April 10, 2000
Mr. Richard Johnson
SPARC Enterprise Director
21 Dupont Circle, N.W., Suite 800
Washington, DC 20036
Dear Mr. Johnson,
I am writing to express AUCC's support for ARL's Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC). We fully support your recent efforts in developing a range of programs and initiatives and are excited at the prospect of more success to come.
In November 1996, AUCC published jointly with the Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL) the final report of a task force on academic libraries and scholarly communication. Entitled The Changing World of Scholarly Communication: Challenges and Choices for Canada, the report outlinked the key issues shaping changes in scholarly communication, presented a stark picture of the rising costs of academic journals, identified choices facing the university community and recommended specific steps for moving forward to address the challenges.
Several years later, the issues identified in the report remain relevant and largely unaddressed despite some worthwhile and innovative initiatives by CARL, regional library groups, individual institutions and the Canadian federal government. Those key issues continue to confront and bedevil the universities.
The crisis in scholarly communication is obviously not a uniquely Canadian problem and the solutions therefore can not be uniquely Canadian. In recent years, many proposals for collective action have been put forward, including separation of peer review from the publishing process, rethinking ownership of intellectual property and developing affordable alternative publishing outlets. The challenge of providing equitable access to scholarly research and the need to create cost-effective electronic alternatives to current publication outlets have led to the establishment of noteworthy initiatives, including NIH's PubMed Central and ARL's SPARC.
AUCC feels that SPARC can play a key role in helping research libraries, universities and publishers develop a sustainable relationship in the emerging digital environment. This view is widely shared in Canada and thirteen of our members joined the SPARC iniaitive as founding members.
We will continue to follow closely the development of new initiatives spurred by SPARC and to circulate information among our member institutions about choices they face in the changing landscape of scholarly communication.
Robert J. Giroux, President
Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada
cc. Frances Groen, President
Canadian Association of Research Libraries