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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!

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