v32#6 And They Were There, Reports of Meetings — 39th Annual Charleston Conference

by | Feb 11, 2021 | 0 comments


Column Editors:  Ramune K. Kubilius  (Galter Health Sciences Library & Learning Center, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine)  and Sever Bordeianu  (Head, Print Resources Section, University Libraries, MSC05 3020, 1 University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM  87131-0001;  Phone: 505-277-2645;  Fax: 505-277-9813) 

Issues in Book and Serial Acquisition, “The Time has Come … to Talk of Many Things!” Charleston Gaillard Center, Francis Marion Hotel, Embassy Suites Historic Downtown, and Courtyard Marriott Historic District — Charleston, SC, November 4-8, 2019

Charleston Conference Reports compiled by:  Ramune K. Kubilius  (Galter Health Sciences Library & Learning Center, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine) 

Column Editor’s Note:  Thanks to all of the Charleston Conference attendees who agreed to write short reports highlighting sessions they attended at the 2019 Charleston Conference.  Attempts were made to provide a broad coverage of sessions, but there are always more sessions than there are reporters.  Some presenters posted their slides and handouts in the online conference schedule.  Please visit the conference site, http://www.charlestonlibraryconference.com/, and link to selected videos, interviews, as well as to blog reports written by Charleston Conference blogger, Donald Hawkins.  The 2019 Charleston Conference Proceedings will be published in 2020, in partnership with Purdue University Presshttp://www.thepress.purdue.edu/series/charleston.

Even if not noted with the reports, videos of most sessions as well as other video offerings like the “Views from the Penthouse Suite” interviews are being posted to the Charleston Conference YouTube Channel as they are completed, and are sorted into playlists by date for ease of navigation.

In this issue of ATG you will find the final installment of 2019 conference reports.  The first four installments can be found in ATG v.32#1, February 2020, v.32#2, April 2020, v.32#3, June 2020, v.32#4, September 2020, and v.32#5, November 2020.  Watch for reports from the 2020 Charleston Conference to begin publishing in the February 2021 issue of ATG. — RKK


A Comparison and Review of 17 E-Book Platforms — Presented by John Lavender (Lavender Consulting), Courtney McAllister (Yale University, Lillian Goldman Law Library) — https://sched.co/UXrg

Reported by Ramune K. Kubilius  (Northwestern University, Galter Health Sciences Library & Learning Center) 

McAllister provided a librarian’s perspective on eBook assessment criteria after Lavender reported on a study he undertook at the behest of the University of Michigan Press, with support from the Mellon Foundation.  (The presentation slides attached in the SCHED provide much more granular detail that could not be appreciated in viewing presentation slides in the large session room).  Functionality, not content, was the focus of the study.  Some of the features sought and analyzed included: filtering, browsing, search prediction, highlighting of terms, ranking, indexing, downloading by chapter or book.  Not all eBook platforms licensed by (or familiar to) audience members were represented in this study, but it still served as a reminder to all that these platforms are scrutinized, analyzed, and compared against others.

(Lavender’s and McAllister’s slides are available in Sched.)


Copyright: Do Librarians Matter — Presented by Ann Okerson (moderator, IFLA (International Federation of Library Associations), Ruth Okediji (Harvard Law School) — https://sched.co/UXvA

Reported by  Ramune K. Kubilius  (Northwestern University, Galter Health Sciences Library & Learning Center) 

Okerson introduced Okediji, a 2018 conference plenary speaker on copyright, who this year presented on a work in progress, so her presentation featured no visuals (and would feature no recordings).  She continued speaking on thoughts begun during her 2018 Charleston Conference keynote and answered the question posed in her 2019 session title with a “yes” (librarians DO matter).  Her comments, focused on interplays between libraries, society, and the law, kept audience interest and generated varied questions at the end.  Copyright laws historically have been for the public good and have the capacity to guide society, but somewhere, she feels, librarians have not been and still are not in the ecosystem, while teachers and others have carved out a space.  The 1976 law can be incompletely envisioned without a historical context, and fair use is complicated, not global, but uniquely American doctrine.  Contracts and licenses become difficult tools.  Librarians have become passive gatekeepers.  Sympathy was extended to a Canadian librarian at the audience microphone (he has to understand not only Canadian but also U.S. copyright law).  Towards the end, the speaker compared copyright law to a parking garage sign that indicates “we are not responsible.”  Many in the audience probably eagerly anticipate mulling Okediji’s arguments over again once they are published.   

The Future of Subscription Bundles: Big Deal, No Deal, or What’s the Deal? — Presented by Beth Bernhardt (moderator, Oxford University Press/ Previously at UNC Greensboro), Roger C. Schonfeld (Ithaka S+R), Tim Bucknall (UNC Greensboro), Mark McBride (SUNY System Administration) — https://sched.co/UXvD

Tim Bucknall did not present.  His statement was read by Beth Bernhardt.

Reported by Roger Cross  (UNC, Pembroke)

This session discussed the benefits and/or perils of the Bundled Big Deal.  The panel members represented a spectrum of views on this topic.

Bucknall argued that for all the perils, bundles are still a good deal and used as an example the experience of Carolina Consortium, which has a loose and voluntary structure.  Per Bucknall, CC had ensured better terms with each new round of negotiations.  He warned against sweeping assertions about both the supposed decline of subscriptions and the supposition of bundled subscriptions declining usefulness for academic libraries and universities.  Rather, these packages have provided good value to universities and especially to smaller institutions that otherwise would not be able to afford such packages. 

McBride, representing the large state-wide perspective, covered the pragmatics and difficulty of negotiating and maintaining these large bundled licenses.  One hurdle a system-wide consortium like SUNY faces is negotiating a license only to see one school after another drop out of the agreement due to the inability or unwillingness of those institutions to commit to another long-term contract.  McBride said we need to ask ourselves what we hope to get out of the partnership with vendors?

Finally, Schonfeld spoke of concern over the future of these Big Deals in general.  He argued that we must ask not just whether the content was declining in value, but also about the future of both packages and vendors.  He noted that vendors were trying to portray their product as “platforms” in which they are providers, rather than simply as publishers or distributors.  He mentioned the rise of internet sites that provide free, often pirated, research papers and articles.  As more “free” resources become available, will vendor packages hold their content value as measured by usage?

This in turn highlighted a discussion of Open Access that, as McBride noted, really is not “free.”  He pointed out that some of the larger vendors like Springer and Elsevier were significantly investing in OA. This leads to the question of why they are doing so?  In the end, might we not be fostering the continuation of vendor consolidation even as we attempt through Open Access to avert it?


Charleston Premiers — Presented by Trey Shelton (moderator, University of Florida, George A. Smathers Libraries) — https://sched.co/UXvJ

Note:  The product, McGraw Hill Professional, Medical: Teaching Cases, was listed in the schedule but was not presented.

Reported by Ramune K. Kubilius (Northwestern University, Galter Health Sciences Library & Learning Center) 

The popular annual session, “Five minute previews of the new and noteworthy,” scheduled late in the conference day, was organized and moderated by Shelton.  It featured brief five-minute presentations on new products or services, from familiar and less familiar names in the scholarly publishing world — JoVE, Casalini, McGraw-Hill, ACM (Association for Computing Machinery), Cambridge University Press, University of Toronto Press, JSTOR, Atypon (two new products!), Morressier, and Our Research (known through mid-July 2019 as: Impactstory).  

Library-led projects include: Casalini Libri’s Torossa;  JSTOR’s Collaborative Open Access ebook pilot.  Product for libraries:  Our Research’s Unpaywall Journals.  For the non-academic market:  New Jewish Press by University of Toronto Press.  Addressing scholars’ and society members’ needs are:  Morressier’s Early-stage research discovery product to frame posters into the scholarly process;  Atypon’s free tool (Manuscripts), an authoring tool for complex documents;  also — ACM Digital LibraryCUP’s Open Engage.  Educational needs are addressed:  JoVE Core;  McGraw-Hill’s AccessEngineering and AccessScience.  Cutting edge technology is used by Atypon’s Scitrus paper discovery tool that uses artificial intelligence. 

The audience voted and selected winners in three categories.  Best Design was won by Cambridge University Press, for its product, Cambridge Open Engage, presented by Brigitte Shull.  Most Impact was won by company, Our Research, for its product:  Unpaywall Journals, presented by Jason Priem.  Most Innovative was won by Atypon, for its product:  Atypon Manuscripts, presented by Matias Piipari.

The Charleston Conference blog report about this session by Donald Hawkins can be found at:  https://charleston-hub.com/2019/11/charleston-premiers-4/.


The Long Arm of the Law — Presented by Ann Okerson (moderator, IFLA (International Federation of Library Associations)), Michelle M. Wu (Georgetown University Law Center), William M. Hannay (Schiff Hardin LLP) — https://sched.co/UXvS

Reported by Ramune K. Kubilius  (Northwestern University, Galter Health Sciences Library & Learning Center) 

Okerson introduced conference regular, Hannay, whose presentation was preceded by lawyer-librarian Wu.  She concentrated on controlled digital lending (CDL):  the four prongs, the nature and amount of work, and the market effect.  The true power of CDL is cooperation and Wu highlighted two cases of interest:  ReDigi and Georgia vs Public Resource, Inc.  Hannay summarized and updated 1) The Right to Be Forgotten, including some recent developments in the European Court of Justice;  and 2) Pornography is not Education (parents dropped the lawsuit, but not before about 150 librarians cancelled the product), then moved on to 3) Researchgate vs ACS and Elsevier;  4) Rubber duckie (copies or not);  5) Dark Horse vs Joyful Noise (song influences or not).  Discussion and questions to the speakers led to quotable quotes such as “Even if there is a change in legislation, there will be litigation”…The annual session provided a useful legal update, and again showed that, with the right presenters, the law has a sense of humor (or a humorous side).

The Charleston Conference blog report about this session by Donald Hawkins can be found at:  https://charleston-hub.com/2019/11/the-long-arm-of-the-law-6.

(The session’s slides can be found in Sched.)


Good, Bad or Somewhere In-Between: The Impact of Market Consolidation on Libraries and Universities — Presented by Meg White (moderator, Rittenhouse Book Distributors), Roger C. Schonfeld (Ithaka S+R), Kara Kroes Li (EBSCO Information Services), Doug Way (University of Kentucky) — https://sched.co/UXvV

Reported by John Banionis (Villanova University)

White served as moderator of this frank panel discussion, and Way opened with a pessimistic view of the library marketplace, seen as dominated by ProQuest and EBSCO, riddled with pricing inequities, driven by profit motives, and also occupied by a couple of bad actors, particularly in the streaming video space.  Schonfeld noted that consolidation of content has proceeded onto consolidation of platforms, services, and tools.  Kroes Li observed that the rate of technological change makes it hard for small companies to keep up, but that their acquisition has a net result of preserving a product or service that would have otherwise disappeared.  White asked if there were any positives to consolidation, and Way offered the streamlining of workflows and investments into products, such as EBSCO with YBP/GOBI, but also cautioned about vendor lock-in.  From the audience, Bob Sandusky (University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC)) asked if anything in vendor culture prevents working together, sharing data, and strengthening interoperability, and Kroes Li noted that there are financial incentives to create closed systems and not be interoperable, but also pointed to EBSCO’s development of FOLIO and working closely with university presses.  Jeff Grossman (Xavier University) asked about challenges caused by the upcoming demographic cliff of student enrollment, to which Kroes Li responded that an anticipated rebound in library budgets is now unlikely, and vendors may need to start unbundling things and offering smaller units of value.  Way added that there will be winners and losers from this financial reality, which will in turn drive further consolidation.

Trimming the Sails: The What You need to know about Transformative Agreements — Presented by Athena Hoeppner (moderator, University of Central Florida), Chris Bennett (Cambridge University Press), Colleen Campbell (Open Access 2020 Initiative, Max Planck Digital Library), Curtis Brundy (Iowa State University) — https://sched.co/UXvb

Reported by Ramune K. Kubilius (Northwestern University, Galter Health Sciences Library & Learning Center) 

Transformative agreements were woven into a number of 2019 Charleston Conference sessions.  In this Neapolitan session, panelists represented different stakeholder groups (publisher, library, consortium), and their views, interpretations, visions of the transformative agreement landscape and beyond.  From a publisher’s view, for example, Bennett observed that there is a need to centralize funds, it is optimal to keep authors’ workflows as straightforward as possible, but there will be author choices on licenses, embargoes, and those may differ by discipline.  Not an easy landscape to understand, it was observed during the question and answer session at the end — the time to experiment is now, not only in publishing, reading, but also learning environments (e.g., OER-Open Educational Resources).


Interpreting Analytics for Open Access Books — Presented by Rupert Gatti (Open Book Publishers), Sven Fund (Knowledge Unlatched), Kathleen Folger (University of Michigan) — https://sched.co/UXvz

Reported by John Banionis  (Villanova University) 

Folger opened this session with considerations for libraries to review before supporting an OA book initiative, including quality of content, alignment with campus programs and mission, cost for participation, campus and peer support, staff time for managing discoverability, and confidence in the business model.  Gatti continued by discussing challenges in gathering OA book usage, highlighting what information can be gleaned through usage data (engagement levels, format preferences, geographic reach), and cautioning against the data providing a false sense of accuracy (considering removal of bot traffic, session definitions, and variations between COUNTER and Google Analytics counts).  Fund closed with a reminder that OA usage metrics are not an exact science but rather an indication of impact, and that raw numbers without a reference or context become unintelligible. 

O Oysters You’ve Had a Pleasant Run:  Three Viewpoints on EBAs in Long-Term Collection Development Strategies — Presented by Arielle Lomness (University of British Columbia), Robert Tiessen (University of Calgary), Sara Forsythe (moderator, Cambridge University Press), Louis Houle (McGill University) — https://sched.co/UXvw

Reported by Janice Adlington (McMaster University) 

Representatives from three CARL/ARL libraries outlined the rationales behind their very different approaches to eBook collections.  Calgary abandoned DDA and print approval plans in 2015, due to budget constraints, and has since experimented with adding and cancelling EBAs from multiple providers.  During the same years, British Columbia enhanced their eBook package purchases and subscriptions with EBAs from three major publishers, all of which are continuing.  By contrast, McGill’s section, provocatively titled “EBA: Why Bother?,” analyzed usage of package purchases to project the costs and number of titles that would be owned had their complete packages instead been evidence-based.  Overall, the session emphasized the complexity of the current landscape for both libraries and publishers, and the different priorities that influence decisions, even for seemingly similar institutions.  One warning concerned the management of collections via knowledgebases, and the risk of losing access during protracted negotiations.  

(Slides and detailed analyses are available from the conference Sched website.)


Canceling the Big Deal: Three R1 Libraries Compare Data, Communication, and Strategies — Presented by Adam Chesler (AIP Publishing), L. Angie Ohler (University of Maryland), Karen Rupp-Serrano (University of Oklahoma), Leigh Ann DePope (University of Maryland College Park), Joelle Pitts (Kansas State University) — https://sched.co/UXwB

Reported by John Banionis  (Villanova University) 

After Chesler introduced the panelists, Ohler provided a combined overview of the three institutions’ Big Deal commitments as of 2017.  Pitts continued with Kansas State University’s approach to significant cancellations planned for 2019, which involved a strong communication plan backed by data analysis and visualization using Power BI.  Some positive impacts included the creation of a scholarly communications task force, a new hire in data analysis, and a surprisingly low impact on ILL requests, though this may increase over time as perpetual access coverage wanes.  Rupp-Serano presented a more sobering story from University of Oklahama, where an even larger budget cut for 2019 prompted Big Deal cancellations from three publishers.  An additional negative impact of these cuts has been a general reluctance for library budget advocacy from campus constituents due to a fear that their own programs may see cuts instead.  Lastly, DePope highlighted the experience at University of Maryland, where after a Big Deal cancellation, ILL requests for the same journals were only equivalent to 2% of the previous year’s usage, and the library is now achieving better negotiations with other publishers.  The results of a web survey were also shared, indicating that budget remains the primary driver behind Big Deal cancellation decisions.

(The session’s slides can be found in Sched, along with results from the survey linked to from Sched prior to the conference.)

The Time Has Come…to Talk About Why Research Data Management Isn’t Easy — Presented by Anthony Watkinson (moderator, CIBER), Carol Tenopir (University of Tennessee), Robert Sandusky (University of Illinois at Chicago), Jordan Kaufman (University of Tennessee), Mark Cummings (Choice/ACRL), Anthony Paganelli (Western Kentucky University Libraries) https://sched.co/UXwE

Reported by Ramune K. Kubilius  (Northwestern University, Galter Health Sciences Library & Learning Center) 

The panel reported on a survey (white paper later released in December 2019: https://www.acrl.ala.org/acrlinsider/archives/18655) that used a 2012 ACRL study as a baseline for comparison.  Speakers summarized 2019 survey findings.  Tenopir provided an overview — respondents were North American (186 in total with 20 follow-up interviews) who work at 2 year through ARL R1-R2 level institutions.  Research data support by libraries varied: information services to metadata standard development.  Technical support ranged:  hands-on direct support to deaccessioning data.  Kaufman highlighted challenges.  Not surprisingly, staffing was #1, then: funding, infrastructure, faculty awareness and interest, and institutional support.  Sandusky highlighted staffing — sole or combination responsibility, and strategies: re-assigning existing staff, hiring, planning to hire, plans to re-assign.  Training included: conferences, workshops, courses, in-house, collaboration with other academic programs.  At the end of the panelists’ training opportunity list (Linked In Learning and the ESIP-Data Management Training (DMT) Clearinghouse), audience members contributed other sources useful to them — books, SIGs, boot camps, communities… Per Tenopir, research data management was “shiny new” in 2012, compared to 2019, with its reality and difficulties.  She shared some of her research data challenges and hopes that libraries would see their role as similar to the one already played in the institutional repositories realm.  Someone opined later that RDM is not just about creating repositories.

The Charleston Conference blog report about this session by Donald Hawkins can be found at:  https://charleston-hub.com/2019/11/why-research-data-management-isnt-easy/.

The video of this session can be viewed at:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RbPuvXM_W48.


Closing Session and Poll-a-Palooza — Presented by Anthony Watkinson (moderator, CIBER Research), Stephen Rhind-Tutt (Coherent Digital, LLC), Erin Gallagher (University of Florida) https://sched.co/UXwH

Reported by Ramune K. Kubilius  (Northwestern University, Galter Health Sciences Library & Learning Center) 

After a tasty buffet lunch, Watkinson introduced the final 2019 conference session and turned the microphone over for the second year to Rhind-Tutt, who provided a brief version of “Stephen’s Takeaways” before leaving the session for the airport.  He presented an analysis of the 2019 conference schedule and reminded attendees about the Gartner hype curve.  What’s new that’s new, and what do we have to give up?

The Charleston Conference blog report by Donald Hawkins about this part of the session can be found at:  https://charleston-hub.com/2019/11/stephen-rhind-tutts-conference-summary/.

Gallagher commented that the 7th time is a charm, remembering the first poll-a-palooza in 2012 with 12 attendees (and no food).  She shared slides of perceived trends and word clouds from previous years, before posing some questions open for participant input…Some phrases and words (serious and tongue in cheek) that came up in 2019:  abracadabra, balance, bright idea, consequences, de-colonization, interoperable future, together we see clearly, “untransformative,” work-life.  Gallagher jokingly shared that she pulls together her own reading lists from favorite books people share, a list that this year included:  Black Box Thinking: Why Most People Never Learn From their Mistakes; Educated: A Memoir; Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life; The Future of Another Timeline; Thinking, Fast and Slow, and many more.  The audience participated not only electronically through the polling software, but also in person at the mike.  Will the concluding session attendees inspire the 2020 (40th conference year) theme?  That remains to be seen.

Gallagher’s portion of this year’s session (including a few screen shot title captions incorrectly labeled to predict 2019, rather than 2020) can be found at:  https://charleston-hub.com/2019/11/poll-a-palooza-2/.  

Well this completes the reports we received from the 2019 Charleston Conference.  Again we’d like to send a big thank you to all of the attendees who agreed to write short reports that highlight sessions they attended.  Presentation material (PowerPoint slides, handouts) and taped session links from many of the 2019 sessions are available online.  Visit the Conference Website at www.charlestonlibraryconference.com. — KS


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