Thursday, July 12, 2007

Librarians as campus OA leaders: the University of Alberta experience

PKP Scholarly Publishing Conference
12 July 2007
9:40-10:40 SFUHC Sauder Industries Policy Room

Pam Ryan, University of Alberta Libraries.
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
CV and Personal Website

Denise Koufogiannakis, University of Alberta Libraries.
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

Denise Koufogiannakis

Denise Koufogiannkis and Pam Ryan provided an overview of their experience with Open Access (OA) at the University of Alberta (U of A). Making the transition from OA in theory to OA in practice in the university and public settings were key issues discussed in this presentation. Koufogiannkis noted that the U of A library is working to raise awareness of OA not only on campus, but to library users in other settings including the public education and public library system. To this end, Koufogiannkis developed a OA mandate for the U of A library that stresses the importance of including OA products in the library collection and providing support for the U of A community who have an interest in OA formats.

Building on discussions that began in 2006 and working with faculty via liaison librarians to explain the benefits of OA has seen the U of A librarians take a proactive approach. As editors of Evidence Based Library Information Practice Koufogiannkis and Ryan can provide insight into the practice of managing and using an OA journal. With regular meetings between faculty and librarians and promoting high profile events on campus (including the March 2007 lecture by Dr. John Willinsky on OA Principles) keeping OA in the campus and public eye has been an important part of moving OA forward.

Looking to the future, the recent hiring of a digital repository librarian and the commitment to further developing the presentation options of OA resources is further solidifying the importance of OA to the campus community and the academic library at the U of A. To continue to meet the needs of OA users, Ryan noted that librarians can be leaders by working with faculty to determine their needs by developing locally based solutions.

While neither Koufogiannkis or Ryan have "OA facilitator" in their job descriptions, both librarians look at OA as the future of libraries and have committed to serving the U of A community; students, faculty, staff, and members of public who have an interest in OA products, research, and information.

Connecting to and communicating with other librarians as OA becomes more popular has also lead to the creation of the Facebook group: Librarians who support open access.

Question from audience:
Could the presenters comment on the relationship between librarians and faculty?
-Faculty and librarians come from different perspectives, but value each other in research and knowledge. Librarians can inform and assist faculty with the advances of the OA process, but Ryan noted that having a high profile member of the academic community -- like John Willinsky -- talk about OA and its advantages to U of A faculty was of great benefit.


Pam Ryan noted that discussing OA products is like being on a “carousel of progress”. Librarians find themselves explaining all aspects of OA to interested parties and informing faculty members of the public benefit – going around the same issues over and again until there is an understanding amongst the campus community. With the U of A’s enthusiasm for OA and OJS, the possibilities appear great. However, Ryan also explained that while librarians are excited to work with journals in the start-up phase and can offer support through the initial set-up, the software support is not available locally.

Will on-line journals develop faster and require more elements than the current software allows? As OJS develops new reading tools and seeks to provide the most effective access to information, improvements in the system are bound to occur. However, in his keynote address at the PKP Conference, John Willinsky reported that of 1000 journals using OJS since 2002, 46% are still using the original system. The software itself is clearly not holding back the transmission of ideas to an ever increasing audience.

Once enough members of an academic community support OA products there can be a movement from a “carousel of progress” where a network of people focuses on the journal service to the transmission of scholarly ideas across that group that includes scientists, doctors, social scientists, and researchers in the humanities.

Links to:

University of Alberta Library Homepage

Open Access Publishing Information for the U of A

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