the time to concentrate on scholarly activity without being preoccupied with my next meeting or the grocery list.

In closing, I’d like to thank all the librarians, faculty members, and unions that support librarians in contract appointments. And an even bigger thank you to my personal mentors and colleagues who have provided guidance and feedback in my career as a librarian so far.

This article gives the views of the author and not necessarily the views the Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice or the University Library, University of Saskatchewan.

On ResearchGate and IRs: C-EBLIP Journal Club, October 5, 2017

By DeDe Dawson
Science & Scholarly Communication Librarian, University of Saskatchewan

The C-EBLIP Journal Club article for October 5, 2017 was:

Lovett, J. A., Rathemacher, A. J., Boukari, D., & Lang, C. (2017). Institutional Repositories and Academic Social Networks: Competition or Complement? A Study of Open Access Policy Compliance vs. ResearchGate Participation. Journal of Librarianship and Scholarly Communication, 5(General Issue), eP2131. https://doi.org/10.7710/2162-3309.2183

I chose this article because it discusses two things that have been on my mind a lot lately: IRs & academic social networks like ResearchGate and Academia.edu. I am thinking about IRs a lot because I’m helping with the planning and pilots of the University of Saskatchewan’s newly rebranded IR: HARVEST (still on a test site so I won’t link to it here). And about academic social networks because ResearchGate (RG) has been in the news so much recently.

It is well known that researchers often post copies of their articles on RG in violation of the copyright terms that they agreed to with the publisher. Another recent article documents this. Well, it looks like RG is finally being forced by publishers to take down these articles that are in violation – and are even removing some that are not. As librarians have been trying to tell their patrons for years: RG is not an open access repository.

So, this article by Lovett et al. from the University of Rhode Island is timely. The authors set out to understand researchers’ practices, attitudes, and motivations around sharing their articles in RG and in their IR in compliance with the university’s Open Access Policy. Lovett et al. admit that they expected to find RG to be in competition with their IR, but interestingly “Faculty who participate in ResearchGate are more likely to participate in the OA Policy, and vice versa” (Lovett et al., 2017, p1).

The group at our journal club meeting also thought this finding interesting. One member pointed out that faculty have such limited time – why would they archive papers in more than one site? And it wouldn’t be surprising if the site they chose was RG due to its ease of use. This does not seem to be the case though (in this study at least). It seems those researchers committed to sharing their articles openly will invest the time in doing this in multiple locations. It is worth noting though that most of the faculty (70.6%) in the study didn’t use RG or the IR!

So, RG and the IR are not competitors. But faculty do still seem to prefer RG. Ease of use has already been mentioned, but we also thought that it fit with the mobility of faculty too. Researchers are always moving to new institutions, so may not feel compelled to invest time in their current institution’s IR. The biggest barrier however, appears to be the fact that IRs actually respect and comply with copyright law. This means that usually authors cannot upload the final version of record of their articles into the IR. This study confirmed once again that many faculty are averse to posting other versions of their works.

The other finding that caught our attention was that Full Professors are more active than lower ranked colleagues on both RG and the OA Policy/IR! This does not fit with what we hear about early career researchers (ECRs) being more willing to experiment with new means of scholarly communications. Our group speculated that senior faculty are secure in their positions and ECRs are more tentative about rocking the boat. It is also likely that senior faculty also have more administrative support to actually do the work of uploading. This second insight rings most true to me…

On the concluding page of the article Lovett et al. (2017) state: “…librarians should prioritize recruiting more faculty to share their work in general and should not see academic social networking as a threat to open access” (p.27).

Amen.

This article gives the views of the author and not necessarily the views the Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice or the University Library, University of Saskatchewan.

Plugin by Social Author Bio