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Scholarly Communication Working Group Sprint to Develop Author Rights Resources

Outreach to promote effective author rights management was identified as a high priority project for members of the Scholarly Communication Working Group (SCWG), and the Library Directors Leadership Team also raised this as an important issue in their introductory meetings with Director of Copyright Services Amy Dygert and Scholarly Communication Librarian Gail Steinhart. The SCWG turned its attention to this topic this past summer, issuing a call for volunteers, and forming an author rights outreach team: Jim DelRosso and Ashley Downs (co-leads), Amy Dygert, Kate Ghezzi-Kopel, Lara Kelingos, Melanie Lefkowitz, Gail Steinhart, and Drew Wright.

We had two main objectives: to develop a collection of materials for librarians to use when counseling faculty, grad students, and other scholars on maintaining their own rights as authors, and to accomplish the work in an efficient (and hopefully fun) way. We’ll present the resulting resources at the October 2016 Reference and Outreach Forum, so I’ll describe them only very briefly here, and then describe our approach.

First, the resources, all of which are accessible via a new page on the Liaisons@CUL wiki: author rights outreach resources for liaisons:

  • A new library guide – Because author rights are not treated thoroughly in any existing Cornell Library guides (though some brief references do appear), we decided to develop one dedicated to the topic:
  • A toolkit for writing to faculty or departments about author rights – The toolkit includes guidance for library staff when crafting a message, boilerplate language organized by topic, and sample correspondence to adapt and use.
  • A slide deck (PowerPoint) with suggestions and notes, designed for an approximately 10-minute presentation to faculty or graduate students.

How did we do it? A few of us have worked on projects or groups that chose to focus their work into a single (or few) longer working sessions (think “sprint” from agile software development), rather than approaching work in a more traditional committee fashion. We’ve found those experiences to be productive and rewarding, and the work gets done pretty quickly and efficiently.

A little planning goes a long way to make a sprint like this productive, so we decided in advance what we wanted our deliverables to be, what key concepts we should cover, what preparatory work should be done (i.e. setting up a new, empty library guide), and shared and reviewed background materials via Box. Ashley and Jim developed an agenda for the day, planning to divide us into two working groups, one focused on the library guide and one focused on the other resources. We started with coffee and treats that people brought (important!), and broke our day into four 90-minute blocks. For each block, the first 60 minutes were reserved for work, and the final 30 for reporting back and discussion among all participants. People were allowed to change groups mid-way through the day.

By the end of the day, we were nearly done. While most materials needed a little further refining, and we wanted to seek feedback from prospective users of the materials (primarily liaison librarians), we were very pleased with what we’d accomplished. Granted, it took us a few weeks to put the finishing touches on everything (N.B.: make sure your follow-up plan is solid and time-bound!), but it hasn’t taken weeks of actual work to finish this off. Overall, we felt this approach worked very well.

We enjoyed the process, and we hope you find the results useful!

Signed, the author rights outreach team (Jim DelRosso and Ashley Downs (co-leads), Amy Dygert, Kate Ghezzi-Kopel, Lara Kelingos, Melanie Lefkowitz, Gail Steinhart, and Drew Wright)


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