Jump Start Your Scholarly Communication Initiatives: Lessons Learned From Redesigning the Scholarly Communications Roadshow for a New Generation of Librarians

“In keeping with its role as a bellwether for a changing profession, the Roadshow’s latest revision points to several clear lessons in designing engagement. At a high level, engagement must recognize the diversity of scholarly communication and the variety of paths libraries are following. For many stakeholders within and beyond the library, the perception that scholarly communication is simply a conversation about open access to scholarly articles remains. This can be dispiriting for librarians who may feel that if they cannot sustain a large open access fund or drive a campus mandate then scholarly communication “isn’t for their campus.” Similarly, campus administrators and faculty may dismiss scholarly communication as little more than library complaints about funding.

Instead, scholarly communication should be presented as an opportunity to do new things that advance the core mission of the library and the institution. Scholarly communication should be understood as supporting exciting new types of scholarship, documenting the broader impact of the university’s work, reducing barriers to student success, and enabling compliance with complicated mandates from national funding agencies. The Roadshow’s use of a pre-survey and modules is one way to tailor outreach to the priorities of diverse institutions, but on-campus engagement can do this in a variety of ways from partnering with campus stakeholders to department-specific work on pressing issues.

A second major lesson learned from our revision is that engagement should be led by presenters that balance their own expertise with work that highlights the expertise of others in the community. Of course, exercises and workshops need to present new information and skills with high levels of credibility, but evaluations make it clear that expertise is valued no more highly than attributes like an engaging presentation style or opportunities to do hands-on work. A session where peers work through a concrete problem together is likely to be more impactful than a dry lecture from even the most respected expert presenter.

This is especially true in the context of scholarly communication where the issues are new and rapidly evolving so expertise is likely to be fluid and shared across the institution. The Roadshow has put a premium on group work because it accommodates diverse levels of expertise. At almost any institution, every librarian is an expert in something and a novice in something else. An exercise or series of events that lets individuals show off their own expertise and then learn from others is effective for all participants, rather than racing past those who are new or slowing down to the frustration of those with more experience.

Finally, scholarly communication engagement is most effective when it is designed to develop a community of practice, rather than impart specific skills. There is too much content to be covered in any single day. A workshop can introduce shared vocabulary, present case studies, or provide a framework, but scholarly communication is too large and fast moving to be covered in a workshop or lecture. Instead, it should be integrated into the core work of the library through targeted engagement that supports pilot projects and new models of librarianship.” 

RBM: A Journal of Rare Books, Manuscripts, and Cultural Heritage Becomes Open Access | ACRL Insider

“ACRL announces that its special collections and cultural heritage-focused journal RBM: A Journal of Rare Books, Manuscripts, and Cultural Heritage became an open access publication beginning with its Spring 2016 30th anniversary issue.”