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.

5 Questions with Mary Ann Jones

Associate Professor Mary Ann Jones.  (photo by Logan Kirkland / © Mississippi State University)

Associate Professor Mary Ann Jones.
(photo by Logan Kirkland / © Mississippi State University)

Mary Ann Jones is the Scholarly Communication Services Coordinator at Mississippi State University.  She recently took part in our “Five Questions” series to tell us about her new role. 

1. Describe your current scholcomm position?
My current position is to coordinate the Scholarly Communication Services at the Mississippi State University Libraries. I moved into this position July 1, 2019 from my previous position of Coordinator of Electronic Resources and Acquisitions, so the transition is still happening and I’m still learning about my new role. In this position, I work to bring awareness to campus of all scholcomm elements including open access, open educational resources, data management, copyright, author’s rights, impact metrics, researcher identification, etc. Currently, I’m an office of one, but have many resources at my disposal from research librarians, special collections librarians, digital media specialists, instructional technologists, etc., I could not do scholarly communication outreach without the rest of the library to back me up. Outreach and teaching are my primary concentrations while I get my feet wet and learn about all that is involved with being a ScholComm Librarian.

2. What attracted you to scholcomm work?

Money! In my previous position I was hands on with the rising cost of resources and my first passion for scholcomm was open access to research. I stayed frustrated at the cost of journals and the lack of access we were able to provide. Constant review of journals and cancellations to stay in budget became the primary focus of managing electronic resources, so advocating for open access was logical. It wasn’t until MSU started our scholarly communication initiative in 2014 that I got involved in other aspects of scholcomm when I chaired the Institutional Repository committee. Once I was more attuned to the myriad of other scholcomm issues I was “all in” and wanted to do more. When MSU hired our first scholarly communication librarian I started learning from her and getting more involved in teaching other scholcomm areas resulting in where I am today!

3. What is the most rewarding part of your job?
I’m still learning, but so far, it’s been the enthusiasm from the Student Association to partner with the library on an Open Educational Resources proposal to the University administration. Working with the SA president and seeing his commitment to bringing OERs to campus has helped jump start administration awareness of the need for not only OERs, but other scholcomm issues like open access and open data. I’ve also been fortunate that I am the current Vice President of Faculty Senate, so I’ve had additional occasions to address administration about scholcomm issues. Using OERs as a gateway into a more robust conversation, I’ve been able to address the need for administration to support other areas of scholarly communication; consequently, an open data initiative discussion is now happening with our Office of Research and Economic Development. I’m just getting started, but I already feel rewarded just by having the opportunity to advocate for open research issues.

4. If you had a magic wand and could change one thing in the scholcomm ecosystem, what would it be?
I would wave that magic want and do away with predatory publishers. In my short time as a scholcomm librarian, the greatest barrier I’ve encountered to open access is by far the reputation of predatory publishers. Even above and beyond the notion of article processing charges, how to avoid predatory publishing is the most often asked question and concern of authors. Researchers simply want to disseminate their research but are afraid of open access due to the reputation predatory publishing has in the rank and file faculty population. I truly believe that if predatory publishing was a non-issue, open access would be easier for researchers to accept and even advocate for in their fields of expertise.

5. If you were not a scholcomm librarian, what would you be?
As a librarian, I most likely I would still be the Coordinator of Electronic Resources and Acquisitions. Not as a librarian? Maybe PR or some other area of communication in either politics or corporate human resources.


Libraries in Process Community Call

Join the ASERL Scholarly Communications Interest Group Friday, November 22nd at 10am EST/9am CST for the second installment of our community call series, Libraries in Process. This month we will be looking at library publishing with an exciting group of presenters:

  • Jody Bailey, Head of the Scholarly Communications Office at Emory University
  • Sam Byrd, Scholarly Publishing Librarian at VCU Libraries
  • Anna Craft, Coordinator of Metadata Services at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro
  • Devin Soper, Director of the Office of Digital Research & Scholarship at Florida State University Libraries

After Jody, Sam, Anna, and Devin share their work, it’s your turn. We’ll open the floor for you to share your experiences in library publishing and pick the brains of everyone on the call.

Interested in sharing on a topic you’re working on? E-mail Jason Burton or Ellen Ramsey and sign-up to lead a future Libraries in Process.


To join Libraries in Process from your computer, tablet or smartphone: https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/323386045

For audio, you can dial in using your phone.

United States: tel:+1-646-749-3112

Access Code: 323-386-045

Or you can use your computer’s mic & speakers.

ASERL Scholarly Communications Interest Group Community Call: Libraries In Process

Librarians do a great job of working together to brainstorm new ideas. They have mastered the art of reporting back their successes and sharing their frustrations. But what about the middle? Do we share the process, the works in progress? The ASERL Scholarly Communications Interest Group wants to help you share your Libraries In Process. Our new community call will be a forum for 2-3 librarians and information professionals to share the work they are immersed in and give their peers the chance to provide feedback and advice in the moment.

Our first Libraries In Process call is on a perennial Fall topic, outreach. Join us Friday, October 4 at 2EDT/1CDT to for a conversation on reaching out and garnering interest. Curious about the types of projects you might hear about? The University of Virginia Library is in the middle stages of an ORCID outreach project. Faculty are encouraged to verify their affiliation with the University of Virginia using  a UVA-ORCID Connector web service. The outreach mechanism is personalized invitation letters to UVA authors with known ORCIDs with an embedded link to the Connector service, and a link to an ORCID at UVA information page, https://www.library.virginia.edu/services/orcid-at-uva.

If you’re interested in taking 10 minutes to share your current outreach efforts, how you got there, and your sense of how things are going, reach out to Jason Burton or Ellen Ramsey to sign up to share. Those not sharing, stay on the line. We’ll open the floor for constructive feedback, comments, and questions.

Do you have a scholarly communications topic you’d like to hear discussed? Suggest a topic for a future call by letting Jason Burton or Ellen Ramsey know.

LOGIN:  Please join the online meeting from your computer, tablet or smartphone:  https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/323386045

AUDIO:  Telephone connections seem to work better than VOIP.

Dial:  1-646-749-3112

Access Code: 323-386-045

* Or you can use your computer’s mic & speakers if desired.

5 Questions with… Caitlin Carter

c-carterCaitlin Carter is the Scholarly Communication and Open Access Policy Fellow at The Johns Hopkins University Welch Medical Library.  She recently took part in our “Five Questions” series to tell us about her role. 

1. Describe your current scholcomm position?
My current position is the Scholarly Communication and Open Access Policy Fellow at Welch Medical Library. Welch is part of Johns Hopkins University’s School of Medicine. I work closely with Robin Sinn who coordinates the Office of Scholarly Communication from the Homewood campus, while I’m based on the medical campus. We are both funded out of the Hopkins President’s Office for two years to socialize the new (as of July 2018) faculty-wide Open Access Policy. I also teach Welch classes about publishing and author resources, and I help plan and run events dedicated to the changing scholarly publishing landscape like the role of preprints for medical and health researchers.

2. What attracted you to scholcomm work?
Leaving my full time job at an IT government contractor to pursue a degree in library science was a hard choice, but one I don’t regret. When I started my program, I was attracted to academia, but I was not sure what form of librarianship I wanted to pursue. When I got a graduate assistantship at the University of Maryland working on the digital repository, helping to make research open access, I discovered the value (and definition of) green open access. This discovery then led me down a rabbit hole where I learned and explored the history of and changes happening within scholarly publishing.

3. What is the most rewarding part of your job?
I’m humbled by the fact that working at Hopkins means I have access to a lot of, often, well-funded researchers conducting high-level research. The most rewarding part is that I am encouraging, and, hopefully, making it easier for these researchers to make their research openly accessible to others. When I find faculty allies to encourage peers to share research, it is even more rewarding.  Something I find similarly rewarding is working with early career researchers and graduate students who are navigating the publishing landscape and looking for ways to improve publishing and mentoring processes.

4. If you had a magic wand and could change one thing in the scholcomm ecosystem, what would it be?
It’s easy for me to think of many large-scale ways the scholarly ecosystem could be revamped: removing journal titles and impact factor from faculty tenure/promotion processes, ensuring open access research is the default everywhere, and diverting library budgets from support for Big Deals or Read and Publish agreements to instead support open infrastructure.  However, because I have to pick one thing, I’m going to go with a small change that would make my day-to-day a little easier: if I had a magic wand, I’d change the perception some have that open access publishing equates to a pay-to-publish model. Heather Joseph (Executive Director, SPARC) came to campus during Open Access Week and discussed how article processing charges (APCs) bake the inequities into the publishing system, and it resonated with me. It can be easy to write off open access journals because of APCs, which not all journals have and not all researchers can pay for when they do. I try to communicate the nuances of open access publishing by describing the many ways researchers can make work open access without paying. When authors or institutions are asked to pay to publish their work, I can see how well-funded institutions and researchers are privileged, and it creates a less equitable and accessible research environment for everyone.

5. If you were not a scholcomm librarian, what would you be?
I have always liked studying what makes people operate the way they do, and helping others navigate through life situations. If I had to choose an alternative career in an alternative universe, I think I would be a psychologist. In my context, I think the better way to answer is: if not a librarian, and had I been better at biology, chemistry, and statistics, I would be a psychologist.

SCUNC 2019 Moving to Fall

ASERL Friends:

The third Scholarly Communications Unconference, affectionately known as SCUNC, is being rescheduled for the fall. There are just too many competing opportunities this summer. We will coordinate with either DLF Forum or the Charleston Library Conference so that attendees can make the most of limited travel funds and opportunities.


Registration will still be limited to the first 50 people from ASERL member institutions who register.

Bookmark http://www.aserl.org/scunc19/ and the blog for continuing updates on registration, session proposals, and schedule.

Your SCUNC 2019 Planning Committee:

Ellen Ramsey, University of Virginia
Andy Wesolek, Vanderbilt University
Melanie Kowalski, Emory University
John Burger, ASERL (ex officio)

SCUNC 2019 Registration is Open

ASERL Friends:

SCUNC REGISTRATION IS OPEN! The third Scholarly Communications Unconference, affectionately known as SCUNC, is happening at Vanderbilt University this summer.

When: June 3 – 4, 2019 — Starts 3pm CST Monday, ends 3pm CST Tuesday

Registration is limited to the first 50 people from ASERL member institutions who register.

Bookmark http://www.aserl.org/scunc19/ and the blog for continuing updates on registration, session proposals, and schedule.

See you in Nashville for SCUNC 2019.

Your SCUNC 2019 Planning Committee:

Ellen Ramsey, University of Virginia
Andy Wesolek, Vanderbilt University
Claudia Holland, Mississippi State University
Melanie Kowalski, Emory University
John Burger, ASERL (ex officio)

Controlled Digital Lending: Technology Solution or Legal Pathway?

By Andy Wesolek and Ellen Ramsey

This month’s post is an interview-style discussion about Controlled Digital Lending, prompted by the recent post on the subject by Dave Hansen and Kyle K. Courtney on Duke University’s scholcomm blog.

Ellen’s questions are meant to reflect perspectives of librarians concerned about copyright, collection, and public services impacts of digital lending strategies. Andy’s responses are through the lens of a scholcomm leader who is skilled at translating complex policies and tools for faculty and library professionals from diverse specializations.

ER: What is Controlled Digital Lending, and how does it help libraries circulate books to readers? How does it “expand digital access to print library collections” ? 

AW: CDL is the legal case to allow libraries to digitize books that are not otherwise available in that form, and share them in the same controlled way that they might share a physical book (e.g., only lending out the number of copies (print and digital) that is equal to the number of print copies held by the library). Library print collections currently are only shared physically. CDL makes the case that digitized versions of physical books held by a library can be shared online similarly to print, thus expanding access to the library’s print collections.

ER: Is it solving a technology problem, a legal problem, or both? E.g., why would a library need/want to limit loans of a digitized book so that “only one user can use any given copy at a time, for a limited time”?

AW: CDL is using technology to solve a legal problem. So much of the content published in the 20th century is orphaned and in danger of being damaged, destroyed, lost, etc. CDL allows libraries to not only make preservation copies (which they can already do under the Section 108 exception) but to enhance access to those works by sharing them in the same way they would share a physical book. This approach expands access to patrons who are remote, or otherwise unable to travel to the physical library, while preserving the print copy by restricting its circulation.

ER: What is the difference between a digitized book and an e-book?

AW: “E-book” is a broad term that refers to any book that is available electronically rather than physically. That said, there are different types of e-books. A “digitized book” is available to be read and shared electronically, created from a print book that has been scanned and made available electronically — often as a PDF. Other types of e-books may be born digital, and take a variety of file formats, and may include value-added features like in-text hyperlinks, searchability, and in some cases multimodal components such as embedded media.

ER: What do the authors mean by “20th Century black hole”?

AW: The “20th Century black hole” refers to the halting of the advancement of the public domain in the early part of that century. The copyright protections on materials published prior to 1923 have expired and those materials have fallen into the public domain, meaning they are free from restriction and may be legally reused, remixed, shared, etc. When there is no market for these out of copyright materials, though, it is easy for them to become essentially unavailable. Through the course of the 20th century, copyright protections were extended multiple times and the requirement to register works for that protection was dropped. As a result, works were eligible for increasingly-lengthy copyright protection as soon as they were fixed in a tangible means of expression. Moreover, it was not until the founding of Creative Commons (CC) in 2001 that creators had an easy, free, human and machine readable way to broadly grant permissions to use their works online.

As a result, libraries and other cultural heritage institutions are able to digitize and make available works published in the 19th century, and share/re-purpose content published in the 21st century under CC licenses. However, the copyright status, and copyright holders of a great deal of content published in the 20th century is notoriously difficult to determine. As a result, much of the cultural heritage produced in the 20th century is in danger of being lost or damaged as a result of legal barriers to its reproduction and distribution.

ER: What are examples of improperly implemented CDL? What is a good use of CDL?

AW:  Hansen and Courtney say in their white paper that digitized versions of physical books that were shared in an uncontrolled or bad faith manner would be improperly implemented CDL. Examples might include sharing a greater number of digital copies than the physical copies held in the library, sharing both the physical and digital copy of a book simultaneously, or making the digitized version available openly online. In addition, sharing digitized books that are not held in a library’s physical collections would also be an example of an improperly implemented CDL.

CDL is a useful strategy for circulation of orphan works (whose copyright status or holder cannot be determined) that are no longer available commercially.

Andy Wesolek and Ellen Ramsey are the co-chairs of ASERL’s Scholarly Communications Interest Group.

5 Questions with… Carmelita Pickett

Carmelita PickettCarmelita Pickett, Associate University Librarian for Scholarly Resources and Content Strategy at the University of Virginia, graciously agreed to be our 15th profile in our 5 Questions with… series. Since her team at UVA includes ASERL ScholComm Co-chair Ellen Ramsey, both took the opportunity for a great conversation about local and national issues in our realm.

1. Describe your current position’s scholarly communication responsibilities.
I came to the University of Virginia as Associate University Librarian for Scholarly Resources and Content Strategy in July, 2018. Most recently, I held comparable roles at the University of Iowa and Texas A&M University. At UVA, I am responsible for the overall administration and coordination of the staff responsible for the lifecycle of the Library’s reference and circulating collections. In addition to selection, acquisition, metadata, digitization, stacks maintenance, Ivy Stacks, and interlibrary loan operations.  In a natural extension of collections work, I oversee the scholarly communications arm of the Library to build outreach and advocacy for the Library’s decisions in these areas.

2. What attracted you to a position with a scholcomm portfolio?
Before I interviewed for my current role at UVA, I made sure that scholarly communication was included in the collections-focused AUL’s portfolio as it had been at the University of Iowa. Scholarly communication is a natural extension of collection development work, and its outreach arm. Viewing collection decisions through the lens of scholarly communication helps the academic community come to terms with what is going on in the scholarly publishing ecosystem, and how it affects the choices libraries must make to be the best stewards of resources needed by their institutions.

It is very nice to have a team devoted to this work at UVA; I don’t feel like I’m borrowing people from other parts of the library for advocacy and outreach in support of our accountability-driven vision for collections. At Iowa, I coordinated work on ORCID, OER, information sessions on IP and copyright for faculty with support from within the library and connections across campus, but we did not have a team whose main focus was scholarly communication.

3. What is the most rewarding part of your job?
People! Connecting with people who do the work is the best way to map the impact of what we are doing. I also enjoy the collections part of my job, it feels like home and provides the context for everything we do. There are so many intersections in library work that you can’t help but have an affinity for all things, and having a solid starting place helps it all come together. Also, my colleagues here don’t engage with me as if I am new — which is a good thing and shows how quickly we are solidifying our team — but every so often I get to remind people I am still new enough here so some context is necessary, which leads to great conversations like this one.

4. If you had a magic wand and could change one thing in the scholcomm ecosystem, what would it be?
The goal to break the big deals is so important. That conversation is what drew me to UVA. I had negotiated, managed, and lived through those agreements at the University of Iowa and Texas A&M and was excited about John Unsworth’s reputation as a library dean who wanted to do something different about big deals, not just continue the status quo.

We do have a solid strategy in this area, with many groups involved and invested, so I’m hopeful about life after the “Big Deal”.  Once we are on the other side, we can help other institutions achieve the same kind of culture change. Faculty may not see immediate results, but when the benefits to their work are clear, they will appreciate what we are doing.

Libraries and librarians need training to make this change happen. Acquisitions is core work of the Library, but recent years have seen a decline in professional development and hiring in that segment of our work. We need to communicate, advocate, and plan with the long term effects of the changing scholarly environment in mind. Best practices mean not just answering faculty requests for immediate acquisitions, but really showing the long-term consequences of a well-considered, accountable strategy for acquiring and stewarding scholarly resources. Recent divestments from acquisitions and collections focus at individual institutions means we need more support from consortia. That means right now I am busy learning how VIVA is different from the Big 10 consortium structure. I strongly believe that collaboration on community advocacy is going to become more important and valuable to consortium members than the older model of economies of scale from combined purchasing power.

5. If you were NOT a librarian furthering scholcomm, what would you be?
If I weren’t a librarian, I think I would do missionary work, like my father did in Haiti during the mid to late 1980’s. Or I’d be a millionaire philanthropist supporting work like that of Brian Stephenson’s Equal Justice Initiative. His book, Just Mercy, inspired me to get involved with his organization, and if I had more time and money, I would use it to give more support to EJI’s commitment to “ending mass incarceration and excessive punishment in the United States, to challenging racial and economic injustice, and to protecting basic human rights for the most vulnerable people in American society.”

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.