More from TU:Librarian

Posted in 2016

Just science

So here I am, starting to write the national plan on open science for The Netherlands. This seems to be a heavy task, with a deadline of early February 2017. And nothing on paper yet. Why do I have confidence that we will succeed?

  1. I am, because we are. The full quote is: “I am because WE are and, since we are, therefore I am.” A quote by John Mbiti, of which the short version was used at a “tile painting” workshop at Royal Delft (De Porceleyne Fles) we recently organized during our “Day out of the Library with all our personnel”. The assignment was to paint a quote that had a relation with the benefits of working together. I succeed, because we succeed. Not only is the writing process a team effort (with Hester Touwen, Anke Versteeg and Astrid van Wesenbeeck), we are not making up our own ideas. We read, listen, view, talk, get together, and – though our time is limited – aim to put the actions that The Netherlands is undertaking in relation to open science together. We do this in close connection with and under supervision of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sciences.
  2. “Beware of that demon called ‘Changing The World’.” A quote by Marty Rubin. We know the Council Conclusions on the transition towards an open science system, and of course the Amsterdam Call for Action (see here the blog I wrote about the Congress). Open science means that we open up the scientific process, as much as possible. This will further science and society. Economy and innovation may flourish by opening up the scientific process. For our plan we restrict ourselves to three lines, based on the goals as laid down in the Council conclusions, i.e., 100% open access for scientific publications (that were created via public funding) per 2020; optimal reuse of research data; and perhaps the most important of all, implementing a broader view on the way research and researchers are assessed and rewarded. We are aware that a lot is going on, both in and outside our country. It is impossible to mention everything, though we will incorporate a few initiatives in relation with these three lines, and we will be listening to the users from science and society. No we will not be changing the world by writing this plan, but we will be adding our practice, ideas and actions to reach our result: meaningful access to science and scientific processes.
  3. A plan is not the end; it is a beginning. In February we will have a national plan open science, and at the same time our Ministry will launch the national platform open science. In this way continuity is guaranteed, actions can be followed, new ones can be added, and changes can be made.


Let us support our researchers so that it is clear for them, on their bumpy road, what they can and cannot do, what tools they should be using (in what way), and how they can reach a destination that seems to be blocked. Making open science the default road. Making open science just science. 

Indications which road is closed ("afgesloten"), or still available ("bereikbaar") should be given.

Indications which road is closed (“afgesloten”), or still available (“bereikbaar”) should be given.

It should be clear who is allowed to do what.

It should be clear who is allowed to do what, and what tools are useful.

It should be clear what you cannot or should not be doing.

It should be clear what you cannot or should not be doing.

“Go as far as you can see.
When you get there
You’ll be able
to see farther”

Thomas Carlyle


The future of libraries? Just move forward.

Via Emre Hasan Akbayrak  I read an interesting report from the Aspen Institute (Amy K. Garmer) covering a Leadership Roundtable on Library Innovation. In the roundtable three strategies were identified that “focus on libraries embracing technology as a means to anticipating and addressing consumer needs”.

I used the reference in a short talk about the library of the future when our TU Delft Library colleague Frits van Latum retired (exactly one month ago at time of writing, time flies!).
Within this past month a few things happened in our Library that reminded me of these strategic lines.

Think 10G! Re-imagine your staff as community activators working on relations and collaboration. Create superconnected creative spaces.

I find resemblance in what we are doing with our research data management programme within the university. Together with our faculties we are assembling the right framework and tools for their researchers and design relevant faculty data stewardship. This is all about relationships and collaboration.
A Library as Supertape or Superglue. A Library as Superbrain, that you can connect to and trust.

America Civic square
Facilitate the debate as a neutral player. Act as a living platform, and safeguard the local and national conversations.

From the report this seems to be more focused on public or national libraries, but the neutral role of the Library is of great value, also for us as a university library. It is with that reason that Studium Generale operates as part of our organisation. And the social part of the platform can be enforced by the renewed Coffeestar (that officially opened on 10 September 2016). However, there is much opportunity to grow in this area!

Anybody can add content to the library, though the library still checks and validates, and by doing this a rich online library emerges, where usage and participation are key for its success.

The content you can add can be so much more than the traditional text and images. On 26 September 2016 we opened the depot of our academic heritage, which moved to our building (and is now part of our book depot). We want to add material like this to our online Library collection, and want to hear user’s stories connected to these objects. We are also planning to do that with our tinkertable devices and material.

Photo made by Marcel Janssen.

Opening of our new depot for academic heritage. Photo made by Marcel Janssen.

The App-Library can add to the educational experience, and the content can be (re-) used in education. A good example for this was presented in the exhibition Chairs, tables, lamps and sets that started in our Library, and now (until 9 October 2016) is displayed in the Prinsenkwartier. The chairs of the Faculty of Architecture were taken out of their shelves and into education. Three design courses challenged students to start “a dialogue with a Chair” and – inspired by that research – to make a new design for a Lamp, Table or Set.

As I said in my presentation on 1 September, we cannot predict the future. We should continue to do relevant work, dare to innovate, and move forward. There are enough metaphors that come to mind when reading the report. I already mentioned Supertape, Superglue or Superbrain. With the retired Frits in mind, you can also have a:

  • Library as espressomachine (strengthens your senses)
  • Library as mindmap (ordens your mind)
  • Library as sailing boat (takes you whatever direction the wind blows)

There are enough metaphors around for us. That is for sure!


My Library could be an open square, where I have a comfortable seat, and where I get a new insight, from the people I meet or the things I encounter.


A city of transparency

I am reporting on LIBER and on Helsinki again. So it better be good. A few days of both is a good way to pass your time. At LIBER 2016 “opening paths to knowledge” (45th edition) there were the usual topics on the agenda. The best short speech of day 1 for me was the speech during the conference dinner, by the deputy mayor. He referred to the Helsinki open data site, and called Helsinki a city of transparency. In times where populism rules, it is necessary to know your facts, and to advocate for the better argument. This is why it is so important to share your data and your knowledge. It had been a long day, and I could not make notes, so the quotes are not perfect, but I thought it was a very good dinner speech. Copying from the website: “Imagine a city where public decision-making is easy for all to follow and comment on using any digital channel. A solution to this challenge is being sought in Helsinki, which has long been working to unlock the data reserves related to municipal decision-making.”

WP_20160629_002 (1)


The first day also started with data. The topic of the pre-workshop I attended was “skills for supporting research data”. There were a lot of examples of libraries starting training for staff, for researchers (at different levels), a lot of variety in topics, in forms (flipped classroom, MOOCs, offline and online mixes) and experiences. The conclusion Wolfram Horstmann made at the end was that our role regarding research data skills training is established, what remains is at what level and detail we can or want to do this. Useful links (besides of course of our own training Essentials 4 Data Support) are the overview of existing education-models by DataOne, and the MOOC developed by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and The University of Edinburgh.

Another topic of LIBER was Libraries in publishing (or should we say releasing results, as was suggested during the conference). I liked the presentation from Göttingen. Margo Bargheer and Birgit Schmidt found a few answers when preparing their paper. Research libraries are on a mission: they work on more transparency, more participation, open access and more accuracy. Libraries can help researchers to “be good, and avoid the bad”. I liked their references to the Open Science peer reviewer oath, the Singapore statement on research integrity and the answer to the question we asked ourselves in the pre-workshop (when is the right time to start training) by their training for junior scientists. Talking about outreach, on the last day we had a presentation about Altmetrics. Susanna Kirsi Nykyri and Valtteri Reino Vainikka, from Helsinki University Library, shared their experience with Plumx from Ebsco. I really appreciated their reservations and conclusions at the end. Altmetrics are not the answer for everyone, as always it is discipline-related. As a library you may have a lot of extra work, choice of the platform is essential, the success is depending on language, complete metadata, use of identifiers and source lists. ORCID seems to be of great help (though ORCID accounts also need to be updated).

Of course I could not attend every session (however, my colleague Zofia Dzwig also attended LIBER, and went to other presentations), but I was enticed to go to the “user-centred” session on day 2, and good that I did so, because this was a very nice session. The one that I highlight here is from Cambridge University Library. Sue Mehrer and Andy Priestner made an impressive presentation. Bear in mind (quoting Margaret Mead): “What people say, what people do, or say they do are entirely different things”, and try to benchmark yourself against services that people encounter in their daily life. A good idea according to Sue and Andy is tested via a MVP (minimum viable product), which gives you the opportunity to fail forward (learn and improve). Their Futurelib prototypes (70% complete) are often not brought to the final version. When I later spoke to Andy, he mentioned that this is the way it is in a time where things change so rapidly, we are living in beta forever. Their staffing is just 1,5 person. Depending on the topic, they have other employees involved and hire extra resources. All sessions made clear that innovation is dynamic, changes need to be evaluated, and users to be asked for their experiences on a regular basis. However, beware that you check what your users do (not what they say). To give also some credit to the other two presentations in this session: keep on listening, reviewing and challenging (Penny Hicks). And if you go out and ask your users, bring in an outside view, and do not present yourself as a library (Eva Dahlbäck and Martin Wincent).

An example MVP from Cambridge University Library. Spacefinder: helping Cambridge University students find study spaces which match their needs.

And of course open science and open access  were present at the congress. Ralf Schimmer had a keynote, but did not bring a new view or the “how” roadmap on his transformation paper.

A bit before the wrap-up I had to leave, thank you LIBER, organisers and particpants, for yet another conference worth attending!

Sparks of joy

Is it possible to know (the intention or story within) a book without reading it? To just discuss its outline with some friends or colleagues who more or less “believe” in it? And then without further ado writing a blogpost about it.
Well anyway, that is what I am doing, so apologies if I have made the wrong assumptions. As far as I get it the book is about clearing the mess in your house, in a logical order, and to help you in reaching or living a happy life, without too much focus on possessions.

I wondered about the analogy with us librarians. Part of us is about collecting, in the old days of paper, and nowadays of online content (and then often without possession;-). A collection that we order, clear and clean, in a conscious or thoughtful way. (Other parts of us are about so many more things, serving the best study places, providing academic skills to students and staff, facilitating the production of online education or research output. Of course.)

Do we wonder, during our special tasks, if something “sparks a joy” (the phrase that I hear and read whenever the book is quoted)? Is that something we could or would consider in our review of (online) materials? I guess not always. However perhaps this question would just be enough. Joy. Inspiration. Good memories. Useful tips. Bringing in the joy of reading, of keeping or telling why something is or was important. So that could also be a good subtitle for the Library. A place filled with sparks of joy.


Dig-It! Research Exhibition during IfoT 2016 TU Delft.

On June 2, we had a Research Exhibition in our Library. Twenty innovative projects of our university were presented, and a lot of (external) visitors were walking around, talking with the researchers, and listening to some speed talks. Some people asked me whether this was a proper event to take place in the Library. I explained that we want people to search (be curious!), find (get answers!) and share information (create and innovate!) via all sorts of channels or ways. So of course our place can contain so much more than the traditional books or study places. Exhibitions, project presentations, workshops. In the context of science, design and engineering they all fit our purpose. To create sparks of joy.

And by the way. I am hesitating to follow my friends’ way of clearing or cleaning the stuff in my own house. I am fuzzying my way through my possessions. 😉

Educate. Innovate. Create.

Educate. Innovate. Create. After we transformed to a Library Learning Centre, several years ago, these were the words that we posted on our walls. I thought of them again during the two days of the Open Science Presidency Conference in Amsterdam. I am not going to repeat the words of the Dutch State Secretary Sander Dekker or European commissioner Carlos Moedas (though I am very pleased for the priority and attention that they give to open access to publications and sharing of research data). I would like to reflect on the session we organized on the second day, the break-out session on Innovation. The key items for this session were looking at successful new models for scholarly communication, and how new users can benefit from opening up science.

Takforce innovation (without Ralf Schimmer, Mark Patterson and Eefke Smit).

Taskforce innovation (without Ralf Schimmer, Mark Patterson and Eefke Smit).

Under inspiring guidance (thank you David Bohmert), we listened to several speakers:

  • Cees Leeuwis on responsible life sciences innovations for developing countries (referring to EVOCA, environmental virtual observatories for connective action). He would benefit if (grant) calls would be interdisciplinary and targeted, and he emphasized that we should open up the whole research process (do not focus entirely on research outputs).
  • Lucia Malfent reported to us about the experiences with the citizen science project ‘Tell Us’ as a best practice of open innovation in science. She asked us to train scientists in applying methods of openness, and in the discussion afterwards we realized that citizens would also benefit if we would make open “what is already out there”. Should universities be funding citizen science?
  • Jeroen Bosman and Bianca Kramer broadened our perspective with 101 innovations in scholarly communication. On 15 April 2016 they will open data of their survey amongst researchers. They presented their G-E-O model Good Efficient Open (as goals for science & scholarship). Focus for researchers is mainly on doing things efficiently. So we need to stimulate the open or good angle.
  • Daniel Wyler brought it back to money: he talked about innovations in funding and funding innovation. He made it clear that new funding schemes encourage innovative research.

The talks were preceded by Vincent Lien, who set up an ePetition in the UK to call for free access to research journals for teachers in August 2014.

The results of our session, and of the conference, were captured in a Call for Action, that was published on 7 April 2016, both as a pdf to view the state-of-the-art on that day, and as a dynamic wiki, so that all participants and other stakeholders could add comments (possible until 14 April).

In our Innovation session we collected the ideas or improvements of our delegates in an innovative way (of course!). Everybody was invited to write these down on a postcard, and we connected them, to make a truly concerted action line. All actions have been processed in our own Trello board, including the tweets harvested via #innotrack.

Creating a concerted action line.

Creating a concerted action line.

We also wanted to showcase nice innovations in our sessions, but two hours is not that much. Marina Noordegraaf created a Tour d’Horizon. In this short movie we show three models in the developing landscape of Open Science: 1. APC funded journals; 2. distributed publishing roles with the overlay journal as one of the examples;  and 3. building innovations around timely sharing smaller units of research outputs. We call for “research and innovation to take a long term perspective and not be trapped by the past”, quoting commissioner Moedas.  If the Commission wants to make Europe open to innovation, open to science and open to the world, it must dare to choose new models for opening up research outputs and credit participatory and Open Science.

Wrapping up: a nice session, a good experience! Educate each other, Treasure innovations, and Be creative!

Dutch State Secretary with organizing committee.

Dutch State Secretary with organizing committee.

P.S. Talking about different approaches. On 7 April Leiden University launched a movie “On being a scientist“. Touching issues on plagiarism, publication pressure and integrity. Nice!

Learning from experience @OpenEducationWeek

Anka Mulder, Vice President of Education and Operations at TU Delft, invited me to speak briefly about Open Science at our Open Education Seminar during Open Education Week 2016. I had only limited time so I could not really expand on the topic, but I think that it is really good to combine the two. We want to share our work or results to society, so that both economy and society-at-large can benefit. Open up your software, your research data & publications, your education and your campus. To move forward. To make science better. Of course open if possible, closed if necessary.


As I stated it all started over (far) more than a decade ago with lobbying for open access. Open access, a topic that goes hand in hand with libraries. TU Delft Library’s mission is to let knowledge flow freely, because students, teachers and researchers will become better when they use knowledge of others, and share their own (see also an older post “share to grow“). In The Netherlands things have gone rather “wild” lately in relation with open access to publications, and I think that has a reason.

The Netherlands are now seen as a forerunner, as guide towards open access. To my opinion this was due to two factors: enhancement & diversity. After the statement by our State Secretary, we joined efforts (VSNU, UKB and Surfmarket) in the negotiation teams, and we had them chaired by our Vice Chancellors. Three of them were directly involved and formed a front of our universities towards the publishers. A true enhancement with respect to the situation before where we had our negotiations without Board level involvement. When we discussed our conditions with the publishers, we made it explicit that we wanted to move to open access via the license deals, without us paying more money. We stuck to our principles, but we added diversity by accepting a variety of paces along the way.

Learning from experience is always wise. We will start at TU Delft as per 1 May 2016 to have all Delft authors to post their paper (final accepted version) in our institutional repository. We diversify, i.e., we follow the gold route as far as we manage to be successful in our license negotiations, we follow the green route where journals do not offer other open access solutions (or far too expensive ones) and we stimulate new initiatives. We enhance our Open Science umbrella by implementing Open Research as stepping stone to Open Science. We are setting up a data stewardship programme with our faculties supported by a multidisciplinary team (Library, ICT, Legal Services, Strategic Development) as part of our 2016 agenda. Understanding that for research data diversification means that we open them if possible, and close them if necessary and using a fair (findable accessible interoperable reusable) approach.

TU Delft is also a forerunner in Open Education. We started with OpenCourseware by providing free and open educational resources in 2007. Many other initiatives have arisen in the mean time, from free MOOCs, online masters to paid Professional Education. So also here, some content is open, some is closed. The bottomline is that we want to share. Or as Anka Mulder puts as tagline on her weblog: “Deliver World Class Education to Everyone”.

Paper, Pinterest and other Library Trends

It is as if it is virtual reality week. I hear about developments at Apple, Google and a virtual reality movie to be recorded, all within just a few days. News that I pick up via (Internet) radio, the newspaper and blogs. Yes, I am a slow changer. Though I work paperless for some years now, have a mobile office (my laptop with my wires) and put my notes in OneNote, I do like to read the paper news, the paper book and scribble lyrics on a paper note.

Making slow changes does move me forward however. I use Twitter, Facebook (but more as observer, checking what is happening), but not Instagram, Snapchat or Pinterest. I checked Meerkat and have Spotify, but have no Netflix account (we very rarely buy a movie via Apple TV.) I use my Samsung Galaxy Tab for minuting meetings or conferences, or for reading via the Kindle app when travelling. Adaptation mainly driven by office needs, adapting when things can be done more practical, but I am surely no new gadget adept.


So how about virtual reality? I am not sure whether this would work for me. Would I have a VR experience instead of going to a museum? Would I enjoy a VR movie or documentary? Go for a dinner, always at the same place, but in a virtual world? I am not sure. I just watched this Raw Data game by  Survios – that is not the thing for me. Or have a look at Micosoft’s hololens. A different way to watch football, to interact, to have virtual avatars in the same room. For me it should probably first start in my working environment, a virtual board meeting instead of using GoMeeting, Lync or Skype.

My Library colleagues in Research & Development and our Programma Manager for the Library Learning Centre are investigating a possible VR happening in our Library, presenting faculty work. Read the blogs they now write on new Library trends, some are in Dutch, some in English. Great stuff, of course on virtual reality, but also on the new Beam(er) and a Library with a Pinterest account (and that of course could get me using it!).

We should be life long learning, right!? Learning about e.g. the future of publishing (“Don’t be disillusioned. There was nothing wrong with email, public transportation or cameras, but they were all flipped upside down by Facebook, Uber and iPhones. Digital will change publishing. In fact, it already has.”). The best source to learn from is of course young people. This week my daughter turned 12, she took my telephone, and showed me how I could use Whatsapp web on the PC, via the QR reader. I had no idea, and that is worrying. I know that we all should be learning how to code (reading, writing and arithmetic), and in the end I probably will … though I am a slow changer.

© 2011 TU Delft