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ARL Makes SPEC Kits Open Access Online

spec-kit-351-coverThe Association of Research Libraries (ARL) has opened up access to all SPEC Kits on the ARL Digital Publications platform for all users. This change demonstrates the value that the Association and its members place on free and open access to information.

Since the early 1970s the Association of Research Libraries has used the SPEC survey program to bring research libraries up-to-date information on library policies and procedures that helps leaders continuously improve their management systems. Each year, the program works with librarians in the US and Canada to develop surveys of the ARL membership on topics of strategic interest.

The SPEC program has been a cost-recovery operation that relies on revenue from subscriptions and sales of individual titles to cover the expenses related to running the surveys, producing the SPEC Kit publications, hosting online versions, and, since 2015, presenting webcasts. The program has not received support from membership dues or any other sources of funding.

ARL president Larry Alford said, “The Association of Research Libraries strongly believes in the tenet of open access and advocates for the increased availability of open access literature. In order for ARL to demonstrate this value, the Board of Directors is pleased to announce the digital versions of SPEC Kits will be freely available going forward.”

In 2016, open access to the digital versions of SPEC Kits will be supported by subscription revenue already received, additional sales of print copies, and, if necessary, Board-designated reserve funds. This will be an experiment to understand how opening up access to online SPEC Kits will impact revenue and to determine whether the Association will need to identify other sources of funds to sustain the program going forward. ARL thanks all the SPEC Kit subscribers for helping make this change possible this year.

This fall, ARL staff will include a review of the SPEC survey program in the overall review of the Association’s assessment program, which is an important part of the Strategic Thinking and Design process and will be one of the many programs reviewed. This review will include publications and will explore additional options for funding the publications ARL decides to continue producing.

About the Association of Research Libraries

The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) is a nonprofit organization of 124 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 http://www.arl.org/.