Introductory Comments by Hazel Hall
Libraries play a number of key roles in creating and distributing new knowledge. Many of these roles are directly related tothe support of authors, especially in academic institutions and other centers of research excellence.
Library staff provide services of considerable value in networked organizations. In the research environment, few staff enjoy the privileged position of highly-connected colleagues based in the library. Positioned at the intellectual hub of their organizations, library staff are among those who have the greatest opportunities to come into contact with active researchers within their institutions. Library staff hold unique understandings of institutional social networks, and can capitalize on key resources to bring researchers together for further research and publishing ventures.
This pamphlet cites ways library staff support authors, and provides examples of good practice in the implementation of certain innovations. “Support” is a wide-ranging term. Examples here demonstrate that support extends beyond traditional information services forming the backbone of any research library program, such as assisting with literature searches in initial phases of a project, or checking references for the final write-up of research results for dissemination.
You can find here success stories conveying how libraries publicize author output, provide opportunities for authors to connect with their readership, encourage non-publishing colleagues to embark on such endeavors, and help existing authors enhance their publication rates. Benefits of such programs, while accruing directly to authors, reach further than the person named on a book jacket or in the credits of a refereed journal article. Library-sponsored efforts to raise the profile of individuals can touch many others associated with their work, such as their students, their home departments and their communities.
In multi-disciplinary environments where subject experts often feel stronger loyalty to their colleagues in the wider community than to their employing organizations, institutional bonds are often difficult to forge. These bonds can bestrengthened by library initiatives to highlight the work of authors whose reputations may be better known outside their own organizations. When library staff help authors manage relationships with external contacts in the publication chain, such as the publishers themselves, impacts of imaginative campaigns can travel beyond the campus gates.
This pamphlet places the library in its rightful place, at the heart of institutional research infrastructures. As library staff provide support to authors, they restate the library’s role as a place (real or virtual) where efforts to generate new knowledge are conceptualized, designed and implemented, and where the output of these efforts is recorded for the benefit of future scholars. For this, all authors owe a debt of gratitude.
Hazel Hall, Senior Lecturer, School of Computing, Napier University, Edinburgh, Scotland
Hazel Hall is a senior lecturer in the School of Computing at Napier University, in Edinburgh, Scotland. Her current research interests include online information services, education and training of information professionals, and knowledge management. A fellow of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals, Hall earned her master’s degree in library and information studies from the University of Central England. Her first degree, awarded by the University of Birmingham, is in French language and literature. Hall is conducting doctoral research on motivating knowledge-sharing in distributed organizations and expects to submit her PhD in 2004.