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A Note from Sarah Thomas

July 22, 2014

Dear colleagues,

The CNI/JISC conference takes place every other year in the UK, and this year’s event took place in a hot and sultry Bristol. There were speakers on open data, on the future of journals and on open scholarship, and I returned with a strengthened conviction that the Harvard Library should be investing more in data management and in support for researchers producing and using data. There are also some interesting ideas being floated about how universities and libraries can provide open access to long-form publications. I had the opportunity to spend two days with colleagues from the UK and US, including Mackenzie Smith, with whom Harvard will be collaborating on a Mellon-funded project on long-term cost implications of Author Publishing Charges for Open Access.

Following the conference, I headed to Oxford for the weekend. I had dinner with the chairman of Quaritch, an antiquarian bookseller based in London. As I was telling him about the plans for the celebration of Widener Library’s 100th anniversary next year, he surprised me by saying that Quaritch has the original invoices for the books sold to Harry Widener before he departed for the US on the ill-fated Titanic. I visited a friend who is a great supporter of libraries and cultural bodies, and who also has a wonderful visual sense and who is a marvelous cook. On Sunday, I headed north to Gloucestershire through the Cotswolds to Hidcote, and visited an Arts and Crafts garden developed by an American named Lawrence Johnston. Here are some pictures of his red border, his lily pond and other parts of his garden, which today is maintained by 14 gardeners and over 100 volunteers for the National Trust.

In between seeing former colleagues and neighbors, I worked on planning for the symposium we are having on print repositories on October 1 and 2 and the Ivies Plus Provosts’ Conference on Open Access, which will take place on the afternoon of October 2. Most of the Ivies Plus library directors will be attending, plus other speakers, including Sir Drummond Bone, master of Balliol College at Oxford, who will speak on October 1 on the UK’s effort to develop a shared print repository.

Now it’s deep summer, and I am hoping for a lull before students return, but the “to do” list doesn’t seem to shorten. Still, I’m inspired by the English gardens to plant a few more specimens. If only I had 14 gardeners to help.

I hope all of you are having a relaxing summer and get some time away from the routine.

Best regards,


Sarah Thomas
Vice President for the Harvard Library and
Roy E. Larsen Librarian of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences