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I would appreciate the chance of bringing the current thread on open
access into a new context. This context is the role of the library in an
open access environment. I am prompted to raise this question because I am
chairing a session on this topic at the next Charleston (Fiesole) Retreat
in Amsterdam this coming July. Chuck Hamaker will be talking about the
academic library and its role.

Although I have been a scholarly librarian I have never been through
library school so please forgive me if I state that my picture of the role
of the librarian in a university or similar institution primarily involves
selection or navigation. In the print environment patrons get what the
librarian decides to buy. The librarian will naturally point to these
selections because these selections are (given a reasonable budget) what
the librarian thinks is most worthwhile for the generality of the patrons.

What happens with open access? There is no selection (restriction?) in the
sense of purchase. There is linking, which is a form of selection. The
patron can reach the journal himself or herself but the librarian can
link. What does the link signify in the current environment where there
are a lot of free journals available? Does the librarian link because the
journal is there and someone has drawn attention to it or is the linking
(through the OPAC?) a conscious decision based on an evaluation? Does the
patron value selection/navigation as an aid to picking out which free
journals are worth looking at?

I see that the BioMed Central site gives helpful information about how to
access and catalogue. It seems to me rather a batch processing job. Are
all these 60 journals worth bringing to the attention of patrons? I would
be most interested to learn how librarians decide in the open access
environment when to catalog and link and when not to catalog and link.

Anthony Watkinson