Monday, August 10, 2015

An Interview With Param Bedi, Vice President,
Library and Information Technology,

Bucknell University

Param Bedi

Vice President
Library and Information Technology

Bucknell University

Frost & Sullivan recently spoke with Param Bedi, Vice President of Library and Information Technology at Bucknell University, about some of his key digital strategies, initiatives and challenges. Here are some of the insights gleaned from our brief but interesting discussion.

Frost & Sullivan: How did you get into the library and technology information space?

Param Bedi: Well, I received a Master's degree in Computer Information Systems and an M.B.A. in Finance from Temple University… but higher education is my true passion.

Frost & Sullivan: How do you deal with challenges around intellectual property and copyright enforcement?

Param Bedi: It all boils down to education -- Bucknell University does have a copyright officer, but he functions as more of a consultant (and occasional policeman). Overall, what we strive to do is educate the faculty and students on the policies in place, to make sure everyone understands what copyright is, for instance.

Overall, Bucknell takes a multi-pronged approach to intellectual property and copyright issues and works with the faculty as well.  In addition to guiding students on what they need permission to reprint or use for their research and course projects, librarians try to make sure students understand the concept of “fair use.”

Fair use is a legal doctrine stating that portions of copyrighted materials may be used without permission of the copyright owner provided the use is fair and reasonable, does not substantially impair the value of the materials, and does not curtail the profits reasonably expected by the owner. Given that many of the academic projects that students create are available to the world (video clips, blogs, etc.), it’s important for them to understand and respect copyright and the importance it has in their academic work.

Frost & Sullivan: What are your thoughts on Digital Rights Management (DRM)?

(DRM is a systematic approach to copyright protection for digital media. DRM’s purpose is to prevent the unauthorized dissemination of digital media and includes restrictions around copying content that has been purchased.)

Param Bedi: DRM in some ways restricts fair use for higher education purposes. Using digital content for learning purposes is very different, from say, copying and showing a movie. Libraries have been buying and sharing books for centuries and DRM changes that model. DRM technology needs to preserve the role of the library and fair use.  Overall, I believe the DRM model needs to be refined.

Frost & Sullivan: What key strategic issues are you focused on?

Param Bedi: I have three major initiatives:
  1. Business intelligence analytics -- We created a new team for our business intelligence initiative. The project has established a data warehouse to facilitate a new open access model that looks at student data holistically rather than as data silos of the registrar, admissions and financial aid offices, and institutional research.
  2. Open Education Resources -- Bucknell established a Presidential Task Force on Open Educational Resources and Residential Learning to investigate potential opportunities for achieving Bucknell's educational goals. We have since devoted significant resources in our Instructional Technology division to supporting faculty exploration of open educational resources.
    Bucknell faculty also passed an Open Access policy in October 2011 in which the faculty  make all peer-reviewed journal articles they publish open access wherever possible.
  3. Digital Scholarship -- Since 2008, we have more than doubled staff on the Instructional Technology team. Their model has shifted from supporting faculty to partnering with faculty. We hired staff with deep expertise in geographic information systems, digital media and video editing, and digital scholarship, and faculty often ask these staff members to co-teach courses. We also created a Digital Scholarship Center in the library where faculty can experiment with new instructional technologies and meet with instructional technologists. 

Additionally, 2015 marks the second year in which Bucknell University has hosted a Digital Scholarship conference.  Last year, faculty and students from over fifty schools around the country attended to present their work and to learn about our digital scholarship efforts from our faculty, students, and instructional technologists.  This year’s conference will be held in the first week of November,

Frost & Sullivan: Is there a “portable library” in the foreseeable future? What new library-related technologies interest you?

Param Bedi: Technology will continue to evolve.  We are not very focused on any specific technology but more around using technology to implement important strategies. As far as a ‘portable library’ is concerned, our physical library is busier than ever! In fact, foot traffic at the library is up by 37% in the last decade.

Bucknell’s library is still the intellectual center of the campus. Students go there looking for collaboration, resources, and expert help. They are consulting with the librarians and instructional technologists and not just asking “quick” questions.  We are creating spaces for them to do just that.  We have quiet spaces, collaborative spaces, and computer labs in the library, along with the experts to work with the students on their academic projects.

Frost & Sullivan: Security concerns? Are they as pervasive as they are in the private sector? Also, your thoughts on “The Right to Be Forgotten,” a user-privacy cause against Google recently upheld in a European court?

Param Bedi: Security is a big concern; incidents seem to be on the rise, and providing and maintaining security uses up a lot of resources. In short, universities are big targets.

In terms of ‘The Right to Be Forgotten,’ I believe that Europe is often ahead of the U.S. when it comes to privacy laws, so this cause will be interesting to watch…

Prior to joining Bucknell University, Param served as Vice President for Technology and Library and Chief Information Officer at Arcadia University in Glenside, Pennsylvania. At Arcadia, he also taught courses in finance, management information systems, math, and educational technology and was an adjunct faculty member.


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