More from TU:Librarian

Posted in 2013

Bring in the data!

From time to time I also attend sessions that are not specifically related to library stuff. There was a library-related reason though that made me go to Eindhoven for the 3TU Conference on Innovation and Technology on December 6, 2013, and that was signing off the consortium agreement of our 3TU.datacentrum (finally!).


3TU.Federation Chair Dirk-Jan van den Berg referred to our 3tu.datacentrum as “a beacon of transparancy”.


So that gave me the opportunity to have a (brief) peek in other sessions. Our (Delft) Kees Vuik introduced the session on “Invisible mathematics: three tangible results”. I liked the “Intel stamp” that was used throughout this session: “Math Inside”. Perhaps one would not realize this but in so many topics related to e.g. optimising queuing (in a shop; for a helpdesk; or as part of a service bus); simulating maritime circumstances for large vessels; or thinking about your local electricity supply, the mathematics “inside” remains invisible, though is an essential part of the project. It reminded me of my study Materials Science. We had a similar problem, because – apart from fundamental research – in the applied scene material scientists facilitate other disciplines, essential yes, but somewhat invisible.

At the innovation market I found some other interesting stuff. What to think about LikeLines? Via a navigable heat map users can jump to interesting regions in the videos they are watching. Or the INSYGHTLab, where they work on multi-camera experiments for 3D reconstructions, to get to highly interactive screens.

I should also mention Federico Toschi – he spoke about “Fluid dynamics challenges for energy and health”, and showed us how understanding fluid dynamics is essential for health issues such as the rheology of blood in our vessels. Here we have a link to one of his datasets in our 3TU.datacentrum, which brings me back to the beginning – we can be proud to have our agreement finalized. Bring in the data!

Resilience for us, librarians

I must say that these are busy times. I hardly have time to post a few lines, which frankly of course is not entirely true. You can always make time for a few lines, right? My challenge however is that I have a lot to tell, and not just a few lines. Let me explain.

As TU Librarian I am confronted with a severe budget cut. We are discussing and thinking a lot how to address this in a way that we still can be the Library we want to be for our users and for our employees. Which is possible, though difficult. More about this (which is as said more than a few lines) later. At least I could present our plans with our employees today, during a plenary session.

For now I wanted to share with you an approach that was brought to me (and some of my library colleague directors and members of the UKB licenses working group) by Sarah Durrant. Sarah gave (with Tracy Gardner) a training on negotiation skills for librarians. A small part of the day was spent around the necessity of being resilient. And I thought that this might actually be a good approach for the situation we are in now, at this time of budget cuts.

Because: How do we keep going while things are constantly changing? How can we address an uncertain future? Perhaps the ABC-approach Sarah explained to us, could help. Firstly A – Adversity, so bad luck or misfortune may happen to you. Then, secondly B – Belief, and that is the story we tell ourselves. Belief is what we hear in a discussion or presentation or think what has been said, what was meant, or will happen. Then lastly C – Consequences and that means that you are in the position to make a connection to the story you believe in. And that connection brings the opportunity to make the story such that it may give you a positive perspective. Well at least that is my translation to a theory that has been around for quite some time (please refer to the Edutopia blog I’ve just read, where I also found the picture used below, image credit: iStockphoto).

And so I have done my few lines after all. If you want to hear more, you could also check the TEDtalk by Martin Seligman.

Science for all

Today is a special day – it is the 3rd TEDxDelft. Unfortunately I had to leave the sessions. I would like to share, however, some of my own ideas with you. Perhaps it is a bit easy to do it this way … but anyhow please find my ideas on how open access to research publications will evolve the coming years. With thanks to Tomas van Dijk, who so nicely wrote it down for Delft Integraal (page 23).

Apples (are not the only fruit)

We just can’t get enough – talking about data

On 8 May 2013 3TU.Datacentrum launched its partnership with DANS. The establishment of the coalition Research Data Netherlands will bring together knowledge and expertise about research data. And above all it has the intention to unite research libraries, archives or other organisations that keep (trustworthy) data repositories.

Open Access has been around us for quite some time, but the past months more and more one pagers, position papers, network sessions, hearings have been written and organised.

One reason, amongst many others, of the current increased attention to Open Access, is that is has the potential to provide all stakeholders with evidence of the high standards of quality and integrity which the scientific system has traditionally imposed on itself.

That is why I quote the position paper undersigned by five Dutch universities to seriously consider the positive impact of Open Access on the use, re-use, and citations of scientific data. These five universities (Delft University of Technology, Erasmus University Rotterdam, Leiden University, TU Eindhoven and University of Twente) cooperate in multidisciplinary research that covers all societal challenges as mentioned in Horizon 2020. Universities want their research to be shared with society, so that it is available for new research, insights and innovation.

“In order to bridge the innovation divide in Europe, Open Access to data should be actively pursued, as sharing data can foster the advancement of excellent researchers, with due respect, however, for the legitimate commercial, national security and privacy interests. Open Access to research data must be encouraged to combat scientific misconduct and to foster the professionalization of researchers. Also in this Age of Big Data the rich universe of research data could be accessible,”

The momentum for this position paper, and others, was provided by the EC public consultation on Open Research Data.

For me personally it is essential that research data created in the public domain should be kept there. As publishers are changing their business and expanding it to the current research domain and evaluation metrics, we Libraries should also step up.

It is not just about finding that one apple in the jungle (citing a post a researcher and chair of one of our library committees brought to my attention), but also to bring the university “fruits” back for easy pickings 😉

Librarying, the new buzzword? A report from LIBER2013

This week I attended for the first time in my Library Life the LIBER Congress (which took place in Munich, Germany). It was a strange week, where I was of course heavily occupied with some possible governmental budget measurements, and met with a lot of my Library colleagues.

The main reason for coming over was the workshop LIBER organised on the “10 recommendations on Research Data Management, what’s next” on Wednesday 26 June, and the first face-to-face meeting of the steering committee of Scholarly Communication and Research Infrastructures. I am a member of that committee and my colleague @jprombouts, head of our Research Data Services, is member of its working group. Research (Information) Infrastructures and the Future Role of Libraries was the main theme of the Conference that took place for the remainder of that Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

The main keynote lectures were therefore focused on this topic, and for me the two keynotes on Thursday were the most appropriate to this theme. Liz Lyon, director of UKOLN, University of Bath, showed us that universities could regard themselves as data publishers and that they should take responsibility for their own data products. Libraries can help researchers publish their data, with curation, discoverability, citation, formats and metrics. Librarians should be more and more be part of the Lab teams. Carlos Morais Pires from the European Commission made a nice comparison between engineers and librarians. “Engineers stop when things start to mean something”. Further he gave an overview of the things (formal communications / recommendation) the EC has done, and what is to be expected in relation to Horizon 2020. Geoffrey Boulton’s speech on Friday was similar to the one I happened to hear at the 10th anniversary meeting of LERU, in Bruxelles, last November. The discussion afterwards though made me sending tweets again, because I could not agree more: Talk to researchers and ask them what they need instead of going to spread the word about what you do. And see the library as a function, not an entity. Or as I phrased it myself: “librarying, it is a verb, it is active, it is dynamic, it is not a thing!

The Bavarian State Library at Munich ..

At our own workshop Jeroen informed the participants who attended this workshop (some 80 – 100 people) about our 3tu.datacentrum, our collaboration with DANS in Research Data Netherlands, and emphasized that it is important to “think big, start small and act now”. He took care of recommendations 5, 6, 7, and 8, which focused on collaboration and services. These recommendations were finalized and prioritized during the LIBER-conference in Tartu last year. Wolfram Horsten, from Oxford University Library, focused on Policy & Infrastructure (recommendations 4, 9, and 10) and showed us that it is good to start with a research data policy, and that you should have a centrally led approach (either with the library in the lead, or together with more supporting services), but you also should let the local initiatives flow. Partnering! was his final word at the discussion at the end. Rob Grim, the chair of the working group, from Tilburg University Library and IT Services, made the ten recommendations complete, with 1,2 and 3 and emphasized that libraries should work on having skilled people. He also referred to the implementation plan the working group will now start working on.

Where the Conference reception took place …

Of course there were also other session worth attending. I just pick two, to be a bit selective (as we heard also from Boulton, that is our role!).

The title “Meeting the needs of PhD candidates: Services, networks and relevance” attracted too many people for the size of the room. Eystein Gullbekk, Oslo Library, showed us their PhD on Track, which was launched one month ago. It provides modules under three tracks Review and discover / Share and publish / Evaluation and ranking. The principles they used during development of the modules were: Illustrate / Demonstrate / Explain / Provoke. Gullbekk’s second part focused on “being relevant”, where he used the principle of the actor network . Viewing a topic from different aspects, e.g. a publication can enact as apprenticeship or as accreditation, and you should realize that there can be conflicts of interest, so take different enacted realities into account and make it visible (both conflicts and resistance).

Birte Christensen-Dalsgaard, from the Royal Library Denmark, presented a successful crowdsourcing project: “Denmark seen from the air”. The Royal Library has 18 million photographs, so what to do with these, how can they be made useful? This project used the collections of photographs of farms “seen from the air”.  It started with 200 k negatives from the area “Fyn”. The idea was to get more data about the precise location of the farm. At a certain time in the project every minute a “farm was moved”.  At this moment 87% of pins have been geotagged. So as said, pretty successful! Some take-aways from Birte: Appeal to your roots; and Continue to have new material, to attract people again.

So was it a valuable experience? Yes, I would say so, the mixture of meeting people and hearing interesting stories makes it going of course. And now back to my librarying 😉

Beautiful surroundings indeed!

A welcome from TU librarian

In two weeks Cycling for libraries will pass (and stop @) by our Library. I am not a cyclist, though three years ago I started with a tradition (the question is when is a habit turning into a tradition?) with a friend to take a bike-ride to “Kijkduin” from Delft, a 15-mile distance, at Midsummer night. We talk along the road, she knows the way, we stare at the sea once arrived, take a picture, walk, eat, drink, and go back again.

So a tradition can be a good thing; it can give structure and stability in your life (or your organisation for that matter). But beware, you should not overdo it (you should never overdo things by the way), before you know it you forget the reason and the tradition becomes a “stand in the way”. Last year was very special – we saw a fox, camels (yes, there was a circus in the Hague) and 8 baby swans! Wasn’t that something.

The cycling for libraries event is a good tradition and I will be happy to welcome them (just one day before Midsummer!).
Over the years traditions do change. This year we will do our bikeride, but now we have more friends joining us and we will have a proper dinner, though the sea remains an essential part of the evening. All this as prelude to explain why I changed my weblog address from mtlibrary…to The principle stays, i.e. to (try to) give monthly reflections or reports of events I attended, but I slightly adjusted it!

Why would you walk the extra mile? What makes U tick? Just a picture to illustrate what we are working on in Delft. I will tell more about this during the evening visit of the unconference on June 20.


Where are the librarians?

Together with colleague Alenka Princic  I visited on April 25 the Science Alliance meeting on The Impact of Science. We had our doubts whether it would be worth our money (it was a rather expensive day), but decided that we would like to go anyway. The topic is of course of huge interest for us librarians, because we want to facilitate research groups in their visibility and provide them with the right tools to work on their impact. Apart from us, Wouter Gerritsma from Wageningen  (and the recently retired Librarian Ger Spikman) and Gert Goris from Rotterdam were there. Not that many librarians!

The day started with Donald Dingwell, Secretary General of the European Research Council. He impressed us with high numbers (in total 14000 people are working on ERC grants, on 600 places, producing enormous output, with every week a publication in Nature or Science). Interesting remarks from his part were that the timeline of an ERC-fund (5 years) is too short to see result of impact of research. He emphasized that progress is not “plannable”, and that therefore the ERC organisation is bottom-up, nobody tells somebody what to do.

At the meeting, sponsored by Elsevier and CWTS, Nick Fowler, Managing Director Academic & Government Institutions at Elsevier, also held a presentation. Apart from a sales talk about Scopus, he showed us some impressive slides. The reason that The Netherlands has a relative high number of publications output and citation impact lies, according to Fowler, in the fact that we have much collaboration and mobility. So the word brain drain is now being replaced by brain circulation or researcher mobility.

Erkki Ormala,  now at Aalto University, but formerly with Nokia, also gave us some food for thought. Scientific progress is the key driver for innovation, economic growth and social development. This was a recurring topic of the day: do not just focus on academic excellence if you think of impact of science, but also involve the socio-economic impact. Nowadays companies seek engagement from 3rd parties via open innovation. The role of universities is apart from research and education, also knowledge sharing (rather than transfer!). (Later Carl Johan Sundberg,  Bio-entrepreneurship, Karolinksi Institutet, referred to this as the “The 3rd task”, i.e., to collaborate.) Ormala continued: People need to think beyond the routine, and need to have the ability not just to adapt to change, but to create it. Universities should provide the intellectual capacity. We require a fundamental change in our thinking. So develop a globally leading university with a strong knowledge sharing culture. And Ormala put it clearly: Do it now, the world won’t wait!

The report Shirley Pearce, as next speaker, referred to, is probably pretty good reading. One of the recommendations that have been taken up by her taskforce is the creation of a National Centre for Universities and Business (NCUB), because overall the conclusion of their research was that university business interactions need strengthening and we should try to understand the sector differences.

Reinhilde Veugelers, in her role of Professor of Managerial Economics, KU Leuven (she is also scientific council member ERC), had another observation. She said that we are missing yollies, new high-tech, high-growth sectors, often university origins (graduate spin-offs), though ollies are increasingly open-innovative.

The remainder of the day consisted of a plenary forum, a few parallel sessions in the afternoon (we attended Research management) and the day ended with a plenary session again, chaired by Michiel Kolman, Elsevier. In his stakeholders’ map of Science marketing I missed the libraries. An observation from my side – we were not the intended target group of the day. The support that libraries provide for research management is apparently not recognized (intentionally or not). Most challenging part of the plenary forum was Frank Miedema, Dean of UMC Utrecht. He took as an example the new MRI-guided radio therapy which has a huge societal impact, but no big publications. He stated that grants and proposals should be really read again, that other stakeholders should be involved in the reviewing and that we should change our backward looking reviewing to forward looking actions. I liked the comment Wouter Gerritsma tweeted during his session: “Miedema actually tells the audience that scientists should tell stories. Storify your research! Valuable impact.” A countercomment was made quoting Pasteur: “However, chance only favours the prepared mind”, so how would you prevent bias?

Of course there was also some information about CWTS and the recent published Leiden ranking, and the U-multirank, presented by Ben Jongbloed.

Lisa Colledge (again Elsevier) also took the opportunity to tell something about Pure, and their work in the UK following the demand for comparative data & research metrics referred to as snowball metrics.

Cornelis van Bochove, now with CWTS, tried to model the prospect of economic growth in comparison to investment in research. An important phenomenon he referred to was the rate of learning. If the rate of learning is high, your growth is higher. According to Van Bochove the rate of learning in basic research is higher, so your return on investment is higher. There was some discussion whether his quantitative numbers were correct. He stated that one euro applied R&D generates about 15 euro and one euro basic research generates 50 euro extra national income. So he claims that topsector policies are harmful for Dutch economic growth, and that such approach is more appropriate for transitional counties. Interestingly he also claimed that government should pay for open access to publications and data, because it is needed to raise the rate of learning.

Though there was more material presented I would like to end with the contribution of Marja Zonnevylle (Shell). Instead of talking about marketing your research, she prefers that university and business should start talking together, at an early stage. Shell has a few deep and long relationships with universities (she mentioned ETH Zurich and our own TU Delft). Furthermore Zonnevylle stated that it is not the technology that is the most difficult to tackle: “You can always fix something, it is the other thing that is difficult (economy, politics).”Also Zonnevylle mentioned that Shell’s approach to intellectual property is changing. She says it is good to make things in open literature, because if there is more out there, the more there is to do and learn.

So did we get enough back from this congress, what was our return of investment? Also here I guess you cannot always quantify the impact you get out of it. One learning element for me was that obviously our Deans (two were present, from Industrial Design Engineering and Civil Engineering & Geosciences) had not approached us from the library, when they received their invitation, to ask whether we would be going. So still much work to do!

With courtesy to


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Research data: let the flowers grow!

Fran Berman: let the flowers grow!

From March 18-20 I joined with my colleague @jprombouts the launch event of the research data alliance. Obviously much discussion took place on governance issues. However, I also learned some stuff in Goteborg, and took a few ideas back home.

The launch was kicked off by Neelie Kroes, where she put the necessity to form this alliance forward: the EU is supporting open science, and wants to make science work better for all of us, with ownership and cooperation of scientists themselves. Another interesting contribution came from Peter Fox (Tetherless World constellation / Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute). He gave us five considerations:

  1. Work as you’ve succeeded > what would it all look like 10 years from now?
  2. It is not <just> about data
  3. It is about the alliance
  4. Be aware of vertical integration opportunity and needs
  5. The culture around data has to change

Peter told the RDA to be ready, be dynamic, be active, and urged us to bring together Head, Heart and Gut. It is difficult to avoid that I am only blogging quotes that have already been sent around via twitter! I liked e.g. Francine Berman’s remark that it is not just your data, it is other people’s data as well.

Together with Ross Wilkinson and John Wood she forms the RDA Council (to be expanded), where they represent the original founding from US, Australia and Europe. The RDA is being formed, or perhaps a better word would be moulded, by its members into the right shape. Two working groups have been approved so far, i.e., on data type registries and pid information types. The Council emphasized that RDA is about connecting data, people and disciplines. Of course the world consists of more than Australia, US and Europe, so there were also presentations about progress made in the field of research data from Canada, India, South Africa and China.

Upon arrival in Goteborg, we saw these very nice trees and benches.

We could digest real interesting content at the start of the second day. First we had Manfred Laubichler from Arizona State University telling us about the digital HPS (History and Philosophy of Science), He showed us that it is indeed not only about data, but also about the methods you need to deploy the data. Laubichler gave us an example from the Evolutionary population ecology. We saw that researcher Bradshaw changed his mind when comparing his statement in 1948 with the one in 1965. To understand why that happened you need to understand the scientific context of the whole field. So he concluded that these computational approaches require cyberinfrastructure, open and transparent (big) data and linkable repositories. Philip Bourne (from UCSD, and later in the same week also present at Force 11), taught us some lessons:

  1. It is all about trust (“trust in the data is perhaps our biggest achievement”), so listen to your community & engage them in every part of the process
  2. Data quality begats trust (support for versioning hence the copy of record, all versions accessible)
  3. It is all about people (curators are the unsung heroes)
  4. It is NOT all about institutions. No data standards body has directly influenced PDB, the protein databank
  5. It is about Openness. PDB should be more transparent about data usage .

Further interesting stuff from Bourne was that the thought that data are created are equal must end, that we need to understand how data are used, that reductionism is not a dirty word, that we should do more with the long tail, and should stop looking at funding agencies. And to conclude: “Think about the questions we wish to answer rather than simply being able to retrieve the data.”

The remainder of the launch meeting was perhaps really what is all about – established and perhaps-to-be-established working groups gathered for afternoon sessions on the second day and reported back on this the next day. We can tell at the next (mid-September in Washington) plenary RDA meeting what real actions have been taken up by all these groups, what plans are still valid and where new things are added.

Also for us both at 3TU.datacentre and TU Delft Library we need to work on our ambition and see where we can streamline this with all the RDA initiatives. Will we be able to take part in the yet-to-be-approved engagement working group , the publishing data interest group (with its subgroup on citation of dynamic data), while our DANS colleagues chair the to-be-approved certification working group and more interesting stuff is going in, e.g. in Preservation, or PID information, Terminology, etc ….? What we know for sure is that we cannot do everything, There were three things though that I brought back with me to have some further thoughts about:

  1. Should we (copying Research Data Canada) start a Research Data Netherlands initiative? Where we make sure that there is a voice for the Netherlands in several associations, alliances, working groups and that we think about an efficient workload and division in topics, disciplines?
  2. Would it be an idea (perhaps for the to-be-approved RDA Working Group on Preservation?) to start working on a retention table, so that we take the advice to work on “reductionism” into account?
  3. Is Dataverse Network (which we also will offer to our Delft, Eindhoven and Twente scientists) the thing that is “just as easy” for our scientists to use as Dropbox? Mind you, there is a FileSender option, offered by Surfnet, I am not sure whether we knew about this in Delft!

There was so much more, but I guess I should stop, but not without two more quotes:

  1. Scott Brim: We should  get the horse to drink, the desperate need is there, but it is only clear to us
  2. We could view RDA as green house to let the flowers grow.


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The virtue of being slow

We have got…

a story to tell
people to meet
ideas to share
inside the Library
and cloudwise as well

This was how we started 2013 and we just launched our highlights 2012

But what does it mean? If I take a look at my own agenda, I have been involved in a review process for the University Library Eindhoven, visited the iDCC conference (just for one day, and met with David Groenewegen) in Amsterdam, had a virtual Board meeting for DataCite, and my first Steering Committee meeting for the LIBER group on Scholarly Communication and Research Infrastructures, had meetings with DOK Delft and our TU Delft Sports & Culture group to start working together, did a short talk on the Living Campus ideas for Young Delft, tested working at HNKR with @moqub, showed our Library to Raymond De Prez, Ron Dekker and Wim van der Stelt, had some KB colleagues over, spent a lunch meeting at the University Library in Groningen and …

Well I guess a busy agenda as probably a lot of others have. So what’s the point? The best moments are the unexpected ones, the talks in the doorway, or when wrapping-up, the ideas we share when a visitor spends some time at one of our exhibitions, or has a shared interest in cultural heritage. When we had our New Year’s cake, coffee & tea early January and I talked a bit about our highlights, I mentioned the potential added value a library environment has on “slowness”, and that this can be a virtue. To take your time, to meet the unexpected, to find something in common you never would have known otherwise. You might think a busy agenda would not allow this, but this is not true, as long as you take in-between time to be slow.

I just celebrated today the one year’s anniversary of DOKLab – a few of us at the party came to talk about a possibly new phenomenon, the slow book experiment, something like slow food. Not multitasking, zapping and speedreading, but taking your time to read, contemplate, debate and be “laidback”. And again not an original idea, I found a blog from one year ago on the Slow Books Manifesto, a pity though that blogreading does not count …

(the same site as the Slow Books Manifesto contained a post on a flopped book of Dr Seuss, you must read this and take a look at the pictures, see below!)


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Things change. But not so fast.

It is not often that I write or talk about books. Yes, I am “proud to be” a librarian, but there is just so much more nowadays that draws our attention and urges us to expose images, weblectures, maps,  research data and articles besides our bold books. What I do know is that we want these books to circulate, be hold, be read and be loved.

So we will make a first step in changing our policy by allowing our readers to keep the book they borrowed for a longer period, and will renew the loaning period automatically, if no reserves have been made on the book. I am curious to see how this turns out – we still want the books back in our book gallery after some time, but who knows, perhaps we should be rethinking the whole “borrowing” concept. Because books are there to be hold, read and be loved, not to be on our shelves. Things change. But not so fast.

Of course we are proud to have this beautiful book gallery – it is iconic and makes our library complete.

The past month (January 2013) we celebrated the 15 year anniversary of the Library building and had an exhibition in our Library Learning Centre, where we showed our ‘ iCone’. When plans were made for a new Library building on the campus, the requirement that a new building should be ‘future proof’ was included in the set of requirements. So yes, our building is future proof, with unique features, such as the (energy efficient) grass roof, a special way of cold and heat storage and of course our fascinating layout and design.

However, we have been working hard ourselves the past five years to keep also the usage and identity of the building `up to speed’ with our changing user requirements. We now offer a diversity in study spaces, places to work together, lounge and relax chairs, exhibitions, workshops, a fine cup of coffee/tea – a true one day stay. Things that were not included in the original `future proof’ requirements. So things indeed change. And sometimes faster than you think.


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