RUSA Statement Against Racism, Discrimination, and Harassment in the Profession    |    RUSA Cultural Norms    |    RUSA statement on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion    |    Our Statement on Access    |    RUSA/BRASS Statement on Harvard Business Review Pricing & Access


RUSA Statement Against Racism, Discrimination, and Harassment in the Profession

February 5, 2019

The Reference and User Services Association (RUSA) Board of Directors has learned of racist, discriminatory, and harassing behavior at 2019 ALA Midwinter Meeting in Seattle, WA. We would like to express our support to those who were harassed and discriminated against during this particular incident and to all those who have lived and worked too long in unsafe environments.

We would also like to renew our commitment to our statement on Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion and call upon ALA Executive Committee to quickly respond, reassess, and renew its commitment to their fourth strategic direction, through education and advocacy for our colleagues and our patrons.

It is more important than ever that we as RUSA and as librarians and library staff work on addressing the pervasive privilege and bias within our profession and association. It is our responsibility to continue this work so that we can continue to ensure “the right of access to information for people of all identities, backgrounds, ages, and abilities especially with regard to marginalized peoples.”


RUSA Cultural Norms

 January 15, 2019

In an effort to support and guide the RUSA Board of Directors work during its current strategic planning process, the Board’s cultural alignment was examined in order to confirm that it mirrored the values and norms the Board and RUSA hold in high regard.  This examination and discussion led to the creation of a Cultural Norms document. RUSA leadership would also like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their input into the recent survey on the strategic planning process.  The response exceeded expectations and will help in the development of the new RUSA strategic plan.

Click on photo to open Cultural Norms PDF.

RUSA Cultural Norms Chart


RUSA statement on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

July 19, 2018

The RUSA Board approved this statement at the 2018 Annual Conference in New Orleans, LA. Working group members were Robin Bradford, Alesia McManus, Amber Prentiss, and Chella Vaidyanathan.

"RUSA is an association of library personnel connecting people to resources, information services and collections. Recognizing the importance of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion*, the association affirms the right of access to information for people of all identities, backgrounds, ages, and abilities especially with regards to marginalized peoples. We value and support people seeking knowledge, enrichment, entertainment and life-long learning. We work within our communities to provide equitable access to library resources by building inclusive collections, and providing accessible spaces and services. We are welcoming, open and accepting of a diversity of viewpoints among our association members, and we strive to offer a safe environment for our colleagues to explore and express their ideas."


ALA and Other ALA Divisions

ALA Policy Manual - Diversity

ALA Office for Diversity, Literacy and Outreach Services (ODLOS)

AASL Position Statement on Diversity in the Organization

ALSC Statement on Equity, Diversity & Inclusion

YALSA Statement on Equity, Diversity & Inclusion


Our Statement on Access

As reference and user services librarians, we believe that access to information is a human right. We value:

  1. Libraries’ role in providing people with equitable and open access to information in all formats that transcends limitations of personal economics;
  2. Our professional commitment to intellectual freedom and fair use;
  3. Protection of patron privacy;
  4. The freedom to read;
  5. Creation, distribution, and possession of information that is free from interference and censorship;
  6. Equal, ready and equitable access to information collected, compiled, produced, funded and/or disseminated by government agencies.
  7. We support libraries, publishers, and lawmakers in Crafting copyright laws that reasonably preserve authors’ intellectual property without compromising the library user’s access to information;
  8. Providing equitable access to information for all library users;
  9. Ensuring long-term access to print and electronic information through robust preservation and access programs;
  10. Facilitating digital and information literacy among library users.

Draft by RUSA Access to Information Committee, June 24, 2012 and February 24, 2012 Approved by the RUSA Board, Seattle WA, Midwinter Conference, January 2013. Also available here:


RUSA/BRASS Statement on Harvard Business Review Pricing & Access (Download PDF)

All databases containing Harvard Business Review, a journal published by Harvard Business Publishing (HBP), became “read only” for 500 (HBR 500) of the most popular Harvard Business Review articles on August 1, 2013. Campuses may pay a premium to restore full access to link, save, and print the affected articles.  EBSCO, exclusive provider to electronic Harvard Business Review articles, notified subscribers in spring of 2013 about this change.  These new access restrictions will affect researcher’s ability to access and use these articles.

Librarians decry the erosion of full access to scholarly material. Members of the Business Reference and Services Section (BRASS) of the Reference and User Services Division (RUSA) of the American Library Association (ALA) have clarified the restrictions with HBP and EBSCO, considered implications for libraries, colleges and universities, and offer suggestions for addressing this newest access restriction to an electronic journal.   

Not for course content: A business librarian contacted representatives from HBP and EBSCO for clarification.  One Harvard representative stated that “material in EBSCOhost is not intended for use as assigned course material regardless of how that is achieved.”  

Read more

A BRASS representative summarized further clarification with HBP: “The addition of HBR content to the EBSCO database was a convenience for users, but never meant to supplant Harvard’s business model of the sale of HBR reprints and case studies to academia. Harvard contends that there is abuse of their no linking policy. They feel that the abuse of the ‘no-linking to syllabi, not for use in course work’ policy is cannibalizing their sale of permissions.”  In an October 17, 2013 letter to the Financial Times a HBP representative asserted: “Any associated licence fees are not incremental or new; they simply shift the payment for these articles from the school to the library.”

BRASS identified three main issues where libraries will be affected by these changes and offers suggestions for individual responses.  A BRASS representative summarizes communication with HBP and EBSCO:

Charge a Premium: HBP chose a way to get the money that would have been spent on course packs by charging a premium for accessing the HBR 500 above the current EBSCO database subscription cost.  A Harvard Publishing representative said that schools ought not to be paying twice -- for a course pack license fee and for the EBSCO HBR 500 premium. EBSCO reiterated that, and said they could be contacted by any school that was paying double. Harvard felt this model was the most favorable to libraries of all the options.  RUSA/BRASS urges librarians to fact-check with their institutions.

Pricing: Harvard feels its EBSCO premium is fair compared to other materials available on the market. Harvard has a strong course pack business, they are not looking to make new money; they just want to preserve their business model. The premiums have ranged from under $10,000 to as much as $200,000. Harvard knows their content is most heavily used by the top 100 schools, and they have the largest premiums to pay. Premiums should be close to fees campuses pay each year to Harvard for permissions.  RUSA/BRASS urges librarians to fact-check with their institutions.

Is There a Fair Use Issue? Despite any stated restrictions, fair use should apply to the print journal subscriptions. With the database however, libraries have signed a license that stipulates conditions of use, so legally are bound by the license terms. What hasn’t really been fully tested is whether federal law (i.e. copyright law) preempts a license like this. While librarians may like to think it does, there is very little case law.  Also, it is possible that if Harvard could prove that course packs and article permission fees are a major revenue source for them, it would be harder to declare fair use as an issue and fail the market effect factor. In other cases as in Georgia State, the publishers could not prove their permissions business was that significant which worked against them. Remember that if Harvard could prove that schools were abusing the restrictions on use, they could sue.

RUSA/BRASS offers this guidance and suggestions for individual librarians on their campuses:

  • Publicize and enforce new license restrictions on their campuses.  Survey faculty regarding extent of use of HBR 500 in classes. Communicate with campus bookstores regarding Harvard course pack accounts and the possibility of duplication of HBP premium enhanced access through the EBSCO databases.  Consider alternate articles to the HBR 500 supplied by other vendors that do not have these restrictions.
  • HBP clearly states that depending on how campuses choose to access these articles they are shifting existing subscription costs from the business schools to the library. Librarians are urged to communicate with their business school and library Deans and Directors regarding implications of this shift.
  • HBP’s profit driven practices diverge from the intent of scholarly communication and impinge on higher education and libraries’ core social mission to preserve and make accessible records of scholarship.  Libraries and publishers share a common goal to enhance scholarship by facilitating access to knowledge. Libraries seek to work with HBP to craft a more mutually beneficial access and pricing model.
  • RUSA/BRASS believes that scholarly communication should not be driven by an unreasonable profit model.  Librarians are urged to contact their business school deans, presidents, academic senate, and legislators about the effect of high profit publishing companies on higher education budgets and steadily eroding access to scholarly communication.
  • RUSA/BRASS urges HBP to suspend this new restrictive policy and collaborate with libraries to find solutions that honor our shared educational and scholarly mission.

The American Library Association is the oldest and largest library association in the world, providing association information, news, events, and advocacy resources for members, librarians, and library users.


For further information contact:  


Approved by a vote of the BRASS Executive Committee, Oct. 28, 2013  

Approved by RUSA Executive Committee, Oct. 31, 2013


Many thanks to the BRASS HBR 500 Task Force for their research and work in drafting this statement:

  • Ann Fiegen (Chair), Annette Buckley, Glen McGuigan, Heidi Senior, Linda Hauck, and Lisa Ancelet


The Business Librarians Association (BLA) has endorsed the RUSA/BRASS Statement on Harvard Business Review Pricing & Access. The BLA represents the interests of business librarians working in academic libraries across the UK and Ireland.

Alasdair Stewart, BLA Supplier Liaison Officer, University of Stirling  |  Keith Walker, BLA Chair, Edinburgh Napier University.



Related Reading (newest first)


Miriam Barnum's news article: New Policy on Harvard Business Review Articles Sparks Debate
(The Harvard Crimson, Nov. 17, 2013)

Meredith Farkas, General Education Instruction Coordinator at Portland State and adjunct faculty at San Jose State, criticizes the logic in Harvard's article from F.T
(Information Wants To Be Free Blog, Nov. 15, 2013)

Kevin Smith questions the relevance of Harvard’s inefficient business model to the digital world.
(Library Journal, Nov. 14, 2013)

Barbara Fister, Librarian at Gustavus Adolphus College, suggests HBR tries to control what it means to be a library, and says libraries must stand up to publishers.
(Inside Higher Ed Blog, Nov. 14, 2013)

Patrick Clark's news article:  Harvard Business Review Defends New Restrictions on Sharing Articles
(Bloomberg Businessweek, Nov. 13, 2013)

Kevin Smith, Scholarly Communication Officer at Duke, says libraries should pay less to EBSCO what Harvard Business Publishing charges in addition.
(Scholarly Communications @ Duke blog, Nov. 12, 2013)

Christopher Shea's news article: Librarians Accuse Harvard Business Publishing of Unfair Prices.
(The Chronicle of Higher Education, Nov. 12, 2013)

Librarians speak out against Harvard Business Publishing's latest restriction.
(RUSABlog Nov. 6, 2013)

Chris Flegg addresses the recent HBR restrictions in the broader context of scholarly communications.
(Financial Times, Oct. 23, 2013)

Meera Nair,  Postdoctoral Scholar at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, addresses the copyright issue, citing Canadian law and court cases.
(Fair Duty Blog, Oct. 18, 2013)

Joshua Gans' response (in comments section) to Harvard Business Review.
(Financial Times, Oct 17, 2013)

Das Narayandas, Senior Associate Dean of Executive Education and Publishing and Professor of Business at Harvard Business School, responds to Gans' article.
(Financial Times, Oct. 17, 2013)

Joshua Gans, clarifies various topics address from his Financial Times opinion article, including deep links, and the top 45 journal ranking system.
(Digitopoly Oct. 16, 2013)

Joshua Gans suggests that if Harvard Business Publishing identifies itself as curricular material it should be downgraded as a vehicle for scholarly communication.
(Financial Times, Oct. 16, 2013)

Joshua Gans, Professor in the Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto blogs that Harvard Business Publishing crosses the 'evil' academic line.
(Digitopoly Oct. 6, 2013)

Chris Flegg, Business Librarian at the University of Oxford, addressed actions Harvard Business Publishing took four years ago to restrict access.
(LibraryJournal, Aug. 20, 2009).