Dear ESS Members,
What a(nother) crazy year this has been. By the time I chaired my first meetings for Midwinter in February 2022, it was very clear these meetings were going to be virtual. There was a new Covid variant spreading rapidly through the country and even ALA moved its LibLearnX conference to online.
What was less clear was what to do for the Annual Conference. Should we meet in person again? Should we meet virtually? This was a tough decision to make. While there are many advantages to meeting on Zoom, I know we are all eager to meet in person again after two years. But with so many of our colleagues not able to travel to Washington, DC for a variety of reasons, we decided that our official meetings would remain virtual, and would take place before ALA Annual. Meanwhile, we also decided that a few meetings would take place during ALA Annual (oh, the fun process of reserving rooms!), but these would be “let’s catch-up meetings.” So, if you are planning on heading to DC at the end of June, make sure to say hello to our colleagues and our vendors.
Let me now recap my year (so far) as Chair.
July 2021-April 2022
This year was rich in virtual events of all sorts.
First, in August 2021, Kathleen Smith (Stanford University) organized the ESS Hands-On Workshop for Black European Research Resources (2 sessions). This workshop came after the success of the June 2021 ESS Forum on “Researching the Black European Experience,” which introduced us to the challenges of searching for information about Black Europeans in both European and North American contexts. Thanks to the expertise and feedback from five guest speakers (Natasha Kelly, Stephen Small, Kwame Nimako, Margaret Ohia-Nowak, and Antumi Toasijé), attendees learned more about the types of resources that should be included in LibGuides on “Black European Research Resources.” Attendees then worked in small groups to draft lists of resources for various regions and topics. The guest speakers then provided feedback on said drafts. One of the tasks now ahead of us will be to decide how to move forward with the guides: what do we include? What should the structure look like? How do we maintain the guides? I look forward to seeing how we can make this work. A huge thanks to our vendors Adam Matthew Digital, Brepols Publishers, Brill, Casalini Libri, Walter De Gruyter, East View Information Services, and Iberoamericana Editorial Vervuert whose generosity made this event possible.
Then, in November 2021 Kathleen Smith (Stanford University), Katie Gibson (Miami University), and the ESS Vendor Relations Committe organized the ESS Round Table on Understanding the Black European Research Landscape. For this event, vendors gave their perspective on building research collections related to the Black European communities and experiences in Europe. The goal was to understand better the current Black European research landscape as reflected in European publishing and distribution channels.
During our 2022 virtual Midwinter, the Classical, Medieval, and Renaissance Discussion Group hosted two speakers. Professor James Diggle, Emeritus Professor of Greek, talked about the new Cambridge Greek Lexicon, and Cécile Waroquaux, Sales & Marketing Manager of Electronic Resources at Classiques Garnier Numérique, presented on CGN’s online journals, book series, and primary source databases for Medieval and Renaissance Studies. Meanwhile, the Germanists Discussion Group invited Carlin Wing, Assistant Professor of Media Studies at Scripps College, to talk about her research and new book EA Sports FIFA: Feeling the Game, and to discuss the cultural influence of FIFA; the intersections of gender, race, and sports; and why the World Cup matters to academic libraries in North America.
Finally, in March 2022, the Vendor Relations Committee hosted a Spring Vendor Forum. Vendors were invited to answer questions on the role of publishers in archiving content and ensuring it’s discoverable; how back-office operations have changed to accommodate new approaches to discovery and federated search; and how Open Access is affecting business models over the next 5-10 years. A huge thanks to the Committee for organizing this forum, and to the following vendors for accepting the invitation: Classiques Garnier Numérique, Numérique Premium, Amalivre, Puvill Libros S.A., Casalini Libri, OpenEdition, Cairn.info, Brepols Publishers, Harrassowitz, and Iberoamericana Editorial Vervuert.
I hope you attended our very timely virtual event, organized by Kathleen Smith on April 28: Refugees of Color from the War in Ukraine: at the Polish Border and in Poland. In addition, on May 1, we released the schedule for our virtual and in-person meetings for ALA Annual; our General Membership Meeting was on June 14, and our Executive Committee Meeting on June 21 .
For the Future
After much discussion during our Executive Meeting in February 2022, Vice-Chair/Chair-Elect Brian Vetruba (University of Minnesota) and I agreed that it is high time we review and map out the ESS documentation. Concerns came up about the lack of understanding and lack of transparency regarding the various roles within ESS as well as about what Discussion Groups should really do (compared to the Committees). Additionally, the Governance Procedures are out of date. Brian will therefore lead a group whose first task will be to come up with a plan for where the ESS documentation should live for greater accessibility. Once the plan is approved by the Executive Committee, the next task will be to update these documents. More to come on that topic soon.
Following the report from the ACRL Awards Task Force, the Executive Committee approved Thomas Keenan’s (Princeton University) motion to change the name of the committee from “ESS Award Committee” to “ESS Research Grant Committee.” The report states “That existing Research Awards and Grants (i.e., De Gruyter European Librarianship Study Grant) be renamed ‘Research Grants’ and administered at the section level, outside the ACRL awards program, continuing to coordinate any sponsor outreach/fundraising through ACRL staff.” The ESS Research Grant Committee is now looking for new sponsors. As you may recall, the Walter de Gruyter Foundation for Scholarship and Research decided the time was right to reallocate Grant funds towards endeavors focused on the future of scientific publishing. I know the committee has been hard at work and I look forward to seeing what ESS will be able to offer its members in the years to come.
Speaking of the future, thank you to the 2023 Nominating Committee, chaired by Michelle Urberg (EBSCO), for finding us amazing candidates. Congratulations to our new Vice-Chair/Chair-Elect Jordan S. Sly (University of Maryland), our new Secretary Katie Gibson (Miami University), and our new member-at-large Joanneke Elliott (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill). And thank you to Brian Vetruba (University of Minnesota), Kathleen Smith (Standford University), and Liladhar Pendse (University of California-Berkeley), with whom I enjoyed working during my year as Chair. Considering Brian’s extensive knowledge of ESS, I know the section will be in very good hands with him as Chair.
This year has been particularly difficult for me on a personal level. I had so many things I wanted to accomplish as Chair that I just was not able to do. And I am so grateful for the support I have received from Past-Chair Thomas Keenan and Vice-Chair/Chair-Elect Brian Vetruba, who have not only been patient and kind with me as I pestered them with questions, but also from whom I learned so much about leadership and ESS more broadly. And I want to take this opportunity as well to thank our ESS Discussion Groups, Committees, and the ESS community at large, because since I started in my role at UF back in 2015, I have always found my fellow Essies to be incredibly generous and supportive. The pandemic only reinforced that feeling. So thank you for all the work that you do and for being such an amazing community.
Hélène Huet, University of Florida
ESS Chair 2021-2022