[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

OA Now

I had previously asked if libraries would pay for books that 
contained articles that had previously been published on line. 
This came from my immediate problem and I think distracted the 
list.  It led to my realization, which I guess everybody knew, 
that whereas individual sales of books are helped by online 
publication of the content, sales to libraries are not.  The same 
is true of technical journals.  The fact that scientists would 
subscribe to Nature and Science even though they have online 
access through their institutions is irrelevant to publishers who 
are supported by library sales. Individual sales apparently are 

The question finally evolved to the important question as to 
whether a library would subscribe to a journal whose content was 
on-line and the conclusion was generally no although there would 
be some exceptions (oddly, like Science and Nature).  I think it 
is obvious but the current paradox is that libraries are forced 
to do this although in a time-dependent manner, that is, after 
three-months the diabetes journals, for example, are on-line even 
though libraries had previously subscribed.

I know I am saying the obvious but the bottom line is that 
libraries are supporting a model that they would not normally 
support if they didn't have to.

So, the questions I see are

1. Does a library have the right to ask for an accounting of how 
this money is spent?  If not, should it not seek a publisher who 
would give such an accounting?

2. What is the source of library funds?  Do these funding sources 
have the right to ask for an accounting of how this money is 
spent?  If not, should they not ask the library to seek a 
publisher who would give such an accounting?

The question then is competition.  Since the unique feature of 
individual journals is the editorial board that can be paid from 
any source, shouldn't members of editorial boards move to 
journals that can offer libraries accounting of how funds are 
spent.  If the online journals can be produced for less money 
with the same editorial board shouldn't that journal be 

How could this be done? A coalition of librarians, editors and 
end-users could demand that existing publishers do this or could 
move operations to an existing journal.  In other words, the 
prestige of a journal is dependent on the collective opinions of 
end-users, authors, reviewers and editors (many of whom are the 
same people).  A group decision to define an OA journal as the 
premier journal in a field is within their power. Journals that 
refused to compete would be avoided by this group.

When could this be done?  How about now?

Richard D. Feinman, Professor of Biochemistry

(718) 871-1374
FAX: (718) 270-3316