ACRL Speaks Out

To increase ACRL's visibility and influence in the arena of higher education policy development, legislation, and best practices, ACRL speaks out on important issues. Below are examples of ACRL's participation in activities geared towards creating change. ACRL is active in advocating for policy and legislation through the ALA Washington Office, as well as through coalition work with groups such as the Open Access Working Group and the Library Copyright Alliance (LCA) for joint work with ALA and ARL on copyright issues such as fair use, trade agreements, and Google Book Search settlement. Additional resources for member advocates include:


Open Access Working Group Letter to Senator Cornyn on Public-Access to Research (April 29, 2022)
ACRL joined 7 other members of the Open Access Working Group (representing national and regional library, publishing, funding, research and advocacy organizations) in a coalition letter urging Senator Cornyn to protect the provision ensuring that taxpayers are guaranteed timely, free access to the results of publicly funded research during conference negotiations between the Senate and House regarding the U.S. Innovation & Competition Act (USICA, S. 1260) and the America COMPETES Act. Protecting Section 2527 of USICA would accomplish the goals Sen. Cornyn set out in the FASTR Act.

Open Access Working Group Letter to Congressional Leaders on Public-Access to Research (March 31, 2022)
ACRL joined 11 other members of the Open Access Working Group (representing national and regional library, publishing, funding, research and advocacy organizations) in a coalition letter asking Congressional leaders to retain language ensuring that taxpayers are guaranteed timely, free access to the results of publicly-funded research. This provision (Section 2527 in the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act, S.1260), should be retained during conference negotiations between the House and Senate.

Affordable College Textbook Act (March 10, 2022)
ACRL joined with 13 others to support the Affordable College Textbook Act, reintroduced by U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) and U.S. Senators Angus King (I-ME), Tina Smith (D-MN), and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), along with U.S. Representative Joe Neguse (D-CO-02). The legislation is designed to help students manage costs by making high quality textbooks easily accessible to students, professors, and the public for free.

Amicus Brief in U.S. Court of Appeals for 11th Circuit Case Apple v. Corellium (February 16, 2022)
ACRL joined ALA, ARL, and the Library Futures Institute in an amicus brief by the Software Preservation Network in the case Apple Inc. v. Corellium LLC urging the circuit court to affirm that security research is a fair use. Corellium makes software that emulates the Apple operating system to facilitate security research. Apple sued for infringement, and the court found that Corellium's emulation software was a fair use. Apple appealed to the 11th Circuit. The amicus brief has two basic parts: a legal argument that providing access to software for research can be (and often is) transformative fair use, and a policy argument that broad fair use rights are especially important for preserving digital cultural heritage. A fair use win at the appellate level would affirm that access for research is a protected fair use of software.

Amicus Brief in U.S. Court of Appeals for D.C. Circuit Case Green v. Department of Justice (January 19, 2022)
ACRL joined ALA, ARL, and 15 other organizations and individuals who promote functional fair uses of copyrighted works and advocate for equitable access in signing onto an amicus brief in Green v. Department of Justice, an Electronic Frontier Foundation lawsuit which challenges Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act as an unconstitutional restraint on fair use. This amicus explains that the Copyright Office's triennial review has failed to adequately protect functional fair uses in the areas of accessibility for those with disabilities, security research, and right to repair and has imposed an unreasonably burdensome process on triennial review participants.


Open Access Working Group Statement on UNESCO Ratification of Open Science Recommendation (December 2, 2021)
ACRL joined 13 other members of the Open Access Working Group (representing national and regional library, publishing, funding, research and advocacy organizations) in applauding the ratification of UNESCO’s Recommendation on Open Science during its 41st General Conference. This move marks critical progress in international efforts to increase equity in access to and participation in science, technology, and innovation.

Amicus Brief in U.S. Court of Appeals for 3rd Circuit Case Hepp v. Facebook, Inc. (October 28, 2021)
ACRL joined an amicus brief by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (together with the American Library Association, the Association of Research Libraries, and the Freedom to Read Foundation among other public interest groups, small tech companies, and representatives of the start-up community) in support of a petition for rehearing in Hepp v. Facebook et al. The 3rd Circuit issued a detrimental ruling that Section 230 of the Communication Decency Act does not immunize against the right of publicity claims. As internet intermediaries, the library community has a strong interest in the determination of this case. Libraries frequently provide access to online content, both inside the physical library and remotely through the library’s website or mobile apps. This includes hosting interactive computer services that are governed by Section 230, including services that provide user-generated content.

Joint Statement on Legislative Efforts to Restrict Education about Racism in American History (June 16, 2021)
ACRL joined a number of organizations in co-signing an American Association of University Professors, American Historical Association, Association of American Colleges & Universities, and PEN America joint statement stating their “firm opposition” to legislation, introduced in at least 20 states, that would restrict the discussion of “divisive concepts” in public education institutions. The statement notes that "Americans of all ages deserve nothing less than a free and open exchange about history and the forces that shape our world today, an exchange that should take place inside the classroom as well as in the public realm generally. To ban the tools that enable those discussions is to deprive us all of the tools necessary for citizenship in the twenty-first century."

ACLS Statement Condemning Anti-Asian Violence (March 18, 2021)
ACRL joined 36 other organizations to sign the ACLS Statement Condemning Anti-Asian Violence. ACRL stands with ACLS and is, "angry and saddened by the recent increase in incidents of violence against Asians and people of Asian descent in the United States and around the world.” ACLS and the signatories “encourage educators, lawmakers, and community leaders to take this moment to listen closely to Asian and Asian-American voices and work with them in stemming this latest scourge of prejudice and violence.”


Statement Urging Retraction of Executive Order Prohibiting the Inclusion of “Divisive Concepts” in Employee Training Sessions (October 13, 2020)
ACRL joined 28 organizations in signing onto a statement from the American Historical Association urging the retraction of the recent executive order prohibiting the inclusion of “divisive concepts” in employee training sessions carried out within the federal government and by federal contractors and grantees. The statement argues that "Rather than banning the 'divisive concepts' from any educational venue-whether a classroom, a museum, a national park, or a workplace training session-historians seek to draw public attention to these concepts so that they can be discussed, debated, and ultimately challenged. Unity is not achieved by pushing division under the rug; it can be won even in the face of difference."

ACRL Statement on Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and the Print Collecting Imperative (October 7, 2020)
In keeping with its Core Commitment to Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, ACRL recommends that North American research libraries continue to collect and preserve valuable print materials, even as the global COVID-19 crisis and associated financial circumstances may compel them to shift, at least temporarily, to digital formats where available. The association strongly urges libraries to take a deliberate, measured approach to any shift, temporary or permanent, toward an e-centric collection development model, an approach that balances fiscal exigencies with equity, diversity, and inclusion imperatives; takes full stock of the important research and teaching that cannot be accommodated through electronic resource collecting alone; and ensures support for continued print collecting in relevant areas. 

Amicus Brief in Michigan Supreme Court Case Ahmad v. University of Michigan (September 30, 2020)
ACRL joined the Association of Research Libraries, the American Council of Learned Societies, the American Historical Association, the Association of College and Research Libraries, the University of California Libraries, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Library, and the University of Iowa Libraries in filing an amicus brief in the Michigan Supreme Court case Ahmad v. University of Michigan, a case involving the use of a public records request to circumvent a deed of gift, which is a contract that libraries and archives routinely negotiate with donors and that sets the conditions of access to donated papers.

Statement on the 2020 Hong Kong National Security Law (July 17, 2020)
ACRL joined a number of scholarly societies as a signatory on a statement from the Association of Asian Studies expressing deep concern over the PRC government’s imposition of sweeping new security legislation that severely curtails the freedoms guaranteed in Hong Kong’s Basic Law, the Sino-British Joint Declaration, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The statement notes that the new legislation potentially puts at risk anyone whose words or actions may be construed as criticism of the PRC or the Hong Kong governments, regardless of citizenship or where such words and actions take place, significantly inhibiting the possibilities for academic inquiry and exchange in and relating to Hong Kong. 

Open Access Working Group Letter White House Office of Science and Technology Policy on Access to Research (June 5, 2020)
Through its membership in the Open Access Working Group, ACRL joined six other organizations in submitting a letter to thank the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) for its leadership in convening a substantive and thoughtful discussion process on broadening public access to the results of federally funded research. The groups urged OSTP to, "enact a strong national open access policy, and we stand ready to collaborate with you and all other stakeholders to ensure that U.S. federally funded research achieves the maximum public good it is intended to promote."

ACRL Supports ALA, BCALA, and APALA Statements Condemning Violence and Racism (June 2, 2020)
ACRL supports ALA in condemning violence and racism towards Black people and all people of color. ACRL endorses the statement of the Black Caucus of The American Library Association (BCALA), which condemns the death of George Floyd at the hands of police officers within the Minneapolis Police Department. ACRL endorses the statement of The Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association, which denounces the rise in racism and xenophobia against Asians and Asian/Pacific Americans in wake of the outbreak of COVID-19. With BCALA, we call on ACRL members to reflect and take action against systemic injustices and inequitable policing practices.

Letter to House and Sentate Leadership on Higher Education Provisions in CARES Act (June 1, 2020)
ACRL joined a number of other higher education organizations in sending a letter to U.S. House and Senate leadership to encourage the provision of substantial additional funding for higher education in future bills, with focus on those students and institutions hardest hit by the consequences of the pandemic.

Statement Urging Library Vendors to Continue Free Access (June 2020)
ACRL joined the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) and the Oberlin Group of Libraries to urge all library resource and service providers to continue to offer free and open access to as many scholarly resources as possible; to offer subscription renewals with no price increases; and to continue to work with the library community to minimize the impact of the current crisis on our communities, including the significant inequities in access to resources that have been highlighted by the shift to remote work.

Comments to White House Office of Science and Technology Policy on Public Access (April 22, 2020)
ALA and ACRL submitted comments in response to a Request for Information issued by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy on Public Access to Peer-Reviewed Scholarly Publications, Data and Code Resulting From Federally Funded Research. The comments reiterated our longstanding support for governmental policies and legislation that facilitate open access to scholarly information and open education.

Comments to Department of Education Proposed Rule on Campus Free Speech (February 18, 2020)
ACRL, ALA, and the Freedom to Read Foundation joined 24 other non-profit groups in a coalition letter by the American Council on Education to U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos which responded to the Department’s January 17, 2020, notice of proposed rulemaking. The Department indicated it was proposing regulatory changes in response to Executive Order 13864, Improving Free Inquiry, Transparency and Accountability at Colleges and Universities, issued March 21, 2019. The letter explains that, "While we share the Department’s goal of ensuring that robust debate and a diversity of ideas flourish on campus, we have grave concerns that rather than “promot[ing]” and “encouraging” free speech, as the executive order directs, the proposed rule is likely to curtail or limit it, particularly at private institutions. Even more problematic, the negative consequences of the proposed rule would grow exponentially should other covered agencies adopt a regulatory framework similar to the one proposed by the Department." The letter continues to describe these concerns and provide recommendations which would, “allow the Department to better satisfy the executive order’s goals while avoiding many of the pitfalls generated by its current proposal."

Comments to National Institutes of Health, Office of Science Policy, on Data Management and Sharing (January 9, 2020)
ACRL provided comments in response to the NIH Request for Information on Draft NIH Policy for Data Management and Sharing and Supplemental Draft Guidance. In commenting on definitions, ACRL questioned why the concept of accessibility had been removed and recommended NIH clarify the definition of Scientific Data along with clarifying the scope and required date for Plan submission. Importantly, ACRL recommend the removal of the word “consider” to require that the Plan include all elements described as researchers should think through the data management and sharing issues related to their work for all NIH-funded research when they are first planning their research and drafting proposals. The ACRL comments included many other recommendations to clarify and strengthen language in the policy and supplemental guidance.

Letter to White House on Open Access to Taxpayer Funded Research (January 8, 2020)
ACRL joined eight other library, research, and advocacy organizations to express commitment to ensuring that American taxpayers are guaranteed immediate, free, and unfettered access to the results of taxpayer funded scientific research and to encourage the Administration to support continued progress towards this shared goal. The letter requests that the Administration, "issue a policy eliminating the current 12-month embargo on articles access, and ensure that articles and supporting data from taxpayer funded research be made immediately available under terms and conditions that allow their full reuse."


Protocols for Native American Archival Materials
In August 2019, ACRL joined eight organizations, institutions, and Native American communities to endorse the Protocols for Native American Archival Materials. The Protocols were developed by nineteen Native American and non-Native American archivists, librarians, museum curators, historians, and anthropologists and published in 2007 with support from the American Library Association Office for Diversity, the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, the National Library of Medicine, the Wenner-Gren Foundation, The Bay and Paul Foundations, the Northern Arizona University Institute for Native Americans, and Mary and P. David Seaman.

Letter on Higher Education Funding in Alaska (March 4, 2019)
ACRL joined a number of professional societies representing tens of thousands of faculty members and students from humanistic and social scientific disciplines in signing a letter expressing deep concern about Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy’s proposed funding cuts for higher education.


Comments to National Institutes of Health, Office of Science Policy, on Data Management and Sharing (December 5, 2018)
ACRL provided comments in response to the NIH Request for Information on Proposed Provisions for a Draft Data Management and Sharing Policy for NIH Funded or Supported Research. In commenting on the definition of scientific data, ACRL suggested that NIH reconsider the exclusion of laboratory notebooks and case reports. In commenting on the requirement for a data management and sharing plan, ACRL made several suggestions including that NIH provide guidance on making data shareable, clearly define key terms, consider designating the data management plan (DMP) as Additional Review Criteria and incorporating review of the DMP in the overall impact score, reconsider the proposed DMP limit of 2 pages, and offer more explicit guidance to explain minimally adequate preservation. In commenting on the optimal timing implementation, ACRL noted that with robust guidance and infrastructure, a year of community preparation could be sufficient and suggested providing tutorials or other learning objects in the call for proposals could be helpful. ACRL concluded by applauding the NIH for allowing costs associated with data management and sharing to be requested in the budget allowance.

Comments to Environmental Protection Agency (August 14, 2018)
ACRL provided comments on “Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science” the proposed rule by the EPA on 05/25/2018. The comments noted that the proposed rule is problematic and stated, "While ACRL is generally committed to principles of scientific transparency and openness, we are concerned about the rule’s proposed selective use of “open” as an enabling strategy in the EPA’s policy-making process. We support requirements to make data underlying scientific studies openly available for the purposes of validation, replication and new research. However, we recognize that there are many instances when it is simply not possible–or preferable–to do so."

Letter to Committee on the Judiciary on Marrakesh Treaty Implementation Act, S. 2559 (July 24, 2018)
ACRL joined nine other library, research and advocacy organizations to express strong support of the passage of the Marrakesh Treaty Implementation Act, S. 2559. The letter states that, “The implementing legislation embodies a consensus approach which balances the need to expand access to information for people who are blind around the world with the responsibility to properly safeguard the interests of rights holders.”

Letter to Senator Orrin Hatch on Geospatial Data Act of 2017 (April 13, 2018)
ACRL joined twenty-three other library, research and advocacy organizations to express concerns regarding language in the Geospatial Data Act of 2017. The letter states that, “there is no basis in law that calls for the government to rely on and use of the private sector in the provision of geospatial data to the maximum extent practical.” Additionally, the proposed amendment that, “Any data acquired through commercial contracts will be made available to the public,” is seriously concerning, and the letter states that, “By entering into a contract with an external party, federal agencies are potentially allowing these parties the ability to assert ownership of such data.”

Letter to California Committee on Accountability & Administrative in Support of AB 2192 (April 4, 2018)
ACRL joined eight other national and regional library, publishing, research and advocacy organizations to express support of the amendments contained in AB 2192 of the “California Taxpayer Access to Publicly Funded Research Act.” The amended language in AB 2192 would require all articles reporting on California state funded research be made publicly available to all in a timely, barrier-free manner.

Comments to National Institutes of Health (April 2, 2018)
ACRL responded to a request for information issued March 5, 2018, on first National Institutes of Health (NIH) Strategic Plan for Data Science.

AHA Statement Condemning Polish Law Criminalizing Public Discussion of Polish Complicity in Nazi War Crimes (February 2018)
At the 2018 ALA Midwinter Meeting in Denver, the ACRL Board of Directors signed on to an American Historical Association (AHA) statement condemning Polish law criminalizing public discussion of Polish complicity in Nazi war crimes.


Comments to National Library of Medicine (October 31, 2017)
ACRL responded to a call for information issued September 26, 2017, on next-generation data science challenges in health and biomedicine, specifically these areas: promising directions for new data science research in the context of human health and disease; promising directions for new initiatives relating to open science and research reproducibility; and promising directions for workforce development and new partnerships.

Comments to National Institutes of Health (January 19, 2017)
ACRL responded to a Request for Information issued November 14, 2016, on strategies for data management, sharing, and citation in order to consider what, when, and how data should be managed and shared; and setting standards for citing shared data and software.


Comments to National Science Foundation (September 26, 2016)
ACRL provided feedback to the National Science Foundation (NSF) in preparation for updates to its Strategic Plan, offering six recommendations to allow for research data and articles to be freely shared

Comments to National Cancer Institute (June 30, 2016)
ACRL responded to Request for Information issued on May 13, 2016, with regard to the National Cancer Moonshot Initiative and offered four recommendations for actions to allow for research data and articles to be freely shared.


Comments to Department of Education on Open Licensing (December 18, 2015)
ALA and ACRL applauded the Department of Education’s proposed rule for “Open Licensing Requirement for Direct Grant Programs” (proposed § 3474.20) which would amend regulations so that all Department grantees who are awarded direct competitive grant funds are required to openly license content to the public. 

UPCEA Hallmarks of Excellence in Online Learning (October 23, 2015)
The ACRL Board of Directors endorsed the University Professional and Continuing Education Association’s (UPCEA) Hallmarks of Excellence in Online Learning document at its 2015 Fall Executive Committee meeting. The Board agrees this document is reflective of current changing landscapes in higher education, and is pleased to join other higher organizations in endorsing.

Affordable College Textbook Act (October 8, 2015)
ACRL joined with 13 others to support the Affordable College Textbook Act, introduced by U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL), Al Franken (D-MN) and Angus King (I-ME). The legislation is designed to help students manage costs by making high quality textbooks easily accessible to students, professors and the public for free.

Network Neutrality Amicus Brief (September 21, 2015)
ALA, ACRL, ARL, COSLA stepped to the front lines in the battle to preserve network neutrality by filing an amici curiae brief supporting the respondent in the case of United States Telecom Association (USTA) v. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and United States of America. They argued in support of the FCC’s strong, enforceable rules to protect and preserve the open internet. Earlier, on September 4 these same library organizations requested the right to file the brief.

Letter to White House on Open Educational Resources (August 4, 2015)
ACRL joined a broad coalition of more than 90 education, library, technology, public interest, and legal organizations in a letter calling on the White House to take administrative action to ensure federally funded educational materials are made available as Open Educational Resources (OER) that are free to use, share, and improve.

Statement Defending Tenure and Academic Freedom (June 11, 2015)
ACRL joined with 21 other scholarly societies in a statement protesting proposed changes to the structure of the University of Wisconsin system that threaten to undermine tenure, shared governance, and academic freedom in Wisconsin.

Talking Points: The Bandwidth Battle (PDF) (April 2015)
ACRL President Karen A. Williams and ALA President Courtney Young comment on net neutrality and why it matters for higher education in a column for CURRENTS, a publication of the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE).