ARL’s Library Brown-Bag Lunch Series: Issues in Scholarly Communication

The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) has released a series of discussion guides for academic librarians to use with faculty. The guides are under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States license.

Here’s an excerpt from the guides’ web page:

This series of Discussion Leader’s Guides can serve as a starting point for a single discussion or for a series of conversations. Each guide offers prework and discussion questions along with resources that provide further background for the discussion leader of an hour-long session.

Using the discussion guides, library leaders can launch a program quickly without requiring special expertise on the topics. A brown-bag series could be initiated by a library director, a group of staff, or by any staff person with an interest in the scholarly communication system. The only requirements are the willingness to organize the gatherings and facilitate each meeting’s discussion.

CIC’s Digitization Contract with Google

Library Journal Academic Newswire has published a must-read article ("Questions Emerge as Terms of the CIC/Google Deal Become Public") about the Committee on Institutional Cooperation’s Google Book Search Library Project contract.

The article includes quotes from Peter Brantley, Digital Library Federation Executive Director, from his "Monetizing Libraries" posting about the contract (another must-read piece).

Here’s an excerpt from Brantley’s posting:

In other words—pretty much, unless Google ceases business operations, or there is a legal ruling or agreement with publishers that expressly permits these institutions (excepting Michigan and Wisconsin which have contracts of precedence) to receive digitized copies of In-Copyright material, it will be held in escrow until such time as it becomes public domain.

That could be a long wait. . . .

In an article early this year in The New Yorker, "Google’s Moon Shot," Jeffrey Toobin discusses possible outcomes of the antagonism this project has generated between Google and publishers. Paramount among them, in his mind, is a settlement. . . .

A settlement between Google and publishers would create a barrier to entry in part because the current litigation would not be resolved through court decision; any new entrant would be faced with the unresolved legal issues and required to re-enter the settlement process on their own terms. That, beyond the costs of mass digitization itself, is likely to deter almost any other actor in the market.

Nontraditional Professionals in Research Libraries

There is an interesting article by Stanley Wilder in the "Careers" section of the February 23, 2007 issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education ("The New Library Professional").

Using 2005 data, he notes that 23% of the professionals in ARL libraries are in nontraditional positions (e.g., development, human resources, and IT), and 39% of under-35 professionals are in these type of positions. In this under-35 group, 24% of nontraditional professionals earn $54,000 (or more). Forty-seven percent of under-35 computer professionals make $50,000 or more. (Needless to say, traditional librarians have not done as well salary-wise, leading to equity concerns.) The number of professionals who do not have an MLS has skyrocketed by 142% since 1985.

I wonder if there are significant differences in this trend by ARL library rank, with it being stronger at more larger, more affluent libraries or at libraries in private institutions.

My own experience during the last 20 years or so at a small public ARL library was that it was a constant struggle to get approval for new computer professional positions; to be able to recruit at salaries that, while not truly competitive, were at least not laughable; to upgrade existing positions so that they more adequately reflected job duties and marketplace values; and to retain staff. This was more difficult for non-MLS professionals than for MLS professionals.

More than once I, as an Assistant Dean/Director of Systems, had to take direct responsibility for Web support because of lengthy recruitment difficulties, including one two-year stretch where I did 100% of all Web support work in addition to my normal duties (I also ran the branch libraries for one year of that period). As an Assistant Dean for Digital Library Planning and Development, I had no staff and no prospect of getting any.

At some research libraries, non-MLS professionals may find that they have no career path or a short one. Taking computer professionals as an example, the issue is how far up the hierarchy can non-MLS professionals go before they hit the "must have an accredited MLS" ceiling? Can they become unit heads, department heads, ADs, or Deans/Directors? The answer may vary by library. Another issue is, generous salaries aside, are nontraditional professionals treated as second-class citizens in other ways than advancement (e.g., they may not be given the same level of support for professional travel and activities, especially if MLS librarians have faculty or faculty-like status and are adequately supported in their efforts to move up the academic ranks). Given that 39% of under-35 professionals are in nontraditional jobs, these are important issues to address, especially if Boomer librarians manage to retire en masse as some predict. It would not be a pretty sight to have Boomers heading out the door just as younger nontraditional librarians bump their heads on the MLS ceiling and start considering other career options.

This is a liminal period for research libraries, and, to a significant degree, nontraditional staff will determine their future success.

Source: Wilder, Stanley. "The New Library Professional." The Chronicle of Higher Education, 23 February 2007, C1, C4.

Know Your Copy Rights Initiative

The Association of Research Libraries and Peggy Hoon, Scholarly Communication Librarian at the North Carolina State University Libraries, have established the Know Your Copy Rights initiative "for librarians who are developing positive educational programs for academic users of copyrighted materials in US not-for-profit institutions."

A variety of useful documents are available (and more are being developed): "Assessing Campus Copyright Education Needs & Opportunities," "Know Your Copy Rights—What You Can Do" (faculty brochure), and "Using Copyrighted Works in Your Teaching—FAQ: Questions Faculty and Teaching Assistants Need to Ask Themselves Frequently."

Managing Digitization Activities, SPEC Kit 294

The Association of Research Libraries has published Managing Digitization Activities, SPEC Kit 294. The table of contents and executive summary are freely available.

Here are some highlights from the announcement:

This survey was distributed to the 123 ARL member libraries in February 2006. Sixty-eight libraries (55%) responded to the survey, of which all but two (97%) reported having engaged in digitization activities. Only one respondent reported having begun digitization activities prior to 1992; five other pioneers followed in 1992. From 1994 through 1998 there was a steady increase in the number of libraries beginning digital initiatives; 30 joined the pioneers at the rate of three to six a year. There was a spike of activity at the turn of the millennium that reached a high in 2000, when nine libraries began digital projects. Subsequently, new start-ups have slowed, with only an additional one to five libraries beginning digitization activities each year.

The primary factor that influenced the start up of digitization activities was the availability of grant funding (39 responses or 59%). Other factors that influenced the commencement of these activities were the addition of new staff with related skills (50%), staff receiving training (44%), the decision to use digitization as a preservation option (42%), and the availability of gift monies (29%). . . . .

Only four libraries reported that their digitization activities are solely ongoing functions; the great majority (60 or 91%) reported that their digitization efforts are a combination of ongoing library functions and discrete, finite projects.

ARL Institutional Repositories SPEC Kit

The Institutional Repositories SPEC Kit is now available from the Association of Research Libraries (ARL). This document presents the results of a thirty-eight-question survey of 123 ARL members in early 2006 about their institutional repositories practices and plans. The survey response rate was 71% (87 out of 123 ARL members responded). The front matter and nine-page Executive Summary are freely available. The document also presents detailed question-by-question results, a list of respondent institutions, representative documents from institutions, and a bibliography. It is 176 pages long.

Here is the bibliographic information: University of Houston Libraries Institutional Repository Task Force. Institutional Repositories. SPEC Kit 292. Washington, DC: Association of Research Libraries, 2006. ISBN: 1-59407-708-8.

The members of the University of Houston Libraries Institutional Repository Task Force who authored the document were Charles W. Bailey, Jr. (Chair); Karen Coombs; Jill Emery (now at UT Austin); Anne Mitchell; Chris Morris; Spencer Simons; and Robert Wright.

The creation of a SPEC Kit is a highly collaborative process. SPEC Kit Editor Lee Anne George and other ARL staff worked with the authors to refine the survey questions, mounted the Web survey, analyzed the data in SPSS, created a preliminary summary of survey question responses, and edited and formatted the final document. Given the amount of data that the survey generated, this was no small task. The authors would like to thank the ARL team for their hard work on the SPEC Kit.

Although the Executive Summary is much longer than the typical one (over 5,100 words vs. about 1,500 words), it should not be mistaken for a highly analytic research article. Its goal was to try to describe the survey’s main findings, which was quite challenging given the amount of survey data available. The full data is available in the "Survey Questions and Responses" section of the SPEC Kit.

Here are some quick survey results:

  • Thirty-seven ARL institutions (43% of respondents) had an operational IR (we called these respondents implementers), 31 (35%) were planning one by 2007, and 19 (22%) had no IR plans.
  • Looked at from the perspective of all 123 ARL members, 30% had an operational IR and, by 2007, that figure may reach 55%.
  • The mean cost of IR implementation was $182,550.
  • The mean annual IR operation cost was $113,543.
  • Most implementers did not have a dedicated budget for either start-up costs (56%) or ongoing operations (52%).
  • The vast majority of implementers identified first-level IR support units that had a library reporting line vs. one that had a campus IT or other campus unit reporting line.
  • DSpace was by far the most commonly used system: 20 implementers used it exclusively and 3 used it in combination with other systems.
  • Proquest DigitalCommons (or the Bepress software it is based on) was the second choice of implementers: 7 implementers used this system.
  • While 28% of implementers have made no IR software modifications to enhance its functionality, 22% have made frequent changes to do so and 17% have made major modifications to the software.
  • Only 41% of implementers had no review of deposited documents. While review by designated departmental or unit officials was the most common method (35%), IR staff reviewed documents 21% of the time.
  • In a check all that apply question, 60% of implementers said that IR staff entered simple metadata for authorized users and 57% said that they enhanced such data. Thirty-one percent said that they cataloged IR materials completely using local standards.
  • In another check all that apply question, implementers clearly indicated that IR and library staff use a variety of strategies to recruit content: 83% made presentations to faculty and others, 78% identified and encouraged likely depositors, 78% had library subject specialists act as advocates, 64% offered to deposit materials for authors, and 50% offered to digitize materials and deposit them.
  • The most common digital preservation arrangement for implementers (47%) was to accept any file type, but only preserve specified file types using data migration and other techniques. The next most common arrangement (26%) was to accept and preserve any file type.
  • The mean number of digital objects in implementers’ IRs was 3,844.

ARL Institutional Repositories, Version 2

The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) currently has 123 member libraries in the US and Canada. Below is an update of an earlier list of operational institutional repositories at ARL libraries.

Scholarly Communication Web Sites and Weblogs at ARL Libraries (Version 2)

This posting updates and considerably expands my earlier "Scholarly Communication Web Sites at ARL Libraries" posting.

It presents a list of scholarly communication Web sites and Weblogs at the academic member libraries of the Association of Research Libraries. Web sites and Weblogs were identified using separate Google "site:" searches for the exact phrases "scholarly communication" and "open access." Search results were then scanned to identify Web sites or Weblogs that appeared to be intended as the main library’s primary means of communicating to the university community about scholarly communication and/or open access issues. Conferences, presentations, newsletter articles, symposiums, and similar materials were excluded, as were Web sites or Weblogs at branch libraries. Searching was limited to the first few pages of search results.

Additions and corrections are welcome. Use the "Leave a Comment" function for this.

ETD Archives at ARL Libraries

This posting lists electronic theses and dissertation archives at ARL libraries that were not included in the prior "ETD Policies and Procedures at ARL Institutions" posting. The archives listed here do not include substantial ETD policy and procedure information; however, some sites provide links to more limited supporting information, such as formatting guidelines. In some cases, archives are identified here for institutions included in the prior posting because the ETD site in that posting did not include an archive link. To get a complete list of ETD archives, consult both postings. In some cases, ARL libraries do not separate out ETDs as a separate material type listing (e.g. DSpace community). Such integrated archives are not included here.

ETD Policies and Procedures at ARL Institutions

What electronic theses and dissertation (ETD) policies and procedures are in use in major North American research institutions?

The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) currently has 123 member libraries in the US and Canada. Below is a list of Web sites at ARL institutions that provide significant information about these institutions’ ETD policies and procedures. Some of these Web pages are on the library’s Website; some are on other university components’ Websites. This list was complied by a quick look at ARL libraries’ home pages, supplemented by limited institution-specific Google searching. Since these Websites can be difficult to find, this is likely to be partial list of relevant Websites. Please leave information about other relevant Websites in comments.

The Counting Game

Let’s say you run a research library and you have JSTOR. You are convinced that JSTOR is a safe, permanent electronic archive that fully substitutes for the included print journal volumes. It makes sense to take a second look at those print volumes. It’s a large number of volumes, and space (as always) is tight. What to do? You could withdraw them, you could put them in remote storage, or you could do nothing.

A question that might come to mind is: What impact will withdrawing these volumes have on my volume count? And, if your library is in ARL, a second question might be: what impact would withdrawing these volumes have on my ARL ranking?

Of course, if you are at one of the very top-tier libraries, this might be the proverbial drop in the bucket. If not, it might have an effect, possibly a big effect if you are at the bottom of the rankings.

Another interesting twist comes when the same questions come to bear on cooperative print archives. The idea is that a group of libraries band together and put one archival copy of book or journal volumes in a collective print repository, freeing up a considerable amount of collective space. Perhaps it’s in response to a shift to electronic access, or perhaps it’s based on low usage. In either case, one archival copy is stored safe and sound for that someday when it might be needed.

Makes sense—until you play the counting game.

The problem with the counting game in the emerging electronic era is figuring out how to count electronic "holdings" so that they have the same weight as print holdings. This is make especially tricky by the fact that libraries do not own licensed electronic resources, only "rent" them. What’s held one year may not be held the next due to a wide variety of factors, making counting a bit more difficult than just adding this year’s new purchases to last year’s volume counts.

Like it or not, research libraries are unlikely to stop playing the counting game. ARL’s E-Metrics project is one attempt to define meaningful new measures. In the long run, the counting game will have new rules, because it appears that the substitution of electronic information for print information is gaining momentum, driven by a variety of budgetary and other factors.

Strategic Planning Efforts at ARL Libraries, Part 2

How do some of the largest libraries in North America see their near-term future? This is part two of an investigation of that question. (Also see: Strategic Planning Efforts at ARL Libraries, Part 1.)

The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) currently has 123 member libraries in the US and Canada. Below is a partial list of strategic planning Web sites at ARL libraries. This list was complied by a quick look at ARL libraries’ home pages, supplemented by limited site-specific Google searching. Web sites were included if the library’s strategic plan included the years 2004 and/or 2005.

Strategic Planning Efforts at ARL Libraries, Part 1

How do some of the largest libraries in North America see their near-term future?

The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) currently has 123 member libraries in the US and Canada. Below is a partial list of strategic planning Web sites at ARL libraries. This list was complied by a quick look at ARL libraries’ home pages, supplemented by limited site-specific Google searching. Web sites were included if the library’s strategic plan included the years 2004 and/or 2005.

Scholarly Communication Web Sites at ARL Libraries

The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) currently has 123 member libraries in the US and Canada. Below is a list of scholarly communication web sites at ARL libraries. This list was complied by a quick examination of ARL libraries’ home pages, supplemented by some Google searching. It’s not comprehensive, and I would welcome additions.

ARL Institutional Repositories

The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) currently has 123 member libraries in the US and Canada. Below is a list of operational institutional repositories at ARL libraries. This list was complied by a quick examination of ARL libraries’ home pages, supplemented with a bit of Google searching. I certainly wouldn’t claim that it’s comprehensive, and I would welcome additions. (Quick note to ARL library Web site managers: put a highly visible link to your IR on your home page.)

While not perfect (what is?), this list does give us a rough snapshot of the level of IR activity in ARL libraries, and it provides some insight into how these large research libraries have chosen to structure and support their IRs (can you say bepress and DSpace?).