Jakob Povl Holck, University Library of Southern Denmark

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24 Mar 2020

Jakob Povl Holck, University Library of Southern Denmark

Research Librarian


RDA's 10,000th Member!

As a research librarian, I am in a position where I do my own research as well as provide a service to the researchers and to the other patrons at the University of Southern Denmark in Odense. I am a subject specialist for German language and literature, classical antiquity, philosophy, religion and geography. My educational background is a PhD within the field of Nordic philology from the University of Copenhagen.

I used to work as an associate lecturer at the University of Copenhagen, teaching runology and the history of Danish medical literature in the Middle Ages. I believe, my PhD enables me to put myself in the place of the researchers to whom we provide a service at the university library. For several years, I also wrote articles as a journalist and special editor at a Danish trade journal, servicing the Danish metal and machine-building industry. In comparison with academia, this was something completely different, of course, but it contributed to my understanding of the necessity of good communication.

I started working as a research librarian in 2014 and was thus able to return to academia. Every day, I can use my generalist as well as specialist competencies. From the very beginning of my employment, I was interested in working with the library’s special collections. Through an interdisciplinary approach, it has been possible to make exciting discoveries – bringing materials to other departments at the university for further investigation. A few years ago, and upon using x-ray fluorescence analysis, this led to the discovery of three poisonous books with arsenic on their covers, dating back to the 16th and 17th century. This discovery went viral on the global social media. In recent years, the digital world, e.g. the role of the university library concerning research data management, has been given a special focus.

I am part of the library’s research and analysis division where Open Science and FAIR data continue to play a vital role.

Coming from the Humanities, I’ve also taken an interest in Digital Humanities – not just to be able to provide a better service to the faculty but also, if possible, to gain new tools for my own research.

For more than a year, I have been involved in an Open Science project on mapping the Danish research libraries’ desired digital competencies and current tasks and infrastructure on a national scale. This project was managed by the library organization DEFF (Danmarks Elektroniske Fag- og Forskningsbibliotek). Not only did the project provide insights into the OS “machine rooms” of Danish research libraries, it also led to a better understanding of processes, tools and services at the University Library of Southern Denmark, my own workplace. Here, we strive towards OS, OA and FAIR data, and the library is part of the university’s RDM Support, giving advice and assistance e.g. on data management plans, FAIRification of datasets, IT solutions, storage options, juridical assistance, GDPR and much more.

Several of my colleagues are RDA members and thus part of the Danish national RDA node. On November 5th, 2019, they hosted an RDA-DK event on Open Science and FAIR data at the library in Odense which has only added to my interest in the international organization. In that way, they contributed to my knowledge of RDA, and I felt that by becoming a member I would connect with similar minded colleagues who believe that digital data is fundamental to scientific and societal advancement. My good colleague Evgenios Vlachos recommended me to become a member in order to be able to participate and contribute in these cross-institutional activities and discover best practices and guidelines for my domain.

As a community member, I’ll expect to gain insights into the latest initiatives concerning Research Data aspects. I would love to be updated on infrastructure solutions and – especially – would like to take with me all new knowhow on data analysis and tools suitable for the Humanities, as seen from a university library perspective. In return, I hope to be able to share my experiences regarding Research Data at the University Library of Southern Denmark with the RDA global community.