IReL: Supporting Research Everyday

Poster presented at CONUL conference 2017.

Open PDF of poster

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Posted in Conference, eResources

NLPN Presentation: Prepared to Negotiate

On Saturday, I attended NLPN’s Winter event in Manchester. I presented on my experience of eResource negotiations. I am sharing the slides here, although they really only give a bare indication of the presentation content.

NLPN presentation – prepared to negotiate – FINAL

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NASIG: Open Access in the World of Scholarly Journals: Creation and Discovery

This conference session report was written for the September 2016 NASIG newsletter

This excellent presentation by Sandra Cowan (University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada) and Chris Bulock (California State University Northridge) brought together issues faced when advocating for the creation of Open Access content, and the discovery and access issues posed by Open Access content in hybrid journals.

Cowan ran through a number of reminders on where we currently are with Open Access. She presented stark figures demonstrating just how unsustainable the current subscription model is for libraries. The increasing costs of commercially published journals are damaging monograph budgets, and even impacting on the ability to hire new staff. Cowan outlined how Canadian institutions are seeking to counter this current crisis. Assessing which journals are absolutely critical has served as useful leverage in negotiations, particularly in breaking down “big deal” packages. However, she asserted that the best solution is to diminish the power that commercial publishers have over libraries. Cowan gave a very useful overview of Open Access policies and initiatives in Canada, including the University of Lethbridge Journal Incubator. The obstacles and incentives for Open Access publishing were also discussed. Cowan called on librarians to lead by example, advocate for positive OA publishing and policies, and to demonstrate the many benefits of Open Access to our academic colleagues.

Bulock spoke more specifically about hybrid journals and the many reasons why they are problematic. A hybrid journal is one which has both a subscription fee, plus an additional fee if the author wants to make their article Open Access. Bulock identified reasons why these are a popular choice. Publishing in a hybrid meets many OA mandates, but still has the “prestige” element required for promotion and tenure. For the library, hybrid journals are a particular challenge to integrate with Link Resolvers and Discovery layers. Bulock explained that within a hybrid journal, it is difficult to define which articles the library has access to. If the library doesn’t index OA articles, the user is probably getting better results via a Google search. The use of NISO Access and License Indicators offer an article level indicator in the metadata, however Bulock revealed that this is not being used by many publishers of hybrid journals, or it is being implemented incorrectly. There is high volume of research published, particularly in the UK, in hybrid journals, creating a real need to index this content correctly. Bulock concluded with suggestions for what librarians faced with this challenge can do. These included discussing the issue with your discovery and content providers, and advocating for the proper use of the NISO indicators.

I highly recommend viewing the slides from this presentation, and the full Conference Proceedings, to gain an insight into the various models and why we should advocate for “true” Open Access publishing.

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Posted in Cataloguing, Conference, eResources

Can transparency in publishing costs clear the way for open scholarly communications?

As part of my application for the John Merriman Award I responded to the question “What is the biggest challenge facing you in your current job and how, in an ideal world, would you address it?” In July, I expanded on this answer for an editorial in UKSG eNews.

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Posted in eResources

NASIG 2016: My schedule

These are the sessions I am planning to attend. (The full schedule is available here:!) As always, there are a couple of clashes, so I may hop between some sessions (sorry speakers, please don’t find it rude).


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Posted in Conference, Professional Development

NASIG, here I come!

I have downloaded the app, I’ve been emailing my conference mentor and a couple of other delegates, and I have listened back to the pre-conference Q&A. As long as I have packed the right attire for “semi-arid with possible monsoon showers” I am all set.

Going to a conference in somewhere as removed as New Mexico is a little bit daunting. Luckily, I feel like I have already established a basic connection with a few attendees which is easing the fear. This is not entirely by design, so how have I reached out to people in a very different circle to the usual Irish and UK library professional network?

The mentor system

Available to all First Timers, not just award winners, is the conference mentor system. I have been assigned an experienced NASIG member who I will meet at the First-Timers reception. We have been communicating via email and Jill has a huge amount of experience in libraries, eResources and the NASIG committee and conference organizing. Having a designated Mentor who I can ask questions and turn to if I’m stuck with anything over the conference is brilliant. I am especially grateful as this conference is a world apart from the typical Irish conference where I am lucky to always know quite a few friendly faces.

Writing a conference report

Once registered for the conference, I was added to the NASIG mailing list. Through this I received an email looking for attendees to write reports on each session. As I will be taking notes, tweeting and trying to write a couple of blog posts, I felt this was definitely something I could commit to, pushing myself to write for another outlet and experience a different approach to conference reporting. In general, the conference reports I have read, and the few I have written, usually take in the whole conference, highlighting particular talks of interest to the reviewer, or their key learnings. I will be writing up my NASIG review on Session E5: Open Access in the world of scholarly journals

Signing up to an additional activity

Another email that came through the mailing list suggested that taking a hot air balloon ride was an unmissable activity whilst in Albuquerque and asked if delegates would like to form a group to go together. This is something I have dreamed of doing ever since I was about 4, so I jumped at the chance.  It turns out that Angela, the organizer of this excursion, was the NASIG Merriman Awardee last year. So tomorrow we get to share our experiences of the award, and take a sunrise hot air balloon trip, all before the conference begins!

Finding my Twitter community

With the help of #nasig16 and #librarianwardrobe I have found my Twitter people. As I and others have noted numerous times, the back-channel of conference discourse that takes place on Twitter is exciting, rich, and certainly adds to the whole experience. Hopefully I will talk to these new Twitter contacts in person – “I recognize you from Twitter” is a perfectly acceptable ice-breaker in my book. If I don’t get to talk to each and every Tweeter it’s not the end of the world, in fact some people might prefer to just exchange a few Twitter insights and skip the awkward chit chat. This can definitely make networking easier!

I have just remembered that I read a previous ALA Early Career award winner recommending that you bring a business card. This isn’t as common for Irish and UK conferences, so I though this was a good tip for those of us going to a US event. I read that several years ago though, and now there is obviously not enough time to order some up! Hopefully I won’t miss them too much.



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On not blogging June.

This week I have been furiously trying to tie up loose ends at work as I face into a considerable stretch away from the office. My mind has been wandering to Albuquerque, New Mexico, where I will travel next week to attend the NASIG annual conference. In the little corner of headspace remaining, there was been the hum of excitement and anticipation about one of my oldest friends coming to visit from New Zealand. There hasn’t been room to prepare for the 10K race I am running on Monday, remember to call family, or look too closely at potentially interesting job vacancies.

I noticed a few tweets about #BlogJune coming up. I briefly considered it. Of all Junes this one has the potential to be challenging, rewarding and interesting to reflect on consistently. However I am trying to reduce the number of things I commit to and then fail to complete. Enthusiasm has a terrible habit of getting in the way of realism.  Read more ›

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Posted in Professional Development, Reflection