10 Years of Public Access to the Results of Federally Funded Research: An Interview with the Scholarly Publishing Roundtable (Part 2)

An interview with principals of the Scholarly Publishing Roundtable, whose work significantly shaped the Holdren Memo on public access to federally-funded research.

The post 10 Years of Public Access to the Results of Federally Funded Research: An Interview with the Scholarly Publishing Roundtable (Part 2) appeared first on The Scholarly Kitchen.

10 Years of Public Access to the Results of Federally Funded Research: An Interview with the Scholarly Publishing Roundtable (Part 1)

An interview with principals of the Scholarly Publishing Roundtable, whose work significantly shaped the Holdren Memo on public access to federally-funded research.

The post 10 Years of Public Access to the Results of Federally Funded Research: An Interview with the Scholarly Publishing Roundtable (Part 1) appeared first on The Scholarly Kitchen.

 Guest Post — What Do Library-Publisher Relations Look Like in 2022?

The AUPresses Library Relations Committee asks Peter Berkery and Mary Lee Kennedy to share their thoughts about how relations between publishers and libraries have changed.

The post  Guest Post — What Do Library-Publisher Relations Look Like in 2022? appeared first on The Scholarly Kitchen.

Best Practice: The First Six Month of Open Science at the University of North Carolina Wilmington

An Interview Lynnee Argabright and Allison Michelle Kittinger, William Madison Randall Bibliothek at the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW)

A new central department was created for you with the posts of research data librarian and scholarly communications librarian. How did you go about filling these new roles?

Allison Michelle Kittinger (Scholarly Communications Librarian): As soon as I assumed this position, I became the voice of my institution in scholarly communications spaces. I was our representative for scholarly communications committees within our library and in our university system. This gave me a lot of connections and a kind of support network off the bat that gave me a good picture of what had been happening so far around scholarly communications and Open Science here. Many of my roles, such as managing Open Access and Open Education funding and overseeing the institutional repository were inherited from librarians that began this work on campus when it was not in their job description. Now, I am the point person to continue this work and grow it into a community.

Lynnee Argabright (Research Data Librarian): Lynnee Argabright (Research Data Librarian): I began thinking about this new role by considering the research data lifecycle—data collection, cleaning, analysis, visualisation, sharing …— and looking at academic literature to see what other data librarians have done. A good one was “Academic Libraries and Research Data Services” (PDF) and the follow-up study “Research Data Services in Academic Libraries: Where are We Today?”. It helped me scope out what a data librarian could do, and then I scaled down to thinking what I could do immediately versus in the future. I also thought about my support capacity as a single unit servicing the campus, with potential collaborations with non-data-specific others. I talked with many people on campus about their data needs and about the current data infrastructure and support. Based on that, I am allocating my time on a rollout schedule (see discussion of “maturity models” in “Maturing research data services and the transformation of academic libraries”) to learn about/plan/develop services for particular data lifecycle areas—such as reviewing Data Management Plans and teaching data analysis in R workshops—before I market those specific services to campus. Data discovery was a lifecycle area I could start on right away, joining the subject librarians in their course instruction sessions about finding research results and getting follow-up consultations for finding Open Data.

What are your goals in the new jobs, i.e. for the first year of Open Science at UNCW?

Allison: Awareness, always! Faculty are hungry for the services we offer but not all of them know we are here and doing the work now. My main goal now that much of my role has been established is to raise awareness of the

Lynnee: A big priority for me is to intentionally and transparently fit in Open Science to as many of my data services as possible. Am I teaching about data discovery? I could show Open Data sources. Am I consulting on data privacy? I could bring up how to de-identify data so the data could potentially be shared. Did I get a question about data analysis? I could recommend Open Source tools.

One particular initiative I want to get started in my first year is data sharing. Promoting data sharing on campus would be of value to a campus with newly increased research intensity expectations; not only because researchers new to getting grants now often face the expectation to share their data, but also because sharing data will help showcase UNCW-produced research to the world. However, repository deposit participation does not happen overnight—as another OSC poster explains—so a first year goal to get involved with data sharing has been to get a feel for administering the technical Dataverse infrastructure we have, begin mentioning the benefits of data sharing in other data conversations to fuel awareness, and start looking into how to ease the experience of preparing data to be shared.

An Increased Use of the Institutional Repository by Researchers from 7% to 45%: Lessons from the Open Access Campaign at the School of Economics and Business, University of Ljubljana

I began too excitedly by offering a workshop about data sharing and Dataverse, to generally go over the benefits of sharing data, as well as to demo how to use Dataverse … and only one person showed up, so Allison’s point about awareness is super important.

What were the biggest road blocks so far? How did you manage to overcome them?

Allison: Being new in part, but that is overcome by time and making connections. Sometimes not knowing who to reach out to or collaborate with because we’ve never made those connections before on campus. Everyone is learning together. I think a lack of awareness can be a roadblock, but in general once I’ve explained my role and what I do to people who weren’t aware of me they are very receptive. I credit that to the culture at our institution.

Lynnee: My new department has been asked to go through the subject librarians if they want to reach out to researchers, so a roadblock I’m facing in my new role is getting patrons to know I exist and even to think that the library could be involved in data in the first place. One of the strategies I tried within my first six months was to begin planning campus-wide programming that celebrated international events.

I helped Allison with planning Open Access Week in October 2021, and proposed to co-host a Love Data Week in February 2022 with another campus office partner. Hosting these programmes could simultaneously teach researchers data skills, build a campus community for data activity, and boost awareness that the library is involved with data.

Since then, I’ve gotten more researcher participation in workshops and consultations, and other research staff are reaching out to collaborate. I recognise running campus-wide programming takes a lot of work up front to plan and it may not take off at first, but it did help me get recognised, and it will slowly build up the library’s brand in the data sphere. Here are my reflections about making event planning sustainable.

The job profiles of modern librarians have diversified greatly in recent years. However, many people still have the image of the old lady with a bun putting dusty books on shelves in their minds when they think of libraries. Where do you think this perception gap comes from?

Allison: The public perception of librarians I would guess comes from media stereotypes about public libraries. I’d think academic libraries are not the first type of library people think about when they think of libraries. Especially in roles like ours, they can be removed from students and the public and focused more on faculty and research activity. Open Science shows a path for us to engage with all these populations and stay research-focused at the same time. Our institution is known for student and community engagement, so I always have an eye towards the research happening in those spaces too. Visibility is the key to closing existing perception gaps.

Lynnee: This is a classic case of “You do not know what you do not know”; if nothing intervenes in an individual’s interactions with the library, the use of the library as a quiet place for books will remain. How do we change this perception? Library spaces that remove the books in exchange for group work areas, that provide classroom and exhibit and maker spaces, and that allow food can begin to change what the physical library means. Librarians embedding into classes to cover more than journal subscriptions and participating in campus committees can begin to change what library representation means.

Whenever I hear “the library can help with that?” (which I hear frequently in this new research role), I consider it a huge win. Yes, we are getting involved in active research engagement and collaborations. Yes, we are moving the needle on infrastructure that supports Open Science. Each small thing we do in our answers to everyday consultations or in flyers around the campus can be a perception shift away from “Bun Lady.”

Why is it so important for modern library staff to do marketing and public relations for their services?

Allison: I’ve seen direct marketing work firsthand. Our library dean sends out personal congratulatory emails to researchers when they publish an article, and includes a sentence about depositing their work in the institutional repository with me copied. Faculty love this recognition, and they are happy to use the repository when they are made aware of it. In addition, press releases have worked really well for Open Access and Open Publishing initiatives. We published a press release about a faculty member publishing our first open textbook with the library in partnership with UNC Press, and now we have more faculty interested in publishing their work in the same way.

Lynnee: Marketing highlights what services the library offers and is especially important when participating in new areas of research support. Since the library had not really provided data support previously, I started by developing partnerships with the other research support offices, such as the grants office, the Institutional Review Board office, the graduate school administrators, the faculty support office, and Campus IT.

These offices may have overlaps in data services, or may be contact points that researchers are coming to for help, and if these offices know about me, they can direct patrons with data needs to come to me. For example, I was preparing for a Data Management Plan workshop and told our grants office about it, since the deadline for their internal funding opportunities was approaching. They sent out the workshop news in their email listserv. Based on the timing of their email and of people’s registrations, this marketing was the cause of most of my attendees—none of whom had previously met me.

How can you build up a sustainable Open Science campus in times of temporary employment?

Allison: Not just positions; funding can be temporary, organisational structures can be temporary. My definition of sustainability is the work can be picked up if someone leaves off, and it has a continued commitment for support on a broader level. For example, our APC fund in the library was not funded next year. Only the library was funding it, and in the reorganisation we’ve had recently our funds are spread more thinly across more departments. Where I see us going is more diamond Open Access publishing and more institutional read-and-publish deals that cover these costs for faculty. And that shows that a lack of sustainability can be an opportunity to move closer to our true values as well. Sustainability should also be a path to growth.

Lynnee: I think this is where promoting data management practices can be particularly helpful for Open Science. Documentation of processes during data collection and data processing can greatly help a lab as students cycle in and out. Compiling documentation files can then be easier to share in a repository when the research project is completed. I can encourage the use of Open Source collaborative software, such as Open Science Framework and e-lab notebooks, which can show transparency of a team’s process through version logs, editing logs, and data file permissions. Influencing researchers to pick up use of these tools or practices and become familiar with them in their workflows can make Open Science a practical, efficient, and collaborative way to do research.

What are the lessons you have learned in the first six months of Open Science?

Allison: That sustainability also can’t exist without collaboration. That’s true in Open Science initiatives and in roles supporting them. It takes a team like our department and buy-in from the library and other campus entities to grow these programmes. If you’re the “one person” in charge of all of these things, and you can only use your own resources and nobody else’s, it can feel like you’re alone in the work, and it would all crumble if you leave. But I haven’t felt that way, and for anyone looking to establish Open Science roles, it is crucial that nobody feels so.

Lynnee Marie Argabright and Allison Michelle Kittinger: The First 6 Months of Open Science

Lynnee: I discovered I do not have to be a perfect expert in all areas of my job—often, what I know is already far more than what my patrons know, and if I am unsure about a question, I can explore with the patron for answers. Another lesson I picked up by learning the culture of my university is to think about Open Science in terms of my university’s and patrons’ needs. Our institution recently went from an R3 to an R2 Carnegie classification, which means the campus has a larger emphasis on research than before; thus, more of my patrons may need help with research-related skills — for example, how to write data management plans (DMPs) for grant applications. While reviewing DMPs, I can work in Open Science by asking them how they plan to share their data afterwards, which gets into what data repositories are reliable and how to be responsible about sharing sensitive data.

This might also be interesting for you:

We were talking to:

Allison Michelle Kittinger is the scholarly communications librarian at UNC Wilmington. She manages all things concerning Open Publishing, including an Open Education fund, Open Access initiatives, Open Journal support, and the campus institutional repository. She can also be found on ORCID.
Portrait: UNCW©, photographer: Jeff Janowski

Lynnee Marie Argabright is the research data librarian at UNC Wilmington. She provides guidance about collecting, using, managing, and sharing data in research, through instructional workshops or individual consultations. Lynnee has previous work experience in areas such as Open Access outreach, bibliometric network analysis visualisation, finding economic data, and higher education textbook and monograph publishing. She can also be found on Twitter and ORCID.
Portrait: UNCW©, photographer: Jeff Janowski

The post Best Practice: The First Six Month of Open Science at the University of North Carolina Wilmington first appeared on ZBW MediaTalk.

Workshop Retrodigitisation 2022: Do It Yourself or Have It Done?

by Ulrich Blortz, Andreas Purkert, Thorsten Siegmann, Dawn Wehrhahn and Monika Zarnitz

Workshop Retrodigitisation: topics

Under the workshop title “Do It Yourself or Have It Done? Collaboration With External Partners and Service Providers in Retrodigitisation”, around 230 practitioners specialised in the retrodigitisation of library and archive materials met in March 2022. This year, the Berlin State Library – Prussian Cultural Heritage hosted the retrodigitisation workshop (German), which was held online due to the pandemic. For the first time in 2019, it had been initiated by the three central specialist German libraries – ZB MED, TIB Hannover and ZBW. All four institutions jointly organised a programme which, on the one hand, was about “Do it yourself or have it done?” and, on the other hand, about the question “Is good = good enough?” about quality assurance in retrodigitisation. After each of the eight presentations, there were many interesting questions and lively discussions developed.

Keynote: colourful and of high quality

The keynote on „Inhouse or Outsource? Two Contrasting Case Studies for the Digitisation of 20th Century Photographic Collections“ (PDF) was given by two English colleagues, Abby Matthews (Archive and Family History Centre) and Julia Parks (Signal Film & Media/Cooke’s Studios). They reported on their projects on digitisation of photographic records and old photographs from municipal archives, which they have carried out in cooperation with volunteers.

This was also a big challenge because of the Corona pandemic. Both were able to say that by involving those who later became interested in this offer, a special relationship to this local cultural heritage was developed. The experience of the volunteers also contributed a lot – especially to the documentation of the images, the speakers said.

Cooperation: many models

The first focus of the workshop was on collaboration in retrodigitisation. There were five presentations on this, which had a wide range:

Nele Leiner and Maren Messerschmidt (SUB Hamburg) reported in their presentation on “Class Despite Mass: Implementing Digitisation Projects with Service Providers” (PDF, German) on two retrodigitisation projects in which they worked together with service providers. It was about the projects “Hamburg’s Cultural Property on the Net” (German) and a project that was funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) in which approx. 1.3 million pages from Hamburg newspapers are being digitised.

Andreas Purkert and Monika Zarnitz (ZBW) gave a presentation on “Cooperation With Service Providers – Tips for the Preparation of Specifications” (PDF, German). They gave clues on tips and tricks for preparing procurement procedures for digitisation services.

Julia Boensch-Bär and Therese Burmeister (DAI) presented the “‘Retrodigitisation‘ Project of the German Archaeological Institute“, which is about having one’s own (co-)edited publications digitised. They described the work processes that ensured the smooth implementation of the project with service providers.

Natalie Przeperski (IJB Munich), Sigrun Putjenter (SBB-PK Berlin), Edith Rimmert (UB Bielefeld), Matthias Kissler (UB Braunschweig) are jointly running the Colibri project (German). In their presentation “Colibri – the Combination of All Essential Variants of the Digitisation Workflow in a Project of Four Partner Libraries” (PDF, German), they reported on how the work processes for the joint digitisation of children’s book collections are organised. The challenge was to coordinate both the cooperation of the participating libraries and that with a digitisation service provider.

Stefan Hauff-Hartig (Parliamentary Archives of the German Bundestag) reported on the “Retro-digitisation Project in the Parliamentary Archives of the German Bundestag: The Law Documentation” (PDF, German). 12,000 individual volumes covering the period from 1949 to 2009 are to be processed. Hauff-Hartig reported on how the coordination of the work was organised with a service provider.

Conclusion: In the presentations on cooperation with other institutions and service providers, it became clear that the success of the project depends heavily on intensive communication between all participants and careful preparation of joint work processes. The organisational effort for this is not insignificant, but the speakers were nevertheless able to show that the synergy effects of cooperation outweigh the costs and that projects only become possible when others are involved.

Quality assurance: Is “good” = good enough?

This question was posed somewhat self-critically by the speakers in this thematic block. Procedures and possibilities for quality assurance of the digitised material were presented:

Stefanie Pöschl and Anke Spille (Digital German Women’s Archive) contrasted the quality, effort and cost considerations of “doing it yourself” with those of purchasing services. In their presentation on “Quality? What for? The Digital German Women’s Archive Reports From Its Almost 6-year Experience With Retrodigitisation” (PDF, German) they looked at the use of standards to ensure the highest possible level of quality.

Yvonne Pritzkoleit and Silke Jagodzinski (Secret State Archives – Prussian Cultural Heritage) presented under the title “Is Good Good Enough? Quality Assurance in Digitisation” their institution’s quality assurance concept. This is based on the ISO/TS 19264-1:2017 standard for image quality. The concept can provide many suggestions for other institutions.

Andreas Romeyke (SLUB Dresden) explained in his presentation “Less is More – the Misunderstanding of Resolution” (PDF, German) why less is often more when it comes to the resolution of images. He described what is meant by resolution, how to determine a suitable resolution and what effects wrongly chosen resolutions can have.

Conclusion: Increasingly, digitised material is not only used as a document to be received for academic work, but it itself becomes research data that the users use, e.g. in the context of the digital humanities. This results in special quality requirements that are not always easy to implement. The three presentations on this topic showed different approaches to the topic and also that it is an important concern for quality management to put effort and benefit in a reasonable relationship. It became clear that standards such as ISO 19264-1 are increasingly being applied, even if this is still not always done according to the textbook, but within the range of technical and personnel possibilities.

Workshop Retrodigitisation 2022: lively discussions – good feedback

In the first part of the workshop, all presentations contained concrete recommendations and useful tips for the design of digitisation projects with service providers. Many aspects that were described in the presentations and discussed afterwards were strongly oriented towards practice, so that they could be incorporated by the participants for their own implementation of projects with service providers and offered a good basis for future planning of their own projects. It was particularly interesting to hear which quantity structures for the pages to be scanned can be implemented in projects with service providers and how projects could be successfully implemented with several institutions despite the pandemic.

The presentations on the topic of quality in the second block of the workshop also met with great interest. Again, all contributions included many practical tips that can be applied to the audience’s own organisations.

In summary, it can be said that the workshop with its many interesting contributions showed the many different ways of working with service providers and the increasing importance of quality management.

The feedback survey showed that the workshop was again very well received this year. All participants were able to take away many new impulses and ideas. The organising institutions will offer another workshop next year. In 2023, it will be hosted by the ZBW.

This text has been translated from German.

Further readings:

About the authors:

Ulrich Ch. Blortz is a qualified librarian for the higher service in academic libraries and a library official. He has worked at the former Central Library of Agricultural Sciences in Bonn since 1981 and has also been responsible for retrodigitisation at the ZB MED – Information Centre for Life Sciences since 2003.

Andreas Purkert is a freight forwarding and logistics merchant. In the private sector, he worked as a certified quality representative and quality manager and as part of the industry certificate REFA basic certificate work organisation. Since May 2020, he has been head of the Digitisation Centre of the ZBW – Leibniz Information Centre for Economics.

Thorsten Siegmann is Head of Unit at the Berlin State Library and responsible for managing retrodigitisation. He holds a degree in cultural studies and has worked in various functions at the Foundation Prussian Cultural Heritage for 15 years.

Dawn Wehrhahn has been a qualified librarian since 1992. Since then she has worked, with a short interruption, at TIB – Leibniz Information Centre for Technology and Natural Sciences and University Library. Her areas of work were: Head of the Wunstorf Municipal Library, Head of the Physics Department Library at TIB, from 2001 Team MyBib Operations within TIB’s full text supply. Since October 2021, she has headed the retrodigitisation team.

Dr Monika Zarnitz is an economist and Head of the Programme Area User Services and Preservation at the ZBW – Leibniz Information Centre for Economics.

The post Workshop Retrodigitisation 2022: Do It Yourself or Have It Done? 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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Guest Post – Cybersecurity and Academic Libraries: Findings from a Recent Survey

Susie Winter reviews recent data on cybersecurity for academic libraries, as well as a survey of awareness and attitudes toward best practices among librarians.

The post Guest Post – Cybersecurity and Academic Libraries: Findings from a Recent Survey appeared first on The Scholarly Kitchen.

Best Practice at the ZHB Lucerne: Agile Working in the Context of Small and Large Libraries

An interview with, Lucerne Central and University Library (Lucerne ZHB)

When and how did you discover agile working for yourself and in the library context?

That was back in 2017 during my OPL (One Person Library) job in the special legal library of a large corporate law firm. The management tried to introduce agile methods “top down”, which meant that I came into contact with them during workshops. I was so impressed that I integrated agile values and methods into my own modest library work.

For example, I visualised all ongoing tasks/projects in my small library using post-its on an improvised Kanban board in the centre of the hallway at the law firm. This led to colleagues viewing my job in a more positive light (“Oh, you take care of this too?”) and often to colleagues drawing the attention of the partner responsible for me to the fact that I needed something from her:him , because I had pinned a note next to her:his name with “Waiting for …” on the board. In the end, I was even allowed to support entire legal teams in implementing agile working and became a kind of “agile coach”, without realising at that time that this job actually exists.

Later, as head of library IT at the ZHB Lucerne, I was able to use agile working throughout an entire team in order to implement IT projects – starting from more complex software updates to system migration projects, through to pilot projects to test entirely new (library) technologies. For a year now, I have been library director – a completely new challenge for me to live agile methods, roles and values in the entire, cross-team and cross-departmental organisation of a library from this position.

Why is agile working useful for modern libraries?

Libraries are not so fundamentally different from other institutions or companies in an agile context. A library is just as interested in “external agility” (PDF, German) as Google or Tesla – it wants to be as successful as possible for as long as possible. You can see this by using measurable outputs such as high number of loans, a large amount of search requests and e-media hits, numerous entrances to the building, excellent occupancy of the study stations, many new registrations, a high number and quality of events including those with lots of participants, a positive media presence, high satisfaction of the users and sponsoring organisations, growing budgets, etc.

This means that libraries need to be innovative, to adapt swiftly to changing contexts and challenges and to always offer those products and services that are in particular demand from their users and partner organisations. This is precisely where agile values and methods can help and promote so-called “inner agility” (PDF, German) by improving internal communication and cooperation through more transparency, a positive error culture as well as flat hierarchies, flexible roles and self-organisation, and by continuously integrating user feedback into the work process.

On the other hand: in many places, the structures which have developed in libraries over a very long period of time often seem to be somewhat rigid and cumbersome. How can agile working function here in spite of this?

By trying it out on a small scale initially. Projects for introducing new services, offers or products are particularly useful in this regard, and ideally those which the library colleagues themselves do not know exactly how to implement in the first place because, for example, the starting situation, the approach and/or the expectations and needs of the users are still unclear.

Furthermore, this working method can be launched particularly successfully if all colleagues involved are integrated and are allowed to contribute to the decision-making process when it comes to implementing agile methods, rituals and principles. Last but not least, you need to obtain the agreement of the manager who has been responsible for the line organisation of the project up to now: agile working can only succeed if this person is prepared to share its knowledge, expertise and responsibilities with the entire project team.

After the initial, hopefully successful and inspiring agile projects (although non-implemented pilot projects can also be regarded as successful ?) this working method can also be fundamentally and permanently established in individual teams, for example by meeting all of the team’s annual targets in an agile manner; by having regular, agile discussion formats that characterise communication in the team; and by implementing retrospectives that allow all colleagues to evaluate and adapt the collaboration within the team.

Several agile teams can be combined into larger agile organisational units at a later stage. Here in Lucerne at the ZHB for example, we have merged all departments from the fields of e-media, IT and Open Access / research and publication support into “Digital Services”. At the TIB Hannover there is an interdisciplinary team that takes care of the agile further development of the AV portal. We are also enviously eyeing the Zurich´s Central Library (ZB Zürich), where the organisational unit “IDE” (information expertise, digital services and development) agilely develops service offerings in the user area (German).

To what extent does the Lucerne Central and University Library actually work in an agile way? Do you have a few examples?

We are still quite a long way off claiming that the entire ZHB Luzern works in an agile way. But in recent years we have been able to gather a great deal of experience with agile projects, for example when we tested, adapted and later introduced our Seat Navigator across all locations (German). This precisely measures how many of our study stations are occupied down to each individual seat.

The example of the Seat Navigator

The starting position was that our location at the uni/PH building was in high demand, particularly during examination periods. Students were practically fighting over the available seats in the library and had developed creative reservation techniques (German).

We weren’t able to offer more places just like that, but we had the idea of using IoT sensors at each seat to measure exactly whether it was occupied or free.. We are able to make the total number of available study stations at all locations visible online, and if the occupancy is too high at one location, to spread it more evenly. In this way, users should be able to quickly find a free place in the building and also decide at home to go to the library location that currently has the most free places.

Reading Room at the Uni PH Building, one of four Locations of the Lucerne Central and University Library

If we hadn’t approached this pilot project using the agile method (= quickly testing a small-scale prototype to get targeted feedback from users and taking adjustments into account whilst still in the project phase), we wouldn’t have been able to find out as quickly that the system can only function with a break mode which, as well as showing free (green) and occupied (red) seats also shows those that have been left temporarily for a break (yellow). It was only following this feedback and the respective adjustment that we were able to lay the foundation required to operate the system at all four ZHB locations with over 700 sensors.

The example of the Lucebro AI Software

We also selected a similar agile approach when testing our “Lucebro” AI software (German), with which we wanted to (partly) automate recurring questions & answers in the daily communication with our users. Alongside pilot tests, continually gathering feedback and relevant adjustments to the software, in this case it was predominantly the complete transparency of all project steps as well as the involvement of all employees in the implementation which provided a good example of agility. Despite the tricky issue of automated advice, in the end 75% of all employees actively helped in training the AI software to handle frequently asked questions & answers from the information service. Even if the project was not ultimately implemented in a productive manner, owing to a poor cost-benefit ratio, it was a complete success in terms of in-house collaboration and experiences gained in comparison to classic project management.

The example of the “Luzi” Pepper Robot

The deployment of our Pepper robot (German) also demonstrates how even failed projects can be seen as successful in the context of positive (= agile) error culture. Instead of investing a great deal of time and money in AI software and developing this, at best, without considering the needs of our users, we have learned that these kinds of solutions need to be as low-threshold as possible, in order to be accepted by library users.

This means that the training data from the Lucebro project are now being used to teach our Pepper robot “Luzi” the most frequently asked questions & answers about the library. It is then very easy to speak to Luzi directly and personally on site, and she patiently explains all day long how to access the Wifi or how you register for the first time. Naturally we are also continually asking our users for feedback in this regard, as to how Luzi could help them further, and we are developing her continually.

You were responsible for the introduction of the swisscovery library platform throughout Switzerland. Is it right that you used agile methods to develop and improve the platform? Which ones exactly? Were you successful?

Well, it was certainly not due to me alone: swisscovery was launched as a joint network of 475 libraries and a national research platform in December 2020 (German), and this required many years of dedication and enthusiasm from over 2000 library colleagues from all over the country. I was only actively involved in the introductory project for the ZHB Luzern as group coordinator for the integration of our network of Central Switzerland (higher education institution) libraries into swisscovery.

However, things only really became agile after the launch, when our national research platform came under criticism (German). The senior management of the Swiss Library Service Platform (SLSP), which operates swisscovery for the libraries, reacted to this by switching the further development of swisscovery to agile working methods, which had been planned anyway, in order to respond more quickly to the most pressing criticisms of our library users.

Ever since, I have been able to incorporate the perspective of the 15 shareholder libraries behind SLSP AG to the agile project team made up of SLSP and library colleagues (PDF, German) and work on specific improvements to the search interface.

We rely on Scrum as a framework and jointly maintain a backlog with all adaptation requests that we generate from interviews with users, from support tickets in SLSP and from direct feedback on Twitter. We pool adaptation requests according to topic and priority into month-long sprints, during which we develop solutions together, before updating them directly in the national overview of swisscovery. After every sprint we review the adaptations achieved and plan the next sprint. Compared to the previous frequency, the agile procedure is a complete success. In six months we were able to fix the most urgent problems, decisively improve the user friendliness of swisscovery and even enjoy a little praise now and then.

Your favourite tools or methods for agile working?

I am a big fan of Kanban because it allows you try things out rapidly, and uses fewer strict rules, rituals and time limits compared with Scrum. On a Kanban board, the pending to-dos for a team or a project can be easily made transparent for all who are interested. With this important foundation in place, it is possible to try out further agile principles such as daily/weekly stand-ups and a step-by-step transition towards self-organisation of the team. If virtual Kanban boards such as Trello, MeisterTask or Stackfield are used, everything can be achieved regardless of time and location, which became an important element over the past two years of the pandemic.

Scrum, on the other hand, has the advantage that it contains a complete framework and not just one method and, in addition to the rituals and practices, raises awareness of the fact agile working must be underpinned by fundamental values and a cultural change; without this, no tool, no matter how exciting, would bring any positive effect at all to the collaboration.

In our fast-moving digital world, new, optimised tools are continually being developed. How do you motivate your colleagues to openly try out new working methods and tools?

This only works by setting an example and actively using these methods and tools in your own work. What’s even more important is that I, particularly as a manager, must support the agile values, for example by making my own objectives and projects transparent for everyone involved, opening up active participation in them for anyone who is interested and not getting tied up with hierarchies; that I myself have the courage to try things out quickly, and immediately subject myself to the (sometimes merciless ?) feedback of the respective target group and that I can also deal with the situation positively if my attempts fail, because I am nevertheless always able to learn something from them. In my personal experience, this is the best way to motivate my colleagues to engage in these new forms of communication and cooperation.

You are a member of the Community of Practice: “Agilität in Bibliotheken” (agility in libraries) on Twitter. What does this actually mean?

Approximately 70 library colleagues from Germany, Austria and Switzerland who already actively use agile working methods in library contexts have joined together in the Community of Practice. We meet on a monthly basis to discuss things – and of course in agile discussion formats such as Lean Coffee. These are not so much about sharing showpiece and glossy projects, but much more about open and honest discussion concerning issues and problems which we encounter when implementing agile working practices in our team or throughout the library. It’s often the collective intelligence of the community that finds solutions with its pooled wealth of knowledge. But sometimes we’re simply also a self-help group. Colleagues who already use agile working in libraries or would like to start using it immediately and who are looking for advice are welcome to contact us: Community of Practice “Agilität in Bibliotheken” (agility in libraries) on Twitter (German).

What would you recommend to colleagues who would like to get into agile working? What are good starting points?

My experience has been that transparency is a good start for agile working. From the moment that I – as project, team or department manager – make all steps/tasks in a project or an annual objective completely transparent for all colleagues, further important steps towards agility often arise by themselves. As soon as my colleagues get an insight into all correlations of a project, they usually give feedback, point to possible problems and contribute suggestions for improvement. This can then be consolidated in rituals such as daily stand-ups and, from there, it’s only a short step towards not only delegating but actively inviting colleagues to take on and complete tasks from the backlog and report back on them during the stand-up. If we then also manage to continually integrate feedback from the actual target group for whom the project, new service or new product is intended into this workflow, then we have already achieved a great deal. Entirely in keeping with the agile mindset, I can therefore simply recommend: just give it a try; things will go wrong anyway. ?

This text has been translated from German.

This might also interest you:

We were talking with Benjamin Flämig

After or during his Master’s degree in History/German in Berlin and ten years in the private sector context (Information & Knowledge Management in international business law firms), Benjamin Flämig’s completion of his part-time MALIS degree at the TH Köln in 2018 led him to the Lucerne Central and University Library as Head of IT, where strategy and organisational development, the launch of swisscovery and one or two construction and pilot projects kept him well occupied. Since February 2021, he has even been able to take on responsibility there as Director. Benjamin Flämig can be found on Twitter, LinkedIn and ORCID.
Portrait: Benjamin Fläming [CC BY 4.0]

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Retroactively Open: Elsevier Backflips for NERL Agreement

In a novel license agreement, Elsevier agrees to open backfile content from a consortium of elite private institutions. Will other libraries and publishers follow this model?

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User Experience in Libraries: Building a Human-centric Organisation at the National Library of Estonia

Interview with Margus Veimann and Jane Makke

The National Library of Estonia sits enthroned on Tõnismägi Hill in the centre of Tallinn. Here, Margus Veimann and Jane Makke work in the Library Services Development Centre to make the library a user-friendly and inspiring place for staff and users. In the interview, they reveal which methods they use, what the key to successful UX is and why it is so important to change your own organisational culture first.

You are working in the field of User Experience (UX) in the National Library of Estonia. When and why did you start? What does that mean practically?

Margus: My relationship with UX began three years ago when I was working as a marketing specialist and social media designer in the National Library of Estonia. Back then the library had a collaboration project with the members of the Department of Business Administration of Tallinn University of Technology (TalTech) who were the first to introduce me to service design as a methodology. During this project the master’s students of service design and marketing came to our library and got acquainted with the real services of our library, and started to solve the design tasks using the service design methodology.

The result of the project was twofold – on one hand the students were able to solve real-life problems, and on the other hand, the library got to know the service design through this process. The most valuable experience I got from this collaboration project was the opportunity to understand the value of design – as a way of thinking and as a toolbox in the service development process, also, an understanding that introducing a designer toolbox and transferring knowledge across the organisation is the way we need to go.

Our vision is to be a next-generation library and to act as an innovator in the world of librarianship through an open, inspiring, and inclusive operating environment.
– Margus Veimann

By the end of this collaboration project, it was clear that design as a mindset is a journey that we want to explore further on as an organisation who has implemented a service-based managerial model. For example, our vision is to be a next-generation library and to act as an innovator in the world of librarianship through an open, inspiring, and inclusive operating environment. But how do we achieve this vision? What are the tools, methods, and skills that would foster innovation and support the creation of user-friendly services in the library? I am sure that the user-centric approach is the key to unlock this mystery.

I think the key here is to introduce the service design as a toolbox, teach our colleagues the key principles of User Experience, as well as teach them how to use different design methods that designers and non-designers practice to achieve significant and long-lasting positive change. It is all about the willingness to experiment and keep in mind that our responsibility is to create value for the users.

Jane: Although I have been working in the library for many years, 2017 was the first time I had an opportunity to get acquainted with the concept of UX. The next time was in 2018, when I was given the task of forming a working group and try to apply UX principles to an extension of the library’s website. Our team produced a rather nice prototype, taking into account that we were beginners and self-learners. The idea of having such an extension is still on the to-do list of the library and I hope that one day we end up in developing it as well. Starting from 2020, when I became the head of the Library Services Development Centre, Margus joined my team as a service designer and our cooperation began.

What are your goals with UX? Did you achieve them? Which UX methods do you apply at your library?

Margus: Which method to use depends on many different aspects of the project or problem you’re facing. Would it be best to use surveys, interviews, observations/job-shadowing – to name a few. I believe that most important is to start with users and keep in mind that first of all, it is important to understand why and what kind of problem we are about to solve and what we want to achieve.

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. 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.

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

I truly believe that in every organisation there is a lot of good ideas and the will to do interesting things, but one has to choose. But to what to give priority to? Where to invest resources and where not? Design as a methodology and a mindset helps to create evidence at an early stage that can be used to make decisions. Secondly, you need to create value for your users, if any activity is not beneficial for the users, it is better to leave this activity behind. The third and the most important thing is to change the organisational culture. The other two goals are also important, but the day-to-day journey of innovation is to change people and culture and then to create value for our end users.

Jane: Indeed, the first and the foremost goal has been the inception of the design thinking concept as such into our organisational culture. For that, we have organised two training programmes. The last one was rather extensive involving quite a large number of our staff, including the management. However, I think there is yet plenty to do.

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

Jane: One of the first attempts to apply UX was in 2017/2018 when the library decided to redesign the library’s foyer. We started a proper UX project: interviewed the guests, partners as well as the members of the staff. We asked about their feelings when they entered the lobby and during their stay, what they value and miss the most, and how they would create the welcoming area if they had an opportunity to rearrange things by themselves. After the interviews, we built a real-life prototype for testing a new look together with our customers. As a result, we actually did redesign the lobby – the welcoming area, the information desk and the security area, they all found a new place and role. Yet it is important to mention that during the testing it became evident that the most popular solution to welcome our clients did not work out though. The constructional peculiarities of the library building have led to our staff developing health problems. So, we had to find other options. This is what the testing is for.

Reading room on the first floor of the National Library of Estonia©

In March 2022, the renovation of the National Library’s main building is about to begin. The doors of the main building have already been closed since December 2021, and the library is moving out its collections, staff and offices. But what did we do? We opened our doors in two new places instead – one is our new temporary main building and the other one is an outpost in one of the entertainment and shopping centres in the heart of Tallinn.

Small House of National Library of Estonia©

The outpost is located next to one of the largest bookstores in Tallinn and a popular cinema, there are plenty of cafes and restaurants where people can relax and enjoy themselves, and in the same building there is a concert hall as well. So, this is a wonderful place for the library to be among other businesses of similar type. The idea of an outpost was born during the design-thinking training programme. By the way, during this training, many came up with the idea of opening outposts of the library in various places throughout the capital of Estonia – starting from supermarkets and ending up with the Tallinn main railway station and even the airport.

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

Jane: This is obviously the trickiest part. Luckily, we have a group of loyal users who are willing to participate every now and then. The keywords to success are consistency and respect. If you ask for an input, you have to take it into account, otherwise you lose credit, and those who would have been willing to participate will feel left behind.

Margus: It is all about respect and empathy to truly listen and gather users’ perspective.

A good practice would also be to build your own database of different users’ groups. Of course, it requires some time investment upfront, but in the long run, it creates a sustainable process for finding research participants quickly and easily. In my experience, it is also important to have a strong collaboration and partnership with different organisations and companies who are willing to share your call to participate. Collaboration and empathy are the key here to build trust and also interest between different user groups.

What are the most important lessons you have learned from applying User Experience methods in the National Library of Estonia?

Jane:

  • To create customer value, you need to engage users. We are not users and cannot know what they actually need and want.
  • Keep it simple. Often users want simplicity and, those simple things to work well. But we tend to overthink and overdesign. That is why you need to validate your perceptions with the users.
  • If you want to engage users, you must abandon your own vision and ideas, be open and listen. Otherwise, if it appears that they want something else than you have imagined, you end up ignoring the users, which is bad taste.
  • Be patient and consistent. To get results, you must invest time. First, you are probably all alone in your organisation. So, you have to make your colleagues understand what User Experience is and convince them that UX might be a helpful tool. Your goal is to make them dare to test UX design. Now you have paved the road to the second milestone that is to change their mindset – when they see the first results, they start to take UX seriously and dare to trust UX, and soon it will become a normal part of your colleagues’ (working) life. And finally, when they become true believers, they start to speak about UX on behalf of you. Then your mission has been accomplished.

Have you also used methods that did not work at all?

Jane: We are yet in the beginning of our UX journey. That means we have not yet experimented with all the different methods to make conclusions which methods work and which do not.

But as to the fails, I think about the situations when we eagerly engage users to get their input and then forget to use it.

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

Jane: 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.

Margus: Start mapping out what are the goals and strategy of the organisation. Map existing services and identify bottlenecks that need to be addressed.

Find out the users´ needs: Interact with your users and try to find out which problems they face and what their goals are. How are the services used and what are the main concerns or problems users face?

Define/specify user needs: Map customer journeys and determine how users use your service. How does he/she get there? What are the touch points of contact along the way? If the users do not reach your service, find out why.

Identify interesting analogies: Does another organisation offer similar services? What are they doing differently?

Check out the UK´s Design Council´s framework for innovation “Double Diamond” and start experimenting and learn by doing.

And ask your librarian to put together a list of books about service design and User Experience. I would suggest to start with “Good Services – How to Design Services that Work” by Lou Downe and “The Design of Everyday Things” by Don Norman.

This might also interest you

We were talking with:

As of January 2020, Jane Makke works as the Head of the Library Services Development Centre at the National Library of Estonia (NLE). She has been working in the library sector for many years in the areas of customer service, data management and IT development. During the last years her focus has been on the design and development of country-wide library services.
Portrait, photographer: Teet Malsroos© [CC BY 4.0]

Margus Veimann is Service Designer in the National Library of Estonia . He believes that in a rapidly changing world, human-centred design has become an important component in creating successful products and services, regardless of whether we design spaces, services or products. Guided by that he would describe his job shortly as: Simplifying complexity to facilitate user-centric design solutions through co-creation that leave a positive impact on people, environment and the society.
Portrait: Margus Veimann©

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Accelerating Open Research: A Multi-stakeholder Discussion

Robert Harington reports on the recent SSP Publisher-Funder Task Force closed forum of funders, publishers, librarians and academics, who met to discuss how collaboration among stakeholder groups may accelerate a transition to open research.

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Libraries and the Contested Terrain of “Neutrality”

Are libraries “neutral”? That question is way too simplistic to serve as anything other than a political football.

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Revisiting — Additive, Substitutive, Subtractive: Strategic Scenarios for Publishers in an OA World

Revisiting a 2008 post noting that while it is often argued that open access will reduce the overall cost of scholarly communications, this article proposed that OA will be additive to the size of the current market.

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