The LIBER Winter Event, organised by the Ligue des Bibliothèques Européennes de Recherche (LIBER), brought together over 100 LIBER members at the EUI to discuss this year's theme: 'Come together! Enabling collaboration and inclusivity in research libraries'.
EUI President Professor Renaud Dehousse, together with Julien Roche, LIBER President, Pep Torn, EUI Library Director, and Martine Pronk, LIBER Executive Director, welcomed delegates to the opening ceremony on Thursday, 23 November.
The ceremony was followed by the keynote speech 'Inclusive Open Access in academia: coming together against exclusive publishing', delivered by Sarah Nouwen, EUI Professor of International Law. In her presentation, Professor Nouwen emphasised the need of fostering dialogue and collaboration among publishers, libraries, authors, academic institutions, and funders. The address underscored that, while the move toward Open Access publishing aims at broadening public access to research, there are increasing concerns about unintended consequences, such as authors facing difficulties due to funding limitations, potential bias in editorial decisions based on affiliation and payment ability, restricted author freedom in selecting submission outlets, and journals' financial viability being linked to the quantity of articles with Open Access fees rather than editorial quality.
The two-day event provided a valuable platform for LIBER members to share knowledge and engage in interactive workshops focused on various topics, including: resilient leadership, legal issues facing research libraries, managing Open Access infrastructure, digital scholarship and data science essentials for Library professionals, research data management support service models at universities, and Citizen Science advocacy in Southeastern Europe.
In addition to the conference activities, LIBER members enjoyed informal gatherings and social events. Highlights included a visit to the Historical Archives of the European Union (HAEU) at the EUI's Villa Salviati, where archivist Mary Carr provided insights into the HAEU's mission and showcased its archival treasures, offering a journey through key moments in the history of European Union integration, while archivist Juan Alonso Fernandez provided a fascinating glimpse into EU audiovisual and oral history sources. The visit concluded with a tour of state-of-the-art archival deposits and a visit to the charming villa grottoes.
On 22 November, the EUI Library also organised a Library Symposium 'The current state and future challenges of Italian and European academic libraries', in partnership with Casalini Libri, which took place at Villa La Torrossa, Fiesole. The symposium brought together librarians, representatives of Italian academic institutions, and LIBER members to discuss the current state and future challenges of Italian and European academic libraries.
Guido Badalamenti (University of Siena) opened the event with an insightful keynote speech, followed by speeches by Laura Ballestra (Director of LIUC Library and President of the Italian Library Association), Marc Martínez (Sciences Po) and Giannis Tsakonas (University of Patras) that also fostered lively conversations with the audience.
During the event, Pep Torn, EUI Library Director, presented a proposed Manifesto for the future of academic libraries. The Fiesole Manifesto, named after the symposium location, envisions academic libraries as dynamic hubs that champion adaptability and innovation in the face of contemporary challenges. Amid profound shifts in higher education, technology, and scholarly communication, academic libraries and librarians must continue to provide access to high-quality informational resources, foster a dynamic and inclusive learning environment, ensure the long-term accessibility and integrity of academic materials, and ultimately offer resources and expertise to navigate the new humanistic, scientific, digital, and technological culture. The Manifesto thus serves as a guiding set of principles encouraging libraries to play integral roles in decision-making and positioning them as indispensable contributors to the evolving landscape of knowledge.
The Fiesole Manifesto is a working document that currently proposes seven key principles, yet remains receptive to proposals and suggestions.
The EUI and LIBER would like to thank all attendees, speakers, volunteers, and organisers for their support in making the 2023 Winter Event a success.