Some thoughts on The University Library anno 2035

You can not escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today
– Abraham Lincoln

A few days ago a got a fun task from a co-worker at Copenhagen University Library; he is the editor of The Faculty Library of Humanities’ newsletter and they where doing a piece on the future of university libraries. He asked if I wanted to contribute with my thoughts and answer the question:

How does the University Library looks like in the year 2035?

Sure! What an excellent and totally mind twisting question. It was really fun and healthy little mind experiment to imagine the University Library in 2035. I think my picture of The University Library 19 years from now might be colored by an inherent optimism on behalf of libraries and the fact, that I wrote down my 2035 scenario in the co-drivers seat en route from Copenhagen to Skaelskoer with a cold Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA in my hand.

You find my University Library anno 2035 below: The space was limited, the context is Denmark but anyway I think the result is worth a share and I recommend the mind experiment for everyone who cares about the future of libraries (I do also recommend a good beer for this kind of work).

Thinking big 

One University Library, four primary tasks

In 2035 the wave of mergers and centralization has left Denmark with three regional universities – one in Jutland, one on Fyn and one on Zealand. Together the three universities cover all relevant research disciplines and educations relevant to society. They are served by only one Danish University Library, simply called The University Library.

The University Library has four primary tasks:

  1. information supply
  2. support for information and data literacy
  3. consulting services in connection with the university’s research
  4. physical learning environments

Information supply
In 2035 the information resources used in higher education is 100% digital. The traditional commercial publishing system succumbed several years ago and has been replaced by 100% open access publishing. In addition to the supply of scientific literature The University Library curates datasets with open data relevant for research and education as well as other materials such as 3D scans of molecules and historical artifacts which can be searched, downloaded and elaborated. All materials is accessibly via a single search interface.

Support of information and data literacy
The amount of information is complex and actors in research and education use many different types of materials, sources and formats in their work. The University Library teaches and supervise academic staff and students at the university in information seeking, source criticism, reference management, data management, data handling and data visualization. The instructions is embedded in the curriculum and is carried out both physically and online.

Partner in research
The librarians of The University Library acts as consultants and partners in university research projects. They assist on systematic reviews, bibliometric analyzes, instructions for data handling and data management and several other aspects of the research process. Often the librarian embed in larger research projects over a period of time.

Where people meet
In 2035 the physical space is more important than ever. The digitization of society activities has not – as some predicted – changed the basic human need to meet physically for dialogue and cooperation in order to develop and learn about the world. The University Library has a number of physical devices attached to the academic environments of the three regional universities. The physical devices, simply called Libraries, functions primarily as hubs for projects, events and workshops related to research, education and learning. The decor of the Libraries are flexible and inspiring with furniture and technology to support creative processes and cooperation; Should one kick start a research project or pitch an idea for fellow students it happens at the Library.

That was my University Library anno 2035. Might look different next year. How does your University Library look in 2035?




Share, inspire, connect: Library related Twitter hashtags

Twitter is an outstanding tool for gaining inspiration  with whatever turns you on and engaging with people of similar interests. For me Twitter has been a major boost for my professional life in terms of insights, inspiration, debates and network with the global library community.

I slowly started using Twitter in 2012 when I was on the TICER Summer School in Tillburg and it took me a while to crack the code and come to a place where I got the full potential of this great tool. A part of it was related to the size of the network; where do you even start to build your professional learning network on Twitter? Well, a good place to start is via hashtags that binds various topics and discussions together. So if you are library newbie to Twitter or just want to go exploring on library and library related hashtags here is a list (got additions to the list please write them in the commentary section):

Mobile Hashtag Horizontal Concept


Everyday library life

There is a number of hashtags that a great for sharing and get inspiration on what’s going on in everyday library land.


A quiet broad hashtag which is often used in tweets related to the daily experiences librarians do in there job around the world.

#libraryproblems or #librarianproblems

You often find broken staplers or jammed printers under this hashtag


A hashtag to unite all the happiness and sorrow of librarians working the weekends


On of my fave hashtags that contains all the awesome socks, cardigans, glasses and cat sweaters out there – librarians got style yo!


Twitter chats are excellent for discussions on various subjects with a quit broad and diverse group of people, get inspiration and connect with others. Some chats is organized with questions on topic published in advance, moderators and suggested readings. Others are more casual organized.


Chats on technology within education and instruction. The hashtag is both used in actual chats but also appears in Tweets disconnected to a chat.


Monthly chat hosted by Radical Librarian Collective about an article or research paper relevant to the principles upon which Radical Librarians Collective operates: challenging, provoking, improving and developing the communications between like-minded radicals, to galvanise our collective solidarity against the marketisation of libraries.


To my knowledge a hashtag started by Hack Library School but I’m not sure it’s currently function as an actually hashtag for live chats (but I might be mistaken) but it got some fair use on relevant content.


A monthly discussion group on library related issues and topics. The organization and participation of #UKlibchat is always great – read more here: 


Critlib is short for “critical librarianship,” a movement of library workers dedicated to bringing social justice principles into our work in libraries. The Critlib chats are always really well prepared with suggested readings on the current chat topic, well moderated and with a lot of great thoughts and discussions on librarianship. Read more: 


Chat hosted by Australian Library and Information Association’s New Graduates Advisory Council (ALIA NGAC) on different topics related to libraries and librarianship. Even though it’s hosted from Australia I find the topics of chats relevant for the global library community. Read more:


Chat on broad trends and topics in the library and information industries including education and job search. Read more:


Mashcat is a mashed library event / community focussing on cataloguing data and is for cataloguers, developers and anyone else with an interest in how library catalogue data can be created, manipulated, used and re-used by computers and software. They got a very cool archive with all previous chats + link to Storify:

This hashtag also function as a subject specific hashtag for tweets on cataloguing data. Read more:


Chat for librarians working with teaching and instructions. Hashtag is also used regular on tweets relevant to teacher librarians. Check  for info an chat dates.

Subject specific hashtags 


Things involving data services and working with data in libraries

#UXlibs and #libux

All things User Experience and Libraries – very active hashtag with lots of great content.


All things library web services


The hashtag for tweets involving activities connected to International Librarians Network (ILN). ILN is a peer-mentoring facilitated program aimed at helping librarians develop international networks. Read more about ILN:  


An extremely broad hashtag with everything related to Open Access. Much is the stuff is not from a library point of view but I only find that valuable and of inspiration.


Great hashtag on all things scholarly communication


A evidence-based library and information practice reading group / chat


Stuff on technology in libraries but also holds some noise because it’s used by a snowboard company…


Great and very active hashtag about all things related til information literacy and libraries.


Very active hashtags for health librarianship and  medical librarians

Keep ’em coming

I’m positive that the above list of library related hashtags is far from comprehensive but hopefully it can get some library folks new to Twitter going and be of inspiration for some Twitter old timers. If there is any Hashtags that should be added to the list please write them in the commentary field

Happy sharing, inspiring and connecting




Press the button in favor of open research

In November 2013 the World got a button to press when denied access to scholarly research – a button in favor of open access and open research. I had a talk with The Open Access Button Communications Lead, Chealsye Bowley, about the Button, libraries role and the importance of open access to research. A shorter version of the talk is published in Danish LIS-journal REVY.

What is The Open Access Button?
The Open Access Button ( is a student and early career professional run project that works to connect people to open research. The project has two apps: the Open Access Button and the Open Data Button. The apps allow users to find, request, and share both research papers and research data.

How it is organized?
The Open Access Button is primarily volunteer run by the student and early career professional team, and was founded by Joe McArthur and David Carroll who were both undergraduate students in the UK at the time. Presently Joe McArthur, Georgina Taylor, and David Carroll run the project as co-leads and the rest of the student and early career professional team (presently 6 active members) work on communications, advocacy, and technology. Our developers are Cottage Labs and we are supported by SPARC (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition), which is where our legal home is.

What’s the purpose of the Open Access Button?
The primary purpose of the Open Access Button is to get people legal access to the research they need, and to support advocacy efforts for open research. We know there are so many people that get denied access to research through paywalls, but at the time that the Open Access Button was conceived there was nothing to track paywalls. The Open Access Button was originally developed to track the impact of paywalls and collect user stories that could be used to advocate for Open Access, but since then the Button has grown. Now we have in place an “email the author” request system that allows a user to request an author’s paper or data. We contact the corresponding author and publicly track requests and authors can either send us a link to their research in any Open Access repository, or deposit their paper or data through, Zenodo, or the Open Science Framework. Of course an individual can directly contact an author and the author may send them a copy of the paper, but this only benefits the one requester. The Open Access Button provides a solution to encourage archiving and connect any future requests instantly with the openly archived version after a successful request.


Why is the Open Access Button important?
I think any initiative that advocates for open research is important, but the Open Access Button is particularly important, because it’s a grassroots initiative run by an international team of students and early career professionals from various disciplines. Joe and David had an incredible idea and had the guts to make it possible. I’m still in awe of that! I joined the team six months after the idea was originally conceived and there was a beta version of the Open Access Button developed by volunteer developers. The team we’ve had throughout the last three years have been incredible — people have come and gone from the project, but everyone has made wonderful contributions and collaborating with such passionate people continually renews my love for the open movement. There are so much good students and early career professionals can do to support open research, contribute their perspective, and use their voice to advocate, and the Open Access Button is a fantastic example of student contributions to the open movement.

Additionally, I think it’s important that we are working on providing a legal option to get access to research, that we promote historical archiving, and now an option for users to request data through the Open Data Button.

Why is Open Access important?
Open Access is important because not everyone who needs access to research has it. People have the misconception, particularly in wealthy countries, that everyone who needs access has it and this simply isn’t true. This includes researchers around the world that contribute to scholarly knowledge but don’t belong to wealthy institutions that can afford publications, patients and doctors who need to learn about conditions, and even just those are simply curious. Knowledge should be accessible to all.

I came to Open Access from a human rights advocacy background and I would go as far to say that access to research is a human right. Article 27 from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.” The knowledge we gain from research and that we publish in scholarly journals contributes to scientific advancement and everyone – regardless of the reason they want to read it or where they live or what university they attend – should be able to benefit from the research.


What’s the Open Access Button’s relation with libraries concerning Open Access?
We’re working on a library outreach project and would love to partner with libraries, but we’re still in the development stages for this project.

How can the Open Access Button use libraries / librarians?
This is a great question, Christian! We’re thinking hard on this. Both as a librarian myself and an Open Access Button team member, I think libraries and librarians can be fantastic partners for the project.

One initiative that I’m thinking about is having librarian partners who we contact when we get a paper or data request for an author at their institution. This would allow us to have a partner in speaking with the author about sharing their research openly, and further support library efforts and institutional repositories.

Could libraries promote the Open Access Button more and how / where should they do it?
Absolutely! There are librarians that promote the Open Access Button in their library guides, include it within presentations, or even advertise it on the library or university Open Access website. This promotion is a great first step. I’d also recommend promoting it during your Open Access Week events, sharing that there is a tool available to find and request research papers and data. One of our team members could speak virtually during your event, or in person if one of our team members are nearby about the project and/or student involvement in the open movement.

An additional step is to actively promote the use of the Open Access Button and Open Data Button by installing the plug-ins on library computers. This option is simple to implement on computers, but requires a commitment to educate and outreach to the university community in order to make them know the tool is there in the browser. We’re going to be working on a library that will be useful for libraries that want to promote the Open Access Button.

How can libraries use the Open Access Button?
Two of the greatest benefits of the Open Access Button to libraries is the promotion of institutional repositories through our request feature, and ILL cost savings when used by university researchers and students.

When the Open Access Button beta launched I remember a negative comment from an ILL Librarian in the United States commenting people could just use ILL. This may be the case for many students at institutions in the United States, but ILL does not exist in all universities or in the same way. For example, when I studied in the United Kingdom my ILL request would require a portion of the fee being paid by me. Then in other countries ILL simply isn’t an available option. The Open Access Button has the potential to help lower ILL costs for a library if students and researcher uses the Open Access Button to find or request an openly archived version.

When does Open Access Button become needless? (because that’s the purpose in the end I guess?)
The Open Access Button would become needless when all research is Open Access, when academic culture changes to researchers by default sharing their papers and data openly. As much as I love working on the Open Access Button, we’d love for us not to have to exist! I think it’s doubtful that that *all* research will become Open Access, as that would take a huge amount of historical archiving, but I do believe there will be a future where the majority of scholarly research is being published openly.

Could the concept of the Open Access Button be applied on other subjects – e.g. like the Open Data Button?
I suppose it could, but at this moment I cannot think of another subject that would readily apply. The Open Data Button was a natural direction, but the Open Access Button concept could not simply could be copied to the Open Data Button. Some of our Open Access Button requests can be instantly fulfilled thanks to already archived research, but this isn’t as possible with data. There are technical and cultural limitations. It’s far easier to share a PDF online than a dataset that takes time to clean and curate, and there isn’t a data sharing culture in academia. The Open Access Button advocates, but the Open Data Button faces a greater threshold for successful open research data sharing advocacy. The same concept can be applied, but it does require tweaking the approach.

What’s your thoughts on national and international initiatives that aims to measure Open Access?
The Open Access initiatives that we are seeing at the national and international levels are what are going to make Open Access a widespread reality. We saw this with the NIH public access policy in the United States, which has now expanded to all US federal agencies with over $100 million in research and development. We’re seeing this with the policies coming from the Research Excellence Framework in the United Kingdom, and now the Netherlands’ push for open access in their country and in the EU. All great policies that create tangible change… but I sometimes do worry about these initiatives. In many ways they are an extension of of the audit culture in academia that has played a huge role in contributing to negative cultural aspects of academia. Audit culture monetizes academic and changes the values, it wants “value for money” and in many ways I see funding bodies, particularly in the case of the UK’s REF, seeing Open Access as a value for money, getting more return on their investment. This is OK. It’s fine and understandable, but it isn’t quite the global good aspect of Open Access and in some ways just another extension of how universities are audited for efficiency, performance, and value for money.

Could the Open Access Button play a part in this?
Hmmm. That’s a very interesting question. I want to say perhaps. It would be great to partner with more people whether that be libraries, universities, institutions, funding bodies, or governments. Sander Dekker, the Netherlands’ Undersecretary for Education, Culture and Science, who has been doing fantastic work toward Open Access in his country has made incredibly kind comments on the Open Access Button. I cannot think of a specific example of a national or international initiative that we could readily plug into, but I think it’s a potential and we certainly would embrace another partnership to support the open movement.

What’s in the future of the Open Access Button?
We recently entered a new partnership with Jisc, the United Kingdom’s higher, further education and skills sectors’ not-for-profit organisation for digital services and solutions. This partnership will support further development on the Open Access Button and Open Data Button through July 2017. This partnership has enabled us to update the plug-ins, build new features, and we’ll be expanding our advocacy work. Additionally, we’ll be putting a heavy focus on partnering with libraries in the upcoming years. I think the future of the Open Access Button project will be rooted in collaborating with libraries and librarians.

What do you think is in the future for Open Access?
Oh, big question, Christian! I think the future of Open Access is rooted in collaboration, more shared repositories at regional and national levels, and innovative funding models for Open Access publishing.

So many of us, particularly in libraries, are doing our own thing, building programs, and having so-so repositories. Collaboration between libraries and also within the whole Open movement can provide more beneficial solutions. I would love to see more paper and data repositories at the regional, state, national levels. I’m a huge fan of the Open Library of the Humanities and I think the future of Open Access lies in an innovative funding model like this, allowing everyone (and every library! affordably) to participate in Open Access, and importantly flipping existing journals from a subscription model to Open Access.

About Chealsye  Bowley:
Besides her involvement in the Open Access Button, Chealsye works as a Scholarly Communication Librarian at Texas Woman’s University. She holds a Master in Library and Information Studies + an MSc Science, Technology, and Society. She’s a big fan of the Danish specialty flødeboller.

Chealsye Bowley with The Little Mermaid in Copenhangen.

In case you wonder what a ‘flødebolle’ is




MOOC’s and SPOC’s in Libraryland

I remember a few years back when the jungle drums went on how the rise of MOOC’s would transform the educational landscape. I haven’t seen that yet but it doesn’t mean that Massive Open Online Courses can’t create meaning and value in education and learning.

And in libraries.

Is the skill of information literacy a universal skill? I think it is. The core skill of information literacy is not necessary hooked up to any specific users, libraries, databases, search techniques etc. It’s a skill that’s gives you the ability to identify, locate, evaluate, and effectively use that information for the issue or problem at hand. The skill has always been relevant but the Internet’s entree and the rapid growth in accessible information has only made information literary more crucial.

At Copenhagen University Library we are supporting information literacy of students and employees through a variety of courses, workshops and instructions. The face-to-face information literacy sessions is in my opinion one of the most valuable services we provide to the academic community. So when we are looking at alternative options like e-courses, online tutorials and MOOC’s it’s not a resource reduction maneuver (we are struggling on the budgets but the starting point is something else) – it’s to get the best from both worlds.

First Library MOOC in the World

To explore the possibilities of MOOC’s in this context we joined forces with The Library of The Technical University of Denmark to create the first library produced MOOC in the World. The result is Academic Information Seeking which is published on the Courcera platform:


The aim of the MOOC is to make participants proficient information seekers. They will learn how to carry out comprehensive literature searches based on their own research assignments and will be guided through the various information seeking steps: generating search terms, identifying information sources, taking advantage of reference management tools, how to avoid plagiarism and to cite correctly. To check comprehension the lectures include small assignments and quizzes. The MOOC also contain a log book template that participants can use to log there experiences during the course.

The course target is undergraduate students or students who are about to begin working on an academic paper. It contains 21 videos and is a self paced course that can be completed in one stretch or in three blocks over three weeks. To this date 3.500 have signed up and 200 has completed Academic Information Seeking.

The MOOC has been a part of a larger national project under Denmark’s Electronic Research Library focusing on e-learning, information literacy and library services and has been carried out by project heads Birgitte Munk (Copenhagen University Library) and Thomas Skov Jensen (DTU Library). Myself was in the steering committee representing Copenhagen University Library.

In the slipstream of the MOOC the project also created a Small Private Online Course (SPOC) which function as local version of a MOOC targeting on-campus students. Our SPOC serves as an introduction to Copenhagen University Library:

So know you got a MOOC. What’s next?

I personally find our MOOC, Academic Information Seeking, very cool, professional and capable of supporting information literacy on both a global and local level. The question is how?

Stand alone: The MOOC can be followed out of context and you will gain from it. The feature where you bring your own assignment to the virtual classroom creates context for the individual but even without that it still holds basic introductions to information seeking that almost any scholar would gain from on some level. However this is not the strongest way to get the full benefit of a library MOOC.

Blended learning/flipped classroom and integration with curriculum: Library instructions separated from curriculum obvious has value but to my experience, they have far the greatest impact when they are somehow connected – that goes for both face-to-face and online instructions. To set the scene for a MOOC (or any other online instruction content) in the most powerful way it needs to be connected to students reality on campus. Getting it hooked up on curriculum when students really need the basic skills for information seeking (in this case), e.g. before their first major paper, both creates the best outcome from the course but also grabs the students when they have the need and – very important – the motivation.

Easy to say but how does this come about? Faculty members often sees their curriculum as a sacred fortress where it takes a firestorm to shake things. The way I find most useful is advocacy through coffee. Most faculty members and teachers are very reasonable people who wouldn’t turn down a cup of coffee and a chat about how there students – and their course – can benefit from an online library instruction supporting information literacy. In most cases the coffee chat result in an agreement on a pilot on the upcoming term. Remember, it’s not about selling a library course – it’s about creating value for the students on campus.

All that coffee and talking is obvious a cost full way but teachers talk to each other and when just one or two of them sees the point I often find, that we are the ones being invited on coffee and not the other way around.

At Copenhagen University Library we have just started the coffee talks. Since the MOOC in it’s nature is a global course, Academic Information Seeking can be implemented into most curriculum’s around the world so start booking those coffee dates.

Coffee – a powerful tool when it comes to integrating library services 

Final note on library support of information literacy: Connecting the dots from primary school over high school to university 

I hang out with public librarians from time to time. It seems like they are pretty much on the same page as academic libraries when it comes to supporting information literacy. Their target are just not university students – it’s kids in primary school. Many of the same kids that moves on to high school and eventually university. Does the libraries talk to each other about this. Do they coordinate this very important job? The answers is no. At least in Denmark

It seems to me that public libraries and academic libraries has an obligation to coordinate this effort in order to create a red line in educating information skilled members of community.

I’ll suggest we kick it off with a cup of coffee