5 Questions With… Kathleen DeLaurenti

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Kathleen DeLaurenti, Head Librarian, Johns Hopkins University Peabody Institute.

This is #6 in our series of get-acquainted posts featuring members of the ASERL Scholarly Communications community.

Q1. Describe your current scholcomm position.
My position is less obviously scholcomm these days. I just started a new position last fall as Head Librarian at the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University. We’re a small staff, so I’m still taking the lead on ETDs; programming around issues like authors rights, copyright, and creative commons; as well as representing the institute in campus-wide scholcomm conversations. I also just finished my first year as the inaugural Open Access Editor of the Music Library Association where I’m currently developing a strategic vision for open access and publications of the association.

Q2. What attracted you to scholcomm work?
The early drafts of the DMCA in the late 90s posed a serious threat to internet radio. As a college student who relied on the internet to fuel my WFMU habit, I became really politically active around issues relating to copyright, music, and balance at the legislative level. While I didn’t go back to grad school until 2006, the Google Books case pretty immediately sucked me back into issues around social justice, access to culture and education, and advocacy work. In our institutions, we haven’t kept a balance between the publishing industry, the public’s interest in access to scholarship, and our promotion and tenure systems. Today, we are asking the public to fund something that they need to buy back access to, and it’s not surprising that culturally we’re seeing less support for higher education in the United States.

Q3. What is the most rewarding part of your job?
The most rewarding part of my job is empowering students and faculty to make informed decisions about their rights. Most scholars want to see their work in the world, but our academic systems don’t really provide them with opportunities to question and think about how this happens. Library scholcomm services make that space in the academy, and having a student or faculty member engage in the process to make sure they have agency in publishing their work will never get old.

Q.4 If you had a magic wand and could change one thing in the scholcomm ecosystem, what would it be?
I know others in this space have said it, but I would also want to take away the promotion and tenure carrots that remain a barrier to open access. As long as a publisher’s name serves as a proxy for quality of work in the evaluation process, it’s too difficult for faculty to break away and make decisions that they want to make with their work. I was recently reminded of this blog post by Philip Moriarty about this issue from a faculty perspective (http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/impactofsocialsciences/2016/03/14/addicted-to-the-brand-the-hypocrisy-of-a-publishing-academic/); this single change would have the greatest immediate impact on access to research.

Q5. If you were NOT a scholcomm librarian, what would you be?
Even though my title isn’t scholcomm, I think we’re all involved in this work today. But if I had to pick another profession, I’d be a dog trainer, hanging out with puppies all day :)