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ARL Membership Convenes in Philadelphia for Spring 2017 Meeting—Summary, Slides Online


image CC-BY by Dave Zawrotny

Association of Research Libraries (ARL) member representatives, ARL leadership fellows, staff, and guests gathered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on Tuesday–Thursday, May 2–4, 2017, for the 170th Association Meeting. All available presentation slides are linked from the speakers’ names or session titles in the following summary of the meeting.

ARL president Mary Case (Illinois at Chicago) convened the meeting on Tuesday afternoon, with thanks to the meeting hosts—University of Delaware, University of Pennsylvania, Princeton University, Rutgers University, and Temple University—for sponsoring the receptions.

New ARL member representatives were introduced by their colleagues: Valerie Hotchkiss (Vanderbilt), Anne Jarvis (Princeton), Melissa Just (Saskatchewan), Susanne Mehrer (Dartmouth), John Pollitz (Southern Illinois Carbondale), Shan Sutton (Arizona), and Kornelia Tancheva (Pittsburgh). Interim directors Carol Hunter (North Carolina at Chapel Hill), Sharon Lamont (Waterloo), and Bill Mischo (Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) were also introduced.

The majority of the afternoon was devoted to a panel discussion of “Community Archives for Data Preservation and Access,” including the DataRefuge initiative to steward born-digital government data. Carton Rogers (Penn) moderated the discussion. Panelists were Nancy McGovern (MIT and president of Society of American Archivists), Jim Mullins (Purdue), and Bethany Wiggin (Penn and DataRefuge).

Wednesday morning began with an ARL Coordinating Committee update presented by Vivian Lewis (McMaster). Lewis noted that eight ideas for new projects have been posted in the ARL member community online space, IdeaScale, since the committee launched the space in October 2016. All eight of those ideas received the 12 votes (10% of the membership) necessary to move forward to the project planning stage. Lewis provided an overview of the projects and reminded attendees to read the Projects in the Pipeline newsletter and visit the Coordinating Committee webpage for updates throughout the year.

Next, Joyce Backus (National Library of Medicine) introduced Patricia Brennan (National Library of Medicine), who gave a lively talk via videoconference on “Data Management in Research-Intensive Environments.” Brennan discussed human resources, competencies, training models for the library workforce engaged with data, and infrastructure.

The last session of the morning was an interactive audience-and-panel discussion of “Libraries as Safe and Welcoming Spaces.” Moderator Mark A. Puente (ARL) posed the initial question that sparked a rich conversation among the audience and the panelists, David Banush (Tulane), Chris Bourg (MIT), and Yolanda Cooper (Emory): “What does it mean to create a safe and welcoming space in your library?” The discourse covered such issues as deciding where to draw the line between free speech and hate speech, cultivating a new generation of library leaders who reflect the diversity of the population, and creating “brave spaces” of political action as well as safe, non-threatening spaces.

After lunch, the Coordinating Committee and the Member Engagement and Outreach Committee hosted an Unconference (ARL Members-Only site login required) moderated by Tom Wall (Boston College). The Unconference was a lightly-structured way to discuss ideas and issues identified by participants at the meeting. Two hourlong sessions of five topics each covered the following topics:

  • What Do We Need to Stop Doing and How Come We Don’t Stop?
  • Advancing Social Justice in the GLAM, Wikipedia, and Wikidata Communities through Linked Data
  • Collections Unsustainability
  • Anecdotes about a Long-Held Belief That Turned Out Not to Be True
  • “Managing Up” in an Era of Leadership Turnover
  • The Five People You Need in Your Organization
  • Center for Research Libraries (CRL) Sea Change
  • Tools for Open Scholarship: ARL & Center for Open Science (COS) Collaboration beyond SHARE
  • Resonant Leadership (Self-Care, Mindfulness, Reflection)
  • Creative Organizational Structures

Thursday morning opened with a session on “Scholarly Communication Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats (SWOTs)” moderated by Elliott Shore (ARL) and Kathleen Shearer (Confederation of Open Access Repositories and ARL). Shore and Shearer reviewed the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of seven initiatives for taking collective action in the scholarly communication system. Then ARL member representatives voted for the three initiatives that have the most potential positive impact and the three they would be willing to support. The top three initiatives in both votes were Consortial Licensing, Cancelling Journal Subscriptions, and Next-Generation Repositories. The session concluded with a discussion of ways in which the Association and its members could collaboratively move these strategies forward.

The closing program, moderated by Mary Case, consisted of three tributes:

  • Awards to the winning entries in the ARLies film festival, which highlights videos developed by ARL libraries, presented by Sara Lowman (Rice)
  • Recognition of the 2016–2017 ARL Leadership Fellows cohort presented by fellows Sara Harrington (Ohio) and Ken Burhanna (Kent State), introduced by Elliott Shore
  • A salute to the ARL member representatives who plan to retire before the next Association Meeting in October 2017: Brian E. C. Schottlaender (UC San Diego), Jim Williams (Colorado Boulder), and Sandy Yee (Wayne State)

Following the closing program, a members-only session engaged member representatives in a discussion regarding the work to date of the ARL Assessment Program Visioning Task Force, with the opportunity to provide input on key issues. Jennifer Paustenbaugh (Brigham Young), chair of the ARL Assessment Committee and chair of the Assessment Program Visioning Task Force, moderated the session. Speakers were Megan Hurst and Christine Madsen, the principals of Athenaeum 21, the firm secured by the task force to assist in developing a forward-looking Assessment Program that advances the organizational outcomes of the 21st-century research library.

See also tweets shared with the #ARL17PHIL hashtag.

About the Association of Research Libraries

The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) is a nonprofit organization of 123 research libraries in the US and Canada. ARL’s mission is to influence the changing environment of scholarly communication and the public policies that affect research libraries and the diverse communities they serve. ARL pursues this mission by advancing the goals of its member research libraries, providing leadership in public and information policy to the scholarly and higher education communities, fostering the exchange of ideas and expertise, facilitating the emergence of new roles for research libraries, and shaping a future environment that leverages its interests with those of allied organizations. ARL is on the web at ARL.org.