Scholarly Communications, Equity and Inclusion: Part 2

This blog post is part of a two-part series addressing the 2018 theme of Open Access Week: “Designing equitable foundations for open knowledge.”

In my last post I framed the issue of diversity in scholarly communications within the context of the profession of librarianship.  I asked

If, as I argue, diversity has intrinsic value, why then should the qualification for professional librarianship not reflect diverse approaches?

Restructuring entry to the profession with diversity in mind can take many different pathways.  A diverse approach could consider whether an undergraduate degree in librarianship can be a path to professional librarianship.   It could consider means of evaluating on-the-job training, as well as other means of providing certifications, perhaps by structured professional development courses, immersive summer schools, or other avenues for cumulative certifications that can eventually provide a professional qualification. It could consider whether access to those certifications can be provided to wide constituencies such as persons holding undergraduate degrees, persons with professional experience, persons with associate degrees, and persons who can competently pass an entrance examination. It could also consider developing and promulgating standards for library technicians and other classes of library professionals.

In terms of access to opportunities within academic programs, individuals with power within academic institutions must make conscious decisions to critically analyze conceptions of ‘best fit’ candidates and ask themselves whether this is simply privileging a particular cultural experience.  Such individuals must recognize the value that persons from different backgrounds can contribute to their institutions and make decisions to create space for such persons.  At the institutional level academic programs must be reformed to ensure that work experience is built into the programs for every entrant and that there is flexibility for entrants to change positions as their interests develop.

Most, if not all of these steps carry risks.  There is the risk in creating ‘diversity hire’ positions, that the scholarly community will suspect that the selected candidate was not necessarily the most qualified person for the job.  My own position, the Open Scholarship Resident Librarian, is a diversity residency created by the IU Libraries, and I have wondered whether others may think I was offered this position based on my race rather than my qualifications.

There is the risk in moving the discourse beyond representation and inclusion to think about the intrinsic value of diversity. The risk is that shifting the focus from representation can be used to perpetuate exclusion of underrepresented populations, on the basis that any individual necessarily brings a diversity of experience to the community.  There is also a risk that diversifying paths of entry to the LIS field would lead to devaluation of the worth and work of professional librarians as well as salary degradation.

We have to investigate these risks. These risks can be departure points for further scholarly inquiry.  We must ask what kinds of data must be collected, what practices must be put in place, and what decision making behaviors must be interrogated to address these concerns.  However, this should not inhibit work toward the deconstruction of established exclusionary systems.

These proposals can be applied in other areas of academia beyond librarianship.  The broad need for restructuring of credentialing is pointed to by Jonathan Finklestein of digital credentialing service Credly, in this article on alternative credentials.  Using alternative paths to credentialing is one step, the next step is to figure out how to get a wider array of voices into the scholarly and cultural record.

The institutional repository of Indiana University – IU Scholarworks – is a good example of a how to provide an access point for diverse voices.   Access to the repository is not limited to faculty and scholars. Anyone with a connection to IU can deposit work into the repositories, and once deposited the works are freely available for anyone to access.  The same applies to our Open Journals platform, which provides a low or no-cost digital journal publishing service.

The Indiana University Libraries Diversity Strategic Plan and the work of the Diversity Committee reflects an appreciation of the risks and nuances, while doing actual work to transform the library into a space that people from traditionally excluded groups can access and thrive.  The collections are being revamped, alternative qualifications are specifically referred to in job postings whenever possible, a member of the Diversity Committee takes part in the search and screen committees, and job applicants are specifically questioned on their commitment to diversity. The Diversity Committee plans outreach to cultural centers, the office of disability services, veteran support services and many other campus bodies that serve staff as well as faculty, in its work. IU Libraries joined the ACRL Diversity Alliance and created its first Diversity Residency – my position, the Open Scholarship Resident Visiting Assistant Librarian.

In my work I investigate the publishing output of the Indiana University Bloomington Libraries through Open Journals and the university repositories.  The goal is to identify gaps, and reach out to underrepresented communities and provide them with access to publishing.  Indiana University maintains several repositories for articles, thematic series, theses and dissertations, and images and video.  Our librarians can help you assess your rights to place your work into the repositories.  The goal is to create a scholarly environment without cost, geographical, or systemic barriers.  You can reach out to me at wtavern@iu.edu.

Scholarly Communications, Equity and Inclusion: Part 1

This blog post is part of a two-part series addressing the 2018 theme of Open Access Week: “Designing equitable foundations for open knowledge.”

The landscape of scholarly communication has become more diverse, moving beyond traditional book and journal publishing.  We now have an entire spectrum of methods of open scholarship available, with varying levels of formality, recognition and acceptance, such as –

  • open access publishing;
  • self-archiving by depositing scholarly data, pre-prints and post-prints in open repositories;
  • digital platforms for sharing data, articles and source code;
  • social networks;
  • blogs; and
  • podcasts. 

This diverse spectrum of scholarly communications challenges us to think about diversity within our profession, as well as equity and inclusion in terms of who and what is reflected in the scholarly record.

I believe diversity is an imperative, not only because we serve diverse communities, but because diversity is a service in itself.  I refer to this as the intrinsic value of diversity.  Our differences allow us to bring a variety of perspectives that enrich each other’s lives and the lives of the communities we serve, even if that community is completely homogenous.   We want all the best minds to contribute to scholarship, regardless of race, ability, nationality, gender, sexual orientation, age, socioeconomic status,  or geographic limitations.  Therefore, discussion of diversity must include, but move beyond, representation of the diverse communities we serve, and we must take a critical look at the structures of power that perpetuate exclusion.

As Alice Meadows points out in her recent article – Eight Ways to Tackle Diversity and Inclusion in Peer Review – it has become apparent that there is a serious lack of diversity and inclusion in publishing, scholarly communications and academia.  Her thoughtful piece shows how academia has constructed an exclusionary system that permeates through all facets of the scholarly communications landscape.

Librarianship reaches into all areas of academia, and over the last 2 decades has taken the lead in promoting a more open equitable environment for scholarly communications.  However, it is also a discipline that exemplifies that exclusionary system, despite the proliferation of diversity initiatives  over the last decade. The LIS profession generally regards itself as committed to diversity, equity and inclusion, as a safe space for persons of all abilities, sexual and gender orientations, and as anti-racist.   These narratives are welcome, and when they are translated into practices that actively recruit and foster the development of persons from underrepresented groups, they contribute to a more equitable scholarly environment.  However, a 2017 Ithaka S&R study of academic research libraries (Schonfield, R and Low, J “Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity:Members of the Association of Research Libraries Employee Demographics and Director Perspectives” (2017)) revealed the critical lack of diversity in the profession despite 20 years of diversity initiatives, beginning with the ALA Spectrum Scholarship in 1997.

However, these initiatives have not dismantled the exclusionary construct of the scholarly field or the profession.   One important issue that has been lacking from the diversity narrative is an interrogation of the structure of LIS as a profession.

Two structural issues that impact diversity in present-day librarianship are barriers to entry, and access to opportunities during LIS studies.  Prior to 1950 librarianship qualifications varied, including apprenticeship within a local library, summer training schools, and even and undergraduate degrees (see also Reports of the Iowa Library Commission 1901-1916 available at hathitrust.org).

This is no longer the case.  As a general rule, to become a librarian, an advanced degree is required, usually an MLS or its equivalent, or in more recent years, institutions have been increasingly willing to accept a subject-matter Masters degree. Within graduate programs, access to opportunities for meaningful experience are structured around concepts and expectations that align with North American, white, middle class cultural experiences.  While increasing numbers of entrants come to librarianship as a second career, the educational trajectory of most entrants is strikingly similar and coalesce around this same cultural experience.

People of color, people in lower socio-economic brackets which are disproportionately comprised of people of color, and people who are from the global south, again generally comprised of people of color, do not necessarily have this cultural experience.  Many of these persons may also have faced societal opportunity gaps and unequal access to resources from the earliest stages of formal education.  Moreover, persons within these groups are not one dimensional –  they may have other characteristics which inhibit access, such as disabilities, age, being a parent, and gender and sexual orientation.  When we consider the layering of all these facets, entry to the field of librarianship and space to thrive within it, becomes increasingly difficult to navigate for persons within these groups.

As a result, while narratives of diversity proliferate within LIS, access to the field is largely limited to a homogenous cultural and socio-economic trajectory.  If, as I argue, diversity has intrinsic value, why then should the qualification for professional librarianship not reflect diverse approaches?

I explore this question further in a following post.

The Scholarly Communication Department Welcomes Open Scholarship Diversity Resident

The Scholarly Communication Department welcomes our new Open Scholarship Diversity Resident this week – Willa Liburd Tavernier. Willa is the IU Libraries’ first Diversity Resident. She will be working with the Scholarly Communication Department and IU Press to advocate for and assess the impact of policies and practices that make research, educational materials, and data, openly accessible.

Image: Photo of Willa Liburd Tavernier
Willa Liburd Tavernier, IU Libraries Open Scholarship Resident

Willa’s current research interests include investigating the underlying theoretical basis for open scholarship, and critical information literacy.  Before joining IU, Willa worked as a student specialist at the University of Iowa conducting bibliographic analysis of open access funded research and assisting with administration of the institutional repository.

Willa earned her MLIS from the School of Library and Information Science at the University of Iowa together with a Graduate Certificate in College Teaching.  She also holds a Master of Laws from American University Washington College of Law, a Legal Education Certificate from Norman Manley Law School and a Bachelor of Laws from the University of the West Indies at Cave Hill.

Please join us in welcoming Willa to the IU Libraries!

IUScholarWorks Journals Now Minting DOIs

An example of an article with a DOI in the Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning.
An example of an article with a DOI in the Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning.

IUScholarWorks is pleased to announce that we are now offering the ability to mint DOIs for IUScholarWorks journal content in partnership with CrossRef.

A DOI, or Digital Object Identifier, is a string of characters that uniquely identifies an online item and serves as a stable, permanent URL. This functionality makes it easier for online content to be discovered, used, and cited.

As part of IUScholarWorks’s agreement with CrossRef, journals that use this service are required to check for and include existing DOIs for all article citations. Therefore, we encourage journals with back content to issue DOIs only for prospective content (if your needs extend beyond this, please contact us).

Within OJS, the DOI plugin allows journal managers to configure the journal’s DOI settings, and the CrossRef XML Export plugin enables them to export metadata for deposit into the CrossRef database. Additionally, editors have the ability to add DOIs to article PDFs prior to publication.

To start issuing DOIs for your IUScholarWorks journal, please contact us at iusw@indiana.edu. Detailed instructions are also available on the IUScholarWorks wiki.