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New SPARC Innovator Program Acknowledges Individuals, Institutions, and Groups Whose Actions Change the Status Quo

For Immediate Release
April 18, 2006

For more information, contact:
Alison Buckholtz,

Washington, DC – SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) has named Herbert Van de Sompel, who leads the Digital Library Research and Prototyping Team at the Research Library of the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), as the first SPARC Innovator.  The SPARC Innovator program is a new initiative that recognizes an individual, institution, or group that exemplifies SPARC principles by working to challenge the status quo in scholarly communication for the benefit of researchers, libraries, universities, and the public.  SPARC Innovators will be featured on the SPARC Web site each quarter.

Herbert Van de Sompel, the first SPARC Innovator, is the initiator of the Open Archives Initiative (OAI) and the open reference linking framework (OpenURL).  The Open Archives Initiative develops and promotes interoperability standards that aim to facilitate the efficient dissemination of content, and it has had wide-ranging influence on a variety of other initiatives within the open access and institutional repository movements.  To read more about Van de Sompel, please see the SPARC Innovator Web page at

“Herbert is one of our leading thinkers on system architecture,” said Clifford Lynch, executive director of the Coalition for Networked Information (CNI), who has worked extensively with Van de Sompel.  “What's striking to me, however, is the extent to which his work in this area is driven by his commitment to improving information flow and information access within the global system of scholarly communication. This gives his work a concreteness and focus, a validation and verification, that's very important to its quality and depth.”

“Herbert Van de Sompel paired a background in technology with a vision of a new infrastructure for ‘open’ information. He brought tremendous dedication and perseverance to the task of finding support and making the connections necessary to see this vision through,” said Heather Joseph, SPARC Executive Director.  “He used his intellect as well as street smarts to make the Open Archives Initiative and OpenURL a reality, and both projects have laid the foundation for research and scholarship to become available to more people than ever before.  Herbert’s work on global, digital workflow has advanced scholarly communication by leaps and bounds, and his commitment to changing the status quo makes him a worthy recipient of the SPARC Innovator award.”

“I am thrilled to be the first SPARC Innovator, and I appreciate the recognition from my peers enormously,” Van de Sompel said.  “The one thing with recognitions like these is they tend to put additional pressure on, like people asking what the next big thing is you’re working on.  I wish I had an answer; I don’t because one never really knows whether a thing is big until it actually is. This recognition will help me to keep focus and remain determined.”

SPARC Innovators are named by the SPARC staff in consultation with the SPARC Steering Committee.  Individuals can nominate their colleagues as potential SPARC Innovators at Criteria include but are not limited to a commitment to: 

  • Reducing barriers to access, sharing, and use of scholarship, particularly in the scientific research field;
  • Advancing the understanding and implementation of open access to research results;
  • Working to create a balanced scholarly communication system;
  • Use of technology to develop alternative publishing and communication solutions;
  • Refusing to be constrained by the status quo and implementing new and creative ideas that are backed by research;
  • Vision of the library as a focus for and/or supporter of change;
  • The belief that individual actions can have a profound and positive impact in the scholarly communication field.

A SPARC Innovator can be an individual, a group of people, an institution, or another group that has been active in the areas listed above.  Their actions may be broadly defined and may include online activity (i.e., postings on listservs and Web sites); on-campus programs and conferences; writing and editing (i.e., articles and books); promoting awareness and activism among others; and creating technologies and/or programs. There is no monetary award for SPARC Innovators.

For further information, please see the SPARC Web site at



SPARC (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) and SPARC Europe are an international alliance of more than 300 academic and research libraries working to correct imbalances in the scholarly publishing system.  SPARC’s advocacy, educational, and publisher partnership programs encourage expanded dissemination of research. SPARC is located on the Web at; SPARC Europe is at