Reflections on OA and Institutional Repositories

Towards the end of last year I was lucky enough to get a short-term contract to work on the Research Support Services team at my library, working with our institutional repository. Coming from special collections to research support was a great experience and I learned so much. This blog is a reflection of the time I spent on that team.

As someone who had never had dealings with an institutional repository, I knew what it was (a storage area for research outputs, with a focus on providing information and links to publications associated with the university and, if copyright allows, full-text versions of the publications). This was about all I knew and I had no idea how the records got into the repository.

The process starts with the university’s research output management system which is managed by individuals within the research support team. Once approved, the records go from this system into another, which acts as a holding tank for the records. They are then quality-controlled for metadata accuracy and the research team check copyright to see if they can post an open-access full-text copy in the repository and contact the author(s) for copyright permissions and author’s versions of the paper if necessary. From this point it is published into the main institutional repository. All theses for Phd work are also published through this institutional repository system.

This team is also in charge of liaising with academics to publish several open access journals. This is fascinating work as well, and I had the opportunity to do some basic format editing for one of these journals.

What is so important about institutional repositories? They freely disseminate quality research information and support open access (OA).

In the most simple terms OA articles are those that FREE to read online, no subscription required. If you are interested in open access I would highly recommend reading ‘The State of OA’ (Piwowar, et al., 2017). This paper goes into discussion on different levels of open access and discusses findings from analyzing data from online journals. They found that on average, open access articles receive 18% more citations. The authors also note an overall increase in OA papers. They estimate that in 2015, around 44.7% of articles were OA.

It’s clear open access is here to stay, and it’s important. For researchers, it can be difficult to understand the rules copyright around OA, they change from publisher to publisher.  Many publishers that have content behind a paywall actually allow authors to publish a version of their paper in their institutional repository, sometimes with an embargo period. Before working on the research support team, I already had an appreciation of Creative Commons licensing. Now I LOVE Creative Commons licensing because it makes copyright so easy and clear cut for institutional repositories.

Any researchers out there wanting to make their work OA? Talk with the publisher about Creative Commons licensing, some will ask you to pay for this privilege but it may be worth it if you really want to get your research out there. If you are already published and unsure of copyright, talk to a research support librarian, they will help you figure out the if, when and how of making your publications OA.

Piwowar H, Priem J, Larivière V, Alperin JP, Matthias L, Norlander B, Farley A, West J, Haustein S. (2017) The State of OA: A large-scale analysis of the prevalence and impact of Open Access articles. PeerJ Preprints 5:e3119v1


Planning PD for the Year Ahead

Congratulations, we have made it to 2018. In fact, I’m posting this on the last day of January, the year is flying by already. Last year was a huge year for me in my professional development (PD). I attended a conference for the first time, presented at a conference for the first time, I had the opportunity to work with our library’s institutional repository team, and I learned a bit more about research in practice. In my previous blog post I noted the importance of planning for professional development and I’ve set aside a few hours today for planning.

The biggest challenge I face with PD (besides the obvious, finding time to do it!) is that I am interested in many different things, archives/rare books and special collections, research, academic libraries, library carpentry and digital humanities just to name a few! So how do I choose?

Since I’m a member of ALIA, the first thing I did was sign up for a Data Specialization in the ALIA PD scheme. I think this would be a good way to focus my PD efforts and I can branch out into my different interest through the lens of ‘data’. If you are an ALIA member, signing up involves filling out a form and sending it to ALIA (which they were very quick to reply to).

I have been in the ALIA PD scheme for a number of years but found it difficult to get past the rules of how many points you were allowed to earn per activity type. They have a more simplified scheme and now one hour of activity equals one point, simple. I have also found for many of my PD activities, instead of recording a activity reflection in the ALIA PD tracker, I can post blog about what I learned from the activity and put the link to the blog in the PD tracker.  The process of written reflection will be vital to my PD this year, as it will reinforce what I have learned and give me something to look back on.

How the Data Specialization works is that there is a list of core competencies and I complete activities around those core competencies. These are further explained in the Data Specialization Skills Audit which gives some examples of resources that can be consulted. The scheme is designed over three years and there are ten competencies. I will be aiming to cover one core competency every 3-4 months. Even though I would have many of these competencies already, I feel that going through all ten will add to my knowledge and help me keep track of new trends.

To help me on my data journey, I will start on the resources from the Open Data Institute.

In addition I want to work my way through some Library Carpentry lessons, which include data related lessons.

I will also be looking at conference papers and journal articles over my lunch break and blogging about them, a series I’m calling ‘Lunch Time PD’. How this will work is over an hour lunch break I will spend 20 to 30 minutes reading an article and 20 to 30 minutes typing up a reflection on what I’ve learned from the article in my blog. I’m not doing this every day, one a week will be great food for thought!

Now I just have to put some time aside for PD in my calendar and I’m ready to go. For more on the ALIA PD scheme, check out this post.

So do you have a PD plan for this year?


DIY PD for LT – ALIA’s Lib Tech 2017 Conference Recap

When I heard that the ALIA Lib Tech Conference were looking for abstracts, I thought, why not give it a go? So I ended up standing in an auditorium full of fellow library technicians talking about what I do, and it was a fantastic experience.

The one overarching theme of the conference was DIY PD for LT (Do it Yourself – Professional Development for Library Technician’s). The conference provided an opportunity see the range of issues that library technicians face and how these cross over to what I do working with a special collections repository.
Another theme was, ‘we’re all in this together, let’s collaborate’. There were a great range of social activities for networking opportunities. The sessions were great but perhaps even more valuable were the connections I made with others in my field. It was also wonderful to be a presenter at a smaller conference like this, people were very friendly.

Here’s a day by day recap of the conference.

The Tours – Day 0

I toured the fantastic digitisation lab at State Library of NSW and the Art Gallery of NSW Library. Both of these were fantastic but I won’t dwell on these but simply say, if you have a chance to tour either of these facilities, take it! An interesting tidbit, the State Library refers to their library users as ‘readers’ not ‘clients.

Mitchell Library Reading Room, State Library of NSW

The Sessions – Day 1

The conference started with a bang with President of ALIA Vicki McDonald discussing the need for information professionals to both take advantage of opportunities and create opportunities for themselves. You are in charge of your own professional development (this came up time and time again throughout the conference).

Debra Gilmore who won the LT Research Award presented on the question, is there a need for increased ICT training in library technician courses in Australia? Great research here. Debra surveyed libraries and library technicians and the answer was an overwhelming, Yes.

Trent Tascon-Guillame had a wonderful presentation on connecting youth with the community. It was really interesting to see the ways in which he and library he works at are encouraging cross-generational learning and collaboration. He discussed three challenges in engaging with young people: change, age-based biases and ‘token’ participation. Trent used the slide below to point out some of the differences between age groups in their use of ICT, a good example of knowing your audience.

Statistics on age difference and IT use from Trent’s talk

Renate Beilharz asked the question, Is programming essential for metadata specialists? She said that catalogers represented a very small piece of the pie in the world of data (see picture below). We don’t need to become programmers to be catalogers but we need to understand the underpinnings.

Metadata Universe capture
Excerpt from Seeing Standards – A Visualization of the Metadata Universe from Jenn Riley, CC BY NC SA, referred to in Renate Beilharz’s talk

Dr. Edmund Balnaves gave an interesting overview on harvesting to build institutional knowledge resources and discussed how cataloguing and search were essential for access.

The Q&A open forum panel discussion was with two librarians from America and one from Canada about differences in how how library technicians, professional organisations and conferences work in North America to how they work in Australia. One interesting fact from this one: the ALA conference usually has about 20,000 delegates! I can’t imagine what a conference like that would be like.

I also presented on this day and I will make a separate post with that content later.

The Sessions – Day 2

Day 2 started off with Dr. Perry McIntyre from Anchor books talking about how she believes in the value of physical/print books, an interesting perspective in an increasingly digital world.

Roxanne Missingham (rock star of the Australian library profession) discussed bridges for new careers and libraries as bridges of knowledge. Her presentation was very engaging with some live polling taking place during the presentation. She urges that we needed to be open to movement across sectors, especially since we have a lot to learn from each other.

‘A student walks into a University Library’ by Gaynor Cotter and Elizabeth Quilty of University of Sydney, explored some of the ways they support and encourage their students. I was amazed at the similarity between what they are providing at their library and what we are doing for students at the University of Newcastle.

There was more to this day but this post is getting too long…I will post more about the conference’s PD theme and ‘future-proofing’ your career next week.




So you want to be a conference presenter

Earlier this year I attended my first ever conference, now I’m getting the chance to write about presenting at a conference for the first time.

I am writing this for any librarians (or other GLAMRs) out there who might be reading this and think, “I could never do that” or “I could do that, why haven’t I?”.  Maybe there are people reading this interested in presenting at a conference and not sure where to start. This is the best conferencing advice I have so far (after completing only one, I am now an expert 😉).

My first experience presenting was at the Oral History Australia conference on a panel and my next one is in two weeks’ time at ALIA’s Library Technician conference present by myself. Next year I am presenting at VALA 2018 with my boss. The completed OHA presentation was on the Voices of the Hunter oral history project.

Below is a photo of my co-presenters and our panel Chair. Left to right are Alistair Thomson (Chair), me (Paige Wright), Rosie Heritage, Tyler Hersey and Lyn Keily. Rosie started the panel by introducing the oral history collection and it’s creator, Jack Delaney. Lyn and I talked more about the collection, data and how we enrich and provide access to the collection through our Living Histories @ UON site and through community outreach. Tyler discussed how to examine data from site traffic and use that to connect with audiences better. Lyn, Rosie and I worked together on the Voices of the Hunter project and Tyler works for NZMS whose community engagement platform Recollect runs the Living Histories @ UON site.

conference team

So how did I get there?

The first step is getting your abstract accepted and I have some very particular advice about this:

If one of your peers from another institution, library, whatever dropped by to see what you do at work, what would you tell them about your job? Is there anything new or exciting you want to share? The thing that you want to share with everyone about your job is the thing you should be writing an abstract and giving your presentation about. What is your story? It could be a story of success or a story of failure, people are interesting in hearing both at conferences. You don’t have to present Research at a conference but you can if you want. Sometimes you present first and end up doing a research project later (see Annelie de Villier’s experiences).

Also for a first-timer, why not present as a duo or part of a group? I found I was very comfortable presenting alongside my colleagues for the OHA conference. The amount of work you have to do in abstract writing, paper writing, and presenting in a group is less than if you had to present by yourself.

Once you’ve found the topic you want to present, then find a conference to suit. My first approach to abstract writing was to pick a conference that I really wanted to go to and make up something that I thought people at that conference would like to hear. Guess what? That one was not accepted because it wasn’t ‘real’, I wasn’t connected enough to what I wanted to say.

Instead of looking at conferences related to your particular GLAMR field, why not try a different one or one that would suit more than one profession. The OHA conference is an example of one that is attending by GLAMR people from many different types of institutions. You can also go the other way and try to find the conference that most specifically suits your nice, such as mine as a library technician. In any case, both of these are smaller conferences and I would suggest STARTING SMALL. It’s less pressure, less people and overall a more comfortable atmosphere.

I also want to point out the importance of knowing your conference. Do you have to write a peer-reviewed paper? Do you have to write a paper at all or just do a presentation? Find this out before you say ‘yes’ to presenting as it can make a big impact on how much time and work it will take you to prepare for the conference.

Building professional-level public speaking skills has been something I have worked on for years. In the lead up to this, I was given many opportunities to present to groups at workshops and events, and even presented to my colleagues at a university library staff update. All of these have helped build my presenting confidence but I still get nervous. One of my work mentors gave me some really great advice on this she said, “Just remember, you are the expert on this. They are not listening to you trying contradict you are prove you wrong, they just want to learn from you.”

One other piece of advice I can give is the more preparation you do, the better your presentation will be. Go over your slides, again and again and again. Practice them in front of people. Write notes on your Powerpoint  (you can see these during the presentation).

This first conference experience has been so positive. Everyone has been wonderful in telling me and my co-presenters that they enjoyed our session. Also, it was great getting feedback on the presentation on Twitter. I was so flattered that someone posted a photo of me presenting, it felt wonderful that others were so interested in a project that I had put so much work into.

One of the most helpful things I did in the lead up to my first conference presentation was to attend a VALA webinar on writing and presenting conference papers. You can still see the content of the webinar here. They outline some excellent do’s and don’ts of presenting and, unlike myself, the individuals speaking in the webinar have years of conference presenting experience.

So get out there, build your skills, write an abstract and if it’s not accepted don’t take rejection to heart (I didn’t).

FYI – Just in case you didn’t know, presenters are required to PAY to go to the conference, just like everyone else, but usually at a discounted rate. You might be able to get your employer to pay for the conference fee out of their PD fund (it’s worth a shot?). 

Will I have even more advice after my presenting by myself at the Lib Tech conference? Tune in, in about two weeks’ time for the answer.



Lunch Time PD: Learning from other professions

Last year I went to the ALIA Lib Tech conference and I wrote about some of the interesting papers I saw presented there. One paper I missed (I was presenting at the same time) was Rob Thomson’s (@RobThomson2528) paper ‘Studios and Libraries – Comparing two very different institutions’. While I have read the paper a few times since September, I haven’t sat down to write about and reflect on what Rob is saying, so I read it again today for my #lunchtimePD.

Rob discusses some of the similarities between studios and libraries: both thrive on technology, both have been digitally disrupted, both are constantly evolving. Libraries have much to learn from the studio industry. One thing in particular of note is how studios and libraries can work together to meet the deadline to digitise analogue mediums (VHS, cassette) before 2025 when these formats will no longer be readable.

Rob puts out a challenge for librarians to “get out of the library and go and talk to the creatives”.

He emphasizes the importance of collaboration within the GLAM sector and also touches on how GLAM institutions can collaborate with the public. He ends with a call to be creative when looking for funding to support strategic initiatives.

I urge you to read Rob’s paper for yourself. The one thing I took away from it is that important conversations happen when you interact with other professionals, especially those outside your profession. GLAMers have a lot to learn from each other and like Rob, I can’t wait for the rumored GLAM joint conference in 2020.



Lunchtime PD: Special Collections and Social Media

This year I am trying to read one article a week during my lunch hour and reflect on it, Lunch Time PD. For my first #lunchtimePD exercise, I read:

Garner, A., Goldberg, J. and Pou, R., Collaborative Social Media Campaigns and Special Collections: A Case Study on #ColorOurCollections RBM, Vol 17, No 2 (2016)

In this article the author’s discuss a social media campaign involving multiple institutions called #ColorOurCollections. The idea was that institutions used their content to create colouring books and sheets and post them on social media, inviting their audiences to colour them in and post them. The campaign was run predominantly on Twitter but also had interaction on Instagram, Facebook and WordPress. What surprised me most about this article was how the individuals at the New York Academy of Medicine Library, who launched this idea, managed to get over 200 cultural institutions involved. The article has great strategies and advice for anyone in the GLAM sector looking to start a social media campaign. One thing they point out is that it would have been easier to set up a way to keep track of the hashtag BEFORE the campaign started. To me, the most valuable thing about this article is that it gives a great example of creative community engagement. By engaging their audience in a new way, this library both advocated for their collections and added value to their collections.

The Why and How of PD: ALIA Lib Tech Conference Recap (Part 2)

This is my second post recapping ALIA Lib Tech 2017. The first can be found here.

One of the major themes of the conference was the importance of professional development (PD). As one speaker put it, “You are the CEO of your own career.” Why is PD so important? There are many reasons but one of the most challenging is that you never know what’s around the corner and PD will help you prepare for the future.

Natalia Fibrich’s ‘Future-proofing your career in times of change’ was absolutely packed full of great advice, engaging slides with beautiful images and quotes with a few relevant stats mixed in. She warned us not to get complacent in our current roles. Natalia gave five tips for a future-proofed library career: Practical experience, networking, attitude, foresight and professional development. My favourite quote from Natalia is, “Your career is always in Beta mode.”  Another interesting point she made was how the 70:20:10 principle applies to your career. Here’s the best infographic I could find to explain this:

Image: 70: 20: 10 model as part of the Adidas learning campus, Source: Adidas

What does the 70:20:10 principle mean for our professional development? If we don’t actively participate in PD activities, we are missing out on 30% of what we need to know.

Judy Brooker, ALIA’s director of learning, spoke about professional development and becoming an ALIA Certified Professional. Judy’s was one of the most both exciting and practical presentations.

I have been a member of ALIA’s PD scheme for a few years now and I highly recommend it. One of the most useful things of being part of their scheme is Amy Walduck’s PD Postings email. The PD scheme is FREE to any ALIA member. ALIA’s PD scheme also provides skills audit checklists. You can also choose a specialization, which could help you switch from one field to another.

Judy’s top tips for PD were:

Make a plan, set realistic goals and put PD in your calendar.

I am definitely putting these into effect and in a few month’s time I will write a blog post reporting progress on my PD plan. Anyone else out there pledging to put PD in their calendar?







Those research birds: a day with LARK

Friday I attended the ALIA LARK (Library Applied Research Kollektive) seminar, Holy Evidence! Research in Information Practice. This post will discuss some highlights and tips from the seminar, so if you are a GLAMR professional interested in research, read on! If you are interested in knowing more about LARK, please read their blog.

The day started out with Dr. Suzana Sukovic (‘Mother of LARK’, works at HETI) explaining a bit about LARK itself. She made the point that a lot of research happens in bubbles and LARK is about breaking these bubbles and making connections between LIS researchers. She noted the biggest challenges faced by LIS researchers are time, skills and that it’s not part of their job descriptions. Librarians can be aided by organisational support, communities of practice, grants to free time and interprofessional learning.

It is important to note at this point that research is a complicated topic. There are academics out there doing Research, living in the world of Phds and peer-reviewing. There are also information practitioners who are doing research, sometimes internally for their own workplace benefit and sometimes presenting their findings at conferences. After this seminar I can see that these two types of researchers can benefit from each other. In fact, Fiona Salisbury and Dr. Bhuva Narayan, Co-chairs of the ALIA Research Advisory Committee talked to the group about how the ALIA research grant focused on providing support for projects in which academics and LIS practitioners collaborated.

We also heard a bit from Dr. Bhuva Narayan and Dr. Mary Anne Kennan about JALIA – ALIA’s journal. I learned that JALIA articles had different levels of articles, including a feature called ‘Information in Practice’ which is sharing what people are doing in the field and not peer-reviewed, although peer-reviewed research articles are also featured. It gives an opportunity for people with different research skill levels to be involved in being published.

One re-occurring theme of the day was intraprofessional learning. We heard from David Schmidt of HETI who talked about overcoming barriers to research and being enablers of research. He also noted that often people put research on a pedestal, thinking it is something that people somewhere far away in lab coats do. David says, “If you have tenacity and curiosity, you have what you need to be a good researcher.” One of my favourite takeaways from David’s talk was the statement that ‘Librarians underestimate their ability to enable research by connecting people’.  Here is a slide from David’s presentation, which shows off his amazing MS Paint illustration skills:

A slide from David Schmidt’s presentation.

The research in LIS practice panel discussion was amazing and we heard from an academic librarian, a public librarian and a health librarian. They all had interesting projects and unique perspectives. Sally Scholefield talked about her collaboration with academics on writing a research paper on the RFID project at UTS. You can read the paper here. Liz Griffiths from Willoughby City Council Libraries discussed peer-led learning in a public library and I found the public library research perspective fascinating. Suzanne Lewis from the Central Coast Local Health District talked about her collaborative project designing an integrated care search filter. Suzanne’s research amazed me in that there were so many different people involved in the project and she managed to co-ordinate them all.

The second half of the day we heard more from our research experts on skills for research in practice. The biggest takeaways from this were 1) align your research with the strategic goals of your library and get the support of you organisation 2) Follow through all the research steps: planning, acting, observing, reflecting, organisation process, organisation support 3) Share your research, either internally with your colleagues or externally by publishing or even blogging about it.

The overall outcome of the day for me is that I am more interested in research than ever before. From here I’m going to comb the LARK blog for more tips, keep reading peer-reviewed LIS research articles, comb through my notes from the seminar and start forming my research question.  I’m interested in hearing your first-time research stories and tips. If you have any for me, please comment or tweet me at @WrightPaige.