I’m stating the obvious by telling you that September is a busy month in academics. The start of the school calendar changes the mood, tempo, and pulse of a university campus, and it shifts things at the library into full gear as we roll out all programming and services. Here are a few of the things I’ve been contributing to lately, which has kept me busy in a good way (as opposed to the bad kind of busy).
Changing liaison duties
I’ve taken on liaison duties in Sociology and Social Work while a colleague is on sabbatical this year, and I’m also part of a group that is expanding the Library’s services to the University’s students who are cross-registered at the Balsillie School of International Affairs. This has already translated to a large increase in my in-class instruction, especially for Social Work, which is its own Faculty and has its own small library. Taking on these subject-based duties has been a great opportunity since they’ve given me greater everyday contact with faculty and researchers whose work touches on socio-economic data or would benefit from research data management support and consultation. Simply put, it’s a lot easier to push data management planning when you already have a built-in relationship with the researcher, so I expect my subject-based work in Sociology and Social Work to benefit our RDM programme.
Outreach to Faculty and Students
This term, I’m offering a full slate of seminars on research data management, bibliometrics, and data access through the library. I developed these seminars with a graduate student/faculty audience in mind, partly to help the Library increase its presence within graduate programming and in the university’s research enterprise. While I don’t expect large numbers because this is the first time in a few terms that we developed a suite of seminars with graduate or faculty research in mind, I do hope they begin to build on our growing profile as a center of research facilitation on campus. (This could be a blog post in its own right; I may have to write more on it in the future.)
Our Library has taken a close look at RefWorks and has also considered what kinds of citation management systems our users use. What we’ve known all along is that many people use RefWorks and many people do not. We asked ourselves why we commit our support only to one service when our users will always work with their personal preferences in mind, and we decided that giving information and advice on RefWorks alone just doesn’t cut it. If we are to support or know something about citation management and research management, then we shouldn’t limit ourselves to only one tool. Going forward, our library is now supporting RefWorks, Zotero, and Mendeley by offering instructional sessions, consultation, and in some cases, even research collaboration between the researcher and the librarian through these tools
Data and Statistics
Don’t think that this project or the next (RDM) are subordinated to the others I’ve mentioned because they’re at the bottom of this list. That’s far from the truth as both areas have seen significant change in the past few months. On the Data and Stats side alone, data librarians in Canada are busy dealing with a new EULA for Canada Post postal code products (e.g., the PCCF) and what it means for researcher access and use. This issue alone has eaten up probably half of my time in the past two weeks since the new EULA changes long-standing practices for researchers who use these products, and the library, which administers licences on their behalf. A lot of time has been given to consultation within the data community and within the library to produce new practices, and I’m now rolling out a PR and education campaign. If you are Laurier faculty and use postal code products, be on the look out for more news on this very shortly. If you’re faculty at another university in Canada, you may want to contact your own data librarian.
Research data management
RDM has been the largest part of my work at Laurier. We’ve been developing a research data management programme, based largely on consultative support that helps researchers and research groups learn about and then develop flexible data management plans that speak to their current and future research needs. Next month, I’ll be attending CASRAI’s ReConnect2013 conference to build upon my current knowledge and to see and learn what others are doing in this area across Canada and in other jurisdictions. We have a couple of RDM projects on the go already, and I would like to increase that number on campus since the service the Library provides offers clear benefits to the researchers in terms of meeting funding obligations, providing research management planning, and improving access to and citation of produced work after the research has ended. Laurier researchers: let’s chat.