Scholarly Communication Librarianship and Open Knowledge

ACRL announces the publication of Scholarly Communication Librarianship and Open Knowledge, edited by Maria Bonn, Josh Bolick, and Will Cross. This open textbook and practitioner’s guide collects theory, practice, and case studies from nearly 80 experts in scholarly communication and open education.

Learn more about Scholarly Communication Librarianship and Open Knowledge in this excerpt from the Foreword by the editors, licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0.

Scholarly Communication Librarianship and Open Knowledge is available for purchase in print through the ALA Online Store and; by telephone order at (800) 621-2736 or (773) 702-7010; and as an open access edition.

Scholcomm is Rad

This book was born as a collaboration among three librarians and educators interested in the intersection of scholarly communication (or scholcomm, as it’s often abbreviated) librarianship and open education which offers a unique opportunity to expand knowledge of scholarly communication topics in both education and practice. Topics like copyright in teaching and research environments, author’s rights, academic publishing, emerging modes of scholarship, scholarly sharing, and impact measurement are central to the work of scholarship and to the libraries that play an important role in scholarly work.

This area of librarianship, as you will read in the text that follows, is vibrant, exciting, and constantly evolving. It can be challenging, exhausting, and frustrating, too. Often, it’s all of these things at the same time, which may be the reason many of us find it rewarding. It is an area of specialization, and it impacts and shapes many other aspects of academic librarianship, and in some cases other library fields: public libraries, school libraries, and special libraries and archives. These areas of work and others closely aligned with them have grown rapidly, in every sense, over the course of the twenty-first century. Nearly everyone working in an academic library, in some way or another, is engaging with these topics to a greater or lesser degree. That doesn’t mean we all need to be scholarly communication librarians, but it does mean that greater literacy on these topics is helpful, and sometimes necessary, as libraries continue to face significant challenges to serving our basic missions and meeting the needs of our users. Nonetheless, formal graduate training on these issues has lagged behind growth in the field.

Open education is a concept and movement that similarly concerns ownership and access, with a focus on teaching and learning content, such as textbooks, though not limited to that format. Open education (discussed in part II, chapter 3 of this book, “Open Education”) is itself an area of scholarly communication work as it deals with open licenses, issues of copyright and fair use, and efforts to reduce or entirely eliminate cost barriers to educational content and success. This area of work has seen enormous growth recently, much of it supported by librarians. In open education, we saw an opportunity: Why not leverage open resources to address the gap in teaching on these timely and critical scholarly communication topics? So an open book on scholarly communication librarianship was conceived, and we set about building it.

The result is a book that has itself evolved over time and reflects hundreds of conversations with valued peers, allies, and critics—often both peers and allies AND critics, which is a good thing. Along the way we got amazing support from the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS), including two grants that have enabled us to conduct research and host a convening to help better grasp relevant needs and improve our varied understandings of them. We found a willing and supportive publisher in ACRL, which surprised us by not even hesitating when we stressed the importance of an open license and free availability. We brought on four widely respected experts on topical areas to edit chapters with the authors of their choosing. We issued an open call for contributed short pieces that you’ll find in part III: “Voices from the Field.” Altogether, there are nearly eighty contributors to this book, and we are deeply grateful to them for their generosity in sharing their time, networks, and knowledge to support this project.

Our hope is that this resource will be adopted in library and information studies courses and lead to increased instruction on the issues and practices contained within it. There are a small but growing number of Topics in Scholarly Communication or similarly framed courses for which this book could serve as primary material. There may be more granular courses, such as on library publishing, open education, or data management and curation, for which portions of this book might be suitable. There are also many other courses on any number of topics where there’s a connection and an opportunity to grab the portions that may be helpful readings: how open access intersects with collection work, or with the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education, for example. We also hope it will serve as a general introduction for the growing number of librarians who are seeking additional knowledge and skills or being tasked with new duties and want an orientation to the field or areas within it. The contributed chapters are informative and engaging and will make interesting reads for practitioners and educators looking to expand their knowledge of important, current topics.

The book consists of three parts. Part I offers definitions of scholarly communication and scholarly communication librarianship and provides an introduction to the social, economic, technological, and policy/legal pressures that underpin and shape scholarly communication work in libraries. These pressures, which have framed ACRL’s understanding of scholarly communication for the better part of the past two decades, have unsettled many foundational assumptions and practices in the field, removing core pillars of scholarly communication as it was practiced in the twentieth century. These pressures have also cleared fresh ground, and scholarly communication practitioners have begun to seed the space with values and practices designed to renew and often improve the field. Part II begins with an introduction to “open,” the core response to the pressures described in part I. This part offers a general overview of the idea of openness in scholarly communication followed by chapters on different permutations and practices of open, each edited by a recognized expert of these areas with authors of their selection. Amy Buckland edited chapter 2.1, “Open Access.” Brianna Marshall edited chapter 2.2, “Open Data.” Lillian Hogendoorn edited chapter 2.3, “Open Education.” Micah Vandegrift edited chapter 2.4, “Open Science and Infrastructure.” Each of them brought on incredible expertise through contributors whom they identified, through both original contributions and repurposing existing openly licensed work, which is something we want to model where possible. Part III consists of twenty-four concise perspectives, intersections, and case studies from practicing librarians and closely related stakeholders, which we hope will stimulate discussion and reflection on theory and implications for practice. In every single case, we’re really excited by the editors and authors and the ideas they bring to the whole. Each contribution features light pedagogical apparatuses like suggested further reading, discussion or reflection prompts, and potential activities. It’s all available for free and openly licensed with a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial (CC BY-NC) license, so anyone is encouraged to grab whatever parts are useful and to adapt and repurpose and improve them to meet specific course goals and student needs within the confines of the license.