scholarly communication + research libraries

Scholarly communication topics make up a great deal of my personal and professional interests. I’ve rarely gotten to unpack them in my current role, so it was a delight to be asked to speak to around 40-50 of my colleagues at the UW Libraries teaching and learning retreat in early August.

Preparing and giving this talk made me realize that I know a lot more about this area than I thought I did. Sometimes I feel like I live in a bubble where everyone is as wildly intrigued and impassioned as I am. My twitter feed, my listservs: for the most part these expose a world where so many people have my shared interests, and they’re all so darn intimidating and impressive. It’s easy to be in this bubble and to feel like I am just one person in a crowd but during this talk I recognized my responsibility to not shut up. To keep talking about these issues. That yeah, I’m just a newbie librarian but I can use my energy to share ideas that hopefully can have an impact.

During this presentation I heard words come out of my mouth that I didn’t plan for. Words about having empathy for early career researchers, who are in a very different environment than their predecessors, and turning that empathy into library services. Words about being, ahem, not neutral about open research, championing it instead. Words about putting money toward a collections budget that is inclusive of local scholarship that falls beyond a standard peer reviewed article – scholarship that is forgotten at worst and utterly unprioritized at best.

I said in this talk and I’ll write it here again: Nobody knows what they’re doing in this space – and therefore libraries should absolutely be at the forefront of not knowing what we’re doing. Especially if it’s uncomfortable. I didn’t plan on saying that, actually, but the second it slipped out the more true it felt. There are lots of very smart people acting strategically but they are doing things in a trial by fire manner. It’s necessity. Testing, trying, failing, reiterating. The second you think you can halt, you can stop looking ahead, you can stop being proactive – it’s all gone. You are already in a zone where innovation is going to be petrifying to you individually… and that is how culture is created, by all of us bringing forward our reticence or, ideally, our bravery. (One reason why I am all about transparency of failure and rejection: I think it makes us braver and we need oh so much bravery to do the things that matter.)

Although I had slides, a lot of ideas came out off the cuff. I think that’s what I love so much about presenting. It takes work and deep thinking and the creativity of crafting a narrative and plucking the right visuals from the many possible options fuels you. First the delivery crushes you – it’s scary! – but after a few moments you situate yourself chill out a bit and it renews you. It’s this crazy immersive experience. I’ve started to crave it, drifting into a zone where I love the moments I get to lead, teach, and create.

After this talk I dreamed up a digital scholarship series focused on grad students and early career researchers. I’m testing the waters this fall with topics like productivity + project management, crafting a digital identity, research data management + sharing, and an introduction to open research. I am THRILLED but also busy, busy, busy.


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