On Thursday, April 14, 2016 representatives of CRL libraries gathered at the Gleacher Center in Chicago for the organization’s main annual governance event: the meeting of CRL’s Council of Voting Members. Delegates from CRL libraries in the U.S., Canada and Hong Kong elected four new members of the Board of Directors, and approved a budget for the coming fiscal year that provides for new investment in digitization of collections, access to major databases, and collection analysis.
One of the main topics of discussion at the event was CRL’s digital strategy. The question posed was, “Should more CRL digital resources be Open Access?” Attendees strongly endorsed removal of restrictions currently on some CRL digitized materials that make them accessible only to researchers at member institutions. While the move would enable free-riding by institutions outside the CRL community, the consensus of attendees was that it would result in the increased exposure of CRL resources.
In his report to the Council Bernard Reilly noted the growing importance of “Big Databases” and said that CRL would work to enlarge the role of member libraries in dealings with their publishers. This class of resources, distinct from scholarly journals and science databases, includes news, geospatial, legal and financial information, and public opinion and census data. While increasingly essential to academic research, access is often negotiated by campus entities such as academic departments and student government. Reilly argued for the importance of libraries being at the table for such negotiations, to ensure that scholarly needs such as long-term accessibility and integrity of data are fully met by the publishers, and reported that CRL will intensify its focus in this area in the coming year.
Documentation for the event is posted on the Council meeting site, and links to recordings from the event will appear there soon.