Category Archives: Advocacy

ACRL Joins Call on White House to Open Up Access to Federally Funded Educational Resources

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.

The call comes in response to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy’s request for ideas to strengthen the U.S. Open Government National Action Plan. The executive action envisioned by the coalition would build upon the Administration’s strong leadership in advancing public access to publicly funded resources with a strong Executive Branch-wide policy for the open licensing of educational, training, and instructional materials created with federal funds.

In its letter, the coalition outlined five core principles for Administration policy on this issue:

  1. Adopt a broad definition of educational materials;
  2. Provide free access via the Internet;
  3. Create conditions for resources that enable reuse;
  4. Require prompt implementation; and
  5. Regular reporting of progress and results.

Join the call for opening up taxpayer funded educational materials by tweeting with hashtag #OERUSA.

Support Public Access to Taxpayer-Funded Research: Ask Your Senators to Cosponsor and Pass S. 779

Access to federally funded research is the top issue on ACRL’s 2015 legislative agenda. Contact your U.S. Senators to ask that they demonstrate their support of open access to taxpayer funded research by cosponsoring and pushing for passage of the Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act of 2015 (FASTR). Ask the staffer who answers the phone if their boss is supporting FASTR. If they say yes, ask if that is a firm yes. If they have objections, ask if they can explain what those might be. Please take a moment to share what you learn with Jessica McGilivray in the ALA Washington Office, so that she can follow up. She will in turn share those concerns or supporters with the offices working on this bill and follow up with your Senator.

ACRL Joins Other Scholarly Associations To Defend Tenure and Academic Freedom in Wisconsin

ACRL has 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. Read the full statement below.

Membership in ACRL supports this work to advocate for the interests of academic librarians throughout the country. We need your help to continue these efforts. Please join, renew, or donate today.

Scholarly Associations Defend Tenure and Academic Freedom in Wisconsin

The American system of higher education is the envy of the world.  It’s not perfect; few things are.  But at a time when many Americans fear their nation may be falling behind competitively, U.S. colleges and universities continue to be universally regarded as the best in the world. The University of Wisconsin system, in particular, is noted for its standards of research and teaching excellence, with the Madison campus recognized among the top fifteen of American public universities by U.S. News and World Report. The University of Wisconsin is a critical contributor to the state’s economy that provides exceptional value with its thirteen campuses serving over 180,000 students. With $1.2 billion of state investment, the system generates over $15 billion of economic activity.

The undersigned associations of scholars across a wide variety of disciplines are gravely concerned with proposals pending in the Wisconsin legislature that threaten to undermine several longstanding features of the state’s current higher education system: shared governance, tenure, and academic freedom.

By situating the locus of control inside the institution, in a partnership between faculty and administrators, the U.S. system of higher education has generated an unmatched diversity that enables students to find the educational environment that works best for them.  And by granting faculty tenure after an appropriate period during which their work is rigorously evaluated, we have ensured the continued intellectual vitality and classroom independence so essential to innovation, dynamism, and rigorous scholarship.

Academic freedom is the foundation of intellectual discovery, including in the classroom. It nourishes the environment within which students develop critical habits of mind through encounters with diverse perspectives, experiences, and sources of evidence across disciplines. Our democracy depends on the educated citizens that this system is intended to produce: wide-ranging in their knowledge, rigorous in their ability to understand complicated questions, and dedicated to the public good.

Wisconsin in fact helped pioneer the concept of academic freedom for the entire United States when its Board of Regents declared in 1894 that they would not terminate the employment of economist Richard Ely even though his research and teaching on the benefits of labor unions had offended one of its own members. The Regents’ report in the wake of that controversy remains one of the most ringing endorsements for academic freedom in the history of American higher education: “Whatever may be the limitations which trammel inquiry elsewhere,” they wrote, “we believe the great state University of Wisconsin should ever encourage that continual and fearless sifting and winnowing by which alone the truth can be found.”

The policies recommended by the Joint Finance Committee and included in the 2016 budget pose a direct threat to academic freedom by expanding the circumstances under which tenure can be revoked (beyond dire financial emergencies and just cause) while simultaneously removing its protection under state statute. Tenure is a linchpin of vigorous shared governance and independent rigorous scholarship. This assault on the structure of Wisconsin’s model arrangements poses a threat to the university’s stellar reputation and international leadership in research and education—and it betrays a celebrated Wisconsin tradition that began with the Ely case in 1894.

Since 1904, the “Wisconsin Idea” has stood as an inspiring educational model for the entire nation, demonstrating the immeasurable benefits of a robust partnership between the state university and state government predicated on intellectual independence and active engagement by students and faculty members with the wider world. An earlier draft of the current budget bill sought to remove language about the Wisconsin Idea from the mission statement of the university. This most recent draft now poses no less a threat by undermining several of the most important practical pillars of shared governance and academic freedom that have made Wisconsin a beacon among its peer institutions around the world.

Rather than making the University of Wisconsin system more fiscally nimble, the Joint Finance Committee recommendations threaten to damage, possibly irreparably, the distinguished educational system that has justifiably been the pride of Wisconsin residents for more than a century and a half.


American Academy of Religion
American Anthropological Association
American Comparative Literature Association
American Folklore Society
American Historical Association
American Society of Comparative Law
American Society for Environmental History
American Sociological Association
American Studies Association
Association of College & Research Libraries
Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies
College Art Association
German Studies Association
Modern Language Association
National Communication Association
National Council on Public History
Oral History Association
Rhetoric Society of America
The Shakespeare Association of America
The Sixteenth Century Society and Conference
Society of Architectural Historians
World History Association

Global Coalition Denounces Elsevier’s Sharing Policy

Organizations around the world denounce Elsevier’s new policy that impedes open access and sharing

On April 30, 2015, Elsevier announced a new sharing and hosting policy for Elsevier journal articles. This policy represents a significant obstacle to the dissemination and use of research knowledge, and creates unnecessary barriers for Elsevier published authors in complying with funders’ open access policies. In addition, the policy has been adopted without any evidence that immediate sharing of articles has a negative impact on publishers subscriptions.

Despite the claim by Elsevier that the policy advances sharing, it actually does the opposite. The policy imposes unacceptably long embargo periods of up to 48 months for some journals. It also requires authors to apply a “non-commercial and no derivative works” license for each article deposited into a repository, greatly inhibiting the re-use value of these articles. Any delay in the open availability of research articles curtails scientific progress and places unnecessary constraints on delivering the benefits of research back to the public.

Furthermore, the policy applies to “all articles previously published and those published in the future” making it even more punitive for both authors and institutions. This may also lead to articles that are currently available being suddenly embargoed and inaccessible to readers.

As organizations committed to the principle that access to information advances discovery, accelerates innovation and improves education, we support the adoption of policies and practices that enable the immediate, barrier free access to and reuse of scholarly articles. This policy is in direct conflict with the global trend towards open access and serves only to dilute the benefits of openly sharing research results.

We strongly urge Elsevier to reconsider this policy and we encourage other organizations and individuals to express their opinions.

ACRL is among the signatories of the above statement. See the complete list and sign on on as an individual or organization.

Information Policy: Some Perspectives from the ALA Washington Office

Editor’s Note: The following is a guest post from Alan Inouye from the ALA Washington Office.

Hello ACRLers. I’m Alan Inouye, the director of ALA’s Office for Information Technology Policy (OITP) in ALA’s Washington Office. I’m delighted that ACRL has agreed to let me post occasionally about developments in information policy and the Washington Office that may be of interest to ACRL members.

I know that one of the most important information policy areas for academic and research libraries is copyright. Not accidentally then, copyright advocacy is perhaps the most intensive shared initiative between ACRL and the Washington Office. Much of our joint work takes place under the rubric of the Library Copyright Alliance (LCA), which includes ACRL, ALA (Washington Office), and the Association of Research Libraries. Over the years, we have engaged in the highest-profile cases through LCA, such as Google Books, Georgia State, and HathiTrust.

Currently, the triennial review of section 1201 (anti-circumvention) of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act is taking place, and LCA is submitting comments, working through our copyright counsel Jonathan Band; Kara Malenfant and Mary Ellen Davis for ACRL; and Washington Office staffers Carrie Russell and Adam Eisgrau. The U.S. House Judiciary committee completed its initial review of the copyright law. LCA submitted an additional summary of comments to date, and will continue to advocate on topics expected to be addressed in legislation including orphan works, Section 108, and mass digitization.

You may have heard about the recent announcement that the Re:Create copyright coalition launched, with ALA as a founding member. This coalition will greatly help to push out our messages about the utility of fair use and the importance of balanced copyright law—for everyone, whether entrepreneur, educator, or et al. Most important is the composition of the coalition as it includes influential industry groups such as the Consumers Electronics Association and groups with diverse viewpoints on the ideological spectrum. We’re optimistic that this new coalition will greatly bolster the ability to get the library perspective communicated to more national decision makers and influencers.

Also on the copyright front, Carrie Russell was able to present the L. Ray Patterson award to Georgia K. Harper, recently retired as scholarly communications advisor for the University of Texas, Austin. The award was presented in conjunction with the recent Texas Library Association conference in Austin.

Finally, I would like to say a belated thank you to the ACRL community for the opportunity to speak at the ACRL Leadership Council at the 2015 ALA Midwinter Meeting. I talked about the Policy Revolution! Initiative, an effort led by OITP to re-engineer how the library community engages in national public policy, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The premise of the initiative is that since libraries are in the midst of a revolution, how we pursue public policy also needs to be reconsidered fundamentally, and moved towards a more proactive stance.

The first major phase is to develop a national public policy agenda, which the various entities within the library community may use as guidance for their own policy goals. In communicating with national decision makers and influencers, the various advocates within the library community need to be consistent in messaging—else we’ll have a rather difficult time in making headway with them. Many thanks to the academic and research librarians who provided comments. The final version of the agenda will be released by this summer.

I look forward to making future posts—next time, likely on the Policy Revolution! Initiative—and talking with some ACRLers at the upcoming ALA Annual Conference in San Francisco.


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