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My 2014 Midwinter conference started Friday afternoon with the ACRL Scholarly Communication Roadshow presenters meeting. We had a smaller than usual group, but productive conversation nonetheless. Although I won’t be going out on the road to present any in 2014 – I have lots of fun ZSR and local commitments this year taking priority! – I’m glad to still be part of the team revising the content.

Saturday kicked off early with a fascinating ALA Washington, D.C. office update session that featured Spencer Ackerman, National Security Editor for Guardian US, the journalist who broke the Edward Snowden NSA surveillance leak story. Ackerman made several great points during his talk and the Q&A that followed. Highlights:

  • Amount of secrecy surrounding government surveillance has increased over last several decades, in part because the ways in which laws are interpreted are becoming more secretive.
  • NSA claims no surveillance occurs until data is analyzed, not at point of collection. (Ackerman demonstrated the fallibility of this claim by asking the woman who introduced him for her wallet, then proceeded to take her credit card, make a rubbing of the numbers, then return it to her, while making the point that, ideally, he would’ve done this without her realizing. He then asked if she had something taken when collected, or not until used.)
  • In the last 8 months, we’ve learned more about the NSA than we’ve learned in the last 60 years; NSA and the government never believed such illumination would happen.

I followed this heady start to the day with the ACRL Copyright Discussion Group, in a room that was packed out. Most questions/discussion centered around streaming media rights, successful faculty outreach efforts, copyright websites, and MOOCs. None of the questions or, more importantly, answers were surprising or off the mark from what we are doing/thinking about at ZSR, which is reassuring.

Lunch was courtesy of Gale, which featured an excellent presentation on the history of the Associated Press, whose archive is a new collection available from Gale this year. (Reference colleagues: I have the new catalog for you!) My afternoon was all data, all the time. The ALCTS Scholarly Communication Interest Group featured librarians from UC San Diego and U.Va. sharing their respective libraries’ new data services. The SPARC Forum featured an editor from PLoS, a librarian from Purdue, and a researcher from UNC discussing various approaches to connecting articles and the data behind them. The Forum was moderated by Clifford Lynch, of CNI, who opened the session by making the great point that the fundamental nature of journal articles has not changed, only the delivery format; but, he posited it will in the near future, to facilitate articles linking up to data. A few points were raised that I will be reflecting upon as we continue our data conversations at Wake:

  • After a certain amount of time, datasets should be treated like any other library collection, subject to either preservation or weeding, as warranted; institutions cannot commit to keeping all datasets forever.
  • There is a long tail of “orphaned data” for which appropriate discipline repositories do not, and cannot, exist, hence the need for generalized data repositories.
  • Understanding impact of openly shared datasets, evaluating quality of datasets, determining academic credit for sharing data are some of the challenges to the broad update of data citation by scholars.

My Saturday ended at a lovely reception, courtesy Thomson Reuters, at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, where Carolyn and I got to meet some of Mary Beth’s and Lynn’s former Wayne State colleagues.

Sunday kicked off at 8:30 with a three-hour meeting of the ACRL Research & Scholarly Environment Committee. One thing I love about this committee is that, in addition to discussing our own business for ACRL, we also receive updates from the field, bringing in representatives of associated groups, including ARL, SPARC, SCOAP3, COAPI, and the OA Working Group. The need to address data management as a part of scholarly communication was discussed at multiple points throughout the morning, which mirrors discussions we’ve been having locally. Two field updates of note: ARL will be offering a preconference on assessing scholarly communication programs at the assessment conference in Seattle in August (Susan, Roz, and MB are planning to attend this conference, I believe), and SPARC will be launching new program areas of advocacy and education on OER and data.

Sunday afternoon found me attending programs/discussion groups on Google Books and copyright reform, ORCID, and researcher profile systems. Fred von Lohmann, formerly with EFF and now with Google, gave an overview of the Google Books ruling that was issued in November, and speculated on how the case might impact Congressional movement on revising copyright. Laura Quilter and Lisa Macklin were also part of this session, giving updates on the HathiTrust and Georgia State cases, respectively. Two key takeaways from this session:

  • Copyright laws don’t get revised when copyright is controversial; hopefully copyright will get more boring in the next 5 years, as the recent cases work their ways through the courts, which will open doors to reform.
  • Work on the 1976 Copyright Act began in 1955, so copyright reform takes a LONG TIME; must keep that perspective.

The ORCID discussion featured three librarians whose institutions are ORCID members, and therefore able to assign ORCIDs to researchers. One interesting idea that arose was to assign ORCIDs to graduate students when they submit their ETDs. The researcher profiles session featured two librarians and a faculty member sharing how their institutions are using various profile systems – including VIVO, Symplectic Elements, and SciVal Experts – to highlight faculty scholarship. These are all more powerful systems similar to Digital Measures, and made me long for a more robust system at Wake that also integrates with SHERPA/RoMEO and WakeSpace to assist in deposit decisions. A librarian can dream, right?!

Sunday night found Mary Beth, Carolyn, Steve, and I at a ProQuest dinner at the National Constitution Center, again with folks from Wayne State joining our table, and later a ZSR reunion party with Lauren Pressley on the 33rd floor of the Loews Hotel, overlooking the skyline of Philadelphia all lit up at night. Monday I wrapped up Midwinter with a final walk through the Exhibits, a trip to Reading Terminal Market for an obligatory cheesesteak and Termini Bros. cannoli, and some quality time in the Philly airport as Derrik, Wanda, and I, along with several UNCG and FCPL librarians, awaited our long-delayed pilot to arrive to fly us home. It was a whirlwind, but productive, Midwinter.