Scholarly Communication and Liberal Arts College Libraries

Primary tabs

Scholarly communication, in addition to referring to the disciplinary practices that structure the dissemination of scholarly knowledge, has become shorthand for two meanings: on the one hand, it refers to an analytic "author/reader" framework that seeks critical understanding of the entire life cycle of scholarly knowledge and the connected roles of researchers, teachers, students, funders, libraries, publishers, and other kinds of agencies in the creation, dissemination, critique, reuse, and preservation of knowledge. On the other hand, it embraces a public policy advocacy framework that critically examines the economic and legal relationships that constrain or facilitate the creation and flow of scholarly knowledge, urging recognition that knowledge is a kind of commons, with each discovery or innovation dependent on the accomplishments of earlier scholars. Despite the strong connections between the scholarly communications reform movement and research universities and research libraries, the economic, technological, and cultural changes under way in scholarly publishing affect many types of higher education institutions. Liberal arts colleges and their libraries also have a deep stake in the availability of scholarly literature and active engagement in efforts to illuminate and reform the scholarly publishing system, and have actively contributed to the movement. Many of the open access initiatives associated with the scholarly communication reform movement are directly relevant to the inquiry-based pedagogy characteristic of liberal arts college education.