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the role of librarians in providing access

I really do think there is an argument abroad that green self-archiving is
worth engaging in because it will give experience in developing
repositories, providing access, etc.

But: why not cut to the chase? Why stumble over some pocket change en
route to picking up the one thousand dollar bill that lies ahead on the
sidewalk? Why not directly engage in infrastructural initiatives that will
concurrently resolve access, affordability, preservation, and any number
of other interwoven issues?

If we librarians are to spend 5 or at 10 % of our valuable "free time" on
an interesting project, imho it should be on promoting academic gold
(whether institutionally subsidized or author pays, though I'm skeptical
about the viability of the latter), and academically owned low-cost
solutions, not self- archiving. Academic ownership of publishing is key;
only then will the publishing monoliths be challenged.

I will qualify my remarks somewhat. Perhaps, if it can be proved that
green self-archiving is a very easy by-product of experience gained in
promoting the afore-mentioned infrastructure, then librarians *may* want
to spend *some* time providing it for faculty, if it does not
significantly detract from attending to infrastructural, long lasting and
stable solutions. However, I'm hard- pressed to find reason to do so,
given the opportunity cost it would incur on pursuing a more viable
infrastructure. It could well just be a time-draining impediment.

Green remains, at best a secondary and ancillary goal, given that the goal
of 100 per cent green, imho, will not be achieved, as argued elsewhere.
Nor should it be pursued very vigorously by librarians, since it plays
into the hands of commercial publisher "largesse" that can be pulled at
any time when it becomes anything remotely approaching a threat to them.

Incidentally, consider that those researchers who have tenure, and even
some portion of those busy ones who do not, will not be sufficiently
swayed about arguments concerning impact of research to find the
motivation to green self- archive. For many scientists, an impending
tenure decision supplies the animus that guides their initially feverish
interest in publishing. Assuming they make the grade, some portion
continue feverishly, but some large portion look forward to a bit of
administrative work, refining their teaching, a glass of wine at the end
of the day while watching Jim Lehrer, or playing with their grandchildren.
Impact of research remains for them a concern, but whatever marginal
benefits in terms of research impact that might accrue will not
sufficiently motivate them to self-archive. They're happy if the small
circle of workers in their niche see their work--and they will, one way or
another. (This would be an interesting study: how many scientists use
email attachments to forward their research around to the small circle of
people in their niche, regardless of copyrigh provisions.)

And there is this significant datum: *some* researchers are interested in
the reform of publishing and access. Most, however, at least in the first
world, grouse to their librarians when they cannot get to an unsubscribed
title, but go ahead and submit an interlibrary request to achieve delayed
access.  Provision of rush services by ILL dept's are worth studying in
this context.

In any event, researchers for the most part do not regard it as their job
to improve provision immediate access. They complain that they cannot get
the goods immediately, but much of their involvement ends in just

By the way, it is puzzling why ILL has so much dropped out of discussions
of access; it works quite well around here, despite delays. I recognize
that ILL in the third world is surely highly problematic, given that its
success relies on a stock of publications held by at least one
participating institution. But it does not follow that green
self-archiving will provide a viable solution to this.

Enough said.

Brian Simboli