Libraries and Learning Links of the Week

Web links about libraries and learning, every week.

ALIA Skills, Knowledge and Ethics Framework for the Library and Information Services Workforce

ALIA have been sweating over this one for over a year, and it's finally here. The Framework is part of the broader Professional Pathways project, which has been ...well, it's been contentious. Interestingly, ALIA has recently announced they intend to draft a Code of Ethics, with a first draft arriving in March next year. Unsurprisingly all this talk of professional ethics caused several participants in the Professional Pathways consultation (including yours truly) to point out that it's a bit weird to have statements saying librarians should abide by professional ethics without an official articulation of the ethical standards you expect.

Assessment reform for the age of artificial intelligence

Here it is! The guidance document every academic in Australia has been waiting for! Except that it's not really, because it doesn't have any simple answers. This is a very succinct paper from TEQSA given the extent of the issue and the interest in it. The most interesting thing to me is that they mention several times that not only does there need to be a wholesale review of assessments in universities, but that they need to be reviewed across whole courses of study, not at an individual unit/subject level. Unclear what this means for academic libraries, but we'd be foolish not to take advantage of a wholesale review of assessment by looking at our own role in assessment, critical thinking, information literacy, and subject readings.

Conversations With Open Textbook Authors: The Factors That Help and Hinder Accessibility

The conclusion speaks for itself:

Accessibility is imperative to making OER truly available to all learners. Thus determining what factors help or hinder OER creators’ ability to adhere to best practices and standards, like WCAG, is crucial. Our study found that accessible OER depend on collaboration and the expertise and the effort of diverse teams, as well as the wider OER community. Financial support, especially to pay staff or students and afford faculty creators more writing time, and following project management best practices, like planning for accessibility at the start of the project, are also factors that helped make OER in the study accessible.

Libraries and Learning Links of the Week is published every Monday by Hugh Rundle.

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Leiden rankings to add open-source version in 2024

This story came out in September and I thought it was interesting, though not for the reasons Leiden University might have hoped.

The Centre for Science and Technology Studies at Leiden University in the Netherlands, which publishes university rankings, plans to start a new ranking based entirely on open data and open algorithms in 2024.

The open-source CWTS ranking will sit alongside listings produced, as in previous years, based on bibliographic data from the Web of Science database of Clarivate*.

I might write something up about this at some point, but in short there are three problems here:

  1. The new index is simply in addition to the “normal” one;
  2. Web of Science is pretty problematic (see below);
  3. Rankings are extremely bad of teaching, research, and universities generally, regardless of what data they are based on.

Recalibrating the scope of scholarly publishing: A modest step in a vast decolonization process

There seems to be a bit of slightly dodgy geo-location data in this paper but apart from that, it's pretty interesting. This is by some people associated with Open Journal Systems and this paper is essentially a study of the reach of the OJS network (as best they can tell) and the extent to which it is represented in major systems purporting to encompass “global world's scholarly output” (not much, but Web of Science is the worst).

Situating Search

The last in our reverse-chronological list is a paper from Chirag Shah and Emily Bender (of “stochastic parrots” fame) published in March 2022. It's actually more interesting to me how this holds up perhaps even better now than it did before the explosion on LLMs and “AI” search tools that it is about. This paper is really coming at it from an information science perspective rather than a computer science perspective, and has given me a bunch of references I now need to read!

In short, from the introduction:

removing or reducing interactions in an effort to retrieve presumably more relevant information can be detrimental to many fundamental aspects of search, including information verification, information literacy, and serendipity.

But there is way more to it than that, outlined in the paper. Really interesting stuff for anyone who needs to assess search tools for a living (hint: it's me).

Libraries and Learning Links of the Week is published every Monday by Hugh Rundle.

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Transformative Zombies – By Every Means Necessary

An interesting post from Dave Ghamandi back in August, talking about Transformative Agreements/Read and Publish (RaP) agreements, and the effect on journals. This is an interesting take, with Ghamandi pointing to the pressure on editors to accept more articles as the income flow moves from subscribers to authors, and editorial teams pushing back.

Accessibility Toolkit – 2nd Edition

A new OER from BC Campus:

The goal of the Accessibility Toolkit – 2nd Edition is to provide resources for each content creator, instructional designer, educational technologist, librarian, administrator, and teaching assistant to create a truly open textbook—one that is free and accessible for all students.

Researching file formats 6: EndNote Citation Library Format

Ashley Blewer has been publishing a series of short blog posts on file formats, and this hilarious one on Endnote citation files gave me flashbacks to when I first properly encountered Endnote citation formatting files earlier this year. I think I went through every stage of indignation Ashley expresses here. Anyway it's useful if you need to work with these files and funny even if you don't.

Libraries and Learning Links of the Week is published every Monday by Hugh Rundle.

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3 surprising ways that captioning improves learning for all of your students

Many Australian academic librarians will be revising and updating their lesson plans, slide and other resources for teaching library and information skills into various subjects. It's a great time to check how accessible your material is – and not simply to address minimal requirements for students with recognised sensory challenges or disabilities.

Making the Most of Cognitive Surplus: Descriptive Case Studies of Student-Generated Open Educational Resources

I'm not sure I agree with the framing of this article around “cognitive surplus” or their interpretation of Clay Shirky's use of that term, but this is a really valuable pair of case studies on the use of open educational resources in higher education, and how it works as just one part of a broader open educational practice. Definitely worth a read.

Hannah Forsyth on the Rise and Fall of the Professional Class in the Anglophone World

Who makes cents: a history of capitalism podcast is really fantastic, and this interview in particular was fascinating. Hannah Forsyth is an Associate Professor of History at the Australian Catholic University and in this episode she talks with host Jessica Ann Levy about the themes in her recent book, Virtue Capitalists: The Rise and Fall of the Professional Class in the Anglo World, 1870-2008, which have a lot of relevance to librarians and the fierce arguments around ALIA's recent Professional Pathways consultation. What does it mean to be a professional? Is it a class? And what does it have to do with managerialism? A great listen.

Libraries and Learning Links of the Week is published every Monday by Hugh Rundle.

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Yes I'm back. Sorry about the less-than-weekly posting regime, I got distracted and didn't have much to share last week.

VALA 2024 Reiterated – Getting IT back to grass roots

VALA has just announced a call for submissions for the 2024 VALA conference and it's clear this one is going to be a bit different. Goodbye enormous conference and convention centre, hello RMIT's Storey Hall. Will this change in focus for the conference result in a change in behaviour from librarians? Only time will tell, but get your submission in soon!

AI companies have all kinds of arguments against paying for copyrighted content

In news that will surprise precisely nobody, American corporations aren't interested in paying to use other people's copyrighted works. I can't decide whether my favourite response is Apple saying they shouldn't pay, but should still be able to copyright code written by “AI”, or whether it's Andreessen-Horowitz whining that they haven't paid billions of dollars just to be subject to the law like little people.

Introducing the “Towards Responsible Publishing” proposal from cOAlition S

Plan S have a new, uh, plan.

I've not read this properly yet, but the gist seems to be “publish early, publish often, and then filter”.

Libraries and Learning Links of the Week is published every Monday by Hugh Rundle.

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Before Everyone Was Talking About Decentralization, Decentralization Was Talking to Everyone

If you like to think about stories and storytelling, decentralisation, memory, or deep time, you need to read this article. Amelia Winger-Bearskin writes about the deep human history of decentralised stories, how trade (but not necessarily commerce) is deeply enmeshed in long-lasting stories, and how to tell whether you are in “a decentralised story-space”.

“You Should Just Digitize It All”

More a cry of pain by Krystal Thomas on the Florida State University Special Collections and Archives blog than anything else, this fairly succinctly answers the oft-asked question. As someone enmeshed in a special collection digitisation project, this was somewhat cathartic.

ACS Publications provides a new option to support zero-embargo green open access

Last week had quite a few contenders for “worst news of the week” so this was swiftly overtaken, but the American Chemical Society has the dubious distinction of having invented yet another way for scholarly publishers to extract money from universities and their funding bodies. When subscription fees aren't enough to fund your third yacht and Article Processing Charges seem so twenty-teens, there's now the “article development charge” which you pay in exchange for the privilege of making available the article you wrote yourself in the institutional repository your employer funds and maintains. Nice.

Libraries and Learning Links of the Week is published every Monday by Hugh Rundle.

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Valuing maintenance

I've been thinking a lot about maintenance at work lately, for various reasons. So this post from Meredith Farkas last year really resonated. I'm already thinking about how to build in future maintenance needs to project approval processes, and who to hassle about awards for maintenance.

Library Staff Morale Correlates with Having a Sense of Respect and Value for Their Work, Relationship to Direct Supervisors and Colleagues, and Autonomy and Flexibility in Their Work Environments

One of my favourite things about Evidence based library and information practice is the way they name their articles. No burying the lede here. This one is actually a review of another article, (also open access) but you can save yourself 35 pages of reading. In a huge surprise to nobody it turns out things like “my colleagues treat me with respect” and “my manager listens to me” are correlated with high staff morale.

Introduction to Mastodon (for GLAM people)

…Do you like keeping up with archivists, librarians, and curators?

…Are you weirded out by billionaire tech bros with no business sense?

…Does it seem like there’s always a new algorithm messing with your social media?

There’s an alternative to all of this, and it’s Mastodon. ...Eira Tansey (Memory Rising, LLC) is hosting a free online event for learning how to use Mastodon to connect with all your archivist pals!

If you're in Australia, the local equivalent of is run by me 🙂

Libraries and Learning Links of the Week is published every Monday by Hugh Rundle.

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Do OER Textbooks Have Value Beyond Cost Savings?

This is a really interesting article from the Journal of Open Educational Resources in Higher Education. Yang Wu considers not simply whether OERs assigned as textbooks are better than traditional for-profit textbooks, but rather how and whether textbooks are used regardless of the type. It makes for interesting reading.

Comparing instructor teaching strategies and student responses on how teaching using OER can be improved, three factors—the selection of readings, directions on how to use required texts, and integration of OER with the course—played an important role in student use of textbooks.

More directly, Wu finds that regardless of whether textbooks are OERs or not:

the impact of assigned texts on student learning has been severely undermined by poor utilization of them by instructors and a general student perception that these works are not useful to their learning.

Which leads to a startling observation:

the true impact of high textbook costs in some institutions is not students having no access to required readings, but instructors abandoning the effective use of them.

Who owns history?

Richard Misek's short film for Aeon is a delightful and educational poke in the eye to commercial archives that hoard public-domain works and charge for their use. Misek explains something that can often be very confusing: public domain doesn't necessarily mean available in the public realm. Watch it all the way through for the uplifting little gift at the end.

How US-China Rivalry Distracts from Tech Harms w/ Yangyang Cheng

Something a little different, this is an episode of Tech won't save us podcast. The reason I'm including it here is that Yangyang Cheng provides an incredible explanation partway through the interview of how and why the corporatisation of universities has locked up so much publicly-funded knowledge. Far beyond the issue of open access journal publishing, Cheng outlines the connection between corporate states, patents, and nationalism.

Libraries and Learning Links of the Week is published every Monday by Hugh Rundle.

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I didn't publish last week because ...I didn't feel like it. Sorry.

Transforming the Authority of the Archive: Undergraduate Pedagogy and Critical Digital Archives

I haven't read this new open access book but it looks pretty great.

Featuring perspectives from educators, archivists (both community- and institutionally-affiliated), and undergraduates involved in efforts to deconstruct and transform the institutional authority of the archive, the volume details new roles for archives in undergraduate pedagogy and new roles for undergraduates in archives.

Australian National Persistent Identifier (PID) Strategy and Roadmap

The ARDC have been coordinating a “National PID Strategy”. I participated in a workshop about this earlier in the year and now they are consulting on the strategy to find out what you think. You should tell them.

Re-orienting authentic assessment for an unknown future

Authentic Assessment is the new hotness, but just this week I found out that apparently it's “controversial”.

Chaired by Professor Rola Ajjawi, the symposium seeks to trouble superficial and instrumental practices of authentic assessment, re-orienting it towards the increasingly uncertain future.

If you're in Melbourne you can attend in-person. The symposium sessions are also being live streamed.

Libraries and Learning Links of the Week is published every Monday by Hugh Rundle.

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Scaling Small; Or How to Envision New Relationalities for Knowledge Production

This is a really interesting article about “scaling” as it relates to open access scholarly book publishing. Relying heavily on Anna Tsing’s theories of scale, the authors discuss ways open and scholar-led presses can think about what “sustainability” means, and why they should focus on relationship-building rather than growth.

Open Education Awards for Excellence – 2023 shortlist

Great to see this shortlist includes contributors from 38 countries, albeit there is a strong USA and anglosphere bias. There's some really good projects here so it's well worth checking out.

Climate Change Exposure for METRO Region

This report contains the findings and recommendations of a study to contextualize and understand climate change exposure for METRO’s membership region, carried out by Eira Tansey (founder and manager of Memory Rising, LLC) between February and June 2023.

METRO here is “a network of libraries, archives, and museums in New York City and Westchester County”. This is a really interesting project because it's looking at how the network will need to adapt and respond to the reality of climate change. This kind of work, unfortunately, is probably an upcoming “growth area”.

Libraries and Learning Links of the Week is published every Monday by Hugh Rundle.

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