Liaison Librarians Embrace New Roles in Publishing Collections Showcased in Digital Commons @Brockport

What are the best practices for inviting liaison librarians to embrace new roles in the IR’s engagement with faculty? Below are tried-and-true suggestions from your peers.

Kim Myers, Digital Repository Specialist at The College at Brockport and a 2014 bepress IR All-Star, offers successful solutions for staffing that develop invaluable feelings of investment and ownership among a broad base of stakeholders both inside and outside the library. A critical part of that ownership comes from the team of liaison librarians who express their excitement to shepherd projects of their own from collections, through curation, to an organized publication showcase. Well beyond a database approach of simply listing recent content, liaison librarians found that the inherent flexibility in the Digital Commons @Brockport platform lets them use their expertise in and passion for designing curated collections. These collections provide context, branding, and personalized organization of scholarship, allowing librarians to support scholarly communications widely on campus through the IR’s suite of services.

In the recent Webinar on Successful Staffing Solutions, Kim and members of the team at Brockport’s Drake Memorial Library share strategies that have led to 68% of Brockport’s library staff participating in their institutional repository—all this while seamlessly combining their projects in the IR, Digital Commons @Brockport, with other duties. As Librarian Charles Cowling put it, “I find Digital Commons a very flexible, user-friendly and engaging way to present the story of Brockport. It is very accessible given my other responsibilities.” By giving each librarian ownership of their chosen projects Kim is promoting collaborative investment in the IR, which is the very kernel of a successful IR initiative.

Kim offers five guiding principles on how to make collaborative staffing work for you:

1. Match interest with opportunity – Librarians are passionate about things that are in their collections; give them a chance to work on projects they love and showcase them in the IR.
2. Approach during the quiet season – Often the summer is best to ask a colleague to take on new projects and plan for the year to come.
3. Offer discrete projects – Make it clear and easy to jump in and out.
4. Make it a part of the culture – Include IR work in job descriptions and annual reviews.
5. Show appreciation – In small ways, along with a yearly celebration advertising library success.

Kim explained the collaborative model in which “Each person does a little bit, which adds up to a lot.” In terms of staffing numbers, Kim lists 1½ FTE, with zero IT support needed for Digital Commons as it is a fully hosted solution including unlimited support. She reported that it was easy to make the case to continue with the IR “once it was clear how much good PR it was generating, the ETDs being noticed, and a direct correlation between environmental science master theses used to inform public policy.” She went on to say that “We are always looking for activities that fulfill our service, scholarship requirements for our jobs as librarians, and by serving on committees we can show others the IR.”

Want practical ideas for supporting liaison librarians’ shifting roles? Read on to see concrete examples of Brockport librarians using the IR to participate fully in faculty and student engagement and scholarly communication on campus.

Librarian Debby Ames is passionate about promoting faculty work. Before the repository came along her efforts included adding a “Faculty Publications” subject heading to the catalog records, and a “Faculty Publication” bookplate to the books—both of which reached a limited range of patrons. Debby explained “I was very excited when Digital Commons came along to add cover images and metadata for the faculty titles, so it really highlights the publications….Authors now get emails when their book is downloaded; they get excited about it and send in more books,” growing the repository and promoting faculty scholarship. In addition, because the works are easily retrieved in Google searches (including by subject), the authors often receive emails from scholars worldwide about their books, which they greatly appreciate. In this way, Debby is engaging faculty through the very organization and presentation of the content in the IR, along with the reporting tools built into the system.

Librarian Greg Toth suggests that a “willingness to adapt one’s role to what’s needed” is key, and cites the IR platform as a flexible vehicle with which he can do just this. Greg matched his interest in open access publishing with the opportunity to work with the Journal of Literary Onomastics Studies and the Philosophic Exchange journal, both of which recently went online in the IR to gain a larger audience and cut costs. Greg feels strongly about making the faculty aware of the benefits of OA publishing through the IR, and gets credit for doing this work at his yearly job review. Greg sees the IR as an opportunity for himself and his colleagues to support their constituents by publishing and promoting their work in a highly discoverable OA format.

Librarian Charles Cowling reported previously working with CONTENTdm and Dspace, and said “I found Digital Commons to be a lot more user-friendly to input materials. I find it very easy and friendly to work with bepress.” Charles works periodically on the IR, using discrete projects to engage with DC (such as digitizing yearbooks) and then returns to other work as needed.

Similarly, Librarian Susan Perry found a solution in DC for the “Brockport Believes Essay Project” collection. This is a discrete project where, as Susan put it, she “wanted to show incoming freshman past essays written in the same summer program, and Digital Commons provided the perfect showcase.” Her excitement for this project expanded when the IR allowed her to publish open access all the past student essays, thus inspiring and attracting incoming students.

As Susan put it, “Masters Theses are downloaded thousands of times each month; we feel that Digital Commons is really an outreach program.” The team at Brockport found that the flexibility built into their IR platform allows librarians’ skills to shine—curation, organization, publishing, and promotion of their stakeholder’s scholarship engaging directly with scholarly communication on campus.