Open Economics Guide: New Open Science Support for Economics Researchers

by Birgit Fingerle and Guido Scherp

Open Science represents the best practice for academic work and is a toolkit for “good scientific practice”. In addition to the general benefits of Open Science for the scholarly system and society, Open Science offers many individual benefits for researchers. Among them are a higher visibility of research work and a greater impact in research and society.

Nevertheless, many researchers in economics and business studies see hurdles and are discouraged from practicing Open Science: A lack of time and of appropriate support are the main reasons for their hesitation. This was revealed by the 2019/2020 study “Die Bedeutung von Open Science in den Wirtschaftswissenschaften – Ergebnisbericht einer Online-Befragung unter Forschenden der Wirtschaftswissenschaften an deutschen Hochschulen 2019” (“The Importance of Open Science in Economics – Result Report of an Online Survey among Researchers in Economics at German Universities 2019”) conducted by the ZBW. See our blog post Open Economics: Study on Open Science Principles and Practice in Economics reporting the studies main findings. Furthermore, the survey on which the study was based expressed a strong desire for support in the form of online materials, especially with regard to Open Science platforms, tools and applications.

With the new Open Economics Guide (German), the ZBW aims to address these wishes and to support economics and business studies researchers in implementing open practices.

Support for open science practice

The Open Economics Guide addresses the challenges and support needs identified in the study. It is based on the perspective and the needs of economics and business studies researchers. It takes into account, for example, that for them lack of time is the top obstacle to Open Science. This is why the texts of the Guide are concise and clear. Therefore, the Open Economics Guide starts with concrete benefits for researchers, for example by recommending first steps for getting started with Open Science easily and quickly to implement.

Accordingly, where necessary, the content reflects the specifics of economics and business studies research. The Open Economics Guide is also based on systematically reviewed existing content, which it picks up or refers to and recommends where necessary. Since the range of information, tutorials and tools related to Open Science is constantly growing, the Open Economics Guide offers good orientation for researchers and takes up current developments.

The ZBW has thus designed the Open Economics Guide as the central entry point specifically for Open Science in economics and business studies, initially for German-speaking countries. In the Open Economics Guide, economists can discover how openness enriches their research and how they can benefit from the advantages of open research.

Quick start, tool overview and knowledge base

The Open Economics Guide supports economics and business studies researchers with practical tips, methods and tools to practice Open Science independently and successfully and thus to promote their academic career. To this end, the Guide contains, among other things:

  • easy-to-understand quick-start guides to Open Science topics (currently Open Science, Open Access, Open Data and Open Tools),
  • a comprehensive overview of more than 70 tools (German), subdivided by the phases of the research workflow,
  • a growing knowledge database with currently about 100 entries (German) with extensive background information and practical tips on how to proceed,
  • a clear glossary (German), which answers comprehension questions about the most important terms related to open research at a glance.

Content under open license and further expansion

The content of the Open Economics Guide is offered under an open license as far as possible. Thus, it can be reused in other contexts according to the principles of Open Science, for example by other libraries for their researchers.

The Open Economics Guide will be continuously expanded and extended. For instance, further focal points, such as Open Educational Resources and Open Research Software, will be added. All aspects of Open Science relevant to economics and business studies research will be covered. In doing so, a close communication as well as a close cooperation with researchers of economics and business studies will be strived for, in order to develop new contents also jointly. In addition, the guide will aim at an international target group in the future.

Visit the Open Economics Guide now

Featured Image: Mockup created by freepik – www.freepik.com

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Libraries as a Place after Corona: Hybrid and Participatory?

During the corona pandemic, libraries and their diverse functions have been “on hold” as analogue spaces. Users find information, advice and seminars digitally. But an exchange of ideas, networking and cooperative learning can hardly take place. What should libraries, as places of learning and event venues, look like for our users in the future? Is hybrid the new solution? Nicole Clasen and Alena Behrens from the ZBW – Leibniz Information Centre for Economics are currently exploring these issues. The ZBW runs libraries in Kiel and Hamburg.

Interview with Nicole Clasen and Alena Behrens

The ZBW in Hamburg will be moving to a new building in a few years. For this reason, you have recently defined which spaces and room elements are needed for modern library operations in all their facets and which are not. What was important for you?

It’s important for us to create an attractive place that inspires discussions and a sense of cooperative working and learning. This includes an open and modern architecture that makes the library an enticing place to enter.

New building for the ZBW – Hamburg (exterior view) on the university campus. Photo credit: Andreas Heller Architects & Designers

There will also be areas where the furnishings can be arranged flexibly. This can be done with chairs and tables on castors, or by selecting light furniture. The users can thereby design the working areas according to their needs at that time: Smaller or larger furniture sets can be created – group tables or arranged in a circle – depending on how one wants to work at that time.

New building for the ZBW – Hamburg on the university campus. Photo credit: Andreas Heller Architects & Designers

Good technical facilities are also fundamentally important. There will, naturally, be wall-to-wall WLAN and sufficient plugs at all workstations, to allow visitors to work with their own devices. We will also be offering various large computer screens to enable and to support collaborative working.

New building for the ZBW – Hamburg on the university campus. Photo credit: Andreas Heller Architects & Designers

How did you know what was important for the users of the ZBW?

Since 2016, we have been carrying out studies annually with the User Experience (UX) methods. We introduced four best practice examples in this article. UX focuses above all on the actual behaviour of the users, and the results differ significantly from those of the classic questionnaire. Through this, we have a good idea of the working methods and desires of our users. Observation methods also examine the unconscious behaviour of users. These are things that could and should never be entered in a questionnaire in this form. In the post “User Experience for Libraries: The Best Tools and Methods for Beginners” we explain how libraries can start using User Experience. Our users are also participating in the further development of the library.

User Journey Map, a method of user experience in which the feelings of users during certain tasks are visualised. (UX Libs Conference 2018)

This is joined by the daily contact with users – whether at the service desk, the central contact point in the library, or via our digital advice services such as Chat or training sessions.

Were there elements of the classic library that were no longer needed for the new building?

One thing traditionally associated with libraries is the seemingly endless rows of shelves with books. We have not used open-access shelving for a long time for various reasons, and there will be no freely accessible shelves in the new building either. This means that we have more space for workspaces. All books are initially stored in the stack-room and are inaccessible to users. If someone orders a book, it is available within an hour. Moreover, during their research in EconBiz our users use analogue and digital inventories to the same extent.

We will also be offering fewer computers. Users prefer to use their own devices and we will supplement these with computer screens only. Remote access gives users the ability to view licensed literature.

We will also offer more group rooms instead of only group workplaces. In the rooms, users can meet up to work together. Having a closed area means that other groups are not disturbed and every group can have discussions and work in the way they want. This means that it is possible to work together using video tools from the library, without being disturbed by noise or by people walking around in the background.

There will no longer be an extra consultation space at the service desk. We will of course continue to be available there if users have any questions and problems. More complex consultations regarding research will then take place digitally.

Corona has taught us that it’s possible to do many things digitally. So do we even need libraries on site? For what? For whom? And who will be using libraries only digitally in the future?

Libraries will still continue to be important places. They are one of the few places that you can visit without having to pay any money. What’s more, using libraries on-site gives them a decisive added value as a place of learning and an event venue.

As a place of learning, libraries offer a meeting place where people can work together. It’s not always practical for people to meet at home, if there isn’t enough room in their apartment for several people to work together, or if they do not have equipment such as computer screens to make working more relaxed, for example. Students who live in flat shares or with their parents don’t always find the peace & quiet they need for concentrated individual work. The library offers space for all these different working needs.

The library will continue to play a role as an event venue, as well as to exchange know-how and network.

Library tours will take place more digitally in future. At the moment, we are offering these purely virtually via video tools. We intend to combine and extend this in the future. Even before corona we had started to develop a guided tour of the library with the help of augmented reality, which will extend the physical library through digital services. Other similar projects are feasible in the future. The participation of users is important for digital services like this. After all, they are supposed to take some knowledge away with them and learn something. Ideally, they should exchange ideas with each other.

What were your positive examples for libraries as places? Which other (library) locations have inspired you? And why?

We have been very inspired by the Scandinavian and Dutch libraries (German). Impressive new buildings have been built there in recent years that do not always correspond to the classic idea of a library as we imagine it in Germany. These countries have a conception of libraries that is more unconventional and modern. We wanted to incorporate elements of that here.

The Dokk1 in Aarhus (Denmark) was a positive example. The uncomplicated interaction really impressed us. The students sit near the event space when studying; a few metres further you can find the kids’ space where the little ones can run around. Yet no group is disturbed by the others – the acoustics are controlled very effectively. The design of the library is very playful. Posters and other presentations illustrate the projects that the library is involved in and the topics that are currently being worked on.

Utrecht University Library (Netherlands) is another inspiring library. It is an academic library and the university has an Open Science focus, meaning that it is comparable to the ZBW library in the requirements it must fulfil.

At re:publica 2021 you recently organised a session on “Libraries as a place of learning – hybrid and participatory?” (German). What were your three most interesting insights? What are the concerns of the library community at the moment?

  • Library employees are very interested in getting to know their own users.
  • They actively wish to reshape the spaces and adapt them to the users’ needs.
  • We are all aware that changes will occur and that after corona we are not going to be able to continue exactly where we left off in March 2020.

We have noticed that it’s important to discuss this topic. That’s why we will start a round-table discussion group on UX in libraries. Interested users will be able to exchange ideas and brainstorm on user research projects in order to disseminate these ideas more widely and accommodate the needs of the users better. Those who are interested in an exchange of ideas can get in touch with us via userservice@zbw.eu.

Why will media technology in libraries play an important role in the future in this context?

Media technology is a criterion that adds value to libraries. If users can find media in libraries that they cannot access at home, it makes their visit even more appealing. This could be large computer screens for working together on presentations and projects. But also the makerspaces in many public libraries. These offer many things that people don’t have at home and therefore become attractive for new target groups.

Good hardware and software are also important for library employees, to be able to implement digital services appropriately. A digital Coffee Lecture (German) should be able to take place with good sound, image and without the screen freezing due to poor internet quality. And even allegedly small details, such as image stabilising aids for cameras, help to improve video quality.

The importance of media technology in libraries can be seen in the fact that it is now included in the (practical) training curriculum. Apprentices training to be specialists for media and information services and university students are thereby prepared better for their everyday working lives.

Will hybrid become the new normality in libraries? What could that look like?

Libraries will have many hybrid elements in the future. They will be a physical space for getting together, learning together and exchanging ideas.

The literature, however, will primarily be available digitally. Similarly, services, training courses and workshops will increasingly be offered digitally.

Even before corona, we were considering designing these services more digitally. But at that time, there were still many uncertainties and doubts as to how this would function and should be implemented. Nicole Clasen talks about this in the podcast “Experiencing a digital library” (German). The past few months, during which there were few other opportunities and so we simply gave it a try, have shown that it is possible. The pandemic has brought new dynamics and possibilities to the field.

We spoke with Nicole Clasen and Alena Behrens.

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Digitalisation in Libraries: 5 Lessons from the Corona Crisis for the New Normal

by Doreen Siegfried

What innovative push towards digitalisation in libraries worldwide has been ushered in by the coronavirus? What was digitalisation status at the beginning of the corona pandemic? What were the biggest challenges for infrastructure institutions? How were they solved? What were the “highlights” of the employees? What was the biggest “life hack” that an institution picked up from the corona crisis in the field of digitalisation? And what have you learned from it?

We recently put these and other questions to our partners in the international EconBiz network. In a detailed overview, eight infrastructure institutions from Singapore, France, Germany, the USA, Denmark, Malaysia and Turkey described their experiences and the most important lessons learned from the pandemic: Digitalisation in Libraries – To What Extent has Corona Given a Boost? In a short report we now introduce the five most important trends and lessons from the network, which are sure to be reflected all over the world as well.

Lesson #1: Virtual collaboration facilitates cross-location cooperation

Digital communication technologies have fundamentally changed teamwork in academic libraries. New patterns of behaviour have been created worldwide. Virtual meetings, break-out sessions, discussions with courtesy breaks, chats and working at a distance have been learned and are now part of the standard repertoire of collaboration in libraries.

The Aarhus University Library / The Royal Danish Library, for example, with its 900 employees spread across different locations in Denmark, has sustainably reduced the social distance between branches through digital tools. Thanks to virtual working with video conference systems, employees have grown together and will continue to use their new work tools. Susanne Dalsgaard Krag, library manager, writes:

„The pandemic has taught us to work together across departments and across the country in a way we would never have imagined. You can mention a lot of different things, we have learned during the pandemic, but I guess this is one of the biggest advantages, and something we will carry into the post pandemic world, which we all look forward to welcome.“

Lesson #2: Investing in human resource development pays off

What has become clear for all EconBiz partners throughout the globe is: We are living in new times. There will be no going back to a pre-corona era. Working according to prefabricated workflows was yesterday. What propelled the libraries forward were creative employees with the ability to adapt rapidly to continually new parameters and to accept this state of fluctuation. This awareness for working and living in a VUCA world – in other words a world determined by volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity – will also define personnel management in academic libraries in the post-corona era.

Rajen Munoo, Head of Learning and Engagement at Singapore Management University Libraries, stresses:

„Our biggest ‘life hack’ was upskilling – to ensure that all staff were ‘vaccinated’ with digital skills to be resilient and agile by providing them with opportunities to learn, unlearn and relearn through continuing professional development opportunities in this VUCA world.“

Corey Seeman, USA, University of Michigan, Kresge Library Services, summarises:

„Libraries will have a choice on the other end of this pandemic to keep the changes that have been implemented or revert back to their previous normal ways. The path forward will likely be a combination of these both, but it is important to embrace these changes as a way to a more modern library.“

Lesson #3: Good networks are crucial for fast and stable solutions

Since the outbreak of the pandemic, infrastructure institutions have had to continually develop new solutions in order to keep hygiene regulations and health and safety measures. They therefore enter a dialogue not only with the authorities but also with other institutions on the campus or in the wider world. Those who are well connected here, can easily find common solutions. Rajen Munoo from the Singapore Management University Libraries, suggests:

„With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the ever-changing directives from various agencies, our priority was collaborating with campus partners in order to comply with the health and safety protocols“.

Lesson #4: Empathy for users promotes creativity

Those who deal with the needs and wishes of users in an empathic way will also find creative solutions. This is suggested by a study from the University of Cambridge. The experiences of the EconBiz partners also reveal that creative solutions are found wherever libraries show empathy for the fears and insecurities of students – no matter whether they are freshers or advanced students. In Singapore, for example, the libraries use “peer advisors” to dispel the fears of the new students taking part in an online semester for the first time with a peer-to-peer learning programme.

Christine Okret-Manville from the Université Paris Dauphine-PSL Bibliothèque in France writes:

„To help our readers make the most of all these resources, we put a series of tutorials for self-training online (bilingual). We quickly put up virtual training sessions. […] In this difficult period, we had to show an especially supportive behaviour towards one another to manage adapting quickly to unusual work conditions. Yet it gave us an opportunity to increase and diversify our services, introducing virtuality where we didn’t use it enough or at all yet, and giving us new leads to expand our activity.“

And also Corey Seeman from the Kresge Library Services in Michigan can gain something from new digital solutions beyond the current lockdown:

„Library instruction and consultations via Zoom will likely continue. One of the challenges we would have is finding a space that could work for meetings. By using Zoom, the need for space mostly goes away.“

In an international online poster session organised by Koç University (Turkey), many ideas were presented on how to stay in touch with employees but also with students – from motivational emails to online pet therapy with various animals.

Lesson #5: Digital first is measurably worth it

Many libraries from the EconBiz partner network had already made a large quantity of electronic resources accessible even before lockdown. Propelled by COVID-19, they once again improved their digital services and found solutions for even more accessible e-media. Christine Okret-Manville from Paris:

„Our priority has been to extend the size and availability of our electronic collection: we offered remote access to the financial databases which were only available on site, tested new textbook databases and other sources. We dedicated a section of our website to resources publishers could open freely during that time.“

Vasiliki Mole from Koç University in Turkey also reports on the considerable efforts – both to enable students to access electronic media as well as to create enthusiasm for new possibilities.

„Sometimes, the comfort zone of years’ old practices is hard to overcome, as it creates a somewhat stiff acceptance of a new perspective. A rather difficult issue we have finally come to a point to change, has been the traditional print textbooks and their replacement with online publications.“
Deborah Wallace from the Harvard Business School’s Baker Library (USA) emphasises that the effort pays off in very clear indicators:

„As a result, almost every one of our services and information product use volumes have increased. For example, Baker Library website use by MBA students +73% and alumni +43%, database use +76%, Working Knowledge, readership +51%, and Books@Baker participants +90%.“

You can read about the experiences of the individual EconBiz partners in detail here: Digitalisation in Libraries: To What Extent has Corona Given a Boost?

About the EconBiz partner network:

The EconBiz partner network is an international network of libraries and research institutions focusing on economics studies. Its mission is to enable top research in economics and business studies through easy access to quality subject information in combination with state-of-the art search-features. The network promotes the transfer of knowledge and cooperation among members worldwide. Its mission is to enable top research in economics and business studies through easy access to quality subject information in combination with state-of-the art search-features. The network helps to promote the service on an international level and to enhance the visibility of research output and conferences in all partner countries. It also provides a forum for the discussion of topics relevant to the partners. Answers to questions as well as partners for joint projects can be found through the network.

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Further articles by Doreen Siegfried

This article also appeared in the 2020 ZBW Annual Review “Open” (PDF) that highlights developments at the ZBW, among other things: Research Data Management, Open Science and organised knowledge.

This text has been translated from German.

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Third-Party Material in Open Access Monographs: How Far-Reaching is the Creative Commons Licence Really?

by Ralf Flohr, Stefanie Richter and Olaf Siegert

Background to Open Access monographs

Open Access monographs are playing an increasingly important role in the Open Access transformation of the publication system: Specialist publishers have reacted to this development and come up with new business models for the publication of books in Open Access (OA). Organisations that promote research and research institutions themselves have established publication funds and provide the financial resources for Open Access publications. Libraries are archiving Open Access publications on their in-house publication servers, making them accessible to the public and ensuring both their visibility and long-term availability.

Use of the Creative Commons licence

The question of who is allowed to use an Open Access publication and how is usually regulated with a Creative Commons licence (CC licence) linked to every document. This opens up, for example, depending on how it is structured and under certain conditions, the right to copy, store, archive, redistribute the publication and make it publicly accessible, without having to ask the respective rights holder for consent. Libraries also use the CC licences in this way to incorporate Open Access publications into their stocks and disseminate them. Creative Commons licences thus make barrier-free access to scientific publications possible in the first place.

Problems with OA monographs containing third-party material

However, there are problems with the implementation here, particularly regarding the Open Access monographs. Things becomes particularly difficult if third-party material which is subject to another licence is used. The third-party material can mean illustrations, photographs, charts, tables and other diagrams, for example.

If the authors are unable to invoke citation law, they need to get the approval of the rights holder before incorporating this material in their monograph. In many cases, the third-party material is not subject to the Creative Commons licence applicable to the monograph. Authors are much more likely to use third-party material on the basis of another licence that does not confer the same usage possibilities as the CC licence. The principle of ‘all rights reserved’ usually applies to this material. Detailed guidance on handling thirdparty materials can also be found in the OA Books Toolkit from Open Access Publishing in European Networks (OAPEN).
In the Quality standards for getting started with Open Access provision of books (PDF) published by the National Contact Point Open Access OA2020-DE, the following is stated on the inclusion of third-party materials under the point rights and licences:

“The rights for illustrations and other external material in the books are clarified, clearly stated and do not hinder the provision of the entire work under a Creative Commons licence.”

Unfortunately, this is often not the case in practice, because some academic publishers furnish the Creative Commons licences of Open Access monographs with restrictions for third-party material. Here are two examples:

Example 1

Schettler, Leon Valentin: Socializing Development, transcript Verlag, Bielefeld, 2020.

Example 2

Teske, Sven (ed.): Achieving the Paris Climate Agreement Goals, Springer Nature, Cham, 2020.

Publishers cover their backs with blanket policy

The Open Access use of the entire work is actually impeded in practice when external material is included, if this material is not subject to the Creative Commons licence as well. In their imprints, the publishers often point out – as standard practice – that further usage rights must be obtained from the respective rights holder for the reuse of this material, even if no such third-party material appears in the monograph in question. This restriction also applies to laws of use which would be covered by the Creative Commons licence per se, for example the permission to disseminate. With the blanket restrictions in the imprint information, the publishers protect themselves in the event that conflicts arise with the rights holders in the further use of the publications. This thereby severely restricts the opportunities that actually arise from the CC licence and creates major challenges for those who would like to reuse the works according to the principles of Creative Commons.

Difficult Open Access use in practice

This practice of blanket restrictions is problematic for the dissemination of Open Access publications, particularly for monographs. Obtaining permission for further use, by people who operate repositories for example, is often difficult, representing a hurdle for free dissemination. This means that the monographs cannot be used comprehensively according to the principles of Open Access. Possible usage scenarios, such as publication in scientific and social networks such as ResearchGate and Academia.edu, and use as Open Educational Resources (OER) are also made more difficult.

Then again, from a scientific perspective, it would not make sense to disseminate the monographs without the third-party material they contain. Strictly speaking, such monographs can therefore no longer be described as Open Access publications according to the principles of the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities. Rather, it is a form of free Open Access that essentially provides read-only access. A further problem occurs if these documents with machine-readable data are declared to be Creative Commons publications and documented in the relevant search engines, but then cannot be comprehensively used as such.

Recommended actions for stakeholders

On the basis of the aspects mentioned above, we believe that this practice of restricted CC licences has a detrimental effect on the development of Open Access. The question is how to prevent this practice in the future, or how to ensure that Open Access publications are provided with unrestricted CC licences. To this end, we have put together some recommendations for the various stakeholders.

What authors and publishers can do:

  • Clarify the rights of third-party material in advance so that comprehensive use according to the principles of Open Access is possible. Third-party material should be incorporated into the work according to the principles of the citation law.
  • If this is not possible, licence-free third-party material should be used, or third-party material for which a compatible Creative Commons licence can be agreed with the rights holders.
  • Publishers should refrain from making blanket restrictions if no third-party material is even used in the work.

What Open Access commissioners, libraries and promotion funds can do:

  • A decisive factor is explaining the legal consequences of using third-party material in Open Access monographs to authors and advising them.
  • Organisations that promote Open Access monographs should ideally only fund those works which contain no restrictions of the Creative Commons licence.

This might also interest you:

  • Legal Compendium on Open Science: Guideline answers Legal Questions
  • Promoting OER: How to create an open textbook
  • Open Access for Monographs: Small Steps along a difficult Path
  • This text has been translated from German.

    The post Third-Party Material in Open Access Monographs: How Far-Reaching is the Creative Commons Licence Really? first appeared on ZBW MediaTalk.

    Digitisation in Libraries: To What Extent has Corona Given a Boost?

    by Susanne Daalsgaard Krag, Aida Maria Ismail, Vasiliki Mole, Rajen Munoo, Christine Okret-Manville, Tamara Pianos, Corey Seeman, Claudia Sittner, Klaus Tochtermann, and Deb Wallace

    Together with the partners from the EconBiz network, we set out to find the effects of the corona pandemic on digitisation in (digital infrastructure) institutes, libraries and workplaces around the world. The international EconBiz partner network started in 2012 and has 40 partners in many different countries.

    So, how did the institutes from across the globe experience the changes? Are there differences across regions, countries and continents? To find out we asked the partners from the network: What innovation push towards digitisation has the coronavirus triggered in your institution? What was the state of digitisation in your institution at the beginning of the corona pandemic? What was your highlight? What was the biggest challenge? How did you solve it? What was your biggest learning? What is the biggest “life hack” that your institution has taken away from the corona crisis in the area of digitisation?

    The result is an exciting wealth of experience from partner institutes from Singapure, France, Germany, the USA, Denmark, Malaysia and Turkey. Thanks to their shared experiences, it becomes possible to look beyond our own corona plates and shows which creative solutions have been found in other parts of the world.

    COVID-19 learnings at AU Library / The Royal Danish Library
    by Susanne Dalsgaard Krag, Denmark

    COVID-19 learnings at AU Library / The Royal Danish Library

    by Susanne Dalsgaard Krag, Denmark

    COVID-19 came like a thief in the night, and changed all our lives. From one day to another, all the libraries closed down, including The Royal Danish Library. We all needed to find other ways to do things. It has been an exciting voyage and looking back at almost a year of corona pandemic, one can see the results of a true disruption.

    Denmark is a highly digitised country. Almost 99% of the population have access to internet connection, which showed to be a very great advantage during the shut downs. At the university libraries we have been preparing for the digital change in quite a while, but in March 2020 we were forced to take a huge step into the digital age, like the rest of the world.

    Up to the pandemic we had been training skills in edu-it and virtual meetings, but without the big break through. Now suddenly these skills came into use, and most of the staff are now fully comfortable in online teaching and guidance, and a very big number of digital learning objects have been prepared and published on the homepage. The creativity has been exceptional. We have learned to use the virtual environment to compensate for the social distance, and we can make break out rooms, change virtual background, chat and raise hands in Zoom and Teams. We learned a lot about, what works, and what doesn’t.

    The Royal Danish Library has 800 to 900 staff members spread all over the country, and the pandemic has taught us to work together across departments and across the country in a way we would never have imagined. You can mention a lot of different things, we have learned during the pandemic, but I guess this is one of the biggest advantages, and something we will carry into the post pandemic world, which we all look forward to welcome.

    More Online Meetings and Events, online-connectedness
    and future café at the ZBW
    by Klaus Tochtermann, Germany

    More Online Meetings and Events, online-connectedness and future café at the ZBW

    by Klaus Tochtermann, Germany

    Digitisation and digital skills were important topics and working from home was an option for many colleagues at ZBW – Leibniz Information Centre for Economics long before the corona pandemic. Nonetheless, there was still a huge push towards using more digital tools and platforms during the first months of the pandemic. In March 2020, many employees got Zoom-accounts and were able to organise virtual events for up to 300 people. This option was used widely for many different kinds of events. By the end of October, all 270 ZBW-employees were entitled to get WebEx-accounts to organise their own virtual meetings and to use WebEx-Teams for chats etc.

    Huge conferences organised by the ZBW were quickly moved to online formats and had even more participants from more countries than in previous years (for example the SWIB – Semantic Web in Libraries, the YES! – Young Economic Summit or the upcoming Open Science Conference).

    In order to support social interaction of the employees an internal platform is used to share experiences in dealing with the situation from life-hacks, instructions on keeping your neck-muscles in shape to uplifting thoughts and new hobbies. Since many ZBW-employees mostly worked from home, it was feared that the feeling of connectedness and common purpose might suffer. In order to battle this, the directors launched a 30 minute “future café” which is offered every other week – talking about a specific topic with a question and answers section. Many people from both ZBW-locations in Kiel and Hamburg attend these short meetings – which would be difficult to achieve with on-site-events.

    During the first shutdown – when the library was closed for a couple of weeks – students were supported with motivational letters up to five times a week. ZBW services offer special corona-related pages on information access or research or a topic page within the EconBiz Author Profiles.

    Since teaching at the universities had to be moved online within a couple of weeks as well, professors asked for support in online instruction methods, so the ZBW organised two online panels and gathered some best practice solutions (German).

    The pandemic was and is very challenging for many people but it also opened a number of new opportunities and boosted creative online solutions.

    Pandemic Pains Pivots Possibilities at Singapore Management University Libraries
    by Rajen Munoo, Singapore

    Pandemic Pains Pivots Possibilities at Singapore Management University Libraries

    by Rajen Munoo, Singapore

    I am currently Head, Learning and Engagement at Singapore Management University Libraries (SMU) – comprising the Li Ka Shing and Kwa Geok Choo Law Libraries. The Libraries serve six schools with an enrolment of around 10,000 undergraduates and postgraduates. Being a city campus where space is prime, SMU Libraries always had a digital first approach where over 90% of our collections and resources are digital. A robust systems infrastructure of various online applications supports the research, teaching and learning needs of the community.

    With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the ever-changing directives from various agencies, our priority was collaborating with campus partners in order to comply with the health and safety protocols. To meet this challenge we put in place a business continuity plan that pivoted our digital strategy and also became a catalyst for change.

    Our highlights were the various creative ideas implemented by the SMU Libraries team such as:

    • pick-up-and-go access service, quickly sourcing e-textbooks and Open Educational Resources (OER) and reaching out to faculty to navigate copyright compliance;
    • a knowledge portal of the gratis access to databases provided by vendors during the pandemic;
    • redeploying student assistants to extend the virtual “Ask Library” chat service beyond normal library hours to optimise the value-add of library staff and continue to provide work opportunities for students with the physical libraries closure.
    • Our Library Peer Advisors also stepped forward when the freshmen orientation moved online to curate Online Learning is Different! Succeed in Online Learning a peer-to-peer learning programme that comprised workshops and hacks to help quell the anxiety of new students across the university taking an online semester for the first time!

      Stakeholder involvement and communication to ensure no one was left behind, was the biggest learning for the leadership team especially in a service-oriented profession.

      Our biggest “life hack” was upskilling – to ensure that all staff were “vaccinated” with digital skills to be resilient and agile by providing them with opportunities to learn, unlearn and relearn through continuing professional development opportunities in this VUCA.

      Onward in the spirit of #OneSMULibraries …

    COVID-19 and Dauphine-PSL library: Pushing electronic resources
    and self-training to the fore
    by Christine Okret-Manville, France

    COVID-19 and Dauphine-PSL library: Pushing electronic resources and self-training to the fore

    by Christine Okret-Manville, France

    In the library of Université Paris Dauphine-PSL, we had already gathered a large amount of electronic resources in pre-coronavirus times. But the lockdown forced us to pause and think, to come up with ideas to improve our virtual services.

    Our priority has been to extend the size and availability of our electronic collection: we offered remote access to the financial databases which were only available on site, tested new textbook databases and other sources. We dedicated a section of our website to resources publishers could open freely during that time.

    To help our readers make the most of all these resources, we put a series of tutorials for self-training online (bilingual). We quickly put up virtual training sessions. We promoted our questions and answers module to maintain contact with our readers. Eventually, through Twitter, Facebook, internal mailing lists and the website, we fed our followers with a regular flow of information.

    In this difficult period, we had to show an especially supportive behaviour towards one another to manage adapting quickly to unusual work conditions. Yet it gave us an opportunity to increase and diversify our services, introducing virtuality where we didn’t use it enough or at all yet, and giving us new leads to expand our activity.

    Jaws: how Koç University Suna K?raç Library fought against the pandemic
    and managed to hunt the beast down
    by Vasiliki Mole, Turkey

    Jaws: how Koç University Suna K?raç Library fought against the pandemic and managed to hunt the beast down

    by Vasiliki Mole, Turkey

    Koç University (KU) is one of the leading universities in Turkey, distinguished by notable contributions to the elevation of education, knowledge and service both domestically and beyond. Suna K?raç Library, the main University library embraces and follows closely and consistently the University’s efforts to advance knowledge.

    Koç University Suna K?raç Library has fought COVID-19 investing long working hours and determination to turn the situation into an opportunity to develop distant access solutions for its users. Among the highlights of the previous year are

    The biggest challenge for us has been to see our efforts and adaptations having a positive result to the community. Sometimes, the comfort zone of years’ old practices is hard to overcome, as it creates a somewhat stiff acceptance of a new perspective. A rather difficult issue we have finally come to a point to change, has been the traditional print textbooks and their replacement with online publications.

    Academia brings together the advantage of continuous improvement which benefits all related stakeholders, including the libraries. The current global state dictates that we should always keep our eyes open to new opportunities that will strengthen our profile and consequently will help us accomplish our primary goal: serving our users the best way!

    Kresge Library Services and the Great Flip of 2020: Innovation & COVID-19
    by Corey Seeman, USA

    Kresge Library Services and the Great Flip of 2020: Innovation & COVID-19

    by Corey Seeman, USA

    Kresge Library Services supports the business information needs of the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Back in 2013, we were a fairly traditional business library, with 70,000 volumes, seating for nearly 700 students, and over 100 service hours a week. During a large construction project at the Ross School of Business (2014-2016), the library space for print volumes and student study were removed completely. So we reinvented itselves as a digital only library (or as we call it – the ethereal library). From the time we moved out of our old library space, we were a mostly digital library and (though we did not know it at the time), very well suited for the challenges of a pandemic.

    While our collections were virtually all electronic, we had a few in-person services only performed at the library. These included our exam and assignment review and handback service for Ross classes and course material pickup (for printed versions of cases and required readings). In March 2020, with the move to virtual classes, we pivoted easily to meet these new dynamics. We shut down the services that were in-person because there was no way to complete them effectively in a remote fashion.

    We developed a number of hacks and changes that will likely be a part of our library from here on out:

    • We have long advocated for flexible scheduling, but we were able to expand our coverage by allowing people to work at different times. Giving flexibility to your team can lead to expanded hours of service for your patrons.
    • Meetings via Zoom will continue when normalcy returns! Typically, we would try to schedule team meetings for days when everyone can be in the office, but now we can be more flexible.
    • Library instruction and consultations via Zoom will likely continue. One of the challenges we would have is finding a space that could work for meetings. By using Zoom, the need for space mostly goes away.

    Libraries will have a choice on the other end of this pandemic to keep the changes that have been implemented or revert back to their previous normal ways. The path forward will likely be a combination of these both, but it is important to embrace these changes as a way to a more modern library.

    COVID-19 Inspired Innovation at Harvard Business School’s Baker Library
    by Deb Wallace, USA

    COVID-19 Inspired Innovation at Harvard Business School’s Baker Library

    by Deb Wallace, USA

    Baker Library sits at the scholastic, physical, and emotional “heart” of the Harvard Business School (HBS) campus. When the decision to move the majority of the School’s activities to online platforms was implemented on March 18, 2020, Baker Library leveraged its decade-long investment in staff capability development, digital collections, semantic search, and a content management/publishing platform to enable continued pursuit of the School’s mission to educate leaders who make a difference in the world.

    To meet the research, teaching, and learning needs of our community of students, faculty, alumni, and staff, we repositioned services and created new self-service information products, including components of an internal information portal to enable just-in-time decision-making and the HBS COVID-19 Business Impact Center, an external-facing repository and newsletter that provides the latest research and insights from HBS faculty.

    In addition to creating new products, we expanded our virtual reference and digital content delivery services, published 10,000+ digital surrogates of unique materials, and increased access to licensed databases and digital alternatives to print resources. We also created the HBS COVID-19 Community Archive to chronicle the experience and launched a collecting strategy to document this unprecedented time in American business through company records and websites.

    As a result, almost every one of our services and information product use volumes have increased. For example, Baker Library website use by MBA students +73% and alumni +43%, database use +76%, Working Knowledge, readership +51%, and Books@Baker participants +90%.

    Our greatest challenges are prioritising work, allocating limited resources, and sustaining our teams as they juggled remote work, child and eldercare, and related issues to the growing racial and political strife and healthcare crisis that the US continues to experience. I am indebted to the staff’s commitment to our goals, passion for our work, ingenuity, and entrepreneurial spirit. They are certainly the “secret sauce” of our ability to remain relevant to our community!

    Students support SMEs during the COVID-19 pandemic
    by Aida Maria Ismail, Malaysia

    Students support SMEs during the COVID-19 pandemic

    by Aida Maria Ismail, Malaysia

    The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the enforcement of the Movement Control Order (MCO) in Malaysia resulted in an unprecedented slump in economic activity. Businesses adopted digital measures to make up for the shortfall in traditional sources of revenue. As more business establishments digitalise, firms that are left out of this digital revolution will struggle to survive, let alone thrive. Although the prevailing wisdom is that COVID-19 has ushered in a pivot to digitalisation, there remain many challenges that small and medium enterprises (SMEs) face in doing so. Digitalisation is increasingly useful for SMEs to improve efficiency and competitiveness; despite they perform relatively poorly in digitalisation. Government and policy interventions can facilitate this process, and the university can assist in supporting SMEs digitalisation and survivalist.

    The Malaysian education framework direction and way forward addresses the local community needs and issues. Through the ‘Service-Learning Malaysia – University for Society’ (SULAM) which was initiated by the Ministry of Education, students participate in a structured service activity that meets identified community needs. It is a course-based, credit-bearing educational experience. SULAM pedagogy supports humanistic and value-driven education as a key to strengthening the education system by integrating love, happiness and mutual respect.

    Four classes of final semester students, Bachelor of Accountancy (Hons) from the Faculty of Accountancy Universiti Teknologi MARA Selangor involved in SULAM, in helping four SMEs’, managing the impact of the pandemic on business sustainability. In order to ensure businesses, remain resilient during this pandemic, students conducted a comprehensive business analysis in order to advise on sustainable strategy and mechanism. Elements of digitalisation were incorporated in the sustainability strategy and mechanism since this will ensure businesses remain competitive. Business model canvases (BMC) and business plans were among the documents prepared by students in helping SMEs getting assistance from the government economic stimulus package. According to the new standard, 90% of the implementation of SULAM took place via a digital platform.

    As an advisor to this project, it was a valuable experience since I was able to see how students engage in activities that address community needs together with structured opportunities intentionally designed to promote student learning. It is capable of enhancing the sense of social responsibility, religious and racial tolerance as well as developing skills such as the ability to work well with others, critical thinking skills and creative, leadership and communication skills.

    How the corona pandemic has advanced digitisation in libraries

    The corona crisis caught us all cold. When suddenly all libraries and institutes more or less closed their on-site services, the first thing to do was to take stock. The result: many institutes had long since made the leap into digitisation or had almost done so. The staff had been trained and had the necessary skills to do their jobs digitally. Now the task was to apply the knowledge they had learned and to improve services that were not yet sufficiently digitalised.

    Many libraries created extra websites with corona information and made collections accessible online that were normally only accessible on site. Communication with staff and users took on an important role, which in many places was solved with great personal commitment and creativity. Websites became more dynamic and social media and newsletters were perceived as even more important. The staff was the “secret ingredient” that made so much possible during the pandemic.

    To compensate for the lack of social interaction, to keep teams together and motivated, and to keep personal contact with users online, tools such as Zoom or Teams were made available across the board and learned almost overnight.

    The group of (often quite young) students was especially supported with a lot of understanding and compassion in the EconBiz partner institutes all over the world, for example with extended chat consultation hours, longer online opening hours or “corona letters” of encouragement. Self-training for a wide range of online and learning skills has been developed and offered to users.

    In addition to all the challenges, the crisis was also recognised in many places as an opportunity to make a leap into the possibilities of digitalisation. And even if everyone is longing for a new normality right now, much of what was established and cherished during the corona period will certainly remain part of this new working world.

    Note: Originally, another EconBiz partner institution wanted to share their experiences as well. Since they were under a ransomware attack they had more pressing issues than this blogpost. This may happen to any service we provide and shows how fragile digital services can be and that we all have to face many digital challenges in the future. When things work, we sometimes tend to forget.

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    About the authors:

    Dr Tamara Pianos studied Geography and English literature. After completing her doctorate in Canadian Studies and a traineeship as an academic librarian she worked at the TIB in Hanover. Since 2005, she has been working at the ZBW – Leibniz Information Centre for Economics, where she is now head of Information Provision and Access. She is the product manager of the EconBiz portal and is responsible for information literacy topics.

    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. Part time she works as a freelance travel blogger, speaker and author.

    Prof Klaus Tochtermann is Director of the ZBW – Leibniz Information Centre for Economics . For many years he has been committed to Open Science on a national and international level. He is a Member of the Board of Directors of the EOSC Association (European Open Science Cloud).

    Rajen Munoo has been employed at the Singapore Management University (SMU) Libraries for over 13 years now primarily in the role of working with a team of Research Librarians to design, develop and deliver learning programmes including information literacy classes and workshops for their respective Schools and the wider SMU community. His areas of interest are information and digital literacies, continuing professional development of library and information workers and pedagogy and instructional design.

    Christine Okret-Manville has a PhD in History, a degree in Political Science and an Archivist-Palaeographer Diploma (Archive and Library Science). She holds the position of Deputy Director of the Université Paris Dauphine-PSL Library and is also in charge of the library services for researchers, and the management of the university repository BIRD.

    Vasiliki Mole is a librarian with a B.A. in Library Science and Information Systems and an M.A. in Cultural Management. She has worked in Academic Libraries, mainly as an Instruction and Reference Librarian focusing on Information Literacy, Outreach and Research support. She is currently serving as the Head Librarian of the Research Center for Anatolian Civilizations (ANAMED) Library.

    Corey Seeman (personal website) is the director of Kresge Library Services (Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor). Corey has written and presented on customer service and change management within libraries, especially academic ones.

    Deb Wallace is the Executive Director of Knowledge and Library Services and is a member of the HBS Senior Leadership Team. She manages a team of library, archival, technical, and research professionals in providing innovative products and services to meet the needs of the HBS and Harvard University communities.

    Aida Maria Ismail PhD is Senior lecturer at the Faculty of Accountancy, University Teknologi MARA (UiTM), Selangor Malaysia. Her responsibility covers from teaching & learning activities, supervising research students, conducting research, publication and consultancy. Her area of expertise is ethics, governance and sustainability.

    References Portraits:
    Susanne Dalsgaard Krag© | Klaus Tochtermann: Sven Wied/ZBW© | Rajen Munoo© | Christine Okret-Manville: Patrick Dardinier© | Vasiliki Mole© | Corey Seeman: Bob Hebert/Wake Forest University Library© | Deb Wallace© | Aida Maria Ismail©.

    The post Digitisation in Libraries: To What Extent has Corona Given a Boost? first appeared on ZBW MediaTalk.The post Digitisation in Libraries: To What Extent has Corona Given a Boost? first appeared on Leibniz Research Alliance Open Science.