open access publications in library science

More thoughts, links, and general blabbing on open access publishing.

On the LIBLICENSE-L, Rick Anderson recently brought up the question of whether or not the American Libraries Association (ALA) has considered going to an open access publishing model for it’s publications. It seems that the Medical Library Association has one open access journal, although it isn’t listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) at this time and is only available through PubMedCentral. Oddly enough, they do have subscription rates. The Science and Technology Section of the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) (a part of ALA) has made their Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship quarterly available online through an open access model.

As I mentioned yesterday, my dean asked me to put together some information about open access for the other librarians here and to come up with ways that we could be involved with the open access movement. I’ve been surfing around the web and in databases this afternoon, looking for articles and other information that can help me distill this nebulous thing down to something I and my colleagues can digest. I was surprised by how many titles were listed on the DOAJ page for library and information science. There is only one that I recognize imediately as being reputable, and that is D-Lib Magazine. Also, like any list of journals, there are likely to be title changes and publications that have ceased.

librarian publication

Can librarians change the publishing model by starting within their own?

I have been working on an article for Serials Review which required me to contact several different consultants who work with libraries, publishers, and vendors. While I was conversing with October Ivins, a thought came to me. We were talking about some of the issues surrounding publishing and pricing, and more specifically about alternative models such as the Budapest Open Access Initiative and the efforts of SPARC. She is of the opinion that alternatives like open access will not happen unless an entire organization or society agrees to follow the new model of publishing.

Her logic makes sense, and it got me thinking about which group should take the initiative and start changing the way they went about scholarly communication. Then it hit me: Why don’t librarians do this first? We’re the ones who are complaining the loudest when publishers like Elsevier dominate the market and dictate pricing. We should be the leaders marching forward to change the way publishing works in the digital age! And then, I realized the irony of my proposal having come from a conversation I had while writing an article for an Elsevier publication.

When I was asked to write this article, I knew who published the journal. It gave me a few twinges, but I couldn’t turn down the offer. Not when this was a chance for a rookie librarian to get published in an internationally recognized journal! However, this is exactly the mentality that perpetuates the problems we are currently facing in scholarly communication. I don’t have a solution, and I don’t know if I ever will. I do know that in the future I will try to be conscientious about where I publish my contributions to the profession, but it won’t be easy.