Call to Action issued by CRL's International Collections and Content Group

Tuesday, July 6, 2021
Judy Alspach -

CRL's newly appointed International Collections and Content Group (ICC) was activated in late 2020 to advise, guide and implement strategies related to CRL's international collections, services, programs, and partnerships. The ICC now calls on the international library programs based at CRL to explore the challenges and opportunities in front of our communities and through that exploration, to consider new ways of working together. The Call to Action issued by the ICC is below:

The AMPs (Area Studies Materials Projects) have long served as platforms for collective action in preserving and making available content from and about several world regions. The AMPs, working as self-governing entities within the administrative support and guidance of CRL, have built impressive and varied collections of primary and secondary source materials for specialized research. These collections have benefited countless researchers and have expanded possibilities of scholarly inquiry over several decades. The AMPs–and in particular the representatives of supporting institutions–are to be commended for their commitment to the development of this corpus of rarely held and previously endangered material.

The landscape of information and knowledge production has evolved considerably since the AMP model was developed. Even as print remains a dominant means of knowledge dissemination in many regions, areas of emerging interest with which our institutions are grappling but have yet to form scalable collective responses include:

  • Scholarly communication and equity of access in all parts of the world
  • Discovery and promotion of research resources in regional Institutional Repositories 
  • Prospective cooperative collection development of print resources in service of the “collective collection”
  • Timely cataloging and description of print and electronic content, especially for non-Roman script language materials
  • Engagement of regional institutions and information producers to develop and sustain collections in a post-custodial setting
  • Identification and capture of born-digital resources, in conjunction with those producers of information technology
  • The development of diverse and inclusive, non-Roman script language corpora to support computationally-driven research and teaching

New forms of information production, dissemination, and means of discovery and access necessitate a reassessment of our collective response to support the stewardship of critical information resources across the information landscape.

In response to these challenges, the International Collections and Content (ICC) Group was formed by CRL’s Collections and Services Policy Committee (CSPC) to coordinate strategies for CRL’s activities in the sphere of international collections. As set forth in the announcement of ICC’s formation:

The International Collections and Content Group is a standing working group reporting to CSPC and will play a substantive role in shaping, implementing, and maintaining CRL’s approaches to the development and responsible stewardship of international collections. The group will serve as an advisory group and planning team for efforts implemented by CRL to support collective action among research libraries to collect, steward, and promote diverse source materials to empower research and teaching.

The ICC occupies a critical juncture within the CRL governance structure and is empowered to identify existing gaps in CRL’s programs and propose new opportunities that respond to the needs of scholars in the evolving information landscape.

Just as CRL is a platform for collective action among institutions to develop collaborative library solutions at scale, so too are the AMPs, applying deep subject expertise and region-specific knowledge to the work of identifying and acquiring resources from various world regions. The AMPs are uniquely positioned to act collaboratively on an expanding number of challenges facing those researchers who rely on international collections and content. In acknowledgement of the challenges laid out by the ‘Statement on Equity and Access in Higher Education and Academic Libraries’ and similar statements issued by specific academic groups in recent months, we expect and invite the AMPs to be critical partners in the development of responsive solutions and partnerships to increase and highlight marginalized voices and groups.

The ICC sees opportunities for the AMPs to extend their missions beyond their current scope, encompassing the entire lifecycle of scholarly communication. To this end, ICC seeks to engage the AMPs and related communities in a series of strategic discussions around these opportunities.

The ICC envisions the future of International and Area Studies collection management as intentionally interdependent and collaborative – within specialties, among the AMPs, across institutions, and with partners in the region. We believe the AMPs and related programs supported by CRL can play a critical role in charting and sustaining the collective collection, foregrounding values of diversity, inclusivity, and equity not only in our collections and services, but in how and when we collaborate.

The ICC invites the AMPs to respond to this Call to Action, and commits to providing guidance and support to help AMPs shape a cohesive strategy for expanding the parameters of their work.

Members of the International Collections and Content Group:

  • Pamela Graham, Director, Humanities & Global Studies, Columbia University Libraries
  • Esmeralda Kalé, George and Mary LeCron Foster Curator, Melville J. Herskovits Library of African Studies, Northwestern University
  • Ksenya Kiebuzinski, Slavic Resources Coordinator, and Head, Petro Jacyk Central and East European Resource, University of Toronto
  • Jennifer Osorio, Head of the International and Area Studies Department, University of California, Los Angeles
  • Mary Rader, Head, Arts, Humanities and Global Studies Engagement Team, University of Texas Austin
  • Sharon Smith, Curator for Middle East and North Africa; Global South; History; and Religion, Arizona State University
  • Emilie Songolo, Senior Librarian for African, Global and Francophone Studies and Social Sciences, University of Wisconsin
  • Laurie N. Taylor, Senior Director for Library Technology and Digital Strategies, University of Florida
  • Lidia Uziel, Associate University Librarian for Research Resources and Scholarly Communication, University of California, Santa Barbara
  • Brian Vivier, Coordinator, Area Studies Collections, and Chinese Studies Librarian, University of Pennsylvania

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