Open Access Week

Although librarians at my institution have engaged in scholarly communication programming in the past, I am the first librarian devoted to digital scholarship. My role includes oversight of scholarly communication initiatives related to institutional repositories and open access. One of my main tasks during my first year was to organize events for the first-ever Open Access Week on campus.

In order to develop programming for Open Access Week 2016, I joined forces with librarians at the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University. We shared ideas and developed the various events that would be held on our campuses. Colleagues from both institutions volunteered to speak about open access and institutional repositories as part of the introductory panel that I organized (“Open Access, Open Data, and the Institutional Repository”), and they helped me to locate a third speaker to discuss the researcher perspective about open data. I found a Duquesne panelist to speak about using government data at an open data panel to be held at Carnegie Mellon. We shared time with Heather Joseph from SPARC, who spoke at Pitt and at Duquesne. We cross-promoted and attended one another’s events, maintaining the strong sense of collegiality that had characterized our (months-long!) collaboration.

Within the library, I worked with the newly-hired Outreach & Communications Librarian in order to craft promotional materials (see the featured image!) and distribute information about the events. Due perhaps to the timing of the events held at Duquesne, attendance at the panel was limited mainly to librarians. This was at least beneficial in that it provided an educational opportunity for my colleagues prior to rolling out our own institutional repository. Heather Joseph’s talk attracted a larger audience, with Duquesne graduate students and faculty in attendance (as well as a good showing from Duquesne, Pitt, and CMU’s libraries!). Audience members were engaged by her talk, and stayed to ask questions; this event was more successful than I ever could have anticipated.

For Open Access Week 2017, the collaborators decided to go their separate ways to focus on smaller, in-house events. I decided to dust off a project initiated by my colleagues the previous year–the Impact Challenge. Based on Stacy Konkiel’s 30-Day Impact Challenge: The Ultimate Guide to Raising the Profile of Your Research, librarians had presented a workshop session (Raising Your Scholarly Profile) and followed up with seven days of emailed activities designed to guide researchers through processes such as creating a Google Scholar account or investigating the altmetrics of their published articles.

Although open access publishing was included in the original Impact Challenge, it had not been updated to include the fully-launched institutional repository. I decided to revise the guide and deliver a shorter, 5-Day Impact Challenge during Open Access Week 2017. With the help of the Outreach & Communications Librarian and her Graduate Assistant, I worked to brand the guide so that it and the daily emails would be recognizable. I reformatted the guide entirely to more succinctly deliver the relevant information. I made cuts, distilled and reformatted information, and added new sections in order to reflect new library initiatives and to better incorporate my position and skill set. I also took the time to check links, refresh screenshots, and work on clear and precise step-through directions for specific tasks.

35 people registered to receive emails for the event. I sent out an email per day with an introduction to the topic, a snippet about the activity, a link to the full activity and/or instructions page on the guide, and a preview of the next day’s topic. This was somewhat challenging due to my attendance at the Digital Library Federation Forum during the beginning of the week, but on the whole the week went well! In an attempt at assessment, I included a survey in the last day of activities; it received few responses, but the respondents indicated interest in open access, which was a major difference from previous iterations.

Although I would make some changes to how I sent out the emails (perhaps using a platform such as MailChimp to track clickthroughs, or tracking views progressively on the guide), and would likely need to briefly refresh some content, I look forward to someday running the Impact Challenge again!