SPARC and Open Access

Regular readers of my blog know that the topic of Open Access (OA) is a reoccurring blog theme.  Maybe this is because it’s a continuing ‘hot topic’ in the library world and matters related to this topic come across my desk frequently.  Things like this week’s achievement record for the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) – the international alliance of academic and research libraries working to create a more open system of scholarly communications.  For more information, and for OA resources, click here.

SPARC and SPARC-sponsored programs have been featured this year in both the national and trade press, in outlets ranging from the Washington Post to the Economist to the Times Higher Education.  Their listing presents an impressive array of outcomes over the last year, including:

  • SPARC continued to achieve significant success with their high-profile policy advocacy program. As a direct result of their work in securing the 2013 White House Directive on Public Access, this year, 13 U.S. federal agencies released plans for policies ensuring that articles and data resulting from their funded research be made freely available.
  • SPARC and their member organizations actively contributed to the ongoing consultations that resulted in the three major Canadian Research Councils’ issuing a new, harmonized Tri-Agency Open Access Policy earlier this year.
    The SPARC-supported “Fair Access to Science and Technology Research (FASTR) Act,” a bill that would codify the White House Directive into law, successfully advanced through the U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and should be considered by the full Senate later this year.
  • SPARC introduced a new campaign to educate declared 2016 U.S. Presidential candidates on the importance of Open Access, Open Data and OER, and to advocate for the inclusion of these issues in campaign events and platforms.
  • SPARC staff worked with the White House and U.S. federal agencies to raise the profile of OER as a policy issue, co-organizing a government-wide workshop on Open Licenses and OER, and leading coalition efforts to advocate for Executive Branch actions in support of OER.
  • SPARC also worked to generate support for “Open” practices within the Foundation community. With support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, SPARC convened leading research foundations (including the Gates Foundation, the Arnold Foundation and the Soros Foundation) to explore the adoption of open access funder policies, and the establishment of an ongoing Open Access “community of practice” of research foundations in North America.
  • To generate direct input on their programming from their members, SPARC established three new members-only advisory groups to help them develop new programs and services, and to refine their efforts to best serve their members.
  • To keep their members ahead of the curve in understanding the latest developments in the scholarly communication environment, SPARC hosted regular webcasts (free to our members) on important topics ranging from the Elsevier article “sharing” policy, to complying with new Public Access mandates, to developing campus rights-retention based Open Access policies.
  • SPARC actively supported their members’ local campus efforts by providing SPARC-sponsored speakers for campus events, practical guides, talking points, templates, and expert counsel on Campus Open Access and Open Educational Resources issues.
  • With continued support from the Hewlett Foundation, SPARC expanded its OER program to provide regular campus-based opportunities for education and advocacy in support of the creation of and adoption of OER. In partnership with ACRL, SPARC co-hosted the first Scholarly Communications Institute devoted to OER.
  • In keeping with their commitment to partnering with the next generation of leaders, SPARC and the Right to Research Coalition (R2RC) launched “OpenCon,” an annual event that brings students and early career researchers together to catalyze projects to advance Open Access, OER, and Open Data. After the success of their inaugural event in 2014, more than 3,000 individuals from 125 countries applied to attend the upcoming conference.
  • Through the R2RC, SPARC partnered with Texas A&M University to secure a grant to develop programming for the first ever “SECU Academic Collaboration Award” Workshop. The high-energy program brought teams of library directors and leaders together with student government leaders with the aim of identifying and developing ongoing campus Open Access and OER collaborations.
  • SPARC proudly provided incubation support for the student-led “Open Access Button” project, a browser-based app that lets readers register when they’ve hit an article behind a paywall, maps those instances, and ultimately, will provide access to an Open version of the article where possible.
  • SPARC’s annual Global Open Access Week continues. This year’s kickoff event reflects the theme of “Open for Collaboration,” with SPARC and the Wikimedia Library co-sponsoring a global, virtual edit-a-thon for Open Access related content on Wikipedia
  • SPARC helped keep the profile of their members and their concerns high in the media. SPARC was regularly consulted and quoted as an expert source on topics relating to scholarly communication.

More on Open Access (OA)

There has been a mountain of activity and announcements this month to coincide with Open Access week, which was officially celebrated from October 19 to 25.  Catch up on all of the activities by visiting:

Perhaps the most notable announcement came yesterday from the White House, when the U.S. 2016-2017 Open Government National Action Plan was released.  It’s very significant to note that the plan incorporates the entire portfolio of issues that have long been advocated by SPARC — Open Access, Open Education, and Open Data — into efforts to make government more open.

For more information, click here.

Welcoming new graduates and a new president

I am excited to have the opportunity to put on academic dress and be part of the convocation ceremonies at TCU Place this Saturday.  The installation of our new president is an added bonus. The installation of a new president does not take place all that often, and in almost a decade of service at the U of S, I have served three presidents and an interim president.

Folks often comment to me that the University Library does not have alumni.  Quite the contrary, is my usual response, as I contend the University Library impacts all student learning and research activities.  From that perspective, all alumni are graduates of the library!

The University Library continues its association with alumni, and you can learn more about library services for alumni by visiting our website here.

What a time to be in Ottawa!

Coming to you this week from Ottawa, and what a week to be in Ottawa, especially as this was my first Canadian election as a Canadian citizen!  There is also a bit of library politics happening in the nation’s capital this week as the Canadian Research Knowledge Network (CRKN) combines its annual general meeting with that of the Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL). Those meetings are happening close to Parliament Hill, adding more to the overall atmosphere.

So, what topics besides politics are under discussion?  Open Access, the Integrated Digital Scholarship Ecosystem, copyright, and the proposal for a Federation of Canadian Library Associations are among the topics under discussion.  There are also opportunities for several site visits.  For example, a visit to the Library Archives Canada (LAC) Preservation Centre in Gatineau, which is dedicated to the preservation of Canada’s documentary heritage.  This centre of excellence is an impressive building and facility by anyone’s standard, with its purpose-built collection storage areas, optimum environmental conditions, and laboratories equipped for preservation activities.  Its visitor register includes notable world leaders including former President George W. Bush.

Another busy week ahead!

C-EBLIP Symposium

I am excited to help welcome 61 registered participants to this year’s Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice (C-EBLIP) Fall Symposium!

Building on a highly successful program held last year, C-EBLIP is hosting the second C-EBLIP Fall Symposium: Librarians as Researchers today, October 14.  A pre-symposium workshop facilitated by our Researcher in Residence, Selinda Berg, entitled Transforming Ideas into Well-Designed Research Questions was held yesterday afternoon, October 13.

Our 61 participants include librarians from the University Library, from elsewhere in Saskatchewan (in particular, from Saskatchewan Polytechnic), and from across Canada. Thirty-four of those also attended the afternoon workshop. You can find more information about the symposium on the C-EBLIP website, including information on the program and the speakers here:

The C-EBLIP Fall Symposium helps to further the mission of the Centre, that of supporting librarians as researchers and promoting evidence based library and information practice. Please be on the lookout for symposium guests as they may take the opportunity to visit our library branches.

It’s time again for library statistics!

Did you know that over 11,000 people work in the member libraries of the Association of Research Libraries (ARL)?

ARL has released the ARL Statistics 2013–2014, which presents data describing the collections, staffing, expenditures, and service activities of the Association’s 125 member libraries in fiscal year 2013–2014. Of these, 115 are university libraries (16 in Canada and 99 in the US); the remaining 10 are public, governmental, and non-profit research libraries (1 in Canada, 9 in the US).  ARL has also released statistics for health science and law libraries –  See also: ARL Academic Health Sciences Library Statistics 2013–2014 Published and “ARL Academic Law Library Statistics 2013–2014 Published.”

ARL libraries are a relatively small subset of libraries in North America, but they account for a large portion of academic library resources in terms of assets, budgets, and the number of users they serve. The total expenditures of all 125 member libraries in 2013–2014 were almost $4.7 billion; of that, approximately $3.4 billion was spent by the 115 university libraries and slightly more than $1.2 billion by the non-university libraries.

The Association has collected and published annual statistics for its member libraries since 1961–1962, expanding upon the work of James Gerould, who collected this information first at the University of Minnesota and later at Princeton University. The data he collected, covering the years 1907–1908 through 1961–1962, are now called the Gerould Statistics. The complete data series from 1908 through the present represents the oldest, most comprehensive, continuing library statistical series in North America.

Visit the ARL website to learn more.

Washington in the Fall

Coming to you this week from one of my favorite cities – Washington, DC, where the 167th meeting of Deans/Directors from the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) is taking place.  ARL is a non-profit organization of 124 research libraries in the United States 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. Visit ARL’s website by clicking here.

ARL is at a very exciting stage of reinventing itself and extensive design work is transforming the organization and reinvigorating its focus as a professional body.  You can read more about the process used for this work on the ARL website by clicking here. In addition to hearing progress reports from the various design team projects, we will also be hearing more about the Ithaka S+R study of academic library acquisition data.

I’m staying on for the ARL Fall Forum, which this year is on the very timely topic of research partnership in digital scholarship for the humanities and social sciences.  This year’s Fall Forum launches the Julia C. Blixrud Memorial Lecture along with the Julia C. Blixrud Scholarship, which will support the attendance of one master of library and information science (MLIS) student or recent graduate at the ARL Fall Forum each year.

Geoffrey Boulton, professor of geology emeritus and senior honorary professorial fellow at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, will wrap up the Fall Forum this year with a discussion of global partnerships in digital scholarship. Through his role as a fellow at the Royal Society, Boulton is coordinating the United Kingdom’s response to the possibilities inherent in broader access to data and publications. He will present an international view of this issue for forum participants.

Celebrating Saskatchewan Library Technician Day

What better way to mark this important day in librarianship then to spend it with students?  That is exactly what I did today, when I joined the Library & Information Technology students at Saskatchewan Polytechnic.  I was excited to be asked to speak with the students enrolled in MGMT 282 Library Management – Theory and Practice about the broad topic of strategic planning.

The University Library has several links to the program, including hosting library practicums and opportunities for input into course design and curriculum.  Several of our current employees are past graduates from the program.

I appreciated the invitation and the opportunity to talk with today’s students who will make up the future of librarianship and whose leadership and professional work will help ensure a vital and dynamic profession of librarianship into the future.

Library Researcher Series: Fall 2015

The Fall 2015 Library Researcher Series is set to begin next week, and I was excited to learn about this years’ offerings.

The Library Researcher Series provides workshops on interdisciplinary topics of relevance to the research of graduate students and faculty.  This years’ offerings combine sessions on library research and managing references.  The schedule includes some old favorites as well as some new offerings. The University Library offers these workshops to support research and interdisciplinary learning on campus.

You are invited to attend any of these free drop-in sessions – no registration is necessary. If you wish to follow along with some of the sessions, please bring your own laptop, or borrow one from the library.

For more information about the Library Researcher Series, visit:

A copy of the Fall program is available below.

LRS Poster Fall 2015


What western library Deans/Directors are talking about…

Last week’s Fall meeting of deans/directors from the Council of Prairie and Pacific University Libraries (COPPUL) has comes and gone.  It was great to host this meeting in Saskatoon without the need to travel to another province.  This is an opportunity that has only come my way twice in my almost ten years as Dean.  Unfortunately, at least one Dean/Director experienced airline travel difficulties and ended up on a flight that was turned-back to its departure point to rectify mechanism problems!

So, what were the big items up for discussion?  Basically it came down to three hot topics: collaborative collections, indigenous knowledge, and digital preservation.  COPPUL provides leadership in the development of collaborative solutions addressing the academic information resource needs, the staffing development needs, and the preservation needs of its member institutions.  The library consortium is comprised of 23 university libraries located in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and British Columbia.

COPPUL has an already well established record of action on collaborative collections, especially through recent work to build a Western Provinces Shared Print Archive Network (SPAN).  A renewed commitment to that work, including in the future work on monographs and government publication titles is a welcome development.

Conversations about what contribution COPPUL might make to advancing indigenous knowledge, especially in light of the recommendations from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) were timely and follow on well from last year’s COPPUL workshop on this topic.

A shared approach across Western Canada to work towards the creation of preservation infrastructure and support systems highlights COPPUL’s recent appointment of the COPPUL Digital Preservation Network Manager for a two-year period. This should tie in well to exciting national developments through Project Portage, which is focussed on building infrastructure and support services for research data.

All in all, a busy week for academic libraries across Western Canada.