University of Missouri
The University of Missouri System E-Resources Cooperative Office negotiates large agreements between the University of Missouri System and publishers such as Elsevier, Ovid, Springer, and Wiley. There is a current global library movement to replace the traditional subscription-based nature of these agreements with Transformative and Open Access models that are more financially sustainable. Articles that are published with Open Access are more impactful because they are available to all readers regardless of their income or affiliation with an institution. Therefore, they also promote scholarship that is more inclusive of researchers from all walks of life.
The shift from paying for subscriptions to paying for Open Access publishing fees, which are more expensive, requires additional funding for libraries and a change in the University’s mindset about what the library does. This is no simple task. Libraries are not traditionally thought of as playing a role in the publishing aspect of scholarly research.
In Fall 2020, I attended the Sustainable Scholarship Virtual Forum hosted by the Virginia Research Libraries. The speakers emphasized that effective communication is key to the advancement of Transformative and Open Access agreements. One speaker recommended using laymen’s terms when describing these agreements so that the core idea of open access to knowledge and financial sustainability is not lost in library jargon. Close to that time, I received an email from Chris Pryor, Interim Director of the Health Sciences Library at the University of Missouri about an NNLM MCR Library Marketing Professional Development Award which funded attendance to the Library Marketing & Communications Conference held online in November 2020. In addition to attending the conference, recipients received individual coaching and mentoring for the duration of the award period in the area of library engagement. The timing could not have been better.
One of the most impactful conference sessions that I attended was Tamara King’s Neutral or Necessary: How Libraries Can Find Their Voices in Times of Unrest. Ms. King, Communications Director for Richland County Library in South Carolina, spoke about her library’s successful “Let’s Talk Race Initiative” which sought to “build community by encouraging honest dialogue, empathy, and courageous communication”. While my goal was not the same, there were several takeaways that I will apply to my work. These include cultivating a reputation of trust and transparency within my office, starting small with manageable projects, and acting with consistency in order to avoid confusion.
Over the grant term, I also learned from group meetings with fellow award recipients and one-on-one sessions with my mentor, Jim Staley, Director, Community Relations and Planning, for Mid-Continent Public Library in Missouri. An invaluable lesson that I learned from Jim is to meet stakeholders where they are and in formats that they are already using. In order for transformative and open access agreements to be successful at the University of Missouri System, faculty and researchers must be aware of the new publishing cost funding that is available through their libraries. By working with the publishers who manage publication agreements and key faculty ambassadors, the library will be able to spread its message more effectively.