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RE: Open access and the ALA

I can't speak to what ALA might be doing, but naturally I can't resist the
opportunity to point out that at least the Medical Library Association has
been trying to lead by example -- the Journal of the Medical Library
Association has been freely available on PubMedCentral for the past few
years (copyrights to articles are retained by the authors) and, thanks to
NLM's archival scanning project, all issues back to volume 1, issue 1
(1911) are now available there.  Also, the Association of Academic Health
Sciences Libraries (AAHSL) currently has a Scholarly Communication
TaskForce that is actively working to promote open access and discussion
of related issues at academic medical centers around the country.  We
expect to develop a web presence on the AAHSL website for these issues
later this year.

I agree wholeheartedly with the points that Rick has been making the past
few days.  The issues faced by professional societies are complex and
difficult, and even among those that are sympathetic to the goals of open
access, the path that they might take from the subscription model to the
open access model without damaging their societies is not clear. MLA has
made the choice to move towards open access because it fits our
professional values, but there is no question that it is having a negative
impact on the finances of an organization that runs on a shoestring to
begin with.

I attended an open access conference at Emory earlier in the month at
which Dr. Varmus spoke.  As he began outlining the points he would cover,
he mentioned that he would address ways in which PLoS could be helpful to
professional societies.  Unfortunately, when he got to that part of the
talk, all he had to say was that he hoped the PLoS example would persuade
the professional societies to "do the right thing."  I admire Varmus
tremendously for what he has done with PLoS, but this sort of rhetoric is
distinctly unhelpful.  Most people who are involved in professional
society publishing believe very strongly that they are engaged in "doing
the right thing" and they quite reasonably resent the implication that by
being cautious and protective of their organizations they are being part
of the problem.

Librarians will serve the cause better if they begin to engage much more
actively with the professional societies (through the editors and society
committee members on their campuses) and work diligently with them to
understand the economic issues involved and come up with reasonable
strategies for moving forward that take those realities into account.

T. Scott Plutchak
Editor, Journal of the Medical Library Association

Director, Lister Hill Library of the Health Sciences
University of Alabama at Birmingham

-----Original Message-----
From: Rick Anderson [mailto:rickand@unr.edu] 
Sent: Thursday, January 29, 2004 6:14 PM
To: Liblicense-L@Lists. Yale. Edu
Subject: Open access and the ALA

The more I think about the open access issue, the more I think it offers
an excellent opportunity for libraries to demonstrate both their
leadership in the new information age and their commitment to the broadest
possible distribution of information.  Has anyone suggested to the
American Library Association (and its various sections and committees)
that it lead by example on the open access front?  As a nonprofit
organization with the explicit mission of bringing information to the
people, it seems like the ALA really ought to be leading the way. Does
anyone know whether it is moving in this direction at all?

Rick Anderson