Q & A with New Scholarly Communications Officer

The Library’s new Scholarly Communications Officer, Rachael Samberg, offered this overview of her work recently. Rachael joined us in late June and came from Stanford Law School’s library, where she was head of reference & instructional services and lecturer in law. Her recent presentation in the Library is available at Slide Share.

What inspires you about this new position?

The system of scholarly communication—through which research and other scholarly writings and output is created, evaluated, disseminated, and preserved—has been around for centuries, but it’s going through incredible changes now at every stage of its lifecycle. There are so many exciting opportunities and roles for the Library in helping to support and shepherd these changes—whether we are talking about promoting discoverability and recognition of our scholars’ research and writing, helping to shape funding models that will sustain scholarly communication as open and accessible for use and re-use, making data and text more available for research and analysis, disseminating and preserving emerging types of scholarly communication (like data sets, visualizations, and code), and beyond.

The UC System performs nearly one-tenth of all the academic research and development conducted in the United States, and produces approximately one-twelfth of all U.S. research publications. So, the Library’s ability to bring added visibility and provide lifecycle support for UC Berkeley scholars’ research and publishing can thus have tremendous global impact, and potentially help us shape national and international policies and practices in scholarly publishing.

What particular challenges do we face?

How do we make sure that our scholars have research and published materials available for review, use, and reuse in writing, teaching, and learning? How do we ensure that scholars can discover the information they need, and have their work discovered by others to increase their impact and promote idea exchange?

UC Berkeley is no exception to progressive constraints resulting from the fact that the books, periodicals and journals in which research findings are published (and that scholars and students need to access) are expensive and often available only through increasingly out-of-reach subscription fees. This also is a large, multi-disciplinary campus. Needs and preferences vary across disciplines—everything from how important scholars feel open access is to maximizing their scholarly impact and communicating findings, to what type of Library support researchers need for finding, using, and preserving their output. There likely will not be solutions that universally satisfy all of our scholars’ needs—so the challenges lie in being adaptive and responsive to individuals and programs, and creating tailored support and outreach across an expansive campus.

Yet, the so-called challenges are also the great fun of it! It will be immensely satisfying to help build responsive and nuanced policies to support use and access of research and collections, and promote visibility and discoverability of UC Berkeley’s scholarly output. And, besides, who doesn’t love a good, thorny copyright or licensing question in the process?

What are your priorities over the next 6-9 months?

The Library is a service organization, and support for scholarly communication will be a suite of services, too, covering scholars’ needs in research, publication, teaching, and access and use issues for library collections. I’m working on developing the program plan now, and the priorities will be to:

  • Create a website outlining services, and brimming with helpful guidance materials for researchers on all aspects of the scholarly publishing lifecycle.
  • Help develop policy and provide education regarding permissions and licensing questions for research and library collections, and use of intellectual property in one’s research, scholarship, and course materials.
  • Create and provide tailored training materials and workshops for students and faculty.
  • Provide training and updates on scholarly communication issues for library staff. (We are all scholarly communication service providers at the Library!)
  • Work towards making more educational resources open and affordable for students.
  • Foster campus engagement around open access publishing, and the UC OA policy.
  • Engage in strategic planning and analysis to help shape the scholarly communication field more broadly, to help benefit the UC Berkeley community and beyond.

Whew! There’s a lot going on even in the short term. These priorities necessitate a significant amount of outreach and intake, so you’ll likely see me running around campus to meet with people and offer workshops and support.

Post contributed by:
Damaris Moore
Library Communications Office