The Book, and the Scholarly Communication Notebook (SCN)

The OER + Schol Comm team started working together in late 2016, initially around the idea of an open textbook about scholarly communication library work. As we pursued that goal, applied for and were awarded funding, talked to peers, and presented at conferences, our collaboration evolved to include a second major product, which we took to calling the Scholarly Communication Notebook, or SCN, an overt nod to the Open Pedagogy Notebook by Robin DeRosa and Rajiv Jhangiani. The book and the SCN are two distinct but related aspects of our work. We’ve realized there’s some confusion and conflation of these two related projects, so we thought it might be helpful to provide clarification. If you want deep background on both, read on. If you’d rather get the tl;dr version, scroll down to the third header, “Relationship between Book and SCN”.

The Book

The idea for an open textbook of scholarly communication librarianship, which we sometimes called the OER of scholcomm, took initial shape over the course of 2017, when we also applied for IMLS funding to conduct some research and outreach to inform its development. Then and now, the primary audience we’re creating for is students in MLIS graduate programs (and their professors), as well as practitioners who want to learn and may benefit from a book level intro to get them started. By mid-2018, based on many conversations with colleagues and other stakeholders, the book had more or less taken the conceptual form it has now: a broad introduction to scholarly communication work in academic libraries, the forces that shape it (Part 1), the major advocacy movements within it (Part 2), and practical contributions from peers about the nature of the work (Part 3). In late 2018 we learned that ACRL would be our publisher, embracing the openness that is core to the work, and our approach, as messy as it is. Recognizing that we shouldn’t be the only voices in such a work (for a variety of good reasons), in mid-2019 we brought on section editors to help us present the open movements that are so core to scholcomm work; experts in those areas, shaping their section as they thought most appropriate, with authors they wanted to feature. These sections and their editors are Open Data  edited by Brianna Marshall, Open Education edited by Lillian Hogendoorn, Open Access edited by Amy Buckland, and Open Science and Infrastructure edited by Micah Vandegrift. Then in late 2019 we issued a CFP for contributions to Part 3, which we conceived as Voices from the Field: Perspectives, Intersections, and Case Studies. We were able to accept about 25 short pieces that further expand the number of folks, ideas, practices, and so on involved. In late 2020 we announced our intention to provide parts of the book for open review, and that process continues. All told, there are over 80 people who are directly contributing content to the book, and THEY are what make the book rich! We are deeply, DEEPLY, indebted and grateful to every single person that has contributed editorial work, content, feedback, and ideas all along the way. It’s very humbling, and we feel an immense burden to get it as right as we can on our end, with the knowledge that we will inevitably fall short in some ways. The pandemic has slowed our progress a bit, but we’re still moving forward and hope to deliver a complete manuscript to ACRL in the next few months.

The Scholarly Communication Notebook (SCN)

The SCN grew from our realization that no matter how expansive we try to be, no matter how many folks we provide a platform for, a book, even an open one that we hope will have some living/breathing instantiation, is inherently limited, linear, hierarchical, and static. That became troubling because scholcomm itself, and the work it entails, is highly dynamic, and we at least aspire to it being maximally inclusive, even as we recognize that hasn’t been reality in the field. We realized (and heard from others) that modularity would be useful. We wanted to expand on the existing open learning content, make it more discoverable to our stakeholders, let anyone contribute, and leverage open educational practices to increase knowledge and create useful and renewable content for scholcomm topics. So we went back to IMLS with the idea of the Scholarly Communication Notebook, based on the Open Pedagogy Notebook, a platform to collect and host open scholcomm content that is intentionally pedagogic. And, wonder of wonders, in 2019 they gave us almost $250K to use over three years, a lot of which we are giving to contributors (we do not get any direct financial benefit from the grant, other than some travel funding that we built in, but haven’t been able to use because pandemic). With this funding, we’re able to hire our excellent colleague, Jenna, and to pay selected contributors through a competitive CFP process for their time and labor, and some other miscellaneous things. The pandemic imposed some new conditions that we have been adjusting for, with IMLS support. We recently contracted ISKME OER Commons to host the SCN as an OER Commons Hub (in production now), and a professionally designed logo is coming soon. We’ve got some other plans in the works for remaining funding.

Relationship between Book and SCN

The book is just that: a book, to be published by ACRL next year, with a CC-BY-NC license. Print copies will be available for purchase, alongside a free download. It’s a general introduction, highlighting the work of others as much as possible, with some minimal pedagogic apparatus (discussion questions, suggested further reading) to get those that want to dive deeper pointed in the right direction. The SCN is a platform, both a complement to the book, as well as a standalone collection of open content addressing scholarly communication topics. After reviewing a number of options, we chose to work with ISKME OER Commons because it best meets our needs as we presently understand them. The SCN should grow over time, with contributions from many quarters.

Either the book or the SCN can be used independently, or in conjunction with another. For example, one might read the Copyright and Legal Issues chapter in the book (in Part 1), and then dive into Carli Spina’s SCN materials about Copyright, Disability, and Accessibility in the SCN if they want or need to learn more about that topic. They might also discover Talea Anderson’s Accessibility Case Studies for Scholarly Communication Librarians in the SCN, and the wealth of perspective and further reading available there. An MLIS instructor might use the book, or a chapter of the book, perhaps with an assignment prompt from the SCN that results in student-created content that can become part of the SCN. A librarian skilling up on scholcomm topics might play Stewart Baker’s ScholCom 202X interactive fiction game as a way of learning about the daily issues that we encounter, and further reading to learn more about the issues. They might read the open education section (in Part 2) of the book as a gateway to that rich landscape. Our goal with these projects is to connect people with each other through content and collaboration, to break down silos, to welcome our future peers to our profession, whether they are in dedicated scholcomm roles, or work in another area, to increase knowledge and skills that advance scholcomm work, and we believe the book and the SCN can help make these things happen.