Monthly Archives: July 2018

Trends in Academic and Research Libraries in Estonia

In 2017, under the supervision of Estonian Research Council, two research groups from the University of Tartu and Tallinn University in cooperation with the Estonian Academy of Sciences conducted research (surveys) on Open Science approaches in Estonia. Work of these working groups was supported by RITA programm.

The survey led by the University of Tartu: Kelli, A., Mets, T., Vider, K., Kull, I. (2017) Open Science in Estonia and Europe: Legal and Socio-Economic Aspects. Tartu: University of Tartu (in Estonian, executive summary in English on pages 6-9).
The focus of the research was open science issues, open access publishing, open data and socio-economic impact of open science in general. The report found out following statistics about Estonian research: Estonia spends about 4 million euros every year on research databases licenses. Estonians publish 35 OA international journals. “The system of open science is still only being devised in Estonia, requiring approximately 0.7 million euros per year for 2018/2019.” The report came up with various conclusions and recommendations for previously mentioned topics.

The survey led by Tallinn University,: Toom, K., Olesk, A., Ruusalepp, R., Kaal, E., Mandre, S., Vaikmäe, R. (2017) Open Science in Estonia and Europe: Possibilities and Potential from the Viewpoint of Different Target Groups. Tallinn: Tallinn University and Estonian Academy of Sciences (in Estonian, executive summary in English on pages 12-16). This one focused on open science trends and placing it in the context of Estonian sciences and state needs. The report describes the roles what R&D institutions, the State and researchers play in shaping the Estonian Open Science principles and analysis show the “societal profit of Open Science from the viewpoint of different target groups.” In 2017, (21 March – 3 April), a web survey was conducted for the purpose of this research. Out of 4033 researchers, 671 respondents filled out the survey. Based on these results, it can be said that respondents viewed Open Science in a positive way. Open Access to publications was perceived as profitable for science. Respondents indicated two major problems when it came to publishing in Open Access journals: quality of OA journals and funding  publishing in these journals.  The report brought out lack of organized preservation of research data. Most researchers still keep their data in their personal devices; however, they showed interest in intuitional and national data repositories as well as raising awareness of options of data storage.

In October 2017, the Centre for Ethics, University of Tartu, in cooperation with a working group appointed by the Estonian Research Council published ´The Code of Conduct for Research Integrity.` The Code states that researchers should prefer publishing in Open Access journals if all other conditions are equal and they should publish research results in a way that the public would gain access to it. Most Estonian universities have a requirement to deposit university’s theses and dissertations in their institutional repositories and make it publicly available (Green Open Access).´Estonian Code of Conduct for Research Integrity` (cross-disciplinary) states that it is the duty of the researcher to provide as broad access to their research data as laws and regulations allow. In addition, the researcher has to ensure that the research data is findable and usable as easily as possible – referring to FAIR data.

Liisi Lembinen, Director of development, University of Tartu Library
Tiiu Tarkpea, Data Librarian, University of Tartu Library

Orienting Library Workflows

Academic libraries have moved quickly to establish new collections, services, and space configurations for new and emerging needs. We recognize the necessity of embedding library staff and services in the workflow of users. One pressing need academic libraries are eager to address is to configure our own workflows to maximize the fluidity of service provisions. Below are some possibilities for change. The examples are illustrative, and a nuanced framework needs to be developed to anticipate all library functions that situate in very different institutional, socio-economical, and political realms.

To be a part of a user’s workflow, successful academic libraries need to minimize disruptions our services cause. Such disruptions, seeing from the user’s workflow perspective, are dead ends on a user’s path of discovery and access, including unawareness of library expertise and services online or in physical facilities, unprocessed materials that mislead a user to believe something does not exist, errors in bibliographic records or service descriptions that lead to zero match, mis-shelved items that wastes a user’s time, broken links, unavailable seating, closed service points at user desired hours etc. They may also be soft breakdowns, such as ambience, staff attitude, and troubleshooting responsiveness. Where library services break down are the most probable points the user abandon the library. This action is particularly easy in library’s virtual space.

Academic libraries’ organization is still predominantly vertical, i.e., we are divided into public-facing and behind-the-scene departments. Breakdown mediation, however responsive we maybe, is still reactive, and actions are handed from one department to another despite increasing internal collaborations. Although we added new staff to meet new needs, in most cases they reside within the vertical confines.
Might it be possible to align libraries’ workflow to support collection not by ownership but by how soon the access can be for users? Processing not by physical or digital medium nor by publication frequency but by upcoming use forecast? Space and hours not by location of service points nor calendar but by the whereabouts and rhythm of a user’s research, teaching, and learning process? How would we balance investments between work that prevents breakdowns and those that repair them? How do we transition to a model in which our individual library’s users are supported collectively? The more successful open access and open education will be the tighter alignment and coordination between the libraries and users is required.

Ultimately, only when services are predictable and reliable would a user embed the academic libraries in his/her workflow. This is especially true in an environment where resource is not scarce, but attention bandwidth is. Only when academic libraries rethink our structure would we be able to produce the consistency and reliability within our means and at scale. Many colleagues have been working on this alignment, some U.S. examples include:

User behavior: Numerous research reports produced by Ithaka S+R and other organizations or libraries.
Collection: Linden, J., Tudesco, S., & Dollar, D. (2018). Collections as a Service: A Research Library’s Perspective. College & Research Libraries, 79(1), 86. doi:

Processing: LeBlanc, J., & Kurth, M. (2018). Assessing staff alignment in technical services. Library Resources & Technical Services, 62(2), 66-73. Retrieved from

Innovation and technology: Tarleton Gillespie; Pablo J. Boczkowski; Kirsten A. Foot, “Rethinking Repair,” in Media Technologies: Essays on Communication, Materiality, and Society , 1, MIT Press, 2013, pp.344-
Library costs: Courant, P. N. & Nielsen, M. (2010). On the cost of keeping a book. Retrieved from

Planning: (I cite the website instead of the reports, because the website shows the process.)


I invite you to share further readings and ideas from around the world to help us think about this challenge collectively.

Xin Li

Associate University Librarian

Cornell University