January 15, 2008

Library dean elected to prestigious committee

by Christi Mathis

David Carlson

CARBONDALE, Ill. — David H. Carlson is absolutely passionate about the importance of pursuing knowledge, expanding research, and assuring as much open and unfettered access as possible to the fruits of those labors.

His peers recently recognized that passion, combined with Carlson's efforts on behalf of such worthy goals, by electing the dean of library affairs at Southern Illinois University Carbondale to a spot on the steering committee of a national committee founded on similar principles. Carlson will serve through December 2010 on the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) steering committee.

Carlson said he's honored his peers chose him for the prestigious position. The Association of Research Libraries founded SPARC as an advocate and educational organization to promote scholarly publication and open access. The 800-member alliance includes universities, research libraries and other organizations worldwide interested in expanded distribution of information.

"I'm genuinely interested in the library and research, applications of open access and copyrights," Carlson said. "I'm also very interested in the aspects of these issues as they relate to modern culture, the confluence with digital technologies. This isn't just about libraries. It's a society issue. All you have to do is look around and see all the kids with I-Pods and other electronic devices to see how questions about accessibility, copyrights and open access affect us all. The laws, unfortunately, haven't kept up with technology. Corporations have a vested interest in keeping things the way they are so sometimes they act with self-interest. These issues are going to be with us for years to come and I'm looking forward to having a more active role in the debates and decisions involved."

Carlson said he's anxious to learn more about SPARC and how he can help. The organization already utilizes a variety of tools and technologies, including hosting contests, to create buzz and increase awareness of what people often perceive as an archaic matter, he said.

"I'm looking forward to working with SPARC as it plays a more aggressive role in promoting issues pertaining to copyrights, open access and fair use," Carlson said. He said he's also looking forward to working with others on the committee, including Paula Kaufman of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, another recent committee selection.

Not surprisingly, the Guilford, Conn., native loves to read. But, he also enjoys concocting culinary delights in the kitchen. Carlson's been at SIUC since 2001. Previously he was director of libraries at Bridgewater State College (Mass.). He holds a bachelor's degree in English literature from the University of Connecticut as well as a master' s in library science from the University of Michigan and a master's in computer science from the University of Evansville.

The SPARC committee meets biannually with teleconferences every other month.