Inside USD

Symposium Addresses Library Digital Initiatives

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Theresa Byrd firmly believes in the future of libraries, especially on university grounds, in terms of the utilization of technology and remaining a valuable resource for the campus community’s open access to published academic research and information.

So when Byrd, the dean of the University Library at the University of San Diego, welcomed 130 attendees to USD’s inaugural Digital Initiatives Symposium on April 9, it was clear that the discussion of digital aspects of library ecosystems and institutional repositories would be a vital matter.

“I believe it’s the future. There is a paradigm shift, a new era of automation,” said Byrd (pictured, at right), referring to the increase in institutional repositories and a greater emphasis on digital solutions. Places such as USD’s Copley Library and the School of Law’s Pardee Legal Research Center are eager to join in on the discussion. “What an opportunity this [symposium] is because we’re all very interested in this topic.”

The daylong symposium at the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice drew local and in-state library educators, as well as from Oregon, Nevada, Illinois, Montana and Washington. Speakers and session panelists came from the University of Virginia, Clemson University and Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Mellon University. Byrd was pleased to have USD faculty and administrators attend as well as representation from Balboa Park museums and its online collaborative for a panel discussion.

“I’m a strong believer in professional development; it’s our intent to bring some of the best in our business to California,” said Byrd, who plans to make the symposium an annual event. “It’s a great opportunity for us to be together and to learn from each other.”

This year’s event led off with a keynote address by University of Kansas Dean of Libraries Lorraine Haricombe (pictured, left) about the open access landscape.

“Open access,” she defined, “means free availability on the public Internet, permitting any users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search or link to the full text of these articles, crawl them for indexing, pass them as data to software or use them for any other lawful purpose.”

Open access to materials, particularly on campuses, is an issue of great importance.

“The title of my talk is ‘Empowering Scholarship: New Roles for New Times,’ and I chose that title because it is about empowering the scholarship, it is about releasing and liberating information to the people who need it to be creative, innovative and to advance this role for libraries as well,” Haricombe said.

In a constantly evolving higher education landscape with new models of learning, the nature of courses being fully online to hybrid classes, problem-based learning, the sharing of content outside classrooms and the creation of massive open online courses (MOOCs), libraries need to be actively engaged, too.

“Academic libraries have adopted new roles that span the scholarly communication lifecycle and advance digital humanities, data stewardship and e-learning initiatives,” Haricombe said. “People who already work in libraries will be impacted by this, of course, as well as people we need to hire to continue and make progress in this area.”

Symposium sessions addressed several issues and offered educational insight and discussion on some of what has already been done. Topics included: institutional repository case studies; examining institutions’ electronic thesis and dissertation (ETD) programs; finding alternatives to expensive textbooks; data management; digital preservation solutions for locally created content; the challenges and successes of sharing undergraduate research; self-archiving; publishing student journals and integrating it into the undergraduate curriculum; and looking at full benefits of having an institutional repository on campus.

“The symposium was a good way for librarians to come together and talk about using all of the skills we have to fulfill the needs of our campuses,” said Kelly Riddle, a digital initiatives librarian at USD since August 2013.

Riddle was drawn to USD, she said, because she was “struck by Theresa’s enthusiasm and the innovative ways” of the library staff. “They’re always coming up with new ideas for the library to provide services as the intellectual center of campus.”

The future of libraries depends on innovative thinking and being a valuable resource. The creation of an annual symposium, Byrd believes strongly, is a forum to deepen the passionate discussion and to then act on it.

— Ryan T. Blystone

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