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CIVICA library network and Open Science: a Q&A with Sciences Po representatives


Meet the CIVICA representatives at Sciences Po, responsible for the library network and Open Science.

Did you know that in the framework of CIVICA the libraries of the partner universities are connected in a network? We have interviewed three representatives, involved in the CIVICA library network at the Scientific Information and Resources Department (DRIS) of Sciences Po: Cécile Touitou, Head of the Prospective Unit and CIVICA co-coordinator; Sophie Forcadell, Open Science coordinator; and Marc Martinez, Director.

Could you describe your role with the CIVICA library network? 

Cécile Touitou: I joined the project in late spring 2021 to implement the "Mapping of Alliance Library Facilities." This compelling project has served to consolidate a shared picture of the libraries existing within and across different universities. What resources and means do libraries have at their disposal? Who are their audience and what services do they offer? And their ambitions regarding a future European library?

Using this inventory, shared with participants last December, as a jumping-off point, we held four workshops with Sophie Forcadell to expand reflection on the project. The workshops respectively focused on defining the needs of European students, the information resources it could be desirable to make available via a common portal, the services that could be put on offer, as well as the future librarian network.

Sophie Forcadell: The Scientific Directorate of Sciences Po called on me to contribute to the Open Science dimension of CIVICA Research. This was an opportunity to put forward an ambitious common vision for the opening of research results. Since the start of the project, my colleague Cécile and I have been involved in research work, both as task leaders and contributors.

We have brought on board 12 colleagues from the Sciences Po library to carry out these activities, which cover a highly broad range of questions: How can we improve support for the opening of research data in specific disciplines and methods while leveraging the combined efforts of dedicated staff at the alliance level? What kinds of expert and innovative instruction ought to be offered to PhD researchers? What recommendations might be made towards implementing openness indicators in research assessment?

Which potential do you see the CIVICA library network unleash? 

Cécile: As I am in charge of usage surveys at the library since 2014, I am particularly interested in identifying the manners in which European students use information. Are there any national specificities? Do educational prescriptions concerning documentation and reading material differ depending on the institution? How can we better cater to needs and anticipate changes in usage already measurably felt after the COVID years that kept students away from campuses? Where do academic libraries fit in the information ecosystem into which students are immersed? How do we go to those places where library services are needed, without lapsing into wishful thinking or undue modesty? These are cherished topics of mine, and I believe that the endeavor to ground a European library offer in concrete needs is a beautiful challenge.

Sophie: Concerning the discretely complex issue of open science, the emulation and sharing of knowledge between counterparts working in the research support offices of different partner universities is beneficial indeed. Once we move into the implementation phase of activities and services, it will also be of great benefit to researchers. The interactions underway are highly rich, even if we have to get to know each other and grow accustomed to the eminently multicultural nature of our cooperation. I believe that we can genuinely claim with regard to this project that we are stronger when we work together!

Marc Martinez: This project, which has turned into a reality throughout the last months, offers a novel aspect in my mind: that of a European Universities alliance, with a very operational, brick-and-mortar quality compared to the structure I worked for in my previous position, more top-down and institutional than CIVICA.

Has Sciences Po's involvement in the CIVICA project altered the way you think about your job?

Cécile: In this capacity, I have had the opportunity to work with library colleagues from across the alliance. The near-daily exchanges with my CIVICA colleagues are very enriching and have already begun to spur the growth of a European identity. This has allowed me to take a look back on my work in order to hone my future collaboration with colleagues who have different working practices.

Sophie: My involvement in CIVICA Research gives me a window of insight in my role as Coordinator of Open Science at the library and as a contributor to CIVICA's Open Science and Data Processing working group. It has enabled me to view my work from an international perspective, to draw on the contributions of my partner colleagues and to gain a clearer vision on how open science is evolving.

Marc: I discovered the full scale of the CIVICA project on arriving at Sciences Po last September. Its implementation is new territory for me, with regard to the library director duties I have held until now. The prospect of working in a network with ten counterparts on a European scale has certainly peaked my curiosity!

CIVICA is slated to enter into a new phase at the end of 2022. Could you summarise what will be changing?

Cécile: As an individual, I think and hope that the contacts with my counterparts who deal with the uses and segmentation of library users' needs will prove exciting and offer new perspectives for the university's future, in the broadest sense, and for the part played by documentation within it.

Sophie: I would be most proud to contribute to a substantive and fruitful cooperation with our CIVICA library partners. The benefits are expected to be tangible for students and researchers, who stand to gain expanded access to valuable and well-curated resources as well as more expert services which are better tailored to their needs. The benefits will also be perceptible for librarians, who will be partaking in an unprecedented multicultural cooperation with 10 partners and building out a high value-added peer network.

Marc: For the Scientific Information and Resources Department, the next four years will be focused on making CIVICA a practical reality for students and researchers at Sciences Po and its partner institutions. The challenge for us will be to gradually transform our organisation and operations, starting in 2022, and to integrate CIVICA into the work performed by our teams, both day-to-day and in the long term.


Written by the Sciences Po’s editorial team