Impressions from Liber Conference 2018 in Lille

I was lucky enough to attend this years 47th Liber Annual Conference from 4-6 July in the French city of Lille. The theme was “Research Libraries as an Open Science Hub: from Strategy to Action” which is very much close to my heart. I want to highlight a few interesting presentations and talks I attended. If you want to find out more, presentations are available at and Zenodo.

Liber is quite a big conference. It stretches over three days (plus workshops and Liber group meetings) and was fully booked with 440 delegates from 35 countries.

Conference venue: Lilliad

Keynote Speech: A National Open Science Plan for France

Prof. Frédérique Vidal is the French Minister of Higher Education, Research and Innovation. She used her Keynote Speech to announce the French National Plan for Open Science. Among other things, the Minister declared the introduction of an obligation for open access dissemination of articles and works resulting from publicly funded research projects. You might think that is by now a fairly standard ambition in the EU.

However, Professor Vidal went further and included in her speech Open Data, training, a commitment to European research data infrastructure, the introduction of a “Chief Data Officer” in her Ministry and a budget of “€5.4M the first year and €3.4M the following years”.  What did impress me was the passion with which the announcement was delivered from someone who has real power. I’d be curious to hear from colleagues if the National Plan really has an impact on Open Science in France in the coming years.

Minister Frédérique Vidal

Open Science and academic libraries: managing the change

One theme that ran through the Liber conference was “culture change” acknowledging that the move to Open Science is a profound one that needs a long time to be achieved. Paul Ayris (UCL) and Tiberius Ignat (Scientific Knowlege Services) are experts in this topic having just published the paper “Defining the role of libraries in the Open Science landscape: a reflection on current European practice“. This paper included a diagram of the research cycle mapped against component parts of Open Science which I find really helpful.

Diagram Ayris, Ignat, 2018:

Their talk summarised also the Open Science Roadmap developed by LERU (League of European Research Universities) which provides 41 recommendations (yes, that’s quite a lot) in eight areas of Open Science. Paul and Tiberius recognise that this will be “a complex and multi-dimensional process of transition, different for every university”.

I asked Paul how we can get Senior Management on board who might not see how Open Science relates to their institutional strategic objectives. He gave the example that the UCL University Press which is fully Open Access has generated downloads from 220 countries, an impressive achievement that enhances UCL’s reputation and shows the reach of the “UCL brand”. Senior management will like this statistics very much.

Panel including Paul Ayris and Tiberius Ignat in the centre

To optimize or not to optimize one’s h-index – that is the question…

Part of my role as Research& Scholarly Communications Manager is to coordinate our (developing) Library’s citation analysis services. Therefore, I was curious to hear what Bertil Dorch (University Library of Southern Denmark) had to say about “optimising” researchers’ h-indices.

So, not everyone is familiar with the h-index. It is an author-level metric that attempts to measure both the productivity and the citation impact of scholarly publications. It is quite a simple and influential metric but not without its problems. Bertil and his co-authors looked at quantitative and qualitative data from a sample of 75 Danish researchers to see what recommendations can be made to researchers to increase the h-index.

Their preliminary findings can be found here introducing the concept of effectiveness.

Liber 2018 presentation:

Other impressions

The food! As you might expect from a conference in France the food was excellent. More surprisingly maybe, it was very nice for vegetarians as well!

Vegetarian conference lunch

The Reception on Thursday was a lot of fun. Not least because it was held in the beautiful Palais des Beaux-Arts in central Lille. It’s an art museum that holds paintings of Breughel, Bosch, Goya, Rembrandt and many others and quite a setting for a meeting!

Reception in the Palais des Beaux-Arts

The city! This was my first time in Lille and I liked it. Luckily, I was based in the buzzing old town full of character, bars and restaurants and a lot of young people. It helped that the World Cup was in full flow and France did rather well.

Central square in Lille


At least for me, Liber is a big conference. 430 people and three days long is full on. But that is also the beauty of it. It is broad in its remit and ambitious in its theme. However, it is also quite friendly and approachable despite the fact that it includes a lot of “senior” folks (i.e. Library Directors). While there might be a lack of “practical” things you can take home and implement straight away it provides a lot of food for thought and most importantly a great forum to exchange ideas. I am very much looking forward to Dublin 26-28 June 2019!

Liber Conference plenary
World Cafe at the Conference

More pictures from the Liber Conference 2018 on Flickr!