Now, for those of you keeping score at home, you can see that Loyola professors are expected to update four different online profiles every time they publish something. As you can guess, this is rarely actually completed. However, the Provost's office (which is in charge of the FAS) allowed our digital services librarian to add a check box onto the "new submission" page - asking professors if they would like someone at the library to determine if their new work was eligible for the E-Commons. This has eliminated one barrier for the faculty. However - faculty are regularly disappointed with they find out the publisher's PDF copy cannot be included in the E-Commons. In the past, the digital services librarian or a graduate student assistant would run citation checks for all full time Loyola faculty members, and ask each subject specialist to contact them on an individual basis. This process was time consuming and relatively ineffective; the addition of the FAS checkbox eliminated a few steps in that process.
Despite the barriers involved, we have had some great success with the E-Commons. Recently, after only around three years of activity, the E-Commons received it's One Millionth Download! We were all quite excited about the popularity, and are using that momentum to grow the repository in the future. Also, recent legislation changes about federal grant funding have also encouraged faculty members to become interested in this service.
However popular the E-Commons was becoming, the library realized it needed to take some extra steps to improve its image across camps. Thus, the Celebration of Faculty Scholarship was born. This was a joint effort between the Scholarly Communications committee and Library Administration - it was meant to be a social event showcasing all of the published works by Loyola faculty over the previous calendar year. However, several steps had to be taken in order to make this event successful:
- General publicity - subject specialists were instructed to contact their department heads and invite all staff and faculty to attend the event
- Individualized invitation and publicity - the digital services librarian provided a citation search for all Loyola faculty members. Each subject specialist contacted each member of their department that was found during the search, asking if they would like to have their work included in the forthcoming celebration. This increased faculty participation in the event, and encouraged attendance for the actual celebration. This step proved to be particularly cumbersome: the time of year the contact took place was during the height of the back-to-school activities. It was very difficult for subject specialists with large departments to devote as much time as was necessary to complete this activity without it being problematic.
- Purchase or Acquisition of materials - once a faculty member agreed to be a part of the celebration, each subject specialist had to acquire the materials to be featured. If the faculty member authored a monograph, a copy was ordered. After the celebration, this copy would be kept in the archives. If an article was published, we looked for a copy in the journals we owned, or would interlibrary loan a copy. The articles were not kept after the event. Each year we've also been asked if other types of materials can be included; we have computer science faculty that wanted to feature code, or communication professors that wanted to share their documentaries. We try to accommodate each request as best as possible, and will provide iPads or laptops to showcase multi-media publications if need be.
- Promotion - originally, this event was held during open access week in October. Due to the involved nature of this event, that is why most of the faculty publicity and agreements had to be done during the busy back to school time. However, open access week was a great way to contextualize this event. We were able to host a weeks worth of events on the topic, including hosting guest speakers, flash seminars, and authors rights workshops. We would end the week with the Celebration of Faculty Scholarship, and promote the E-Commons. Having the entire week of events made faculty very excited about all of the activities the library had to offer regarding their publishing interests. We pushed out invitations through individual departments, faculty listservs, quarter sheet invites in mailboxes, announcement websites/flat screen monitors on campus, and our library blog.
- Day of Event - this event is one of the biggest events the library does all year, so the staff and faculty at the library take extra care when preparing. The top floor of our information commons is used; tables are set up in a way that facilitates browsing. All articles and books are put nicely on display, along with an 8x10 photograph of the faculty member that published the work. We use the university catering service to order appetizers, a beer and wine bar, and a coffee, tea and pastry table. We open the event up to all faculty and students, and allow them to browse through the materials, chit chat, and hear a few words from our speakers. The Dean always makes a few remarks and introduces the provost. The provost takes time out of his busy schedule to thank the library, recognize faculty scholarship, and even promote the E-Commons.
Last year, we had an extra special promotion. Over the previous summer, our digital services librarian installed a new feature on the E-Commons site. While you're logged into E-Commons, you can see a live map updating where users across the world are downloading the E-Commons content. We set up a 32 inch flat screen TV and as people were attending the event, they could see the actual impact their scholarship was having around the world. The Dean and the Provost were both able to make comments on the library fulfilling the university mission. This marketing strategy had a huge impact on most faculty members; most of them are distracted by the tenure process and are focused on publishing for that purpose - they do not always consider the larger impact the process has on the world, or their field of study. By "tugging at the heartstrings" a bit, faculty members were compelled to participate in a much bigger way than any informational pitch ever could have done.