Session 6

Session 6: Developing for the Future: Research Libraries exploring new services

Thursday 27th June 2019 – 9:45 – 11:15

Chair: Lorna Dodd, Maynooth University Library, Kildare, Ireland

6.1 Curating the Dynamic: Future Challenges of a Shifting Landscape

Ronan O’Beirne, Solent University, United Kingdom.


The paper examines the changing relationship between the academic library and university research. Advances in information technology, shifts in the modes of knowledge production and changes in research practice have affected all points of the research lifecycle. The implications for library practice are far-reaching.

Informed by a review of the literature on the drivers of open access, digital scholarship and the knowledge economy, an innovative web-based Delphi study was designed, conducted and analysed to identify the factors likely to have most impact on library practice. Thirty-five expert participants, all employed in roles such as library directors within universities, were asked to consider current and future scenarios for the development of the academic library, focussing on its identity and its shape and direction. In particular, the Delphi study investigated the overlapping areas of open access policy, research data management, organisational capacity, scholarly communication and peer review, and library leadership and workforce development.

The findings of the research highlighted, firstly, the complexity of the policies and strategies associated with open access, secondly, their likely profound impact on the concept and character of the academic library, and, thirdly, the extent to which university and library leaders have yet to fully appreciate the potency and urgency of digital scholarship. The use of networked technologies, social media and the participatory web are changing the way in which the results of research are conceived. Most significantly, what is now emerging is the concept of an evolving scholarly record, one that is not bound by time, format or scope. Outcomes of the various upheavals in scholarly communication are the opportunities which arise as a result of the fundamental change in the record of scholarship from a static to a dynamic entity. This dynamic digital research output, in its many forms and through its many communication channels, requires different curation from that required by the traditional print-centric practices left over from the paper journal era. The evolving scholarly record, it is argued, (Lavoie et al. 2014) needs to be managed and administered to a greater degree than the published research paper and will require ongoing management from the researcher in the future; it is quite likely that there will be no final published version, but instead a continuous digital presence.

This paper argues that academic libraries need to embrace transformative change and cultural shift across the entire research lifecycle, rather than simply responding with local, iterative change. In drawing on the expert understandings and reflections of key players, a conceptual framework has been developed, this raises awareness of emerging issues and serves as a guide to future action. This paper outlines the conceptual framework and considers how it might be used to have an impact on the wider library community.


Lavoie, B., Childress, E., Erway, R., Faniel, I., Malpas, C., Schaffner, J. and van der Werf, T. (2014). The Evolving Scholarly Record. Dublin, Ohio: OCLC Research.

Dr. Ronan O’Beirne is a visionary and highly motivated leader with a strong focus on learning and technology across diverse library and educational settings, Rónán is Head of IT and Library Services at Solent University, Southampton, UK, developing strategy and leading a team of 80 staff. He has substantial knowledge of professional support services, systems and processes in an academic and research environment, and a solid understanding of further and higher education policy, gained practically through varied employment and developed through doctoral level study; thesis explored emerging issues in digital scholarship and research.

Rónán is a passionate advocate of the role of technology in supporting all aspects of the learning and research process. This is evidenced through implementation of a range of technology-based solutions, such as the deployment of VLE and VRE, underpinned by a Masters Degree in E-Learning.

As an active professional, with longstanding programme and project coordination skills and experience obtained on technology, multi-agency national and international projects, Rónán is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Librarians, Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and registered expert for the European Commission. Rónán has worked as a freelance consultant, is an author and speaker, with a respected publications record and editorial experience obtained through working on international journals.

6.2 Beyond Compliance: Helping Authors Reach a Broader Range of Audiences with Simpler Expressions of Their Work

Scott Taylor, The University of Manchester Library, United Kingdom


Despite the dramatic recent increase in Open Access, many papers remain broadly inaccessible as understanding the abstract and full-text often requires a specialist knowledge which only academics in the same field possess. Recognising the potential to amplify the University of Manchester’s research impact, and progress its social responsibility goals, the Library is building upon its established Research Services to help authors maximise the reach of their work by effectively communicating their findings to a broader range of audiences.

Producing research which has social, economic, and cultural impact is at the heart of the University of Manchester strategic vision. To fully realise this vision, the University must take an innovative approach to reaching non-academic audiences and be flexible in how it communicates key findings.

Recognising this, in February 2018, the Library led a pilot with the University’s Communications and Marketing Team, and School of Health Sciences, trialling approaches to help the University communicate key messages about its work more effectively to non-academic audiences.

  • Through the pilot we allowed research communities across the University to better understand the efficacy of their existing digital communications strategies by reporting the volume and nature of online attention that outputs attract when compared with other Russell Group institutions, and by reporting on current levels of social media engagement by staff across disciplines.
  • We enhanced the Library’s Open Access mediated deposit service allowing authors to indicate if their paper had the potential to attract media interest. This now provides Faculty Press Officers with longer lead-in times to produce effective press releases and promotion campaigns.
  • We produced Twitter analytics enabling the central Marketing and Communications Team to achieve significant increases in engagement with online campaign materials by surfacing key messages about the University’s strategic Research Beacons to the most relevant and influential accounts.
  • We helped run a workshop on maximising the reach of outputs for staff in the School of Health Sciences. The agenda included sessions on working with the media, running Reddit AMAs, influencing policy; and featured external speakers from The Conversation, Kudos, and the Parliamentary Outreach Team.
  • We emailed customised guidance to all authors from the School of Health Sciences upon the publication of their papers containing practical steps that they might take to ensure maximum visibility for the paper. This included strategies for building a network on Twitter, identifying the most effective blogs to write guest posts for, and engaging with the team at Policy@Manchester.

This presentation will outline the key learning outcomes of the pilot and report on the latest progress as we scale these new services up to the entire organisation.

Scott Taylor is Research Services Manager at The University of Manchester. Scott has been involved in the development of scholarly communication services at Manchester since 2008. He is currently responsible for managing the Library’s Research Metrics Service, eTheses service, and Research Identifiers Service; as well as providing consultancy on matters relating to the academic and societal impact of researchers and their outputs.

6.3 Supporting Researchers on Open Science from Building a Research Project to its End

Romain Féret and Marie Cros, Lille University, France


As emphasized by the recently published Plan S, more and more funders have implemented open science policies to require that funded projects disseminate openly their publications, write a data management plan and open their research data when possible. However, since many funders do not ask a detailed presentation of an open science strategy at the submission stage of research projects, most of the researchers do not seriously consider these matters when building their project. Once the project is accepted, it may be difficult to comply with open science policies if no appropriate resources are dedicated to data preservation and dissemination or if ethics and legal matters have not been anticipated enough to balance data protection and dissemination. Open science requirements then appear to be only some administrative obligations.

Our University Library implemented a new service to support researchers when building their projects to take into account all dimensions of open science. We help researchers to transform their open science obligations in terms of objectives, deliverables and budget in their proposal. We also draft a dissemination strategy fitted for each project supported. We make sure open science objectives and resources are well balanced. This support has shown to be appreciated by project reviewers.

When a project is funded, the Library helps researchers to put their commitments and strategy into practice. A librarian is designated as the project open science manager. He/she provides the project coordinator with guidelines and informs and trains the project stakeholders on open access and data management at the kick-off meeting and other working meetings. The project open science manager also monitors open access dissemination of research results. For mid-term and final reporting, the librarian produces a report on publications which includes information on open access dissemination, impact… Help is provided to write the data management plan and specific guidance is proposed so that researchers are able to make relevant choices to manage their research data.

Supporting researchers in a project-oriented perspective at the submission stage has proved to be an efficient way for librarians to be considered as a partner by project coordinators. It enables the Library to work with very dynamic researchers who have a driving force to reach more widely research communities about open science. Based on concrete and interdisciplinary examples, our presentation will describe which specific services can be offered to research project coordinators. We will highlight the positive impact of these services on the recognition of the Library’s role on supporting research. We will introduce how we implemented this approach in collaboration with other University services such as the research coordination office or the data protection officer. A specific focus will be made on new skills needed by librarians to develop such services.

Our Library mainly works with European H2020 projects and with projects funded by the French National Agency for Research (ANR) but this presentation should be of interest for participants regardless of their national context since open science requirements are more and more widely spread.

Romain Féret is a librarian. He is in charge of research data services at the University Library of Lille, on the campus of Sciences and Technology. He also works on open access and he is a specialist of funders’ open science policies and of support for research projects.

6.4 Evidence Based Practice in Research and Academic Libraries: an Applied Approach

Claire Thorpe and Alisa Howlett, University of South Queensland, Australia


Research and academic libraries must become increasingly effective in meeting the challenges and opportunities faced by our information society, particularly in relation to open access, bibliometrics, digital scholarship, user experiences and cultural heritage. Libraries need to demonstrate their value and contribution to their institutions and communities. Evidence-based practice can meet both these needs. It is an approach to professional practice that involves a structured process of collecting, interpreting and applying valid and reliable research and evidence to support decision-making and continuous service improvement in professional practice (Howlett & Thorpe, 2018). This paper reports on two emerging initiatives in evidence-based practice at the University of Southern Queensland (USQ) Library, a regional multi-campus university in Australia. It demonstrates how evidence-based practice forms part of our organisational strategy to engage with our community and society.

Firstly, the paper reports on a new model of embedding evidence-based practice through a role explicitly dedicated to developing the library’s evidence base. While other libraries may have a person responsible for assessment, performance metrics or data analysis, the Coordinator (Evidence-Based Practice) has a broader mandate – to work with library staff to develop tools, skills and expertise in evidence-based practice. The paper will describe why this role was created and how the Coordinator is working to engage with library staff to understand their business and the evidence needed to support service improvement for the Library. By doing this, USQ Library is building the capacity to demonstrate value to stakeholders, gain a deeper understanding of clients’ needs and experiences, promote robust decision-making and improve service delivery.

The second initiative, led by the Coordinator (Evidence-Based Practice) is the development of a maturity model to conceptualise and identify practical steps to cultivate a culture of evidence-based practice within research and academic libraries. Current models of evidence-based library and information practice apply predominantly to individuals. Little is known about how an organisation can enhance its maturity level in being evidence-based, despite a growing demand from institutional leaders for proof to demonstrate why investments in libraries should continue (Baker and Allden, 2017; Council of Australian University Librarians, 2016). Informed by relevant literature and 16 semi-structured interviews with library professionals from Australian and New Zealand university libraries, the model identifies characteristics of evidence-based practice at different levels of maturity. Academic and research libraries will benefit from the maturity model as an innovative tool to identify the extent to which their organisation is practising and delivering services in an evidence-based way; build, measure and sustain a culture of evidence-based practice.

USQ Library is seeing the benefits of having explicit focus on building the capacity of library staff as evidence-based practitioners and developing tools to measure and sustain our success. These emerging initiatives demonstrate an applied approach by which research and academic libraries can become better informed and more adaptable to client and community needs in an ever-changing society.

Clare Thorpe is the Associate Director (Library Experience) at University of Southern Queensland. She has worked in academic and state libraries since 2001, using evidence-based approaches to develop and apply best practices in collection management, user experience, staff development, and information literacy design. Clare’s professional achievements include Australian Library and Information Association’s Distinguished Certified Professional status (2016), the Metcalfe Award for early career achievement (2005) and the Queensland Library Achiever of the Year (2016). Follow Clare on Twitter @thorpe_clare and ORCID: 0000-0002-0974-4087

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