5 Questions with Darcee Olson


Darcee Olson is the Copyright & Scholarly Communication Policy Director at Louisiana State University. She recently took part in our “Five Questions” series to tell us about her role.

1. Describe your current scholcomm position?
As LSU Libraries Copyright and Scholarly Communications Policy Director, I inform the Libraries’ administration on copyright and scholarly communications policy internally and externally, as part of developing and implementing the Libraries’ scholarly communication strategy. I provide insight into license negotiations, and offer weekly copyright workshops in the library as well as department specific trainings in copyright and its exceptions. I provide information to grad students, faculty and researchers to help them understand publishing agreements, explore publication options and clarify concepts around authors’ rights. I’ve also offered an OER workshop at Baton Rouge Community College.

2. What attracted you to scholcomm work?

LSU Libraries’ Dean Stanley Wilder offered me the opportunity to join a collaborative team, working to redefine the libraries’ role in the research and publishing lifecycle. My first day at LSU was the day the Provost announced that LSU Libraries would not be renewing their big deal agreement with Elsevier. I’m thrilled to be working with the libraries’ teams as they move forward in this new environment.

3. What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Collaborating. Transforming silos into Venn diagrams. Every aspect of my work intersects with someone else. Whether I’m providing copyright information to LSU’s online instructional design team, or working with our licensing team to hammer out vendor terms and accessibility issues, or helping authors understand the full range of their options as they navigate publication agreements, there are always new possibilities to explore. Scholarly Communication is evolving at LSU. I benefit from my colleagues deep knowledge and experience in their respective fields. I’m learning as much as I’m teaching as we all break new ground.

4. If you had a magic wand and could change one thing in the scholcomm ecosystem, what would it be?
If I had a magic wand.. improved library funding would be a first wish, with a crystal ball a close second. We are in an era of tremendous change and it would be very useful to be able to see the future of collections development, user data privacy and university publishing. LSU Libraries’ goal is to provide advocacy and support for the entire cycle of research and publication, but there is no clearly defined best way forward in a post big-deal ecosystem. I’m working with a great team, but perhaps because of my attorney training, I keep looking for precedent and a clearly defined path to follow. Frequently, there isn’t one. New options require analysis and consideration, without getting stuck in interminable deliberation. A crystal ball would help. Communication with colleagues inside and outside of LSU is vital. Organizations like ASERL play a critical role in facilitating real time exchange of information.

5. If you were not a scholcomm librarian, what would you be?
That’s a tough question. I could be very happy back at the Program in Comparative Media Law and Policy at Oxford University. I also loved the time I spent teaching copyright in San Francisco and could see myself continuing to teach. There is so much new ground being broken in scholarly communications at this moment in time and at LSU Libraries that I’m very happy to be right where I am. The constant collaboration on new projects makes this copyright/scholarly communications mash-up an ideal match for the skills I bring to the job and the type of work I enjoy. I’d like to stretch my current position to do more to support accessibility, inclusion and data privacy. These are Venn diagram issues that nest into the scholarly communications sphere, but they impact other departments and need to be addressed on several fronts.