Summary of Hot Topics discussion at WLIC Poland August 2017

At the 2017 IFLA WLIC in Wroclaw, Poland, the Academic & Research Libraries committee once again hosted its popular Hot Topics session.  The session, which was attended by more than 180, opened with provocative lightning talks by three committee members, each of whom posed questions to the attendees.  The program then moved to table discussions on those questions, facilitated by committee members.  The presentations and associated questions were:

  • Data management & the role of libraries in the evolving research lifecycle
    presented by Mimi Calter, Deputy University Librarian, Stanford University, USA

    • What level of engagement does your organization have with research data management? Is that level appropriate?
    • Do your staff have the skills needed to manage research data? What reskilling efforts are required?
    • How will your data management efforts intertwine with other priorities for your organization?
  • Fake news arbitration: the role of the library
    presented by Gerald Beasley, Carl A. Kroch University Librarian, University of Alberta, Canada

    • Is “fake news” any concern of libraries?
    • Should libraries collect and provide access to “fake news”?
    • What tools (if any) should libraries offer users to identify “fake news”?
  • Information literacy programs – essential or a waste of time?
    presented by Janet Fletcher, University Librarian, Victoria University, Wellington, New Zealand

    • You have been asked to create an information literacy program for academic staff across your university.  What would you do? How would you know that you have been successful?
    • The universities across your region/country are engaging a consultant to design an information literacy program that every institution must use.  What would it look like?
    • Do you think your information literacy program(s) are important and why?

There was lively discussion following the presentations.  Key points raised in the table discussions are summarized below.

Data Management

  • Data management proved to be an area of significant interest to most participants, and there is interest in data management and data services from almost all libraries.  However, the level of involvement differed significantly by region and type of library.  In some countries and libraries, data management is a very low priority as there are so many other pressing issues.  In others, data is one of the most pressing concerns
    • From China: “Data management is very important – we have a consortium with 50 members to manage IR/software platforms and integrate data to our members, full data in their local institutions by cataloging level. Department named info management was funded two years ago, and is becoming more and more important.”
    • From the Netherlands: Data management became a hot topic in The Netherlands and all university libraries are struggling with their role regarding this topic. “I am skeptical about the library’s role in data management because of the specific characteristics of data, but I am not skeptical about helping people write data management plans.  This more educational approach fits the libraries.”
    • In the US, a Federal mandate for research data has increased interest and focus on research data management.  The skills of librarians are being sought after by the institutions
  • Most of those engaged with data believe that library involvement in Research Data Management helps increase recognition of librarians and their skills
  • There was hot debate on whether librarians have the required skills for research data management, with opinions going to either extreme
  • In a related discussion, it was felt that it was important that librarians embrace the ongoing development and improvement of their skill sets
  • Receiving data is a repeated concern.  A lot of researchers don´t want to share their data, and librarians invest significant effort in organizing data deposits
  • Many organizations are leveraging institutional repository infrastructure for data storage and management
  • Standards for data management are a developing area and are a repeated concern.  This is an area where libraries, and perhaps IFLA, can coordinate
  • There was discussion of the two capacities of an institutional repository: data generated by researchers, and data brought in from external agencies.  Libraries are frequently involved in the storage and management of purchased data sets

Fake News

  • Most participants agreed that Information literacy is linked to fake news, and generally agreed that the library has a role in addressing the issues.  Several participants particularly noted that students don’t have the skills they need to distinguish fake news, so libraries must train them
  • It was noted that fake news is itself a news item, and can be expected to be a topic of study.  Thus, it is important that libraries collect fake news, along with real news, to facilitate future research
  • A participant from Beirut noted: “We always need to validate information, and interrogate the authenticity of data we receive.  Undergrads are not really aware of the need to interrogate data and question if it is authentic”

Information Literacy Programs

  • Most participants felt information literacy was important, and it was generally agreed that the attention to fake news was driving an interest in information literacy, though there are other motivators as well
    • From the USA: Assessment is driving information literacy, integrated into accreditation for standards across the country.  WASC standards are one example, where information literacy is a component of assessment.
  • Several participants noted that information literacy programs tend to be focused on undergraduates, but there is broader applicability
    • From the Philippines: Yes, it’s important, people don’t know what to look for or how to look for it, and faculty often don’t know what information literacy is.  We can frame the issue for research professors
  • There was much less consensus on the effectiveness of information literacy efforts, and on the specific tools that should be used
    • It was noted that “information literacy” is not understood by academics; “research skills” is preferred

 

Mimi Calter

1 November 2017

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