“Keep Talking and the Projects Will Come”: One IR Project Leads to Another and Content Leads to Downloads

Becoming a trusted scholarly communications expert on campus is a strategic process, something Jonathan Bull at Valparaiso University and Lucretia McCulley at the University of Richmond illuminated in their informative Digital Commons webinar. The keyword in this equation is “communication”: as Jon says, “Keep talking and the projects will come!” Further, projects keep coming because admins are able to show success along the way with readership reports. Jon and Lucretia have both cultivated their expertise over time and are now the go-to people on their respective campuses for a variety of needs. These range from authors’ rights issues and data management to publishing student work. Jon and Lucretia shared successful outreach ideas, messages that have connected with their stakeholders, and strategies for staying on top of the evolving scholarly communications landscape.

Jon stressed the importance of continually speaking to stakeholders and other librarians. For example, when Jon spoke with a faculty member about putting his research in the IR the professor responded “I can do you one better!” and asked about putting upcoming conference proceedings online. Jon then responded with “one better” than that: putting the whole conference online. The ball kept rolling, culminating in the prestigious collection of the U.S.-Japan Bilateral Workshop on the Tropical Tropopause Layer, an international partnership including multimedia and poster presentations. One IR project leads to another, and content leads to readership—ValpoScholar just passed 1 million downloads—success in action!

Once the downloads come and the IR can demonstrate success, this can beget more success and funding through continual content recruiting and marketing. A healthy IR needs “care and feeding,” as Jon says. Word of mouth can be powerful, as when a Liturgical Conference at Valparaiso was fully hosted in the IR, and a student journal was later developed out of this conference’s success.

Lucretia and Jon both emphasized ongoing education for themselves and their colleagues in the form of webinars, conferences, DC User groups, blogs, copyright workshops, following “conversations beyond the campus” through email lists, and making time for ongoing professional reading of such journals as JLSC and D-Lib Magazine. Lucretia also mentioned that attending bepress’s Scholarly Communications Course was especially helpful in positioning herself as a trusted resource for campus needs.

Lucretia underlined the importance of a faculty engagement program. As Lucretia says, “roam and mingle with faculty” to discover what their current research is. She has let their needs direct her, as when she enriched a Scholarly Communications LibGuide with answers to faculty questions about predatory publishing and evaluating journals—a guide which is now used to educate faculty chairs and the tenure committee. Jon developed a LibGuide on Copyright Issues so faculty could be educated about owning their intellectual property, and which all can turn to for answers on use of copyrighted material on campus. Check out their webinar for a detailed list of suggestions and many more useful tips!