Libraries Powering Sustainable Knowledge in the Digital Age

Blogpost by Sofie Wennström and Jonas Holm, Stockholm University Library

The 46th Annual LIBER Conference in Patras, Greece. July 5–7, 2017

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The Rio Bridge in Patras, Greece. Photo: Sofie Wennström CC-BY-NC

The LIBER conference is an annual event where Library Managers and Librarians meet to discuss new discoveries and share experiences. The conference included a number of workshops on important topics in the research library environment right now, such as developments to support Open Access and Open Data, Scholarly Communications and Infrastructure, Digital Humanities, Metrics, Text and Data Mining and Cultural Heritage. All of these topics are relevant to Stockholm University Library and Stockholm University Press. A video summarising the conference can be found here. The twitter feed is available with #liber2017.

Workshops about open access and open research data

Two of the workshops this year was organised by working groups within LIBER where Stockholm University Library is represented.

During the first day of the conference, the LIBER Working Group on Open Access and SPARC Europe organised a workshop together with the title ‘Bridging the gap between policy and practice: How do we make open the default?’. Sofie Wennström, Analyst, is an active member of this group. There were four themes discussed in the workshop: researcher engagement, simplifying publishing processes of Open Access and Open Data, rewarding researchers for being open and, institutions taking the lead in the dissemination of research information. Most of the member countries and institutions have policies in place recommending or mandating researchers to share their findings in an open manner the group showed a great deal of diversity in their approaches. One of the results of the workshop was to collect current approaches and new ideas to continue sharing best practices within the network.

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Collected thoughts from workshop participants in the form of a tree with ideas about how we can make it easier for researchers to publish openly. Photo: Sofie Wennström CC-BY-NC

The LIBER Working group on Copyright hosted a Workshop on the same day entitled ‘Research Data Support Meets Disciplines: Opportunities & Challenges’. The aim of this workshop was to bring together key players discussing challenges for libraries and other organizations in their work with open research data. Jonas Holm, Legal Counsel, delivered a lecture on data protection and research data during this workshop, with a focus on the new EU General Data Protection regulation and its effect on research libraries.

More Stockholm University Activities

Birgitta Hellmark-Lindgren, Deputy Director, and Wilhelm Widmark, Library Director presented their work with organisational change at Stockholm University Library with the title ‘The Perks and Challenges of Drawing Maps and Walking at the Same Time ­– Lessons Learned by Stockholm University Library’. The conclusion was that the change is inevitable and that learning how to tackle the challenges is key. The response from the audience about their open approach to organisational change was positive and included some questions on how the staff reacted to planning strategies and working with them at the same time.

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Wilhelm and Birgitta presenting about the inevitable change. Photo: Sofie Wennström CC-BY-NC

Sabina Anderberg, Project Manager for Research Data Management (RDM) at Stockholm University Library, participated in the LIBER Emerging Leaders Seminars to prepare the new national and local initiatives related to RDM. The seminar was organized during the three days preceding the conference. The program is described by the participants in a lovely Storify feed. Pep Torn summarises his thoughts about leadership in this video, which is a short summary of one of the lectures: https://twitter.com/LIBEReurope/status/882973995691159552

Research Data Management is a focus area for libraries

Many university libraries are currently implementing policies and practices for managing of open research data. One example of this is the Research Data Management Services at Lancaster University which was presented by Hardy Schwamm. His talk focused on engagement with researchers to ensure that libraries are developing services based on the users’ needs. The results seem to indicate that it is important to open up for conversations and to provide space and time for training in data management in order to create the cultural shift needed.

Lluís Anglada from the Catalonian Library Consortium presented similar ideas about collaborating to create best practices, but in their case in an entire geographical region. They created some common guidelines and an analysis of the current landscape in a report. The conclusion is that there is a big gap between disciplines and between courses of action in each field, but that the big change is not about the tools but about the process in which researchers and libraries need to work closely together to make this new paradigm working smoothly. Ten other talks were in part or as a whole dedicated to discussions about best practices and innovations for the management of research data so this was a popular topic at the conference.

Copyright issues and the future of openness

The keynote by EU Parliament member Julia Reda about new EU Copyright reform showed that the legislative change might actually hinder the development of an Open Science agenda and the developments made to open up for knowledge discovery, by for example text-and-data-mining (TDM). The new reform is adding more restrictions to information in place, which would favour the commercial sector more than the library sector, for example by adding more copyright protection regarding dissemination of information. This would lead to restrictions on sharing information from older archives, photos, Wikipedia entries, and content in repositories. Julia also provided the most popular quote of the conference ‘If libraries were invented today they would be seen as radical institutions – giving away free access to information’. This new reform also suggests restricting harvesting of information online for preservation and dissemination, which is one of the key tasks of libraries today. There is a petition collected called The Hague Declaration, organised by LIBER, where institutions and individuals can sign to support the open dissemination of knowledge in the future. This keynote is worth watching in video format for those of you who were not present.

Library leadership for the future

As libraries are evolving to something beyond the print media and collection management, there seems to be a need for the development of new librarian skills and new ways of leading teams in this change. Several of the sessions included talks about how to drive change in organisations, such as the talk by Birgitta and Wilhelm mentioned above. Other libraries shared their experiences in change as well, such as Matthijs van Otegem who presented the work at Erasmus University Library. They have created an organisation of trust, where the librarian teams are becoming more self-governing with internal motivation as the main driver.

More keynotes and presentations

Other keynotes were held by Kathleen Shearer from COAR, who talked about “Scholarly Communications for the 21st century: Towards a Sustainable and Inclusive Future”, noting that repositories need to focus on interoperability if they don’t want to be forgotten or left behind in the fast-developing world of digital scholarly communication. Dr Filioppos Tsimpoglou, Director-General of the National Library of Greece talked about change as well in his keynote “For Every Library Transforms: A National Library in the Research Landscape”, describing the long-term project about planning, building and organising a new national library with restricted resources. More information can be found at the conference website. The full programme is also available, including links to presentations made.


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