Israel Scholar Communication Scrolls

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October 19, 2006

Protect-Your-Copyright ABC for Every Scholar, or Academic Librarian Demands Open Access for Librarians Published Works

Dorothea Salo, Open access to the library literature, Caveat Lector, October 17, 2006. Excerpt by Peter Suber OA News (Providing OA to library literature, 18 Oct 2006):

I’m shocked that nobody is calling me names. Instead, a productive discussion is starting about open access to the library literature....

[T]he costs and benefits of open access apply to us librarians too. We certainly have overpriced journals and trade publications. We certainly have journals that sold out and saw their prices soar. We certainly have journals and trade publications that ask us to sign ridiculous copyright-transfer agreements....

[T]here’s more value for us, in the long run [in providing OA to library literature] --it’s called “eating our own dog food.” We can’t reasonably go out and evangelize self-archiving to faculty when we aren’t doing it ourselves. We can’t evangelize open-access journals when we don’t publish in them....

I mean, our very own guidebooks militate against open access! I was reading the publication chapter in The Successful Academic Librarian last week (ambitious, that’s me) when I ran smack into (paraphrased) “There are open-access journals, but they aren’t well-known, so most librarians consider them dubious publication outlets at best.” Oh, great; thanks ever so, O Molder of the Mind of the Young. That isn’t even true, for $DEITY’s sake! Find me a techie librarian who doesn’t know about D-Lib and Ariadne. One.

So what is a librarian who publishes in the library literature to do? At a minimum, I suggest the following:

A. Read all copyright transfer agreements. It’s flat-out irresponsible not to. If you don’t like what you’re reading, ask if that’s the only agreement available, and be prepared to detail your concerns.

B. For those agreements that do not appear to allow self-archiving or do not address self-archiving, ask the editor “May I self-archive this paper?” Editors and publishers need to hear that their authors want to do this; we mustn’t let publishers hide behind “but our authors don’t care!” Just asking the question is not going to kill your acceptance chances (especially if you ask this after your paper is accepted!).

C. Whenever possible, submit your work to an existing open-access journal. Gold-OA has a chicken-and-egg problem; authors won’t submit to OA journals unless other authors do, and Molders of the Minds of the Young won’t give credence to OA journals until they know people (good people!) who publish in them. We don’t necessarily need to start more OA library journals. We need to utilize the ones we do have fully. (That said… watch this space.)

Know OA resources in our field. Use them, and point other librarians to them. I’m at DLIST all the time these days.

Want to go a little further? There are ways.... [PS: Here cutting six good suggestions; see the whole post.]


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