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.

5 Questions With… Devin Soper



Devin Soper, Scholarly Communication Librarian, Florida State University

This is #7 in our series of get-acquainted posts featuring members of the ASERL Scholarly Communications community

Q1. Describe your current scholcomm position.

I have been working as a Scholarly Communications Librarian at FSU for almost three years. As you might expect for a garden-variety scholcomm position, my responsibilities span a number of different areas, including institutional repository management, OA policy implementation, open education initiatives, library publishing, copyright education, and research data management. Although juggling these hats can be tricky, I love the variety, and I’m very grateful to the leadership at FSU Libraries for giving me the freedom to focus on specific projects from time to time. Some highlights from the past few years include migrating our institutional repository from bepress Digital Commons to the open-source Islandora platform, passing and implementing an institutional OA policy, publishing our first book-length, edited volume, and, more recently, building a new OER program to support student success by reducing textbook costs and creating opportunities for open, learner-centered pedagogy. For more details on what I’ve been up to recently, check out my CV on github.


Q2. What attracted you to scholcomm work?

Back in 2012, my first professional library job was in the University of British Columbia’s (then) newly formed Scholarly Communication & Copyright Office (SCCO), which was created with a mandate to develop copyright services for the university, and particularly to promote copyright compliance following UBC’s exit from the Access Copyright interim tariff. In light of this mandate, most of my work at the SCCO involved providing education and resources around copyright and fair dealing (the Canadian equivalent to fair use) in teaching and research. Although I enjoyed this work, it regularly forced me to confront the restrictiveness of the “All Rights Reserved” copyright regime and, as a result, led me to become increasingly enamoured with the power of open licensing to promote equitable access to information and to provide the requisite reuse rights for myriad forms of scholarly and pedagogical innovation. Naturally, this experience eventually led me to seek out a more traditional scholcomm role where I would be empowered to focus specifically on advancing openness at my institution – and, thankfully, that’s exactly what I found at FSU!  


Q3. What is the most rewarding part of your job?

The most rewarding part of my job is connecting and collaborating with the many brilliant, innovative faculty, staff, and students at my institution. This is a rewarding endeavor in itself, but it also ties into my hopes for the growth of our scholcomm program at FSU (and the long-term success of library scholcomm initiatives, more generally). Although our program dates back to 2011, we are still a relatively small shop, and we’ve long recognized that our aspirations of shifting the default to open at our institution can only be realized through strategic collaboration with like-minded individuals on campus.

To illustrate what I mean here, allow me to refer briefly to Derek Sivers’ TED Talk, How to Start a Movement. In many ways, our scholcomm program is akin to the subject of Derek’s talk: namely, a “lone nut,” dancing alone at a festival, who attracts a few brave souls to join him, recognizes them as equals, and empowers them to invite their friends, until gradually a crowd forms and everyone on the fence feels compelled to join in. A strained analogy, perhaps, but the idea gives me hope and makes collaborating with the innovators on our campus all the more rewarding.

Q.4 If you had a magic wand and could change one thing in the scholcomm ecosystem, what would it be?

Like many other contributors to this blog series, my first choice would be changing the promotion and tenure process to incentivize faculty to make their work open. Perhaps the best example of this, for me, is the Liège model, where faculty are required to deposit the full text of their works in the institutional repository in order to have them considered for the purposes of internal research evaluation / P&T. If even a few U.S. institutions were able to implement similar policies, I think that belief in the value of institutional OA policies (and the feasibility of Green OA, more generally) would soar as a result.

To vary the conversation a bit, a close second for me would be increased collaboration around big deal cancellations. I’m thinking here about the nationwide cancellations and renegotiations that have taken place in the Netherlands, Germany, and Finland, for instance, where hundreds of universities have banded together to cancel (and later renegotiate) their big deal contracts with Elsevier on the grounds of unsustainable pricing practices, insufficient respect for authors’ rights, and reluctance (if not outright opposition) to advance the cause of open access. In following these developments, I’ve long wished that we could present a similarly united front on these issues here in the U.S., whether at the state, regional, or national level.

Q5. If you were NOT a scholcomm librarian, what would you be?

A musician, and specifically a trombonist in big brass band. A totally impractical answer, since I don’t have much in the way of musical talent or experience, but I dig the dream!


5 Questions With… Hillary Miller

_N2A1199_crop Hillary Miller, Scholarly Communications Outreach Librarian, Virginia Commonwealth University

This is #5 in our series of get-acquainted posts featuring members of the ASERL Scholarly Communications community.




Q1. Describe your current scholcomm position.

I’m the Scholarly Communications Outreach Librarian and a member of our libraries’ Scholarly Communications and Publishing Division. I help guide faculty and students on matters of copyright, open access, author rights, open educational resources, and research impact. I offer consultations and workshops, and I collaborate with library and university partners to build larger-scale outreach initiatives and educational programming. Some recent and upcoming examples include Science Speak (a collaborative university event on science communication), Copyright for Creators (a workshop series on copyright for artists and art scholars), and OpenCon Virginia (a regional satellite event of the main international OpenCon).

Q2. What attracted you to scholcomm work?

In graduate school, I worked in the library’s e-resources and serials management division, where I first experienced e-resource license negotiations and learned about copyright, license restrictions, and open access. This sparked my interest in the broader scholcomm ecosystem, and I was excited by how dynamic this area of work is. Although change and uncertainty can be a challenge, it’s something I welcome!

Q3. What is the most rewarding part of your job?

My favorite part of my job is how many different parts of the university it brings me into contact with, and how excited people get when they find out that the libraries are working in this area. In addition to working with faculty and students across all of our academic schools and departments, I get to work with amazing colleagues from units like our Office of Research, Division of Community Engagement, and Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence. And now with an emerging focus on open educational resources, I am building relationships with even more groups like the campus bookstore, Student Affairs, Academic Technologies, and more.

Q4. If you had a magic wand and could change one thing in the scholcomm ecosystem, what would it be?

I’d use the magic wand to create an instant culture change in the academic community, one that would give all stakeholders a strong sense of ownership over the scholcomm ecosystem and scholarship in general. I’d like to bring all stakeholders to the table with a commitment to building and sustaining community-owned infrastructure and a drive to experiment with new forms of dissemination (and recognize this through promotion and tenure processes) that would support greater research impact, particularly for communities outside of the academy.

Q5. If you were NOT a scholcomm librarian, what would you be?

Inside of libraries, I would probably go back to e-resources acquisitions. I truly love reading and negotiating contracts!

Outside of libraries, I would love to work for a grant giving foundation. My dream job is to be able to give money and resources to people who have good ideas and who are doing good work. Being a billionaire philanthropist would also let me do this, but that’s probably a lot less likely to happen

NASIG Adopts Core Competencies for Scholarly Communication Librarians

Scholarly communications issues and initiatives are of increasing importance to contemporary library organizations. This is evidenced by the recent substantial increase in the numbers of scholarly communication librarian positions. Finlay, Tsou, and Sugimoto (2015) found that positions for scholarly communication librarians, as a percentage of total open librarian positions, more than doubled between 2006 and 2014. Organizations are clearly investing in these roles, but despite this investment, “scholarly communication” remains a broad and often amorphous term with little consistencies in the job duties of the scholarly communication librarian (SCL) between institutions. Clarifying these roles will assist those creating position descriptions for SCLs, as well as iSchools in the development of curricula.


In 2014 the executive board of NASIG established a task force charged with developing core competencies for scholarly communication librarians. The creation of the task force was timely, as NASIG was actively expanding its vision and mission beyond serials to include the entire information lifecycle, including scholarly communications. Beyond the development of core competencies, the expanded vision and mission offer a professional home for scholarly communication librarians in which they may engage with other librarians, publishers, and vendors collaboratively. One should keep this in mind when reading the core competencies, as the task force recognized the need to address Open Access advocacy in an important but non-ideological way.


The Core Competencies for Scholarly Communication Librarians Task force began their work sifting through hundreds of job ads and position descriptions emphasizing various aspects of scholarly communication librarianship. These were obtained through calls to germane listservs, the ALA Joblist archive, and partnerships with other groups obtaining position descriptions and job ads for similar purposes. To address the broad and amorphous aspects of scholarly communication, the Task Force identified four themes found in all SCLs and five areas in which the SCL may focus, as determined by existing strengths and organizational needs.


The full Document may be found here: http://www.nasig.org/site_page.cfm?pk_association_webpage_menu=310&pk_association_webpage=9435


The Core Competencies outlined in this document will be interesting to revisit going forward. Scholarly communication is a rapidly emerging and evolving field, and I suspect that it matures, we will see fewer general entry-level “scholarly communication librarian” positions and more positions with a stronger focus on the areas of emphasis (eg. Data Management Librarians or Publishing Services Librarians). Moreover, new trends in scholarly communication will likely emerge and should be added to the core competencies. For example, at some point, the core competencies should address the recent explosion in OER services and resources commonly associated with the SCL, potentially as a new area of emphasis.