SPARC Europe on Open Science policy and Education at the LIBER Conference

30th August 2019News, Open Data, Open Education

In late June, around 400 delegates – library directors and their staff – from throughout Europe convened at the 48th Liber Conference in Dublin. SPARC Europe was involved in the joint organisation of a pre-conference workshop titled How European policies and legislation affect academic library leaders and recent changes to copyright, public sector information and Horizon Europe. The purpose of the event: to update the library community on important policy developments and to encourage more library and Open Science leaders to become engaged in local, national information policy-making activities in their countries. During the conference, SPARC Europe also helped organise a panel – Open Science meets Open Education. Below, a summary of keynotes from both sessions. 

Developments in European legislation and what you need to implement it 

During the workshop discussion, How European policies and legislation affect academic library leaders and recent changes to copyright, public sector information and Horizon Europe, a number of challenges to policy development and implementation on a national level were raised. Participants pointed to the weak flow of information between EC and EU policymakers, and individual states and institutions as a cause for concern. 

Since libraries often do not have the in-house skills or personnel to drive policy change locally, a real need exists for the translation of complex legislation into actionable information and a process. With no established international information network, or designated national point of contact, anyone interested in becoming involved on a national level would face challenges knowing where to turn. 

Also key to local implementation is an awareness of the range of stakeholders linked to policy-making locally — along with clear means for those looking to get involved to know how to contact them. Rectors, vice-rectors and researchers need to become more engaged as they often hold more influence than libraries, depending on the institution. 

There was a clear consensus among the workshop participants over the need for the sharing of good practices, in the form of policy implementation stories and documentation, such as legal texts and examples of other national legislation. The suggestion was also made for copyright and information policy to be incorporated into library training curricula to help prepare the librarians of the future. Among ideas put forth for how the international community, including bodies like EBLIDA, EUA, IFLA, LIBER and SPARC Europe, could help libraries engage more on national policy implementation:

  • Providing fact sheets, highlighting good practices, as well as practices to avoid, and how these would affect an institution implementing them
  • Sharing template letters
  • Creating talking points for policymakers
  • Holding master classes / training session, setting up a MOOC
  • Planning a roadshow  
  • Establishing a hotline or query box

During the session, IFLA also presented an advocacy toolkit that they had initially developed to support librarians in policy-making support, to which the coalition contributed. This is the start of more things to come to support the library community on information policy advocacy.

SPARC Europe, and the other coalition organisations, namely EBLIDA, EUA, IFLA, LIBER, will now consider how to approach these ideas in the coming months. 

Open Science meets Open Education

At the Conference, we also helped organise a second panel, together with the University of Utrecht – this one titled Open Science meets Open Education. The plenary session was filled with participants, a strong indication of the interest in this important topic. SPARC Europe framed the panel discussion with a presentation on synergies between Open Science (OS) and Open Education (OE),  and on the particular strengths and competencies of libraries to help deliver on OE. The panel discussed how a more open agenda for the university could be employed to more widely disseminate the university’s outputs; sharing these research and educational assets, and making them more visible. We then discussed forming a bridge between OS and OE, and the opportunities and challenges this would present related to Open policy development and practise. 

The panel agreed that an institutional strategy, rather than a collection of ad hoc initiatives, is needed if Open Education is to advance. And libraries can help drive this change through strong Open Science policy, working collaboratively with Vice-Rectors, educationalists, ICT, and other institutional heads of department, and by helping change the way education is conducted, and resources are accessed and shared. At the same time, libraries can work bottom-up by helping (co-)create OERs. 

As a next step, to help support libraries so that they may assume a more active role in the delivery of Open Education, SPARC Europe will conduct a survey to discover which libraries in Higher Education in Europe are engaged in OE and how. The results of the survey will be published later this year. This will also help inform the European Open Education Librarian Network on where joining forces would be beneficial.

See SPARC Europe’s powerpoint presentation on how Open Science impacts Horizon Europe, the PSI or Open Data Directive and Plan S.

See how we framed the panel, Open Science meets Open Education