Scholcomm’s “killer app” ain’t an app, it’s a website curated by librarians–the ultimate information experts.
A little over a year ago, I quietly built and launched the best portal to find high-quality scholarly communication research: TheIdealis.org.
Borrowing from the amazing precedent set by DHNow, The Idealis is a curation and notification service based on PressForward and WordPress.
The Idealis is an OA twofer: it makes it effortless for readers to find the best new OA scholcomm research, and it incentivizes OA publication and self-deposit among authors.
Pretty great, right?
Well, since its launch, The Idealis has gone nowhere.
I think it’s because I need a co-founder. Here’s why.
It was relatively easy to respond to Micah Vandegrift’s original call for an LIS PLOS ONE*, to interview a bunch of librarians and technologists to find out what their needs were, to spin up a web portal and establish a workflow to get an initial batch of content into that web portal.
The hard part has been moving forward.
Day-to-day, it’s difficult to remember to add new content to The Idealis after I find it online. Every time I forget, it feels like failure. (I’m pretty hard on myself.)
But the bigger issue may be getting over my own hesitation to bring volunteers on board. I’ve had a few people reach out, but I’m paralyzed when it comes to getting them involved. I’m worried that they’re going to be over-committed, like all the other librarians I seem to know. (To be clear, I have no evidence that any of the wonderful people who’ve volunteered to date are actually over-committed–I’m just assuming they are. :))
Also, I’m a pessimist. I find it all-too-easy to throw my hands up and say, “Why bother?” when I imagine a future of trying to coax volunteer time out of others, promote The Idealis as an alternative to Google-frigging-Scholar‘s article recommendation engines, or even simply compel myself to work on this project during evenings and weekends, on top of my awesome 9-5 job. I assume that it’s probably all too hard, and instead of “wasting” time, I start cuddling my pet Chihuahua, Tina Turner.
That’s why I need a co-founder.
I need someone who believes that harnessing the untapped power of librarians is the best way to combat the “data deluge” facing us all. I need someone to be accountable to. I need someone who’s optimistic, who’s good at giving pep talks, who is comfortable delegating and being delegated to. I need a good communicator. I need someone who gets things done. I need someone who respects work-life balance. I need someone who knows when to kill their darlings, and when to push through the hard parts towards victory.
I need you.
If you’ve checked out The Idealis, believe in its mission, can make time to meet regularly, want to both help edit and manage editors, are unafraid to tackle larger questions of library labor (and uncompensated labor within The Academy at large), and are interested in automation, productivity, personal growth and Essentialism–we should talk.
As for what I bring to the table? I’ve got A Vision, plus: deep roots within the library scholcomm and wider scholcomm communities, tons of outreach and marketing experience, a preference for Doing Things over and above Talking About Doing Things, a willingness to do shitwork in the service of providing for the Common Good, and heaps of discipline (once I’m properly motivated).
So, let’s make this happen.
* Micah puts out a call for an “LIS PLOS ONE” informally every few months, whether on Twitter or the SCHOLCOMM listserv. But it turns out that no one wants yet another place to publish (sorry, Micah)–they need a trusted place to find the very best OA literature that’s already out there, in all its formats (beyond articles towards publications, websites, white papers, and all the other materials that librarians produce much more often than they write up for journals). That place is an aggregation service, not a journal.