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My 2013 Midwinter conference happenings started earlier than they did for most of our ZSR colleagues, as the presenter group for the ACRL Scholarly Communication Roadshows gathered for a planning retreat Friday afternoon. We started these retreats at ALA Annual in NOLA in 2011, and they’ve become a valuable time for us to assess our program and identify new areas of growth. In 2012, we overhauled the original program to better address changes in scholcomm, and to take the program from a half-day to full-day workshop. After 6 iterations of the new program last year, we realized that further restructuring was warranted, and this year we are organizing our workshop around four new themes: Emerging Opportunities, Access, Intellectual Property, and Engagement. We also welcomed two new presenters to our group, one of whom was able to join us in Seattle, giving us new perspective and energy!
Saturday was chock full of scholcomm sessions, and I’m still digesting my pages and pages of notes. I fueled up for my busy day at the ProQuest Serials Solutions breakfast, along with several ZSR colleagues, where incoming ACRL president Steven Bell spoke on the “unbundled, unbooted, disrupted” higher ed environment. Although his ideas were not new to me (I follow his LJ blog), Steven is a compelling speaker and is always worth hearing. First session after breakfast was the ALA Washington Office Update breakout session, where a panel of librarians spoke on the Kirtsaeng v. Wiley case before the Supreme Court. This case hinges upon the first sale doctrine, and whether lawfully obtained, foreign-made works are subject to the right of first sale, which is what allows us to buy and lend, resell, gift, destroy, etc. objects such as books, DVDs, CDs, clothes, furniture, cars, phones, computers, and on and on and on, both as libraries and individuals. Libraries are understandably nervous about the outcome of the case: if the lower courts’ rulings are upheld at the strictest interpretation, no book (or anything else we own) that was published and purchased internationally without a US distributor, or possibly even merely manufactured overseas, could be lent from our collections. But this also means that garage sales, consignment stores, eBay, Etsy, Redbox, used car lots, used book stores, and a host of other businesses would be severely impacted (at the Supreme Court hearings, this was called the “parade of horribles”). Because of the far-reaching implications of the strictest interpretation of first sale, which would apply to goods manufactured only in the US, the consensus is that neither Kirtsaeng nor Wiley will get an outright “win,” with it likely that legislative action might be needed to clarify the first sale doctrine in light of the ruling. Again, I didn’t hear anything new here, but it was sobering nonetheless. Fortunately, the rest of my Saturday was much more positive, as I heard updates on SCOAP3 at the ALCTS Scholarly Communications Discussion Group, and learned about new developments in alt-metrics – the phrase used to describe multiple attempts to liberate faculty from the clutches of the “sainted” Impact Factor using article-level and social impact measurements – at the 10th annual SPARC/ACRL Forum.
Sunday found me in the Westin Hotel all day, barring quick lunch and doughnut breaks! My morning kicked off early with a 3+ hour meeting of the ACRL Research & Scholarly Environment Committee (known as ReSEC; formerly the Scholarly Communications Committee). We heard updates from the field, discussed ACRL projects/events we support, and brainstormed how we might serve as a nexus to connect the different groups – committees, subcommittees, discussion groups, interest groups – working throughout ALA and its divisions on scholcomm issues. I feel good about my participation on this committee, and hope to be reappointed for another two year term. Sunday afternoon I branched out a bit into scholcomm-related group meetings: the ACRL Digital Curation Interest Group and the Digital Humanities Discussion Group. My reasons for attending these two were three-fold: 1) to enhance my knowledge of these issues; 2) to gain perspective on how these issues might be tackled by the Digital Initiatives Librarian we will be hiring, with whom I’ll be working closely; and, 3) to identify groups that ReSEC might want to connect with. I didn’t learn quite as much as I’d hoped, but made a few connections with folks and jotted down some projects happening at other libraries that sound intriguing. I also attended the ACRL Scholarly Communications Discussion Group, which continued the conversation from the Forum about alt-metrics.
I caught a break Monday morning when my ACRL 2013 conference planning committee meeting was canceled, so I made one more pass through the vendor floor to talk to a couple of publisher reps (McGraw-Hill being the main target), and pick up a few (ahem) last books. Because I thought I had committee obligations through Monday, I didn’t leave until early Tuesday morning, which was lucky, as I was able to travel home with several ZSR colleagues; it’s nice to have friends to pass airport hours with! My Midwinter was a worthwhile conference, with good information, good meetings, and good networking all around.