Author Archives: Mike Furlough

About Mike Furlough

Associate Dean for Research and Scholarly Communications, Penn State University Libraries

Publishing and Curation Services Vision and Policy, Part 1

In Patricia’s last blog post, she discussed how we are engaging stakeholders to define our repository services.  As that work has progressed, we have begun to bump up against questions that often lead to a call for the development of a policy.  For example: 
  • How will we decide what material to accept?  “That depends upon our collection policy.”
  • What file formats are okay? How long are we promising to keep this stuff? “That depends upon our digital preservation policy.” 
  • What rights clearances do we need people to provide?  “That depends upon our copyright policy.” 
These are important questions, and they are just samples of what has come up. We have many more to ask and answer.  One thing that bothers me, however, is that these questions imply hurdles, or barriers that we have to put in place.  They begin with exclusion: We will not accept some things; we will reject file formats; we will not handle things if rights aren’t cleared.   Furthermore, they are almost showstoppers that lead to more hard questions:  “Who’s going to develop that policy?”  “What do you mean by collections?”  “How can we establish preservation policy when we don’t have infrastructure in place?”   
Policies must be guided by a strong sense of purpose: they should be designed to help you achieve your goals.  Program Sigma is the handle we’ve adopted to refer to a number of activities we’re undertaking this year, and elsewhere we have said that Sigma is aimed at the “development of new services that leverage existing infrastructure and … the design and development of a repository services platform to support the ingest, management, and delivery of digital library collections, student and faculty papers, research data, and electronic business records.”  
That’s good enough for our internal audience, but we need to be able to describe our vision for ourselves and others, and in language that is generally understood.  So, as a starting point, I offer up a vision statement that I have adapted from previous work: 

Penn State Publishing & Curation Services (PCS) organize, publish, and distribute the results of our community’s research and scholarship, allowing our faculty and students to reach a worldwide audience of scholars.   PCS gives researchers the ability to create new publications, to distribute their papers, presentations, publications, datasets* or other creations, and to comply with policies that require and encourage public access.  Academic departments and colleges will use PCS to collect students’ work to create a record of academic achievements and enable future research.  Readers and researchers worldwide will access our researcher’s work via popular web-based discovery tools such as Google and Bing, as well as library-oriented discovery tools and catalogs, e.g., WorldCat, while Penn State users will also use local tools such as the CAT or LIONSearch.  PCS will provide these users with state-of-the-art interfaces and functionality designed to integrate smoothly into their various research and work environments.  The PCS suite of services provides the Penn State community with a powerful publishing platform, one that will help the University meet the goals of the 21st Century Land Grant University by extending the audience for and application of knowledge.

That still has a way to go, and I welcome it being picked apart and re-drafted.  Does this ring true?  If so, does this help us to lay the ground for further service description and development? 
In an upcoming blog post, I will return to this vision statement and try to articulate a few policies that I think are implicit within it.  If you want to play along, you could start to identify those yourself. 
*Note:  Added “datasets” to vision statement at suggestion of D. Salo after initial publication. I’m glad she pointed out that was missing. 

The ARL/DLF E-Science Institute

The Association of Research Libraries and the Digital Library Federation are jointly sponsoring an E-Science Institute which will begin later this year.  The program is a part of ARL’s Transforming Research Libraries initiative.  Out of this Institute, ARL and DLF hope to assist libraries in developing program plans in this area, provide professional development opportunities, and promote cooperation across libraries as they develop services for the sciences on their own campuses.  

The Institute will be designed so that sponsoring libraries will convene a small team  who will work on assignments in the second half of 2011 and then meet as part of a 2.5 day workshop towards the end of the year.  Penn State is a sponsoring institution and so we will have an opportunity to participate in the program when it starts up. 

I have agreed to be one of the faculty for the Institute and will be working intensely with the others in the next several months to design the curriculum. 

In the meantime:  HELP!  Our first planning meeting will be held in one week, and by mid-week I will prepare a 2 page outline of Penn State’s “near-term (12-18 month) E-Science strategic agenda–its  assumptions, priorities, and activities–for the perspective of your own organization and experience in this area.”  For our planning group this is a conversation starter. It’s not meant to be a true strategic plan or draw heavily from existing documents.  

But perhaps for us, this is a good opportunity to consider some issues. How might the Institute help us at Penn State?   If you were writing this, what would you highlight?  Or what questions might you pose?  What are the local factors that we need to consider going forward?   What activities do we need to plan for?  

Please post comments here, and I’ll try to incorporate your ideas to the extent that I can in a short document.  I’ll post the final version for discussion and I’ll keep everyone informed as the plans for the program develops.