Intra-Institutional Boundaries: New Contexts of Collaboration on Campus
By Lorcan Dempsey
¶ 1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 A major theme of this volume is that technology is changing how our work is organized across organizational units. As information management becomes pervasive of university activities, it is natural that other centers of digital information management have emerged on campus, either newly created (around support for digital scholarship, research data management, or online course development, for example), or evolving from existing units (the University Press, for example, or a broader role for the CIO’s office). This creates organizational choices for the University in how it arranges information management services internally. It also becomes natural to think about how information management support services are aligned across these existing and new organizational units. While there may have been different original emphases and purpose, there are important convergences as work is reconfigured in a digital environment.
¶ 2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 This means that for the library, new collaborations and configurations are emerging, although, again, strategies often appear to be emergent rather than deliberate, representing pragmatic accommodations between campus players and purposes. Local politics and personalities are likely to be very important, and there is yet no organizational pattern. It is even more important for the library to consider how it positions itself, and to be an advocate and partner. Scale is obviously also an issue here, as the dynamic may vary depending on the size of the institution and the capacities it has available.
¶ 3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 0 Here are some examples that have arisen more or less successively in recent years.
¶ 4 Leave a comment on paragraph 4 0 Library and the CIO. Libraries and IT (variously named and structured) have interacted since automation began. As digital infrastructure has grown in importance, so has the role of the CIO. And now as universities look at securing the infrastructure to manage research data, video, and other digital institutional assets (locally or in collaboration), or as libraries look to move their systems infrastructure to the cloud, potential interaction points grow and evolve.
¶ 5 Leave a comment on paragraph 5 0 Library and learning. The learning and teaching support in a university will be managed in various ways, with various levels of library support and interaction. This has been discussed elsewhere in this volume. Most institutions now maintain one or more course management systems, and maybe other learning and teaching infrastructure. Of course, a range of information, communication and groupwork resources is also associated with that infrastructure. Interaction may revolve around informational needs (reading lists, resource guides and course reserves), or around making resources visible within course management workflows, or around managing course materials. Trends in distance learning, MOOCs, or flipped classrooms pose information use and production questions. And the need for copyright advice is greater. The contribution the library might make to learning analytics is under discussion in several places in this work.
¶ 6 Leave a comment on paragraph 6 0 Library and publishing. As publishing processes evolve, as institutional research and learning resources are managed and disclosed to the world, and as new modes of scholarly publishing are explored, so do boundaries between publishing, library and resource management become more fluid. The University Press, or new publishing initiatives, may or may not be associated with the library. The University of Michigan has an interesting collection of activities under the MPublishing label: ” By bringing together the talents and resources of the University of Michigan Press, the Scholarly Publishing Office, Deep Blue (the University’s institutional repository service), the Copyright Office, and the Text Creation Partnership, MPublishing builds upon the traditional publishing strengths of the University of Michigan while creating and shaping sustainable publishing models for the future.”
¶ 7 Leave a comment on paragraph 7 0 Library and research infrastructure. As information generation, management, manipulation, and disclosure become integral to a larger part of research, universities are considering organizational management support for these. Data curation provides one example. In some cases these interests may have crystallized around a digital scholarship or ‘digital humanities’ organizational hub, or some capacity in a department or school; in other cases it is not formalized. Libraries are also developing services here and in some cases may host such units. It is interesting to look at the ‘history‘ of the Center for Digital Scholarship at Brown University Library.
¶ 8 Leave a comment on paragraph 8 0 Library and research information management. Research Information Management is emerging as a service category as universities begin take a more coordinated approach to collecting data about the end to end research process: funding, projects, PhD students, research outputs, expertise, and so on. This may be driven from different places, but is often a concern of the Research Office on campus. This category is well-established in Europe and elsewhere because of formal research assessment regimes which tie public research funding to quality of research outputs, and require documentation. Promotion and tenure requirements, the emerging regulatory environment around open access to the outputs of federally funded research, and the desire to more effectively disclose institutional expertise are all more general drivers. It is interesting to see that Thomson Reuters and Elsevier has each made acquisitions to support a research information management system (Converis and Pure, respectively) as part of its suite of research management and evaluation services. Interest in Symplectic has grown, and the Vivo community is widespread. There is strong interest in research profiling and expertise systems, and the Share initiative will certainly highlight factors around research information management generally. Again, this is an area where the library role is likely to be carried out in partnership with other campus partners, and where positioning as a provider of expertise is important.
¶ 9 Leave a comment on paragraph 9 0 It is also worth noting that as library space is no longer configured around collections, but rather is configured around experiences, this also opens up partnership and organizational issues, as other units on campus come into the library space. This may be the case as access to specialist equipment or communication facilities is made available, or expertise in publishing, data management or visualization, is housed in the library.
¶ 10 Leave a comment on paragraph 10 0 These developments have led to various well documented boundary issues – between libraries and IT for example, or libraries and e-learning. It has also led to really interesting new service configurations bringing together previously disparate service areas as common interests become clear. It is surely likely that these new configurations will become more common in the next few years.
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