Copley Library's Informative Digital Initiatives Symposium Delivers

The University of San Diego's Copley Library staff put in a lot of work to host more than 200 people who came from all over the United States, a few from Canada and even Singapore at this year's Digital Initiatives Symposium (DIS) on April 23-24 at the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice.

2018 Library DIS Conference

But that's what it takes to maximize the learning opportunities and to tap into the content from field experts to help libraries see and reach into the future on numerous applications.

Amanda Makula, USD's Digital Initiatives Librarian who oversees open access publishing at Digital USD, heads up the Digital Initiatives Symposium planning committee. The event, which celebrated its fifth year in 2018, remained a hit.

“One of the first things (USD Dean of the Library) Dr. (Theresa) Byrd talked me about when I arrived last summer was this signature conference,” said Vice President and Provost Dr. Gail F. Baker. “She explained that thought leaders from around the nation and the globe gather here at USD to exchange ideas, discuss opportunities and ask challenging questions we all face in digital learning.”

This exchange and the knowledge that is shared and to the benefit of all library representatives, is something that’s never lost on the planning committee.

"We’re always striving for new ways to engage attendees, but some things remain consistent from year to year: dynamic content from leaders in the scholarly communication ecosystem, lively discussions about the future of open access and digital initiatives, and networking and relationship-building among the participants from diverse institutional contexts," Makula said.

Makula said the committee highlighted the fifth anniversary celebration by way of offering five pre-conference workshops on Monday afternoon. The topics of these focused three-hour workshops were: Linked Open Data, Open Educational Resources, Metadata for Digital Projects, Web Archiving and Faculty Open Access Policies.

Another first was a segment in which five digital initiatives library staff members from all across the U.S. each gave a 15-minute TED-style talk. Subjects were: "It Takes a City: Chicago Collections and Born Digital Collaboration Among Libraries, Archives and Museums," by Scott Walter of DePaul; "Flying Blind: Creating a Library ORCID Integration Pilot," by A.L. Carson and Matthew Murray of UNLV; "Human Wisdom and Digital Conversion" by Stefan Elnabli of UCSD; "It Takes a Village: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Supporting and Facilitating Digital Scholarship Initiatives" by Harvard's Jeffrey Emanuel; and "Open Roads: The Relevance of OERs at Community Colleges" by Queensborough Community College of the City of New York's Bill Blick.

Tuesday's symposium schedule featured opening keynote speaker, Kathleen Shearer, the executive director of the Confederation of Open Access Repositories (COAR), speaking within the title of "Working Together to Build and Sustain a Global Knowledge Commons."

Makula said Shearer's talk "elucidated the current state of international scholarly communication — and why it's in trouble — alongside of her vision for a more sustainable, accessible and equitable future."

The symposium had a featured speaker, Appalachian State's Joyce Ogburn, and responses by UCSD's Allegra Swift and University of Minnesota's Emma Molls on the subject of "Scholarly Communication in the Context of Digital Literacy: Navigation and Decision Making in a Complex Landscape." A dean's panel looked at the roles and responsibilities of deans and directors in digital initiatives and campus IRs. There were also three sections of four concurrent panel sessions that touched on a number of issues and learning opportunities. Later, there were breakouts for user groups who utilize Digital Commons, DSpace, Fedora and Islandora.

The event's closing keynote speakers were Stephanie Davis-Kahl, scholarly communications librarian and professor at the Ames Library at Illinois Wesleyan University and Merinda Kaye Hensley, the digital scholarship liaison, instruction librarian and associate professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The two shared the stage to discuss "Collaborative and Collective: Setting an Agenda for the Intersections."

"They challenged us to examine the connections between the scholarly communication system and the critical thinking and information literacy skills we seek to cultivate in our students," Makula said. "Both presentations (opening and closing keynotes) have profound implications, not only for academia in a collective sense, but also for individual institutions."

In terms of what the symposium's content means for possible implementation for USD's libraries and digital initiatives, Makula's takeaways were questions: "How can/will we at USD participate in the reshaping of global knowledge-sharing? What will these changes mean for our faculty, researchers and students? What will Digital USD — our open access institutional repository housing facility and student scholarship — look like ten, twenty or even fifty years from now? I'm interested to find out and to connect with others on our campus who also want to know."

The time for understanding what was learned at the symposium is for the now. What's also certain is that the symposium is here to stay.

“The number of symposium attendees continues to grow. The program has become more diverse, offering not just keynote speakers but a featured speaker, TED-style talks, and workshops,” said Theresa Byrd, Dean of the University Library. “As Dean, I remain committed to the symposium offering affordable professional development in the areas of open access, copyright, digital projects, and scholarly communication. Our goal for attendees is that they enjoy their time at the symposium and that they leave here identifying an article to read, a website to visit and new ideas to take back to their libraries. We are already looking forward to bringing our colleagues a superb 2019 symposium.”

— Ryan T. Blystone