Interview – Guylaine Beaudry

Concordia University

Guylaine Beaudry, University Librarian

June 2018

Please describe your institution [i.e. medium large, number of students, defining programs] 
We are a comprehensive university, over 48,000 students, no medical or law school; our strongest faculties are engineering and computer science, commerce, huge arts and social science, fine arts is one of our distinctive programs at the national level.

What defining institutional values or characteristics did you have to consider before launching an open access discussion on your campus?
What happened at Concordia is that we were preparing for Congress at Concordia in 2010; Ronald Rudin in the History Department presented the idea of passing an OA resolution, to have a lasting legacy of Congress. I can certainly say that open access is something we’ve discussed often at Concordia, it’s part of our DNA, even, and it was a natural progression to consider such a project, and to have something lasting after Congress.

How did it influence your approach?
We had a very short timeline. Ron and UL Gerald Beasley led all of this; I was AUL at the time. We had a relatively short time line and momentum around the calendar. This timeline did not influence the senators but it did make the decision-making a short cycle. The theme of Congress “Connected Understanding” had something to do with Open access and providing access to knowledge, and this set the tone for our initiative. This helped us to get everything done by the beginning of Congress.

What was the impetus for initiating a policy? What steps were taken to initiate an open access policy on your campus? What was the first thing that needed to happen?
The first thing to happen was to have the conversation on campus; different means were taken, Gerald Beasley [University Librarian at that time] went to many, many departmental meetings to talk about OA. We launched our institutional repository during that period, Spectrum, so there was a physical mechanism to welcome the deposits. One on one conversations, town halls, departmental assemblies, meetings with other committees such as priorities and planning; there were two sessions at Senate, and some back and forth about the wording. It was really focused on the resolution and not on the process. Get the resolution before Congress, and get the IR ready for the beginning of the policy.

What did you consider the best reason the university should invest in devoting time and energy for this discussion?
To take the opportunity to bring this topic to the community and have a conversation. After almost ten years, at least half of the faculty members had an opinion on OA; bringing OA as a topic of discussion was the best reason.

What communication structures did you put in place to compel the University to consider a campus open access policy?
In addition to all of the meetings mentioned already, there were stories published on our website, we had fliers published by the Libraries, and we even had an OA poster which was part of Concordia’s main campaign, in the metro, in magazines, elsewhere; it was part of Concordia’s overall campaign which was really good. This means it goes beyond the Libraries. Taking it to Senate means it was not a library issue, it was an issue owned by the campus and helped to shape who we are as a community.

Please share your story of what you consider the most outstanding or significant milestones of your journey towards an open access policy. 
The vote at Senate; it was also the beginning of something else, further developments.

How did it start and end? 
Within a year, in advance of Congress.

How long did it take start to finish? 
Approved April 16, 2010.

What did you consider indicators that your approach was working well? What difference was the library able to make to enable this work?
Our approach worked well because we had the vote at Senate. If we look at indicators and numbers of papers uploaded, it was not that successful. A large number of faculty members, librarians and staff members contributed to the discussion about OA, thought about it and developed their own opinions. That project was the resolution in itself; other projects started right after focusing on innovation. It was not mandatory, as it is now with the Tri-Council Policy; it was a little bubble before Congress. The Tri-Agency Policy covers so much of the research that is being done, not sure I would focus on a resolution now. I would spend more time on the process now, rather than the resolution. It is now integrated into the policies of the institution, but it is a risk because you never know where the conversation is going to go. I would spend more time on the process and how things will work in the Library, and the interactions with the faculty of grad studies, the research office, and how faculty members will interact with it. When you talk to people, there are very few faculty members who are not willing to upload their publication. What is the biggest impediment now is the interface with the IR; anyone looking at these interfaces will decide they do not have time for the process. There is something we need to do on our side, with the metadata, collecting the data, so there is no work for the faculty members. I would invest my time in this area, since the policy is already a given with the Tri-Council. My guess it is around 80% of research that is funded to some extent by the Tri-Council or affected by the policy. 

What university assets, people or resources were most helpful or instrumental in your journey? 
Library team working on the IR, the librarians who worked with us moving the conversation along around campus at the time, the provost and president were absolutely instrumental in this.

What elements would you have preferred were included in the policy that were discussed and not included?
We asked for mandatory at first but the community was not ready for this; it was better to have the resolution as it is now, to reflect where we are now.

What was the biggest lesson learned? What were the most significant challenges, sticking points, or perceptions you needed to tackle and how did you get past this?
We need a process to upload the documents for faculty members, how to add the metadata, because faculty members do not have time and do not do it that frequently. If they are only doing it three or four times a year, they do not remember how. I think we failed them there, because we are talking about OA but the tools are not performing very well. Some kind of enigma here. Easy to say 10 years after the fact.

What was the biggest surprise?
The discussion was good, there were very strong advocates, and it was a good discussion and debate. Before the Senate meeting we estimated we had at least 66%, and it was passed unanimously. But not a big surprise that it passed.

If you knew what you know now, is there anything you would have done differently?
Providing better tools and spending more time developing the process.

Having adopted an open access policy what are some notable impacts that have evolved since? What were the follow up strategies (is it a living document) how is it integrated and evolving?
It is not a living document, it was passed in 2010 and stays as it is. I have not noted a big impact in comparison to other institutions. For strategies, the process worked very well, it was the only way for our grad students to participate; for faculty it is not very well integrated, and we need to develop something. We are thinking about training our support staff, to upload and create the metadata.

Given the pace with which open access and open scholarship evolves, what elements would you include now that was not anticipated when you began your journey?
I would not go with a Senate resolution; I would work with my VP Research, and our CIO, to develop services for researchers, along with our RDM service development. I would concentrate on getting this right, and asking if we need all of the metadata that we are creating for projects now.

What recommendations do you have for anyone embarking down this journey?
Work with your researchers. The researchers, the Office of Research and the VP Research, because this is something that should be owned by them. The Library works with them to make it happen.

Is there anything else you would like to share?
I think that is it. The questions were very good.