The ACRL Scholarly Communication Toolkit was initially launched in 2005 by the ACRL Research and Scholarly Environment Committee (formerly the Scholarly Communication Committee) to support advocacy efforts designed to transform the scholarly communication landscape.
The toolkit is an educational resource primarily directed to librarians to assist them with:
The Toolkit includes short overview essays on key scholarly communication issues and highly selective lists of other sources of information on these topics, and copies of presentations, handouts, and similar material including materials from the ACRL Workshop “Scholarly Communication: From Understanding to Engagement.”
All materials that are prepared for and directly part of the toolkit are made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike (CC-BY-NC-SA) license.
In 2016, ACRL conducted a major update of the Toolkit and migrated it to ACRL LibGuides. The Toolkit will continue to be updated and maintained by members of the Research and Scholarly Environment Committee's Toolkit Editing Team.
In 2003, ACRL defined scholarly communication as "the system through which research and other scholarly writings are created, evaluated for quality, disseminated to the scholarly community, and preserved for future use. The system includes both formal means of communication, such as publication in peer-reviewed journals, and informal channels, such as electronic listservs." Scholarly communication is frequently defined or depicted as a lifecycle documenting the steps involved in the creation, publication, dissemination and discovery of a piece of scholarly research.
There are several actors or stakeholders present at the various stages in this lifecycle, including researchers, funders, peer reviewers, publishers, and, of course, libraries. Historically, the role of libraries in the scholarly communication lifecycle was confined to information consumer -- they collected and organized scholarly resources for discovery and use by others. However, technological innovation in production and dissemination of scholarship, challenges to traditional publishing practices concerning business models and intellectual property management, and efforts to increase access to scholarship have presented opportunities for libraries to leverage their services and expertise to advocate for and bring about positive change.
The ways in which libraries have innovated their services and programs and tapped into their collective expertise to become less of a mere consumer of scholarly resources and instead a prominent actor and information producer in the scholarly communication lifecycle include:
In this Toolkit, users will find information and resources to assist them in developing programs or enhancing current offerings aimed at these and other endeavors at their own libraries. Academic libraries are strategically positioned on account of existing relationships with publishers, faculty, researchers, authors, students, and administrators to be not only a resource but also a leader and change agent in the scholarly communication lifecycle, and we hope that content provided here assists libraries in achieving their strategic and programmatic goals.
There are several opportunities for librarians to further engage in and learn about scholarly communication:
Further recommended reading on scholarly communication and academic libraries: