Association of Research Libraries Calls for Born-Accessible Publishing in Comments to US Department of Justice – Association of Research Libraries

“In response to the US Department of Justice’s (DOJ) notice of proposed rulemaking “Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability; Accessibility of Web Information and Services of State and Local Government Entities,” the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) submitted comments supporting the federal government in codifying the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) into law for the first time, and highlighting strategies ARL member libraries are using to accelerate the adoption of born-accessible publishing.

The DOJ proposal would amend Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which governs accessibility for state and local government, including public libraries and academic libraries that are part of institutions of higher education. The proposed rule would require state and local government entities to adhere to WCAG 2.1 Level AA, with exceptions for certain categories of web content. For instance, in the higher education context, class or course content posted to a learning management system (LMS) would not need to be accessible, unless and until a student with a disability who would be unable to access the course content posted on the LMS enrolls in a particular class or course….”

US National Science Foundation Shows Commitment to Year of Open Science with Strategic Investments in Infrastructure and Learning – Association of Research Libraries

“A number of federal agencies are celebrating 2023 as a Year of Open Science. This initiative is focused on sparking change and inspiring open-science engagement through events and activities that will advance adoption of open, equitable, and secure science. The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) applauds the ongoing commitment of the US National Science Foundation (NSF) to public access through the Year of Open Science.

In 2023, through their public-access program, the NSF has funded 10 awards totaling over $1.8 million. These awards support strategic investments in critical national infrastructure for public access, such as machine-actionable data management and sharing plans (DMSPs) and a national summit for US-based research data organizations; culture change, such as the transformative work happening at MIT Library to create a fellows program for open and equitable scholarship; and a number of open-publishing initiatives….”

Comments of the Library Copyright Alliance on the Proposed Rulemaking Concerning Access to Electronic Works

“LCA supports adoption of the rule proposed by the Copyright Office. Under the current regulatory framework, 37 CFR § 202.18, the Library of Congress may provide limited on-site access to groups of newspapers electronically submitted for registration, as well as electronic serials and books submitted for mandatory deposit.1 The proposed rule would expand the categories of electronic deposits covered by the regulation with the same limitations on access as are currently in place.

As part of its Digital Collections Strategy, the Library is shifting towards an “e-preferred” approach across all its acquisition streams, including deposits received from the Office. In conjunction with the Library’s Digital Collections Strategy, the Office is encouraging the submission of works in electronic form. As more of these deposits are made in electronic formats, more of the Library’s collections are digital. Unless the existing on-site access rules are expanded to new categories of deposits, over time the public would have increasingly less access to works in the Library’s collections….

Because the proposed rule would benefit the public without harming copyright owners, LCA supports its adoption.”

The Association of Research Libraries, in collaboration with the Data Curation Network, receives an IMLS Grant to continue exploring research data sharing expenses – Data Curation Network

“We are excited to announce that the Data Curation Network (DCN) will collaborate once again with the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) on examining institutional expenses for public access research data. The awarded Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) grant (LG-254930-OLS-23) will allow continuation and further development of the Realities of Academic Data Sharing (RADS) Initiative, initially funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF-2135874). The initial exploratory RADS work revealed the complexity of the institutional research ecosystem at six DCN institutions; this IMLS grant will allow for further research into developing cost models for data sharing, as well as provide insights into how institutions, specifically libraries, can best plan for, and allocate resources for research support….”

ARL Comments on NASA Public Access Plan: Increasing Access to the Results of Scientific Research – Association of Research Libraries

“On March 28, 2023, the US Department of Transportation (DOT) released a request for information on “NASA’S Public Access Plan: Increasing Access to the Results of Scientific Research.” The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) is pleased to offer the following comments in response to this request….”

TOME Project Final Report Published – Association of University Presses

“The Association of American Universities, the Association of Research Libraries, and the Association of University Presses have published a final report assessing the success of their five-year pilot project to encourage sustainable digital publication of and public access to scholarly books.

The associations launched the Toward an Open Monograph Ecosystem (TOME) project in 2018 to publish humanities and social science scholarship on the internet, where these peer-reviewed works can be fully integrated into the larger network of scholarly and scientific research. The project engaged a network of more than 60 university presses and ultimately produced more than 150 open-access scholarly works. The books cover a wide range of topics in many disciplines, including philosophy, history, political science, sociology, and gender and ethnic studies….”

ARL Executive Director

“The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) seeks a highly strategic and innovative thoughtful leader, who will effectively collaborate with the ARL membership to advance the Association’s aspirations, strategic goals, and commitments in line with its mission, vision, and values….

[One qualification sought:] Demonstrated understanding of the trends in scholarship and scholarly communication, particularly within open scholarship; and familiarity with copyright and the intellectual property environment.”

ARL Awarded Grant to Continue Research on Institutional Expenses for Public Access to Research Data – Association of Research Libraries

“The US Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) has awarded the Association of Research Libraries (ARL), in collaboration with Duke University, the University of Minnesota, and Washington University in St. Louis, all of whom are members of the Data Curation Network (DCN), a $741,921 National Leadership Grant to examine institutional expenses for public access to research data. This research builds upon ARL’s existing Realities of Academic Data Sharing initiative.

Public access to research data is critical to advancing science, solving real-world problems, and supporting research integrity. In recent years, a number of funding agencies and publishers have required the management and broad sharing of research data and other related research outputs to accelerate and expand the impacts of their investments. Research institutions, and the research libraries at these institutions, have invested in and developed infrastructure and services to support researchers in meeting these requirements. These services and infrastructures are not only housed in the library, but are spread across the institution, in various administrative units, such as campus IT, the research office, and institutes and research centers. Given the growth in demand, its distributed nature, and functional nuance, the costs of public access to research data and data sharing are not well understood. The many unknowns about the institutional landscape for funded research-data sharing hamper collaborations and institutional ability to plan and budget appropriately.”

Research Libraries Advance Open Scholarship and Community Engagement – Association of Research Libraries

“The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) has published brief profiles of the eight institutions that participated in the 2021–2022 pilot program Accelerating the Social Impact of Research (ASIR). The pilot engaged small teams from eight ARL member libraries who wanted to share strategies to accelerate the adoption and implementation of open-science principles for social-impact and community-engaged research and scholarship.

The eight institutional profiles complement the report released by the project in 2022, Accelerating Social Impact Research: Libraries at the Intersection of Openness and Community-Engaged Scholarship. The report set the context, drew examples from the eight participating libraries, and identified opportunities available for research library leaders. The profiles highlight specific projects in each of the eight libraries and illustrate how they are advancing open scholarship and community engagement.

In addition to the eight ASIR profiles, today ARL published a blog post about community-engaged research undertaken by the University of Georgia in collaboration with Putnam County Schools and the Georgia Virtual History Project. The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) named the University of Georgia the winner of the 2022 C. Peter Magrath Community Engagement Scholarship Award….”

Principles of Community-Engaged Research: Conversations with Toby Graham, Christopher Lawton, Christian Lopez, and Winnie Smith

Last Updated on May 19, 2023, 9:34 am ET

Alice Walker’s childhood home in Putnam County, Georgia  Photo by Wayne Bellamy, courtesy of Willson Center for Humanities & Arts, University of Georgia


The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) Scholarship and Policy team builds capacity for scholar-focused research services, with a focus on community-based scholarship. As part of its Accelerating the Social Impact of Research (ASIR) initiative, ARL released a report and profiles of how eight participant libraries are working at the intersection of openness and community-engaged scholarship for social impact research.

The Russell Library story below supplements the ASIR work. This story was informed by conversations with Toby Graham, university librarian and associate provost, University Libraries, University of Georgia (UGA), and ARL member representative; Christopher Lawton, director of Experiential Learning for Putnam County Schools and director of the Georgia Virtual History Project; Christian Lopez, head of Oral History and Media at UGA’s Russell Library; and Winnie Smith, associate director, Willson Center for Humanities & Arts at UGA.

Since this article was drafted, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) named the University of Georgia as the winner of the 2022 C. Peter Magrath Community Engagement Scholarship Award.

Students in Putnam County Connect History with Place

Students in Putnam County, Georgia, are deepening their understanding of the community they call home as part of an oral history project, An American Literary Landscape: Life, History, and Memory in Putnam County, Georgia.* I learned about this project from Winnie Smith when we partnered to advocate for humanities funding as part of the National Humanities Alliance (NHA) Humanities Advocacy Day. At UGA, the Willson Center is housed in the university’s Office of Research, giving it the flexibility to facilitate public humanities and arts projects throughout the university by funding projects, speaker series, student travel, fellowships, author visits, and more.  In a follow-up conversation, Smith shared that public humanities research projects like these can show students that local stories can help them better understand who they are and where they come from.

Christopher Lawton elaborated on this point, describing how teaching and learning can connect students with the community outside of their classroom. Through activities like recording oral histories and scanning and identifying photographs, students in Putnam get to know the rich literary traditions of the place they are from, and draw from the county’s history of enslavement to give context to current economic conditions. When we spoke, Lawton described how teaching students to collect and record stories allows them to realize what is missing or wrong in the textbook version of American history, and empowers them to “untell” that history, and to create new spaces for the voices that got left out. Lawton is leading a new initiative to create a pipeline from Putnam County Public Schools to Albany State University, which has committed to keeping the students in college for four years; the initiative is meant to support students in not just understanding, but also chipping away at, the socioeconomic weights that may have held them back.

Principles of Community-Engaged Research

Christian Lopez and Toby Graham see the library’s oral history program as one way to ensure that the library’s collections reflect the local community of Athens, Georgia. The Athens African American Oral History Initiative emphasizes shared agency and shared authority, which are key to understanding how oral histories at UGA have evolved. This evolution began when library leadership recognized the need to broaden the scope of its oral histories from reflections on Georgia politics to include representation of the intersection of politics and policy, government and culture. Lopez began to expand this scope by partnering with faculty from UGA’s history department—who also had a background in oral history—on a research project on the intersection of civics and music, art, and theater in the Athens music community. In planning for what became the Athens Music Project Oral History Collection, it took more than a year to train students to conduct outreach, record the interviews, and describe them using archival indexing.

Next, Lopez partnered with music faculty to examine the intersection of politics and economics from the perspective of different local musical communities in Athens. Through a grant from the Georgia Music Foundation, the library trained and compensated community interviewers, who conducted outreach and recorded 20 oral history interviews documenting music history in Athens; half of the interviews were with the hip-hop community. Today, the Athens Music Project Oral History Collection includes dozens of interviews documenting the diversity and depth of Georgia music and culture, and the Athens music culture and community.

As it has shifted toward collecting a more diverse set of voices, UGA’s oral history program is informed by the following values and principles of community-engaged research and archiving:

  • Community-engaged research is not possible until you have already done meaningful community engagement. This involves multiple conversations, and can take lots of time to build trust. These conversations may not necessarily result in action items. Lopez advises, “Start with a conversation, not an ask.” Throughout our discussion, Lopez emphasized the distinction between community engagement and community-engaged research. In a follow-up email, Lopez reiterated, “It takes a very long time.”
  • Understand that the needs of the institution and academy may not necessarily be the same as the needs of nonacademic communities. A community’s needs may not align with grant deliverables or timelines, or even with the academic calendar. Communities may have historic distrust of academic institutions, particularly when they parachute in to purportedly “help” communities without actually taking the time to build the necessary relationships.
  • Research libraries can support a culture change on campus by supporting faculty and students in understanding best practices in community-engaged research, and helping them understand what it means to strengthen relationships with community organizations. This includes understanding what it means to share agency, to co-curate, compensate, and follow up. These practices must be sustained before and after the community-engaged research. Working outside of academia may mean being adaptable, for instance, conducting interviews off campus, and outside of the school calendar.

Humanities in Place

Graham pointed out that UGA is a flagship land-grant research university, and that it’s important to correct the disconnect between the institution located in Athens and the community of Athens and around the state through UGA’s mission of research, instruction, and service. For instance, changing the culture of academia to ensure that oral history collections, special collections, and archives include materials created by Black people and organizations will support more inclusive teaching and research by faculty and students. Culture change is a long-term investment, and may involve discomfort, but it is critical to change the way we think about and engage with communities before we do the research. Graham said:

We have a great deal of work to do to correct the historical omissions in our collections. If we fail to build, steward, and share the diverse collection needed by our faculty and students, then we simply are falling short in serving our core teaching and research missions. We take very seriously our obligation to serve the people of Georgia and beyond, as well. Representing the stories, realities, and voices of all of types of communities should be a natural extension of our service mission. Going back to the principles, respectful and inclusive community engagement is key.

Oral history programs are among the most impactful tools we have in this work. There are all kinds of inequities associated with the ability to provide an enduring paper trail of one’s experience—the traditional bedrock of archives. But most people are able to tell their stories. What I most appreciate about Christian Lopez’s approach to community-based oral history is that he prioritizes the empowerment of our partners in engaging with one another to collect their own stories largely on their own terms. Oral history isn’t an extractive industry for him. It’s about listening and building relationships.

The Willson Center is currently partnering with UGA’s Russell Library on a Mellon Foundation–funded expansion of the Global Georgia Initiative, a public humanities program that began in 2013. The expanded Global Georgia Initiative includes Humanities in Place, a program to bolster off-campus public humanities collaborations. As part of its Humanities in Place program, Lopez successfully submitted a proposal for the Athens African American Oral History Initiative, which will build on the community-engaged work of the Athens Oral History Project and Athens Music Project Oral History Collection.

Stay engaged with the Athens African American Oral History Initiative on social media.


* The Putnam County project is supported by a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Challenge Grant, with matching funds from the UGA Willson Center for Humanities & Arts.

The post Principles of Community-Engaged Research: Conversations with Toby Graham, Christopher Lawton, Christian Lopez, and Winnie Smith appeared first on Association of Research Libraries.

ARL Comments on NIH Plan to Enhance Public Access to Results of NIH-Supported Research – Association of Research Libraries

“On February 21, 2023, the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) released “Request for Information on the NIH Plan to Enhance Public Access to the Results of NIH-Supported Research.” The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) is pleased to offer the following comments in response to this request….”

What Are the Copyright Implications of the New OSTP Public-Access Guidance?

“The following frequently asked questions (FAQs) address concerns about public access and copyright raised by the August 2022 White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) guidance, “Ensuring Free, Immediate, and Equitable Access to Federally Funded Research” (also referred to as the Nelson memo). TL;DR: the Nelson memo has no implications for copyright policy. The Nelson memo updated the 2013 memorandum “Expanding Public Access to the Results of Federally Funded Research.” Significantly, the 2022 guidance eliminates the previous 12-month embargo period for federally funded research, now requiring federal agencies to ensure that the research they fund is available immediately to the public at no cost. The new guidance applies to all agencies with extramural research and development budgets, an expansion on requirements from agencies with research and development budgets above $100 million. For more on how the federal government’s public-access guidance changed from 2013 to 2022, see this side-by-side comparison….”

ARL Statement on Texas Library Coalition for United Action Agreement with Elsevier – Association of Research Libraries

“Today more than 40 public and private academic institutions in Texas—members of the Texas Library Coalition for United Action (TLCUA)—announced the conclusion of a successful negotiation with Elsevier. TLCUA member libraries secured cost savings on journal subscription access, along with a set of favorable license terms and a novel pilot experiment in restoration of author copyrights that stands to benefit all authors, not just those associated with TLCUA member institutions….”