The SCOOP: We are ALL Scholarly Communications Librarians

Submitted by Christine Fruin, ATLA Scholarly Communication/Open Access Publishing Manager

The SCOOP, Scholarly COmmunication and Open Publishing, is a monthly column published to inform ATLA members of recent developments, new resources, or interesting stories from the realm of scholarly communication and open access publishing.

The Organizational Ends of ATLA state that ATLA exists so that “…information professionals have the tools they need for robust scholarly communication in the fields of theology and religion.” This declaration recognizes not only the increasing need of librarians to be versed in scholarly communication issues but also ATLA’s commitment to supporting librarians in achieving competency in this area.

During my career as a librarian, I have specialized in scholarly communications as an area of professional practice. However, I have also witnessed librarians of all types being called upon to serve as a resource for scholarly communications questions or as collaborators in projects that improve upon the system of producing and disseminating scholarly information. For example, access services librarians search open access repositories for requested content, e-resources librarians negotiate licenses to preserve the right of fair use, and liaison librarians provide guidance on evaluating open access journals. Further, in smaller libraries where librarians customarily wear the hats of the cataloging, acquisitions, and reference librarians, they must now also don the hat of the scholarly communications librarian to accommodate their patrons’ growing awareness of and involvement in scholarly communications initiatives.

NASIG Core Competencies for Scholarly Communications Librarians

This summer NASIG released its Core Competencies for Scholarly Communication Librarians. Although the report directs its recommendations to persons whose primary job assignment is scholarly communications, the compiled list of five areas of emphasis provides a framework for librarians and libraries of all types. These five categories of competency represent the growing areas of need not only for libraries but for all actors within the scholarly communication system that libraries interact with, including scholars, authors, and publishers. The five areas of emphasis are: (1) Institutional Repository Management, (2) Publishing Services, (3) Copyright Services, (4) Data Management Services, and (5) Assessment and Impact Metrics.

Despite the growing need for competencies and expertise in scholarly communications, library schools have been slow to offer courses focused on scholarly communications issues such as copyright and open access. Librarians frequently turn to tools or courses library associations offer such as ACRL’s Scholarly Communication Toolkit and SPARC’s webinars on open access and open education resources. ATLA also strives to serve as a resource for its members to provide training and tools for the development of their scholarly communication knowledge base. The ATLA Task Force on Scholarly Communication in Religion and Theology is focused on developing initiatives to further scholarly communication in the field, and I will soon offer webinars and develop subject-specific resources to strengthen the scholarly communication competencies of members. Please feel free to email me with suggestions of topics you’d like to see covered.

Recommended Further Reading

Report from ACRL on the Intersections of Scholarly Communication and Information Literacy. See Section 3 on New Roles for Librarians: “In order to integrate the full scope of scholarly communication issues into their work, liaison librarians have to sufficiently understand copyright and fair use, authors’ rights, open access, citation metrics [traditional and “alt”], publishing options, digital preservation, and institutional repository development and management.”

Clifford Lynch’s excellent call to action for libraries to engage further in scholarly communications: Updating the Agenda for Scholarly Communications. (“In setting an agenda for scholarly communications, we need to be profoundly mindful that for virtually all faculty and graduate students, the dissemination of their scholarly work has become a complex, confusing, time-consuming morass of funder mandates, institutional policies, choices about publishing venues, article processing charges, and questions such as whether or not to release preprints at various stages of the development of their work. We have got to find ways to simplify and streamline this mess and to honor the increasingly scarce time of researchers, hopefully in ways that lead to very desirable outcomes for the broad scholarly community and for stewardship institutions.”)

Evidence of the increasing need for scholarly communication expertise through a review of recent job advertisements, as well as an examination of the paucity of training to prepare librarians for this new role, published in the Journal of Librarianship and Scholarly Communication. (“Scholarly communication will soon be considered a core component of academic librarianship, alongside the traditional pillars of the trade [references and instruction, collection development, cataloging].”)

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