Building a Transatlantic Digital Scholarship Skills Exchange for Research Libraries: Moving Forward

There may be an ocean between the US and the UK, but in the age of Zoom, collaboration can transcend geographical boundaries. Research Libraries UK’s Digital Scholarship Network (DSN) and CLIR’s Digital Library Federation’s Data and Digital Scholarship (DDS) working group are continuing to foster a partnership aimed at building transatlantic collaborations and connections. The two groups have had a series of conversations, and we have now hosted two joint meetings. At an April 2021 event, we divided into small groups to share ideas about the potential collaborative future of our two groups.  Then we conducted a follow-up Expressions of Interest survey in April-May 2021. 

In response to the April event and the Expressions of Interest survey, we hosted a second event on 14 July 2021, at which we launched a beta Skills Exchange Directory, and we offered a series of tailored “skills conversations.” 

This post provides more detail on the July event and plans for next steps in our transatlantic collaboration.

July Event

One of the main takeaways from the first event in April was that participants appreciated being able to meet colleagues both from the UK and US so we were keen to facilitate this again and started the July event with 121 or small group “meet and greets”. Participants enjoyed the serendipity of these meetings and individual connections have already been made. 

The second part of the event was more structured and aimed to build on the information we had gathered from the Expressions of Interest survey. From this survey we were able to identify key areas of digital scholarship skills that colleagues were most keen to develop and could match these with colleagues who were willing to share their expertise in these areas by facilitating curated conversations. The areas identified were:

  • Artificial Intelligence and machine learning 
  • Tools for digital scholarship 
  • Planning and managing a digital scholarship centre 
  • Assessment and Metrics

The success of these curated conversations was dependent on the experts being willing to share their knowledge and we are grateful to Carol Chiodo (Harvard Library), Alexandra Sarkozy (Wayne State University),  Sarah Melton (Boston College), Kirsty Lingstadt (University of Edinburgh), Eleonora Gandolfi (University of Southampton), Gavin Boyce (University of Sheffield) and Matt Philips (University of Southampton) for being so willing to participate and share their experiences so openly. 

In these breakout sessions the experts talked about their services and how they developed skills for 10 mins each and then participants who had signed up for the session were able to ask follow up questions. DSN and DDS partners acted as moderators in each breakout session and we were impressed with how informative and interactive the sessions were. If you weren’t able to make it to the July event, each session documented the conversation in a shared notes document.

These interactive sessions are core for the success of a skills exchange but the finale of this event was the launch of the Skills Directory – a dynamic resource through which colleagues from both groups can share their skills and expertise with one another. 

Transatlantic Skills Directory

Participants were introduced to the directory (designed by Stephanie Jesper and Susan Halfpenny at University of York) and shown how to search (via the Google sheets filter function) to identify colleagues with varying levels of expertise across 18 skills areas relating to digital scholarship activities within research libraries. The directory includes the names and contact details of colleagues who are willing to share their skills and expertise around a skills area, and the means through which they are willing to do so (e.g. one-on-one conversation, contributing to a training session etc). Due to the potential demand on colleagues the directory is only available to DSN and DDS members but a recording of the introduction to the directory from the session is available here.

 

screenshot of the RLUK/DDS skills directory

The success of the Directory depends on colleagues signing up to share their skills and after the demonstration participants were given time to register their own skills – the group were impressed by the response. As we write this, 30 colleagues have registered in the directory, offering more than 175 skills between them. However, we still need more and encourage members of RLUK DSN and DLF DDS to register their skills. We need your expertise to make this a success! We also encourage members to make good use of the Directory to learn new skills or move forward with digital scholarship services and would be keen to hear of any contacts made via the directory.

Next Steps

These events and tools have helped us learn more about our colleagues on both sides of the Atlantic, and RLUK DSN and DLF DDS look forward to continuing this partnership. Please check out the shared meeting notes, resources, and other materials available on our Open Science Framework site. We plan to host more joint events to support networking and idea-generation, and we will continue to expand the directory with more colleagues who are interested in exchanging skills.

Thanks to everyone involved in arranging these events and the directory and of course to everyone who participates in the skills exchange!

Colleagues leading this work

Beth Clark, Associate Director, Digital Scholarship & Innovation, London School of Economics, and RLUK DSN member.

Sara Mannheimer, Associate Professor, Data Librarian, Montana State University, and DLF DDS co-convener.

Jason Clark, Professor, Lead for Research Informatics, Montana State University, and DLF DDS co-convener.

Susan Halfpenny, Head of Digital Scholarship & Innovation, University of York, and RLUK DSN member.

Matt Greenhall, Deputy Executive Director, RLUK

Thanks go to Gayle Schechter (Program Associate, CLIR/DLF), Louisa M. Kwasigroch (Director, Outreach and Engagement at CLIR and Interim DLF Senior Program Officer), Kirsty Lingstadt (Deputy Director, University of Edinburgh and RLUK DSN co-convener), Eleonora Gandolfi (Head of Digital Scholarship and Innovation, University of Southampton and RLUK DSN co-convener), Stephanie Jesper (Teaching & Learning Advisor, University of York), and Melanie Cheung (RLUK Executive Assistant).

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