SPARC's 2008 letter to members and three things we focused on this year

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November 4, 2008

Dear SPARC Members,

As we prepare to send your dues notices for the coming year, I want to take the time to say thank you to each of you individually – and to your organizations, as well – for helping to make this very busy year a remarkable one for our community as we work together to create a more open system for scholarly communication.

2008 marked the debut of two game-changing policies:

* The landmark NIH Public Access Policy, the first of its kind in the U.S., which now ensures that the results of our collective $29 billion investment in biomedical research is made openly accessible to the public.
* The groundbreaking vote by the Harvard University Faculty of Arts and Sciences, which served notice that Open Access is on its way to becoming the norm – rather than the exception – on our campuses.

SPARC worked throughout 2008 to support these policies and to continue to enable the climate of openness pictured in our shared vision, by ensuring public access to the results of publicly funded research, raising libraries’ role in campus policy, and expanding the coalition for Open Access to research. Here are few highlights from the programs you made possible this year:

Ensuring public access to the results of publicly funded research

In 2008, SPARC worked to secure the first U.S. mandate for public access and to support similar policies at the Canadian Institutes for Health Research, the Research Councils UK, the European Commission, and in numerous other countries around the world. SPARC:

* Ensured that the library voice continues to be heard clearly at the highest levels of government, through SPARC’s leadership of the Alliance for Taxpayer Access and the Open Access Working Group.
* Brought to bear the power of our members’ voices as congressional constituents, rallying Nobel Prize-winners, attorneys and law professors, patient groups, and hundreds of librarians to weigh in with policy makers.
* Brought crucial balance to the congressional hearing on The Fair Copyright in Research Works Act (HR6845), speaking as the only supporter of public access on behalf of libraries, researchers, and families.

Raising libraries’ profile in campus policy

In 2008, SPARC delivered new tools to further enable libraries in their role as core collaborators on campus – in federal public access policy implementation, institutional open-access policy development, and open-access fund deployment. SPARC resources support libraries’ crucial contributions in relationships with campus administration as well as faculty and students.

SPARC, collaborating closely with allied organizations:

* Published a timely guide to help define for institutions their responsibilities and options for complying with the NIH Public Access Policy and observing copyright law.
* Produced a guide for colleges and universities to create institutional open-access policies, setting out 10 clear steps for policy development and adoption.
* Showcased the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences’ adoption of a default policy for Open Access through the popular SPARC Innovator Series, the SPARC-ACRL forum, and subsequent video broadcasts.
* Highlighted the creation of open-access funds by profiling actions taken by the University of California at Berkeley, in conjunction with those of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and the University of Calgary.
* Became an original signatory on the Cape Town Declaration for Open Educational Resources, signaling libraries’ commitment to further pioneering open scholarship initiatives.

Expanding the coalition for Open Access to research

In 2008, SPARC welcomed students to the conversation on information sharing and access to research, inviting the YouTube generation to communicate in their own terms why and how sharing is an inherent part of their daily lives. Students have rapidly become an active and growing part of the SPARC network. SPARC-student collaborative activities have included:

* The launch of “The Right to Research: The student guide to opening access to research” campaign.
* The new blog.
* The second annual Sparky Awards. This year, the contest has expanded to involve five new collaborators: ACRL, ARL, Penn Libraries, Students for FreeCulture, Student PIRGS, and Campus MovieFest, the largest student filmmaking competition.
* The production of the new “Voices of Open Access” video series, with the Public Library of Science, to showcase the views of librarians, students, research funders, scientists, and teachers on Open Access.

Much more is in the works for the end of the year:

* In two weeks, SPARC will host the second North American SPARC Digital Repositories Meeting, bringing repository champions together with funders, developers, publishers, and administrators from around the globe.
* Very shortly, we will announce a new guide for campus-based publishing initiatives and library collaboration.
* SPARC and ACRL will announce the next ALA forum on Open Educational Resources.

SPARC’s multi-dimensional, collaborative, and status-quo challenging work is made possible only with the support of our members. [Join or renew today](

If you have any questions or thoughts, please don’t hesitate to contact me. Once again, we thank our members for making SPARC the vibrant, positive force for change that it is.

All best,


Heather Joseph
Executive Director, SPARC

21 Dupont Circle, Suite 800
Washington, DC 20036