5 Questions With… Elisabeth Shook


Elisabeth Shook, Librarian for Scholarly Communications, Vanderbilt University

This is #10 in our series of get-acquainted posts featuring members of the ASERL Scholarly Communications community.

Q1. Describe your current scholcomm position
At Vanderbilt University, my position entails being the Open Access advocate for the campus. I advise and educate on all forms of publishing, copyright, and anything else that happens to fall under the scholarly communications umbrella (data management and curation, thesis and dissertation publishing advice, etc.). I also manage Vanderbilt’s institutional repository, DiscoverArchive. In addition, I teach various workshops and participate in working groups throughout the academic year, as well as plan events to raise awareness of open research and publishing practices and opportunities.

Q2. What attracted you to scholcomm work?
During graduate school, I had the good fortune to work with the US Forest Service curating scientific data. Making important data about forest fires and forest health available to the world quickly whetted my appetite for making even more information open. This led me on the path to my first professional position at Wright State University, where I worked with colleagues to advocate for open access practices and to build a successful repository that held a diverse set of highly downloaded materials. I soon discovered that I enjoy investigating complex copyright questions and discovering creative new solutions, as well as the opportunity to connect with colleagues from across campus. Scholcomm is the perfect fit. Oh, and I also enjoy the innate feeling of rebellion by being involved in scholcomm and messing with the man (aka publishers).

Q3. What is the most rewarding part of your job?
The most rewarding part of my job is the moment when researchers realize that adopting open access practices is actually feasible and will still enable growth in their careers.

Q4. If you had a magic wand and could change one thing in the scholcomm ecosystem, what would it be?
That every author would awaken with an intuitive sense that signing away and locking up their work (as many journal publishing contracts require) does not drive innovation forward.

Q5. If you were not a scholcomm librarian, what would you be?
Is there a job that includes researching whatever I want, spinning yarn, and traveling? If not, I believe I would enjoy working in computer science in some capacity.