Scholarly Communications Annual Report 2008

The ACRL Scholarly Communication Committee is pleased to sponsor and pursue a wide range of activities in general support of several of ACRL’s strategic goals and to provide specific leadership for the association’s engagement with scholarly communication issues and developments.  A comprehensive list of activities and accomplishments is provided below but the committee would like to draw the Board’s attention to the following highlights and related comments.  


The committee also acknowledges and deeply appreciates the active engagement, leadership, and support that ACRL staff member Kara Malenfant contributes, not only to the committee’s work, but also to ACRL’s scholarly communication interests in general.


Education & Outreach

  • Development of a “Scholarly Communication 101” workshop (in process; for 1st delivery at ACRL Annual 2009) that will complement the ongoing and highly successful ARL-ACRL Scholarly Communication Institute

  •   “Establishing a Research Agenda for Scholarly Communication: A Call for Community Engagement” (completed meeting and associated report; follow up actions are under development)

  • Sponsorship of the SPARKY Mind Mashup Student Video award on information sharing

  • Co-sponsorship of ground-breaking conferences (1st Public Knowledge Project conference July 2007; SPARC Digital Repositories conference planned for November 2008)

  • C&RL News Scholarly Communication column, which has increased in frequency to keep up with the rise in the number of advocacy efforts, issues and initiatives

The committee continues to prioritize its jobs of deepening the community’s insight into the changing nature of scholarly communication, enlarging the audience that is engaged with it, and enabling the creation and delivery of effective local programs.



  •  Advising and drafting language for ACRL’s contribution to the NIH’s request for comment on its public access policy

  • Providing insight on institutional open access mandates (via the ACRL-SPARC forum June 28, 2008)

  • Webcast on library support of authors’ rights management

  • Analysis and recommended ACRL input to the SCOAP3 physics open access publishing initiative

The committee continues to represent and enable the ACRL to be an agent of change toward scholarly communication systems that are well-matched to the needs of scholars, universities and their libraries.


Approach and core values

While the committee has not discussed nor formally endorsed a specific approach to its work or a set of core values that informs it, we believe that our work is characterized by:

  • A commitment to partnerships within and external to ACRL. This is reflected especially in ongoing work with ARL and SPARC, but includes new connections to and consultations with ALCTS, AAMES, ULS, STS and Information Science Journal publishers.

  • An evolution of attention that mirrors the evolution of the scholarly communication landscape. While sustaining the ACRL’s engagement with the “traditional” scholarly communication issues, e.g. scholarly publishing business models, the committee seeks, embraces, or leads insights into emerging issues such as student involvement, open data, and cyberinfrastructure (reflected especially in our meeting and report on establishing a research agenda for scholarly communication).

  • Providing collaborative leadership to the academic library community while also ensuring inclusiveness across the full range of ACRL members. Through the committee, ACRL has a seat at in all of the venues in which libraries collectively are able to discuss and influence scholarly communication; at those venues and in its action planning the committee keeps the full spectrum of universities and colleges in mind.

In these regards the committee’s substantive work concentrates on ACRL’s strategic area of Higher Education and Research; Goal Area Scholarship, while its approaches echo several other strategic areas. (The list of activities below is arranged, somewhat arbitrarily by those areas.)


The Future

The committee annually reviews its strategic priorities and plans through its agenda building exercise at ALA annual meetings. A draft agenda is assembled and forwarded to the Board separately. The chairs expect the discussion of future focus to include such areas as:

  • Increased student engagement on the issues

  • ACRL engagment in new publishing models generally and in LIS publishing.

  • An expansion of scope to include library roles in informal and technologically changing “scholarly communication,” as reflected in the work on establishing a research agenda for scholarly communication”

  • Deeper and broader connection to internal ACRL activities, including those of the Government Relationships and Research Coordinating Committees


List of Scholarly Communication Committee Activities 2007-2008

Strategic Area: Higher Education and Research: Scholarship & Advocacy

Continuation and refinement of the ACRL-ARL Scholarly Communication Institute. ACRL provides leadership in growing a body of higher education change agents who actively pursue local and systemic progress in scholarly communication systems. Held bi-annually (in July ’07 at Washington, DC  and December 07 in association with the Consortium of Academic and Research Libraries in Illinois (CARLI) during the reporting period), each Institute immersed approximately 70 college and university librarians and 20 faculty and administrators in scholarly communication issues and, an ARL SPEC Kit,  and a website of reusable materials (Freely Accessible Institute Resources- FAIR - – that the Institute is creating a valuable community and set of resources that remains engaged with the issues and each other. The Institute is particularly notable for making this strategic objective and programmatic action relevant to non-ARL institutions (which are well-represented) and to disciplinary faculty, who are encouraged to be included in participating institutional teams. Goals and impacts of the Institute are communicated with the profession through conference presentations and articles and reports in the literature.  To reach more audiences in more types of libraries the Institute  moving to a model with sponsorship by regional or local groups. Accordingly, the committee’s involvement and oversight has evolved from direct tasks such as review of design, applications and scholarships to one of general oversight, ensuring that a) the Institute aligns with the ACRL’s strategic interests in scholarly communication; and b) that committee members continue to have an opportunity to participate as faculty members or design advisers. ACRL principals involved in the Institute also identified the need and opportunity to design an introductory “Scholarly Communication 101” workshop, now in preparation (see below).


Co-sponsorship of the SPARC-ACRL Scholarly Communication Forum and Discussion Group. ACRL increases the depth and breadth of understanding of the conditions for and characteristics of new and effective scholarly communication models.  Held bi-annually at the ALA meetings, and co-sponsored by SPARC, the Forum and Discussion Group sessions have been extremely well-attended events, regularly drawing two to three hundred attendees.  The January ’08 Forum focused on student engagement in information policy and access issues and featured student speakers. The June ’08 forum will address institutional open access mandates and will be the first large-scale public presentation of the institutional conditions and actions leading to Harvard’s open access deposit mandate.


Scholarly Communication Research Agenda for the Library Community. ACRL leads a collective effort to identify and address the gaps in evidence needed for effecting change in scholarly communication systems.  In July 2007, the Scholarly Communication committee convened an invitational meeting among the library and higher education communities to identify the commonly perceived gaps in research and evidence needed to advocate for or act to influence scholarly communication. The meeting took a significant step toward identifying common needs and the potential for collective responses that will increase the evidence available to inform action from the academic library perspective. The resulting report, Establishing a Research Agenda for Scholarly Communication: A Call for Community Engagement, released in November 2007, and the materials associated with it at, were reported in Inside Higher Education, the SPARC Open Access Forum, Library Journal, and elsewhere. The president of the American Council of Learned Societies praised the effort (see By releasing the report through the ACRL wiki and inviting public comment, this activity also represents an important ACRL foray into new modes of publishing and social networking.


College & Research Libraries News column.  ACRL encourages and provides an outlet for publication on scholarly communication issues of importance to its membership.  Published, at a minimum, every other issue, the columns from the reporting period provided in-depth information and insights on the status of existing open access business models, student information policy activism, university press publishing, revisions to the NIH public access policy, the access characteristics of electronic theses and dissertations, the activism that led to AAAS publications being restored as part of the JSTOR collection, and a proposal for a  new library budget model in support of open access.


Sponsorship of key conferences and events. ACRL supports a community actively developing new publishing tools and methods. Co-sponsorship of the Public Knowledge Project’s First Annual Conference, of the SPARKY Student Video Awards, and of the 2008 SPARC Digital Repositories Conference (upcoming) assists these breakthrough organizations in their efforts to better understand and convey the potential of open source publishing technologies, and student engagement.  Because the Public Knowledge Project is based in Canada, sponsorship also strengthens ACRL’s ties to existing and potential Canadian members.


Key contributions to policies for public access to publicly-funded research.  ACRL supports and contributes leadership and an academic library perspective to advocates for innovations in scholarly communication at a national and international level.  ACRL actions contribute to the establishment of the NIH public access requirement. Guided by timely input from the Scholarly Communication committee, the ACRL participates in strategic planning and advocacy actions of the Open Access Working Group and the Information Access Alliance. During the reporting period SPARC wrote three letters, provided in-person testimony and, through communications to its membership, otherwise supported the strengthening of the NIH public Access policy. In December 2007 community action resulted in a legislated change to the policy requiring public access to the results of NIH funded research within 12 months of publication. [See also the entry about the OnPoint live chat session covering the NIH policy, described below under The Profession: Continuous Learning.]


Increasing access to library and information science literature. ACRL increases access to its own published literature and engage its parent organization and other publishers on access issues. The Scholarly Communication committee contributed to ALA and ACRL editorial discussions that resulted in the public release of preprint articles from College and Research Libraries. It also discussed open access issues with and offered its support to continued discussion within an informal coalition of library and information science publishers led by Charles Lowry, editor of Library Administration and Management and portal: Libraries and the Academy.


Strategic Area: The Profession: Continuous Learning


Inaugural OnPoint live chat session. ACRL uses technology-based outreach to bring scholarly communication issues to large audience. On March 27, 2008 the ACRL sponsored a live chat session on the newly mandatory NIH Public Access Policy.  Co-sponsored by SPARC, the Association of Academic Health Sciences Libraries (AAHSL) and the Greater Western Library Alliance (GWLA), the session was the first in the new OnPoint chat series. [Note: the Scholarly Communication Committee was consulted, but was not the initiator of this activity.]


Scholarly Communication 101: Starting with the Basics. ACRL creates opportunities for its entire membership to understand the basics of the dynamics of the scholarly communication environment. The SC Committee has planned and proposed a workshop that will create foundational understanding of the scholarly communication environment, tuned especially for new professionals and those at smaller colleges and universities without active programs in scholarly communication. The workshop has been submitted for consideration for ACRL National 2009 and has been designed to be adaptable to a number of delivery methods, e.g. as webcasts. This activity is in addition to, and leverages the committee’s work on the Scholarly Communication Institute, Co-sponsorship of SPARC-ACRL Forum and C&RL News columns, described above (under Higher Education and Research: Scholarship).


The Scholarly Communication Toolkit. The web-based toolkit has three faces, with well-organized issue and resource summaries written for faculty, administrators, and librarians. The committee is working with Kara Malenfant to recruit a student intern to refresh and update toolkit components during 2008-2009.


The Scholarly Communication listserve.  The committee sponsors a listserve where we communicate about our activities and breaking news, and also encourage information sharing and discussion by the community.