CRL annual meeting follow-up

Friday, April 27, 2012

I hope you found this year’s annual meeting as informative and useful as it was for all of us at CRL.  It was great to see the high level of interest and participation in our annual governance event.  Many thanks to those of you who attended in person and (for the business meeting) via the Web.   In all, over 100 CRL libraries were represented.

Those who participated in the meeting weighed in on CRL’s agenda for fiscal year 2013.  The comments and questions during the business meeting and Friday morning forum helped further shape and refine some key strategies that will govern our action during the next few years.  For one, there was strong support for the decision to focus CRL resources on four major collection areas: News, Law and Government, the History and Economics of Agriculture, and the History of Science, Technology and Engineering.  This focus will entail the continued transformation of CRL activities and services in 2012 and 2013, supported by a new major grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Here are the messages we took away from the meeting:

  • The integrated systematic archiving, digitization and collection development in each of the four focus areas is the right approach, rather than trying to pursue print archiving or digitization alone.
  • Members view CRL’s evaluation and negotiation of terms for licensing and purchase of major primary source humanities and social science databases favorably.   But CRL must define clear goals for its activities in this realm, and must specify “what success looks five years out” in each of the four areas.
  • CRL must function as more than a “buying club,” and its actions must result in greater control by CRL libraries over the content, cost, functionality, and timing of electronic resources in the focus areas.  CRL must improve on the timing and predictability of new database offers, provide cogent analysis of the content and terms of use and purchase, and strengthen member libraries’ hands in obtaining appropriate rights.
  • International acquisitions and collections continue to be at the center of CRL’s mission, and this emphasis must apply to developing and acquiring collections in the electronic realm.
  • CRL’s partnership with the Law Library Microform Consortium (LLMC) promises to serve the interests of CRL’s broad and diverse community of academic and independent research libraries.  Therefore cooperative action with LLMC to preserve primary legal and governmental collections should be an organizational priority for CRL rather than a special effort of a subset of members.
  • However, CRL must create a more equitable funding plan for this activity that is fair to CRL libraries that are longstanding supporters of the LLMC effort.

Attendees also endorsed CRL’s continued role as a “reserve” organization, which undertakes preservation and collecting activities not taken on by individual libraries and other organizations.  In that spirit attendees want to see CRL and the other national-level research library initiatives like HathiTrust, Digital Preservation Network, and Digital Public Library of America work together to avoid unnecessary costs and redundant efforts.

The presentations from the business meeting and the Thursday afternoon session on primary source research will be posted to the CRL website next week.  And I will be in touch again with news and status reports as the year progresses.  Meanwhile, please be assured that the ideas, thoughts, and interests you shared with us last week will govern our work in the new fiscal year and beyond.  The Board and management of CRL are indebted to you for your support and your participation.

Bernard F. Reilly
President
Center for Research Libraries