Academic libraries are looking for ways to better support the research enterprise at their universities. Auburn University Libraries’ recent efforts were presented as a model for cooperative research endeavors at the Coalition for Networked Information’s fall membership meeting in Washington, D.C., on December 9-10, 2019.
Dr. Mallory Lucier-Greer, associate professor in the College of Human Sciences, Denise Baker, manager of Information Technologies at Auburn University Libraries, and Aaron Trehub, assistant dean of Technology and Special Collections and Archives at Auburn University Libraries, gave a project briefing entitled “The Academic Library as IT Partner: Supporting Sponsored Research at Auburn University”. The briefing described the collaboration between the AU Libraries and CHS on the Military REACH Project, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of Defense.
Dr. Lucier-Greer gave an overview of Military REACH, recounting how the project came to Auburn and emphasizing the importance of getting the results of academic research to the target community—in this case, military families—quickly and in an easily usable form, “Each year hundreds of studies across the country are conducted about the well-being of service members and their families. By collaborating with different departments across campus, like the Auburn Libraries, we have the opportunity to identify those studies and make them accessible to families, helping professionals, and policymakers."
Ms. Baker and Mr. Trehub described the collaboration from the point of view of the libraries, saying that providing high-level IT support to the Military REACH Project has highlighted a new service model for the libraries. As Mr. Trehub put it, serving as a source of IT expertise for externally funded research projects at Auburn “directly supports the research priorities of the university and plays to the library’s comparative advantage in this area.” All three speakers pointed to the publicity value of these kinds of projects, showing a photo of the Military REACH team being saluted on the field at Jordan-Hare Stadium during the Military Recognition Day football game against Ole Miss on November 2, 2019.
The project briefing was well-attended and well-received, with a standing-room-only audience and positive feedback from attendees. “Auburn University Libraries’ unique partnership with Military REACH is a striking example of how libraries can accelerate access to leading research by our communities,” said Leonora Crema, Scholarly Communications and Copyright Services Librarian at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. “As librarians interested in fostering community engagement, we can learn much from their experience.” Ms. Crema singled out Military REACH and Auburn University as models for other universities during her presentation the following day at a Mellon Foundation-funded symposium on “Critical Roles for Libraries in Today’s Research Enterprise”.
More information about Military REACH can be found here: https://militaryreach.auburn.edu/