International Association of Scientific and Technological University Libraries

IATUL News Alerts

Archive August 2016

ARL Makes SPEC Kits Open Access Online

Wednesday, 31 August 2016 4:19:32 p.m.

The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) has opened up access to all SPEC Kits on the ARL Digital Publications platform for all users. This change demonstrates the value that the Association and its members place on free and open access to information.

Since the early 1970s the Association of Research Libraries has used the SPEC survey program to bring research libraries up-to-date information on library policies and procedures that helps leaders continuously improve their management systems. Each year, the program works with librarians in the US and Canada to develop surveys of the ARL membership on topics of strategic interest.

The SPEC program has been a cost-recovery operation that relies on revenue from subscriptions and sales of individual titles to cover the expenses related to running the surveys, producing the SPEC Kit publications, hosting online versions, and, since 2015, presenting webcasts. The program has not received support from membership dues or any other sources of funding.

ARL president Larry Alford said, “The Association of Research Libraries strongly believes in the tenet of open access and advocates for the increased availability of open access literature. In order for ARL to demonstrate this value, the Board of Directors is pleased to announce the digital versions of SPEC Kits will be freely available going forward.”

In 2016, open access to the digital versions of SPEC Kits will be supported by subscription revenue already received, additional sales of print copies, and, if necessary, Board-designated reserve funds. This will be an experiment to understand how opening up access to online SPEC Kits will impact revenue and to determine whether the Association will need to identify other sources of funds to sustain the program going forward. ARL thanks all the SPEC Kit subscribers for helping make this change possible this year.

Sci-Hub Controversy Triggers Publishers’ Critique of Librarian

Wednesday, 31 August 2016 4:18:39 p.m.

The website repository Sci-Hub, which enables users to freely download scholarly articles that normally require institutional subscriptions or individual payments, has found itself at the center of a series of conflicts over the past year. Many publishers are increasingly angry at the theft of copyrighted material, with the Association of American Publishers (AAP) going so far as to censure an academic librarian for his comments on Sci-Hub during a panel at the American Library Association (ALA) annual conference in Orlando in June.

Video: 3 Ways Virtual Reality Can Enhance Learning

Wednesday, 31 August 2016 4:16:22 p.m.

Virtual reality has the potential to create a new language for experiential learning.


Campus Support Systems for Technical Researchers Navigating Big Data Ethics

Wednesday, 31 August 2016 4:08:36 p.m.

Complex data sets raise challenging ethical questions about risk to individuals who are not sufficiently covered by computer science training, ethics codes, or Institutional Review Boards (IRBs). The use of publicly available, corporate, and government data sets may reveal human practices, behaviours, and interactions in unintended ways, creating the need for new kinds of ethical support. Secondary data use invokes privacy and consent concerns. A team at Data & Society recently conducted interviews and campus visits with computer science researchers and librarians at eight U.S. universities to examine the role of research librarians in assisting technical researchers as they navigate emerging issues of privacy, ethics, and equitable access to data at different phases of the research process.

How Should We Organize the Academic Library? The View from the Director’s Chair

Wednesday, 31 August 2016 4:05:25 p.m.

Library leaders are faced with no shortage of imperatives. They are building new strategies to align the library in support of the research enterprise and student success. They are grappling with the challenges of stagnant budgets and rising costs. They are rethinking their tangible collections and renovating their facilities.

In support of these types of efforts, library leaders are beginning to take on new approaches to management and organization. Especially at large research libraries whose employees number in the hundreds, organizational structure is essential to aligning resources with strategic objectives. In a new research project, nearly 20 library leaders were interviewed to understand the approaches being taken to organizational structure and related issues. They describe how they have re-defined leadership roles in their institutions and the ways in which they used organizational structures to effect change. Under the protection of anonymity, the directors offered candid assessments of the pros and cons of different organizational models, and analyzed their own successes and failures.


Pay It Forward: Investigating a Sustainable Model of Open Access Article Processing Charges for Large North American Research Institutions

Wednesday, 31 August 2016 4:03:33 p.m.

As the global open access movement continues to grow and evolve, the question of whether a wholesale shift of the scholarly journal publishing system to “gold” open access is a viable way forward is of increasing interest. In such a shift, all journal publishers would make all scholarly articles freely available to readers, with authors or their institutions paying to publish their work when required by the publisher, rather than readers paying to read it. Lending momentum to this discussion is the fact that gold open access journals have steadily gained market share, doubling in article volume every four years and now in excess of 14% of the total journal output.