Running one of the world’s great research libraries
Stockholm University is among the world’s top 100 HEIs. 70,000 students, 1,800 doctoral students and 5,000 staff work within the full spectrum of disciplines.
Its library is one of Sweden’s leading scientific libraries and among Stockholm’s most visited cultural institutions. It attracts more than 1.8 million visitors every year. As well as serving students, scholars and teachers, the library is also open to the public: everyone can use its facilities.
I’ve been the Director of Stockholm University Library since 2012; before that I was Head of e-Resources. As Director, my task is to make the library as useful to Stockholm University as possible. I lead the work on its vision, strategy, goals and communication. In the rapidly-changing environment in which we operate, all the library staff have to work innovatively and engage with the overall strategy. Our ambition is to be completely user-centric. We ask users what their needs are and develop creative solutions; at the same time, we show them what a modern research library can offer. The diagram below illustrates the two main prongs of our activities: information supply and publishing support.
The latter involves helping our academics to reach out to the whole world with their publications. Support services include provision of Bibliometrics, Altmetrics, legal support for copyright, liaison with Stockholm University Press and running our Institutional Repository (Diva).
In order to maintain a world-class research library, it is very important for me to ensure that the staff have the right skills and can continually develop. This means understanding and using to the full the potential of existing staff and recruiting people with new skills where there are gaps. New roles are being created in all major libraries: for example, we need people who understand research cycles and research data management. Other important development areas include boosting our IT and legal expertise and honing our communications skills.
To stay in the forefront as Library Director, I keep abreast of what’s going on in the rest of the world and try to forge international networks. I’m active on the executive board of Liber and a member of several publishers’ librarian advisory boards, including Cambridge University Press’s. I think it is essential for librarians to have good relations with publishers and maintain an ongoing dialogue on how scholarly communication will work in the future. I’m a member of the steering committee for the Swedish consortia Bibsam, which is involved in negotiations for licences with publishers.
Digital as a Catalyst for Change
Going digital has introduced huge changes to academic libraries in recent years. Stockholm University Library’s policy is to buy electronic before print: we spend 90% of our acquisitions budget on electronic material. The research library has become more integrated in the university’s workflows and switched from being a silo for printed books to an information hub. As soon as the library took responsibility for the Institutional Repository, we also became involved in scholarly communication. Stockholm University Library is one of several Swedish university libraries to have set up a university press: we now have a mandate from the Vice-Chancellor to run an Open Access university press. During the course of 2015, we shall publish five peer-reviewed books. It is important for us to have established the infrastructure to publish quality Open Access monographs at a reasonable price. I hope that during the next five years an international solution will be created to provide Open Access to all public-funded research. Today we are caught in a transition period between two systems, licences and APCs. It is very confusing, especially for researchers.
Sweden’s Open Access initiative
At the beginning of 2014, the Swedish Research Council was asked by the Government to draw up draft national guidelines for Open Access to Scientific Information. It consulted with the National Library and other relevant stakeholders. I was part of a reference group appointed by the Association of Swedish Higher Education. Collectively we have prepared some national guidelines to provide for Open Access to both publications and research data. This has been sent to the government for review. The guidelines include plans for achieving universal Open Access by 2020 (i.e., for both journals and monographs) and ongoing implementation between now and then. We have opted for Gold Open Access, as we think it offers a proposition that works both for the scholarly community and publishers. The changeover will start immediately: the Bibsam consortium will start discussions with all publishers as their licences come up for renewal. We believe that licences and APCs can’t be dealt with separately: we want an agreement that covers both. We are already discussing such a combined agreement with a major publisher. Hopefully the Swedish initiative will help to shorten the transition period for everyone, everywhere.
What I like most about my job is working as a change agent, to help the organisation and the people in it grow and to work towards becoming one of the most go-ahead of modern research libraries. I also enjoy taking up opportunities to make a difference in the wider national and international library and academic communities.