The Open Book Collective held its first Annual General Assembly of Custodians online between August 28 and September 8, 2023. The annual meeting follows protocols set by Articles 13-20 in the OBC’s Articles of Association. Here follows a full report on the Assembly, in line with OBC’s commitments to transparency.
This meeting provided an opportunity to recap what the OBC has achieved so far, structure future plans, and provide our members with the opportunity to scrutinize our accounts to date. Members also adopted a change to the Articles of Association to align Stewards’ terms of appointment to line up with AGACs and future elections, and voted on nominations for the open Board of Stewards positions. In attendance were the following:
Lidia Uziel (Chair of the Board of Stewards)
Janneke Adema (Organizational Secretary)
Toby Steiner (Administrative Secretary)
Francesca Corazza (Administrative Secretary)
Peter Barr (Full Custodian, representative of the Library Caucus)
Dominic Broadhurst (Full Custodian, representative of the Library Caucus [observer])
Joe Deville (Full Custodian, representative of the Publisher Caucus)
Rupert Gatti (Full Custodian, representative of the Publisher Caucus)
Andreas Kirchner (Full Custodian, representative of the Publisher Caucus)
Clare McKenzie (Full Custodian, representative of the Library Caucus)
Samuel Moore (Full Custodian, representative of the Library Caucus)
Dave Park (Full Custodian, representative of the Publisher Caucus)
James Rice (Full Custodian, representative of the Publisher Caucus)
Rachel Schulkins (Full Custodian, representative of the Library Caucus, [observer])
Brian Skib (Full Custodian, representative of the Library Caucus)
Livy Snyder (Full Custodian, representative of the Publisher Caucus)
Niels Stern (Full Custodian, representative of the Publisher/Service Provider Caucus)
Louann Terveer (Full Custodian, representative of the Library Caucus)
Sarah Thompson (Full Custodian, representative of the Library Caucus)
Demmy Verbeke (Full Custodian, representative of the Library Caucus).
The meeting was opened by Lidia, and members confirmed that the meeting was valid and a quorum present. Francesca acted as recording Secretary, and Janneke and Toby acted as scrutineers of the minutes and counters of the votes. You can view the official minutes here. First, the OBC’s current financial accounts were presented, along with a report from the Managing Director.
Custodians then discussed how the OBC can continue to improve its engagement with key stakeholders. The members agreed that that testimonials from initiatives and institutions already supporting the OBC could form part of the advocacy materials which we are already producing, especially for librarians. This could include endorsements from our publishers on their positive experiences working with the OBC. Library members from the University of Salford kindly offered to reference their support for OBC on their webpage; these sorts of endorsements will encourage further libraries to join us.
Custodians then discussed the possibility of an OBC agreement with Jisc, which would enable supporters in the UK to subscribe to its Offers via the Jisc Catalogue. Some of the OBC publishers and service providers already have supporting library members who support them via Jisc, and Jisc is now finalizing an agreement to make all the OBC initiatives available for support in this way. In the Assembly, Custodians discussed the potential that this may result in slightly higher fees for supporters, given Jisc applies a Transaction Management Charge (£50 for invoices less than £1,000 and £100 for invoices of £1,000 and above). A number of UK libraries indicated that this would not be prohibitive and that there can be direct benefits associated with using the Jisc Catalogue rather than supporting initiatives directly, in part as Jisc is a trusted intermediary. The OBC reaffirmed its commitment to transparency with regard to fees, both in contracts and in broader communications.
Discussion also covered the importance of the OBC avoiding any double charging of Supporters given that its offerings are increasingly becoming available in multiple locations, and given some publisher / service provider members run membership programmes independently. The OBC team committed to work with our publisher and service provider members to check on existing memberships and, if relevant, pro rate new OBC subscriptions to avoid double payment. OBC fees cover both the OBC operating costs and the Collective Development Fund, which we expect to launch next year. The OBC Collective Development Fund will provide small grants to OA publishers and infrastructure providers looking to build capacity related to publishing or distributing OA books. An interim blog post on the Collective Development Fund is scheduled to be published by the end of 2023.
In other business, members voted unanimously to adopt a change to the OBC’s Articles of Association. These changes would enable Stewards’ terms of appointment to line up with AGACs and future elections. The following wording was therefore added to Article 25.2: ‘'Stewards will stand down at the AGAC nearest to the third year of their appointment”.
Next, members voted on the nominations for open Steward positions on the Board of Stewards. The nominations were not as diverse as members hoped, all being from white men in UK / EU contexts, which the OBC noted as an issue to address in future. The OBC is committed to diversity in its Boards and governance systems and is following the guidelines developed as part of its DEIA statement. To ensure the diversity of the Board of Stewards going forward, a self-audit on the demographic make-up of our Boards and Membership will be conducted.
The following Stewards were then elected:
Rupert Gatti (Open Book Publishers, publisher caucus)
Joe Deville (Mattering Press, publisher caucus)
Demmy Verbeke (KU Leuven Libraries, library caucus)
The OBC thanks all of our Custodians for making our first AGAC a success. We look forward to continuing the OBC’s mission, growing and diversifying our Collective, as we work towards a fairer, more sustainable landscape for OA books.