Librarians and Publishers Working Together: MLA InSight Summit 2

The second MLA InSight Summit was held in Chicago in September.  I am on the Insight committee, the group that is working to put on a good program and produce deliverables to both librarians and publishers.  I also was the moderator for the September summit. (Gabe Rios moderated the first one and Jerry Perry is going to moderate the third summit.)

The summits are intended to be a space where librarians and key figures in the publishing and vendor world work together to try understand users (researchers, clinicians, students, nurses, etc.).  It is not a place to talk about pricing, sales, or budget blaming. It is a place to discuss the issues of our users impacting all of us and how we can take steps to improve things.  Because let’s face it, if our users stop using us (either of us) we are out of business.  The librarians who attend are a diverse group of librarians who represent different perspectives and health sciences libraries.  The publishers who attend represent small and big STEM publishers and vendors.

I wanted to wait until Elizabeth Ketterman (Library Director of the William E. Laupus Health Sciences Library at East Carolina University) and Sean Pidgeon (Publishing Director for Science and Medicine and Oxford University Press)published their summary of the of second session.  Guest Post: MLA InSight – How to Buy Whisky is a very good post that describes some of the issues we discussed.

Ketterman and Pidgeon list the most prevalent concerns and challenges we (librarians and publishers) are facing and that were discussed and explored.

They were:

  1. Patrons do not understand the value of the services provided by the library. (and I would say by natural extension publishers)
  2. We (librarians and publishers) have a poor understanding of how our users find content and interact with one another online.
  3. We seem to be helpless targets for pirates.
  4. Predatory publishers are taking advantage of a shifting Open Access Landscape.
  5. It is challenging to conduct rigorous and reproducible research in the biomedical sciences.

No surprise, I have several thoughts on those 5 issues and I plan to write about those things at future date.  The main thing I want to convey with today’s post is that both librarians and publishers came together to work their way through some of these problems. Did we solve them all on that day back in September? No, but we all certainly learned a lot more about those things than before the summit.

For example, after hearing from several different users (researchers, doctors, physical therapists, etc.) we learned that many of them just don’t give a damn about all of the special unique customization features that publishers (and some libraries) provide to people who create accounts and login to their sites.  I was sitting at a table with a person from a major publisher who actually said to everyone at the table, “We have spent all this time, effort, and man power on customized and personalized features that we just rolled out. Now I am thinking we wasted a lot of time and should have been looking at ways to better direct people to the content without logging in.”

That kind of information along with the collaborative effort to work together on things impacting both of us made the summit worth attending.  This was just the second summit, there are more good things to come that we can learn from.

At the annual meeting I will be helping to moderate, the Innovation & Research Practice Immersion Session 4, “Disorienting Dilemmas: Transforming the Librarian’s Understanding of How Today’s Health Professionals Discover and Use Information Resources Outside the Library Setting,” by Jeff Williams and Martin Wood. Monday May 5, 2019 from 4:30-5:55pm. Jeff’s presentation at the second summit was so revealing that I highly encourage librarians and vendors at MLA to attend his and Martin’s presentation on Monday.

I am also looking forward to the 3rd Insight Summit.  I hope that we can take the knowledge and information from Summits 1 and 2 and continue to build upon them other and create change together.  That is why I feel it is important that we get as much representation from librarians AND publishers for the next summit.

Publishers who have sent somebody please talk to Dan Doody to get an understanding of what is involved.  Publishers who sent somebody but didn’t feel it was worth attending again, ask yourself this question, “Did I send the right person?” Most likely you didn’t. Those publishers who are forward thinking and sent the right people (those high enough up in the company who are leaders in change) seem to have gotten the most value out of the summit.  Those who sent the local sales rep really missed out, and didn’t see the value because the information and message didn’t to the change agent.

Librarians who would like to attend talk to previous attendees or Gabe, Jerry and myself. We can tell you what it was like. We aren’t looking for any specific librarian position (director, collection development, systems, etc.). We are looking for a diverse group that are engaged, making changes, and willing to take that information and disperse to the library community.

We have only just begun. I think of the Summit 1 as a small little snowball rolling down the mountain. My hope is that with each summit the snow ball grows producing an avalanche of change.

*Here are more articles about the previous InSight summits:

 

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