Intended Audience and Actual Distribution: A Growing Mismatch?

Researchers write articles for a primary audience of peers. Open access has expanded the actual distribution. What to do about the growing mismatch?

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What Can I Do with This? Indicators of Usage Rights in the User Interface

Inconsistency in location/format of usage rights information and CC badges across formats and platforms makes it challenging to discover if/how articles can be reused. @lisalibrarian

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SXSW Interactive: Slow Down To Speed Up

Back to SXSW this year! Hear about the conference, the speakers, and the themes. Tell us what resonates with you the most!

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Guest Post — Modern Comments and Their Discontents: When an Update Isn’t an Improvement

Modern “word processing” programs can do everything from check spelling and grammar to finishing your sentences for you. This might be convenient for the creator, but some “helpful” upgrades can wreak havoc for manuscript editors. In today’s Guest Post, Bruce Rosenblum and Sylvia Izzo Hunter explore the pitfalls of making the comments features less editor friendly.

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Guest Post — Are We Providing What Researchers Need in the Transition to Open Science?

There are still barriers and hesitations around open research practices. Erika Pastrana and Simon Adar suggest that publishers and technology platforms can better support authors and drive uptake.

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Guest Post — Enabling Trustable, Transparent, and Efficient Submission and Review in an Era of Digital Transformation

Digital transformation in submission and peer review offers improvements for publications and a better experience for researchers and journal staff.

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Guest Post — The Time Has Come to Start Swimming Upstream: How Meaningful Engagement with Authors Early in the Research Process Can Yield Significant Benefits to Publishers

Avi Staiman discusses how meaningful engagement with authors early in the research process can yield significant benefits to publishers and journals.

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A Failure to Communicate: Indicators of Open Access in the User Interface

Though open access indicators within a given publishing platform are relatively consistent, significant inconsistency across platforms likely creates user confusion.

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User Experience in Libraries: 35 Promising Starting Points for Entry and Exchange With Like-minded People

by Claudia Sittner

It all started with the article by ZBW colleague Nicole Clasen in August 2020: User Experience for Libraries: The Best Tools and Methods for Beginners. By the way, I recommend this article to everyone who is not yet familiar with UX. I then found the topic of “user experience in libraries” so exciting that I started a series of interviews. People in charge of UX from infrastructure institutions in eight European countries had their say, from staff from small and specialised libraries in individual subject areas to national libraries and purely digital services. For the curious: You can find the list of institutions at the end of this article.

The questions were always the same. For the purely digital Finnish services of finna, we varied them a little. The period: August 2020 to April 2022, which means that the coronavirus pandemic interfered with the interviewees’ UX activities everywhere. This article is based on the answers to the last interview question, „What are your tips for libraries that would like to start with UX? What is a good starting point?“ and on my own research. It offers an overview and starting points for all those who would like to get started with user experience in libraries but don’t know exactly how – of course without claiming to be complete.

Exchange ideas at the UX Roundtable

In July 2021, ZBW colleagues Alena Behrens and Nicole Clasen launched a UX Roundtable. Since then, it has taken place online about four times a year. The aim is to exchange ideas about user experience and usability in libraries and at universities across institutional boundaries in the German-speaking world and thus make libraries and information facilities more human-centred. From 2023 onwards, the informal UX Roundtable will merge into a Special Interest Group (SIG) “User Experience in Libraries” at the professional association for employees in libraries “Berufsverband Information Bibliothek“ (BIB, German).

The SIG is aimed at colleagues from public and academic libraries, from other information institutions as well as from research and teaching. From newcomers to library all-rounders to UX experts, everyone is welcome! If you are interested, please contact Alena Behrens or Nicole Clasen from the user services department of the ZBW – Leibniz Information Centre for Economics or Sina Menzel from the UX Office at the university library of the Freie Universität Berlin.

Attend a UX conference

Library staff from academic and public libraries from all over the world meet every summer for this interactive conference at a venue in the UK. “I attended the UXLib Conference a couple of years ago and I found the talks and workshops incredibly interesting and inspiring. Reach out to other staff members doing similar things to what you would like to do. I met a few people at the conference that were very helpful in keeping in contact and were happy to exchange ideas, etc.” (Aimee Andersen, UK). The international conference “User Experience in Libraries” (#UXLibs) focuses on a specific aspect of UX research and design each time; for example, “UX and Organisational Culture” in 2022, “From Research to Design” in 2019 or “Inclusion” in 2018.

The visit of the “International Conference on Performance Measurement in Libraries” is also interesting for UX novices. The goal of library performance measurement and evaluation is to understand how well a library is meeting the needs of stakeholders in order to make improvements. Key features of library performance measurement also include the active use of qualitative and quantitative data to improve services and the user experience, and the communication of the results and outcomes of assessment activities.

Looking around on websites

Andy Priestner is considered a pioneer in the field of UX in libraries in Europe. In addition to workshops and the annual #UXLibs conference, his website offers helpful information for getting started.

Ned Potter’s website is also worth a visit. Tip for beginners: the resource list for UX in libraries provides a good introduction to the basics.

Read articles and studies

  1. What is a UX librarian?
  2. UX in libraries: It’s all about inclusion!
  3. The presentation “User-oriented design of library websites” (PDF, German) by Martin Blenkle offers a very impressive and entertaining introduction to the basic problems users have with library websites thanks to many examples. For example, in response to the question “What are the most common problems with library websites?” a user wrote on Twitter “The site is most overtly ‘about the library’ when it should be that the site *is* the library.”
  4. Users at the Center of Everything – A crash course in UX for your library by Callan Bignoli and Lauren Stara.
  5. Ethnographic study of the library at Fresno Pacific University (California, USA, PDF), albeit from 2009. The two guiding questions of the study: What is student life like at a public comprehensive university in the early 21st century? How might the library better adapt its services to student practices while still accomplishing the educational mission of an academic library? The aim was to use this to increase library usage and improve the user experience.
  6. The Only UX Reading List Ever, although not specifically library related and last updated five years ago.
  7. UX Myths, for fun: collects the most common misconceptions about user experience and explains why they are not true.

The classic way: get into the subject with books

If you work in a library, this tip might seem obvious: but there are a few books that are particularly useful for getting started with UX.

  1. Useful, Usable, Desirable: Applying User Experience Design to Your Library by Aaron Schmidt and Amanda Etches
  2. User Experience in Libraries – Applying Ethnography and Human-Centred Design edited by Andy Priestner and Matt Borg
  3. Good Services – How to Design Services that Work by Lou Downe
  4. The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman
  5. Rocket Surgery Made Easy – The Do-It-Yourself Guide to Finding and Fixing Usability Problems by Steve Krug. “I really recommend Krug’s method for usability testing – it’s easy to set up, can be done remotely, and always leads to actionable insights.” (Kitte Dahrén, Sweden)
  6. Universal Methods of Design by Bella Martin and Bruce Hanington: The book contains guidance on 100 research methods, synthesis/analysis techniques and research findings.
  7. A Handbook of User Experience Research & Design in Libraries by Andy Priestner is a must-read according to Kitte Dahrén (Sweden), as are all the yearbooks of the #UXLibs conference, all available on their website.
  8. The User Experience Team of One: A Research and Design Survival Guide by Leah Buley.
  9. User Experience in the Library (PDF), Routledge FreeBook with various excerpts from other books, is also good for reading into them and for checking if they are worth buying.

Get started with the Design Thinking Toolkit

“Design Thinking for Libraries” offers a great free toolkit that help you get started, it is filled with practical advice and plenty library related examples.” says Larissa Tijsterman from the University of Amsterdam Library in her interview.

Stay up to date on the topic with newsletters

This tip is from the interview with Kitte Dahrén from the Swedish SLU University Library, at different locations: The “Nielsen Norman Group offers a lot of useful articles and a newsletter well worth subscribing to.”

“From the UX guru Andy Priestner there is also a mailing list. In it he also promotes the annual #UXLibs conference he co-organises.” says ZBW colleague Alena Behrens .

Find like-minded people on Twitter

The library scene’s favourite social network also offers a communicative entry point for the topic of user experience, for example via the hashtags #uxlib, #uxlibs, #libux, #libraryux. Other helpful hashtags are #uxresearch, #uxdesign, #userexperience, #libraries. “For me, it all started with watching Twitter, which allowed me to understand what is being done and offered in other libraries. Then I followed a training course with Nathalie Clot, director of the Angers University library, to understand and use UX methods.” (Nicolas Brunet-Mouyen, Paris).

Lively discussions about and many ideas on UX in libraries can be found on Twitter. It is also easy to get in touch with the experts. In addition, there are several accounts that are worth following. Here is a small selection to get you started:

  1. Not surprisingly: Andy Priestner: Consultant/trainer User Experience Research & Design, failure, LEGO Serious Play. Creator: @UXLibs. Book: A Handbook of UX Research & Design in Libraries.
  2. UX in Libraries: International community sharing User Experience (UX) research & design practice in libraries. Annual conference & yearbooks. UXLibs7 will take place in June 2023.
  3. WeaveUX: Journal of Library User Experience. Open access, peer-reviewed journal published by @M_Publishing and managed by a team of passionate library UXers.
  4. Nathalie Clot: University Librarian @BUAngers, Angers, France. #Antifragilista Advocacy for useful, usable and desirable libraries #Uxlibs #BUAPro, She/her.

Eight steps for a successful UX in your library: these are the tips from European experts.

Below are the condensed and summarised tips for getting started with user experience from the experts we interviewed. In the course of the interviews, these eight steps emerged:

  1. Identify the status quo: “Start mapping out what are the goals and strategy of the organisation. Map existing services and identify bottlenecks that need to be addressed.” (Margus Veimann, Estonia)
  2. Pick low-hanging fruits: “Don’t try to move mountains the first thing you do. Start small, and preferably with something where you control the whole process and can act on stuff that you learn. Let’s say that you and your colleagues argue about some detail, solve it by simply asking or observing your users.” (Kitte Dahrén, Sweden)
  3. Or: “Start with the ‚low hanging fruits‘ – namely problem areas you already know about – and with changes that can be made with relatively little effort. Being successful here will then give you the required motivation to continue, and for these projects, simple UX methods are usually sufficient. You can save advanced techniques for later.” (Jarmo Schrader, Germany)

  4. Have the courage to experiment: “It is mandatory to experiment and always include user research and small learning experiments in every project. This is a cornerstone for creating services that are valuable and accessible for different user groups.” (Margus Veimann, Estonia)
  5. Convince the management: “First and foremost, it is very important to have a sponsor to support your goals. When referring to sponsors, I mean management. If they believe in the idea, they are also willing to invest the necessary resources.” (Jane Makke, Estonia)
  6. Or: “In order to make UX truly embedded you need your management on board, but with time and patience, this way of working in your team can create a ripple effect in your organisation.” (Kitte Dahrén, Sweden)

  7. Look beyond your own nose: “To look at what other institutions are already doing is a great starting point. (…) Learn from those that have gone before you! We found that the Library User Experience Community is strong and incredibly supportive and helpful. If in doubt, reach out to people and ask some questions. In our experience Library UXers are more than happy to chat and share advice and thoughts.” (Sinéad Beverland, UK)
  8. Get out and start: “Leaving the house at an early stage and interacting with the users is a key. It is customary that we think that we know all the answers and have the best solution how to solve users’ problems but usually this is the source of the failure.” (Margus Veimann, Estonia)
  9. Keep at it: “However, needs are continually changing – it’s not as if we will ever have reached the stage where we can say: Things will stay like this for ever.” (Ninon Frank, Germany)
  10. Allow mistakes and learn from them: This is the only way to gain insights into what is not working. “Don’t be too hard on yourself, you are meant to make mistakes that is how you discover new insights. Give it time, you might not always end up with a deliverable but you are making waves of change which will be noticeable later on.” (Larissa Tijsterman, Netherlands)

Background: These eight libraries participated

UX staff from infrastructures in eight European countries have now had their say, from small specialist libraries in individual subject areas to national libraries and purely digital services:

  1. Germany: Jarmo Schrader and Ninon Frank from the University Library of Hildesheim,
  2. United Kingdom: Aimee Andersen and Sinéad Beverland from the libraries at the University of Westminster,
  3. Estonia: Margus Veimann and Jane Makke from the National Library of Estonia in Tallinn,
  4. Finland: Riitta Peltonen and Pasi Tiisanoja from Finna, a package of digital services,
  5. France: Nicolas Brunet-Mouyen from the library of the Cergy Paris University,
  6. the Netherlands: Larissa Tijsterman from the University of Amsterdam Library,
  7. Sweden: Kitte Dahrén from the library of the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, at different locations,
  8. Slovenia: Tomaž Ul?akar from the Central Economics Library at the University of Ljubljana.

You can find the collected interviews – and some other contributions on user experience in libraries – on ZBW MediaTalk under the keyword User Experience.

Interview partners wanted!
We are looking forward to receiving more examples from all over the world! If you would like to take part in the series “UX in Libraries” or know of an institution that deals with UX, we would be happy to receive an email to!

This text has been translated from German.

This might also interest you:

About the Author:

Claudia Sittner studied journalism and languages in Hamburg and London. She was a long time lecturer at the ZBW publication Wirtschaftsdienst – a journal for economic policy, and is now the managing editor of the blog ZBW MediaTalk. She is also a freelance travel blogger (German), speaker and author. She can also be found on LinkedIn, Twitter and Xing.
Portrait: Claudia Sittner©

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The Ideal Place for Students to Learn: Results of a ZBW Photo Study

by Alena Behrens and Nicole Clasen

In this article, Alena Behrens and Nicole Clasen from the User Services team at the ZBW – Leibniz Information Centre for Economics report on the background, method, questions and results of their photo study among students. The key feature: the participants were only allowed to answer the five questions with photos. Text answers or comments were not possible. 19 students took part and sent 108 photos: of how they work, take their breaks and what their after-work rituals are. Alena Behrens and Nicole Clasen present the most interesting findings, draw conclusions about how new learning spaces in libraries need to be designed, and reveal what role candles play in this:

Pandemic challenges

User experience research (UX research) is characterised by spending a lot of time with your users, including their emotional level and questioning behaviours to learn as much as possible about the users. But how can you build this connection when libraries are closed for weeks and people are called to physically distance themselves from each other? The ZBW’s User Services team has dared to attempt a UX survey during the pandemic.

Approach and setting

Due to the pandemic-related requirements at the time of implementation in autumn 2021, it quickly became clear that the project should be carried out online as far as possible. The opening hours of the libraries were very limited. Only a few users worked in the library on site, and most of the staff worked from their home offices.

The question for us, however, was obvious: How do students learn at home during the pandemic? What stresses or disturbs them about this work situation? How do students deal with these changed learning conditions without a lecture hall or library? And what can we learn from this to adapt and improve the future design of the learning spaces?

A suitable UX method quickly emerged for these questions: the Photo Studies (term after Andy Priestner).

Photo Studies from home

In the Photo Studies method, the participants answer the questions posed with photos they have taken themselves. This was suitable for our question for two reasons: First, it gives us a very good insight into how the students set themselves up to study at home. Second, we were able to comply with all hygiene measures by establishing contact via email and sending the photos to us digitally. In addition, the students were quite flexible in terms of when they answered the questions. They could take the photos at their leisure and decide what should be in the photos.

The following five questions were to be answered with photos:

  1. Where is the favourite place to study/work and what is the most important object?
  2. What did the workplace look like (during an online lecture)?
  3. How is the break organised?
  4. What was the most annoying/challenging thing in the last few months?
  5. What does the after-work ritual look like?

Photos and findings

A total of 19 students participated in the study with 108 photos. So not everyone sent the exact number of five photos. The User Services team analysed the photos anonymously. By sending them, the students agreed to this and also that we could use the photos in presentations, articles, etc. The number of photos gave us a good insight into the working and learning conditions of home studying.

Workplaces and stress points

Important for working are a stable internet connection and good work equipment, such as technical equipment, a desk and chair. These are also the biggest stress points if they do not meet the requirements: An interference-prone internet connection is a hindrance for online lectures, and uncomfortable chairs cause back pain.

Only half of the participants work at a proper desk, the other half sit at the kitchen table or other converted tables. The space situation in general is often cramped. It is usually not possible to switch between work and leisure time.

Breaks and after-work rituals

The participants like to spend their breaks outside and in motion, e.g. on a walk, also with friends. After work, on the other hand, they spend most of their time at home. This is also in line with the usual pandemic-related requirements at the time of implementation.

As an after-work ritual, we received many sports pictures, from boxing and running to the yoga mat, many individual sports were included. The cosy sofa for relaxing should not be missing either.

Environment and decoration

As we already found out in our 2018 survey, the environment and atmosphere of the learning space play a major role. Implementing these needs in their own homes presented challenges for the students, but they were able to solve them. For a pleasant dose of daylight and fresh air, the learning spaces were often close to the window. They decorated the space with plants and candles. Drinks, especially coffee and tea, and snacks were also not to be missed.

  • Conclusion 1: Equip learning spaces well

    For us, it was rather surprising that after three semesters of purely digital study, many students still work with rather provisional solutions. Many work at the dining table or have placed a small table in the corner of the room. In most cases, there is only one laptop available, and there are no additional monitors. This is definitely a starting point for libraries to provide well-equipped learning spaces. This starts with large tables and comfortable, ergonomic chairs, and can be extended by technical equipment, e.g. by offering additional monitors to make working easier. Areas where you can work alone and still participate in online seminars were rare in libraries before the pandemic. We will consider this form of work in the future.

  • Conclusion 2: Create spaces for social interaction

    What has often been missing since the beginning of the Corona pandemic, but is all the more essential, is social contact. For libraries, this means on the one hand that places to work together in groups are important. There is often not enough space for this in small shared rooms. Areas for common breaks and social meeting places to exchange ideas and continue working creatively are also desired. Areas where small yoga and relaxation breaks can be taken can also offer added value. After sitting for a long time, many people feel the need to move, as the photos have confirmed.

  • Conclusion 3: Developing the library together with students

    It is very exciting to get an impression of students’ personal workplaces. The very positive feedback from the participants also showed us that they appreciate it when you want to respond to their personal needs. What was surprising for us was that we were given such open and personal insights. Thus, we can draw on an instructive and informative pool of knowledge and inspiration to design user services for the changing needs of learning and studying after the pandemic. With this knowledge, we can further develop the services in a targeted and needs-oriented manner.

Reflection on method and procedure

For the circumstances (Corona pandemic, home office/studying) and the question from this context, the method of photo studies was very well suited. We gained an insight into students’ private learning environments that we could hardly have gained otherwise. In this online implementation, in contrast to previous face-to-face on-site studies, we did not conduct any subsequent interviews. If we were to conduct them again, we would also combine the online studies with a small interview. This would give the participants the opportunity to explain their images. For some, there was a lot of room for interpretation and an explanation would have facilitated the exact interpretation.

However, this kind of implementation does not replace personal contact. Being able to talk to the students on site and to personally guide the UX methods is a great benefit. It enables a fluent dialogue and exchange.

This text has been translated from German.

This might also interest you:

About the authors:

Nicole Clasen is Head of User Services at ZBW – Leibniz Information Centre for Economics. Her work focuses on information transfer, digital user services and the usability experience. LinkedIn and Twitter.
Portrait: ZBW©, photographer Sven Wied

Alena Behrens works as a librarian in the user services department at the ZBW – Leibniz Information Centre for Economics. In addition to working at the service desk, her work focuses on information mediation and user experience. She can also be found on Twitter.
Portrait: Alena Behrens©

The post The Ideal Place for Students to Learn: Results of a ZBW Photo Study first appeared on ZBW MediaTalk.

User Experience in Libraries: Insights from the Central Economics Library at the University of Ljubljana

At the University of Ljubljana (UL), there is not one central university library. In fact, each faculty or academy has its own library: 38 in total. One of these 38 libraries is the Central Economics Library (CEL) at the School of Economics and Business (SEB LU), where Tomaž Ul?akar works.

He attended a conference in Glasgow in 2017 that opened his eyes to User Experience (UX). Since then, a lot has happened at the CEL: there was a pop-up library, a shift in focus onto the main users and the whole concept of user training has been reworked.

An interview with Tomaž Ul?akar, Central Economics Library and Publishing Office at the School of Economics and Business, University of Ljubljana.

What are your goals with UX? Did you achieve them?

The goal of the Central Economics Library is to transform itself into a modern Centre of Knowledge (CeK), where activities such as the classical library, the digital library, the information center, the publishing, the Open Access, the infrastructure centre with two laboratories (behavioural lab and financial lab) will work together as one large modern knowledge incubator.

Which UX methods do you apply at the CEL?

We use mostly: brainstorming, stakeholders and users interviews, sometimes also kickoff meetings.

Can you give us a practical example that worked, where you applied UX to solve a problem?

A good example of the use of UX in CEL was the design of online services for users at the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020, when we used all of the above methods in combination in our Zoom meetings to launch the new online product CEL outside the library.

To apply UX methods, you need library users who are willing to participate. How do you manage to find and motivate them?

I find this part as the hardest. Yes, it is true; you need a lot of energy for persuading users to participate. We have some very enthusiastic colleagues who are willing to enter the user comfort zone and motivate them: with words as we are trying to improve our services. In the past, we also used our social media channels to encourage the participation in UX with an award for the best idea (when we were searching a new name for our study places or for the e-tutor).

When and why did you start working with UX? What does that mean practically?

Based on Andy Priestner’s presentation at the European Business School Librarian’s Group (EBSLG) Annual General Meeting 2017 (German) in Glasgow and on his book “User Experience in Libraries: Applying Ethnography and Human-Centred Design”, we decided to change the whole user concept of the library.

In 2017, we segmented the users, observed their habits and made the first decisions that we need to adapt the services to the main users: full-time students. Therefore, at the beginning of the academic year in October 2017, we went out of the library with the pop-up library and presented the services at the booth.

Pop-up-Library: Registration

In 2018, we worked a lot to change the focus of the librarians in the circulation department and also to do some research among users on how they behave in our spaces, what they are looking for, how they use our facilities, etc. We also have a young staff member who, with his fresh perspective on the library and its services, has motivated other colleagues to make even bigger changes in the UX dimension.

In 2019, after analysing the existing model and based on users’ wishes expressed at the counter, in personal conversations and surveys, we decided to change the whole concept of user training. We offered narrowly specialised presentations with e-resource workshops for areas of study. We also approached professors with this concept, inviting library experts to individual courses to present relevant e-resources.

All training presentations and workshops for an academic year are presented on the LibCal platform. We also use the platform as an e-tutor for all library services, such as membership and loans, remote access, trainings, etc. For each trainings promotion is prepared with leaflet and promotion channels.

For each trainings promotion is prepared with leaflet and promotion channels

This move toward users was critical during Corona 2020 and 2021, when the library kept in touch with users through brief online-zoom service presentations. We put almost all services online. Statistics show a sharp increase in the use of remote access to e-resources:

Statistics show a sharp increase in the use of remote access to e-resources

In 2020 and 2021, we also worked hard to provide a good user experience on Open Access, support for researchers, and a good information service on Open Access. The OA experience at our school is well represented in a colleague’s poster at the Open Science Conference 2022. In the colleague’s presentation, we could see what was done to achieve such a strong use of the institutional repository by researchers in the last year.

The results of the decision to use the methods of UX when introducing new services are reflected in the increased number of active users, increased use of resources, and, last but not least, greater awareness of the importance of the library among school administrators.

What are the most important lessons you have learned from applying UX?

UX is a quite convenient method for applying new services but it also takes a lot energy at the beginning, when you start planning it. You need a lot of strength to manage the process and to organise ideas. But it can also be very pleasant, you do some team building with colleagues and you are getting to know your users.

What are your tips for libraries that would like to start with UX? What is a good starting point?

To start UX, I would recommend an observation of library users, e.g., what they do, where they go, how they use the library, and then systematically start with the services you want to change or (re)design. Start with a UX method that you think is easiest to use, or rather, that you think can get you results.

This might also interest you:

We were talking to:

Tomaž Ul?akar is the head of the Central Economics Library (CEL), the European Documentation Centre and the Publishing Office at the School of Economics and Business at the University of Ljubljana (UL). From 2019 to 2021, he was the president of the Library Council, where the library activities of the 38 academic libraries at the faculties and academies of the UL are coordinated. Tomaž Ul?akar can be found on SICRIS, the Slovenian Current Research Information System.
Portrait: Tomaž Ul?akar©

Featured Image: SEB LU© Yearly Review, academic year 2020-2021. All other graphics: SEB LU©

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