Tim Wales recently joined the University of West London as Director of Library Services. He was previously Head of Library at the London Business School and Associate Director (E-Strategy) at Royal Holloway, University of London.
This week sees the formal publication of my new book for Ashgate, Business School Libraries in the 21st Century. A lot has happened since I started writing and editing the book in August 2012 with my fellow contributors around the world, not least the fact that I changed jobs during its final gestation period and moved out of the business school library sector to take on a more general academic library leadership role at The University of West London.
This change has left me feeling somewhat conflicted about the book: depending on my frame of my mind, I see it serving as an effective “capstone” (to use MBA programme jargon) for my time spent leading a business school library with a nice piece of international collaboration to capture the common sets of issues business school libraries around the world are having to confront and deal with.
Or, alternatively, I see it as a “tombstone” for my time in charge at London Business School Library (LBS) – this is because the strategic planning exercise for the Library’s future that I describe in Chapter 12 will continue under the aegis of an interim Head of Library (currently being appointed) reporting to a senior Library Review group. I am not so vain to presume that the future scenarios for the Library that I came up with are the only possible variations and so I will be watching through my fingers as events play out in Regent’s Park in the next 12 months. Two predictions though: 1) the Library’s reporting line in the organisational structure will change from being part of IT (it is always fascinating to discover how many different variations Library reporting lines can throw up around the world) and 2) the Library team will move into the School’s new Sammy Ofer Centre on the Marylebone Road in some shape or form in 2017.
I should also say that I feel very proud to have published my first professional book just as I was proud to have published various professional articles in the past and written a chapter for another Ashgate book on academic libraries for my friend, fellow contributor and business library head, Andy Priestner. Not only do these publications give me ideal testing and demoing metadata for use with Library systems, citation databases and altmetrics, they give me the means to understand the publishing cycle and associated processes for the academic community I support. This in turn gives me a little more professional credibility at a senior level and, crucially, the opportunity to experience at first hand the issues wrapped up in my role as Director of Library Services: academic dissemination and visibility, publisher processes and agreements, open access publishing (OA) not to mention working remotely within a defined virtual subject community internationally to name just a few.
OA in relation to my own situation with this book deserves further brief comment. I remember having discussions with senior managers at LBS regarding how to handle publications of faculty who had since left the School. Should associated metadata and outputs be left in the publications database or not? The scenario did not extend to non-faculty staff who happened to publish as there was no tradition of including such staff in the publications database anyway (I’m deliberately not using the word “repository” by the way). So having carefully chosen a publisher like Ashgate that permits green OA chapter deposits in repositories, but with nowhere now to deposit them as I have left my associated institution, where can I deposit my chapters to fulfil my moral and ethical duties as a librarian? Thankfully, there is a OA refuge for nomadic authors like me in my situation, it’s called OpenDepot. By the way, my book includes a very interesting chapter on the OA situation in France by Agnès Melot and Sophie Forcadell from HEC Paris.
So would I edit such a book again? However good your contributors, it is undoubtedly hard work to keep an eye on all the details all of the times and and it is very easy to lose momentum and interest through the proofing stages. I don’t think I will be able to read the book myself for another two years as I am sick of the sight of the text but also afraid that I will uncover mistakes or omissions! At times, it was like an extension of the day job in terms of managing people over whom you have no formal control but require their co-operation in order to complete a task to a required degree of quality by a certain date. The worst part was having to gently encourage (by email) two prospective contributors to withdraw their draft chapter voluntarily and rewrite it e.g. as a journal article instead, without hurting their feelings or injuring their professional pride.This leads me to think that my next publication will be a sole author work in whatever shape or form.
Why should you read this book? Well, it collates (original) material together which you will not encounter elsewhere, including some primary research and original change management case studies for libraries in the USA, Europe and Asia (like all good MBA courses!) as well as some thought-provoking opinion pieces from respected librarians in the sector. And, as it is emphatically not a “how to be a business librarian” or “how to answer business queries” book, then it has general relevance for senior library professionals and managers working in tertiary education with English as a first or second language. It also has a very touching and personal foreword by the Dean of Harvard Business School, Nitin Nohria, about the importance of academic libraries in his own career which is eminently citable in its own right. Enjoy…
The author writes this blog post in a personal capacity.