It’s ALIA election time!

Not so long ago I was encouraged to send in a nomination for a position on the  Board of Directors in the 2013 round of elections for the Australian Library and Information Association.  OK – happy to be considered, and like a novice I thought that this would be then left up to the voters to make their decisions.

Not long after, I received an email from Hugh Rundle, asking  me to respond to questions (by way of lobbying). Thinking about the worst possible environments where lobbying takes place (think politics) I pretty much declined to respond to his request.  Sorry Hugh! I thought it would be the wrong thing to do.  So what to do when Sue Mckerracher, ALIA’s Executive Director asks me “have you been busy lobbying”.  Oh oh – wake up call – I slept in – I’m supposed to lobby?

Too late to respond to Hugh, but I will write a few ideas down quickly (no, this is still not official lobbying!) because I am allowing the message below to be cross-posted to the ALIA Sydney blog.

Why am I standing?

It’s probably  stating the obvious, but I believe in doing anything and everything that I am personally able to do to support the growth of the library and information professions – including all its subsets and developing fields.  You can’t get better evidence of this passion than my move to Charles Sturt University as lecturer, followed by my appointment in 2013 as Courses Director for all the degree programs at undergraduate and postgraduate level in the School of Information Studies.

That should be enough, but that’s not me! I can’t leave well enough alone – I’m even helping to establish a new degree that will continue to help shape the future directions of who we are and what we are about. No one asked me to do that – but the truth is I can’t resist a challenge. I will never leave a single stone unturned in my enthusiasm for change and development. To be honest, I figured that as a member of the Board (unlikely as that would be, but let’s just hold that thought for a minute) I could do more of the stone-turning, innovation-pushing, future-thinking activities that have really epitomized what I have been doing in the last few years, and of which this blog is in some ways a digital record.

How can ALIA appeal to students and people entering the industry/profession?

ALIA has two key things to do in this area – membership growth and professional development  – and both are intertwined with who we are and what we want to be in the future.  We can ‘grow’ our students and new graduates by continuing to support them in providing strong state networks and excellence in professional events and professional development opportunities. Of course we can also engage through social media channels, and even explore the emerging potential of running customized ALIA MOOCs (for free), engaging in Google Hangouts and sharing professional insights, establishing more partnership programs (at cost), and more. As part of the new PD initiatives, we need to build enticements to keep people involved.   We want  our profession to grown, and we want our potential members to have a good reason for ‘banding together’ within their national professional association. A concerted effort to grow our profession can only strengthen the possibilities. Let’s reach out to potential members and offer them a reason to believe passionately in the profession they have just entered, whether they are students or recent graduates.

What are some of the advocacy issues you would like to see ALIA address?

There are many advocacy issues at the local and national level.   Some of these result in campaigns, some in lobbying of state and federal governments, and some in picking up a community agenda an working at raising the profile of an essential or worthy cause.  How to choose?  Copyright; DRM; Open Access; funding support in education sectors; school libraries; special libraries; the  digital divide; accessibility and information access; and more. We need solid national statistics and profiles to build library  futures. Regional and rural issues are also close to my heart.  I’m from Albury, originally, and long before computers and online access arrived, the library was my home and my holiday space. Now I work with students in rural and outback Australia, both in our library programs, but also in school education.  I KNOW the challenges (do you have to climb up a ladder to get 3G?, or still share a phone/modem line?), and at the same time I believe that library and information services are at the heart of equity in providing solutions in those communities.

But how about promotional advocacy?  I love how some libraries are becoming makerspaces, and other libraries are connecting to their communities in new and creative ways. What about advocating for funding for innovative ventures? Let’s take the idea of hacker spaces and create coding workshops in our libraries. ALIA advocacy can take us into new issues and new spaces as well as those we are traditionally known for.  At the end of the day, when it comes to advocacy and issues to lobby about, it’s the ‘voice’ and the volume of the voice that counts. Alyson wrote about this recently in Why should you join ALIA? – and it really does prove the point of being collaborative and collective in action as part of our planned advocacy. (You should vote for Alison!)

How can ALIA reach out and engage with people working in special libraries or other areas where they feel better served by other associations? (eg law librarians with ALLA, teacher librarians with ASLA).

Special libraries are places with a dedicated heart!  They have a very special story to share with the broader community, and it is this that we need to tap into and share within our profession and in our communities. We can serve our special libraries by understanding their needs better, and getting our hands dirty with some good old-fashioned marketing and promotion. If we can serve our special libraries better, then we can strengthen the profession as a whole. This will take some clear initiatives by ALIA to step out of the ‘them’ and ‘us’ zone. Possibly that problem lies in the label ‘special’ with connotations of ‘different’ and ‘less equal’. For me, what special libraries do is help add value through specialist knowledge to inform broader practice. While specialist associations have value, they can never replace the role of ALIA in the holistic marketing and promotion of our profession. Alternatively, by not embracing partnerships with specialisations (and their related associations) we actually narrow the true potential of the library and information profession to become more than the sum of it’s many parts. We MUST form strong partnerships and alliances with our specialist partners, to share information, to negotiate favorable partnership rates to key events and activities, and support these associations on the national front.

Is anything you would like to let our readers know about you and what you would like to accomplish as a board member?

I had no idea that I would be answering a question like this when I signed the nomination form. But the fact that the question is being asked is a true indicator that being a Board member is a serious personal professional commitment. There is no money that will exchange hands. I wouldn’t be able to strike a  bargain with the global timekeeper to even make this fit into my already busy schedule.

But you know what they say – “if you want a job done, ask a busy person”.

What I always want more than anything else is the opportunity to make a difference – however little – to achieve progress, innovation, and change.  I don’t need to share much about myself that isn’t revealed by the story of what has been happening since I started blogging at Heyjude.

I’ve nominated because I would love the chance to help  make a difference, and to put something back into the profession that I qualified in back in 1992.  I’m not an academic that works in a silo – rather I’m a people person grounded in the daily reality of the demands and dimensions of our information environments.  I belong to the era of collaboration, social networking, and sharing the information discovery.  I build knowledge with my peers. I work with kids and adults in schools. I work with teacher librarians building the best library experiences for their students. I work with public librarians building their social media skills. I share the joy of my students who secure the job of their dreams!  And most importantly, in my day job I build the profession by working with undergraduate and masters students coming into or refreshing their professional futures.

What do I want to accomplish?  Anything really – just throw me the challenge!

Image:  cc licensed ( BY NC ) flickr photo shared by H is for Home

Open Access – the good, the bad and the ugly

Open Access has become a major theme of interest within the research community and those interested in dissemination of information and knowledge.

In the debate around Open Access, the sadness around the loss of  Internet activist and programming star Aaron Swartz highlights that we have much to learn, and little time to learn it. Computer hacking Swartz was a vocal open-access campaigner, and died at the age of 26. Swartz was integral in creating RSS, and created a company that later merged with popular internet destination Reddit. However, more recently he was investigated for hacking JSTOR, the subscription-based journal service, and extracting its database with the intention for public release. For more on Swartz – and the impact of his work on free-data, and the world he leaves behind – read Lawrence Lessig’s piece “Prosecutor as Bully.” BoingBoing’s Cory Doctorow also has a must-read tribute to Swartz, including information on the organization, DemandProgress, Swartz helped establish.

But what exactly is Open Access?    In this video  Nick Shockey and Jonathan Eisen take us through the world of open access publishing and explain just what it’s all about.

Historically, the two main types of obstacles to information discovery have been barriers of awareness, which encompass all the information we can’t access because we simply don’t know about its existence in the first place, and barriers of accessibility, which refer to the information we do know is out there but remains outside of our practical, infrastructural or legal reach. What the digital convergence has done is solve the latter, by bringing much previously inaccessible information into the public domain, made the former worse in the process, by increasing the net amount of information available to us and thus creating a wealth of information we can’t humanly be aware of due to our cognitive and temporal limitations, and added a third barrier — a barrier of motivation.

Open Access publishing is aiming to bridge the gap in higher education areas. Good research should have no boundaries. Here in Australia the Australian Research Council (ARC) is the largest funder of basic science and humanities research in Australia. So when the ARC talks, academics listen. The ARC has introduced a new open access policy for ARC funded research which takes effect from 1 January 2013. According to this new policy the ARC requires that any publications arising from an ARC supported research project must be deposited into an open access institutional repository within a twelve (12) month period from the date of publication.

In most cases, this open-access publishing will occur through electronic institutional repositories – university websites where one can freely download researchers’ articles. Search engines such as Google Scholar will automatically index these articles and link them to related research. The resulting stream of freely available research will be a boon for our society and economy. But it’s not perfect, just a step in the right direction, as publishers also get ‘a say’ in what happens with published information.

Check the ARC Open Access Policy for more information. While  the ARC policy will shift some power away from the publishers by putting institutional repositories centre stage, there is a counter-flow that is not in the same spirit of Open Access. Just because public domain content is online and indexed, doesn’t mean that it’s useful.

Beall’s List of Predatory Publishers

The gold open-access model has given rise to a great many new online publishers. Many of these publishers are corrupt and exist only to make money off the author processing charges that are billed to authors upon acceptance of their scientific manuscripts.

Scholarly Open Access showcased the Beall List of Predatory Publishers 2013. The first includes questionable, scholarly open-access publishers. Each of these publishers has a portfolio that ranges from just a few to hundreds of individual journal titles. The second list includes individual journals that do not publish under the platform of any publisher — they are essentially independent, questionable journals.

In both cases, the recommendation is that researchers, scientists, and academics avoid doing business with these publishers and journals. Likewise, students should exercise some caution when reading and referencing these articles in their own academic learning.

Follow Scholarly Open Access for more insights into the contentious field of Open Access publishing.

Image cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by kevin dooley