“Thank you for coming… Our goal is to share our passion for community-owned solutions and motivate you to invest in them as well.”
Librarians nationwide pack the Charleston Conference presentation room so that no seat is left empty and eager attendees fill the side aisles to hear the rest of the presentation, “Cultivating agency through emerging community-owned solutions.” Set up as a presentation followed by a panel discussion facilitated by Jason Price from SCELC, co-presenters PALCI Executive Director Jill Morris, PALNI Executive Director Kirsten Leonard, and Index Data LLC CEO Sebastian Hammer shared their community-owned solutions and why the library world needs to cultivate agency.
The session panelists assert that: “Despite the increasing need for efficiency and widespread availability of technology, there seems to be less choice in the library marketplace, and libraries are finding themselves with much less leverage to secure the options they need. Do we buy it from a vendor with increasingly limited choices, build it ourselves, or something in-between?” The topic hit a chord with many attendees who filled the room to hear what PALNI, PALCI, and Index Data LLC have done to grow this “community-owned” movement in their organization and the widespread impact.
PALNI’s role in the panel was to discuss the partnership with PALCI to develop a community-owned solution that addresses the need for a consortial ultra-low cost, open access, collaborative institutional repository (IR). Commercial IR software and hosting services have failed to provide the ability to control costs, support smaller institutions, and provide workflows to enable institutions to work together effectively to leverage expertise and reduce the duplication of work. To address this need, the PALNI/PALCI project has four levels of community agency, engagement, and ownership:
- Sharing open access materials
- Using open-source, community-owned and developed tools
- Partnering with other consortia and developers to setup and maintain the tools
- Developing models for the collaborative use of the developed tools
The attendees were encouraged to not only be aware of these community-owned projects but to take action by transforming the way they work within their own sphere of influence. Rather than working in isolation and duplicating efforts, the presenters urged them to help develop business model analysis and product sustainability skills, efficient communication across libraries, structures/framework to support deep collaboration, and partner with departments and other organizations outside the library with similar needs.
Challenges in higher education not only tighten already strapped library budgets but also the time available to fully understand and reflect on the development needs of systems and tools. These initiatives are work-intensive, but by working together at scale, libraries can regain the driver-seat in developing the tools to meet user needs while controlling costs and decision-making.
The speakers have been invited to contribute an article on the session for the Charleston Voices series to expand on the discussion.
A video recording of the session can be viewed on the Charleston Conference’s Youtube page: https://youtu.be/M6j0np1mUIA