On November 4, 2020, the CONP webinar series presented Violeta Ilik, new Dean of Libraries at Adelphi University (as of July 1, 2020) and co-chair of FORCE 11, who gave a talk entitled “Knowledge Dissemination and Libraries of the Future.” Training as a scientist (BS in Chemical Engineering from Ss. Cyril and Methodius University in Skopje, in what is now Macedonia), Ilik moved to the United States and eventually got a degree in library science.
However, Ilik found that interacting solely within the library community was “like speaking to a mirror” and wanted to meet other researchers to better understand their needs. This led her to become involved in open science communities, such as VIVO, Semantic Web and Knowledge Graph. Ilik joined the FORCE11 coalition (Future of Research Communication and Scholarship) in 2013, which she describes as “an amazing playground of scientists, researchers, librarians, publishers, nonprofit organizations, startups that come up with amazing ideas on how we can reshape the whole scholarly ecosystem.”
Ilik believes that libraries and universities need to combine retention and adaptation features, both for content (keeping the old while continuing to add the new) and form (using all available forms to make the content accessible to everyone everywhere).
The nature of academic libraries is “undergoing a huge fundamental shift away from merely providing access to scholarly literature toward assisting in its creation.” Ilik sees a more interactive and deeper relationship between scholars/researchers and librarians, where academic librarians “branch out into research support roles” in two main areas: (i) providing professionalized scholarship support and (ii) making knowledge openly and equitably available to all.
In helping scholars navigate their complete scholarly journey, Ilik mentioned how librarians could direct scholars to new peer-reviewed journals (e.g. eLife) and assist with new online attribution tools, as well as help them determine which new approaches were viable. Finally, librarians could help researchers maintain an impactful online presence. Ilik mentioned ORCiD as a free, nonprofit, online tool that provides a persistent digital identifier that researchers own and control, and that distinguishes them from every other researcher. Measuring and assessing scholarship impact by discipline is important for advocacy to the public and to policymakers. One area where Ilik felt librarians could really help scientists is by tailoring their message to various audiences. When addressing research peers, the focus is on the methodology so that the results can be reproduced. When speaking to the general public, it’s how the research results could impact them and affect their lives. “So when you’re telling your story, you have to know who your audience is and what your goals are for that interaction, because you don’t just have one science story, you have multiple versions of your story for different audiences,” says Ilik.
Making knowledge openly and equitably available is the second main directive for libraries. More research organization funders are requesting open access sharing of research results. To that end, Ilik advocates for the need to rethink publishing agreements. The amount of money spent on such agreements is “literally mindblowing” and yet the fees paid are disproportionate to the publishing house’s ability to meet university libraries’ basic needs. She also sees the need to transform the ebook and e-textbook space to keep students away from “contracts of adhesion” for digital textbooks, as well as click-through agreements that take away ownership from students and institutions.
Ilik credited FORCE11 for “[having] shaped me as a librarian.” She invited all to get involved in FORCE11 (membership is free) and join one of its working groups or even propose a new one. By doing so, Ilik believes “… we can all make a difference.”