Making a Few Elsevier Predictions

At this point it is no secret that Elsevier intends to be and is becoming (or maybe already has become?) the leading provider of scholarly metrics and analytics.

Mendeley’s Stats is an impressive author service to track the performance of one’s own publications that rivals the tracking in Google Scholar with an attractive and intuitive user interface. The release of CiteScore in December competes directly with Clarivate Analytics’ Journal Impact Factor. Last week’s announcement of the unsurprising acquisition of Plum Analytics from EBSCO evidences the comment at the ALA Midwinter 2017 Hunter Forum by Lisa Colledge, Director of Research Metrics at Elsevier, that Elsevier will continue to invest in securing data sources that will allow Elsevier to develop more metrics.

These metrics activities are no doubt important inherently; however, at the encouragement of some colleagues, I’d like to look out a bit further in time and share a few thoughts about the implications I see. I’m going to do so using the provocative but risky format of making predictions. We can check back in a few years and see how I did!

Flips Journals to Open: The pivot to metrics and analytics underscores that Elsevier is on a trajectory to convert its journal portfolio to being open and no longer behind a paywall. Elsevier is already a leading open access publisher and initiatives to deliver author manuscripts to institutional repositories, among other projects, indicate a shift to making publications more and more discoverable and accessible. Discovery and access generate data that are critical for developing useful metrics and analytics. I go back and forth on how many years before this conversion of everything to open reading (including backfiles) will become reality but I am confident that it will happen, especially after this Twitter exchange with William Gunn, Director of Scholarly Communications at Elsevier – https://twitter.com/lisalibrarian/status/809220294489624576 (it is a long thread of conversation but this link goes to the most relevant point in the exchange). As a side benefit, fighting off piracy becomes far less and maybe even a non-issue. My current thought is the timeline is about six years.

Publication Services: I also predict that coming soon from Elsevier is a suite of new publication services that leverage the metrics and analytics. I expect to see these two services develop in parallel, though with the roll out of the first coming a year or two before the second.

One of these publication services will be author-facing, though probably sold to institutions. (Note – at universities I expect that this will not be a sale to the library but, like PURE, to the campus research office.) Researchers invest tremendous amounts of time and energy in identifying journals to which to submit their manuscripts, formatting the manuscripts, and engaging with reviews, editorial responses, etc. These processes have been somewhat automated over the past years but with relatively few efficiencies gained and no sense that placement of manuscripts has become more effective because of automation. The rise of predatory journals has made this process even more onerous. Every author I know would prefer to spend this time and energy on other tasks related to their scholarship.

Elsevier’s patent for “Online Peer Review System and Method” (http://pdfpiw.uspto.gov/.piw?Docid=09430468) shows clearly that this process is ripe for improvement and the patented process describes the future experience of a scholar submitting a manuscript that will be matched through fingerprinting with its best possible potential publication venue and then cascade (or waterfall) through review and editorial processes and on to publication. This manuscript submission and management product will be sold to institutions as improving productivity of their researchers by decreasing the effort to manage manuscript submission and review and as improving institutional control over institutional quality metrics (which are heavily dependent on publication metrics). It is even possible to imagine that institutions might centralize the management of this process in ways parallel to the central review and management of grants and the centralization of researcher profile management (e.g., with PURE). I expect to see this marketed within two years.

When the “Online Peer Review System and Method” patent was granted, many pointed out that the idea of cascade/waterfall treatment of a manuscript by a publisher’s review and editorial system was not such a unique proposition. However, and with the caveat that I am not a patent expert by any means, I think that response missed a critical component. As Elsevier explains in the section on prior art: “existing systems only offer a shared database among sister journals, whereas a shared database is not available for non-sister journals, for example, journals that are not owned by related entities. Thus, it is impossible for these existing systems to accommodate the user’s request to switch from a sister journal to a non-sister journal.”

This intention to provide for the transfer of a manuscript “from a sister to a non-sister journal” is what will make this online system different it appears – and is also the basis for my belief that Elsevier will offering a parallel service, not to authors or to institutions, but to other publishers offering them access to the best manuscripts as well as a manuscript review and editorial support platform. Attracting quality manuscripts is critical to publishing quality articles and being separate from a large-scale and wide-ranging manuscript submission and review process will increase the challenge for smaller publishers in doing so. By joining into a partnership arrangement with Elsevier, smaller publishers would be able to place their journals into the waterfall process. One can anticipate Elsevier using resultant data from this process to make acquisitions of well-performing titles over time. I think we see this in three to four years, maybe faster.

This leads to my final thought specific to academic libraries. I’m not certain if it is intended to be a complete shift or just a significant one but one can’t help but notice that Elsevier is already increasingly selling services directly to other campus units rather than the library. Many people have asked the question re the role of the library in an open access scholarly communications system. The predictions I’ve made here about Elsevier make that a even more pressing question than it might have seemed.

I’ll leave it at this for now. I may be wrong; I may be right. I’ll probably change my mind on some of the details and possibly the timelines. I’m sure Elsevier has a lot more in the works than what I’ve predicted here. But, I thought I’d put this out there for comment and reaction. I look forward to hearing people’s thoughts.

What We Can Be: An Ethos of Hospitality

2016-11-12 21.35.02.jpgToday I had the honor of being the invited speaker for the Alpha Chapter of Beta Phi Mu Annual Initiation and Luncheon Meeting at the School of Information
Sciences
at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

This is the same chapter that I was initiated into when I earned my Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science in 1994 and it was a moment of nostalgia to find my signature from that ceremony. It’s been a fulfilling life as a librarian since that time. I certainly never expected so much of what I’ve experienced since I signed my name in this book!

Below is the text of my remarks. I am grateful to all who have joined into the work of pursuing our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion in libraries and confident that we can become what we hope to be.

***

“What We Can Be: An Ethos of Hospitality”
Lisa Janicke Hinchliffe

As a community of practice, we have a shared responsibility to work together to improve our practice through learning together. This presentation will reflect on the concept of hospitality as orientating theme for personal and organizational development and what it means to “make space at the table” in pursuit of equity and inclusion in our field.

Thank you to Melody Allison, President of this Alpha Chapter of Beta Phi Mu, for the invitation to speak with you today and thank you to the iSchool for hosting us.

I extend my congratulations to those initiated into Beta Phi Mu here today.

You have much to be proud of in your achievements and we take collective pride in celebrating you.

Talks like this are funny things.

You propose a topic months in advance, in your current circumstances at the time, and then the day draws near and you come to know the specific circumstances.

I hadn’t thought at all about the fact that this would be the Saturday after the national elections when Melody contacted me last February.

At the time, neither Donald Trump nor Hillary Clinton were the nominees of their respective parties, in fact we had barely entered the primary season.

My mind was on a different election.

One in which I was a candidate for President-Elect of the American Library Association.

I knew that by the time we gathered here today I would either be the ALA President-Elect, or I wouldn’t be.

But, in either case, I knew that I would speak to the same issues that I was speaking to in my candidacy.

Those issues – diversity, equity, and inclusion – have taken on a heightened status in the intervening months in our nation.

Some of us woke on Wednesday to a world that feels less inclusive and less equitable.

Others woke with a hope that the exclusion they have felt in the past will be addressed.

All of us woke to an America that is having a serious conversation about what it is and what it will be.

What it can be. What we can be.

About 80 years ago, the phrase “all politics is local” was popularized by House Speaker “Tip” O’Neill.

Earlier this week at the Digital Library Federation Conference, Stacie Williams – self-described as “Librarian. Archivist. Editor. Essayist.” on her website – gave a keynote address titled “All Labor is Local.”

In it she eloquently and passionately reminded us of the materiality of our working conditions and the ways in which they foster justice, or injustice.

Equity, or inequality.

Inclusion, or exclusion.

My theme as a candidate for ALA President was “Colleagues Connecting Communities” and that phrases reflects what we do in our libraries and what we are for each other.

I want to be very clear that I am very proud of the work that we do together as colleagues, as a community.

We have a strong Code of Ethics that guides our practice.

We are an influential force in policy-making.

We engage important conversations around privacy and intellectual freedom.

We are leaders in using technology to advance access to information.

We take seriously the information and education needs of communities and create collections and services as creative as those found in any other sector and usually far more financially efficient.

We stretch our resources as far as they will go, and then a little bit further.

And, by joining together as a community of colleagues, within our own institutions and across institutional boundaries, we accomplish more than we can alone.

We raise the visibility of the impact that libraries have in our communities.

We challenge each other to innovate and transform our practices.

We support each other.

We are strong.

But, we can be stronger.

Libraries are one of our most important social institutions.

As former literature director of the National Endowment of the Arts, David Kipen, posited in the L.A. Times this week – the institution that just may save us? – “it’s … the public library.”

As much as I agree with Kipen, and want to agree with him, I also know that our libraries themselves are not always places of respite from exclusion and inequity.

As Safiya Noble, faculty in the Department of Information Studies at the University of California – Los Angeles, who earned her PhD in this very building in which we gather today, has documented … even our information tools themselves are places of misrepresentation, bias, and exclusion.

Now, it is absolutely true that many of us have worked to identify and eliminate practices of exclusion.

However, equity and inclusion requires more.

We must create and support new practices.

It is not enough to remove barriers; we must also build bridges.

We must intentionally create space for diversity to strengthen our libraries as inclusive and collegial communities of practice.

We need an ethos of hospitality.

As Vernã Myers, a nationally recognized expert on diversity and inclusion within law firms and law schools, wrote “Diversity Is Being Invited to the Party; Inclusion Is Being Asked to Dance.”

I want to thank Emily Knox, faculty here at the School of Information Sciences, for introducing to me Myers’ work through her recent interview with WILL/Illinois Public Media about inclusion at Makerspace Urbana.

The issues of inequality and exclusion we face in our libraries are systemic.

As systemic issues, they demand systematic solutions and collective action.

Systematic and collective are exactly the kinds of things that a community of practice can do, together.

We have serious issues in our field.

Data from American Library shows that the number and percent of librarians from traditionally underrepresented groups has been in decline for years.

Chris Bourg, the director of the library at MIT, wrote a very informative blog post, The Unbearable Whiteness of Librarianship, on the lack of diversity in the profession and included thoughtful analysis of the recruitment efforts that we would need for the profession’s racial diversity to match that of the United States.

The data are sobering.

I also believe – based more on personal observation and conversations (since the research base is still developing on these topics) – that the profession also needs to look hard at issues related to retention.

Librarians have skills that they can use in many different settings.

Are we making certain that libraries are workplaces of choice because they are workplaces of diversity, equity, and inclusion?

If people choose libraries as their workplaces of choice, what environment do they find within those libraries?

Do they find an environment that is supportive of their growth and development?

An environment in which diversity and inclusion are central to mission and prioritized by administration?

Or, do they find a hostile and threatening setting that drives them out of the profession?

We also need to acknowledge that, while the ranks of those who have an MLS are not as diverse as we want, many times the staff in our libraries are much more diverse in their composition.

We need to ask ourselves some serious questions about why our diversity is concentrated in lower paid positions.

We need to ask why there are a lack of pathways from staff positions to librarian positions and whether we have structured a system that creates barriers and disincentives for a staff-to-librarian pathway.

And, we must ask ourselves how we can change.

I admit that I do not have easy answers to offer.

I have a lot of questions and I think that we have a lot of work to do.

This work requires inclusive, honest, and sometimes bracing conversations.

April Hathcock, Scholarly Communications Librarian at New York University, is doing great work to amplify conversations about diversity and inclusion through her blog At the Intersection.

As I prepared today’s remarks I thought often about the fact that there are so many ways that I could fail or falter with this speech.

The stakes are high.

I take some solace in April’s observation that “You will learn from your mistakes … if you are serious about this work.”

I am very serious about this work.

If I make mistakes today, and if I’ve already made them, I’m sorry and I’ll keep trying to do better.

If you choose to tell me, I promise I’ll listen.

I’d also like to reflect on a piece by Jennifer Vinopal, recently appointed Associate Director for Information Technology in the Ohio State University Libraries.

In The Quest for Diversity in Library Staffing: From Awareness to Action, Jennifer gives us a basis for understanding how privilege, bias, and power affect diversity and inclusion in our field.

It is crucial that we move from conversation to action and Jennifer’s recommended practical steps for library leaders function as a strong call to action and engagement on these issues.

I think we need to particularly take heed to her “Brass Tacks for Library Leaders” and particularly her recommendation that “rather than just paying lip service to the concept of diversity, include diversity initiatives in the library’s strategic plan and then make time and provide support for staff to accomplish them.”

Make time.

Provide support.

Accomplish them.

Admittedly, figuring out the right action to take when so many have tried things in our profession that have not worked will be challenging.

If I might, I’d like to offer three specific changes we can make in our work settings.

First, hire for competency, not years of experience or educational attainment.

There is more than one pathway to developing competence.

Too many job ads reflect only a particular way and taking that path may not have been possible for certain people, or it may have been filled with barriers.

Second, identify performance goals and reward achievement.

This, by the way, means tasking managers/leaders with diversity and inclusion as performance goals.

Not effort – achievement.

Finally, conduct exit interviews for everyone employee who leaves your organization, by a third party, not the employee’s supervisor.

Again, this work will be challenging.

It will not be easy.

We will have to work hard.

We may learn things about our organizations that disappoint, even anger, us.

But, because there is so much energy waiting to be unleashed from people who are passionate about and committed to these issues, I am hopeful.

I believe we are ready for deep engagement with some very large and long-standing structural problems within our society as well as within our profession.

We can engage what Bethany Nowviskie, Director of the Digital Library Federation, has termed an “ethic of care.”

This is our opportunity.

It is our opportunity to create a seat at the table, to ask people to dance.

In doing so, we can be our best in creating the library environment that we promise to our communities.

As Jenica Rogers, Director of Libraries and Applied Learning at the State University of New York at Potsdam, said in a blog post this week titled An Open Letter to My Community, “speaking in my role as librarian, freedom of information is a tenet of my profession that drives my commitment to what we do.”

She continued, “But further, as an educator I have a responsibility to protect the vulnerable in my community, ensuring that they have a safe space to pursue their education. So that means preventing and addressing bias, discrimination, and harassment … we’ll be focusing on ensuring our libraries are safe and welcoming to all members of our community, and educating our students about freedom of speech, freedom of information, the role of the State vs the role of the individual, and the powers and pitfalls of all of the above. That is my job. That is my purview.”

This is our end – freedom of information and access for our communities.

An ethos of hospitality that pursues equity and inclusion is our means.

Unfortunately, I did not get elected to the Presidency to which I aspired.

But the ALA Presidency was not my purpose.

My purpose was the work.

The work of becoming a better library community of practice and the work of creating better libraries for our communities.

During my time as a candidate I had an opportunity to talk with many library workers around the country.

Each person who shared their story gave me an amazing gift – the opportunity to learn from their experiences.

I heard some wonderful stories about how librarianship is a community that nurtures and supports its members.

Unfortunately, I also heard many stories from people who feel alienated from their work and who shared their pain at being disconnected from their community of practice.

I ended my experience as a candidate with the conviction that we have a lot of work to do if we are going to achieve our vision of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

And, candidly, I will admit that I am disappointed that ALA hasn’t issued a statement this week – affirming libraries as spaces of intellectual freedom and free speech as well as welcome and inclusion for all members of our communities.

I think we can do better.

I think our library workers and our user communities deserve better.

As I conclude, I am going to turn to you who were inducted today.

Today we honor you for your distinguished achievement in your library and information studies.

I am proud to have you as colleagues in my community of practice, in librarianship.

But also today – I am going to ask you to choose to join me in building up our community, in furthering our goals of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

In our libraries, with our colleagues, and for our communities.

Whatever your purview in the work that you do, today and throughout your career, challenge yourself to not just do your work but to do it with an ethos of hospitality.

You have the opportunity to intentionally create space at the table and the privilege of being able to invite people in.

Thank you.

Reflections on “Privacy Implications of Research Data: A NISO Symposium”

I had the opportunity to attend “Privacy Implications of Research Data: A NISO Symposium” (Sponsored by the NISO-RDA Joint Interest Group) in Denver this past weekend  as a member of the RDA/NISO Privacy Implications of Research Data Sets Working Group. I’m grateful to Todd Carpenter, NISO Executive Director, for including me in this project, which is a follow-on to the project group that I was a member of that produced the NISO Consensus Principles on Users’ Digital Privacy in Library, Publisher, and Software ­Provider Systems [PDF].

As the Case Statement for the Working Group states, the goal is to “develop a framework for how researchers and repositories should appropriately manage human-subject datasets, to develop a metadata set to describe the privacy-related aspects of research datasets, compile a bibliography of related resources, and to build awareness of the privacy implications of research-data sharing.”

The speakers were all thoughtful and each provided a focused talk on some aspect of this multi-faceted topic that continues to shift while we grapple with it. And, in fact, that was one of the themes that emerged in the talks – the lack of clear definitions of what we mean by the terms privacy, research, and data. Terms we all use regularly but seem to defy easy operational definition in the context of this project.

All of the presentations were recorded as well as the follow-on discussions and are accessible from the symposium website and so I won’t recap them here in summary. Instead, I’d like to offer a few reflections.

  • In the context of the symposium, health/biomedical, social media, and (to a degree) sociology/psychology data were the focus on the discussion with an emphasis on quantitative data. In future conversations, considering qualitative data and privacy will also be important. Interviews, focus groups, oral histories, etc. all produce data that raise privacy questions and concerns.
  • At times the conversation seemed to conflate the question of whether data was “research data” with the question of whether the person who had collected and/or who wanted to access and use the data was a “bona fide researcher.” I think we find more clarity in separating the question of whether data is research data from the question of who is allowed to access and use it. This is particularly useful if we want to affirm the tenant that an individual whose data is in the data set should have a right to access (and possibly review, correct, and/or delete) his or her own data. How to think about citizen science is also an open question here.
  • I also left thinking that, while this topic is vast, one way to develop a focus for the coming year would be to think carefully about capitalizing on NISO’s leadership/participation in this NISO-RDA project. There are many facets to privacy in research data. Is there a way to best use NISO’s areas of expertise, recognizing that the RDA community at large may have additional interests as well?

As a reminder, anyone is welcome to contribute to the group by joining the forum on the RDA/NISO Privacy Implications of Research Data Sets Interest Group website to receive notifications of meetings and other events as well as drafts of the framework as it emerges.

I previously blogged about the meeting for this project held at FORCE11 in April 2016.

The ACRL Information Literacy Constellation

Gemini

In its first action on the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education, the ACRL Board stated that “we have accepted the Framework and it will assume its place among the constellation of documents used by information literacy practitioners” (http://www.acrl.ala.org/acrlinsider/archives/9814).

That metaphorical framing – constellation – stuck with me and over the past year I’ve been using it to explore ways to bring together and work productively with both the ACRL Information Literacy Competency Standards and the Framework (as well as the many other information literacy policy documents that the ACRL Board has adopted over the years, including the Characteristics of Programs of Information Literacy that Illustrate Best Practices: A Guideline, the Standards for Proficiencies for Instruction Librarians and Coordinators, and the various subject and other specialty information literacy standards).

I have found the constellation metaphor to be very evocative.  What does it mean for stars to be in a constellation?  If we think about the night sky, we never see all of the constellations clearly.  There are stars, and by drawing connections among those stars and imagining what they might be symbolize, we bring different images into focus. As the earth rotates and the seasons change, the constellations that are visible to us change; so, there are aspects of positionality and relativeness when we think about constellations.

I believe the constellation metaphor is helping us see that it’s a matter of bringing a perspective to the information literacy documents and seeing which of them are in brighter relief for us at a given point in time and which are most useful for us to move our programs forward at that point in time.  Doing so will create the shapes or the images that we see and determine which needs to shine brightest in our situation, while at the same time aligning our local circumstances with national “sky” – the systems of articulation, transfer, and accreditation that concern our institutions and thus our libraries.

As the keynote speaker for the Pennsylvania Consortium for the Liberal Arts “Implementing the New Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education at PCLA Libraries” Conference and in a session at the 15th Annual Illinois Information Literacy Summit, I had the opportunity to lead librarians through a process of exploring the constellation metaphor. It is truly amazing how many different constellations are discussed – from Pleiades to the Big Dipper – and each time participants also went a step further, unprompted, to bring in both the North Star and the Milky Way as additional metaphors.

Gemini.png At the most basic application of the metaphor, I personally have come to see the Framework and Standards through the lens of the constellation Gemini. The two documents are not identical, though they share a common touchpoint (the goal of bringing students to a state of information literacy). They each have their own shape, size, and components but we can recognize them as related. The fact that one exists does not diminish the other and the fact that they “hold hands” helps each bring the other into focus.

If I’m sharing this in a conversation, this is the point where someone usually says something like “okay Lisa, that’s great, but what does it mean practically?”  Good question because as librarians we’re practitioners so we need the pragmatic!

So, pragmatically, let me share how I’ve come to understand the Framework and the Standards working together. Since the Framework itself says that the frames present concepts and not learning outcomes, I see that the frames as helping us develop the pathways of student learning, the journey.

But, a journey needs a destination; we still need something else that we’re teaching towards. That is to say, we need the answer to the question “what will an information literate student be able to do?” That is the value of the Standards. The Standards set a destination. We may interpret the language of the Standards into our local dialect (as many libraries have done with the Standards over the past 15 years), but we can always map that local to the national because we have the shared language of the destination in the Standards.

Interestingly, as I have worked with this understanding, I have found it very easy to bring both the Standards and the Framework into my instructional design practice, which is heavily influenced by Understanding by Design (I identified a number of short introductions to this method for the PCLA conference mentioned above and they are linked from the conference materials). As I say often, with the Framework and Standards, it doesn’t have to be either/or, it can be both/and.

I’ll end this blog post with an excerpt of four slides from the PCLA keynote that show what it looks like to design a single class instruction session using the both/and approach to the Framework and the Standards through the Understanding by Design approach to instructional design. (I will admit that I’ve simplified here a bit because an information literacy instructional design should be put in the context of campus general education learning outcomes, major/minor program outcomes, etc. as well. I couldn’t work all that into a keynote though it is included in the one-day workshop that I give on information literacy instructional design.)

P.S. My gratitude to an academic library director whose background is information literacy practice and who holds an important high-level leadership position in ACRL (but who also asked to not be publically identified) for encouraging me to share how I’ve been approaching this. That director has heard from many librarians asking for practical guidance/training on how to use the Framework for instructional practice while still responding to the reality that their institutions require that their information literacy programs to have a set of standard learning outcomes for purposes of assessment, accreditation, and program evaluation. Or, to put it more bluntly, how to be creative practitioners in the classroom while also ensuring that our information literacy programs, and by extension our libraries, can be defended and justified in this “neoliberal” era.

 

 

Closing the Book on the ALA Presidency Campaign

I want to thank everyone who supported me as a candidate for the Presidency of the American Library Association (ALA). During the campaign, I had the opportunity to talk with many people. Some of these people are current members, some once were, and some have never been.

Each person who shared their story gave me an amazing gift – the opportunity to learn from their experiences. I heard some wonderful stories about how ALA is a community that nurtures and supports library workers. Unfortunately, I also heard many stories from people who feel alienated from ALA and who shared their pain at being disconnected from the association and their community of practice.

I end my experience as a candidate with the conviction that we have a lot of work to do if ALA is to achieve its vision of Prioritizing Diversity and Inclusion. It is my hope that my campaign focus on creating An Ethos of Hospitality in ALA has started a conversation that will find its way to action. While I would have been pleased to lead that process, it is more important to me that it happen than that I am leading it.

As I close this short reflection on the chapter of my life that was being a candidate for ALA President, I would like to invite everyone who is making committee appointments in ALA over the coming year to make the pledge that I made during the campaign. For whatever your scope of appointing authority, challenge yourself to appoint at least one person who has not previously served in your section, interest group, round table, division, association, etc. to every committee, task force, working group, etc. You have the ability to intentionally create space at the table and invite people in.

It was a great honor to stand for election to the ALA Presidency and an experience that I won’t ever forget. I wish the best to Jim Neal and ALA during his presidency.

 

 

Faculty Are Lifelong Learners #txla16

20160419_154445I’m attending the Texas Library Association Conference (#txla16) this week as a candidate for ALA President.  I’ve already enjoyed meeting many Texas librarians and look forward to talking with more over the coming days. I can’t say enough in appreciation of the hospitality and welcome that Patricia Smith, Executive Director, and her TLA team extends to the candidates. What a warm and supportive welcome!

I also had the pleasure of being invited to lead a session today as well: Faculty Are Life-Long Learners; So, Why Not Teach Them Information Literacy?  I was thrilled that the session drew a crowd and not just academic librarians but many school librarians as well. It was great to have both of these communities together talking information literacy and outreach to instructors!

My handout is loaded in the conference app but the discussion brought forward so many additional ideas that I thought I’d combine my handout with everyone else’s ideas and summarize the session here. And, I’m also making good on the promise I made in the session that I would do so!

I started my sharing my philosophy that effective faculty development for information literacy starts with understanding the challenges that faculty are facing in their work. By understanding their challenges, we can position information literacy (and other library services) as solutions to problems rather than putting forth information literacy as another problem for the faculty to solve. Whether it is students who are not using credible sources in their papers, article manuscripts that do not fit with known publication outlets in their fields, a need for images to use in presentations that are not restricted by license or copyright, etc., information literacy instruction can come to the rescue.

The session then explored different aspects of faculty development programming: purpose, faculty role, program modes, and campus partners. Here is a summary of the ideas that emerged:

What is the purpose of the faculty development program that you are planning?

  • Individual Change
  • Organizational Change
  • Train-the-Trainers/Multiply Library Influence
  • Support QEP or Other Organizational Transformation Effort
  • Curricular Change – Support for Change Approved and/or Advocate for Change
  • Develop Faculty as Library Advocates

What is the role of the faculty that you are targeting for the faculty development program that you are planning?

  • Scholar/Researcher
  • Teacher
  • Service
  • Mentor/Advisor
  • Clinician
  • Recruiter
  • Activist
  • Library Advocate

What are possible program modes for the faculty development program that you are planning?

  • Workshops and Seminars
  • Discussion Groups
  • Assignment Design
  • Course Consultations
  • Selected Dissemination of Information
  • Institutes
  • Webinars
  • Self-Paced Learning
  • Games

Which campus partners could you collaborate with in development and marketing the faculty development program that you are planning?

  • Centers for Teaching/Learning
  • Academic Technologies
  • Distance Learning
  • QEP Office
  • Welcome Center
  • Facilities Management
  • Student life
  • Dual Enrollment Program Staff
  • Office of Research Services
  • Bookstore
  • Other Faculty Who are Library Advocates
  • Tutoring Center

 

At the end of the discussion, I asked each person to identify their next steps. What would they do …

  • In the next week …
  • In the next month …
  • In the next year …

What will you do?

Privacy in Research Data at FORCE11 #force2016

Slide01I had the pleasure of attending FORCE11 2016 Conference pre-conference in Portland today as a member of the RDA/NISO Privacy Implications of Research Data Sets Working Group. I’m grateful to Todd Carpenter, NISO Executive Director, for including me in this project, which is a follow-on to the project group that I was a member of that produced the NISO Consensus Principles on Users’ Digital Privacy in Library, Publisher, and Software ­Provider Systems [PDF].

We had our first discussion at the Research Data Alliance Seventh Plenary Meeting in Tokyo in March, which introduced the project and examined in detail the question of whether the project is best suited to be an RDA Interest Group or Working Group. The discussion at FORCE11 reviewed these issues as well but quickly focused on some questions of substance about the content of the framework that is being created and what will be most useful for the community.

As the Case Statement for the Working Group states, the goal is to “develop a framework for how researchers and repositories should appropriately manage human-subject datasets, to develop a metadata set to describe the privacy-related aspects of research datasets, compile a bibliography of related resources, and to build awareness of the privacy implications of research-data sharing.”

The Case Statement also presents a Work Plan for the group: “focus on world-wide legal frameworks and the impacts these frameworks have on data sharing, especially with human-subject data. After gathering these legal strictures and comparing the differences and similarities, the group will begin crafting a set of principles that will provide guidance to the researcher and repository communities on how to manage these data when they are received. Building on these, the group will craft a set of use cases on how the principles will be applied. After these elements are completed, an effort to advance the principles through promotion and community outreach will be developed and executed.”

Today’s discussion was, as expected (since we are at the beginning of the work and thus in brainstorming mode), wide-ranging. Nonetheless, as I listened to the comments and questions, a few themes emerged from my perspective:

  • Principles and Practices – Though there is need to identify the what and why, the framework will provide value to the community if it also includes indicators of the how. Specifically, the discussion revealed a need for best practices in governance of privacy in data sets and best practices in technology and metadata infrastructures. How can the framework respond to known use cases while also anticipating future ones?
  • Stakeholders – The stakeholders for this topic are diverse and multiple. Though the document might be useful to all, using a smaller set of identified stakeholders as a focus might prove a useful way to scope the framework. Possibilities discussed included chief information officers, vice-presidents for research, and repository managers. What are the advantages and disadvantages of choosing one or more stakeholder groups as the focus and likewise of not doing so?
  • Unique Contribution – Privacy in research data sets is a topic that could also include IRB, legal compliance, etc.  The framework may be most useful if it makes a unique contribution, acknowledging but not duplicating other work that focuses on human subjects ethics, institutional legal compliance/risk, etc. What is the unique contribution of the proposed framework?
  • Level of Abstraction – The framework is necessarily abstracted from the particulars of an individual researcher, institution, or discipline and local decisions can benefit from a general framework. How can the framework find the right level of abstraction so that it is generalization but also usable in practice?
  • International – The international nature of the framework adds another layer of complexity to the question of the level of abstraction. How can the framework account for but not be subsumed within any particular set of national and/or multinational policy and legal guidelines?

The RDA/NISO Privacy Implications of Research Data Sets Working Group will be holding a number of conference calls in the coming months to discuss these issues as well as a public symposium on September 11, 2016 in Denver. Anyone is welcome to contribute to the group by joining the forum on the RDA/NISO Privacy Implications of Research Data Sets Working Group website to receive notifications of meetings and other events as well as drafts of the framework as it emerges.

 

Information Technology in Research Libraries #CNI16s

From Invasive to Integrated-  Information Technology and Library Leadership, Structure, and Culture - CNILast week Dale Askey and I led an issue-oriented session at the Spring Meeting of the Coalition of Networked Information (CNI) titled Invasive to Integrated: Information Technology and Library Leadership, Structure, and Culture (includes link to presentation slides).

The session was the result of a discussion on Twitter, prompted by Dale’s observation:

“chronic issue w library org charts: ‘IT’ (however named) shoved into one box. all other work is broken into components.” Dale Askey (@daskey) November 13, 2015

As we chatted over the intervening months, we discovered we share some views on what causes problems with information technology (IT) in research libraries and that we diverge at times. In many cases, our disagreements generated more new ideas than our agreements as another perspective added nuance and depth to our own understandings.

What Dale and I found that we absolutely have in common is the belief that problems will not be addressed if we do not have open and honest conversations in the broader research library community. We need to explore different ideas and possible actions for change. We intentionally selected CNI as the venue for our session because CNI meetings bring together library directors/associate directors and technology leaders.

We started our session with the assertion that, given the number and variety of significant IT projects supported and led by research libraries, one could incorrectly assume that IT has been successfully integrated into our organizations. We observed that, unlike other recent library service program developments (e.g., information literacy and scholarly communications), which also started on the margins of research libraries, IT has not found its way to the “middle” in most of our organizations. We believe that IT workers, not solely but in particular, experience the lingering divide between IT and the library culture as an unproductive chasm. We note that research libraries struggle to develop robust applicants pools for leadership roles such as Associate University Librarian for IT. Something is amiss with information technology in research libraries.

Marty Cagan’s Moving from an IT to a Product Organization provides a succinct statement of the challenge that research libraries are facing:

“Over the past 10 years, virtually all of these companies as well as those from dozens of other industries have realized that they need to use the Internet to engage directly with their customers online … many of these companies are trying to manage this new customer-facing internet software as if it were their internal-facing IT software, and the result is that many of these companies provide terrible online customer experiences, and worse, they don’t have the organization, people or processes in place to improve them.”

Ithaka S&R issued a very relevant Issue Brief the week before the CNI meeting, Library Leadership for the Digital Age, in which Deanna Marcum writes:

“Libraries are in a pivotal moment, and a digital mindset is needed at every level of the organization. The utilization of digital technology in making research and teaching and learning easier and more efficient for those they serve is critical. Libraries’ very survival depends on making the transition from a local institution to a node in a national and international information ecosystem. The skills needed to build a local collection are not sufficient for seeing the challenges and opportunities in a global environment.”

How is this manifest in research libraries? Internally, there are missed opportunities to engage and capitalize on IT talent. Library IT professionals have skills and abilities that libraries struggle to leverage in their operations and services. Libraries are challenged to recruit and retain IT professionals and the demographic profile of library IT is often less diverse than the libraries overall (which is particularly problematic given libraries themselves are not necessarily diverse). Library IT professionals are often organizationally separate from services and collections, reporting as an administrative service like human resources and budget/finance rather than integrated with the library’s strategic priorities.

Externally the missed opportunities are even greater. As Cagan points out, the result is a terrible user experience and lack of mechanisms for improvement. Library leaders in user services, library facilities, and content access/re-use are hampered in achieving effective and efficient experiences for users by limited use of technology. Virtual reference service, for example, remains a separate application on most library websites, not integrated into the workflow of using databases or accessing content. (A notable exception to this was presented at CNI, Transformational Online Reference with a Proactive, Context-sensitive Chat System: Using Triggers to Encourage Patrons to Ask Questionsproviding empirical evidence that failing to leverage technology truncates use of library services.) Ultimately, research libraries are unable to compete with other information services, which have emerged as competitors in the digital information age. (As I’ve written elsewhere, research libraries are increasingly absent from statements of scholarly information access and sharing; however, technology could also be used to assert our substantial and enduring roles.)

Though it is crucial to accurately understand the dimensions and aspects of challenging situations, it is worthwhile to consider analogous situations in order to develop useful insights. Information literacy and scholarly communications are two areas of work that have moved from the margins of research libraries to centrality in strategic plans and initiatives. Information literacy was a contested area of work as recently as the early 1990s when articles questioned whether librarians should be educators. Scholarly communications is a more recently developed service area and, though the parameters are still being defined, it is already codified in library organizational charts and strategic plans.

From these two cases, Dale and I observed three key factors in transforming information literacy and scholarly communications from operational activities into strategic initiatives:

  • Leadership – Library leaders need to have a vision of and commitment to library IT as a strategic asset and not only an operational utility. When hiring library IT leaders, search committees should look for candidates from within traditional IT units but also consider individuals who have leveraged technology in services or collections work.
  • Structure – Library IT is typically treated as a monolithic unit within an organizational chart, with little attention to role differentiation of the staff or alignment with user services or library collections. Having a complementary overlay or matrix structure for how different IT professionals work collaboratively with other units could highlight the variety of roles within IT and how they interact with the variety of professionals elsewhere in the organization.
  • Culture – When the culture of library IT is distinct from (and perhaps even in opposition to) the library culture at large, it is a signal that library IT professionals are, at best, siloed in the organization and, potentially worst, alienated and disaffected. Building a shared culture across the organization that values IT work as equally important is crucial.

Dale and I were hopeful that we would have 15-20 people attend the session. We were gratified to have almost 60 highly engaged participants. In fact, they were so engaged that the discussion took over before we finished presenting … but, honestly, we didn’t mind at all!

The comments and questions came so fast and furiously that it wasn’t possible to take the detailed notes that I had planned. Instead, as soon as the session was over, I took some time to reflect and write down thoughts and impressions. So, with the apology that this is not a comprehensive summary of the discussion, here are a few of my thoughts:

  • Diversity – Though much of the discussion in the session focused on questions of gender (with an intriguing side conversation on what are the appropriate statistics to benchmark against), questions of diversity in library IT need more attention and intentional action. Library IT could be a model for our campuses of what diverse and inclusive IT staffing and organizational culture look like. Are libraries willing to rise to that challenge? To not only meet a benchmark of acceptable performance but to aspire to be a campus model?
  • Professional Development – Too many library IT job ads require applicants to have already done what the person being hired will do. Once in the position, the person is required to be satisfied doing only that because of a lack of career paths. Some libraries seem so fearful of losing their IT professionals that they do not invest in their development and training. Just as we grow leaders for our own (or other) libraries by sending people to the ACRL information literacy immersion programs or ARL scholarly communications programs, research libraries could take the perspective that developing library IT leaders is a community task.
  • Values – Blending a group of professionals (IT) into an organization that is defined by the values and priorities of a different profession (librarians) creates a situation much different than years past when all library professionals had a common training in library science or archives. New hire orientation and training across the organization must focus on articulating the library’s mission and purpose in context of the parent institution and the values and beliefs that guide the development of services and collections. Engaging the multiplicity of values from different professionals can strengthen the library in developing its roles on campus.

I left CNI heartened that leaders in research libraries recognize the need to better integrate IT into our libraries. Our message clearly resonated beyond the research library community as Twitter was abuzz before the session ended with people asking how to bring this conversation to ALA and LITA events in the coming year. I look forward to participating and seeing what our community of practice can achieve!