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A New Information Management Landscape: From Outside-In to Inside-Out

By Lorcan Dempsey

1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 We have discussed how the character of research and learning practices has changed as digital workflows generate a variety of outputs, including research data, course materials, video, and preprints. Information creation, management, curation and discoverability are getting more attention across the university, with a corresponding emphasis on new infrastructures and organizational structures. We have discussed how it is important for the library to position itself as an advocate for good practices and as a collaborator with other campus units with a stake here (CIO, University Press, Research Office, and so on).

2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 This emphasizes an important distinction, which will cause libraries to think differently about how they organize to manage collections and where they put attention. This is a distinction between outside-in resources and inside-out resources (Dempsey, Malpas & Lavoie, 2014). This overlaps with Rick Anderson’s discussion of commodity and non-commodity resources (Anderson, 2013).

3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 0 The dominant library model of collections has been an outside-in one, where the library is buying or licensing materials from external providers and making them accessible to a local audience (e.g. books and journals). This is a natural model where the central acquisition of commercially available materials reduces costs (transaction and financial) across the institution. Libraries will continue to explore licensing and acquisition strategies to favor the institution. At the same time, a trend towards managing reduction in local print collections is underway and a variety of shared frameworks are emerging (Dempsey, 2013b).

4 Leave a comment on paragraph 4 0 In the inside-out model, by contrast, the university, and the library, supports resources which may be unique to an institution, and the audience is both local and external. The institution’s unique intellectual products include archives and special collections, or newly generated research and learning materials (e-prints, data, courseware, digital scholarly resources, etc.), or such things as expertise or researcher profiles. Often, the goal is to share these materials with potential users outside the institution.

5 Leave a comment on paragraph 5 0 The level of support provided will vary depending on how the library is situated within the university, and will depend also on the university’s scale and mission. The level of attention to ‘inside-out’ resources will become an important differentiator between libraries (and the universities they support). Research institutions, specialist libraries, and others with a mission to share their resources with the world will focus more attention these services. Institutions more focused on supporting learning and student success may choose to make less of an investment here.

6 Leave a comment on paragraph 6 0 New challenges – research and learning materials.  Libraries have been building and managing digital infrastructure for some time. It is now common to have a repository for digitized materials, and an institutional repository for scholarly and related materials.  There may also have been some specialist development or procurement around particular local requirements (e.g. video). However, the demands of the current environment are moving beyond this institution-level response. As research and learning shift in the way we have discussed, it is now important to look at more conscious coordination – both at campus level and at systemwide level, as institutions seek to realize the benefits of scale.

7 Leave a comment on paragraph 7 0 While institutional repositories are now a routine feature of academic libraries, there is ongoing discussion about purpose and scope, incentives for researchers to deposit, and their role within ‘green’ open access. This is not the place for a full treatment, but a couple of points are worth making. First, while most repositories are home to versions of research papers, scope varies across institutions. For example, some repositories may take a ‘campus bibliography’ approach, including links to publisher splash pages. Some repositories may include other categories of material, institutional records or archival materials, for example. Given the lack of standard methods for designating material types and rights information this may make it difficult for an aggregator of repository content to distinguish scholarly material or to determine allowable actions. Second, there is a close connection between repositories and national education and science policy regimes, so the dynamic of development has been differently influenced in different regimes. For example, where there are national research assessment programs in place, institutional interest in repositories may be higher (MacColl, 2010). Shifts in US federal policy with regard to research funding and access to outcomes will have an impact here resulting in a more organized approach to research information management and disclosure.

8 Leave a comment on paragraph 8 0 This highlights the relationship between the repository and emerging Research Information Management infrastructure, which will be an interesting aspect of the Share initiative in the US, for example. There is a growing university interest in research information management – the management, evaluation, and disclosure of research outcomes and expertise, which connects in various ways with internal evaluation and management goals, funding policy and compliance needs, and broader reputation management on the web. Often, this is led from the institution’s Office of Research. Additionally, research analytics has become of more interest as institutions assess comparative research strengths, collaborations, or compare themselves to peer groups. Bibliometrics may be one strand of this activity. VIVO provides a community-based approach to managing and disclosing “researcher interests, activities and accomplishments”, and Elsevier and Thomson Reuters market research information management systems as part of a broader suite of services. The interest in expertise and research profiles, and the increased attention to research metrics, make this an area where library support for researchers will grow. At the same time, researchers themselves are using research networking and profiling services to manage, disclose and share their work more widely, as well as to discover the work of others. ResearchGate, academia.edu, and Mendeley are widely used in this way, for example.

9 Leave a comment on paragraph 9 0 The curation of research data has emerged as a major university and library concern. There are several motivations for this, including funder mandates and data re-use. There is a very active community of interest here, and an emerging body of best practice (see for example the work of the Digital Curation Centre).  Again, the library is potentially a partner in a multi-stakeholder activity across a campus, and libraries are developing programs around data curation and dissemination. Of special importance here is the impetus given to this activity by the NSF’s requirement to develop data management plans in association with applications. It is also interesting to note the emergence of service providers of different types to meet a need – FigShare and Dryad, for example.

10 Leave a comment on paragraph 10 0 Libraries are more directly supporting faculty and student content creation and publishing (Palmer, 2010).  Vinopal and McCormick (2013) characterize an enterprise array of standard services as follows: “tools and support teams for activities including high performance computing; geographic information systems; quantitative and qualitative data analysis; data finding and management; the digitization, creation, manipulation, storage, and sharing of media content; repository services; digital preservation; streaming media platforms; digital journal publishing; online collaboration; and intellectual property consultation.”  They further note that the library is expected also to support the creation and management of faculty or project-based websites. Many libraries now have organized support in departments for digital scholarship or digital humanities. At the same time, libraries are providing support for the production of learning materials in various ways, a trend that will also become more important as pedagogic models (the flipped classroom, for example) require more use of prepared materials.

11 Leave a comment on paragraph 11 0 Allied to this, some libraries recognize a mission-driven role to support open access publishing models. A recent survey of ARL and other academic libraries noted that “The vast majority of library publishing programs (almost 90%) were launched in order to contribute to change in the scholarly publishing system, supplemented by a variety of other mission-related motivations.” (Mullins et al., 2012).

A note on special collections

12 Leave a comment on paragraph 12 0 Recent focus on distinctiveness has turned attention, if not necessarily additional resources, to special collections and archives and to their role within research and learning practice.

13 Leave a comment on paragraph 13 0 With renewed focus on value-based library assessment, there is increased attention to how special collections and archives contribute to research and learning agendas.  This has encouraged a stronger focus on how materials are exhibited in the online environment, not just as lists or pictures of ‘treasures’ but as coherent collections of materials that support undergraduate education and advanced research.   The special expertise that curators have traditionally directed toward acquisition and management of collections is increasingly turned ‘outward’ to help contextualize and characterize the value of institutional holdings (Dempsey, Malpas & Lavoie, 2014).

14 Leave a comment on paragraph 14 0 In 1998, 78% of respondents to ARL’s survey of special collections in member libraries stated that the number of courses or campus programs making use of special collections had increased over the previous ten years (Panitch, 2001). Increased emphasis on such outreach was somewhat in its infancy at the time. OCLC’s later survey, which included ARLs, revealed that the mean number of course presentations as of 2010 was 91 (Dooley & Luce, 2010).

15 Leave a comment on paragraph 15 0 It is interesting to think about parallels between the ‘old’ and the ‘new’ unique institutional materials, between special collections and institutional research and learning materials. Each is a distinctive contribution of the institution; each is the institution’s responsibility to preserve to the extent it wishes; each involves use of a metadata and repository apparatus, whether locally created or collaboratively or externally sourced; each involves engagement with learning and research practice in new ways; and each brings to the fore the archival concerns of provenance, authenticity, and context. Each also involves disclosure from the ‘inside’ to an outside world of users; for many of these resources, it is likely that there are more interested users outside the institution than inside it. For this reason, the management of these resources is often linked to reputation.

Some questions

16 Leave a comment on paragraph 16 0 Rightscaling. Until recently, it was usual to provide systems support locally, and digital infrastructure is still fragmented by campus unit, or by type of material (e.g. research data, institutional repository, digitized images, video), or by workflow. However, as we have discussed there is a trend for infrastructure to be unbundled and consolidated in shared platforms, for management, preservation, or discovery. This may be collaboratively sourced (think Hathi Trust, for example) or sourced with a third party. At the same time, faculty and students may use a variety of network services to meet needs (FigShare or SlideShare, for example).  As new infrastructure and information service needs emerge, the question of scale comes to the fore. What is the balance between institutional activity and subject-based repositories or PubMed, for example, in relation to preprints or research data? Jisc in the UK has developed a national level ‘data archiving framework’, which reduces the transaction costs of finding and negotiating for reliable data archiving capacity. Similarly, DuraSpace provides DuraCloud, a managed service for archiving data with various backend suppliers. DANS in The Netherlands provides national-level data archiving services. The Australian National Data Service is a collaborative response to data needs. In the US, we have seen the nascent Academic Preservation Trust (APTrust) and Digital Preservation Network (DPN) emerge as shared venues for coordinated preservation. APTrust, a consortium of leading US research libraries, is advancing work on a shared preservation repository in which research materials from many universities will be aggregated. In parallel, DPN is developing a federation of independently governed repositories.

17 Leave a comment on paragraph 17 0 Institutional organization and boundaries. Given the university-wide reach of these materials, they raise some interesting boundary and partnership questions on campus for the library and its relations with other divisions. As the creation, management, manipulation, and disclosure of digital collections of various types have become integral to a wide range of university activities, we have noted that a variety of campus divisions assumed information management roles. Collaboration across campus units becomes key.

18 Leave a comment on paragraph 18 0 From discovery to discoverability. There is something of a mismatch between discovery requirements for outside-in and inside-out resources. In the former case, the library wants to make known to its users what it has purchased or licensed for them, maybe alongside pointers to other materials. In the latter case, the library often wants to share materials with a broader community, with researchers elsewhere, with professional colleagues, and so on. This places an emphasis on effective disclosure, thinking about search engine optimization, syndication of metadata to network hubs, and so on. The University of Minnesota has done some interesting work on this question, identifying in which network resources it would like to see metadata for its various digital resources (Fransen et al, 2011).  There is also a desire to have network level discovery venues, which pull together this material. This is done to some extent in Google Scholar, in Worldcat.org, in initiatives such as DPLA and Europeana, and in a range of disciplinary resources such as ArXiv.  Effective discovery means syndication to search engines, to disciplinary resources, or to other specialist network level resources (e.g., ArchiveGrid, ARTstor). Libraries have to become much more interested in the discoverability of their resources.

19 Leave a comment on paragraph 19 0 Reputation and value shift. The role of these materials in enhancing the reputation of the institution is an interesting one, and one that is relatively underexplored or quantified. Special collections, research and learning outputs, and faculty expertise attract people to the university. A related issue is the shift in institutional resourcing that will be needed to support an ‘inside-out’ turn in the library.  If there is a reallocation of the type we discuss here, it needs to be justified within the institution, which will require advocacy and persuasion. The case for curation and disclosure of institutional assets is supported in some instances by university mandate or faculty policies (such as required deposit of pre-prints).

20 Leave a comment on paragraph 20 0 Rights. There are two aspects to consider here. The first is that it becomes important to be explicit about rights as materials are disclosed so as to meet goals of reuse. The second is that there is a growing need for advice on campus, as publishing models and use practices shift.

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Source: http://acrl.ala.org/newroles/?page_id=255