Five Questions With… Claudia Holland

chollandClaudia Holland, Associate Professor & Scholarly Communication Coordinator, Mississippi State University Libraries
This is #2 in our series of get-acquainted posts among members of ASERL’s Scholarly Communication community.


Describe your current scholcomm position.

This year I was hired at Mississippi State University Libraries in essence to build a sustainable scholarly communication (SC) program. A few years ago, the library created six in-house SC committees (copyright, open access publishing, OER, IR, open data, & digital scholarship) to address institutional needs and expand services that the library offered. We’re currently defining priorities and integrating them into a new strategic plan–with populating our IR, establishing a data repository, and OER outreach priorities floating to the top. Copyright is pretty much a given no matter what.

What attracted you to scholcomm work?
I enjoy change and challenges, hallmarks of SC in general, I believe. I kind of fell into this “specialty” when I became the University Copyright Officer in 2008 at George Mason University, my former institution. I was happily working as a Liaison Librarian for the Sociology/Anthropology and Communication departments, but the library needed someone to take the copyright position. I said I was interested and that eventually fed into broader SC work. I was asked to chair Mason Libraries’ first SC team, which I led for four years until I was named Head of the Scholarly Communication and Copyright Office (all 1-½ of us). One of our most successful endeavors supported by the Dean was to establish an Open Access Publishing Fund. The fund enabled a lot of faculty conversations about open access. Our long term goal was to put the fund out of business insofar as possible because researchers would learn to build OA publication costs into their grant proposals rather than rely on the library for assistance. We tried to set up a research profiles service, but it was too labor intensive; plus, the open software we were using required more maintenance than we had time for and expertise in. But it was a great experience!

Scholarly communication work is a moving target in many ways. Just when you think you have a plan of action, something changes and you have to decide whether to stick with your original plan, integrate the new approach, or simply walk away. To me, making that call is the most difficult part of the job. Also, unless you have dedicated help from colleagues, working alone can be isolating and makes your projects much harder to advance.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?
One of the most rewarding aspects of my work is collaborating with others to develop an idea into a successful program or service, and seeing evidence that this effort makes a positive difference in the lives of students and faculty in my university community and, hopefully, beyond. It sounds hokey but it’s real.

If you had a magic wand and could change one thing in the scholcomm ecosystem, what would it be?
Wow, this is a hard one; there are so many aspects of the ecosystem I would like to change. Some brief thoughts, unweighted:

  • I would like to see commercial academic publishers willingly cap profits at reasonable rather than extortionist levels.
  • I would like to see promotion and tenure processes for all disciplines modified to embrace openly-published scholarship and different forms of scholarship.
  • I would like to see all researchers feel personally driven (not mandated) to share their scholarship and data in open repositories.

If you were NOT a scholcomm librarian, what would you be?
If you mean work-related, I would either focus my efforts solely on OER advocacy and policy change at the state level, or return to my first academic love as a cultural anthropologist (I went into archaeology because I knew I could get a job with a Masters). I enjoy working with people no matter what I’m doing. We can learn a lot from each other; all we have to do is listen and observe.

If you mean non-work related, I would buy a good-size chunk of land somewhere I love and have several gardens and lots of critters. I would invite my closest friends and family to build their homes on this land and live the rest of my life exploring opportunities that crop up. 😉