Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Call for OA to ALA journals

Brian Kenney, An Open and Shut Case, School Library Journal, September 1, 2008.

... [L]ibrarians are the most vocal advocates for open access to journal content—except, apparently, when it’s their own publications. I suspect this is because of [the American Library Association]’s outdated, carrot-on-the-end-of-the-stick, publishing model: keep the publications locked away as the supreme benefit of membership.

There are three problems with this approach, and one is ethical. Is it really right to harvest the intellectual capital of a profession—with no compensation for authors—then sell that content back to the profession? How can [the American Association of School Librarians], for example, ... justify withholding Knowledge Quest from the rest of the educational community?

Another issue is marketing. ... By locking away its literature, ALA loses out on a major marketing opportunity for its members, the divisions, the association, and the profession.

Finally, there is common sense. If you want your content to be used, then readers need to be able to discover it through a search engine and read it in a click. Or find it in their feed aggregator. We need to be able to forward it, post our disagreements with it, blog about it, and have it pushed to us on Facebook. It must, in short, be integrated into our professional lives. Or else it becomes irrelevant, no matter how good it might be.

Come on, ALA. Let your content go free. You’ll never miss your old-school business model again. I promise.

Update. See this update announcing plans for OA to an ALA journal, American Libraries.

Update. See also Charles Bailey's posts on OA at ALA.