Amie Freeman is the Scholarly Communication Librarian at Thomas Cooper Library at the University of South Carolina. She recently took part in our “Five Questions” series to tell us about her role.
If you or someone you know would like to be part of this series, please contact John Burger.
1. Describe your current scholcomm position.
I’m part of the new Digital Research Services Department at the University of South Carolina. In my role as the Scholarly Communication Librarian, I lead outreach efforts to faculty in support of scholarly communication innovations and reforms and supervise activities related to open access and open education. I also oversee our Institutional Repository, Scholar Commons, and am working with the Digital Research Services team to grow digital publishing initiatives.
2. What attracted you to scholcomm work?
I worked in Interlibrary Loan for several years and absolutely loved the openness and collaboration of the resource sharing community. I initially enjoyed working with the intellectual property pieces of ILL and gravitated more and more towards scholcomm work as I became involved with open education. Because so much of my early career was driven by the willingness of other institutions and librarians to share their resources, it was easy to see value of creating services and initiatives to promote open science and research sharing on a more extensive level. It’s fascinating to observe new methods of scholarly publishing develop and to discover which of those methods are and are not sustainable. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to move into this role full time and to be able to focus on these shifts in scholarly communication and digital research.
3. What is the most rewarding part of your job?
I know it’s a cliché, but of course I have to say the people. The faculty, students, and librarians I work with are brilliant in so many ways and it’s wonderful to be able to make connections with their teaching and research. Seeing someone I’ve worked with publish in an open access journal or use an OER in their teaching is a uniquely gratifying experience. It’s also incredibly rewarding to watch new concepts click into place when talking to faculty and students and to realize that I might have made a small difference in the world of scholarly communication.
4. If you had a magic wand and could change one thing in the scholcomm ecosystem, what would it be?
This is a tough one! There are so many areas that need to evolve, but it’s hard to decide which would be the most impactful. If I had to narrow my answer down to one thing, I think that I’d like to change the attitudes of the “we’ve always done it this way” folks. I’m referring not just to one group, but across academia—publishers, administrators, tenure and promotion committees, faculty, and librarians. What we’ve been doing no longer works and we must be willing to try new things to see what does. We’re not always going to succeed, and we might occasionally make a bigger mess of things, but that’s okay. Eventually we’ll get it right, but only if we’re willing to accept that experimentation is necessary to lead us to a more sustainable scholcomm ecosystem.
5. If you were NOT a scholcomm librarian, what would you be?
I’ve always enjoyed working with people, and my favorite job in college was working as a barista. Owning an upscale coffee and wine bar seems like it would be an exciting way to combine those two passions. While I can’t really imagine life outside of librarianship and, to be honest, don’t know all that much about wine, I’d like to pursue this dream after retirement—preferably in a tropical location!