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Posts tagged innovation

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.


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!

LIBER 2014 – Reach out, get into the light!

LIBER 2014 was held in Riga this year, obviously for two reasons (or perhaps three): it is the European Capital of Culture this year, the new National Library (“castle of light” opens this year, and hosted the conference). And perhaps because we could have the former President of Latvia give a wonderful speech about “the power of the word”. Three days around 350 participants gathered from 36 countries, talking about or listening to a variety of subjects, but all under the main theme of this year’s conference: “Research Libraries in the 2020 Information Landscape”. I am picking just a few topics. This year (see last year’s blog) I attended the conference with my colleague Will Roestenburg.

The castle of light

The castle of light


The book gallery in Riga

Open Access
On Tuesday NEREUS (information hub of libraries in supporting research and education in social sciences) organised an Open Access Workshop on Open Access Policies in practice and lessons learned. Five institutes presented their open access policy, mainly focusing on research papers or proceedings and including deposit in the institutional repository. These repositories are named e.g. WRAP (at Warwick, UK), or Lirias (Leuven, Belgium) or RepositoriUM (Minho, Portugal). Main take aways from this session were that you need marketing & advocacy skills in your library, you need to think of how to position your CRIS, repository and personal pages, and you need to diversify your message, because researchers (and their disciplines) are different, and stakeholders (researcher, student, institute, public, companies) are different too. Institutional mandates come in (and prove to be) very handy to increase your success, but you still need to implement the mandate and spread the word.
On Friday there was also a track on Open Access. Inge Werner told us about the new strategy for OA publishing in Utrecht University Library: from services to partnering. Their idea is to work as a greenhouse, and after helping journals in their first phase (though this may last 6 years), to have them transferred to a commercial open access publisher. The main problem for the library is that they really need to educate the editors that publishing cannot be done for free, and although the library is still sponsoring a substantial part of the publishing costs, that will not be the case after the transfer. It is good that we (as libraries) test different models with our main shared goal: get research “reachable”.

Open Framework
Maurizio Lunghi presented on Thursday morning the results of the APARSEN project.  Without (being able to) becoming too technical, the idea of the interoperability framework is that it connects all sorts of persistent identifiers (PI’s), without trying to make one of them redundant or obsolete. It is pictured as a ring of trust (if all PI domains expose their content on LOD, linked open data, in the same way). There is a demonstrator demo online, and I have the idea that this is a very useful development.

Innovation, Flow & Friction
Rachel Frick, Council on Library and Information Resources, USA, started off with telling us where she originates from, and had a nice keynote on Wednesday afternoon, where she referred to DPLA, the digital public library of America. How to minimize friction and maximize flow? We live in a mash-up culture, crossing national and international boundaries, and we know that the network changes everything. We should not wait until people find what we have (after we have at least digitized the most interesting stuff that is not digitally borne), but enrich Wikipedia, make our metadata part of the network and expose our dark matter to the light as true leaders and practitioners of openness ourselves.
Lorraine Joanne Beard and Nick Campbell, from the University of Manchester, UK, explained how the library links to the university strategy. They also confirmed that the library should be vocal and tell how they can help the university to reach its goal. The Eureka example YouTube Preview Image that they have initiated in their Innovation group was a nice one.  In a dragon’s den like event students’ ideas were selected by a professional jury and the winner got some money, and the realisation of his/her idea. Several themes emerged in the contest that were picked up. The Manchester representatives told us to put ideas in practice, and to be more risk taking.
Eva Dahlbäck, from Stockholm University Library, Sweden, told us how they have (internally developed) managed to create the web-based software Viola, which helps staff in the closed stacks to fetch any requested material from the physical stacks, with a smartphone as device.

The right colour!

The right colour!

One of the plenary lectures on Wednesday was about the e-Book Phenomenon and its impact (by Prof. Thomas Daniel Wilson, University of Borås, Sweden). What I liked (it was a pity that he could not finish his talk due to time constraints) was his remark that e-book development has the potential to make an impact on every stakeholder. His suggestion for universities was to produce open-access textbooks, because now you can tailor the textbook to the course (instead of the other way around). Examples he mentioned were the Florida Distance Learning Consortium and Intermediate Algebra (see, representing the very best of Open Educational Resources.

Zooniverse, figshare, distributed proofreaders, metadatagames: they are just a few examples of crowdsourcing. Elena Simperl (from University of Southampton, UK) had a lot for us to learn about it. With crowdsourcing you have a problem and solve it by an open call, using the large network of potential. You can have macrotasks (e.g. innovation), microtasks (e.g. tagging, many people at the same time in parallel), crowdfunding, or contests. Of course it is a nice opportunity to engage with your customer (though you need to understand what drives participation). As Simperl said, computers are sometimes better than humans; this is the age of social machines. Improve information technology, but do not overdo crowdsourcing. Let people do the creative work, and the machines the administration. And in her conclusion she said that creativity remains as task for (the staff of) the library, and we should be glad that you “free up” time to spend on creativity.

Research data management, what works?
This workshop  in the morning of July 2 was organized by the LIBER working group / steering committee on Scholarly Communication and Research Infrastructures. I was moderating the second part and thanks to some good suggestions made by Marina Noordegraaf, we had a very interactive session about training and skills, and encouraged people to start research dating. In short the main take-away messages were that you need to remember that the research groups are not all the same, that you need to be brave (again!) and go out to the researchers, and that we should take advantage of our own network, and learn from each other.
Arlette Piquet from ETH Libraries and Collections, Zurich, Switzerland showed the next day how they are dealing with data curation. Starting with a research survey in 2011, they have defined a timepath and approach, where they have decided to work from one solution, being Ex Libris Rosetta (including administrative data).

Cultural programme
On Tuesday morning we had some time to stroll around in (a very rainy) Riga. We visited the Dome or Riga Cathedral, which is very famous for its organ (for which Frans Liszt, although he has never been there, wrote a chorale “Nun danket alle Gott”). Especially the old cloistral corridors with Riga heritage was worth our visit. Afterwards we drank a coffee at a lovely place, called Sweet Day Café.

Away from the tower now

Away from the tower.


Sweet day cafe

Sweet day cafe

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