UPDATE! Meet Ann Viera: a Veterinary Medicine Librarian who has dedicated her career to providing access to knowledge

UPDATE:

As Ann mentioned in this interview, in lieu of a retirement event or retirement gifts she asked her colleagues at  the University of Tennessee to donate to UT’s PeerJ Open Access Fund. The response was quite remarkable, and we have recently added those contributions – totaling $3,225 – to the UT Open Access fund at PeerJ.  PeerJ also wanted to celebrate Ann’s contribution to librarianship and open access, and were delighted to round the retirement gift up to $4,000.  We can also report that Ann is thoroughly enjoying retirement, including rekindling her love for ping pong! We wish Ann all the best and thank her once again for all she has done in her career.

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For many years now, PeerJ has been fortunate to have had the unstinting support and input of Ann Viera, from the Pendergrass AG-VET MED library at the University of Tennessee, so it was a sad day when we learned that Ann would soon be retiring after a life-long career in librarianship.

Ann has been a tireless supporter of ours since our first encounter – at every opportunity, she has promoted our advantages to her faculty, as well as to the wider world via Twitter. Pete was very pleased to have had the opportunity to meet her and her husband in San Diego in December of 2017 and they made sure they put the world to rights over a strong cup of coffee.

Thanks to Ann’s promotion and funding of the UT institutional arrangement we are proud to have published a large number of UT research articles over the last several years, most of them from the veterinary school. When we heard about her retirement we wanted to make sure that we recognized that she has been one of the most vocal and enthusiastic advocates of open access in general, and PeerJ in particular. We hope that Ann will continue to be interested in new developments in open access publishing, and we wish her all the best in the future!

To help mark her retirement, we asked Ann to reflect a little about her career, her involvement in PeerJ and where she sees open access developing in the future.

Jason Hoyt and Pete Binfield

PeerJ Co-Founders



Pendergrass Agriculture & Veterinary Medicine Library – University of Tennessee, Knoxville

What led you to a life of librarianship?

There was a very engaged high school librarian at Kaiser High in Honolulu.  Also, at UC San Diego, Marc Gittlesohn in the Undergraduate Library was a huge influence on me, as was Ruth Blitz at UC Berkeley.  She taught a class on science librarianship which included guest speakers from bio/medical libraries. 

While at UCB I learned a lot cataloging during a practicum at Planetree Health Resource Center, and continued learning in San Francisco. After two years in a special library in an engineering firm in San Diego, we moved to Knoxville, Tennessee. I worked for the UT Libraries in cataloging and as Engineering Librarian.  I became the veterinary medicine librarian in 1987, fulfilling a goal I have had since grad school to work in medical librarianship.

You’ve witnessed and stewarded revolutionary changes to the library and research landscape. What would you say have been the most significant, and the most challenging?

The most challenging is the research assessment culture but I remain hopeful because of DORA and RIOT Science Club.
The most significant change I’ve seen is PeerJ. A larger percentage of veterinary literature relative to human medical literature is still not available digitally. There is also much less funding for veterinary medicine research.  Veterinary medicine is a tiny community of practice with a huge mandate: protect the health of all species but one, and also while you’re at it, with less funding, protect human health too (now called OneHealth).  Growing as a veterinary librarian plus my experiences fielding requests from citizens, veterinarians, and government employees needing access to the veterinary literature, combined with the UT Libraries engagement with issues in scholarly communication, all added up to my being able to see how significant the low-cost innovations on offer from PeerJ are to libraries, veterinary and bioscience authors (and now chemistry too!)

Which of your many achievements do you see as the most important?

In addition to my day job as a veterinary librarian (without management responsibilities), I’m pleased about my work on bioscience scholarly communication issues. The major efforts are listed on my ORCID page. One of those efforts, a highlight of my career, has been finding PeerJ and establishing the UT Libraries’ institutional plan with Peer J, with my UT librarian colleague Peter Fernandez. Here is the PeerJ UT page

I felt so strongly that, even before universities had to shut down due to the pandemic, it was my goal to offer a way to donate to our institutional arrangement with PeerJ in lieu of a retirement event.

We are very lucky to count you as a “fan” of PeerJ! What is it about PeerJ that has made you want to champion us?

It began with a webinar PeerJ co-founder Pete Binfield gave to the ASERL library consortium in 2014  “Open Access Megajournals – What you need to know about how this model is changing journal publishing”.   The rest of our involvement is documented here. After the ASERL Webinar, we read the case studies supplied by PeerJ (thank you for leading, Oregon State!), and watched other Webinars given by Pete Binfield and the PeerJ Team.  At each step, our confidence in PeerJ, in the PeerJ business model and integrity of the PeerJ team was reinforced.  The PeerJ attention to UX and professionalism continues through all of our interactions.

What advice do you have for future librarians and their patrons?

Right now in June 2020, in scholarly communication, pay attention to Chris Bourg at MIT and the MIT Framework for Publishing Contracts.

Do you have any predictions for the next big movement in academic publishing and librarianship?

See Chris Bourg/MIT above.

What are your plans for retirement?

Expend as little carbon as possible while helping make Knoxville Tennessee better.

Thank you for sharing your career journey with us, Ann! You can find out more about PeerJ’s Institutional Plans here

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