Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Monday, March 26, 2007

Where is the UK leadership on OA?

Bobby Pickering, Free up access to archives for all, Information World Review blog, March 26, 2007.  Excerpt:

As the Blair administration prepares to leave the stage, one has to wonder why a decade of centre-left government in the UK has failed to foster a new information era....

Mostly it has been a case of the dog that didn't bark. No leadership on making publicly funded research freely available and damn the shareholders of all the publishing houses who are making money from it. Nor any leadership on supporting homegrown British information industries. Just wasted years.

One can hope that the next government will act, and act decisively, to support the freeing up of information locked away in government bodies, which the people of the country actually own. No more privatisation of intelligence resources, should be the cry. Let all have access, freely, and let people create businesses and livelihoods around doing creative things with that information.

Google recently demonstrated how demand for information soars exponentially through freer access. It digitised over 100 films from the US National Archives including a selection from the NASA History of Space Flight (1962-1981), United Newsreel reports from the World War 2, and Department of the Interior films from 1916 to 1970, showing a range of public service projects. These are available on Google Video.

James Hastings, director of access programmes at the National Archives, has told the New York Times that once these had been made available, requests jumped from 200 per annum to over 200,000 a year. A thousand fold....

Will the entrenched fat cats of the information industry continue to enjoy the supine support of government once Blair has gone? I, for one, hope not.