September 17, 2021

Association of Research Libraries (ARL) Publishes 2020 Annual Report

From the Introduction to the Annual Report by John Culshaw, Association of Research Libraries President:

2020 was a year like no other in recent history. Three conditions converged to shape the work of the Association: the COVID-19 pandemic; the continued systemic racism resulting in the killing of Black and Brown people in the United States; and the economic uncertainty, particularly given COVID-19, that challenges the very nature of higher education and research.

The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) works in partnership to convene, inform, shape, and influence the research and learning ecosystem. Our focus is at the intersection of public policy, institutional policy and practice, and the changing conditions of research and learning. Given the context of 2020, the ARL Board of Directors approved a 2021–2022 Action Plan that represents a strategic direction based on member priorities reflecting the known present with an eye on the future. The Action Plan sets our strategic direction for the next two years and is based on our members’ priorities. Thank you for your participation in developing the plan! As you read this Annual Report, I hope that you also recognize the strength and value of research libraries now and as we build the future together, founded on the Association’s mission, vision, and guiding principles.

In 2020 scholars depended on access to digital research more than ever before. The Association saw this as a crucial moment to support controlled digital lending. We worked to increase open access in collaboration with our partners in higher education, and other research library associations, including our work on open science with the International Alliance of Research Library Associations. We stood with others encouraging publishers to open access to research to accelerate the science that ultimately led to COVID-19 vaccines, and beyond that to help our society deal with the public health consequences.

The ARL Board is responsible for ensuring we live by our guiding principles. This year the Association stood in support of the principles—we were called to action on diversity, equity, and inclusion; intellectual freedom; and leadership development. As vice president, it was my privilege to plan and host the ARL Fall Forum themed “Leading Libraries toward Anti-racism in a Changing World.” This event and others highlighted in the Annual Report reflect our deep commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Sadly our society continues to need to battle racism and structural inequity. In 2020 the Association condemned police brutality and racism and requested that the White House withdraw the executive order on “Combating Race and Sex Stereotyping.” We began a review of our Association policies to ensure they are structurally equitable and that our actions reflect our anti-racist commitment. This started with our Association committees by broadening the engagement of member library staff in all we do and building pathways within our Association for BIPOC community. We will continue to review and update our policies in 2021.

As we look ahead to 2021, we start from what we learned and accomplished in 2020. I invite you to read the Annual Report and hope you too will recognize the value of our Association as well as further appreciate the resilience and contributions of our members during this unprecedented time.

Direct to Full Text Report
26 pages; PDF.

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.

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