Information Update - Fall 2000
At the recent AJCU Library Directors Annual Conference at Xavier University in Cincinnati, the Jesuit University and College Library Directors unanimously endorsed in principal The Keystone Principles and action items.
AJCU Library Directors Conference Endorses The Keystone Principles and SPARC
In September 1999, 80 academic library leaders came together to engage in a series of discussions and working sessions at the Association of Research Libraries/OCLC Strategic Issues Forum for Academic Library Directors in Keystone, Colorado. These discussions created The Keystone Principles, a set of principles and action items to guide academic libraries' efforts and establish a foundation for joint future-oriented action based on traditional academic library values.
The Keystone Principles invoke and express the urgency of three areas requiring explicit action based on a set of user-centered principles.
Access to Information as a Public Good
Scholarly and government information is created at the expense of public and/or academic institutions. Therefore, there is a public interest in the availability of this information. Yet some commercial interests have disrupted availability through unreasonable pricing policies, restrictive licensing practices, and legislative assaults on the traditional American copyright balance between the rights of the individual creator and the public interest as embodied in the concept of educational fair use. The right to read and know without cost is threatened. Further, in the online environment commercial access services are distorting search results for profit without defining how these results are obtained and organized. Individuals are receiving biased information without any way to recognize or identify the source of the bias.
Need for Bias-Free Systems and for Libraries to Create These New Systems
At the same time as the technological and economic environments of higher education have changed, academic institutions are being forced to look for ways to create and disseminate knowledge in support of the learning and research programs that are more affordable and sustainable over the long term. To date, these systems have been created largely outside academe and most certainly outside libraries, thus they exist without the benefit of the expertise gained by librarians in how information is used and the academic and societal values librarians bring to the enterprise. As new access and storage systems are developed, it is important that the knowledge and values that surround the traditional academic library be incorporated and systems be developed which restore affordability, provide access for, and embody the values of the educational community.
Affirm the Idea of the Library as a Nexus for Learning and the Sharing of Knowledge
In addition, institutions of higher education are actively seeking ways to assess and improve the quality of learning and research programs. There is increasing public demand for demonstrating value-added outcomes for the dollars invested. Technology is seen as a potential enabler, but most campuses lack the human and fiscal resources to make radical changes and to provide the necessary infrastructure for large-scale programs. There is fear among the faculty and many administrators that education will be dehumanized by the introduction of the new technologies in the learning program. A leadership vacuum exists. The academic cache of the "library as heart of the print university" must become "the library as intellectual crossroad, the hub of the knowledge network."
At the same meeting the AJCU Library Directors decided to strongly endorse SPARC and join the organization as a consortial member. SPARC, the Scholarly Publishing & Academic Resources Coalition, is an alliance of libraries that fosters expanded competition in scholarly communication. Launched with support from membership of the Association of Research Libraries (ARL), SPARC creates "partnerships" with publishers who are developing high-quality, economical alternatives to existing high-price publications.
SPARC aims to: create a more competitive marketplace where the cost of journal acquisition and use is reduced, and publishers who are responsive to customer needs are rewarded; ensure fair use of electronic resources, while strengthening the proprietary rights and privileges of authorship; apply technology to improve the process of scholarly communication and to reduce the costs of production and distribution.
Charles E. Kratz