A sit down with the Scholarly Communications Librarian – the review

I’ve been familiar with QUT Library’s offerings in research support for a while now, having attended the AIRS program as part of my Honours thesis a few years ago. This week’s Twitter chat has definitely made me think about this arm of the library again. Today, QUT offers a suite of programs and services for research support, that extend beyond the AIRS courses. Seeing that the Scholarly Communications Librarian did consultations with academics seeking publishing support, I became very interested.

Now, dear viewer, I’m only telling you this next bit because I trust you. Yes, you too, thousands of anons out there reading my blog. For the past year I have been in negotiations to get an article published – as a book chapter! I cowrote it with my Honours supervisor, and I have kept mum so far because nothing has been signed. However, it sets the scene for my service review quite nicely, so just promise you won’t tell anyone.

Secret” by Steve Rotman is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

I managed to get in contact with Paula, and booked an appointment at quite short notice. She was more than happy to fit me in, and what I originally thought would take 15 minutes actually took closer to an hour. Not because it went badly, I must stress this!

Paula was very good at answering the questions I had about the publishing process. I felt as if she’d had a lot of experience with this area; in fact, lots of different areas. On her desk, I could see a range of folders on topics such as predatory publishers, open access education, and many more topics. It made me think about the variety of skills that research support librarians need to have, across “communication, training and evaluation” (p. 359). She seemed well equipped to instruct any researcher at any point in their academic career.

However, what took up more time in this appointment was her interest in my future academic career. We talked at length about my interest in digital repositories, open access and academic library collections. Paula seemed genuinely pleased that “another academic” was weighing in on this area that she felt deserved more researcher attention. Her passion was so apparent, and I definitely felt good about our chat by the end. Upon reflection, I wonder if she subconsciously planted the PhD seed in my head, particularly the notion of continuing study with QUT. If that was her intention, it would make total sense to me. One of the best financial decisions that an academic research librarian can make is to increase the number of HDR students you have at your institution (p. 78). I’m only Masters level now, but by my own admission a PhD seems inevitable. Am I the sort of HDR student QUT would want to attract?

She’s beauty and she’s grace.

There is no doubt that research support in academic libraries is experiencing a tremendous change (p. 97). Paula herself is very aware that this is where all the jobs are going to be in university libraries. She describes the consultations as being a very “bespoke” service model well suited to the post grad students and their needs. Assessing my experience on this, and the other points raised above, I think there is sufficient evidence to suggest that QUT Library is moving with the tide on this trend. Luckily, it’s a good wave to ride right now.



  1. Chloe Delaney

    Hi Rebecca,

    Once again you have written an amazing post! I actually really enjoyed it. You write really well, and I did have a chuckle.
    Congratulations on your secret venture in publication!I think getting any kind of research paper is so hard to get published.
    What do you think you will focus on in your Phd?

    • Bec

      Thank you Chloe! Well the problem with PhDs is that I’m always told that my current research ideas could easily become them! Five years ago it was my work into BDSM practitioners and their online social groups. Now it could be digital collections in academic libraries. It would probably be the digital in some way, shape, or form though!

  2. Imbi Josey

    You write really well, girl in multiple hats! Sounds like you have an exciting future ahead of you. Best of luck 🙂

  3. Katie Ferguson

    Hey Bec, thanks for your post; it’s very interesting. I have to ask, did you discuss anything related to licence agreements? I’m just curious because it’s something I’ve been asked about recently for my job (specifically monograph publishing and associated licence agreements in the electronic environment). Do you think it would be something that a Scholarly Communications Librarian would address, or would you go to a licensing or monographs expert for that? Interested in your PoV.

    Congrats on the pending publication!

    • Bec

      Thank you Katie!
      Oh yes we absolutely talked about licensing agreements. She mentioned that in this situation I would normally have two options. I could either sign off on a license to reprint, or completely sign the rights away on this particular article. Paula said that for smaller publishers you usually have some negotiating power, however with the big hitters you might be better off taking what you’re given when you’re first starting out!
      I’ve been told by several people that the publisher dealing with this book are quite large indeed, and most people would give their firstborns to say this is their first publisher. And frankly I don’t need to keep the rights on this, and I’m pretty sure my coauthor would feel the same.
      I definitely think Paula gave me some sound advice on this. Would highly recommend having a meeting with her if you have queries of your own.

  4. Karen Parker

    Hi Bec. Thanks for giving us an insight into a consultation with a Research Librarian. It does sound like QUT is responding to the different needs of different researchers by offering a bespoke service. Best wishes for your academic journey ahead 🙂

  5. Kaley Schelks

    Nice post Bec!
    Congrats on the impending publication, that’s so exciting! One point you made really struck me and that’s the idea that librarians (of all persuasions), need to be knowledgeable about so many areas, or as you so beautifully demonstrated, wear many hats! Since starting this course my eyes have been opened to just how many areas of expertise there are within the world of libraries. I really love that they seems to be niches to suit everyone’s skills and passions. I have no doubt that you will find your niche and be amazing!

    • Bec

      Ahah, yes that is a good way of looking at librarians – many hatted people!

      I was in the same boat as you, Kaley. I had an idea in my head of what a librarian looked like, and personally I had no concept of the potential of librarians. You might worry from the outside that a discipline like this is not very good at moving with the tides of change. But once you get in here, you see that actually librarians are very good at adapting!


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