Category Archives: ScholarlyCommunications

July 15, 2015, 10:22 pm

My Final Blog Post

May 22, 2006. That’s when I started The Ubiquitous Librarian Blog. I wrote before at Alt-Ref where I explored new approaches for reference and instruction. But I felt too boxed in. Ubiquitous gave me freedom to roam.

It ends today. Right here.

 407 posts

9 years  1 month  23 days

When the Chronicle of Higher Education informed me that they were dropping the Blog Network I was sad. But after a few days I got over it, mostly. I realized they had given me a gift. This was a chance to move on and do other things.

I’ve probably written and presented too much over the last decade. I’m looking forward to letting that taper off. I want to focus on Virginia Tech and the great people, projects, and programs we have here.


Me as a soldier in the name of greater library experiences.

Rick Anderson says we…

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July 14, 2015, 1:15 pm

Researcher-In-Residence in the Library

We’re kicking off a residency program next month.  Here is the gist:

The Researcher-In-Residence Program at the Virginia Tech Libraries aims to provide faculty, researchers, and designers with the opportunity to focus on a unique academic endeavor of their choosing in a supportive environment that includes interacting with the information and data professionals of the Libraries.

This annual residency is for visiting scholars, post-docs, or faculty on sabbatical whose work explores the application of data and information for technological advancement or human progress.

This Program is designed to:

  • Encourage and support applied interdisciplinary research across several areas including data curation, analysis, and visualization, digital libraries, publishing, literacies, instructional design, virtual communities, and learning environments.
  • Foster collaboration between librarians…

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July 9, 2015, 12:12 pm

The Winnower: a “radical” publishing platform that encourages debate. Interview with Josh Nicholson

Josh Nicholson

Josh Nicholson

I discovered The Winnower at an open access event at Virginia Tech several years ago. Josh Nicholson, a PhD candidate at the time, was on a panel session discussing the merits of OA. He recently earned his degree (cell biology) and is focused on building a publishing platform.

I admire the DIY aspect of his work and the founding principle that all ideas in should be discussed and debated. Our correspondence highlights what he is developing and how it is different from the intuitional repository movement.

Tell me about your academic background and your work at Virginia Tech. 

JN: I finished my BS in Molecular, Cell, and Developmental biology in 2008 at UC Santa Cruz.  While there I worked in a lab for a few years and also wrote for the health and science section for the student run newspaper,…

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June 17, 2015, 8:45 pm

Scientific Utopia: Improving the Openness and Reproducibility of Research

I had hoped to do a full interview on this but that’s not going to happen: running out of time.

Short version, Brian Nosek (Center for Open Science & UVA) spoke at our Open Access Week event last year. He outlined the Open Science Framework (OSF)—it aims to help the way research is conducted. Main theme: there are many different tools and services that address certain niches of the workflow, but OSF tackles the entire lifecycle: planning, execution, reporting, archiving, and discovery.

Here is the talk:


Brian Nosek: Scientific Utopia: Improving the Openness and Reproducibility of Research (link to video)

Lots of great content, but check out:

27 minutes in… talks about incentives for openness and how researchers can be cited for particular elements, such as tools or code they develop. This…

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January 20, 2015, 4:21 pm

Sheep Rot & Rogue Publishers: advertising in early scientific journals

I’ve been watching a great talk by Jason Priem on altmetrics.

During the presentation he mentions the history of scientific journals and how they evolved from handwritten letters describing observations into aggregated print volumes for a larger audience. Philosophical Transactions was the first one. I was curious about the composition of science articles in 1665 so I clicked around. Here is a partial listing from the inaugural issue:

journal1What grabbed your attention? For me it was the calf. A very odd monstrous calf!

I thought it was  quaint but then I saw the front page of the Wall Street Journal last week and we’re still admiring livestock 350 years later.


It is interesting to observe how journals evolved from short blurbs into longer articles. You can also trace the slow adoption of scholarly writing conventions and…

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January 12, 2015, 3:29 pm

Millions of Sources: the disruption of history and the humanities?

Last week I mentioned a tweet on critical pedagogy that stuck with me. Here is another item from 2014 that really got me thinking.


This was from an ARL meeting on the future of scholarly monographs. I blogged about it back in October 2014 but I wanted to go deeper. I spoke with Laura Mandell (Professor of English & Director of the Initiative for Digital Humanities, Media, and Culture at Texas A&M) just before winter break. Here are some highlights from that conversation:

Print Humanities
The humanities as we know them should be called the print humanities. They began with the rise of print materials and the practices and methodologies associated with them are bound to that format. Right now we have print humanities and digital humanities but eventually all humanities will be digital humanities. We’re in an evolutionary stage.

While many people feel an emotional attachment…

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October 28, 2014, 8:50 pm

Beyond books… thinking about the “living tradition” and the “virtual research environment” of scholarly discourse

I met with a group of students earlier this month and the topic of eBooks came up. They unanimously expressed a preference for print. I was curious. What I found was that none of them had read a book on an eBook Reader. Their exposure was limited to viewing content via a web browser on a laptop. I don’t consider that reading an eBook.

Here’s the thing: it’s been a few weeks now and I’m still thinking about those students. Somehow I feel responsible for their development. I don’t necessarily want to convert them all into Kindle customers but I’m thinking about their careers. The question that is nagging me:

In ten years will students be at a disadvantage if they are not proficient with various forms of digital content?

It’s one thing to prefer print, but if you are completely uncomfortable and absent in the digital ecosystem, does that hurt your prospects?

While I…

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July 24, 2014, 10:42 am

LIBRARIAN AS FUTURIST: Changing the Way Libraries Think About the Future

I recently published an essay in portal. It explores the mindset (and toolkit) of futurists and attempts to connect that to libraries. I blogged about it earlier with the idea of “change literacy”—which I still think is a fascinating concept.

Librarian_as_Futurist_preview_imageThe portal version is fine, but I can’t legally post their PDF – so I made my own. Besides that, academic publisher prints always look a little stodgy and grayish to me, no offense. I prefer a more uplifting wrapper for my words. Design is a vital part of the communications process and I  like to have some control over how my ideas are presented.

Here is a snippet:

Librarians could discuss ad infinitum the predictions, proclamations, worries, fears, hopes, and dreams about what libraries are becoming. In fact, as a profession librarians are obsessed with talking about our future. Books, articles, blog posts, conference sessions, an…

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July 18, 2014, 8:51 pm

DID AMAZON JUST CHANGE THE WORLD? Unlimited Kindle Books is a Game Changer (if they can license everything)

Amazon just announced an All-You-Can-Read service: Unlimited Kindle. It offers a collection of over 600,000 eBook titles for a low price of $9.99 per month. If this truly includes all Kindle books—it is a game changer.

book1Take this Elsevier title for example. It sells for $102. Under the new model I could access this and hundreds of similar high quality titles for just $10 per month.


book2Or textbooks. Why pay nearly $200 each when you can probably get all your books for the entire semester for just $30. (3 months of access)

I did some quick math and it would cost us about $300,000 per month to offer this service to our campus community. Or about $3.8 million annually—perhaps less depending on how summer enrollment is configured. Obviously Amazon will want to sell to individuals and not offer an institutional rate, but hypothetically that’s the ballpark.

It will be…

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April 15, 2014, 3:15 pm


What if Obama paid for your Elsevier subscription? Or rather—what if the federal government covered the expense? Package it as a STEM or innovation initiative– something along those lines.

This is a hypothetical question, but obviously the free thinking from last week has carried over.

The short of it: there is a lot of conversation around open access and federal mandates for data and publications, but that feels like a slow road. The prestige of commercial journals is too ingrained—so how about a different approach?

What if we changed the scale? Instead of individual libraries (or consortiums) battling it out with the likes of Elsevier and other academic publishers (I’ll never forget the audacity of Nature’s 400% increase!) — what if the government purchased access to major academic journals (and eBook packages?) for all citizens. Or all households? Or for anyone…

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