5 Questions with… Rebekah Kati

r-kati Rebekah Kati, Institutional Repository Librarian, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

This is #13 in our series of get-acquainted posts featuring members of the ASERL Scholarly Communications community.

1. Describe your current scholcomm position.
I am the Institutional Repository Librarian at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I am one of two repository librarians in my department; I manage the services for the Carolina Digital Repository, which is UNC’s institutional repository, while my boss manages the special collections repository and the overall program. My main initiatives since I started in the position last October have been to create and implement a new data services policy and develop a strategy to identify paywalled content that can be legally imported into the repository. My group is launching a new institutional repository system (maybe by the time you read this!), and I am working with our development team to identify requirements. Once that is complete, I will be writing documentation, training staff, creating new services, identifying improvements and ingesting content into the repository.

2. What attracted you to scholcomm work?
I became interested in digital collections in grad school, while I interned for the Indiana University Digital Library program. Through my coursework, I learned about institutional repositories and thought they were fantastic. Offering free, legal access to scholarly content seemed to me to be a key role for librarians. I accepted my first librarian job because I was supposed to head a repository implementation. Unfortunately, that project didn’t materialize to due budget cuts but I kept looking for opportunities to expand my knowledge and involvement in scholarly communications. As I learned more about open access, licensing and other scholarly communications topics, I became fascinated and wanted to work in a scholcomm position. This led to a job at a university press that was part XML specialist, part digital content project manager and part journals production project manager. While I liked working for a publisher, I was disappointed that there weren’t more opportunities to work on open access projects and I missed the library environment. I’m very excited to take part in both at UNC!

3. What is the most rewarding part of your job?
I’ve always liked fixing things, so working in the repository every day and figuring out solutions to make content available is very rewarding. I also love working with my wonderful colleague Jennifer Solomon, UNC’s Open Access Librarian.

4. If you had a magic wand and could change one thing in the scholcomm ecosystem, what would it be?
Outside of redefining promotion and tenure systems to incentivize open access (which has been noted several times already), I would like to see institutions fund and support scholarly communications initiatives more fully. In libraries, we talk a lot about authors’ labor in the research, authorship and peer review process, but we don’t tend to address academic journal editors’ labor. One reason that editors bring their journals to publishers is that they don’t have the time or inclination to do the copyediting, typesetting, design, online content platform optimization and hosting and marketing that is needed to get their journal an audience. If universities want to take their content back from publishers, they need to provide and fund viable alternatives. That could mean more support for their repository program, library publishing program and university press.

5. If you were NOT a scholcomm librarian, what would you be?
I imagine I would be working as an e-resources or web librarian, since I used to work in those areas.

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.

5 Questions with… Marian Taliaferro


mt-headshot_office_07032018Marian Taliaferro,
 Digital Scholarship Librarian, College of William and Mary Libraries

This is #11 in our series of get-acquainted posts featuring members of the ASERL Scholarly Communications community.

Q1. Describe your current scholcomm position
While my title is technically Digital Scholarship Librarian, my role is all about scholarly communications — promoting and creating a strategy for the institutional repository, W&M ScholarWorks, educating the campus community on academic publishing, open access initiatives (including OER) and  intellectual property issues; and also fostering connections between information literacy and scholarly communications.

Q2. What attracted you to scholcomm work?
My interest started pretty early in my career — in 2005, with a library director who was hugely influential on my path to learning about open access publishing and all that goes along with it. She was the driving force behind a campus-wide conference on OA and building library support for it. My interest continued when I worked at a non-profit (Association of American Medical Colleges), which gave me exposure to several aspects of scholarly communication. I served a supporting role in their path to adopting a hybrid model for their peer-review journal, Academic Medicine. My role also provided general library support for the journal editorial staff and I became familiar with their workflows and concerns in publishing. I even served as a peer reviewer for the journal. At AAMC, I also witnessed the ‘birth’ of MedEdPORTAL, an open access medical education curricular tools repository.  From the get-go, MedEdPORTAL used Creative Commons licenses, and I worked as a core staff person in its development. It was also at AAMC that staff increasingly wanted to demonstrate impacts of their publications, so I began delivering metrics on publication usage and initiated and collaborated with Publications staff to investigate altmetrics tools for the Association’s publications. Finally, it was my role to procure copyright permissions for the Association and so I became familiar with educating staff on copyright and fair use. Overall, I think what most attracted me to scholarly communications work was the win-win aspect of it — leveraging my librarian skill sets for helping faculty and researchers make their work more discoverable and garnering increased impact for it, while also appreciating the publishing side of the equation from a non-profit society’s perspective. It seems a key, demonstrable success for libraries to partner with their campus communities in this way.

Q3. What is the most rewarding part of your job?
I have to pick just one? For me, it’s always the connections with people that are most rewarding. As anyone reading this blog realizes, copyright is very unclear to most people, so it’s gratifying to be a guide or resource for them in making things more understandable. I enjoy speaking with graduate students about fair use, licensing and embargoes; helping faculty with author agreements and learning about Open Education Resources (OERs) and serving to publish some pretty amazing electronic theses and dissertations (ETD’s).  ETDs are hugely impactful for our students and soon alumni —  we have a large retrospective conversion project rollout and campaign on the books for OA Week. I’m also enjoying helping to grow William & Mary’s scholarly communications program via creating and expanding research guides, making firmer establishments in research data management support services, and also rebranding and relaunching our institutional repository, newly renamed W&M ScholarWorks and a new design debuting soon.

Q4. If you had a magic wand and could change one thing in the scholcomm ecosystem, what would it be?
That faculty were more aware of how their promotion & tenure practices play into the larger publication ecosystem. It would be great if it were incredibly easy to bridge the barriers to budgetary transparency associated with providing collections in support of research and scholarship. I think that’s probably high on every librarian’s list!

Q5. If you were not a scholcomm librarian, what would you be?
Depending on the day, in no particular order and perhaps mostly if I became aware of a heretofore secret trust fund: Persian rug trader, estate jewelry sales/gemologist, helicopter pilot or landscaper… It’s probably a good thing I went the library route.

5 Questions with… Jennifer Solomon

jpg-jen-solomonJennifer Solomon, Open Access Librarian, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Libraries

This is #11 in our series of get-acquainted posts featuring members of the ASERL Scholarly Communications community.

1. Describe your current scholcomm position.
I am currently the Open Access (OA) Librarian in the Office of Scholarly Communications at UNC Libraries. This is a newly created position in a small department, so I work on many different aspects within Schol Comm. One of my primary roles is to lead the outreach and communication initiatives for the UNC Faculty Council’s Open Access Policy implementation, which so far has included collaborating with a marketing firm on a campaign for OA awareness and authors’ rights, developing faculty and graduate student competencies in OA, and establishing connections with UNC departments to deposit materials in the Carolina Digital Repository. I also frequently get to work with (TRLN) Scholarly Communications colleagues to support cross-institutional programs and events.

2. What is the most rewarding part of your job?
That depends on the day! Over the past month, I have had several opportunities to visit department meetings and have been blown away by the interest from the faculty. I have also been meeting with several graduate students in the UNC School of Information and Library Science and we’re cooking up some very exciting plans for OA in the fall.

3. If you had a magic wand and could change one thing in the scholcomm ecosystem, what would it be?
Imposter syndrome. From librarians, to faculty, to students, to publishers, I have so many conversations with people that stem from their fears about being a fraud. Sometimes this prevents people from asking for help, sharing their accomplishments, or even discussing ideas with potential collaborators. My magic wand would cast a spell for an open and transparent environment in which scholarship and the people who produce it, use it, access it, make it discoverable, and preserve it can do their work without so much anxiety.

4. If you were NOT a scholcomm librarian, what would you be?
A career counselor! Throughout my own career I have worked in many different industries and I’m fascinated by emerging careers and changing workplace cultures. I love helping people to think about the type of work they want to do and how their previous experience and interests have prepared them to take on new challenges.

Working at the Intersection of Scholarly Communication and Open Education

NOTE:  The authors are seeking input from schol-comm practitioners about their roles and responsibilities via this online survey, which closes June 15, 2018.


The following is a guest post authored by co-Principal Investigators Maria Bonn, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign School of Information Sciences; Josh Bolick, University of Kansas Libraries; and William Cross, North Carolina State University Libraries.

Sometime in 2016, through a mix of happenstance, initiative, friendly referrals and pure good luck, the three of us began a series of email and telephone conversations in which we puzzled over whether new LIS professionals are being adequately prepared for roles in academic libraries in which they will support scholarly communication in all its permutations.

We are each engaged in such work and bring different perspectives and experience to it, from the trenches of our present and past positions, as instructors, as recent students, as job applicants and hiring committee members. It is increasingly evident that awareness, proficiency, and even fluency in scholarly communication issues is central to the work of academic librarians across institutional type and department. Academic library job postings calling for scholarly communication specialists — or at least for candidates who are well versed in those issues — have been steadily accumulating for some years now. LIS curricular offerings, however, haven’t yet evolved with this shift in the market. Reflecting on this and on conversations with our colleagues, our strong sense is that most new librarians are not well-versed, or even versed at all, in the skills that support scholarly communication: understanding copyright and fair use, open licensing, academic publishing norms, the complexities of peer review, the emergence of open education and data management as focus areas, and so on.

Why the skill and education gap? The lack of scholcomm offerings in LIS programs might be due in part to LIS faculty not being themselves comfortable with the contemporary skills needed to navigate the complexity of scholarly communication. There’s also no core educational resource dedicated to developing such skills, no common text that covers scholarly communication as a wide-ranging and rapidly-developing field. This presents an opportunity, so we began to consider the design and development of an open educational resource about scholarly communication librarianship, through which we hope to make a meaningful intervention in our field.

With the generous support of IMLS, we have undertaken a research project to learn how scholcomm workers understand and articulate the practice of scholarly communication librarianship and how we, the community of practice, might have a larger role in preparing our future colleagues for scholcomm work. This research has been underway since the beginning of 2018 and continues apace. While gathering input and data on stakeholders like LIS faculty and students is extremely important, we always knew that we would be best informed by the perspectives and experiences of our community of practice, by hearing from those who do the everyday work of partnering with and supporting scholars who are the primary agents in scholarly communication.

So, as we library professionals do, in early April we had a meeting (agenda).

whiteboard notes

We brought together almost forty folks with significant experience and investment in scholarly communication, from high-level administrators to new scholarly communication librarians in the first few years of their careers. We gathered in the open, pleasant spaces of the Hunt Library at NCSU and over conference tables and tacos and on whiteboards and sticky notes.  We worked together to define the skills, values, and the stakes of scholarly communication and how to best infuse those through the library profession. We shared experiences, frustrations, ambitions, and ice cream.  These two days of effort scoped the content, audience, and purpose for an OER of scholarly communication librarianship.

There were few quiet moments and no dull ones. Arising from the rich experiential base in the room were stories that provided practical advice, words of warning, and visions for a future in which the academy supports its members in developing and managing scholarship that has broad impact and social benefit. We discussed data management, scholarly identity, metrics of all types, varieties of licensing, mechanisms for open peer review, building prestige for library based publishing, how social justice intersects with these things, and so much more. Invited participants Sarah Hare,  Ali Versluis and Lillian Rigling generously put their experience and intelligence together before the unconference and created a design thinking workshop that inspired and directed us all in building learning objectives for our proposed OER. Amidst this variety, themes emerged and became threads that tied the conversations together.

Kevin Smith, Dean of Libraries at the University of Kansas, and Heather Joseph, SPARC Executive Director, opened our conversations by calling for those of us who work in scholarly communication to get better at telling our stories, at sharing in a compelling way, what we do and why it matters. Storytelling was a fulcrum of the two days. Sometimes we need to tell stories to our scholars, sometimes to our university administrators, or to our colleagues in the library, even to our friends and families. Whomever the audience, we need the language and evidence that make a compelling case for our work. We frequently came around to reminding ourselves that are many kinds of stories to tell — as many stories as there are scholars — representing all kinds of personal, institutional, and disciplinary identities.

These stories facilitate connections, creating shared understanding and goals. The importance of these connections, of relationships, was another leitmotif of the meeting. The importance of soft skills which are central to developing rewarding relationships, such as confidence, empathy, and a sense of timing, loomed large. For the library community to maximally support scholarly communication, it must do so in the context of a web of relationships, with scholars seasoned and new, with policy makers and government officials, with university administrators, with colleagues at one’s own institution and within a community of practice, and with a public that increasingly may not understand what we do, what value we add (in libraries and the academy more broadly). Interested readers should also see #LISOER on Twitter and this reflection by Molly Keener, who was in attendance.

As is often the case when a community of practice gets together, the appreciation of and desire for our community of practice was palpable. As this reflection was being drafted, the twitter stream from the Library Publishing Forum 2018 was alive with the mention of “community.”

NickShockeyTweet

Clearly the yearning for ongoing community was not idiosyncratic to our meeting. As meeting organizers and participants, we experienced the same appreciation meaningful professional connection. We also observed a community that is clearly and impressively developing, populated by professionals keenly aware of each others’ skills and expertise, and eager to be part of a shared project to maintain and improve the systems through which we share scholarship. If you’re a member of this community, if you work on scholcomm topics in libraries, we’d love your input via this survey, which closes June 15, 2018. If you want to learn more about our project, reach out to any of us directly via email, Twitter, or one of the many conferences we’re presenting on this and related work.

HeatherJosephTweet

5 Questions with… Jason Burton

Burton_JasonJason Burton, Lead STEM librarian, University of Mississippi

This is #9 in our series of get-acquainted posts featuring members of the ASERL Scholarly Communications community.

Q1. Describe your current scholcomm position.
The University of Mississippi does not have a scholarly communications department, so the work is distributed. I am our Lead STEM Librarian, but I am also the convener of our Open Access Discussion Group, lead our nascent open science efforts, and work closely with our Collections Strategist on open access issues and alternative models of supporting research. In addition I am actively involved in our data management program.

Q2. What attracted you to scholcomm work?
I am interested in the mechanics of academic research. I quickly realized that the choices researchers made in how to communicate their work was one of the more fascinating parts of the research process.

Q3. What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Helping researchers expand their idea of what libraries and librarians can help them achieve. The library isn’t always the first place that researchers think to go when they are trying to figure out how to write a data management plan that explains how they are going to share their microscopy data.

Q4. If you had a magic wand and could change one thing in the scholcomm ecosystem, what would it be?
Since magic was mentioned, complete and total open access. I think the combination of funder-required public access and the expansion of university open access mandates makes this more reality than magic every day.

Q5. If you were NOT a scholcomm librarian, what would you be?
I started my librarian career working in occupation safety and health and could have moved towards public health as a career. Walking around oil rigs and fishing boats was a lot of fun.

5 Questions With… Robin Sinn

rnsinn22017Robin Sinn, Coordinator, Office of Scholarly Communication, Johns Hopkins University Libraries

This is #8 in our series of get-acquainted posts featuring members of the ASERL Scholarly Communications community.

Q1. Describe your current scholcomm position.
I am the new (as of January) Coordinator of the Office of Scholarly Communication, so I’m still figuring this out. I am also the sole person in this office. This opportunity came to me because for several years I’ve been the chair of the JHU libraries Scholarly Communication Group. Members come from across the Hopkins libraries (which are more like a consortium than a system). We work on issues dealing with copyright, open access, intellectual property, tools and resources we think the libraries need, education and outreach, even some policy. This work hasn’t been very programmatic up until now because my primary job was as a STEM liaison librarian. All the members have their own primary jobs. This new role will allow me to focus on scholarly communication and grow a program. I’ve got a great group of people to work with. Now it’s time to do some serious planning and get to work.

Q2. What attracted you to scholcomm work?
In the early 2000s I remember wondering why researchers weren’t starting their own journals, since the web was obviously going to make that possible. I watched the early OA movement develop with great interest. When I got to Hopkins, I became part of the Scholarly Communication Group and eventually its chair. It’s exciting to provide researchers and students with information that allows them to share their work in new ways.

Q3. What is the most rewarding part of your job?
I enjoy being a consultant on a project and bringing basic library tools as well as an understanding of the publishing/copyright environment to a discussion. The amount of innovative work that is going on in labs and classes is astounding. They need someone who can help them with the dissemination side of their work.

Q4. If you had a magic wand and could change one thing in the scholcomm ecosystem, what would it be?
I’ll echo Dave Hansen: We need a separate copyright environment for academic work. And I’d like the infrastructure for the credit and attribution to be a shared priority. I’m thinking of things like ORCID , GRID  CReDIT , and the like.

Q5. If you were NOT a scholcomm librarian, what would you be?
I think I’d like to work in a small special library; that would allow me a broad scope of action. My first official librarian job was Public Services Librarian at the library of the Academy of Nature Sciences http://www.ansp.org/research/library/ in Philadelphia and I enjoyed that immensely. Outside of librarianship? I love houseplants and was just joking with my husband that my retirement job could be taking care of the plants in office buildings.

Why We Support The Open Textbook Network Publishing Cooperative

By Corinne Guimont, Anita Walz and Beth Bernhardt

Virginia Tech and UNC Greensboro are two of nine founding members of the Open Textbook Network Publishing Cooperative, a pilot program launched by the Open Textbook Network (OTN) in 2017. The goal of the Cooperative is to create a network of higher education institutions committed to publishing new, openly licensed textbooks.

The pilot will last for a period of three years. During that time, each member institution will build expertise by training a designated project manager who can then establish publishing workflow and processes tailored to the particular needs of that institution. After the training is complete, each project manager will have the tools necessary to oversee a minimum of two new open textbooks as they move from conception to publication. At the completion of the three-year period, the nine members of the Publishing Cooperative will have collectively published at least two dozen new, freely available textbooks with Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) licenses.

Virginia Tech’s goal in participating in this pilot is to build our publishing capacity and expertise specifically in the area of Open Educational Resources (OER) as part of our broader library publishing program, VT Publishing. We joined the Co-Op because of the opportunities for learning, collaboration, and professional development within a cohort of other institutions. VT Libraries is prepared to invest up to $22,000 into the program over the next three years, in addition to staff time. Funds will pay for author stipends, peer reviewer honoraria, and to supplement in-house technical and publishing expertise. We hope to create and share many more open textbooks with the world.

For Virginia Tech the program will expand its Open Education Faculty Initiative Grant program, started in 2016, which provides technical assistance and grants for creation or adaptation, public dissemination, and classroom use of openly licensed resources of various kinds. Previous open textbooks published from this program include Fundamentals of Business (2016) by Stephen J. Skripak and a newly released Beta Version of Electromagnetics (2018) by Steven W. Ellingson which is being field tested and will be revised and released with its LaTeX source code in Summer 2018.

electromagneticshttp://hdl.handle.net/10919/78735
[see cover credits below] 

 

 

 

 

 

small-FundamentalsOfBusiness_Amazon

 

http://hdl.handle.net/10919/70961
[see cover credits below]

In addition to Fundamentals of Business’ over 80,000 worldwide downloads, these books along with other open educational resources adopted by faculty at Virginia Tech have saved 3,000+ Virginia Tech students more than $785,000 in course material costs in 18 months.

UNC Greensboro decided to join the Cooperative to provide faculty members the opportunity to create an open textbook for their courses. Martin Halbert, Dean of University Libraries, when asked why UNC Greensboro joined the cooperative stated, “This is a critically important time for the transformation of scholarly communication, and new models for the production of openly accessible educational resources are central to successfully establishing a sustainable new ecology of higher education learning.” The Office of the Provost and the University Libraries have committed $10,000 and staffing towards the project. The funds will be given as two $5000 stipends to faculty that receive funding. The funds will be distributed in two parts, $2500 at the beginning and $2500 when the open textbook is complete. Staff have been attending a 9 week training from the OTN on publishing platforms. UNC Greensboro will send out a call for proposals for the two grants in March 2018 and announce the winners by the beginning of May 2018. The University Libraries will provide the faculty with training on software to help create these textbooks.

Founding members of the OTN Publishing Cooperative include: Miami University, Penn State University, Portland State University, Southern Utah University, University of Cincinnati, University of Connecticut, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Virginia Tech, and West Hills Community College District (CA).

About the Open Textbook Network: The Open Textbook Network (OTN) is a community working to improve education through open education, with members representing over 600 higher education institutions. OTN institutions have saved students more than $8.5 million by implementing open education programs, and empowered faculty with the flexibility to customize course content to meet students’ learning needs.

 



Cover credit for Electromagnetics, Vol 1 Beta: Robert Browder
Cover image attribution: (c) Michelle Yost. Total Internal Reflection is licensed with a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 license (cropped by Robert Browder)

Cover credit for Fundamentals of Business: Trevor Finney
Cover image attributions: “Hong Kong Skyscrapers” by Estial, cropped and modified by Trevor Finney CC BY-SA 4.0; “Paris vue d’ensemble tour Eiffel” by Taxiarchos228, cropped and modified by Poke2001 and Trevor Finney CC BY 3.0; “London Bridge” by Skitterphoto, cropped and modified by Trevor Finney, Public Domain; “New York” by Mscamilaalmeida, cropped and modified by Trevor Finney, Public Domain.

5 Questions With… Kathleen DeLaurenti

kath-d
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 :)

George Mason University’s OER Metafinder Search Tool: The Back Story

wallyg-gmu2Authored by Wally Grotophorst, Associate University Librarian for Digital Programs and Systems, George Mason University Libraries

This past summer I attended a meeting with the library’s Mason Publishing Group and representatives of the Provosts office, exploring what we could do to reduce the cost of textbooks and promote open educational resources across campus.  During the course of the meeting, we looked at several of the most popular OER content sites and batted around a few ideas for surfacing appropriate content for interested faculty–maybe lists by subject, maybe a LibGuide for OER content, and so on.

I wasn’t convinced an exhaustive list of OER sites would be enough. I left the meeting with the image of a faculty member—excited by idea of OERs–feeling the enthusiasm drain away as she dove in and out of the various content silos.   Soon I found myself thinking much less about OERs and far more about how to improve their discoverability as a way to improve OER adoption.  I finally realized that discovery of OER materials presents a problem that’s tailor-made for a federated search solution.

Looking across OER sources we find:

  • a large number of search targets (a federated search would save hundreds of clicks),
  • and fortunately each site is more-or-less focused (that’s good, minimizes noise in retrieval sets).
  • redundant content across many of these sources (de-duping retrieval would be a huge win, too bad eccentric metadata makes that difficult), and
  • a vertigo-inducing variety of search interfaces (distilling that to one would be great, wouldn’t it?).

Beyond improving the discovery process, building a federated search engine would also give us the opportunity to take a more expansive view of what constitutes an OER – by searching the more common OER repositories but also hitting sites that offer quality, open educational content even if that isn’t their sole or even primary purpose. Sites like DPLA, HathiTrust (of particular value where the educator belongs to a HathiTrust member institution), Internet Archive, and World Digital Library to name a few.

I pitched the idea to Abe Lederman, CEO at Deep Web Technologies (a company we use to provide several subject-specific metafinders). He was very enthusiastic and offered to help us turn the idea around quickly.  True to his word, within just a few weeks we had a powerful OER discovery service ready to go.  See https://library.gmu.edu/oermetafinder for the interface.  Currently the Mason OER Metafinder allows users to search 16 sites with a single click:

  1. American Memory Project (Library of Congress)
  2. AMSER – Applied Math and Science Education Repository
  3. BC Campus:Open Ed
  4. College Open Textbooks
  5. Digital Public Library of America
  6. Directory of Open Access Books (DOAB)
  7. HathiTrust – Full View Available
  8. Merlot.Org
  9. MIT OpenCourseware
  10. OAOpen.org
  11. OER Commons
  12. OERs at Internet Archive
  13. Open Textbook Library
  14. OpenStax CNX
  15. Project Gutenberg
  16. World Digital Library

After a few local attempts to publicize the tool with limited success, Deep Web Technologies’ staff posted a story about the OER Metafinder on their tech blog (http://bit.ly/2AMBdpt). That post was picked up by Information Today and other corporate PR news sites.  Soon our Metafinder began to build a small audience but still nothing dramatic. Three to four weeks later that we saw a large spike in traffic thanks to a mention of the site in a SPARC Libraries and OER Forum:

“I don’t remember seeing this announcement on any of our OER lists last month, or at OpenEd, but one of our library liaisons just forwarded it to me. It’s the announcement of an aggregated OER search engine created by George Mason and a web tech company, which looks, on the face of it, to be a “Google for OER”. It searches many open archival/book repositories (DPLA, HathiTrust, Internet Archive) as well as the standard OER ones (Merlot, OTL, OpenStax, etc.) and has some great limiters to narrow down results. Congrats GMU!”

This unsolicited mention on a listserv aimed at precisely the right group of people proved catalytic.  Within two days, I found 28 institutions already linking to our OER Metafinder.   Noticing that it was catching on with LibGuides users, I added sample search widget code to our “About the Metafinder” page — – see https://publishing.gmu.edu/the-mason-oer-metafinder-widget/  for details. Today, more than 100 sites are linking to the Metafinder, including five ASERL libraries (<– marked with asterisks below):
1. Albertus Magnus College
2. Anderson University
3. Arizona State University
4. Auraia Library
5. Austin Community College
6. Bates College
7. Bowling Green State University
8. Brandeis University
9. Brigham Young University
10. Brock University
11. Bronx Community College (CUNY)
12. Bucknell University
13. California State University San Marcos
14. Central Connecticut State University
15. Central Michigan University
16. City College of New York (CCNY)
17. Clackamas Community College
18. Clatsop Community College
19. College of the Canyons
20. College of William & Mary*
21. Colorado State University Pueblo
22. Columbus State Community College (Georgia)
23. Community College of Baltimore County
24. Denison University Libraries
25. Eastern Michigan University
26. Florida State University*
27. Fulton-Montgomery Community College
28. George Mason University*
29. George Washington University
30. Howard Community College (Maryland)
31. Hunter College (CUNY)
32. Iowa State University
33. Justice Institute of British Columbia
34. Kirkwood Community College (Iowa)
35. Lakehead University (Ontario)
36. Lansing Community College
37. Leeward Community College (Hawaii)
38. Lehman College (CUNY)
39. Linn-Benton Community College (Oregon)
40. Loyola University New Orleans
41. Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts
42. Massachusetts Maritime Academy
43. Montgomery County Community College (Pennsylvania)
44. National Science and Technology Development Agency (Thailand)
45. New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT)
46. New York University
47. Niagara College (Ontario)
48. Northern Illinois University
49. Northwestern Michigan College
50. Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (NSCAD)
51. OER KnowledgeCloud
52. Open NYS
53. Otterbein University
54. Pasadena City College
55. Piedmont Virginia Community College
56. Pitt Community College
57. Randolph-Macon College
58. Rhode Island College
59. Rutgers University
60. Santa Clara University
61. Shenandoah University
62. Sonoma State University
63. Southern Connecticut State University
64. St. Cloud State University
65. SUNY Cortland
66. SUNY Old Westbury
67. Tacoma Community College
68. Temple University
69. Texas Tech University
70. University of Alaska Anchorage
71. University of Alaska Southeast
72. University of Arizona
73. University of Arkansas
74. University of British Columbia
75. University of California San Diego
76. University of Central Florida
77. University of Colorado
78. University of Houston-Victoria
79. University of Kansas
80. University of Kentucky
81. University of La Verne
82. University of Mary Washington
83. University of Massachusetts Amherst
84. University of Massachusetts Boston
85. University of Massachusetts Lowell
86. University of Missouri – Kansas City
87. University of New Orleans
88. University of North Carolina – Charlotte
89. University of Pittsburgh
90. University of Regina (Saskatchewan)
91. University of Richmond
92. University of South Carolina*
93. University of Texas – Arlington
94. University of Texas – Austin
95. University of the People
96. University of Winnipeg (Manitoba)
97. UtahOER
98. Victoria College
99. Villanova University
100. Virginia Tech*
101. Virginia Wesleyan University
102. Washington State University
103. Western Illinois University
104. Wilmington University
105. Worcester State University

We would love to see other ASERL libraries link to or offer a search box to the Mason OER Metafinder.  We’d also love to hear of other targets to include in our search for OER content.  I can be reached at wallyg <at> gmu.edu for questions or suggestions.