The members of RLUK include the leading and most significant research libraries in the UK and Ireland. Their formal partnering with LIBER is a key part of RLUK’s aims to enable greater synergy and cooperation between its members and institutions in the European community, and to ensure the concerns and priorities of institutions in the UK and Ireland are fully represented in relevant policy discussions, particularly in regards to scholarly communications issues such as open data and open access, taking place on the European level.
LIBER recently spoke to RLUK’s Executive Director Dr. David Prosser to find out more about the consortium’s work and RLUK’s motivation for joining LIBER.
1. For those not familiar with RLUK, can you briefly describe the organisation?
RLUK was formed in the early 1980s when seven UK libraries came together to share bibliographic data. In the years following we have grown to 34 members in the UK and Ireland, including our leading research-intensive universities, the UK National Libraries and other institutions with exceptional collections.
2. You advocate for libraries in many ways, notably on the topic of Open Access. Can you tell us about your work in this area?
RLUK members believe that there are many problems with the current models of scholarly communications – ever increasing journals prices, expensive OA charges, restrictive ebook models, etc. We see our work with Open Access as providing potential solutions to these issues. We work closely with research funders in the UK to help direct policy, we support institutions in developing institutional repositories and we liaise closely with publishers around pricing issues. A focus of activity at the moment is ensuring that publishers are aware of the library community’s view around ‘double-dipping’ – taking revenue both for subscriptions and open access article charges. This is a particular concern in the UK as we are investing heavily in gold open access.
3. You’ve also been actively lobbying for change to copyright legislation in the UK. What changes would you like to see?
We wish to see a licensing regime that protects libraries if the rights holders come forward after digitization has taken place.It is not clear that the current copyright regime is the right one to encourage scholarship and research. RLUK has been active in promoting new models in the UK and we are very pleased that a new set of exceptions has just been approved. From June we will have an exception that allows for text and data mining of any material to which you have legal access. It will also not possible to sign away exceptions in the contract you make with the supplier. These are important changes.
One area where we would like to see further progress is around orphan works. Libraries wish to digitise their collections, but it is not always clear who the rights holders are for older material that is still in copyright. This affects huge amounts of material from the first half of the 20th Century. We wish to see a licensing regime that protects libraries if the rights holders come forward after digitization has taken place.
4. How will joining LIBER help you with these strategic goals?
Research and scholarship is increasingly international. And increasingly the landscape is determined internationally, not least within Europe in terms of funding available from the Commission and European discussions around copyright. LIBER is the foremost organization representing the interests of research libraries within Europe and we are very encouraged by the activity that LIBER has undertaken in engaging with the Commission. We hope that by joining LIBER we can help to strengthen LIBER in their discussions, but also gain from LIBER’s expertise in this area.
LIBER is the foremost organization representing the interests of research libraries within Europe and we are very encouraged by the activity that LIBER has undertaken in engaging with the Commission.
5. Beyond this, are there other things you hope to achieve by becoming part of our network?
Across the range of research library activity – from the use of space through to the management of research data – we wish to engage with our European colleagues to learn from and to share best practice. We also realize that many issues (such as agreeing metadata standards) can only be addressed through international collaboration and we see LIBER as providing the natural forum for those discussions.
6. How can other libraries best follow your work?
Thank you to Dr. David Prosser for the interview, and to RLUK for joining LIBER.