Session 2

Session 2: Getting Down to Business: active approaches to library challenges

Date: Wednesday 5th July – 14.30-16.00

Location: CEU 103

Chair: Anna Clements, University of Sheffield, United Kingdom

2.1: International Project Management ‒ Another Challenge for Librarians. How Well Prepared Are We for This? TRAIN4EU Project Case

Presenter: Anna Wołodko, University of Warsaw Library, Poland

For at least two decades the workflow of higher education (HE) institutions in Europe has been driven by the project approach. The European Union (EU) supports HE financially and aims at maximal internationalisation and cooperation among European countries.

European Universities Initiative (EUI) was established in 2017. Its ambition is to strengthen strategic partnerships across the EU between higher education institutions by building networks of universities across the EU which would enable students to obtain a degree by combining studies in several EU countries and contribute to the international competitiveness of European universities (European Education Area, 2022). In 2019, EUI opened its first call for HE institutions’ alliances, next calls were in 2020 and 2021. At the end of 2022, there were already 41 European University Alliances gathering 340 HE institutions (European Education Area, 2022a), and the latest call closes in January 2023.

In each of these Alliances, academic libraries are members, too. They are already involved in intra-alliance projects, and most probably it will happen more often due to the EU’s project-driven approach, as mentioned earlier. Even though in the past, there were some projects where libraries participated (Górski, 2000), the volume of international projects has grown significantly in the last years, and still for the majority of libraries, this is the first time when they participate in joint, international (so also multicultural) projects that have specific requirements, terminology, and workflows driven by grant agreement requirements and expected outcomes.

This practice paper is to the authors’ knowledge the first attempt to describe another challenge that European academic libraries currently face, i.e., project management practice. Familiarity with the theoretical principles of EU project management and in general, project management methodology greatly facilitates the preparation of the proposal and the work of the project. It also allows more effective management of the project as a whole or its individual parts (work packages, tasks, milestones, etc.). Just as in the case of, for example, a research data management plan, working on it allows for deeper reflection on what data to collect and for what purpose, so conscious planning of project management methods at the stage of preparing a project application helps in more effective implementation of its subsequent stages.

The paper is based on the example of the work experience on the project TRAIN4EU (4EU+, 2022), co-lead by the academic librarians from the University of Warsaw Library (Poland), run by 4EU+ universities in the framework of Horizon 2020 (4EU+, 2022a), as well as on the analysis of the literature on project management that might apply in library-led projects and to strengthen the communities of purpose (Bartlett, 2021). It discusses the usefulness of agile (Denning, 2018; Todaro, 2019), waterfall (Mounir, 2018), and hybrid (Tolbert & Parente, 2020; Wysocki, 2014) methods of project management.

The paper concludes with a set of recommendations based on TRAIN4EU practices, lessons learned, as well as better-to-avoid paths.

2.2: The University of Manchester’s Office for Open Research: Enabling and Embedding Open and Reproducible Research Practices

Presenters: Scott Taylor and Lorraine Beard, The University of Manchester, United Kingdom

The University of Manchester is a major research-intensive University deeply committed to an open research culture and environment through its Our Future strategy. Core to this commitment is the establishment of the University’s Office for Open Research, which was launched in April 2022 as a key deliverable of the University Library’s strategic vision Imagine 2030.

Led by the University Library working in close partnership with academic and professional service colleagues the Office has an ambitious vision and roadmap to enable and embed open and reproducible research practices across the University. The Office enables researchers to make their publications, methods, software and data open by delivering leading edge infrastructure, tools, training and guidance which are fully integrated into the research life cycle.

This presentation will define the strategic context for the establishment of the office and how it has collaborated with other service providers to provide an integrated offer. The presetners will outline how they have created the case for investment in the office and will share the key components of their roadmap. They will then describe the following case studies which showcase the successes of the OOR in helping researchers from different fields make their research outputs more open and reproducible.

Open Research Strategic Action Plan: a multi-year action plan which includes a range of projects to improve the skills training provision, measure open research uptake, develop a research software policy, foster a network of data stewards, and create high quality infrastructure for the sharing of methods, protocols and pre-registrations.

The Open Research Fellowship program: a new programme enabling the academic community to directly shape open research developments at Manchester. Up to five two-year, part-time positions have been created providing Fellows the opportunity to develop training materials and advocate for open research within their area of the university.

Open Research Accelerator Fund: during 2022 we piloted a £25k fund to support grassroots open research activity within the academic community. Following the success of this pilot we have established a £50k fund for each of the next three years to expand support for grassroots activity.

Open Research Tracker: an open-source application that connects to various external systems and stores data about journal articles and research data in a common data model. The goal of the project is to create a collection of fully reproducible research workflows that provide insight into, and promotes, open research practices at the university.

Finally, the presenters will share some of our exciting plans for the development of the office over the coming years. The Office for Open Research was the winner of the 2022 ‘Strategic Initiative’ award as part of the Library’s annual awards, and the presenters are delighted to share their progress and plans.

2.3: An active approach in establishing IT library services as a trusted partner in the design, development, and sustainable exploitation of research infrastructures

Presenter: Roxanne Wyns, KU Leuven Libraries, Belgium

As a digital service provider part of KU Leuven Libraries, LIBIS has for over 45 years been a driver of digital transformations, bringing new innovations on both infrastructure and processes in the library and archival domain. With the intensification of data driven research and the growing importance of FAIR data sharing, our more traditionally focused value proposition for the automation of library services has evolved to include being a trusted partner in the design and development of research data infrastructures.

This paper focuses on the potential role of libraries as a trusted development partner for digital strategies and technologies, the approach, and the resources needed to provide a valuable service offering of sustainable research services ranging from technological developments to expertise on trending topics as FAIR, cross-domain (meta)data interoperability and trustworthy digital repositories in the context of EOSC. This will be demonstrated through several implementation stories where we are at the forefront in taking Open Science and FAIR data sharing to the next level:

  • The co-design of the KU Leuven RDM roadmap followed by the successful implementation of the institutional Research Data Repository RDR. This story demonstrates the value of the library (IT) staff’s long-time experience in standardized data exchange as well as the importance of openness and involvement of stakeholders during the full implementation trajectory.
  • The development of iCANDID, a data hub infrastructure for improved access to big data collections in SSH research, with a focus on the open and agile development methodology, highlighting the importance of the requirements analysis and prioritization phase when dealing with input from a diversity of research projects and use cases from multiple SSH research groups. This implementations story demonstrates the value of collaboration between research groups and library IT departments in terms of developing robust, scalable, and sustainable (domain specific) research infrastructures giving researchers access to state-of-the-art technological developments such as AI and machine learning.
  • The involvement as core partner in RESILIENCE, a research infrastructure for Religious Studies that joined the ESFRI roadmap, and which is currently in its preparatory phase. This story demonstrates the potential role of libraries in the support of European research infrastructures in the development of their digital strategies, ranging from open science to sustainable service development strategies.
  • The last case story explores the importance of a strong and active involvement of expert library staff in the implementation of the European Open Science Cloud. The EOSC will be pivotal for Open Science and the way data, tools and services will be shared across a federated ecosystem. Being at the forefront of the implementation means a strong investment and commitment (e.g., through participation in the task forces), but in return, libraries get to be part in steering the EOSC in its strategy and values. In addition, we gain extended insight into this evolving ecosystem as well as access to a network for future innovative collaborations.


53rd LIBER Annual Conference