5 Questions with… Ellen Ramsey

ecrEllen Catz Ramsey, Virgo Project Lead and Director, Scholarly Repository Services; University of Virginia Library

This is #12 in our series of get-acquainted posts featuring members of the ASERL Scholarly Communications community.

1. Describe your current scholcomm position.
I came to the University of Virginia Library in 2013 to manage the University’s institutional repository, known as Libra. That one-person department was responsible for defining policies and facilitating deposits that would result in more open access to UVA research products. Fast-forward five years and UVA now has a cohort whose portfolios intersect with scholarly communication from several angles. I direct Scholarly Repository Services, which includes repositories for a variety of born-local content. My colleague Sherry Lake stewards data, ETD, and open deposits into Libra, with help on the public services front from Trillian Hosticka and on the digitization side from Lorrie Chisholm. Above and beyond the repository, Chip German and Brandon Butler cover advocacy, education, and outreach about alternative publishing models, among their many other duties beyond scholcomm. Dave Ghamandi heads our new open publishing initiative, Aperio. Hanni Nabahe just joined us as our early career resident librarian in scholcomm, and I am trying not to jade her too much. However, if you believe Dorothea Salo (and I do), scholarly communication librarianship can be a long and lonely road. With the energy of my colleagues bringing new perspectives to UVA scholarly communication priorities, I am taking on new responsibilities leading evaluation, selection, and implementation of an updated discovery layer (e.g. online catalog) for UVA. While that last bit might seem an unusual direction, I have a green light from our library administration to prioritize and highlight worldwide access to UVA resources, as well as the leveraging of open content, as UVA evaluates its participation in big subscription deals.

2. What attracted you to scholcomm work?
Doesn’t everyone want to change the world? I came to the academic library side of things from the health sciences library world, where open science and access to publicly-funded research have been important topics for a long time. Transferring those interests to a broader range of disciplines seemed like a natural evolution. I probably also like tilting at windmills.

3. What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Social justice aspirations for equitable access to knowledge, as well as the challenge of accomplishing meaningful change from inside of the bureaucracy of a large state institution, keep me engaged. Also that no one cares if I knit during meetings.

4. If you had a magic wand and could change one thing in the scholcomm ecosystem, what would it be?
It definitely seems in the realm of magic for a sustainable revenue model to emerge that works for institutions, scholars, and publishers. You can’t change the scholarly rewards system without changing the publishing industry, and vice versa. Laura, Andy, KevinBrandon, and so many others have spoken far more eloquently on this topic in many open forums.

5. If you were NOT a scholcomm librarian, what would you be?
I’m not sure I really am a scholcomm librarian, though the work I have done for the last several years has certainly been focused on opening access to scholarship born at my institution. Most of the time at work, I am a software and service project manager, open source community member, and unit director. When I am not doing those things, I am exploring near and far destinations with my spouse, parenting a teenager and two dogs, and being a mountain biker, knitter, and curious person.