I’d like to start my article this issue by thanking all of you who attended our State of the Libraries meeting in June. It was a great opportunity for us to network with colleagues we don’t often get to see in person, celebrate our collective accomplishments from the past year, and look forward to the challenges ahead. I hope you found it a useful and productive event.
For those of you who stayed behind, I invite you to review the slides from my presentation as well as the videos from the poster session below.
As I reflect back on Kathleen Fitzpatrick’s presentation about Generous Thinking, a key takeaway for me was the challenges inherent to developing academy-driven, community-supported infrastructure that provides open access to scholarly material in a sustainable manner. In order to realize this vision, academic institutions need to commit in earnest to the idea of collaboration, and take seriously a sense of shared responsibility to our collective enterprise.
Deep collaboration is difficult. It requires trading control and specialization for efficiency. In a recent short essay appropriately titled “Library Collaboration is Hard; Effective Collaboration is Harder,” Lorcan Dempsey summarizes his recent presentations and blog posts and ends with the recommendation that “There should be active, informed decision-making about what needs to be done locally and what would benefit from stronger coordination or consolidation within collaborative organizations.” At Rutgers, we collaborate all the time, every day, all day. Nearly every project that we undertake involves collaboration across separate parts of our complex organization. We have talked about the importance of a collaborative approach in other contexts as well, such as Dempsey’s notion of the collective collection and how the continuum of consolidation applies to the Libraries’ services framework.
Recently, we’ve seen the fruits of collaboration bear initiatives like CADRE, the shared big data gateway we’ve partnered with Indiana University and others to develop, which is further evidence of what is possible when institutions work together to address common needs. We are also exploring a transformative license agreement of Oxford Scholarship Online backfiles and frontlists, the terms of which were negotiated by PALCI. Even more opportunities, such as shared infrastructure for journal publishing, are on the horizon as well, thanks to our membership in the Big Ten Academic Alliance.
With these examples in mind, it becomes clear to me that forward-thinking academic institutions need to be open to participating in these new, cooperative models in order to maximize our impact. And I believe the way forward for all libraries—including our own—is to accept this challenge to collaborate deeply across institutional boundaries. As we know from experience, there are bound to be some tradeoffs, and compromises will have to be made. But only by committing to working together in a meaningful way can we truly advance our mission of contributing to the public good.