Andy Wesolek, Head of Digital Scholarship at Clemson University, gamely agreed to be our inaugural profile in the new
5 Questions With… series. It helps that he’s also the new ASERL Scholarly Communications Interest Group Co-Chair, so he couldn’t exactly say no!
In this new series, we will be profiling ASERL scholcomm librarians each month so we can learn more about one another. If you’re interested in sharing your scholcomm story, or wish to know more about a fellow ASERL librarian’s path by suggesting they be featured, contact Molly Keener or Andy Wesolek.
Q1. Describe your current scholcomm position.
I currently serve as the head of digital scholarship at Clemson University. In this role, I lead a team of 3.5 FTE committed to advancing our digital scholarship initiatives. Broadly, these encompass scholarly communication and digital imaging. More specifically, we focus on institutional repository management, library-based publishing efforts, copyright education and compliance, and developing an array of educational programming. We also implement OER and OA funding initiatives and work closely with the special collections unit to digitize and make accessible the cultural heritage of the Upstate and archives of Clemson University.
Q2. What attracted you to scholcomm work?
It was actually a very happy accident! I trained as a reference librarian, then after obtaining my MLIS, I began working on a masters in philosophy at the University of Idaho. While there, I worked in university archives and digital initiatives. When I hit the job market, I applied primarily for emerging technologies librarian positions (a title I rarely see these days). I was fortunate to have applied to one such position at Utah State University and while I did not get the job, several future colleagues noted that I had the skill set to serve as a scholarly communication librarian, a position that was also open. I had some reservations, because at the time I knew next to nothing about the scholarly communication environment! But, Utah State is awesome, and they provided me with on-the-job training, at which point I totally fell in love with the work.
Q3. What is the most rewarding part of your job?
I think there are very real and clear ethical dimensions to creating a more open and effective scholarly communication environment, and I find it deeply rewarding to play a role in that, no matter how small. I am particularly passionate about open publishing facilitated by libraries and university presses. Editing the Journal of Copyright in Education and Librarianship, several monographs, and a special issue of a journal has allowed me to work with some really powerful thinkers and bring their ideas together into holistic works.
Q4. If you had a magic wand and could change one thing in the scholcomm ecosystem, what would it be?
Promotion and tenure decisions would be based in part on a thorough reading of a candidate’s published work and assessment of its quality, rather than reliance on various impact metrics. Institutional reliance on journal impact metrics is one of the biggest barriers to increased innovation in the scholarly communication space. I think the scholarly communication environment is going to get messier before we see the emergence of another dominant (or two or three) revenue model and that we can move more quickly through this messy period by eliminating reliance on journal impact metrics—and even author and article level metrics that are often incomplete and unreliable.
Q5. If you were NOT a scholcomm librarian, what would you be?
Good question! Maybe a furniture builder/cabinet maker? I love woodworking, but I am too slow and meticulous to make it profitable. That or full-time bicycle rider and traveler? Is that a thing?