SCOOP: The Year in Scholarly Communication – 2020 Edition/
December 30, 2020
It’s time for the SCOOP’s annual recap of happenings across scholarly communication. Atla also had several important headlines from its own scholarly communication program in 2020:
- Books@Atla Open Press published three new volumes, including the first volumes of two new series, as well as made available open access reprints of books published by friends of Atla:
- Volume One of The Theological Librarian’s Handbook series entitled Introduction to Theological Libraries.
- Volume One of Women in Religion series entitled Claiming Notability for Women Activists in Religion.
- Publication of an edited collection of essays entitled Shifting Stacks, commemorating Atla’s 75th anniversary.
- Open access reprint of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference’s book on The Hispanic Evangelical Church in the United States. The title is available in English and Spanish.
- Open access publication of ATS Women in Leadership: Celebrating Twenty Years.
- The Atla Scholarly Communication Committee collaborated to produce a new LibGuide on “Digital Humanities in Religious Studies.”
- The journal Theological Librarianship completed its migration from its old domain to the https://serials.atla.com domain. It remains and has been an open access publication for over twelve years. The journal also announced a new process for writing and submitting book reviews.
- COVID-19 impacted our members by requiring the rapid shift of courses online. Theological Librarianship published a timely forum on distance learning in its October issue, and the SCOOP column provided copyright guidance for online courses.
- Atla announced the launch of its new Open Educational Resources Grant program and awarded grants to two member libraries.
- Atla joined the Coalition for Diversity and Inclusion in Scholarly Communications, and in this SCOOP column, we looked at how Atla Open Press is taking action toward diversity and inclusion.
The Year in Copyright
The End of the Georgia State University Copyright Case
In late fall 2020, the court in the long-running case of Cambridge University Press et al v. Becker, better known as the Georgia State copyright case, entered its final order disposing of the last remaining question on attorney’s fees. Libraries watched this case carefully for over a decade hoping for clarification and guidance on the application of the fair use statute to e-reserves. While no clearly defined guidelines emerged from the several decisions entered in the case by the trial and appellate courts, some guidance can be gleaned from a review of those decisions, which we summarized last month in the SCOOP.
Impact on Theological Libraries
The conclusion of this case matters greatly for theological and religion studies librarians as it not only highlighted the flexibility and importance of fair use but also established some boundaries for libraries in advising faculty in selecting course material for online posting.
- The SCOOP first covered the Georgia State case in August 2018. Revisit this post for additional strategies libraries can employ when handling e-reserves and other electronic course material postings.
- The pandemic of 2020 raised a lot of questions about copyright and fair use in an emergency situation, as well as for online teaching under normal circumstances. We tackled some of these questions in August 2020.
- University of Virginia’s Brandon Butler addressed the state of fair use in 2016 after some important holdings in the Georgia State case.
Internet Archive and the Lawsuit over Controlled Digital Lending
As the pandemic took hold of the country in March 2020 and in-person classes rapidly shifted online, the Internet Archive responded with the launch of the National Emergency Library to facilitate digital lending of books that suddenly became unavailable to the public when schools and libraries closed. Several publishers filed suit over the summer claiming copyright infringement. As of the writing of this post, the lawsuit is still pending following the filing of Internet Archive’s response to the complaint.
Impact on Theological Libraries
The lawsuit calls into question the legalities around Controlled Digital Lending (CDL), which libraries are beginning to explore and implement as a means for digitally circulating print materials. Further developments in this case and any judicial rulings on filings will be instructive on the boundaries and application of CDL.
- Read the Internet Archive’s answer to the complaint, which is linked from this story on the lawsuit.
- The SCOOP reported on the lawsuit upon its filing and included some additional resources on CDL.
- Adam Holland, of the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University, presents a full timeline of events, as well as analysis of the legal arguments, surrounding the National Emergency Library.
The CASE Act
At the very end of 2020, embedded within the 5,000+ pages of a bill passed by Congress under the guise of COVID-19 relief, the controversial CASE Act was seemingly made law. The CASE Act enables the creation of a small claims copyright court, making it easier for rightsholders to bring copyright infringement suits against individuals and institutions. As written, the CASE Act does not provide any educational exemption, which means that, in theory, individual institutions as well as their faculty, staff, and students can be sued in what is essentially federal court with the procedural burden falling on those being sued to remove the cases to their local state courts. Even if the lawsuits filed are resolved in favor of the person or entity sued, they are still liable for attorney’s fees and court costs. This opens the door for rightsholders to test every use of their content and unfairly chills utilization of fair use in educational contexts.
Impact on Theological Libraries
Although it will take some time for the system outlined in the CASE Act to be established, when it does go into effect, it will be important for libraries to work with the attorneys for their institutions to educate faculty and students about fair use and the added risks and liabilities for infringement.
- Coverage from the Electronic Frontier Foundation on the CASE Act.
- The web site Techdirt also provided coverage on the inclusion of the CASE Act in December’s government funding bill.
The Year in Open Access
Growing Importance of Open Infrastructure
In 2019, a team of researchers published the results of an environmental scan they conducted of open source publishing systems. In this report, they suggested sustainability models that can be adopted to ensure that these systems fully support research communication. Other library organizations continued this work in 2020, highlighting the growing and continued importance of opening not only scholarship but the mechanisms for producing and publishing it. SPARC and other organizations have lent fiscal support to the “Invest in Open” project, which aims to make the costs associated with open infrastructure development and maintenance accessible, verifiable, and actionable. Additionally, Educopia and partner organizations ramped up work in 2020 on the “Next Generation Library Publishing” project, which will strive to create a more balanced and effective academic publishing system via compelling library publishing solutions.
Impact on Theological Libraries
Awareness of the systems available to support scholarly communication, particularly those systems that are openly licensed, is important for all librarians. Atla programs such as Atla Open Press and the Atla Digital Library rely upon open infrastructure and offer our members opportunities to interact with these systems.
- Also from Educopia, this year’s report on “Mapping Scholarly Communications Infrastructure” further investigates the state of academic publishing infrastructure.
- Check out the SCOOP post on Atla Open Press’s utilization of open infrastructure.
Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives
The Black Lives Matter movement and protests over the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and others in 2020 highlighted the continued need for education and policy around racism. Libraries and related organizations responded with statements and resources on diversity and inclusion. Importantly, the Coalition for Diversity and Inclusion in Scholarly Communication (C4DISC) formally launched as an organization in 2020; Atla joined C4DISC in November. Further, Atla staff and the Atla Open Press Advisory Council have also been working to update and revise the Press’s House Style guidelines to address the need for bias-free language in our publications. Notably, in recognition of the decisions of the New York Times, the Associated Press, the Chicago Manual of Style, and others, the Press adopted a policy to capitalize the terms “Black,” “White,” and “Indigenous” when used as racial or ethnic designations for specific persons or populations.
Impact for Theological Libraries
As noted by the American Library Association, the librarian profession suffers from a persistent lack of racial and ethnic diversity that shows few signs of improving. Further, concerns about diversity and inclusion persist within the larger realm of higher education. Librarians serve an important advocacy role not only among their professional peers but also within the larger institutional network where they work and teach.
- Atla’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee has put together a LibGuide of resources for libraries.
- The American Library Association has compiled a list of antiracism resources for libraries.
- The Association of University Presses hosted an informative webinar on C4DISC’s “Antiracism Toolkit for Allies.”
Libraries Continue to Push for Open Access
The pandemic highlighted the importance of open access and immediate access to research. Although COVID-19 was not the cited reason for additional university library cancelations of big deal contracts, with the pandemic causing budget shortfalls, big deal cancellations may show the way for other institutions now facing negotiations with publishers. Growing constraints on library budgets have increased the need for libraries to reassess the benefits to scholars of multiyear subscriptions to bundles of journals. Considering the financial impact of COVID-19 on research and educational institutions, access to digital collections need innovative, cost-effective approaches.
Impact on Theological Libraries
As was shared last year, for theological libraries affiliated with larger university systems who may be considering similar negotiations or terminations, they should be aware of what content their patrons access that could be impacted by any big deal terminations. For smaller or stand-alone theological libraries, it is important to be well-versed in open access and the changing nature of scholarly publishing and to prepare to negotiate with publishers for license terms that support the publishing activities of faculty as well as the library’s own budget needs.
- SPARC is tracking the “big deal” publisher cancelations.
- Wired magazine reported on how universities are stepping up the fight for open access.
- In early 2020, the President hinted at making all federally funded research immediately open access. While a broad sweeping policy never came to be, it is still important to consider what such a policy could mean for funded research.
Keep Up on News and Trends in Scholarly Communication
To keep up on scholarly communication issues throughout the year, look for the SCOOP column every month on the Atla blog, but also consider these useful and informative sources:
- Hosted by Harvard University’s Berkman Center, the Open Access Tracking Project provides a feed of stories and news on open access in a variety of forms (e.g., Twitter, RSS).
- The Journal of Scholarly Communication and Librarianship is an open access peer-reviewed journal publishing articles investigating the modes and technologies of scholarly communication, particularly as relates to libraries.
- The “Scholarly Kitchen” is the blog of the Society of Scholarly Publishers and features posts written by a wide array of authors from both the scholarly publishing and library worlds and that often inform and tantalize readers.
The SCOOP, Scholarly COmmunication and Open Publishing, is a monthly column published to inform Atla members of recent developments, new resources, or interesting stories from the realm of scholarly communication and open access publishing.
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