The Collaborative Initiative for French Language Collections (CIFNAL), German-North American Resources Partnership (GNARP), and Slavic and East European Materials Project (SEEMP) have issued the following statement:
In response to the SALALM resolution "European Studies Statement on Collection Development, Access, and Equity in the Time of COVID-19" issued on August 17, 2020
In light of the COVID-19 situation and budgetary reductions, libraries are implementing collecting policies focused primarily on digital formats. The following represents an endorsement and expansion of the Seminar on the Acquisition of Latin American Library Materials (SALALM) Collection Development and Equity in the Time of Covid-19 Task Force Resolution issued 10 June 2020 — an endorsement and expansion of that resolution by library specialists engaged in the work of collection development and access to support the study of the communities, cultures, and languages of Europe. Members of the three Europe-focused programs administered by the Center for Research Libraries — the Slavic and East European MaterialsProject (SEEMP), the Collaborative Initiative for French Language Collections (CIFNAL), the German-North American Resources Partnerships (GNARP)— share the concerns around equity, representation, and access raised by our SALALM colleagues, and hereby reaffirm those concerns as they pertain to the long-term availability to North American researchers and teachers of the documentary record of the peoples, languages, and cultures of Europe — an extensive and enormously diverse geographic category having eastern and western divisions; numerous national and subnational cultures and languages representing many ethnic categories and language families; porous shared boundaries with Africa and Asia; and an abiding cultural and linguistic consanguinity with Latin America.
We list here seven concerns surrounding current challenges and vulnerabilities in the collection development ecosystem for European Studies and scholarship originating from Europe, and three related resolutions.
- Whereas, the majority of publications from Europe are available in print only, and cannot be licensed to North American libraries in electronic formats, and many of the ebooks that are available come with unacceptable DRM restrictions, unsustainable price models, and moving walls, hindering access to timely and useful content;
- Whereas, collection development policies privileging ebooks generally exclude non-English language materials and a significant portion of the cultural and scholarly production from the region, including small independent presses and the voices of marginalized, minority and vulnerable communities, new social movements, and transnational authors, which are so critical to advancing research of and learning about the linguistic and cultural diversity of the European continent;
- Whereas, the inability to lend and borrow European ebooks inter-institutionally further reduces access to critical resources available across North American libraries and directly undermines the numerous existing shared print and other cooperative collecting partnerships formed to guarantee adequate representation of the linguistic, ethnic, and cultural diversity of the European continent;
- Whereas the output of small, independent, print-only publishers outside mainstream distribution networks in countries with legacies and/or current practice of authoritarian publishing and media control (including many in Eastern Europe and the territories of the former Soviet Union) represents a crucial category for North American collections supporting research and teaching focused on those regions, and an e-centric collection model jeopardizes adequate capture and preservation of these critical categories;
- Whereas, a sudden shift away from collecting research materials available only in print not only threatens the integrity of diverse library collections, but also places a dedicated network of local vendors of scholarly and ephemeral research materials at risk;
- Whereas, these vendors are important because of their expertise in specific regions and local publishing practices, and the access they provide to necessary and unique materials for learning, teaching and research that would be overlooked by larger vendors based outside of the region;
- Whereas, while pioneering cooperative Open Access models such as the European Commission’s OpenAIRE, OpenEdition in France, REDIB in Spain, OA2020 organized by the Max Planck Digital Library in Germany, and other initiatives have made scholarly journals from the region widely available, a gap for open monographs still exists across Europe;
Be it resolved, that the Collaborative Initiative for French Language, and the German-North American Resources Partnerships, and the Slavic and East European Materials Project, on behalf of their members:
- Urge North American libraries to continue acquiring European print material through a network of regional vendors, often the only available sources, and thereby not limit diversity in scholarly collections.
- Encourage collaboration and further discussion with other organizations working with international collections at a national and international level, such as the Africana Librarians Council, other divisions of the Center for Research Libraries, Council on East Asian Libraries, Middle East Librarians Association, the East Coast Consortium of Slavic Library Collections, the Pacific Coast Slavic and East European Library Consortium, the MidWest Slavic and Eurasian Library Consortium, the Association for Slavic East European and Eurasian Studies Committee on Libraries and Information Resources, and the Seminar for the Acquisition for Latin American Library Materials (SALALM), among others.
- Advocate for continued and increased support for Open Access initiatives in European countries through the Center for Research Libraries’ Collaborative Initiative for French Language Collections, German-North American Resources Partnership, Slavic and East European Materials Project, and other existing collaborative projects.