Reflections on LaGuardia Community College Library’s First Scholarly Communications Internship

This post was contributed by Kathleen Fox, Fall 2017 Scholarly Communicatons Intern at LaGuardia Community College Library and recent graduate of Queens College Graduate School of Library and Information Studies.

In the Fall 2017 semester, I completed a Scholarly Communications Internship at LaGuardia Community College’s Library. I never thought that I could fit an internship into my coursework since I had always worked full-time while in graduate school for my Master of Library Science. When I looked at the class offerings for Fall 2017, my last semester in the program, there was a limited choice of electives that would fit my schedule. When I saw that Liz Jardine and Ann Matsuuchi were looking for an intern, I knew I had to throw my hat into the ring and if offered the position, to make it work.  

I recall having difficulty grasping the concept of scholarly communications when I was first introduced to the idea in Fundamentals of Library Science. Undoubtedly the textbook referred to scholarly communications as it is defined by the Association of College and Research Libraries, “the system through which research and other scholarly writings are created, evaluated for quality, disseminated to the scholarly community, and preserved for future use”.  It is a simple definition but also a broad one. I wondered what scholarly communications looked like in practice.   

It wasn’t until a year later that I revisited the concept again through my work at the health sciences library of a teaching hospital. I became professionally interested in information behavior of clinical faculty and their pupils and their students. Information-seeking behavior gets a lot of attention in the library and information science literature, but there are other information practices too, like management, use, foraging, and dissemination.

The internship at LaGuardia allowed me to look closely at the information dissemination, research, and scholarship practices of a multidisciplinary faculty base. One of my projects was to review two years’ worth of copyright permissions of recent faculty scholarship to determine eligibility for inclusion in CUNY’s institutional repository. The database Sherpa/Romeo was essential to this process. As of Jan 29 2018, it contains records for 2,474 publishers’ copyright and self-archiving policies. You will be pleasantly surprised to know that out of the total publishers indexed in Sherpa/Romeo, over 81% allow some form of a manuscript to be posted on either a personal website or an institutional repository.

Speaking of institutional repositories, another one of my duties was to promote CUNY Academic Works. As I was writing for the Library’s bi-weekly Tumblr series Faculty Fridays, I plugged Academic Works every chance I could, tying contribution to the repository with scholarly communications related issues, like creative commons licensing and the open access movement. My last post in the series was inspired by Monica Berger’s beautifully written post, It’s Not Just Always About You: Thinking about Preservation and Academic Works.  “[W]hen you share your work in Academic Works,” Berger writes, “…you are making a major contribution to a sustainable scholarly future.” Not only did I become versed in scholarly communications issues myself, but writing for the Tumblr series was an excellent learning experience in writing for social media (brevity is key!).

In addition to my assignments, I was able to attend professional development events: the Open Access Symposium at SUNY Stony Brook and the CUNY IT conference at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice.  The morning of CUNY IT, the Office of Library Services Copyright Committee hosted an Open Mic/Unconference. Led by Nora Almeida and Ian McDermott, the librarians shared their local efforts at open educational resources and copyright programming:

    • Ian McDermott (LaGuardia) made a GIF about OERs to be shared on research guides and asserted “free to the student does not equal OER.” He also presented on behalf on Miriam Deutsch (Brooklyn) and shared Brooklyn College Library’s OER research guide.
    • Madeline Cohen (Lehman) discussed Lehman’s efforts at teaching faculty about proper attribution. She also shared this attribution builder, a tool supported by Open Washington which helps users appropriately credit openly licensed works.
    • Kathleen Collins (John Jay) designed a Prezi which championed the exercise of fair use and taking advantage of content.
    • Liz Jardine (LaGuardia) spoke about their recent launch of their Learning Matters! Assignment Library, in which all works must posses a creative commons license. “Creative commons works with copyright, it doesn’t replace it,” Liz has learned to tell faculty. Her takeaway for the audience was to contextualize open licensing as it relates to copyright.
    • Cailean Cooney, Nora Almeida, and Monica Berger demonstrated an interactive activity they conduct with their OER faculty fellows. The activity links to a variety of scholarly and artistic works from a variety of sources (the New York Times, Lumen Learning, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, CUNY Academic Works,, Proquest Ebook Central, etc.) The fellows are assigned one of the links so they can identify where on the spectrum of copyright permissions that work lies, so that faculty may begin thinking about the reuse of their own and other works.

The community of CUNY librarians are inspiring and dynamic. My supervisors, Liz Jardine and Ann Matsuuchi, took me under their wing. Together, we presented an Open Access Week event on creating and maintaining a digital scholarly presence. Liz’s background in drama/the performing arts really came through in her presentation—she was animated and engaging. Ann let me observe her during a bibliographic instruction session. From that session, I learned that one way to connect with undergraduates and to teach information literacy is to have a conversation. Liz taught me how to look for copyright permissions on a publishers’ website when there is no entry for it in Sherpa/Romeo. She made herself available to me at all times, both on campus and remotely. Whenever she saw a pertinent Tweet or email from a listserv, she sent it my way.

Thank you both.

The Scholarly Communications internship at LaGuardia Community College was an invaluable experience. Part of my grade was contingent upon a site visit from one of the professors in my program.  She asked me to reflect on my internship, and I told her that the experience reaffirmed the kind of environment I want to work in.  

I was also reminded of an article we read for one of our class meetings, Real Learning Connections. Bird and Crumpton assert that internships are reciprocal and experiential learning opportunities which utilize the strengths of all parties involved: the faculty educator, the library practitioner, and the student intern.

You can find an open access version of Bird and Crumpton’s article here.

Correction: This original version of this article incorrectly listed Maura Smale as the third person speaking about the OER interactive activity. This version correctly lists Monica Berger as the third presenter.

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