Colleen is what one might call a “jack of all trades” at the Academies Libraries, providing essential services for many leading international scholars. We sat down (virtually, of course) with Colleen to ask her about how she uses altmetrics in her current role, and what tips she has for others working with government or library services that want to advocate for altmetrics at their institutions.
Tell me about your current work at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine Library & Research Center. What does a typical day look like for you?
Definitely coffee first. After the proper amount of caffeine I spend my day managing our electronic resources, websites, interlibrary loan, cataloging and impact services. In between I answer reference questions, teach workshops, evaluate new digital tools and platforms and spend a large chunk of time reaching out to staff and inserting the library services into their workflow.
How do you use altmetrics in your current job?
We’ve created an Impact LibGuide Service for our staff. By request, the library curates information on the impact an NAS product has made in the press, legislation, peer reviewed research and altmetrics. Collecting the traditional metrics takes time, so by adding the altmetrics piece we can now provide immediate qualitative feedback. We compile all of this data into an Impact Summary, which staff can use to communicate the impact of their work to executives and sponsors and hopefully increase business opportunities for the institution.
We work closely with the National Academies Press and they have embedded the Altmetric badge into their website alongside additional usage metrics like downloads and views for each report. This is a terrific marketing tool that allows a web page visitor to view online attention and gain valuable insight into what the public and the scientific community think about a report. Click on the “stats” tab here for an example.
We also teach a workshop, “Motivational Metrics: Using Data to Communicate Impact”. We demonstrate all of the metric tools and impact services available to the staff which includes a large portion on the Altmetric Explorer for Institutions platform. We also take this time to query staff about how they might want to use impact data and what their challenges are in collecting and using the information.
Where did you first learn of altmetrics?
About two years ago, I was in the middle of evaluating the current altmetrics tools available and two of my colleagues came back from different professional conferences and shared the information. Altmetrics was a hot topic at that time.
What advantages do you think altmetrics can offer researchers and librarians working in government, specifically?
The information you can collect about a report, workshop summary, article or other product using altmetrics helps you understand its national or global influence. You can package that information for your executives, sponsors, and the consumer to demonstrate the value in the products you deliver. Ideally, altmetrics will help decision makers and national leaders understand that what you do has tangible value.
What advice do you have for other librarians interested in advocating for altmetrics at their institutions?
Start the conversation. Reach out to staff and find out what kind of information is important to their work. Do they use social media to communicate impact? Are they required to report to executives or sponsors about impact? Once you have a feel for what staff need, offer regular workshops that highlight multiple methods, sources, and tools to collect and analyze quantitative and qualitative impacts. Marketing altmetrics as a compliment to traditional metrics and demonstrating their ability to track immediate response from both researchers and the general public worked well for my institution.
Colleen is one of over 200 librarians, researchers, administrators, publishers, and students who are so passionate about Altmetric that they’ve volunteered to be an Altmetric Ambassador. We’re grateful for her service, and are proud to call her an Ambassador!