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ARL Membership Convenes in Berkeley for Spring 2015 Meeting

image CC-BY-NC-ND by David Yu

ARL president Deborah Jakubs (Duke) convened the 166th ARL Membership Meeting in Berkeley, California, on Tuesday afternoon, April 28, 2015. The theme of this Membership Meeting was “Global Connections of Research Libraries,” and program sessions explored international copyright issues, shared print repositories, and tools and services for open science. New ARL member representatives since the previous Membership Meeting in October 2014 were introduced: Chris Bourg (MIT), Bella Karr Gerlich (Texas Tech), Jim O’Donnell (Arizona State), and Carolyn Walters (Indiana Bloomington). The membership also saluted ARL library directors who plan to retire before the next Membership Meeting in October 2015: Mary Casserly (Albany), Tom Leonard (California, Berkeley), Lou Pitschmann (Alabama), and Pat Steele (Maryland). This meeting marked the completion of the 2013–2015 ARL Leadership Fellows program with recognition of the fellows for their achievements. Fellow Barbara Rockenbach (Columbia) summed up the fellowship experience nicely, saying it is about “community, connections, and the cohort itself.” The meeting adjourned midday on Thursday, April 30.

All available presentation slides are linked from the speakers’ names or session titles in the following summary of the program sessions.

Bill Kirby, the T. M. Chang professor of China Studies and Spangler Family professor of business administration at the Harvard Business School opened the program with his keynote on “A Chinese Century? The World of Universities and Information.” He began by naming a few books about China that were published 100 years ago—The Dragon Awakes, The Rise of China, The Ascent of China—followed by the titles of books about China published recently—The Dragon Awakes, The Rise of China, The Ascent of China—making the point that China’s current strength has been 100 years in the making. Since the early 20th century China has boasted some of the most dynamic universities in the world. Kirby noted that the Communist revolution destroyed Chinese universities but they reopened in the 1970s and have grown rapidly, enrolling more than 30 million students today. Two Chinese universities—Peking University and Tsinghua University—are ranked in the top 50 worldwide. But, Kirby asked, “Can you have great universities and libraries in a politically illiberal environment?” He wonders if the current regime’s wide implementation of censorship could put an end to the growth of Chinese universities, concluding “China can lead, but it cannot lead alone, for ours is an increasingly shared world.”

Harriette Hemmasi (Brown) introduced Brian Nosek (Center for Open Science), who spoke about “Tools and Services for Open Scholarship: Closing the Gap between Scientific Values and Practices.” Nosek described the Center for Open Science (COS) as “a nonprofit tech startup that produces free and open source software that is a public good.” Nosek noted that more than 90% of researchers endorse norms such as openness, universalism, and non-self-interest but only 10% appear to follow those norms. In the academy there is no incentive to share materials—to further their careers researchers must publish as much as possible in high-prestige journals, most of which are not open access. This has led to questionable research practices and lack of replication. Also, researchers’ efforts are focused on publishing, not managing their data. Conversely, openness would help universities meet their mission to create knowledge as a public good. Openness is also now critically important due to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy memo as well as open access policies enacted by some private funders. COS has created the Open Science Framework (OSF), a free web application that helps researchers manage their daily workflow and deposit their data. OSF provides tools for collaboration, documentation, archiving, version control, and analytics, all of which make it easier for researchers to share their work. Additionally COS is SHARE’s technical partner, through which COS hopes to “remake academic publishing as an academic enterprise.”

A session on “International Copyright Issues: Cross-border Exchange and Fair Use/Fair Dealing” was moderated by Winston Tabb (Johns Hopkins). Ruth Okediji (Minnesota Law) discussed the genesis of the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired, or Otherwise Print Disabled. Okediji noted that, of the 1 million books published worldwide each year, less than 5% are available in formats accessible to people with print disabilities. The treaty makes it legal to export accessible versions of books across boundaries. She said that library support of the treaty was crucial, quoting a publisher as saying, “You really hate to go against libraries in public.” Jim Fruchterman (Benetech) talked about Bookshare, which began as a library of e-books for people with print disabilities. They release 5,000–7,000 titles per month, most of which are provided by publishers for free with international rights. Wanda Noel (attorney) discussed fair dealing in Canada, especially the landmark 2012 Supreme Court of Canada decision in which the court said “fair dealing is a user’s right.” Joe Gratz (Durie Tangri) summarized recent copyright litigation, including Authors Guild v. HathiTrust and the Georgia State University e-reserves case. Gratz concluded, “One thing we’ve learned from all this is that libraries have moral authority, which is of great utility in fair use cases.” Lars Bjørnshauge (SPARC Europe and Directory of Open Access Journals) discussed copyright permission developments in Europe with a focus on text and data mining.

Judy Russell (Florida) moderated a panel on “Shared Print Repositories: Partnerships and Scalable Solutions.” The panelists were Leonora Crema (British Columbia), Carol Pitts Diedrichs (Ohio State), Laine Farley (California Digital Library), Mike Furlough (HathiTrust), and Laura Wood (Tufts). Russell posed a succession of questions to the panelists, such as “What are the future directions of the shared print environment?” and “To what extent do we need to accelerate or scale up our efforts?” When asked what ARL’s role might be in the future of shared print repositories, almost all of the panelists said that the Association could help articulate the case for more deeply collaborative collections in a way that administrators and faculty can understand—“bring the conversation about shared print from the margins to the mainstream of our organizations,” as Crema said.

The “Advocacy and Policy Update” from ARL and SPARC was introduced by David Carlson (Texas A&M). Prue Adler (ARL) described recent developments in the US federal appropriations process, digital accessibility, and copyright reform. Krista Cox (ARL) provided updates on the Marrakesh Treaty, the World Intellectual Property Organization, international trade agreements, Fair Use and Fair Dealing Week, net neutrality and the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Open Internet Order, and surveillance and privacy legislation. Heather Joseph (SPARC) discussed SPARC’s recent strategic assessment of its advocacy campaigns. In November 2014 the SPARC steering committee approved a new strategy for SPARC to undertake—being active in the presidential campaign.

Erik Mitchell (California, Berkeley) moderated the final session, “Data Science: Supporting New Modes of Research,” a panel consisting of Betsy Wilson (Washington), Stephanie Wright (Washington), Carol Mandel (New York), and Philip Stark (California, Berkeley). Mitchell introduced the session with an overview of a five-year data science program funded by the Moore and Sloan foundations and launched in 2013 at the University of California, Berkeley; New York University; and University of Washington. The program’s goals are to support meaningful and sustained interactions and collaborations across disciplines, establish new career paths in data science, and build tools and practices that support data science. Each of the panelists then described the program’s genesis and implementation on their campus.

Other Membership Meeting Highlights

Member representatives discussed the transition to ARL’s new Strategic Thinking and Design Framework. Member representatives, ARL Leadership Fellows, and ARL staff gathered on April 28 before the start of the Membership Meeting for a report from the Strategic Thinking and Design Transition Team—Anne Kenney (Cornell), Brian E. C. Schottlaender (California, San Diego), and Martha Whitehead (Queen’s)—on the team’s interim recommendations regarding how to implement ARL’s new strategic Framework and System of Action. The recommendations are to establish a design team for each of the five System of Action components (ARL Academy, Collective Collections, Innovation Lab, Libraries That Learn, and Scholarly Dissemination Engine); establish a coordinating committee to be composed of the heads of the five design teams to oversee projects and their interconnections; and significantly revise the current committee structure and charges, making the committees smaller, more active, and focused across all five System of Action components.

After the Transition Team’s presentation, member representatives, fellows, and staff split into small groups for discussions to bring additional clarity to the five System of Action components and how the design teams and committees might proceed with their work. On the following day during the Business Meeting, brief reports from each committee and System of Action work group were presented. Brian Schottlaender introduced these reports by quoting Elliott Shore, “This is the end of the beginning and the beginning of the future.” Recurring themes in the reports were the desire to: precisely define and communicate each group’s charge; collaborate across the System of Action components; allow for a spectrum of possible roles for the Association in the various projects, from facilitator to manager; partner with others, on campus and off, nonprofit and commercial; and balance mindfulness of not taking on too many projects while also experimenting and innovating without fearing failure.

See also the more than 300 tweets that were shared with the #ARL15CA hashtag, captured on Storify.