I did a thing yesterday

I spoke at the VIVA User Group meeting on some of the workflow and tools I use to gather information about our faculty’s scholarly output for an annual reception co-hosted by the Libraries and the Provost’s office. If you were there and want the slides/details of what I said, they’re now up on Slideshare with speaker’s notes. If you weren’t there and are curious, I hope you find it interesting/useful.

Charleston 2014 – What Faculty Want Librarians To Know

Speaker: Phil Richerme, Postdoctoral Researcher, Joint Quantum Institute

He studied antimatter properties at CERN. They published the results in journals, generally the top ones in the field. Currently interested in quantum problem-solving, and now publishing in journals with a broader reach, but still no books.

Each day, the first thing he does is check arXiv.org to see what’s new in the world. Some new open access journals have been created, but the author fees are not appealing when most of the pre-print and some post-print is already freely available in the arXiv. It also saves the researchers a lot of time wasted doing things that others have already done, given the delay between when an article is submitted and when it is finally published.

The next thing he does is go to the lab. To determine what experiments he needs to do, he often does a literature search, generally with Google Scholar, sometimes with Web of Science. He does not use the university library site in part because it is too comprehensive. Books in general aren’t the medium for breaking new ground in physics. They are generally reference sources or have equations of interest, and if he does need to use one, he usually goes to Google Books. If he can’t find a scan of the book, he goes to Amazon to look inside the book, and if not there, he continues to search online. He polled his lab, and only two out of 16 researchers know how to get to the physics library.

In summary, books are no longer relevant for physics research. Journals are the primary source of communication.

Speaker: Tim Johnson, Chair of Classics, College of Charleston

I think he is saying he’s shifted from browsing physical material to digital searches/browsing. He’s interested in serendipity, or at least looking around beyond just the search results. Students can’t find the books, or figure out where they are shelved, so he sees them using more ebooks and articles.

ILL is not a workable solution, because he can’t keep the materials forever and ever like the things the library owns. He rails against our access over ownership model.

He had one bad experience with online resources, and now it’s an IT problem we will always struggle against. Digital should be free, right?

I think I know why his librarians aren’t giving him what he wants — he can’t express it in plain language, and what I can glean from his self-aggrandizing poetics and gross sexualization of the physical book, his expectations are unrealistic.

Speaker: Christine Fair, Assistant Professor of Security Studies, Georgetown University

She gets a lot of information from journals, but she mostly uses books, and particularly those not generally available where she is due to her research on Pakistani and other south Asian security. She browses physical materials, often because she finds other relevant content there.

Academics have no sense of the value of their time. As a consultant paid by the hour, it drives her nuts how much time is wasted by academics who talk about nothing for too long.

Librarians are her collaborators on learning about disciplines/areas that are important to her work but that she doesn’t have time to ramp up on her own.

Her experience with the Georgetown library has not been on the top of her list. In part, her field of study is not one that the university has historically collected in. She doesn’t expect to have everything, but she does want libraries to have better relationships with places that have the content researchers need so that they can access the resources. She’s more likely to buy a cheap book on Amazon than going to the library.

Hard to follow, but it sounds like she has to travel a lot to access content.

She wants the journals digitized? I’m guessing these are not the mainstream scholarly journals that are pretty much born digital now.