Ann Shumelda Okerson

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Ann S. Okerson

Ann Shumelda Okerson (b. c. 1950) is an internationally distinguished librarian and expert on the place of new digital technologies in libraries. She serves as Senior Advisor on Electronic Strategies for the Center for Research Libraries. She served as Associate University Librarian at Yale University, following 15 years of academic library and library management experience, experience in the commercial sector, and service as founding senior program officer for scholarly communications at the Association of Research Libraries (ARL). She has made major contributions to understanding of serials pricing, electronic journals, licensing of electronic resources, and consortial purchasing of electronic materials. She has been a leader in international projects to build a Middle Eastern digital library and has worked broadly with libraries in the region.

In 2011, she was elected Chair of the Professional Committee of the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA), one of the senior leadership positions in that body. Long involved with IFLA, she previously served as a member of the governing board and as chair of the section on Serials and Other Continuing Resources.

At Yale, in 1996, she organized the Northeast Research libraries consortium (NERL), a group of 28 large research libraries (and over 80 smaller affiliates) that negotiates licenses for electronic information and engages in other forms of cooperative activity. Okerson serves as one of the active, founding members of the International Coalition of Library Consortia (ICOLC) and has contributed as an advisor to the Soros eIFL project.

Okerson has worked over the years on numerous projects and publications. In 1992, she wrote the widely read synopsis chapter of the Andrew W. Mellon study University Libraries and Scholarly Communication.[1] Also at ARL, she created and published five editions of the standard Directory of Electronic Journals, Newsletters and Academic Discussion Lists (1991-1995). She organized and led four electronic networked publishing symposia (organized on behalf of the ARL and the Association of American University Presses), and edited three volumes of proceedings from those symposia. With James O'Donnell of the University of Pennsylvania, she edited Scholarly Journals at the Crossroads: a Subversive Proposal for Electronic Journal Publishing (ARL, June 1995), representing an extensive multi-national Internet discussion across many e-lists about the future of scholarly journals.[2]

Her articles on serials pricing (1987) and on copyright (1992) won American Library Association (ALA) awards for Best Article in the area of serials, acquisitions, and/or collections in both 1988 and 1993.[citation needed] The ALA named her Serials Librarian of the year in 1993.[citation needed] In 1999, she was named the winner of ALA's LITA/High Tech award.[citation needed] From 1997–2001, with funding from the Council on Library and Information Resources, she and the Yale Library staff mounted an online educational resource about library licensing of electronic content in a project called LIBLICENSE.[3] Its extensive annotations and links are complemented by Liblicense-l, an international, moderated online discussion list frequented by nearly 4,000 librarians, publishers, attorneys, students and numerous other interested individuals. In 1998, Okerson secured an additional grant that created the Liblicense software, which enables users to generate a customized license using standard language options. In April 2001, the Digital Library Federation endorsed the project's work on a Model Electronic License for academic research libraries. This model license has since been adapted and used by many libraries, consortia, and publishers.

Other recent activities include being a principal investigator on several cutting-edge grants, including two U.S. Department of Education Title VI grants for building components of a Middle East Virtual Library, a National Endowment for the Humanities NEH grant for digitization of Iraqi scholarly journals, and a foundation grant for improving liberal arts teaching through use of library special collections. Okerson has served on external advisory boards for a number of organizations, including both the Library of Alexandria and the Library of Congress.


  1. ^ Ann Shumelda Okerson (November 1992). "Synopsis". Archived from the original on March 29, 2002.
  2. ^ Okerson, Ann Shumelda; O'Donnell, James J., eds. (1995). Scholarly journals at the crossroads : a subversive proposal for electronic publishing. Washington, D.C.: Office of Scientific & Academic Pub., Association of Research Libraries. ISBN 0-918006-26-0.
  3. ^ "LIBLICENSE". Retrieved July 9, 2017.

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