This is #4 in our series of get-acquainted posts featuring members of the ASERL Scholarly Communications community.
Q1. Describe your current scholcomm position.
I’m Duke’s Director of Copyright and Scholarly Communication. In that role I spend about half my time focused internally on Duke Libraries, addressing specific copyright issues, helping train librarians and staff about copyright and scholarly communications, and working to improve how we institutionally support, through technology and library services, our faculty and student authors to better communicate their scholarship to the world. The other half of my time I spend working directly with faculty and students to help them understand copyright and the scholarly publishing system, usually with the goal of helping them share their work more broadly. In the Office of Copyright and Scholarly Communication I work with two great colleagues: Paolo Mangiafico works on scholarly communication technology, mostly consulting with faculty about what technological options they have so they can do what they want with their scholarship. Haley Walton works on outreach, helping make sure we’re talking with Duke faculty and grad students at the right time and place to best help them.
Q2. What attracted you to scholcomm work?
Really it was one person, Kevin Smith, who was Duke’s previous Copyright and Scholarly Communications Officer. He is now Dean of Libraries at the University of Kansas. I had just finished law school and was thinking about working somewhere at the intersection of law and libraries, but I wasn’t completely sure where or how. Kevin had advertised a student scholarly communications intern position. I applied, came to work for him, and I loved it. In working with Kevin and meeting with academic authors, I remember being shocked how even the most basic misconceptions about the law could dramatically and negatively impact access to research. It was fun working with Kevin, watching him gently correct those misconceptions and ultimately help increase access to research.
Q3. What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Helping people overcome fear, especially when it comes to copyright law. I suppose because it’s a confusing area of the law, I find many authors and librarians are just terrified of doing something wrong or making a mistake. For the most part, thoughtful risk management alleviates many of those fears and helps move projects forward.
Q4. If you had a magic wand and could change one thing in the scholcomm ecosystem, what would it be?
I would create a legal framework that actually reflects the needs of academics. Right now we all operate under a copyright system that was designed for economic and commercial interests. It just wasn’t designed for the incentive system most academic authors operate under, which focuses on attribution and credit far more than it does money.
Q5. If you were NOT a scholcomm librarian, what would you be?
Probably in private practice, focusing on intellectual property law. But then I wouldn’t get to work in a library every day, which is one of my favorite things about what I do now.