It took just one connection on Academia.edu to trigger a cascade of events that landed Providence-based senior librarian, Dr. Donald Russell Bailey, on the precipice of an Arabic librarian revolution. Sparked by the interest of two Egyptian graduate students, today Dr. Russell Bailey is not only the Director of Philip Memorial Library at Providence College, but he is also a mentor and consultant for Cybrarians, a Cairo-based portal for library and information science technology.
From Providence to Cairo with a brief pit stop in the UK, Dr. Russell Bailey’s journey tells the tale of how Academia.edu is not just a sharing platform for senior academics; it’s also a vehicle to expand beyond one’s formal profession and a platform for young scholars to begin building their professional network.
“Academia.edu took me beyond my work as a library director, beyond my typical geographical basis,” says Dr. Russell Bailey.
Planting the seed for his Cairo connection, Dr. Russell Bailey first joined Academia.edu in 2008 and soon became reacquainted with two colleagues he had met a year prior while giving a presentation at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. Over the course of a year, conversations through Academia.edu allowed these three scholars to organize a small professional gathering at Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU), a meeting in which they would present strategic ideas and devise plans for future collaborations.
Moving quickly beyond a conversation of three, Dr. Russell Bailey’s GCU relationship led to introductions to the Joint Information Systems Committee and its UK and European partners.
As Dr. Russell Bailey’s reach began to permeate the UK and Europe, so did his presence on Academia.edu, attracting more and more profile viewers which each connection he made. By the fall of 2010, his work had made its way to Egypt, where it captured the attention of two graduate students at Cairo University.
Since Academia.edu allows users to see who is following their work, Dr. Russell Bailey reached out to his Egyptian colleagues when “The Arab Spring” erupted in December 2010. Asking about their safety and well-being, Dr. Russell Bailey’s initial contact sparked professional conversations that eventually led his involvement in Cybrarians.
As Dr. Russell Bailey’s conversations with the graduate students deepened, other faculty from Cairo University joined in on the discussion, asking Bailey for his advice on projects and opportunities. It was through these conversations that efforts to create Cybrarians were crystallized.
Today Dr. Russell Bailey is a mentor, supporter, coach and consultant to young scholars involved with the Cybrarians initiative. Providing editorial comments on their professional writing, submitting letters of recommendation for scholarships, and providing complementary funding for professional development and travel, Bailey is constantly trying to help other academics grow.
For Dr. Russell Bailey, Academia.edu and the relationships it has fostered have created a window of opportunity larger than any other offered by the World Wide Web.
“Truly international and truly interdisciplinary, Academia.edu has been a uniquely impactful tool in my professional life,” adds Dr. Russell Bailey.