Analysis and news

Librarians adapt to an increasingly digitally focused world Kristina Symes considers the key issues librarians face in relation to enabling access to research online

As a lead technical pre-sales consultant for OpenAthens, I work with librarians every day based in all corners of the globe. As the way we go about our daily lives has evolved around the increasing use of technology, the role of the librarian is no different. For librarians working in sectors such as healthcare or academia, being able to supply secure and authorised, yet easy access to up-to-date reports and research is vital to ensure that quality, curated and reliably sourced information is available to those who need it. We are in a true ‘information age’ and

librarians are in a pivotal position to enable users and audiences to gain access to genuine, reliable and useful published material. They are the gatekeepers to knowledge and learning resources. Having spent a significant amount of time in the industry, I’ve realised technological advances have resulted in the librarian’s role becoming increasingly complex and crucial. The sheer number of technologies a modern-day librarian is now expected to navigate in one day can be overwhelming to even the most experienced of professionals. For many librarians, tackling the technology-based elements of their role creates a huge array of challenges in the workplace. Often, librarians are expected to ‘learn on the job’.

This is no mean feat and can prove to be

incredibly stressful when working in a busy environment, where access to information can be critical to research, study and daily working lives. OpenAthens software aims to eliminate the need to rely on the IT department.

With this in mind, I developed and published my book in March this year, entitled: Access to Online Resources: A Guide for the Modern Librarian. It sets out to offer concise guidance for

librarians, helping them to navigate and understand the challenges, processes and technologies involved in managing access to online resources for both now and the

20 Research Information August/September 2018

future. But crucially, I’ve written it to be accessible – in language and explanation – as I feel there is often an excessive amount of jargon and technical language used to explain some straightforward concepts. While librarians enable access to quality,

selected information sources, it’s not always easy for them to get a clear picture of how technological innovations are affecting – or indeed, improving – ways of accessing information.

research online adheres to internationally recognised information security standards, to spot the early security warning signs and ensure action can be taken before a breach happens. Whenever possible, data exchange on the browser or between applications should be encrypted and stored securely when at rest. There should always be mechanisms

in place to quickly identify potential data security breaches or cyber-attacks. With continual monitoring, IAM products like OpenAthens, will alert the supporting team the moment a security risk or unusual behaviour is detected. This could be something simple such as the same login used from different geographical locations within 24 hours, or a user trying to download vast data in a brief period of time.

The industry collective team, is

“It’s an exciting time to be working in an information management role”

The key issues relating to secure access to content It’s an exciting time to be working in an information management role. Data handling and protection are very much on everyone’s minds. With the sweeping changes to rules on holding and processing personal data which came into force in May, GDPR has focused attention on the vital areas of identity and access management (IAM) and personal data. Protection of digital content is vital for

a successful and trusted IAM solution. Publishers need reassurance that their valuable content is safe, particularly when access is being offered in countries where copyright infringement is a widespread problem. Librarians should feel the product they are using to enable access to

participating in the Ongoing Resource Access for the 21st Century (RA21), is looking at optimising protocols across key stakeholder groups to build a seamless user experience in scientific communication. This includes looking at increased security for management of personal data and protecting the privacy and security of user communities. And finally… the role of the librarian is

increasingly dynamic and changeable as the world around us continues to become more digitally focused. With issues such as data handling, privacy and security there is added pressure on the librarian’s role.

It’s exciting to see how emerging

technologies continue to filter into the world of the librarian and enrich the way people experience knowledge. Librarians are having to be very savvy working with different, sometimes even incompatible, systems.

By sharing this book as open source, so

it’s available to all, I hope to help bridge a gap in technical understanding and provide practical support for librarians everywhere.

Kristina Symes (née Botyriute) is lead technical pre-sales consultant at OpenAthens

@researchinfo |

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