CRL 2020 Annual Meeting a Success in the Midst of COVID-19

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

On April 23-24, the Center for Research Libraries held its 71st Annual Meeting. Originally scheduled to take place in Chicago, the meeting was switched to a virtual format due to health and safety restrictions as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Despite the challenges, the meeting was a resounding success, with a record-breaking number of registrants.

The theme of the event—Context and Community: The Center for Research Libraries at 70—was chosen to give the CRL community a chance to take stock of the CRL partnership as it enters its eighth decade and lay the foundation on how CRL can best leverage its resources to project its mission into a radically altered knowledge ecosystem and continue to serve as a leading North American consortium for building and stewarding the collective collection.

In his first report to the CRL community as CRL President, Greg Eow articulated a vision for CRL as “a vehicle through which CRL member libraries advance their missions and values at scale.” Eow identified CRL’s value proposition as being more than simply containing costs by building collective collections. “At heart,” he said, “CRL has for decades been an integral part of the academy owned infrastructure, a platform through which research libraries collectively build, steward, and share resources to empower knowledge creation for the benefit of all.” [slides and recording]

In an invited talk, newly elected CRL Board of Directors member Roger Schonfeld presented on the topic of “Restructuring Library Consortia: Facing Challenges, Leveraging Opportunity” [slides and recording]. Following Schonfeld’s talk, a roundtable discussion was held with Clare Appavoo, Executive Director, CRKN; Mike Furlough, Executive Director, HathiTrust; and Greg Eow, President, CRL. Katherine Skinner, Executive Director of the Educopia Institute, facilitated a lively and important conversation, which included such topics as resource sharing, reducing the redundancy of shared systems, and the benefits and limitations of different consortia governance and organizational models [recording].

Kathy Peiss, Roy F. and Jeanette P. Nichols Professor of American History, University of Pennsylvania. Peiss, author of Information Hunters: When Librarians, Soldiers, and Spies Banded Together in World War II Europe, gave the final talk of the two-day program: “Little did I know when my book came out in January that research librarians and faculty would again be called upon to mobilize in an emergency threatening our nation and the world.” Answering a question on how research librarians will address the current crisis and shape the future research library, Peiss said, “In the midst of coronavirus, we have managed to continue to serve our students and uphold our shared values of knowledge, learning, and truth-seeking. The immediate crisis will give way to some longer-term quote ‘normal’ that we can’t yet foresee, and that will continue to upend us. But I hope that we all (research librarians, faculty, and administrators) will engage with each other to think beyond the current crisis to how libraries and universities can best meet the needs of the times ahead” [and recording].

In the governance portion of the CRL meeting, the 2020-21 officers elected by the board were announced:

  •  Chair          Deborah Jakubs, Duke University
  •  Vice-Chair  Adriene Lim, University of Maryland
  •  Secretary   Bradley L. Schaffner, Carleton College
  •  Treasurer   Denise Stephens, Washington University in St. Louis

The following candidates were elected for three-year terms on CRL’s Board of Directors:

  •  (New term) Diane Bruxvoort, Dean of Libraries, University of North Texas
  •  (New term) Alexia Hudson-Ward, Azariah Smith Root Director of Libraries, Oberlin College
  •  (New term) Roger Schonfeld, Director of the Ithaka S+R Libraries, Scholarly Communication and Museums Program
  •  (New term) Carol Shepstone, Chief Librarian, Ryerson University
  •  (Second term) David Marshall, Executive Vice Chancellor, University of California, Santa Barbara

Five members that joined the CRL community this year were recognized:

  •  Göttingen State and University Library (SUB Göttingen)
  •  Université Laval
  •  McMaster University
  •  Mount Allison University
  •  Ryerson University

CRL thanks everyone who participated in this year’s Annual Meeting. Slide decks and recordings of the public talks are available on the event webpage.

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