January 29, 2010

Carlson elected to leadership role with coalition

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- David H. Carlson has long been a strong proponent of open and unfettered access to research and knowledge. 

As the newly elected chair of the SPARC Steering Committee, the dean of library affairs at Southern Illinois University Carbondale welcomes the opportunity to be at the helm as SPARC continues its efforts along those fronts.  Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, best known as SPARC, is an international alliance of more than 800 universities, research libraries and other organizations interested in expanded distribution of information. 

 “SPARC is playing an important leadership role at this time with regard to open access issues and it’s really an exciting time to be in the middle of it,” Carlson said.

The members chose Carlson as a committee member in early 2008.  He’ll serve as chair until July 1, 2012.  Morris Library was one of SPARC’s founders in 1997, Carlson said. 

“David Carlson is a committed advocate who sees things through to their conclusion,” said Heather Joseph, executive director of SPARC.  “His experience with institutions of all types and his commitment to deepening the impact of research through expanding access will help SPARC to make important new strides in coming years.  The committee and I look forward to having David’s leadership to help us address the challenges and opportunities before us.”

Carlson said he and SPARC will initially be focusing on two priorities.  The first is the Federal Research Public Access Act (FRPAA), a plan President Barack Obama is considering as an executive order.  FRPAA would require open access publication of all research funded by public grants within six months to a year after its original publication.  This would allow the original publisher time to profit from printing the material but then give the public and other researchers access to it on a timely basis.

“I think it’s definitely the right thing to do,” Carlson said, noting that since public monies fund the research, it’s only fitting that the public have access to the results.

Carlson said another goal is working toward enhanced open access to textbooks by students. Assuring more online access to textbooks is important due to escalating textbook prices students and their parents are encountering, he said.

A native of Guilford, Conn., Carlson came to SIUC in 2001.  He was previously director of libraries at Bridgewater State College (Mass.).  He earned his master’s degree in computer science at the University of Evansville and his master’s degree in library science at the University of Michigan and also holds a bachelor’s in English literature from the University of Connecticut. 

Carlson led an effort last year by libraries across the country that successfully led to reversal of a decision by the American Association for the Advancement of Science to stop providing new content from “Science” magazine on JSTOR, a nonprofit digital online database featuring complete archived texts of numerous scholarly journals.  He currently serves on the board of directors for the Greater Western Library Alliance and for BioOne and previously served extensively on the board of directors for the Consortium of Academic and Research Libraries in Illinois.