LIBER 2014 was held in Riga this year, obviously for two reasons (or perhaps three): it is the European Capital of Culture this year, the new National Library (“castle of light” opens this year, and hosted the conference). And perhaps because we could have the former President of Latvia give a wonderful speech about “the power of the word”. Three days around 350 participants gathered from 36 countries, talking about or listening to a variety of subjects, but all under the main theme of this year’s conference: “Research Libraries in the 2020 Information Landscape”. I am picking just a few topics. This year (see last year’s blog) I attended the conference with my colleague Will Roestenburg.
On Tuesday NEREUS (information hub of libraries in supporting research and education in social sciences) organised an Open Access Workshop on Open Access Policies in practice and lessons learned. Five institutes presented their open access policy, mainly focusing on research papers or proceedings and including deposit in the institutional repository. These repositories are named e.g. WRAP (at Warwick, UK), or Lirias (Leuven, Belgium) or RepositoriUM (Minho, Portugal). Main take aways from this session were that you need marketing & advocacy skills in your library, you need to think of how to position your CRIS, repository and personal pages, and you need to diversify your message, because researchers (and their disciplines) are different, and stakeholders (researcher, student, institute, public, companies) are different too. Institutional mandates come in (and prove to be) very handy to increase your success, but you still need to implement the mandate and spread the word.
On Friday there was also a track on Open Access. Inge Werner told us about the new strategy for OA publishing in Utrecht University Library: from services to partnering. Their idea is to work as a greenhouse, and after helping journals in their first phase (though this may last 6 years), to have them transferred to a commercial open access publisher. The main problem for the library is that they really need to educate the editors that publishing cannot be done for free, and although the library is still sponsoring a substantial part of the publishing costs, that will not be the case after the transfer. It is good that we (as libraries) test different models with our main shared goal: get research “reachable”.
Maurizio Lunghi presented on Thursday morning the results of the APARSEN project. Without (being able to) becoming too technical, the idea of the interoperability framework is that it connects all sorts of persistent identifiers (PI’s), without trying to make one of them redundant or obsolete. It is pictured as a ring of trust (if all PI domains expose their content on LOD, linked open data, in the same way). There is a demonstrator demo online, and I have the idea that this is a very useful development.
Innovation, Flow & Friction
Rachel Frick, Council on Library and Information Resources, USA, started off with telling us where she originates from, and had a nice keynote on Wednesday afternoon, where she referred to DPLA, the digital public library of America. How to minimize friction and maximize flow? We live in a mash-up culture, crossing national and international boundaries, and we know that the network changes everything. We should not wait until people find what we have (after we have at least digitized the most interesting stuff that is not digitally borne), but enrich Wikipedia, make our metadata part of the network and expose our dark matter to the light as true leaders and practitioners of openness ourselves.
Lorraine Joanne Beard and Nick Campbell, from the University of Manchester, UK, explained how the library links to the university strategy. They also confirmed that the library should be vocal and tell how they can help the university to reach its goal. The Eureka example [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AMltEHJ4gxg[/youtube] that they have initiated in their Innovation group was a nice one. In a dragon’s den like event students’ ideas were selected by a professional jury and the winner got some money, and the realisation of his/her idea. Several themes emerged in the contest that were picked up. The Manchester representatives told us to put ideas in practice, and to be more risk taking.
Eva Dahlbäck, from Stockholm University Library, Sweden, told us how they have (internally developed) managed to create the web-based software Viola, which helps staff in the closed stacks to fetch any requested material from the physical stacks, with a smartphone as device.
One of the plenary lectures on Wednesday was about the e-Book Phenomenon and its impact (by Prof. Thomas Daniel Wilson, University of Borås, Sweden). What I liked (it was a pity that he could not finish his talk due to time constraints) was his remark that e-book development has the potential to make an impact on every stakeholder. His suggestion for universities was to produce open-access textbooks, because now you can tailor the textbook to the course (instead of the other way around). Examples he mentioned were the Florida Distance Learning Consortium and Intermediate Algebra (see http://collegeopentextbooks.org/), representing the very best of Open Educational Resources.
Zooniverse, figshare, distributed proofreaders, metadatagames: they are just a few examples of crowdsourcing. Elena Simperl (from University of Southampton, UK) had a lot for us to learn about it. With crowdsourcing you have a problem and solve it by an open call, using the large network of potential. You can have macrotasks (e.g. innovation), microtasks (e.g. tagging, many people at the same time in parallel), crowdfunding, or contests. Of course it is a nice opportunity to engage with your customer (though you need to understand what drives participation). As Simperl said, computers are sometimes better than humans; this is the age of social machines. Improve information technology, but do not overdo crowdsourcing. Let people do the creative work, and the machines the administration. And in her conclusion she said that creativity remains as task for (the staff of) the library, and we should be glad that you “free up” time to spend on creativity.
Research data management, what works?
This workshop in the morning of July 2 was organized by the LIBER working group / steering committee on Scholarly Communication and Research Infrastructures. I was moderating the second part and thanks to some good suggestions made by Marina Noordegraaf, we had a very interactive session about training and skills, and encouraged people to start research dating. In short the main take-away messages were that you need to remember that the research groups are not all the same, that you need to be brave (again!) and go out to the researchers, and that we should take advantage of our own network, and learn from each other.
Arlette Piquet from ETH Libraries and Collections, Zurich, Switzerland showed the next day how they are dealing with data curation. Starting with a research survey in 2011, they have defined a timepath and approach, where they have decided to work from one solution, being Ex Libris Rosetta (including administrative data).
On Tuesday morning we had some time to stroll around in (a very rainy) Riga. We visited the Dome or Riga Cathedral, which is very famous for its organ (for which Frans Liszt, although he has never been there, wrote a chorale “Nun danket alle Gott”). Especially the old cloistral corridors with Riga heritage was worth our visit. Afterwards we drank a coffee at a lovely place, called Sweet Day Café.