Libro Futuro

Librarians in Canada. Predatory publishing and more. Mario Coffa interviews Jairo Buitrago

Entrevista en español

Intervista in italiano

Jairo Buitrago Ciro is a PhD student in Digital Transformation and Innovation at the University of Ottawa in Ontario, Canada and holds a Masters in Information Sciences from the same university. Accredited by the American Library Association (ALA). He has worked in some university libraries in Canada. He also worked as director of the services library at a university in Colombia. He was a research assistant at the University of Ottawa for several years. His research areas include the challenges of new academic communication models such as open access. He is particularly interested in the phenomenon of predatory publishing and how researchers can be helped to prevent it. One of his research projects has been to provide science communication literacy seminars to academic librarians in different Latin American countries to inform their researchers and help them avoid falling victim to predatory newspapers, conferences and publishers. Among other research areas, he is interested in machine translation as a tool for removing language barriers to the dissemination and assimilation of science.

Jairo, to start, can you briefly tell us what you do and the specialist sector that characterizes you the most?

I am currently a PhD candidate in Digital Transformation and Innovation at the University of Ottawa. As you will understand, a doctorate is almost a full-time job, so a large part of my time is currently dedicated to completing my doctorate, which I hope to finish in the coming months. However, I also have other activities, but part time at the university. I currently work at the French-Canadian Civilization Research Center at the University of Ottawa. In parallel, I work on other research projects. I started working in the area of ​​information sciences in a university library in the province of Quebec, when I was finishing my master’s degree in information sciences at the University of Ottawa. Since then I have worked particularly in this sector. From my line of research, particularly in my doctorate, I have specialized in the challenges of new models of academic communication such as free access. Particularly the problem of predatory publications and the way in which academic libraries can respond and help their students and researchers in the face of this phenomenon.

What does it mean to be a librarian in Canada? Is there a legal recognition of the profession? What path should you follow to become a librarian? 

As you know, there are several types of libraries. There are academic, public, school or specialized. I start by saying this, because my experience has been more focused on academic or university libraries and possibly my answer to these questions does not fully identify those who work in other types of libraries than academic ones. In general, and according to the National Occupational Classification System, being a librarian in Canada means that you are doing a professional job that requires a university education. For its part, the profession of academic librarian in Canada is a profession that has been evolving and gaining recognition in Canadian universities, due to the fundamental role that academic librarians play as information professionals in the management, access and dissemination of information. of the information. At many Canadian universities, academic librarians work closely with faculty. Many play an important role in the scientific production cycle of their universities. They also actively participate in research and the production of new knowledge. In many Canadian universities, librarians have university status or are part of the faculty union. Even in some universities, librarians can access a gap year. Likewise, they can access research scholarships and other benefits than the rest of the academic staff. This means that there is indeed not only legal, but also social and academic recognition of the librarian profession in Canada. To be a librarian in Canada, you generally must have a bachelor’s degree in any discipline and a master’s degree in information science from a program accredited by the American Library Association.

You deal with digital. Do you believe that the experience of the Covid19 pandemic has accelerated the digital transformation process already underway before? How can libraries possibly exploit this opportunity?

Yes, and although digital transformation processes were already a priority for many companies and governments in the medium and long term, this pandemic has not only accelerated the speed of these processes, but has also become a measuring instrument to assess how that we are taking advantage of technologies to create collaborative environments through innovation. Likewise, we have been adapting to the changes caused particularly by confinement, where we went from face-to-face activity to an online environment. New technologies are known to be useful to the extent that people know how to use and apply them. However, the pandemic has exposed and raised certain challenges of digital transformation. Challenges such as digital gaps, computer security, the need for training in digital skills. For their part, libraries that are perceived as guarantors of access to knowledge and in turn have an important role in literacy and learning of the population, can take advantage of these challenges of digital transformation to help users adapt to changes technological. Libraries are well positioned to quickly implement initiatives and new services to help communities meet the challenges of digital transformation.

The thing that struck me most about your skills is the subject of predatory publishing. Can you explain us better what it is and what your work consists of?

Thanks for the question and for the attention you give to the topic of predatory posts Mario. As I mentioned initially, I am interested in the challenges of the new models of academic communication. Particularly because of what is known as the phenomenon of predatory publications. Predatory publications are entities that have been exploiting the scientific publication system for a decade. Although initially the term predatory journal was used as a neologism to identify this problem, it is important to note that today the phenomenon of predatory publishing involves not only journals, but also predatory publishers and conferences. These entities, particularly predatory journals, present themselves as legitimate open access publishing; they also promise a fast review process. However, the peer review process is questionable. Predatory publications have been misleading researchers, particularly less experienced ones. Many of these researchers, pressured by the need to publish or participate in international conferences, coupled with ignorance of this problem, end up being victims of predatory publications. From my line of research, I have been interested in studying this phenomenon. Likewise, I have been working particularly with universities in Latin America, to inform and help their academic communities (librarians, students, professors) so that they are not victims of predatory journals, editors, or conferences.

This project, the Library World Tour, is based on sharing and creating a network open to all and all the interviews are obviously open to access and in Open Access. Do you think this idea of ​​international sharing can be useful today and in the future to “unite” the profession, albeit professionally?

Totally agree Mario. One of the things that caught my attention about this project is the collaborative aspect at an international level. The exchange of knowledge through a professional network will always be positive. For example, I have had the opportunity to work together with some universities in Latin America, particularly with academic librarians on the issue of the challenges of scholarly communication and predatory publishing. I have experienced that these international exchanges are not only useful to unite as professionals, but also to exchange ideas, common projects or topics of interest that can benefit the community in general.

What would you recommend to a young student who wants to become a librarian one day?

Being a librarian is a very rewarding profession where you will be connecting people with information. If you want to be a librarian, there are a few things you should keep in mind:

  • You must be prepared for change;
  • You must be connected to reality;
  • You must be able to serve;
  • You must learn to interact with people;
  • You must learn to listen;
  • You must be in the process of training and continuous learning.




Mario Coffa
Mario Coffa
Mario Coffa archivista e bibliotecario, laureato in Conservazione dei Beni Culturali presso l’Università degli Studi di Perugia (2005) e diplomato in Archivistica e Paleografia presso la Scuola di Archivistica dell’Archivio Segreto Vaticano (2010). Dal 2010 Lavora per CAeB (Cooperativa Archivistica e Bibliotecaria) presso le biblioteche dell’Università di Perugia come bibliotecario e come archivista presso l'Archivio Storico del Comune di Gubbio. Si occupa di Biblioteche Digitali e formazione in ambito di biblioteconomia digitale. Nel 2014 membro del Comitato Esecutivo Regionale dell’Associazione Italiana Biblioteche (AIB) sezione Umbria, membro del gruppo AIB sul portfolio professionale e nel triennio 2017-2020 Presidente eletto di AIB Umbria. Dal 2020 membro dell'Osservatorio Formazione dell'Associazione Italiana Biblioteche. Autore di diversi articoli e interviste per Insula Europea sul tema degli archivi, delle biblioteche e del digital lending.