Get to Know the ACRL Research and Scholarly Environment Committee

Editor’s note: This guest post comes from Yasmeen Shorish, Vice-Chair of the ACRL Research and Scholarly Environment Committee and Data Services Coordinator and Associate Professor at James Madison University, and Patricia Hswe, Chair of the ACRL Research and Scholarly Environment Committee and Program Officer for Scholarly Communications at the Mellon Foundation.

The call to volunteer on an ACRL committee is out and you have until Feb. 15 to indicate your interest. But have you ever wanted more detailed information about what these committees do before you volunteer? Well, this post is here to help you out…if you specifically want to know what the Research and Scholarly Environment Committee (ReSEC) does, and why it is called a “goal area” committee.

ReSEC’s formal charge is:

To oversee and coordinate ACRL’s Research and Scholarly Environment Initiative as described in the strategic plan; work with the ACRL Board and other ACRL units in creating a comprehensive effort including coalition building, professional development, publications, research, and advocacy and in developing the ACRL research and scholarly communications website; and monitor and assess the effectiveness of the ACRL Research and Scholarly Environment Initiative.

It’s a bit wordy, so we break it down each year in our annual work plan that is submitted to the ACRL Board of Directors. This work plan aligns with ACRL’s overarching Plan for Excellence. ReSEC is responsible for addressing the following goal and objectives from the Plan for Excellence:

Goal: The academic and research library workforce accelerates the transition to more open and equitable systems of scholarship.


  • Increase the ways ACRL is an advocate and model for open dissemination and evaluation practices.
  • Enhance members’ capacity to address issues related to scholarly communication, including but not limited to data management, library publishing, open access, and digital scholarship.
  • Increase ACRL’s efforts to influence scholarly publishing policies and practices toward a more open and equitable system.

The committee uses these objectives to scope the work that we do. Committee members can bring ideas forward to pursue new projects and initiatives, in addition to the standing work that the committee overseas. Make no mistake, this is a working committee. We are a committee that likes to take on a project that will have an outcome and an impact. Some of the standing areas that ReSEC overseas:

In addition, ReSEC is aware that efforts in the field, such as Requests for Information on topics relevant to scholarly communication and in which ACRL membership has a stake, may require input in the form of a response or a statement of support. To this end, we have established a subcommittee dedicated to identifying and crafting initial responses that are then shared with the ACRL Executive Director and Board for their review and approval before public release.

Another way that ReSEC contributes to the membership is through scholarship support, such as the fund for two ACRL members to attend OpenCon. ReSEC members collaborate with SPARC, the OpenCon organizers, to select ACRL members from the OpenCon scholarship application pool. An added benefit (we think!) to the scholarship recipients is their appointment to the committee for a two-year term.

A key effort that ReSEC will be undertaking in 2018 and 2019 is the development of a new research agenda, which has not been updated since 2007. In the intervening years, the scholarly communication landscape has shifted and arguably expanded in scope to include an understanding of services and collaboration in digital scholarship, library publishing, and research data management. Open access as a principle has also gained traction in academic libraries. Several institutions have passed open access policies and resolutions in the last decade, and there has been a resurgence of institutional repositories in scholarly publishing as well. As a result, the issues of who has access and who does not, and whose work is able to be published and whose work is not, have become increasingly important for librarians to address. ReSEC anticipates that the updated research agenda will also amplify the voices of librarians who have been underrepresented in scholarly communication work, yet whose contributions are needed to realize open access more meaningfully, accurately, and completely.

We hope that this post has helped explain the ins and outs of what ReSEC is and why it is such a great committee to be a part of. You can volunteer for this (and any other) ACRL committee via the ACRL volunteer website by February 15. Feel free to join us for our open committee meeting at ALA Midwinter in Denver 8:30 – 11:30 a.m. on February 11 in the Sheraton Denver Downtown Governor’s Square 11 room.

If you are excited about working towards more open and equitable systems of scholarship, ReSEC is the committee for you!