Saturday, January 13, 2007

Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL): Canadian Leader in Open Access

Synopsis

Recently, the CARL/ABRC (Canadian Association of Research Libraries / Association des bibliothèques de recherche du Canada)decided to freely, and immediately, release their E-Lert / Cyberavis. This is good news; but, not too surprising, because CARL/ABRC is yet another of Canada's early leaders in the open access movement.

It was less than a month after the announcement of the world's first defining moment in open access, the Budapest Open Access Initiative, when CARL/ABRC issued a report endorsing the Initiative, and less than a year before CARL/ABRC held a conference to discuss the results of their own open access pilot, the CARL Institutional Repository project.

CARL/ABRC was among the first to endorse the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC), and the organizations still have a close and ongoing relationship.

Current CARL/ABRC open access leadership is shown on the advocacy front, as with their recent response to the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Draft Policy on Access to Research Outputs, and implementation, in the ongoing (and growing) CARL Institutional Repositories Project, and the Allouette Canada Open Digitization Initiative.

Some of the principles of CARL/ABRC's Hamilton Principles of 1995, especially the right of all individuals to have access to all expressions of knowledge, creativity and intellectual activity, and the fundamental role of academic research libraries in facilitating and enhancing the process of scholarly communication, were, in my opinion, more than prescient for their time, as these principles have much to offer to libraries of today and tomorrow to guide the way to open access.

Detail

The first post in this series celebrated Canada's pioneering role in open access. The world's first defining moment of the open access movement, the December 2001 Budapest Open Access Initiative, was a small meeting of 16 people, pioneers in the open access movement. 3 of these 16 are Canadian academics - a remarkable percentage, for a country our size: Jean-Claude Guédon, Leslie Chan, and Stevan Harnad.

While much of the world, even in academia, is only recently beginning to learn about open access, the Canadian academic library wasted no time at all in adopting a leadership position on open access.

The launch of the Budapest Open Access Initiative was announced on February 14, 2002, in the Free Online Scholarship (FOS) Newsletter, 8/8/02, by Peter Suber (another of the participants at Budapest, naturally, and drafter of the Initiative).

In March 2002, CARL/ABRC (Canadian Association of Research Libraries / Association des bibliothèques de recherche du Canada) issued a report endorsing the Budapest Open Archives Initiative.

CARL's support for open access has long been more than philosophical. In November 2002, CARL/ABRC held a conference on the lessons learned from its ongoing project to launch and monitor archives at seven Canadian universities, now the CARL Institutional Repositories Project, according to Peter Suber's FOS Newsletter. The CARL/ABRC institutional repositories can be viewed and searched using the CARL Metadata Harvester.

If CARL/ABRC was poised to move early into action on open access, it may be because a solid philosophical foundation for CARL/ABRC to move to a leadership position in scholarly communications was developed in the 1990's, as illustrated by the Hamilton principles, last revised in June 1995, which include the following:

    Access to Information
    The Association supports and promotes the right of all individuals to have access to all expressions of knowledge, creativity and intellectual activity.

    Scholarly Communication
    The Association has a fundamental role in facilitating and enhancing the process of scholarly communication. (emphasis added)

CARL/ABRC's early, and enduring, leadership is demonstrated by the association's long and close relationship with the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC). CARL was one of the earliest endorsers of SPARC, and is currently an affiliate member. CARL Directors are well represented on the SPARC Steering Committee. A more recent example of strong CARL/ABRC and SPARC cooperation is when CARL and SPARC jointly "commend the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) for the strength and timeliness of its Draft Policy on Access to Research Outputs".

CARL/ABRC's recent leadership in open access advocacy is exemplified by the CARL Response to the CIHR Draft Policy on Access to Research Outputs, and the corresponding briefing paper, both of which can be downloaded from the CARL/ABRC's What's New page.

Another noteworthy CARL/ABRC initiative is the Allouette Canada Open Digitization Initiative.

This post might seem a bit long - however, this is only scratching the surface, just briefly mentioning the major initiatives of the organization per se, and does not yet begin to discuss the leaders themselves - the people behind the CARL open access leadership, Executive Director Tim Mark, staff open access specialist Kathleen Shearer, and the many CARL Library Directors who are open access leaders themselves.

This post is a part of the Canadian Leadership in the Open Access series.

This post reflects my personal opinion only and does not represent the opinions or policy of the BC Electronic Library Network or the Simon Fraser University Library.

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