The business models of infrastructure support
The business models of infrastructure support
https://asa1cadmoremedia.blob.core.windows.net/asset-c94c8d4f-eb2d-4d71-8c9a-86f667006066/12 - The business models of infrastructure support-HD 1080p.mov
Hello everyone, and welcome to this session on Business Models and Research Infrastructure at NISO Plus 2021. I'm Andrew Joseph. I'm the digital publisher at Wits University Press based in Johannesburg, South Africa. I'd like to thank all of you for attending today. And I hope you and yours are well and safe.
In these exceptional times it seems that Gil Scott-Heron was wrong in his prediction, the revolution, it appears, may be televised. Of course, not everything that's brought is revolutionary in the country, but there are pockets of interesting work and connectivities being shared. This panel and the NISO conference being one of them. You may think this session doesn't have the pizzazz of cooler and hippie topics.
But today's panelists and organizations are involved in necessary fundamental work. It's largely invisible, unglamorous in detail. They work cooperatively and interoperatively and almost always woefully underfunded. They worked across libraries, publishers, the academy, and research-based organizations all over. It is of extreme interest to all of us. I'd like to thank you, Ginny Hendricks, Patrick Sweeney, and Rebecca Ross for agreeing to participate in this session.
We'd like to send a special message to [INAUDIBLE].. Ginny's younger child has been rather ill the last few months, and we'd like to wish him a quick [INAUDIBLE] recovery. With increasing interconnected operations and aberrations, the importance of a coherent interoperable and a formal research infrastructure is paramount to continued and quick delivery. We all have a role to play in this-- publishers, librarians, city administrations, such providers, and governments.
I tried very unsuccessfully to think of a suitable analogy for the role that research infrastructure plays. But fate intervened. The day that we were initially prepared to record the session, the part of South Africa that I'm in was affected by a power cut from a major storm. And not only from a lack continued investment [INAUDIBLE] many years.
So we postponed the recording. But in thinking of how this could be turned into a bumper sticker dose of wisdom, there are four points that I'd like to raise. Firstly, despite my embarrassment and sheer frustration with our routine maintenance updates and constantly seeking to improve infrastructure, most activity is [INAUDIBLE]. However necessary these are and however skilled and willing [INAUDIBLE].
Second thing is the impact of a lack of one member affects everyone. Thirdly, later that night, I wasn't able to send out a [INAUDIBLE] of metadata, which was due that day. So other related activities become affected. Sometimes directly. And finally, because it's so fundamental, infrastructure isn't something [INAUDIBLE]..
So I trust you'll forgive the glib self-referentialism in it. But if anyone is interested in publishing a little book of publishing [INAUDIBLE],, the panelists and I would be very happy to share our experiences and discuss your potential offers. A few general themes that have occurred to us [INAUDIBLE].. These will flow through our discussion and the presentations even if we don't make direct reference to them.
We spoke about sustainability and resilience, both for the development of the infrastructure and the ability to participate in it. We discussed economies of scale, leveling the playing fields, and inequality and [INAUDIBLE]. We spoke about infrastructures, political organizations, and the role of advocacy achieving our [INAUDIBLE].. Collaboration and partnerships-- deciding which of these works best in which situations [INAUDIBLE]..
And lastly, we spoke about the notion of community. There's been a lot written about this lately, and I suppose the COVID vaccine nationalism comparison applies here. Everyone has to participate in it. But it only works if everyone is. So this session, I hope, will offer all of us some insight from three very different organizations and how they operate in the space.
The panelists will each give you a brief introduction [INAUDIBLE] and discuss some of the activities they have undertaken. And then we'll move onto a discussion around a few key issues that we've raised. But, Ginny, Patrick, and Rebecca, if there's anything along the way that you'd like to raise, please feel free to just redirect the discussion, as it were.
Before we begin, I'd like to let you, the attendees, know that there will be a chance for you to ask the panel questions at the end of the session. So feel free to prepare those. And if necessary, we'll break up into smaller groups for a more focused discussion. So our first speaker is Ginny Hendricks, who since 2015 has been developing the member and community outreach team at Crossref, encompassing outreach and education user experience and support and metadata strategy.
Ginny is the instigator of the Metadata 2020 collaboration for richer, connected, reusable, and open metadata, and serves in a number of [INAUDIBLE].. Before joining Crossref, she [INAUDIBLE] Ardent, where she was a consultant within scholarly communications on a number of issues. And before that, she led the launch of Elsevier's Scopus. Ginny has lived and worked in many parts of the world and managed globally dispersed teams and scholars alike.
Thanks very much, Ginny. I'll move it to you.
GINNY HENDRICKS: Thank you very much, Andrew. You've set us up so well to think about how our roles in, yes, what is quite underground, sometimes boring infrastructure organizations-- relates to the wider world. So I am just going to get my slides set up. And hoping everything looks good.
GINNY HENDRICKS: As Andrew said, my name is Ginny Hendricks. And I work for an organization called Crossref. We are globally dispersed. We're all remote now. But we were at least one third or a half remote before the pandemic set in. And we are just under 40 staff worldwide, mostly in Western Europe and the United States. And we've been going for 20 years.
GINNY HENDRICKS: We just had our 20th anniversary. We were founded by 12 publishers-- pretty large publishers and society publishers. And we have been on a journey for 20 years. The slide I'm showing now is our current mission statements. And that describes what we do. And our vision really hasn't changed. And it's probably shared by anyone in scholarly communications.
GINNY HENDRICKS: It's wanting to create an environment that where everything is connected and accessible and anyone can access it. And we want to ultimately benefit society. So thanks for making that link, Andrew, for us. And this just describes what we do. We have a registry of metadata-- 120 million records that are identified by a DOI identifier.
GINNY HENDRICKS: And we have a lot of services around that to help people discover relationships between different research objects-- inputs and outputs. So journal articles, grant records, data records, and all sorts of other objects like preprints and reviews and things like that. We also have a number of other services. And we make all of that metadata available openly through APIs through a search interface and more recently through open public data files.
GINNY HENDRICKS: And my role at Crossref encompasses this team-- the member and community outreach team as we call it, which is quite interesting to think about-- sustainability of infrastructure organizations, which sounds like we provide DOIs. But actually, there's a lot of roles and individuals and tasks that are necessary around that core function.
GINNY HENDRICKS: And one thing that's very central to Crossref is this community. So we have a member experience team. We run events and try and do as much proactive communications as we can. We have a large-- I say large-- three people technical supports-- but a large number of technical support tickets-- about 3,000 a month that we get through.
GINNY HENDRICKS: And increasingly we are looking more formally at partnerships, collaborating with others, and joining up with like minded organizations to talk about how we can have shared opportunities in outreach but also in our back offices as well. Some of us use the same financial and legal advisors. So are there ways that we could pool resources a bit more?
GINNY HENDRICKS: And because this session is about sustainability and a large part of that is of course funding, I wanted to show just how we are currently funded. We're primarily funded by member organizations. We have 13,000 now, which has grown quite a lot from the original 12. And it's also increasingly diversified. So it's not just these western large very well-established publishers anymore.
GINNY HENDRICKS: It's a lot of scholar led academic journals. And actually, Indonesia makes up almost 14% of our membership now. So you could say maybe Indonesia is contributing quite a lot to the funding and sustainability of Crossref. And on that note, we have also seen the collective financial contribution of the smaller members kind of go in a U shape. So more revenue is coming from the smaller categories of our membership tiers than the larger ones now.
GINNY HENDRICKS: And so you can see over time in the last 10 years from 2011 to 2020 how that shift has happened. And we've had a lot of practical challenges to manage that as well. So in other ways, we're very supported as well by a number of initiatives and other organizations. So this is called the sticker sneeze. And it kind of looks like the back of my laptop a little bit.
GINNY HENDRICKS: And many of you were on there. And these are all the efforts or organizations that pull together to try to achieve our shared goals. And that's a huge, huge part of what we think about when we think about community run infrastructure. It's not just the technology it's the relationships and trust that you build up between other organizations.
GINNY HENDRICKS: And recently we signed up to the Principles of Open Scholarly Infrastructure. And I would probably refer to these quite a lot in talking about sustainability of organizations. This is a set of 16 different principles. And they're divided into sustainability, insurance, and governance. And there's lots of examples of how Crossref is meeting them and many of how we're not.
GINNY HENDRICKS: But the fact that we plan to is something that I think we can talk about more when we're chatting further. And I think that's what I'm going to say for my introduction because I know there's a lot more to talk about and some specific questions to come. Thank you very much.
ANDREW JOSEPH: Great. Thank you very much, Ginny. We'll move on to Patrick. Patrick Sweeney now is going to be the next speaker. Patrick is the political director for EveryLibrary, where he works to ensure the future funding of libraries in the United States. He's an author [INAUDIBLE] the American Association of Political Consultants for his work fighting for libraries. He currently works as a lecturer at the San Jose Information School-- excuse me-- at the San Jose Information School where he teaches courses on politics and libraries.
ANDREW JOSEPH: And he's active across social media as PC Sweeney, which no doubt will amuse some of you Anglophiles of a certain age. Thanks, Patrick. Over to you.
PATRICK SWEENEY: Yeah, thank you. Thanks for having me, Andrew. I really appreciate being here. Yeah, so I work for an organization called Every Library. We are a little bit different in the ecosystem in that we are a 501(c)(4) organization. And if you're not familiar with American tax law-- obviously, a lot of people aren't. But we have a number of nonprofit categories.
PATRICK SWEENEY: The 501(c)(3) is the one that you most often hear about. It's what most nonprofits are. If you look at so many of our charitable organizations, they're organized as 501(c)(3)s. And what's interesting about a 501(c)(3) is that they're limited in the amount of lobbying and political and advocacy kind of work that they can do by law. However, a 501(c)(4) organization is essentially a political action committee that-- these organizations are allowed to expend 100% of their resources on fighting for typically a single issue of some kind.
PATRICK SWEENEY: And it's really not uncommon for organizations in the United States to be both 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4) or to have those different divisions within the broader scope of their work. So the ACLU has a 501(c)(3) and a 501(c)(4). So does Sierra Club, Human Rights Campaign, NRA, all these different kinds of large advocacy organizations have both because they're allowed to do two different things. So we have our 501(c)(4) where I'm political director.
PATRICK SWEENEY: Out of our 501(c)(4) is where we do the bulk of our advocacy work. We primarily work on ballot initiatives, campaigns, and elections around libraries, political moments around libraries. If a local legislature is-- like a city council, county commission-- is looking to close libraries, we work with those local organizations to build advocacy campaigns to do political work to rally the public to take action or to bring back funding or to support legislation or to propose legislation.
PATRICK SWEENEY: In the last eight years, we've helped libraries earn about $1.7 billion in stable funding. And for every dollar that we've raised for the (c)(4), we've been able to return about $1,600 in funding for libraries. So we're really proud of that level of work. The biggest bulk of our work is around our ballot initiatives. We've done about 107 ballot initiatives in the last eight years.
PATRICK SWEENEY: And that's where about 90% of library funding comes from. So we see library funding as a pie. 90% comes from the will of the local voters, local politicians. That's where we primarily work. About 3% to 5% of funding comes from the state. 3% to 5% of funding comes from the federal government. And that last 1% to 2% is philanthropic in nature-- grants, donations, those kinds of things.
PATRICK SWEENEY: Which we don't really do a whole lot of work around philanthropic funding for libraries. But we also work overseas. We launched a campaign in the UK called Libraries Deliver. That helped build support for some of their legislation that was going through and secure some funding from Parliament. And we're really excited about that work as well. But we act primarily to build political power and influence for libraries in the same way that many other industries have these same kinds of organizations.
PATRICK SWEENEY: If you're fossil fuels, these organizations exist. Any power industry. A number of activist organizations around various constitutional rights-- ACLU Human Rights Campaign-- all those kinds of organizations really are seeking to build power for their cause. And that's primarily what we do as an organization. I'll just leave it at that.
ANDREW JOSEPH: Thank you very much, Patrick. That sounds really interesting. I'm looking forward to hopefully talking about some of those in the [INAUDIBLE]. Our final speaker on the panel-- final speaker-- our final presentation, formal presentation, is from Rebecca Ross, who's the Senior Director of Strategy and Engagement at the Canadian Research Network. Prior to joining CRKN, Rebecca led the marketing department of Canadian Science Publishing, which is Canada's largest not-for-profit science publisher.
ANDREW JOSEPH: Rebecca works at the intersection of academic publishing and academic librarianship, and the goal being expanding [INAUDIBLE] content for all. Rebecca received a library degree from the University of Ottawa and a publishing degree from Ottawa College. Very happy to have you. Please do go ahead.
REBECCA ROSS: Thanks so much, Andrew, for that introduction. And thanks to my co-panelists for their great intro presentations. I'm going to pull up some slides. I'll just ask one of my co-panelists to give me a thumbs up to tell me if I'm sharing the right screen when I do. Can you see my slides? Thumbs up. OK.
REBECCA ROSS: Great. Thanks very much. So as Andrew had mentioned in our introduction, I work for the Canadian Research Knowledge Network, which I'm going to call the CRKN, which is sort of the world's hardest acronym. So our vision that we're working towards is the world's knowledge is accessible by all. And the role that we see ourselves playing in terms of CRKN is to advance interconnected sustainable access to the world's research and Canada's documentary heritage content.
REBECCA ROSS: The CRKN [INAUDIBLE] we are purpose-built infrastructure. We've been around for about 20 years. And we were really built to level the playing field so that academic libraries in Canada could negotiate collectively and really leverage the national buying power despite their size or geographical location. One of the interesting things about CRKN, too, is that in 2008 we merged with another organization called Canadiana.
REBECCA ROSS: So now on top of our licensing and negotiation, we also oversee member owned and controlled documentary heritage content. So 60 million pages of heritage content, as well as preservation and digitization infrastructure. So just a little bit more about us. We are governed by over 50 volunteer board committee and task group members.
REBECCA ROSS: We support 81 member institutions. And this side also shows sort of that spectrum of our two programs that I talked about. We manage licensing expenditures of over $130 million each year. And then we have the heritage content services and infrastructure. So it's really a continuum of infrastructure that CRKN provides from the commercial content licensing to partnerships and collaboration and then also a digitized documentary heritage.
REBECCA ROSS: So here's just a map of our membership. Canada is a big country geographically, but we're a small community. And you can see we're spread out. Part of what I think makes CRKN really strong is our strong member representation across institutions size, geography, and of course, language. And in addition to our university library members, we also have two national libraries-- Library and Archives Canada and Bibliotheque et Archives Nationale du Quebec, as well as Toronto Public Library and a handful of associate members as well who are making use of that purpose builds infrastructure that we have.
REBECCA ROSS: So I just want to take a moment to talk a bit about our most recent strategic plan because I think it highlights some of our goals and objectives when it comes to leveraging the infrastructure that has been built and where we might go into the future. So when we did a huge strategic planning process in 2009, we set three strategic goals. The first one to transform scholarly communications, which is a real big one, of course.
REBECCA ROSS: And so I really see the two other strategic goals, developing and fostering partnership and collaborative advocacy as building towards that strategic goal of transforming scholarly communication. The work that we do, we really can't do without the support and collaboration of our partners. And then all of that together, as we're working towards shared goals, comes out in this kind of collaborative advocacy-- really working on behalf of our members for additional funding or support to really move forward-- open access initiatives for example.
REBECCA ROSS: So like Ginny, I've got the slides. I like sort of the back of a laptop stickers. That is exactly what it looks like. This is a few of our partnerships and collaborations. It's by no means exhaustive. But these are some of the folks that we work really closely with.
REBECCA ROSS: And there's actually a number here that we worked really closely with to develop infrastructure. So our partnership with Coalition Publica, for example, to fund the infrastructure for humanities and social science journals to become open access. CRKN also is the administrative lead for the Orchid Canada Consortium, as well as the Data Site Canada Consortium. Both of those were built through CRKN and our stakeholders because we had that governance and infrastructure already embedded in our organization.
REBECCA ROSS: So we were able to leverage that. And just briefly, I'm going to close my intro-- just again talking about the way that we are funded. We are fully funded by member fees. We have two types of members-- institutional members and associate members and two types of member fees. Are annual member fees that support the cost of operating the organization, as well as our heritage content access and preservation fee.
REBECCA ROSS: And that fee was added when we merged with Canadiana to support the additional services and infrastructure that came with that merger with preservation. So I will pause there in terms of the introduction. And I look forward to the conversation.
ANDREW JOSEPH: Thanks very much, Rebecca. Thank you very much. That was really interesting to see how you are working. Yeah, it's a really interesting for me to be able to have a conversation with the three of you. I'm a little more familiar with Crossref, but it's great to see these other organizations and the work that you're doing and the achievements.
ANDREW JOSEPH: I think that is going to be of interest to other people. One of the things we could just pick up our discussion that will be of interest to people is how your organizations are differentiated from publishers and other for profit organizations. So what people rely on you for is longevity, flexibility, continuation. How does the governance of your organization enable sustainability beyond a simple profit margin [INAUDIBLE]?
ANDREW JOSEPH: What do you have in place to ensure that you're going to be around in 10 years time?
GINNY HENDRICKS: Shall I pick up?
ANDREW JOSEPH: [INAUDIBLE]
GINNY HENDRICKS: So yes, the governance model really does enable us to have sustainability. And it's interesting you called it out separately-- not just the financial model. And I would just emphasize your point there. Sustainability isn't just breaking even and having funds. It is all those other things like the principles of open scholar infrastructure talk about. So one of them is the theme of insurance so that if something goes wrong in Crossref, if the community decides this is not the structure they want anymore, everything is in the open.
GINNY HENDRICKS: The code is open. The policies we have to support our staff are open. So the entire thing can be what they call forked and recreated elsewhere. There's a lot of trust involved. The community has to trust us to that we are being transparent in our operations.
GINNY HENDRICKS: And we also have to trust that we are going to be true to our mission and keep reflecting and keep asking people are we doing the right thing for you so that we can say yes, we're still on the right mission. And people still want to support us. But we did have, in terms of the governance, we have a board of course-- so 16 organizations. They're made up of our membership. And we're a 501(c)(6), not a (c)(3) in US tax codes, which makes us a trade association.
GINNY HENDRICKS: And we're at the point where we have pushed the (c)(6) designation as far as it can go beyond the trade of publishing. And we're exploring becoming a (c)(3), which would still mean we can't lobby. So I'm a little jealous of you Patrick that you've got that in your ability. But it also is quite important maybe for what Crossref does that we can actually remain neutral-- officially have to be neutral by law.
GINNY HENDRICKS: Yes, so we have this board. We have evolved it over the years and made sure there are certain seats. So 50% of the seats are reserved for smaller members. And as I say, that's library publishers, scholars publishers, funding organizations now as well. And then the others are reserved for the larger ones. And that's also because they tend to have the resources to really help us.
GINNY HENDRICKS: They can put technical staff in on a working group. They can-- yeah, they have the resources to really help us. But it's important to have the voice of all really. And financially, we started off with loans in the year 2000. And it took us two years to generate a surplus. I think it was important that we had a combination of set fees, but then also sort of transaction fees that could grow-- so volume based.
GINNY HENDRICKS: So there was always going to be a chance to offer what we did in all countries and for all types of organizations. And, yeah, it was really important for us to have a contingency fund and to build up reserves and to attract people that want to work for this kind of organization because I think the people side of it is often-- I don't know if it was overlooked.
GINNY HENDRICKS: But it's not written down anywhere that you have to kind of care that this is important. And I think that often things succeed. And sustainability is met because there's a person or a group of people who are determined to make that happen. So I won't name names. But there's a lot of people who've been in the organization for a long time and supported it.
GINNY HENDRICKS: So they're very responsible.
REBECCA ROSS: I can I add a bit to that. So I would say that the governance structure of CRKN is really-- it's foundational, and it's essential into our long-term sustainability. At the end of the day, infrastructure really is people, and the people that are overseeing our organization and are representing our members. So we have 81 members.
REBECCA ROSS: How do we represent all of those different viewpoints? It is a challenge. But through a robust governance structure-- we have a board that is representative, again, of size, of geographical location, of language. And also, our board is always chaired by a university president. We have a researcher role on our board as well. So that way we're getting a little bit outside of the folks that we talk to regularly in academic libraries and understanding the needs in our broader community.
REBECCA ROSS: And I would say, while it-- because sometimes it's seen as a bit of a chore, maybe unexciting, I think good governance is really a superpower. The strength of our governance allows us to be bolder and to move forward our strategies in a way that we know that there is going to be that long-term sustainability. We never think about a strategy without thinking, OK, how are we going to pay for this now, in five years, and in 10 years?
REBECCA ROSS: And it's really through that governance support that we're able to do that. So I think it really is critical. And I was mentioning in my introduction us being the administrative lead for a few PIT organizations. And that really happened because of the strength of our governance. So again, it has been really instrumental to our long-term success.
PATRICK SWEENEY: So for every library, I think we're an interesting organization because we have had to build this basically from scratch. No other political action committee has ever existed in libraries. No organization that fought specifically for ballot initiatives, campaigns, and elections ever really existed. And so we were forced into, I think, what ultimately turned out to be a better model for us, which is we're not a membership organization at all.
PATRICK SWEENEY: We are not like a library association or any other professional association where we have dues, paying members. And we did that very specifically. Members are great, but to move a membership organization quickly and nimbly is very, very difficult. And so we built an organization that is essentially a people powered PAC in that everything that we do has sustainability built into it.
PATRICK SWEENEY: We don't take an action unless we can figure out how to get an adequate return on investment on that action. So if I spend $1.00, I have KPIs of-- for every dollar I spend, I need to add at least one person in our database. But typically we try and strive for three people into our library supported database for every dollar we spend. For every dollar we spend we try and raise around $1,600 for libraries, put that into action on behalf of that.
PATRICK SWEENEY: For every $10 we spend we try and reach 1,000 people digitally. For every dollar we spend on fundraising calls we try to get at least $1.10 to $1.30 back. And what this has kind of established for us is an interesting view of the way we're doing advocacy. We're building a national database of library supporters. We have hundreds of thousands of library supporters in our database.
PATRICK SWEENEY: And those individuals give-- small donors, they make small donations, typically. And so it's through those people in our database where we build our political power and influence. It's where we get our sustainability. It's where we know that we're going to be able to fund this organization later because we're building those relationships, those coalitions, and those connections to our supporters.
PATRICK SWEENEY: That ultimately is what powers our organization.
ANDREW JOSEPH: Branch appointments-- very, very impressive, and the three of you with sort of a shoestring budget approach to things, but also having a very, very clear sense of forward looking beyond yourselves, beyond personalities. I think that's an interesting thing for publishers to veer-- I'm speaking from personal experience-- but veer from profiteers who profit here, financial gifts and financial gain, that there's a lot more you're considering, not just in terms of surviving through, getting through each year, but really thinking quite far ahead.
ANDREW JOSEPH: That's the real lesson. I think you have to have an interesting business model with the three of you for your organizations because you're not explicitly trying to sell a product, either. You're not selling a competing product of someone else. So no amount of marketing muster is going to make you more attractive than someone else, because you've identified a need, and you're filling that need.
ANDREW JOSEPH: You're not just simply [INAUDIBLE] someone going through [INAUDIBLE].. I think the next question for me is, how do you balance your mission, your intended purpose, what you're trying to achieve with success? If you don't have a traditional profit model, how do you measure whether you're successful or not in that? What's your measure of success?
GINNY HENDRICKS: So for-- I think this is the same for everybody. It's what you define as being successful. And it's important as well to think about what you're not going to measure. So we've never had a revenue related goal. That is not what we see as a sign of success, the surplus we generate. Yes, we have a goal to have a surplus. But there's never been a particular dollar amount or percentage even placed against that.
GINNY HENDRICKS: And we have never sent, as you say, sales people out to try to attract more content or attract more members. We've tried to just be useful and, hopefully, trustworthy. And we have scaled through links with the community. So we have about 100 organizations worldwide that we call sponsors. And they provide local training, and local language support, and technical support.
GINNY HENDRICKS: And we have ambassadors. And so we've had to look at those sorts of relationships, and not just because we've had to but because we want to. Because they can then run things in their own way. And one of the things we're thinking about at the moment is how the growth that we're having, is that even sort of good? Is that a sign of success that we have 13,000 members? Because actually there might be seven from the same university, different departments.
GINNY HENDRICKS: And how can we just help that organization talk to each other, perhaps? And they can save costs by coming together. So we're starting to think about programs like that because it's kind of grown without us being very proactive about it. And another thing we're looking at as well around sort of being a membership organization is just what those benefits are.
GINNY HENDRICKS: When everything is completely open, and if anyone can become a member and register a DOI, what does it mean to be a member of Crossref? So we've been thinking about this sort of concept of club goods, like what do you get if you're just a member? And that, as you say, is not just a marketing thing. But it is really things that you can only do if you contribute to the network of citations and to this registry of metadata.
GINNY HENDRICKS: You have to be able to do that in order to link your references or to compare text for plagiarism and similarity. You couldn't possibly offer that to a non-member because they don't have texts to compare. So it's those kinds of things and reframing, I guess, what we're saying is our success. And I like the phrase you used, Rebecca, we're leveling the playing field.
GINNY HENDRICKS: That's something we'd like to do and try to do. But it's never been a specific goal. We've just tried to not put barriers in the way of that happening, I think. But maybe it should be a specific goal. I'd be up for that. [LAUGHS]
PATRICK SWEENEY: No, for us, our goal is building political support for library funding. And what's interesting about that is that political support only comes from-- you can only build that support with two resources, and that's either people or money. If you don't have people on your side, you don't have political support. But if you don't have money, you can't buy political support. It's different from country to country, but the United States, if you are a well-funded organization you can put legislation in front of legislators.
PATRICK SWEENEY: They'll cross out your organization's name, write their own name in the top, and submit it to the state or federal legislature. And so we have-- of course, that encourages a number of bad actors. We have things like the American Legislative Exchange Council, which does this a lot in support of fossil fuels. And we have organizations like the NRA that does a really good job organizing people around their cause.
PATRICK SWEENEY: They're more of a people run organization-- or democracy for America, which is another example of a people run organization. And what we've found is that blending these-- working to achieve our mission, which is building that political support for libraries, we are also building sustainability into our organization because the people in our database make donations to us.
PATRICK SWEENEY: They help us continue our mission. They're not members, but that money and that support that they give us through signing petitions, attending rallies, organizing events, contacting their representatives, letters to the editor-- all of those kinds of things is what drives that kind of political power and support. And so organizing people around us in a way that builds support for libraries is really how we've built some of that, I don't want to call it commercialism, into our organization.
PATRICK SWEENEY: And just a little bit more to this question specifically, we do a lot of college related marketing with a number of companies, you know Humble Bundle. We see organizations like Humble Bundle who does work with publishers to get books into people's hands, DRM-free ebooks. They do these big sales. We see that kind of work helping us a lot.
PATRICK SWEENEY: They do a lot of those for us. But we also have partnerships with a number of other commercial organizations, and coalitions with commercial organizations, that lend their support to us because they want to see literacy succeed. They want see libraries succeed. They want to see all the things that libraries bring to communities succeed.
REBECCA ROSS: I'll just add briefly, I think a lot of this has to do with what the time frame is that you're measuring. So when I think about our strategic goals-- you know that number one, transform scholarly communication-- when we were trying to imagine how we would get there, the activity we actually did was let's put ourselves five years into the future. And what does it look like? What are we working towards?
REBECCA ROSS: And so when I'm measuring success against that strategic plan, I'm measuring each step, as small as it may be, towards that. And all those small steps really do count. So there might be some smaller things. So we might set some negotiation objectives with a certain vendor. And that's moving forward. And we do that in one year.
REBECCA ROSS: And then there's much larger things. So I think it really all comes down to how you are enacting on your strategic planning and overseeing it. For us at CRKN success is making sure that we're meeting our member needs, so making sure that we are understanding and then articulating our member needs, and then making good on the commitments we've made to them.
REBECCA ROSS: And member needs, they change. And so our other goal here, an objective, and how we sometimes measure success is are we pivoting to that? And I think a lot of times it's-- you think of pivoting like we're going to change the way we do things. But the way I really think about it is, based on what we're really good at CRKN how can we come back to why we were built, that purpose driven infrastructure, and make a difference on this certain project.
REBECCA ROSS: So I think it really has to do with scale and time. And if we're working the long game, then there's a lot of little steps that can work towards that. And all of those we count as successes.
ANDREW JOSEPH: Great. Thank you. There's definitely some interesting things there that I'm sure we'll pick up in the Q&A afterwards as well. Thanks very much for those. I'm aware of the time. And I think we sort of discussed having four questions. I may try to combine these last two questions into each other. If I don't pull it off, please forgive me. But our first question, or third question, was about the relationship between commercial and mission-based organizations and how that is changing, if that was changing.
ANDREW JOSEPH: And if you see that's positive, if you see those positive changes continuing, what your organizations perhaps are doing to [INAUDIBLE].. The last question I can throw in, and perhaps you could respond to it at the same time is, will we see a shift in global North-heavy [INAUDIBLE].. This idea that it's mostly Europe or Canada and Europe and North America who seem to dominate [INAUDIBLE]..
ANDREW JOSEPH: In what way have your organizations been affected by, perhaps, the decolonization movement, which is very more likely, and any way that it's affected your strategy operations.
REBECCA ROSS: I don't mind starting on that one. I actually might pull up some slides, if that's OK. They'll be really brief. Let me just do that here. So when I was thinking through this question-- is the relationship improving and then the second question that you threw in-- our relationship with commercial partners, commercial vendors, is really driven by member defined principles.
REBECCA ROSS: And we have these two sets of principles, principles for our licensing program and then principles for negotiations. And I would say that as a not-for-profit organization we do tend to actually focus on relationship building and stakeholder engagement with other not-for-profits. And that would also include not-for-profit publishers. So we want to work really closely with them to meet our strategic goals.
REBECCA ROSS: And I'm not going to read through all of the principles, but I wanted to highlight one particular. It's number three there, and it's my favorite. So the collaboration through CRKN empowers Canadian universities and presents a strong, unified front with publishers for improved licensing terms and conditions and increased access to knowledge. And this is the part that I really like, where it says, while the ways in which we do business may change, our collective approach to overcoming challenges will not.
REBECCA ROSS: And so I think that's a really important thing at CRKN for us to come back to, is we are working collectively together to meet these shared goals. And then when it comes to working with our vendors, there are these set of principles for negotiation. And I think they, to a certain extent, speak to the second question as well about what are we doing in Canada at CRKN? And are we being good global citizens?
REBECCA ROSS: Are we also thinking through how choices we make impact more globally? And so our principles that we put forward to vendors when we're negotiating is that we're looking for sustainable scholarly communication. We're looking for equity of access-- and that is not just in Canada. That would be globally-- open access, scholarship and, of course, transparency.
REBECCA ROSS: So these are the principles that begin to underpin the way that we're thinking about the work that we do with commercial partners, and also what kind of global impact that we can make in our work.
ANDREW JOSEPH: Thank you, Rebecca.
GINNY HENDRICKS: Shall I [LAUGHS]---- the first to unmute.
ANDREW JOSEPH: Please. Please.
GINNY HENDRICKS: Yeah, I really like those principles. They are very aligned with some of Crossref's as well, which is no surprise whatsoever. So we have what we call our truths. So I think you could go to crossref.org/truths. And one of the things that your-- both-- questions, Andrew, talked to is that it's about balance, with how do you balance a relationship and the weight of influence with commercial and non-commercial, but also the weight of influence between North and South, East and West, and large and small, and physical sciences, and humanities-- and all of the ways you can slice and dice our world.
GINNY HENDRICKS: So we have this truth called come one, come all. And we define it broadly. And if you care about preserving the scholarly record then you can join us. And there's another one which is one member, one vote, which is critical. So it doesn't matter how large you are, you get the same vote in anything. And specifically on the commercial versus non-profits question, we have always tried to remain what we call business model neutral so anyone could participate in Crossref, whether you had a subscription, business model and open access, any combination between the two.
GINNY HENDRICKS: And that used to be a real source of tension in our board, like 10 years ago. But I would say this is already-- it's already sort of beyond that, really. I mean, they were-- some of the votes, if you-- and I think all the minutes and motions are online. They should be, transparent operations and all that. But some of the votes that we had, back in the day, even those who voted against something would be like, OK, we would not vote against that today.
GINNY HENDRICKS: And like Rebecca said, members change and evolve. And most of the large publishers aren't just publishers anymore. They all say they support open science as well and have open science programs. And it's our job to help them as they rebalance and progress forward. And sometimes that's a little bit kind of like, oh, you know what? We won't discuss that this year because they're not ready.
GINNY HENDRICKS: And sometimes it's really pushing them and going, you know what? The rest of the community needs this now. So can we push it? And I think while we talk about open infrastructure, foundational infrastructure being usually not for profit, that doesn't preclude a commercial search service signing up to principles like this so that they can be judged and held to account by the communities or users that they serve.
GINNY HENDRICKS: And I think we would all encourage that if a commercial infrastructure organization said, you know what? This is something we would aim for, even though, clearly, we would never do the broad community governance one or something like that. But I would love to see that. And similarly, it's about balance with a global membership.
GINNY HENDRICKS: It's taking little steps and keeping the balance in mind, reminding our board regularly that this is our mission and these are our principles, and little changes like rebalancing the board periodically, revisiting that, redefining what we call a member-- it's not just people who publish content, it's people who produce scholarly outputs-- and having working groups that people can join, and membership and fees committee so the-- which, Andrew, you're a member of the Crossref membership and fees committee.
GINNY HENDRICKS: So we are trying to make sure that every decision we make is not our decision as staff. It really is kind of just us convening the right voices at the right time and feeling confident that we've done that, so that balance. But I'd say we've already largely shifted. Like we have more members from Indonesia than almost anywhere else. And members that are joining now, they're from Botswana, and Angola, and countries that have been small in the past but are not on the global publishing stage.
GINNY HENDRICKS: But I'll mention Indonesia again. It's the largest-- it produces the most amount of open access content out of any other country in the world. But it's for us to try and seek to engage them in these discussions. And not even that, but for us to go to them. Why are they so progressive? How did they manage to convince their governments to support their stuff?
GINNY HENDRICKS: And we can learn from them really.
ANDREW JOSEPH: Thank you very much, everyone. I think we're about ready to move on to our Q&A session. I want to thank you for the responses here. There's a lot, I think, that people are going to pick up on then. I look forward to catching up with the Q&A session. Thank you very much.
INTERPOSING VOICES: Thank you very much.
GINNY HENDRICKS: Will do. Thanks. Take care. [MUSIC PLAYING]