Next Things

My first job at FSU Libraries was 8 hours a week sitting at the desk at Florida State’s study center in Florence, Italy where I was studying abroad. The librarian at the time was a masters student from FSU’s iSchool, and I could care less about anything he was interested in. I was 20 years old and living in Italy, you know.

Several years later, I took a 10 hours/week position as the program coordinator for the Florida Book Awards, which also meant watching the desk/phones in Strozier Library’s admin office as other folks took lunch breaks. A few days a week between classes, research, and teaching a course on Underground Music in America (1980 – early 2000’s, natch), I would grab a $5 footlong and process submissions, create/update the book awards social media accounts, and say hello to lots of smart looking and important people. One day Julia Zimmerman, the Dean of the Library, mentioned that I should check out this new reading group about “digital scholars” headed up by this scrappy young assistant professor named Paul Fyfe. I dove in headfirst.


The DigiNoles are born. Richard Urban, Katie McCormick, Paul Fyfe and yours truly at THATCamp SE, Athens, GA, 2013.

I returned to FSU Libraries on a hope and a dream, after a stint at the Brooklyn Public Library, because Paul emailed me out of the blue and said the library was going to be hiring a project manager for something called “scholarly communication” that I would be perfect for, if only I were still in Tallahassee. I spent 10 hours googling, mainlined the ACRL Scholarly Communication Toolkit and SPARC’s website, and nailed the interview. After 8 months hustling that part time gig, FSU Libraries saw fit to offer me the honor of serving as their first scholarly communication librarian. The rest, as they say, is on my CV.


I’ve lived in Tallahassee for almost all of my post-high school life. I can’t go anywhere without knowing or recognizing at least 1 person. It feels more like home than my hometown. FSU Libraries gave me incredible freedom for a brand new librarian, and with that freedom I built a reputation and a voice. It took me a while to realize, but I think I’ve been ready for some time to lend that voice to a new organization. For the style of librarian that I have become, I couldn’t imagine a better place to go than the “library of the future.”

hIbkn8ncSOWZBqsO7KXYvgI’ll be joining new colleagues and old friends at North Carolina State Libraries as the Open Knowledge Librarian. My role will entail developing programs, advocacy tools, and partnerships that facilitate and promote open and publicly engaged scholarship, and many other things I’m sure! I am overjoyed to join Will Cross and Erica Hayes at the Copyright and Digital Scholarship Center, folks I already have a ton of respect for. I look forward to getting involved in the multitude of activities NCSU Libraries host, and also to joining a regional network of colleagues and institutional neighbors who have constantly inspired me throughout my short career. I haven’t been new somewhere in a LOOOONG time, so I’m nervously excited to forget peoples names, bumble through a few projects early on, and learn a new University from the inside out. I’m eager to get to work, and so pumped about aligning my skills with a stellar group of folks in a forward-thinking library.

I’ll miss FSU like hell. And Tallahassee will always be the place where I started college, a career, and a family. But, I am ready for next things. And, I owe Paul a 7 year debt of gratitude for allowing me to sit under his Digital Humanities tutelage as a wee grad student, sending that email that called me back to Tallahassee, and then for hyping me to NCSU as the best digital thing since e-science.

Forever a DigiNole, about to be a DigiWolf? A Pack-nologist? Either way, I’m ready to take on the Triangle.

So, lets eat some Gaines Street Pies / Tan’s Asian Cafe and drink some Proof Brewing Company/ Lucky Goat Coffee. Lets guzzle tupelo honey, and chomp Bradley’s sausage. Lets morn the Miracle 5, Beta Bar, and Vinyl Fever. Lets lambast the legislature, snowbirds, and “Florida Man”. Lets swim in sink holes, swat mosquitoes, and surf the Space Coast. Lets wrestle gators, roll with manatees, and caw with seagulls. Give me key lime pie, gulf oysters, Hammakockers BBQ, Sweetgrass Dairy cheese, and all the juicy, pulpy, fresh picked oranges in the whole G-D state. Give me the Dry Tortugas, Everglades Nat’l Park, and St. Augustine.

But most of all, give me sunshine in my blood, salt water in my soul, and limestone in my heart.




*Disclaimer – all thoughts and opinions expressed here are my own, and do not reflect the views of FSU Libraries, FSU, or anyone I work with.

A year ago today FSU Libraries faced a tragedy. Someone came to our campus with the intent to do harm to others. I was not at the library at the time of the shooting, but it affected me way more than I thought it might have.

In the weeks following, I was working on a draft of an invited talk I was scheduled to give at a conference in New York. Free counseling was available to the FSU community, and for a long time I meant to go and show someone this draft. Of course, life/work got in the way and I never did. This past week, as we prepared to remember the event, I dug up this draft and decided to share it for my own healing. The version of the talk that I actually ended up giving turned out very different, and is available here.

Most importantly, we are all healing. These pictures, and more on my Twitter throughout the day, represent the FSU Libraries family as we are today. We wore FSU colors today as a symbol of our strength and endurance.


Draft one:

Two weeks ago, a man was shot and killed in front of my library. A young, black man was shot and killed on the steps I walk every morning at 8am. A kid is now paralyzed from the waist down after being shot, because he was hanging out in front of my library late one Wednesday night. A library staffer, who works the overnight shift and who I nod hello to every morning as he leaves was shot in the leg. I didn’t even know his name until I saw it in the news. This isn’t the talk I intended to give today. But it’s all that I have in my mind and heart, and I couldn’t pretend that open access matters when someone’s life was ended under a banner that says “A great university requires a great library.”

At 630am when a flood of texts came from concerned family and friends that were catching the morning news that day, my first thoughts were “I’m glad I wasn’t there” and “I knew this was going to happen sooner or later.” My Facebook status was a mix of shock, helplessness and confusion. “All my deadlines and projects seem to matter so much less now.” That sentiment has followed me these two weeks. I don’t care that SPARC hosted OpenCon and that a bunch of young people are excited about making real change in academic publishing. The Gates Foundation announced an Open Access Policy that I believe will be a significant turning point in research funders dictating how open access moves forward – but I could care less. The Friday after the shooting, I moved into a new position (Digital Scholarship Coordinator) and got a raise, something I’ve been working toward for months – bittersweet, and mostly bitter.

The talk I wanted to give today would have been a challenge, as I am wont to do in my professional life. A challenge to academic librarians to stop talking about open access and start doing it. To force our own field to change by taking collective action against Big Publishing and refuse to continue to perpetuate a system that continues to prove its blatant disdain for author’s rights, libraries budgets and the good/right of information access to the global knowledge ecosystem. That challenge is still in my heart, but as an echo. The talk that I have to give today is a feeble plea, in light of the sense of smallness that was inflicted on me two weeks ago. My simple response to the prompt “What is the role of the academic librarian in open access?” is this: access for all.

I titled my talk “Scholarly Communication is People” because I believe that is the number one thing that we have lost over the 8 years that Open Access Week has been observed in libraries internationally. In the beginning, we (libraries) made it about money; scholars have made it about their rights to their work; funders have made it about a return on investment; policy makers have made it about civic life. I believe all those things are true; but what we overlook too often is that the academic enterprise, and by extension all this goddammned writing we do, is about making better humans. I submitted a proposal to the Scholarly Communication Institute at Duke, held at the beginning of November. The proposal was rejected, but the core idea behind it has been driving me since early this year: The only real reason open access matters is because of the potential it offers. The possibility that a member of the public will discover academic research is the reason I wake up. And we have done a disservice to the public by making it all about us.

Could open access to publicly-funded scholarship about the historical and social constructs of race relations in America have saved Michael Brown? Might open access to research on mental health have prevented death and tragedy from visiting my library? I don’t know. I don’t think so. But, I do believe that it matters when my dad tells me he is tracing our family genealogy using some weird website called HathiTrust. Or when my sister, a single, working mother of two, is able to complete an MBA relying on Google Scholar as a resource because she doesn’t have time to learn about Ebsco’s Business Resource Complete database. I wont make the claim that open access will save the world, but I believe that it could make it a significantly better place to raise my son.

Over the past two weeks, I’ve thought a lot about what matters. Over the past three years, what has mattered a lot to me has been pushing buttons and asking questions no one seems to want to ask – like why the Journal of Academic Librarianship still exists in its present form? Or, why library schools indoctrinate students with ALA’s Code of Ethics, but those same faculty fail to exercise their rights to place their works in institutional repositories? Or, why we all walk on eggshells when vendors or publishers are around? Or, why librarianship acts to principled but has yet to live up to the edict under which every libraries’ heritage lies – access for all? What I’ve learned in three years as a librarian is that it’s a lot more complicated than a young, idealistic blogger can hope to change. And that, many of my questions are important more in the asking than in the answers. What I’ve been forced to reconcile these past weeks is that the strife and bickering and how ridiculous it is for librarians to sue one another and the conversations we have in and across our literature that seem so huge (PhD’s taking all our jobs! Library school doesn’t prepare you for the workforce! Numbers, metrics, assessment = funding!)– all of this doesn’t matter as much as we hope.

What does matter, and what I think is the most important thing about anything we do, is that you and I are here right now and that I really want to know what you’re excited about. What matters is that across the pond, my former Grad Assistant Chealsye is struggling through a Master’s degree in the History of Science and Technology, while at the same time working on the Open Access Button. What matters is that Erin McKiernan, an early career  neuroscientist, has pledged to only do open access with all her work, for the rest of her career. What matters is that lots of new librarians will be hired in the next 2-5 years never knowing a library-land before DPLA, Open Access Policies, Research Data Management or Digital Humanities. What matters is that the morning of the shooting I was comforted and honored to be part of a profession where emails flowed in all day long – from Molly Keener at Wake Forest, Ellen Duranceau at MIT, Kathryn Pope at CDRS, from Colin Lukens at Harvard, Claudia Holland at George Mason U, and countless others on Twitter.

I do strongly believe that every library needs a scholarly communication initiative, and that every librarian can and should participate in this work. I believe that scholarly communication (and everything connected to it, DH, Data management, GIS) is offering us the chance to exert our principles, “access for all” in the real, practical benefit of global change. I believe the academic librarians role in open access is to just do it, to embody the change we hope to see, to be a catalyst for shifting research patterns at our institutions. I believe the time for timidity and “service” has passed, and that our role now is active, collaborative participation in research, teaching and learning. I believe there is a good chance I am wrong about some of this because I am still a new librarian, and am just learning to be ok with making mistakes.


That’s where the draft ended. Some of the threads here have changed the way I live since I wrote this. I started leaving my laptop at work when I went home at the end of the day. I pulled back from a lot of researching/writing and speaking to stay around Tallahassee. I have invested a lot more energy in connecting personally with people I work with (#tacotuesday has been amazing.) I won’t leave you with any grand takeaway, except that I love this library. It’s been a strange, interesting, and delightful year since Nov. 20th, 2014.

*Disclaimer – all thoughts and opinions expressed here are my own, and do not reflect the views of FSU Libraries, FSU, or anyone I work with.


UPDATE (3/25): The Editorial Board of the Journal of Library Administration has resigned, citing the reason that “…the licensing terms in the Taylor & Francis author agreement are too restrictive and out-of-step with the expectations of authors in the LIS community.” 

Read more about it on The Chronicle of Higher Ed, on Chronicle Blogs here, from one of the Editors, and from a fellow librarian who also stood his ground on licensing his work. 


Brief: I published an article. But before all that, I negotiated my publication contract and had a really great experience doing so. This is the story. 

Journal of Library Administration. Special Issue: Digitial Humanities in Libraries – New Models For Scholarly Engagement. 

Versions of Scholarly Record available at –

alt/OA Table of Contents (Links to peer-reviewed open access versions of the articles)

I have previously written about the opportunity I was presented with, when invited to include an article in the Journal of Library Administration’s special issue on Digital Humanities. It was extraordinarily important for me to slowly walk through the process of publication. As the Scholarly Communication Librarian at Florida State University, I am constantly challenging and prodding faculty members to investigate their publishing practices and understand what is happening, especially in the Publication Agreement. So when I was presented with a similar agreement, I took it as an opportunity to practice what I preach. 

Some quick details:

1. The journal is published by Taylor and Francis. In Nov. 2011, T&F adopted new author rights policies for all their Library and Information Science journals, basically changing from the standard Copyright Transfer to an Exclusive License to Publish. I think this is a great example of a publisher working diligently to meet the evolving requests of the scholar by adapting their way of doing things. So already, by publishing with this journal and this publisher, I was a step ahead of most faculty authors who are “required” to sign full transfer of copyright to the publisher. So this was a contract negotiation rather than a negotiation for copyright.

2. I had the pleasure of working with an Editor and Guest Editor who were supportive of my many questions and went to bat for me over the rights negotiation with the publisher. I am sure the negotiation would have gone very differently if Damon Jaggers and Barbara Rockenbach had not done the leg work of translating between me and the publisher.

3. This was the first publishing contract negotiation I have ever done.

I was more surprised than anyone when after writing an audacious email stating that I refuse to sign the contact as is, and sending around a “Here are my demands Mr. Publisher” addendum to the contract, that Taylor and Francis responded, line by line, to my proposed amendments. Here’s what they had to say, interspersed with my requests (in bold) corresponding to specific line items on the orginal contract.

Win #1


The contract doesn’t use the language “exclusive license”, but implies it. I’d like clarification. 

>>> Our license to publish is not exclusive, and does not use the term.

“Full term of copyright” – dependent on the law at this time? Can I choose a different term? If so, I’d like to. (Life of author + 70 years is unreasonable in my opinion.)

>>> Yes, full term of copyright by US law in the year of execution.

“right to supply the article in electronic and online forms and systems” – is this exclusive? Would it hinder my rights to do the same?

>>> The form does not claim exclusive rights.

Appendix 1

1.3 – if right to publish is exclusive I don’t agree with 1.3 in this section. I want the right to sublicense these rights to other also.

>>> The form is not exclusive, and no one we sublicense to (Ebsco, Google Scholar, etc.) accepts individual sublicenses.  Such a striking would actually mean we could not distribute the article to many third parties who index and provide search functions.  No author wants this.  Every author I have ever spoken to wants maximum distribution of their content.

 2. Strike the sentence about addendum or memorandum. Many institutions are asking faculty to use addenda to negotiate their rights and I want to preserve that for faculty and colleagues. 

>>> While we in some cases do agree to addenda, we will never recognize an unsigned or unilateral addendum.  Such addendums are not fair to both parties.

5. Strike the sentence about these rights not being transferrable to others. If they’re allowed to do it, I want to be able to also. 

>>> We retain right to license.  We do not restrict author licensing.

7. My piece is based extensively on an article published in a important journal in my field, indexed, with an ISSN. Additionally, it was published originally under a CC-BY-NC license. I can only agree with the last sentence in this paragraph. I’d like this language to be adapted to say that “I warrant that the Article is my original work, which has been substantially revised, rewritten and adapted under a the terms of a Creative Commons license. The work published here is based on, but different from, that original piece.” Or something. 

>>>> This sentence is not at contradiction with our clause 7, which is a warranty that work is not infringing on others.

Appendix 2

3. “Systematic basis” – please remove or clarify. This language is not conducive to the culture of sharing that is developing in academia. 

>>>> We could agree to strike this via addendum.  It is meant to convey that distribution should not be via commercial channels.

In light of the recent GA State case, I’d like the right to share to include the word “Students.” It is important to me that this article be allowed to be used, without cause for legal recourse, in course packs and in CMS systems like Blackboard and Moodle.

>>>> We would agree to this

4. “the right to post the preprint…” in my institutional repository. 

>>>> The term institutional repository could be added via addendum.  That is what is meant by this clause

5. Strike the phrase “or such other acknowledgement as we or Taylor &Francis may notify you.” I’ll agree to adding the statement as supplied in the contract, but not that they can change that statement at any time.

>>>> We would agree to strike this.

6. “institution’s network or intranet or website…” Please add “or institutional repository.” We all know what they’re called, lets just say it. 

>>>> The term institutional repository could be added via addendum.  That is what is meant by this clause

“systematic external distribution by a third party…” Please clarify. Does this mean I cannot post it on my profile? If so, I’d like this removed.

>>>> This means that you could not post to another site that distributes the content systematically.  A profile page with a link a store of published works would not be considered this.

Please adapt the statement for the post print to read: This is the peer-reviewed version of an article publishing in…” It’s important to me that readers know this fact about my work. 

>>>> We would agree to the author adding this term to the statement

Strike the language about embargos that Taylor and Francis has now, or may at any time in the future decide to create.

>>>> [no response]

In light of recent changes by NIH to cut funding for authors who do not comply with their public access policy, please remove the language that states “You must not post manuscripts directly to PMC, or other third party sites.” If the company fails to do so, authors may lose funding. Also, I don’t like the inclusion of “other third party sites.”

>>>> Taylor & Francis actually handles deposits on author’s behalf for the NIH.  We cannot strike agreement to our embargos, although we could strike the term “in the future”.

7. add “students.” 

>>>> We can clarify that distribution to students is fine.

Systematic basis? please clarify or remove. 

>>>> We can clarify that distribution to students is fine.


Win #2

Following this response, I decided in consultation with the Editors, to not push it anymore and claim it as a victory. Weeks later I received an email saying that my proofs were ready and that the Copyright Transfer agreement had to be signed in as part of the proof approval process. Queue another flurry of emails full of my righteous indignation saying “I have only just begun to fight!” At the turn of the year, T&F graciously agreed to extend the addendum to ALL articles published in this issue, meaning that ALL authors would retain rights, be able to post the peer-reviewed version immediately upon publication, have greater clarity of their rights to the work etc.

Win #3

Two weeks before the issue was to be published, Barbara, the Guest Editor, informed me and Stewart Varner (co-author) that T&F wanted to make one article from the issue open access (for publicity), and they’d like it to be ours.

Loss #1

A week before the issue was to be published, imagine my surprise when I got an email saying the final proof was ready for my approval and I discovered that conveniently, in the top left of the page, the citation information included a nice big “Copyright © Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.” Needless to say, after all the negotiations, I was pretty unhappy to see that. And I told them:

The proof looks fine with the very blatant exception that I do not support the inclusion of the Copyright statement in the header, since I did not sign over my copyright to Taylor and Francis… including that “Copyright © Taylor and Francis Group, LLC” is the exact opposite of the License to Publish that you originally sent to me, and the agreed upon addendum that we negotiated through the Editor. Having that included on this article is confusing as to the copyright status of the piece, and if there must be a copyright statement there I want it to read “Copyright © The Authors.”

At this point, a week away from production, I was actually contacted by the VP for Production at Taylor and Francis. (You know you’re doing something right/wrong when you get the attention of a VP.) The response was coridal, and enlightening.

The copyright line is present with the Taylor & Francis name because you have granted Taylor & Francis license to publish, and also to grant permission on your article.  The presence of the line does not in any way change the agreement you have with us. The statement is in a standard place that alerts parties that seek permission as to who they may contact.  Based on the agreement you signed, our assumption is that you wish for Taylor & Francis to grant such permissions.  We thus include the line it as you see it for all authors that we receive licenses such as the one you have signed.

I agreed, bugrudingly, and with much consternation, to let this last issue go, and the VP for Production indicated that they know this is an issue and plan to look further into adapting it. I plan to hold them to that, if ever publishing with them in the future. Needless to say, immediately upon publication, a colleague of mine at FSU noticed the fancy “© Taylor and Francis” and called me out on it. So, already, I have proof that regardless of all the work I did fighting for copyrights, the simple inclusion of that symbol confused a reader as to the truth of the matter, that I OWN THE ARTICLE and that I GRANTED to the publisher A LICENSE TO PUBLISH. Still not too happy about that one.

TIE #1

Two of the authors of articles included in this issue do not have access to the published version, as their institution doesn’t subscribe to the journal. Elated as I was, I sent the link to my wife and my best friend – it asked them to pay $35. Based on the terms of the addendum, ALL authors had the right to post the peer-reviewed version of the article in their institutional repository or on their website. So, Taylor and Francis has the final Version of Scholarly Record hosted on their site, and each author is posting the post-print version (exact same text minus all the fancy layout and insignia). Win – Win. Or Tie.


After approving proofs, way back in December, I was offered the option to make my article open access… for the tasteless price of $3250. I took a screen shot to share.


I understand that publishers are fighting for ways to keep their revenue alive, but seriously? I made it open access immediately for free by amending my contract.

All in all, I feel really good about the process. I thought all the people I interacted with at T&F were very kind and patient. I am really pleased to be published with Stewart, a friend, colleague and professional I respect immensely. But most of all, I am amped, excited and chomping at the bit to run around campus saying to all the faculty I’ve worked with and will work with, “Scholarly communication is changing, and I have proof.”

See the final approved addendum that we used as an additional file at the bottom of the page here.

Digital Humanities (potential) at Florida State University

Working up this list for a LibGuide I’m co-working on with my colleague and Humanities Librarian Abby Scheel. Sometimes I’m bummed at how slowly FSU seems to be making the DH turn, but when I see this list and the great potential we have here, it is really encouraging. I’m sure there’s more that could be added here that I am not yet aware of. Work to be done. 

Digital Humanites (potential) at FSU

History of Text Technologies (HOTT) is an interdisciplinary certificate program which combines studies in the history of the book and media cultures. The curriculum explores the changing material and aesthetic technologies of cultural transmission in scribal, print, visual, and digital forms. Affiliated faculty from English, History, Art History, Modern Languages, Religion, Information Studies.

Program in Interdisciplinary Computing (PIC) develops, supports and promotes a comprehensive range of application-oriented classes focusing on current and emerging computer and information technology needs and trends. They also host DigiTech, an annual campus-wide program of events showcasing digital projects.

University Libraries is building its infrastructure to support digital scholarship, including the recent hires of an E-Science Librarian, a Scholarly Communications Librarian, a Digital Archivist, a Humanities Librarian with digital interests and two Developers.


Paul Fyfe (English) hosts an interdisciplinary Digital Scholars reading and discussion group devoted to digital humanities, instutional technologies and electronic and online scholarship. Recent discussions have focused on digital work being done by faculty at FSU including Dr. Silvia Valisa (Modern Languages), Dr. Will Hanley (History), Emily Gore (University Libraries) and Owen Mundy (Art). 

Will Hanley (History) received a National Endowment for the Humanties Digital Humanities Start-up grant for his ongoing work on Prosop, a “social networking tool for the past.”

Jennifer Koslow (History) directs the Historical Administration and Public History Program. She is teaching a course on Digital History in the Fall of 2012. She also works closely with the Museum Studies program. 

Owen Mundy (Art) teaches and works in the intersection of data, design and public space. His technical and aesthetic skills combine in a variety of projects including data vizualizations and manipulations.

Richard Urban (Information Studies) researches in metadata, knowledge representation, and human-computer interaction for cultural heritage collections and materials. His is actively involved in projects related to the semantic web and Linked Open Data for Libraries Archives and Museums (LODLAM).

John Corrigan (Religion) teaches American religious history and also works in the emerging area of Spatial Humanities. He is a co-editor of The Spatial Humanities: GIS and the Future of Humanites Scholarship


FSU Faculty Senate unanimously passes Open Access Resolution.

I’m happy to announce, as a product of the hard work of the Scholarly Communications Task Force at Florida State University, that we have passed an Open Access Resolution. As I mentioned in a recent post, this resolution is decidedly weak on the language when compared to similar policies passed at other institutions, but this is the first step in a process toward developing this area at Florida State, and it was necessarily toned down to account for the culture of our campus. 

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