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Academic research libraries face significant opportunities and risks in considering the role of data management and library publishing as avenues for reshaping scholarly communication.
This project is designed to provide a framework for making decisions about new scholarly communication initiatives that is drawn from existing models and complemented with Case Studies.
¶ 2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 In addition to an environmental scan this article presents a tool set that will support a structured, disciplined process to determine whether and how to create a new service. The goal is to enable libraries to critically evaluate potential options by utilizing a methodology for the development of successful and sustainable services.
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Data Management & Curation
Librarians have core skills in collecting, organizing, preserving and making information resources accessible that were acknowledged by the NSF when they established the DataNet program in support of e-research. Proposals to become DataNet Partners require a collaborative multidisciplinary effort to develop the infrastructure and tools that enable the management and curation of huge datasets. Challenges appear in four main areas: developing sufficient skills in informatics within the library, determining demand by researchers for these services, organizing collaborative units in a decentralized environment and demonstrating sustainable funding streams.
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Libraries are becoming more visible in offering publishing related services which results in rising expectations that they will manage scholars’ work locally. In part this evolution can be attributed to the development of an array of digital publishing infrastructure tools. While librarians are eager to support creation of born digital works, promotion and tenure committees value the brand of an established press. University presses are challenged by reduced subsidies which are cut further if they perform well. Since constrained funding and the lack of revenue streams are likely to contain most library publishing programs, collaborative efforts across institutions may be necessary to achieve critical mass.
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There are ninety-nine references cited for this article and a full literature review on libraries, commercial business cases and nonprofit approach to business planning appears in the Appendix. The most useful resources are two books that serve as guides for a mission-oriented approach for non-profits (Brinkerhoff – Social Entrepreneurship) and a market oriented approach to developing a business case (Maul – Developing a Business Case).
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Four recommendations outline a process for developing and evaluating new services. Grounded in the business literature, these guidelines are based on respected methods for effective planning. A planning team is formed to manage the following recommendations.
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Recommendation 1 – Determine Organizational Readiness
• Examine the library’s mission to determine if it would need to be modified to include a proposed service.
• Evaluate the institution’s culture for its tolerance of entrepreneurial activity and the risk inherent with new business development.
• Define an high level outcome statement in terms of the mission impact and product viability to assess sustainability.
• Conduct an organizational scan to determine if the library and the university have adequate human, financial and physical resources to support the proposed service.
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Recommendation 2- Develop a Business Case
• Create an outcome statement that describes how the service enables the library or its parent organization to achieve key goals that are measurable.
• Identify all options including ‘do nothing’ and collect ideas from stakeholders and the target audience in order to narrow the list of options.
• Gather data on the costs, benefits, a timeframe and viability for the selected options and explore with other institutions their experience with similar programs.
• Analyze each option in terms of costs, benefits and sustainability.
• Use “what if” scenarios to calculate risk based on a realistic assessment of factors.
• Decide which option to implement and create an implementation plan that identifies action items, staff, a timeline with milestones and defines a statement of value to the users.
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Recommendation 3 – Conduct a Pilot
Pilot studies are used to identify issues and possibly to justify a full-scale implementation.
• Develop a detailed plan according to project management guidelines.
• Implement the plan and discuss status reports with stakeholders.
• Evaluate the results based on four approaches: economic, strategic, analytical and integrated (i.e. Balanced Scorecard).
• Make a go/no-do decision and present results to the planning team.
• Disseminate the results to all stakeholder groups.
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Recommendation 4 – Embrace the Business Planning Life Cycle
Each of the preceding recommendations comprises part of an iterative cycle that depicts the flow and sequence of steps. Guidelines in the form of checklists that can be adapted and used when working with this process are provided.
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Case Study Methodology
Several case studies will be developed based on site visits to institutions with publishing and data management programs. These examples are intended to provide descriptions of existing programs that will serve to extend and refine the recommendations.