33 Association of Research Libraries Research Library Issues 302 2021 Sustainability Funding for Scholarly Infrastructure Needs Infrastructure of Its Own Judy Ruttenberg, Association of Research Libraries For decades, research libraries have understood that the current system of scholarly communications—both content and infrastructure— would become unsustainable. Consolidation among large commercial publishing services has driven up prices faster than inflation or library allocations, and open source or community-based alternatives are often fragile by comparison: under-resourced, reliant on volunteer labor, and lacking in stable business models. Digital content and digital infrastructure are intertwined in the world of platforms and databases but infrastructure is what makes scholarship possible to do, to disseminate, to engage, and to preserve. A growing number of Association of Research Libraries (ARL) member libraries have recently launched “sustainable scholarship” initiatives and/or made commitments to values-based investing—supporting scholarly publishers and services that are aligned with library values of openness and equitable access. Goals of such efforts are to ensure ongoing access to and preservation of content, durable, affordable infrastructure, and to contain costs. Under a values-based investing framework, research libraries intend to divert a portion of their collections funds from the excesses of commercial publishing to sustain open or community-based scholarly infrastructures. They are doing so in alignment with the scholarly community and with local research priorities. Research libraries describe sustainable scholarship initiatives as more “open, affordable, and transparent”1 than the current system, which is dominated by an ever smaller number of large commercial publishing services including platforms, workflow tools, analytics, and computational environments. In libraries, supporting open and community-based infrastructures involves a complicated mix of both
Previous Page Next Page