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Open Access Platforms Are Key to Research Libraries’ Core Mission—ARL Letter to Chronicle of Higher Education

chronicle-letter-to-editor-screenshotThe Association of Research Libraries (ARL) wrote the following letter to the Chronicle of Higher Education, which published it today, August 21, 2017.

To the Editor:

Your article, “Elsevier Is Becoming a Data Company. Should Universities Be Wary?” (Chronicle, August 7), evokes the existential questions for research libraries that members of the Association of Research Libraries routinely confront: What is the library’s role in the research enterprise, beyond purchasing and licensing content? How can libraries support scholarly workflow at all stages of the research life cycle, including preservation and stewardship of research outputs? And how can we ensure that metadata—knowledge about the scholarly enterprise (which is the library’s professional domain)—can be freely exchanged and queried? Your rhetorical headline was apt in focusing on universities. Libraries have long been wary of the private sector’s role in data about scholarship.

For this reason, we were pleased to see the Center for Open Science (COS) and its Open Science Framework (OSF) highlighted in your article as a public goods infrastructure alternative to commercial, proprietary platforms. The Association of Research Libraries has been working in partnership with COS for several years on a project called SHARE, a free, openly accessible database of metadata describing both research product and process. Simply put, platforms and business arrangements that lock in scholarly content and data about scholarly process make stewardship of that content—research libraries’ core mission—impossible. By working with scholars to adopt and invest in open platforms like the OSF and SHARE, librarians can provide their expertise in data management, metadata standards, and preservation, and ensure that the resulting data and publications can be made accessible over the long term.

Elliott Shore
Executive Director
Association of Research Libraries

Judy Ruttenberg
Program Director for Strategic Initiatives
Association of Research Libraries

See “Open-Access Platforms Are Key to Research Libraries’ Core Mission” on the Chronicle website.

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.

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