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SPARC is organized to ensure agility and provide a level of participatory governance that will not impair its responsiveness to a fast-changing marketplace. SPARC staff and leadership maintain channels of direct communication with members through informal but efficient means. Members and affiliates are kept informed on a timely basis of important issues and developments, as well as direction and progress, and have the opportunity to provide feedback.
SPARC was developed by the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) in 1997-98. The SPARC Executive Director, Heather Joseph, is empowered to initiate and negotiate SPARC partnerships and to implement the coalition's plans and programs. She seeks counsel from the SPARC Steering Committee as well as individual SPARC members and ARL's senior staff. The director reports to the ARL Executive Director, and is subject to the fiscal oversight and controls of ARL. SPARC operates under the 501(c)(3) tax status of ARL.
SPARC funds received via coalition membership dues are administered separately from ARL funds, however, and SPARC does not depend on ARL financial support. SPARC pays ARL a fee for administrative services and office space provided by ARL.
The SPARC Steering Committee's main function is to provide rapid programmatic decision-making support for the executive director. The committee maintains a close working relationship with the senior staff and Board of Directors of ARL. Originally a committee of seven, the advisory body now has thirteen seats, ten of which are filled through an election by SPARC members. The remaining three are by appointment: one seat for a Canadian member (recommended by the Canadian Association of Research Libraries), one seat for a Japanese member (recommended by SPARC Japan), and the other for a European member (recommended by SPARC Europe). In addition, the committee includes positions for one Canadian director and one non-director scholarly communication representative. It is broadly representative of all SPARC member institutions, with a proportion of seats filled by both ARL directors and the directors of libraries outside of ARL. Steering committee terms are for three years, and a nomination committee proposes a slate of candidates that will satisfy the various criteria to maintain a balanced advisory view.
The Steering Committee meets twice per year during industry conferences, or otherwise conducts its business by telephone and e-mail contact. View the current Steering Committee roster.
Each (A) Full Member (individually) and (B) Consortium (collectively on behalf of all of its participants) has one vote for Steering Committee candidates. Other categories of members -- (C) Supporting Member, (D) International Supporting Member, and (E) Affiliate -- are non-voting. However, all members regardless of category are kept fully informed on important issues, policies, plans and progress and have ample opportunity to voice their questions or opinions and to volunteer their participation.