Update on Library Space Planning

In my September post, I shared information on the Library Master Space Planning efforts for the summer and outlined the steps that had been taken as well as the plan for the fall to collect feedback from members of this community.  During two weeks in September into October, we emailed a survey to all students, faculty, and staff. We also held listening sessions in order to hear from faculty, staff, and students about what they wanted to keep, drop, add, or improve in our key spaces for:

  • Service and staffing
  • Research and study
  • Technology
  • Collections
  • Community 
  • Teaching and learning

The purpose of the survey was to “develop a collaborative vision and space plan.”  Our focus is to have a library for everyone and a place where everyone feels they belong.  Collecting feedback from the community was important to us in developing the space plan.

A summary of the survey results may be found on our website – https://www.macalester.edu/librarymasterplan/wp-content/uploads/sites/181/2019/12/Space-Planning-Survey-Feedback-Presentation-2019.pdf

We appreciate that 803 members of the Macalester community completed the survey.  We were also pleased to see that the survey results did not present any real surprises, with the exception of one topic: space for providing food and beverages in the library. Having a cafe with food and beverage options topped the list for future space considerations for students, faculty, and staff.  75% of student respondents listed it as the top pick, while 53% of staff and 45% of the faculty had it as their top pick.

Comments on furnishing, lighting, display of the collections, and making sure we had quiet space were all expected.  We know that the lighting needs work. When the building was designed, there were not as many options for energy efficiency as there are today and we now hope to improve the lighting.

Our current furniture is mostly the same furniture that we had when the building opened. After thirty years, it is definitely time for a refresh and redesign.

Shelving and display of books is also something we know we can improve.

Overall, the survey confirmed what we had laid out in our original draft vision:

Our community is invited to join us in rethinking this essential college asset as we endeavor to create a warm, welcoming and inclusive space that:

  • Enhances the academic and scholarly pursuits of our community;
  • Provides increased access to, and inspired discovery of, information and library collections, in all forms; 
  • Celebrates and elevates the written word, scholarship, and creative expressions; 
  • Preserves and promotes the history of the college; 
  • Emphasizes the role of libraries and library staff in learning and information literacy; 
  • Leverages technology and technology staff to enhance scholarship, teaching, and production;
  • Provides opportunity for creativity, exploration, content creation, and play; 
  • Facilitates gatherings, meetings, and community building.

Over the past several years, we have shared reports and presentations related to how libraries are changing.  We have engaged with a faculty group who read, Reimagining the Academic Library, as part of a Serie Center reading program.  We have provided updates in the MacDaily, newsletters to faculty, annual reports, and meetings with the Library Advisory Committee and the Library Reps group. When we renovated the second level of the library, and opened up space for the Entrepreneurship program, a classroom, meeting rooms, study spaces, a classroom for Archives, and exhibit space, we hoped it would be just the start of possible future changes in the library.  It is our goal to continue to work on a master plan that will provide a library that is visually pleasing, comfortable, welcoming, and meets the technological, teaching, and scholarship needs of the community. We look forward to sharing possible directions in the spring as we continue to work on creating a master space plan for the library that will carry us past 2025. As always, we look forward to further conversations with you.

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Library Space Master Plan

At the March 2019 Faculty Meeting, Provost Karine Moe announced the start of a planning process to look at spaces in the library.  As per the minutes of the Faculty Meeting:

“We need to take stock of faculty and student current use but also what they imagine the library needs in the future, and what potential opportunities there might be for integrating the DRC and digital liberal arts. We’ll have multiple opportunities to give input, and we’ll be communicating throughout the planning process. It’s important for me to say that any changes we make will not reduce the size of the collection. The collection will stay at its current size. Any changes we make would be to make better use of underutilized space in the library.” (https://www.macalester.edu/internal/facultymeetings/2019-03-12facmin.pdf)


During the summer, members of the planning committee met to develop a draft for a  Library Master Space Plan.  As stated in our master space plan document, the library is more than 30 years old. It has undergone small incremental changes over time but there are now gaps between what students expect and what we are currently able to provide. This project is an attempt to look at how we can improve the student experience, continue to meet the needs of the faculty, and enhance technology that supports the digital liberal arts within library spaces. We will look at spaces throughout the library in order to identify how we can best use underutilized spaces, increase space for our growing archives, and provide comfortable working spaces for library and, potentially, ITS staff.  We also want to collect feedback from the campus community.


The Provost emphasized in March that we would take the time to gather input from all stakeholders on campus. To that end we are planning the following activities:


  • Online Survey – to be launched September 23 and completed by October 4.
  • Student Session – September 26, Thursday, 6:30 – 8:00 p.m. Harmon Room. 
  • Faculty/Staff Session – October 1, Tuesday, 3:30 – 5:00 p.m. Harmon Room.
  • Serie Center Conversation and Discussion – October 21, 12 noon to 1 p.m. – preliminary results and discussion with faculty.


Our goal is to have a preliminary plan to share in early spring 2020. More information will be found on our website page.  We invite all faculty, staff, and students to share their thoughts by responding to the online survey that was mailed to everyone on Monday, September 23.  We will provide updates and communicate any additional sessions in the MacDaily.


This is a great opportunity to really explore how to best design a major asset on this campus in order to meet the needs of students now and into the future. Change is rapid and constant but we hope, with the help of our community members, to develop a vision that will allow us to conceptualize a library that will be able to continue to evolve, adapt, and adjust to new technologies and services to best meet the needs of students in 2045. We hope you will take the time to share your thoughts by completing the survey and by joining us at one of the discussion sessions.  As always, I’m happy to hear your questions, thoughts, or concerns any time.


Members of the Planning Committee:

Karine Moe, Provost and Dean of Faculty

David Wheaton, Vice President of Administration and Finance

Terri Fishel, Library Director

Jenn Haas, Assoc. VP Information Technology Services

Nathan Lief, Assoc. VP of Facilities

Joelle Vitiello, Professor, French and Francophone Studies (faculty representative)

Angi Faiks, Assoc. Library Director

Katy Gabrio, Asst. Library Director

Brooke Schmolke, Mgr. Digital Resource Center

Rachel Weaver, Assoc. Director of Support Services

Matt Meyer, Asst. Director of Facilities

Mphatso Simbao (student representative)


Rebecca Celis, Architect, HGA

Shared Print Collections

Last year we joined HathiTrust in order to provide access to the millions of electronic volumes that are accessible in full text.  We know several faculty who are actively engaged in text mining and utilizing HathiTrust resources that include thousands of titles in foreign languages as well as rare primary sources that have been digitized.  At the same time, academic librarians recognize the need to preserve print copies of books for preservation purposes. Digital copies provide easy access but the print copy may contain essential aspects of the book that don’t translate well to a digital copy.  Thus, preservation of print collections has become another essential service.


I have been working with a group of academic library directors since October 2017 on a proposal for an academic library shared print program in Minnesota. The Minnesota proposal is similar to regional organizations that have developed around the country to facilitate print preservation. Some of the better known and longer existing programs include: EAST (Eastern Academic Scholars’ Trust, 60 institutions across 11 states), OhioLINK (89 academic institutions in Ohio), and SCELC (Statewide California Electronic Library Consortium).  In January, I attended the American Library Association midwinter meeting in Seattle and participated in a two and half hour meeting on shared print collections where more than seventeen organizations shared reports on their activities. This meeting was focused on the preservation activities of the various groups that comprise PAN: Print Archive Network Forum. You can get a sense of just how many programs exist, and see agendas and reports from the various groups at: https://www.crl.edu/events/pan-ala-midwinter-2019-seattle-wa. You can also view our regional report: CALD.


Macalester, along with four other academic institutions, will be embarking on a grant-funded project to develop and manage a shared print collection. The goals of this project include:


  • Provide participating academic libraries an opportunity to reduce their print monograph collections without sacrificing access to resources for our statewide community;
  • Allow participating libraries to reclaim space for local needs and other purposes that are beneficial for their community members;
  • Develop policies and strategies so that we can effectively preserve our print collections without unnecessary duplication of both older titles as well as new titles and still maintain enough circulating copies for interlibrary lending;
  • Identify unique print items within collections of participating libraries for preservation and potential digitization;
  • Develop a framework or process by which libraries could withdraw and responsibly relocate items that no longer had local interest, but with potential to be unique or scarcely held;
  • Ensure that we have a shared understanding of preservation needs and a strategy for managing withdrawal issues of last copy;
  • Recognize the potential and value in distributed responsibility for ensuring enduring access;
  • Contribute and participate in other regional and national projects of shared print preservation efforts and look for opportunities to increase cooperative efforts.


We held our first meeting virtually on February 20, 2019.  Katy Gabrio, Assistant Library Director for Collections and Discovery, will be leading the group as we move forward.  We take preservation of our print collections seriously, but we also know that we need to engage in cooperation with other institutions in order to make sure that print collections will be accessible and available for generations to come.  We welcome feedback or questions from our community.

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Support for Designating a Portion of Our Ongoing Budget for Open Access Initiatives

On October 3, we met with faculty members who are the Library Representatives for their departments and shared a copy of our Sustainable Collection Development Plan. We shared the same plan with our Library Advisory Committee the following month at our meeting on November 18. (A PDF of the proposed plan is attached to this blog posting.)

At both meetings, we discussed the fact that with a flat budget (increases of 1% or nothing) each year, and journal price increases of 7-10% each year, we cannot continue to subscribe to the same number of journals, much less add additional titles. We have made, and continue to make, changes in our subscriptions every year based on a journal review that is shared with departments. As part of that review, we provide usage information and cost per use.  We evaluate our databases in the same way. We are continuously looking at how our collections are being used and what resources are in high demand. A number of years ago, we implemented a pay-per-view plan in order to provide access to journals–not by subscribing to them, but by providing access to individual articles. This continues to be a cost-effective method for accessing lesser-used journals. If you are not familiar with the pay-per-view plan, please see our Pay-Per-View web page.  Another step we have taken is to include OA databases on our A-Z list, so if you first log in you’ll see a list on the right side.  For more information on OA initiatives we supports, please see our LibGuide on Open Access.

In our proposed plan, we were seeking faculty support for our efforts to designate a certain percentage of our annual budget–not the collection budget, but a percentage of the entire library budget–to support open access efforts. We had an engaging discussion at the Library Advisory Committee meeting because the question was rightly raised: “When do you anticipate that there will be enough OA resources so that the collections budget will feel relief?”  Unfortunately, we don’t have an answer for that. What we do know is that our small steps are making a difference.  

Change in the scholarly publication market is slow, but small, incremental steps are making a difference. This week we worked with a faculty member to make data used for a scholarly article openly accessible in our institutional repository. In a year’s time, the article will be openly available and a copy accessible from our repository. While we would like to see the embargo periods shortened, at least the article will be freely available after the one year embargo. We continue to receive inquiries regarding payments for article processing charges (APCs) for publishing in open access journals. As we announced previously (June 28, 2018 Collections Newsletter) we’re limiting our funding to those journals that are truly open access–not a hybrid by a commercial publisher.

On October 3, we met with faculty members who are the Library Representatives for their departments and shared a copy of our Sustainable Collection Development Plan. We shared the same plan with our Library Advisory Committee the following month at our meeting on November 18. (A PDF of the proposed plan is attached to this blog posting.)

In terms of our proposal, we are seeking faculty approval for our efforts. We can’t promise that our efforts will lead to budgetary relief in the near future, but these incremental changes are having an overall effect on reducing paywalls and barriers to scholarly information. As always, feel free to share your thoughts and let us know what your questions, concerns, or comments are regarding our sustainable collections plan. We hope to have a formal vote of approval at our March 28, 2019 Library Advisory Committee meeting.

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Open Access Week: Designing Equitable Foundations for Open Knowledge

Open Access Week will be celebrated October 22-28, 2018. This week-long international event is now in its 11th year, after its start in 2007 as a single day. The history is as follows:

  • February 15, 2007: began as a single day organized by Students for Free Culture and the Alliance for Taxpayer Access.
  • October 14, 2008: titled Open Access Day and became an international event.  
  • October 19-23, 2009: expanded to a full week.
  • October 2011: annually scheduled for the last full week in October, and titled Open Access Week.
  • October 2012: established themes for the week, with the first being “Set the default to open access.”
  • October 2013: the theme was “Redefining Impact.”
  • October 2014: “Generation Open.”
  • October 2015: “Open for Collaboration.”
  • October 2016: “‘Open in Action.”
  • October 2017: “Open In Order To.”
  • October 2018: Designing Equitable Foundations for Open Knowledge.”


We celebrated the first event in 2007, and have continued ever since. The last full week in October often coincides with our midterm break, but we will continue to celebrate Open Access Week even if it means we scrunch the events down to one or two days for the Macalester community.

Last year, we hosted a webinar viewing on open access monographs. You can read more about it in last year’s blog posting.  In my August 2018 blog, I talked about the slow pace of change in scholarly communication, but there are changes happening. I’d like to talk about some of the activities we have been participating in related to open access.  During the summer, we started using the OA icon to identify OA resources on our A-Z list of databases. If you go to our  List of Databases A-Z page, on the right side, you will see a short list of some of the resources we have that provide access to openly accessible materials.  This is not a comprehensive list. Our Library Guide on Open Access provides a more extensive list of pre-print servers and other resources for scholarly publications that are openly accessible. Meanwhile, Ron Joslin completed the Library Guide OER Toolkit, and Ron, Angi Faiks, and Terri Fishel contributed a book chapter to the open book:  The Evolution of Affordable Content Efforts in the Higher Education Environment: Programs, Case Studies, and Examples.  Ron has also spent the summer working on two major OER (Open Educational Resources)projects.  Ron, Britt Abel, and faculty from across the country have been preparing Grenzenlos Deutsch, an open access curriculum for beginning German. When completed, this work will contain a full-year curriculum, including a mix of materials rooted in real-world, contemporary communication scenarios, multimedia content, and online learning activities. Also in process is an education textbook, Building Trust: Education in Global Perspective, that Ron is creating in PressBooks with Sonia Mehta, Visiting Assistant Professor for Education Studies, and Beth Hillemann from the library. And last, but not least, the first open ebook in our series, Intersections, has been published. This is a new ebook monograph series highlighting faculty work that crosses multiple disciplines. Take a look at: A Material Education: the Art & Science of Stanton Sears .

Also during the summer, we prepared a Collection Development Plan to Support Sustainable Collections: A Proposal that we shared with our faculty Library Reps  on October 3, 2018. We will also share this proposal with our  Library Advisory Committee in November to get feedback on the proposal.  A PDF of this proposal is available for review.

We hope you will join us in celebrating Open Access Week this year.  Stay tuned for details on events during the week of October 15-19. We will be celebrating a week early due to Midterm Break.  Notices will appear in the MacDaily.

And as per always, I welcome your comments and feedback on this or any other library initiative.

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Fostering a community of digital learners in order to develop a digitally fluent community

Staff members of the library in partnership with staff in Information Technology Services will be rolling out a new initiative this fall.  With the support and approval of Employment Services and the Provost, we are piloting a program that focuses on helping members of the Macalester community become more comfortable and adept with technology. Our program is intended to address digital literacy/competency/fluency on our campus. We are beginning this initiative because we see it as a critical need on campus. Along with many others at institutions of higher education, we are concerned that our students may not graduate with the appropriate knowledge and skills needed to be successful in an increasingly complex digital environment.  In order for our students to graduate with these knowledges and skills, all of us need to be comfortable working in an environment of constantly changing and often challenging technological threats as well as opportunities. This issue is important enough to have been listed in the 2018 Horizon Report  [1] as a “solvable challenge” and it is an issue that affects all disciplines.  From the introduction, the report states:

“[t]he use of technology encompasses 21st century practices that are vital for success in the workplace and citizenship. Digital literacy transcends gaining discrete technological skills to generating a deeper understanding of the digital environment, enabling intuitive and discerning adaptation to new contexts and co-creation of content.  Institutions are charged with developing students’ digital citizenship, promoting the responsible and appropriate use of technology, including online communication etiquette and digital rights and responsibilities…” (p.26)

Our goal is to elevate the comfort level of all members of the campus community in order for all of us to be more adept at dealing with the constant changes in technology, whether it is a simple software change or a system change.  We also seek to develop skills that help individuals recognize trouble spots and threats and learn best practices for addressing those challenges.  Finally, this program is intended to help all of us become good digital citizens who understand their rights and responsibilities, as well as how to take precautions and manage security for applications  that are essential when working in a digital environment. Based on patterns we’ve observed in ourselves, and as members of the community, we see this as a community effort. Becoming comfortable with technology is more than just improving basic skills.  We want to focus on developing a deeper understanding of the environment in which we live and function. Our vision for this program is ambitious, but is stated as follows:

Digital competencies are essential in the 21st century for both personal and professional success.  Our program will foster a community of digital learners who are able to support and teach each other,  adapt to new and changing technologies, and become efficient at identifying and using appropriate technologies. Macalester will become a campus community in which change and transformation are the expectation and where all students, faculty, and staff will confidently adopt and use technology appropriately for increased productivity, improved collaboration, and effective communication in this rapidly evolving digital ecosystem.

This pilot project is the result of work that began last spring.  A group of staff members from the library and ITS started meeting regularly to talk about how we might work together to address issues related to digital literacy on campus. We see our work as connected to the work being done in the digital liberal arts, so we invited Professor Chris Wells, Environmental Studies, to join us. Our activity is also aimed at addressing one of the college’s strategic priorities on technology: “Become a leader among liberal arts colleges in the use of technology” as well as one of the issues that was listed In last year’s SPA (Strategic Planning and Analysis Committee) report: “Are we THRIVE-ing? A reflection on the current strategic plan for Macalester and implications for creating a culture of iterative strategic planning.”  The report stated: “Students would like to see Macalester explore formal programming, workshops, or short courses that teach technical and computing skills outside the format of regular credit-bearing classes.”  [2]

Thus we see an opportunity to address both a long-term strategic priority as well as a need that students have expressed. As mentioned above, many of our peer institutions are now exploring how to address these same needs.

Shortly after we began meeting, the annual ACM (Associated Colleges of the Midwest) meeting for heads of IT and libraries was held in Chicago in April.  An outcome of that meeting was an agreement to come together for a workshop at Macalester. Thus, in July we hosted a very successful ACM workshop for a group of 30 staff members from libraries and IT to talk about digital literacy and begin to create action plans for each of our campuses.  We’ve agreed to continue to share information during the next year and reconvene at Grinnell next summer.

During this fall, we will be sharing more information and addressing questions at the Department Chairs meeting in October, as well as through the MacDaily, so that supervisors will understand our goals and the purpose behind this initiative, and promote our program for staff.  I will be sharing more details at our fall Library Advisory Meeting, and we will seek opportunities to speak with any interested individuals or groups about this program. We welcome questions from community members, so I invite you to contact or talk with any of our steering committee members: Aaron Albertson,  Brooke Bergantzel, Jacki Betsworth, Suzanne Durkacs, Angi Faiks, Terri Fishel, Katy Gabrio,  Beth HIllemann, Ron Joslin, Rachel Weaver, Chris Wells (Environmental Studies/History), and Ted Wilder.  Also joining this group is our newest library staff member, Louann Terveer. We look forward to rolling out our program this fall and hope to hear back from our community members. We want to hear what needs you have that you would like to see addressed in terms of becoming digitally fluent. Please share your thoughts with any of us.  We look forward to working with you to develop our community of digital learners.

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1  The Horizon Report is issued annually and focuses on summarizing the key trends and challenges facing technology in higher education for the next five years.

“Are we THRIVE-ing? A reflection on the current strategic plan for Macalester and implications for creating a culture of iterative strategic planning.”  The Strategic Planning and Analysis Committee, 2017-18. Note: there is no date or page numbers for this report, but copies could be provided if requested.

Change is rapid and constant, except in changing scholarly communication

In the June blog posting, I talked about how our collections have changed and will continue to change. Increasing costs is one of the constants we experience and I shared our hope that faculty will become more engaged in supporting our efforts to increase open access to scholarly publications. Increasing costs are not new.  Over twenty years ago, in “Issues in Scholarly Communication I: The Looming Crisis”, authors Professor David Bressoud, DeWitt Wallace Professor of Mathematics and Joel Clemmer, former VP for Library and Information Technology, wrote:

“…the electronic age is bringing both unprecedented opportunities and great dangers…Commercial ventures are moving rapidly into this field and shaping it to fit their needs.  As scholars and as educators, we have a responsibility to help determine the future of scholarly communication…”

This excerpt  is taken from the first in a series of three articles written in 1995 and published in the Colloquy.  

The  Colloquy was an irregular campus print publication that started in 1982 as a newsletter for the Bush Program for faculty development.  The last published issue was October 2003. During its run, the publication included essays and commentaries by faculty and (sometimes) staff. In 1995, a series of three articles were co-written by Joel Clemmer David Bressoud on scholarly communication.  The articles were: I – “The Looming Crisis”; II – “The Looming Opportunities”; III – “The Looming Responsibilities.” This series focused on the scholarly crisis that had been developing, but was then accelerating due to two factors: expansion of information as well as increasing costs. The authors outlined the following as part of their background information:

  • Increase in number of published math papers
    • 1840 – 840 math papers
    • 1960 – 7,800 math papers
    • 1990 – over 50,000 math papers
  • Increase in costs of databases in the library over 10 years
    • 1984 – $1,700
    • 1994 – $66,500

At the time of the Colloquy articles, two national digital projects had just launched:  Project Muse, with the intent to digitize 44 traditionally print journals; and JSTOR, with the intent to digitize the backfiles of journals. The concept of JSTOR was based on a proposal  by William Bowen, at the time president of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

“…[T]o help university and college libraries provide adequate space for an ever-increasing amount of published scholarship. Bowen’s solution: convert printed scholarly journals into electronic form and store them in a centralized digital archive. Participating libraries and their institutions could free physical space, reduce capital and other costs associated with collection storage, and vastly improve access to scholarly research.”

Now, JSTOR provides access to over twelve million academic journal articles and Project Muse has expanded to over 600 journals and more than 50,000 books. Note that our current costs for databases is considerably more than $66,500 per year and in fact, one database now currently costs us $47,000 annually.  There is no question that JSTOR has expanded access to journal articles, but it has also come at a cost. At the time these articles were written, the authors optimistically stated in the conclusion of their first article: “This is our opportunity to shape the future.”

The reality is that 23 years later, we are still trying to shape the future and commercial interests are still trying to shape the scholarly publishing landscape.  As a result, we continue to see an exponential increase in the number of publications, and costs continue to rise at an annual rate of 7-11% for journal subscriptions. Every year we have requests from faculty to increase our journal subscriptions. And every year we have to explain that to add one, they need to drop one or two of equal value in order for our subscriptions to remain steady state.  Meanwhile, as mentioned in my last post, faculty submit articles for publication without being paid, yet academic libraries have to pay in order to provide access to these articles given away for free. Unfortunately, these costs are increasing beyond the ability of our budget to keep up, and most academic libraries are in the same position. There are, however, options for scholars to access a version of a published article that may be behind a paywall. And I’m not talking about using Sci-Hub. The options I am referring to include placing articles on dedicated preprint servers, or depositing post-print versions in institutional repositories. Many more publishers are allowing these options for authors.

These changes have been partially a result of an increased demand for providing open access options, along with an increasing number of institutions that have open access mandates–policies that require faculty to provide a copy of accepted, peer-review articles to be made openly available to all through their institutional repository. Internationally, there are more than 700 institutions with such a mandate including some of our peers–Amherst, Grinnell, Middlebury, Smith, and Trinity University, among others. Simultaneously, we have seen an increase in the number of subject specific preprint and postprint servers for posting a version of articles accepted for publication.

Faculty in the sciences, especially physics, have long had the preprint server arXiv.org. Launched in 1991, it now provides: “Open access to 1,411,323 e-prints in Physics, Mathematics, Computer Science, Quantitative Biology, Quantitative Finance, Statistics, Electrical Engineering and Systems Science, and Economics.”  Preprint servers exist for the purpose of sharing manuscripts that have been peer-reviewed, but are waiting to be published.  As the lag time from when an article is accepted to the actual publication date can be quite lengthy, many scholars turn to preprint servers to find relevant and timely articles. One of the largest organizations for preprint serves is the Open Science Framework.  The following is a list of preprint servers, with those in italics hosted on OSF at https://osf.io/preprints/:


As a result of these activities, we are now seeing a number of commercial publishers who are allowing faculty to archive preprints, postprints, and sometimes the final printed version of articles on personal websites and in institutional repositories.  Sherpa Romeo is a website that allows faculty to check for policies on what is possible with articles that have been accepted for publication.  As an example, here is a screenshot showing the possibilities for one journal title:

screen shot of Sherpa/Romeo page


In conclusion, faculty have options when it comes to publishing and sharing their research, scholarship, and creative works. While the promotion and tenure process often limits where you may publish, publishers themselves have started to allow more options for providing access to a version of your scholarship.  For twenty-three plus years, we have advocated for author rights and tried to move faculty into a more open publishing environment. We are hoping to engage with faculty to encourage them to join in the effort to move even more scholarship into completely open access publications. This is just one means of addressing the effects of increasing costs on a limited budget. We can only provide access to a fraction of the resources that are behind paywalls. But thanks in part to an ever-quickening pace for conducting research and publishing results, more faculty are taking advantage of open access options to distribute and disseminate their research, and thus expanding the reach of their research. This is the goal of OA2020, “a global alliance committed to accelerating the transition to open access.”  We’ve been in crisis mode long enough. It is time to make a commitment to change and to supporting the OA2020 initiative.


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Library Collections: how they are changing and will continue to change, and why we need your help

In the spring we held two conversations with faculty who were concerned about changes in our physical collections.  We have shared many news items and blog postings over the past several years to outline changes in academic libraries. The graph below captures changes in libraries over the past several years, and some future possibilities:

chart of how libraries are changing


(You will need to select the image to see the full version.) Image from: The Future of Academic Libraries, an interview with Steven Bell, March 26, 2012.https://www2.educationfutures.com/blog/2012/03/the-future-of-academic-libraries-an-interview-with-steven-j-bell/

This article is six years old, but the progression on the chart for Collections from “just-in-case” to “On demand, anytime” best represents our current model for collections at Macalester.  The majority of our acquisitions budget is spent on services and access to electronic information.  Our model is access over ownership, to the benefit of our users. We own less now, but we have access to much more content than we’ve had before.  Because we no longer “own” the content, we are careful to review licenses to make sure we are able to provide access to materials with as few restrictions as possible.  However, access to information is changing, and not necessarily in a good way. Information has always been big business. Many faculty members in the sciences have heard me talk over the years about escalating subscription costs and consolidation of publishers.  We continue to see subscription costs rise 7 – 11% every year. The one pressing–and increasing –concern we have is:  how much access we can provide with the funding we have available?

One means of combating escalating costs is to decrease paywalls and increase our support for open access initiatives.  Consequently, we have put a significant amount of time and effort into promoting open access. As pointed out in a variety of publications and presentations, colleges and universities often pay three times for research:

  • Institutions pay authors to conduct research and draft papers, which are then transferred gratis to publishers
  • Institutions pay faculty who volunteer their time to peer-review and edit journal submissions, and serve as editors for journals
  • Institutions pay publishers for access to the final, published articles, written and edited by our faculty

And I would add a fourth time we pay when we pay article processing charges (APCs) to make an article openly accessible in a commercial journal.  We have seen an increase in faculty requests that we pay the APC. While our fund has grown, it is proving to be unsustainable in light of the rising costs of APCs.  As a result we will be making changes in our policies and procedures for next year.

Another issue in the increasing costs for information is the fact that we are now also seeing a commercialization of information in a completely different manner.  Access to information is changing and the commercialization of information is growing. For example, Monsanto is now the largest producer of agricultural information, not the US government.  This concerns me as we know that Monsanto will have proprietary control over crop information, and this will affect access to information scholars may want to look at regarding crop changes and climate changes.   More information on this new disturbing trend will be found in our June Collections Newsletter in our article on the Center for Research Library annual meeting. However disturbing this new trend is, it is still rising costs that affect our being able to provide “access on demand.”

Increasing costs and flat budgets are putting even greater pressure on our library budget.  In the fall we will be sharing more information about a new initiative we’d like to see faculty supporting.  OA2020 is an international initiative to accelerate the move to open access for scholarly journals.  We’ll be sharing information with our faculty Library Representatives at our fall meeting, and with our Library Advisory group in the fall as well.  Open Access Week this year is October 22 – 28 and the theme is Designing Equitable Foundations for Open Knowledge. We’d like to see our entire community get behind the initiative to break out of traditional dysfunctional patterns of faculty giving their work away for free and libraries having to buy it back at costs that were already spiraling out of control 25 years ago and now have only accelerated.  I look forward to meeting with faculty and discussing how Macalester can support this global initiative and contribute to making scholarship open and accessible for our current and future scholars. I’d welcome comments and feedback from you regarding your thoughts on how we can gather campus support for this pressing challenge. I’ll look forward to hearing from you. And you can always drop by my office anytime to share your thoughts.

My informal signature

Digital Literacies – skills for the 21st Century

The continual changes in technologies affect our lives in so many ways.  It is a constant struggle to stay abreast of those changes, make informed decisions, and choose when to migrate to the latest, greatest, newest hi-tech product or software update.  In higher education we know that technology impacts us in many ways, ranging from integrating technology into our teaching, to the impact of changes in G Suite on our daily work lives, to how digital tools can be introduced to students for assignments in the sciences, social sciences, arts and humanities in meaningful ways.  One of the aims of our Mellon Grant for the Digital Liberal Arts is “to create a community of digital learners: faculty who have used digital techniques in both their research and the classroom those who are interested in doing so, and experts from our library and IT departments.” [1] It is this aspect of creating a “community of digital learners” that I’d like to address.

In their article, “From Written to Digital: The New Literacy”, Phil Ventimiglia and George Pullman begin by pointing out that Walter Isaacson in his book,  The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution  “contends that the major innovations of the digital revolution—from the first general-purpose computer to the transistor to the iPhone—were all created by individuals who understood how to synthesize the humanities with technology.”[2] On a similar theme, this spring there is a CST sponsored reading group that is reading the Fuzzy and the Techy: Why the Liberal Arts Will Rule the World.  The promotion for the reading group, read

In response to some of the discussions at the FAIR and faculty meetings this fall, our group will read venture capitalist Scott Hartley’s The Fuzzy and the Techie: Why the Liberal Arts Will Rule the Digital World. “Scott Hartley artfully explains why it is time for us to get over the false division between the human and the technical,” one reviewer writes. “If received and acted upon with the seriousness it deserves, we can anticipate real benefits for business and society.” “Great book for all,” writes another. “Blows up the false dichotomy in education between tech and liberal arts. This book shows that not only can both coexist; it is dangerous if they don’t both exist side by side in an integrated manner. They make each other more effective.”[3]

Both of these references point out the benefits of integrating technology into the liberal arts. This can occur on many different levels and integrating technology into the curriculum is already underway in many courses.  However,  as Ventimiglia and Pullman further point out, although teaching with technology is a focus in higher education, a more important issue is what are we teaching our students about living in a digital age.  They state, “[s]tudents can be more successful after graduation if they are digitally literate.”  So, I would like to suggest that we consider that it isn’t enough to just integrate technology into teaching.  In terms of creating a community of digital learners, how are we introducing students to what it means to be  “digitally literate?”  I think we need to start considering what is needed to ensure our students graduate with the skills they need to survive in the 21st century and we also need to consider how to convey to the students why this important for their future success. Just slightly more than thirty years ago members of the library staff embarked on the process of developing a program for integrating information literacy into the curriculum and it has developed into a very successful program.   Now we need to consider what it means to be a digitally literate person and why this is critical for the 21st century.

So what exactly is “digital literacy”?  Bryn Mawr has developed a Mellon-funded, ambitious program,  as outlined in their paper discussing the Bryn Mawr Digital Competencies Framework. [4] Built on the model of the Association for College and Research Libraries’ Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education . Bryn Mawr identifies 5 skill areas:

  1. Digital Survival Skills – learning network and file management, troubleshooting, and managing one’s digital identity and security, and developing critical understanding of databases.
  2. Digital Communication – learning use of collaborative tools, digital writing and publishing, and producing audiovisual materials.
  3. Data Management and Preservation – learning how to develop online surveys, protecting one’s data, and organizing, managing and preserving the data.
  4. Data Analysis and Presentation – learning how to use Excel along with software tools to manipulate data, and to develop skills in data visualization.
  5. Critical Making, Design and Development – learning how to interpret and edit computing code, developing competencies in design thinking, project management, and digital tools for disciplinary research.

You can go to Bryn Mawr’s Digital Competencies website and read in more detail about their initiative.  Their program focuses on helping students from the start of their education at Bryn Mawr to launching their careers.

Bryn Mawr’s program is inspiring and worth reviewing for consideration in developing a similar initiative at Macalester.   In today’s technology driven world, where change is rapid and constant, all fields leading to careers incorporate new technologies that require robust digital literacy skills.  In order to be nimble, our students need skills to survive in a technological environment that is pervasive at work, home, and recreation.  The role of the library staff in helping to develop digital literacy skills is partially based on the Framework for Information Literacy frame that focuses on Information Creation as a Process:

“Information in any format is produced to convey a message and is shared via a selected delivery method. The iterative processes of researching, creating, revising, and disseminating information vary, and the resulting product reflects these differences.” [5]

However, all of the digital skill areas identified by Bryn Mawr are based on the information literacy framework.  The library staff and ITS staff are involved in conversations about digital literacy because we see some specific needs we could address.  In addition, developing a program that focuses on digital literacy is something that would also specifically address one of the objectives in Macalester’s Strategic Plan.  It is stated that we want to  “[b]ecome a leader among liberal arts colleges in the use of technology to improve and broaden the reach of teaching and learning.”  I think if we want to become a leader, this involves the necessary task of improving the digital literacy skills in our students.

When we began our program to integrate information literacy into the curriculum, we started by focusing on the first year courses.  Today, every first year course includes a library component and we have expanded to include more library sessions in upper division and research oriented courses.  So, if we were to use a similar model, we need to find a starting point.  Conversations are underway between staff in the library and members of ITS about how best to move forward in developing a program focused on digital literacy competencies at Macalester for all members of our community.  As part of the Mellon grant is focused on creating a community of digital learners, what about a community focused on creating digitally literate individuals?  Would you be interested in joining the conversation?  If so, please send me a note and let me know and we will coordinate further conversations to help us develop a path forward.






  1. “Macalester Receives $800,00 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for Digital Liberal Arts and Writing,” https://www.macalester.edu/news/2015/02/macalester-receives-800000-grant-from-the-andrew-w-mellon-foundation-for-digital-liberal-arts-and-writing/

2. Phil Ventimiglia and George Pullman. “From Written to Digital: The New Literacy.” EDUCAUSE REVIEW, March/April 2016.  https://er.educause.edu/articles/2016/3/from-written-to-digital-the-new-literacy

3.  CST News, Jan. 4, 2018

4.  Bryn Mawr College, “Bryn Mawr Digital Competencies Framework” (2016). Blending Learning Research and Open Educational Resources. 3.  https://repository.brynmawr.edu/oer/3

5.  Association of College and Research Libraries, “Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education. 2015. http://www.ala.org/acrl/standards/ilframework


Additional Readings

Alexander, B., Adams Becker, S., Cummins, M. & Hall Giesinger, C. (2017). Digital Literacy in Higher Education, Part II: An NMC Horizon Project Strategic Brief. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium. (Volume 3.4, August 2017).  https://www.nmc.org/publication/digital-literacy-part-ii-an-nmc-horizon-project-strategic-brief/

2017 Digital Literacy Impact Study; an NMC Horizon Project Strategic Brief, vo. 3.5, November 2017 https://www.nmc.org/publication/2017-digital-literacy-impact-study-an-nmc-horizon-project-strategic-brief/

Digital Learning and Inquiry (DLINQ) – Middlebury College – http://dlinq.middcreate.net/


Open Access Week – October 23-29

During Open Access Week we will be focusing our promotion on Lever Press and open access monograph publishing.  More people are familiar with open access journal publishing, so we’re going to focus on the initiatives we support that produce monographs.  As part of the week activities, we will be hosting a joint viewing of a live webinar featuring a panel of representatives from various initiatives talking about open access monographs.  The webinar will take place from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m., and we will continue after the webinar for another 30 minutes to answer questions and share more information on Lever Press.  Participants will be able to submit questions during the broadcast, but we are also collecting questions ahead of the session.  (See form link at end of this post.)  We hope faculty and staff will join us to learn more about how scholarly publishing is changing.

Information on the event:

Open Access Monographs – Current initiatives and progress on sustainable models for making monographs openly accessible.  Webinar for Open Access Week, Tuesday, October 24, 3 p.m- 4:30 p.m. Harmon Room. – For Faculty & Staff.  Refreshments will be served.

The open access monograph is now definitely an important component of the scholarly communications landscape.  However, with a growing number of initiatives, publishers, and economic models, the question is sustainability.  There are a number of different models, including Open Book Publishers, Open Humanities Press, and numerous university and commercial publishers who have open monograph publications, thus more initiatives than we could include for this one-hour webinar.  A  selected number of representatives from various open monograph publishing initiatives will participate in a panel discussion about their current economic models and future of open access monographs.  Each panelist will give a brief statement about their initiative, their editorial review process, their funding model, and their perspectives on the future of open access monographs.  Following their brief statements, we will have a question and answer period moderated by Kevin Smith, the Dean of Libraries at  the University of Kansas.

Participants for the panel include:

  • AAUP Open Access Monograph Publishing InitiativeWendy Pradt Lougee, University Librarian and McKnight Presidential Professor, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.  The Association of American Universities (AAU), Association of Research Libraries (ARL), and Association of American University Presses (AAUP) are implementing a new initiative with 13 universities and 60 university presses participating.  Universities will provide subventions for open digital monographs, to be published by university presses.
  • Lever Press and Knowledge UnlatchedCharles Watkinson, Associate University Librarian for Publishing, University of Michigan Library, and Director, University of Michigan Press. University of Michigan Press and Amherst Press are partners in the Lever Press which is supported by pledging institutions. University of Michigan Press has also been an active participant in Knowledge Unlatched,  which uses a crowd -source funding model to make previously published works openly available. Charles is also a Board Member of Knowledge Unlatched Research and will compare Lever Press with KU.
  • LuminosErich van Rijn, Assistant Director, Director of Publishing Operations at University of California Press.  The financial model is shared costs between author, institution, publisher, and libraries.
  • University of Ottawa Press Lara Mainville, Director of University of Ottawa Press. OA publications are funded by the University of Ottawa libraries.
  • Moderator:  Kevin Smith, Dean of Libraries at the University of Kansas.  Prior to joining the University of Kansas, Kevin served as Director of Copyright and Scholarly Communications at the Duke University Libraries.

This webinar is being sponsored by Lever Press.  Please RSVP to join us in the Harmon Room with this form.

If you have a question for the panelists, questions are also being collected ahead of the presentation with this form.

I hope you’ll plan on joining us.