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Re: GWLA letter

I continue to totally disagree with my friend Brian about this.

Affordable journals have always been possible the Henderson route 
of increased library funding, or library refusal to buy the most 
expensive titles, or publisher decision to go for long-term 
stability and not quarterly profits. None of these benefit anyone 
outside universities. All they do is bring the slightly less 
wealthy and the smaller universities up to the level of the 
largest and most wealthy ones. This is certainly something that 
can be done, but it will be done optimally as one of the group of 
benefits from OA.

OA is about something much more important: access without 
barriers so it doesn't matter which university you're in, if any, 
or what your academic status may be, or whether or not you live 
near the state university, or whether you're in a poor country 
and don't want to be dependent on charity.

It also has the side effect of helping the work of university 
libraries. Joe E posted today about sunk costs from systems that 
become obsolete. We have put a great deal of effort and money 
into dealing with authorization barriers. With OA journals we 
wouldn't need SfX. Similarly with Document Delivery systems--we 
have developed good ones, and they are expensive, and I still 
take pride in having developed a particularly good local 
solution. I've worked on this sort of thing most of my working 

I've taught student users how to do it. I've taught library 
school students how to teach their student users to do it. All of 
this is in principle obsolete and unnecessary, and could quickly 
be obsolete in reality. I do not regret having done in for the 20 
years or so I did, because there was then nothing better. To have 
helped researchers during those years was to be of use to 
science, just as showing them how to use the print abstracts 
services was useful.

I do resent finding it necessary to teach access control systems 
to students now, when it is not necessary, when it is only there 
because of inability to move rapidly and cooperatively, even when 
the optimal direction is known and the amount of money is about 
the same.

After many years, I have discovered nothing about universities or 
especially university libraries that make them suitable to devise 
new ways of publishing.

We do not need new way of publishing. We have publishers. We have 
editors. We have e-journals; we have authors and users. We don't 
have to reinvent anything. We just have to transfer the same 
money in a slightly different direction:nstead of buying 
subscriptions, we pay article fees.

Some universities, which can well afford it, will come out 
slightly behind others in financially unless there is an 
important gain of efficiency. Without the artifical barriers to 
productivity, we can work on the real ones.

Dr. David Goodman
Palmer School of Library and Information Science
Long Island University
and formerly
Bibliographer and Research Librarian
Princeton University Library


----- Original Message -----
From: Brian Simboli <brs4@lehigh.edu>
Date: Thursday, August 3, 2006 6:42 pm
Subject: GWLA letter
To: liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu, SPARC-OAForum@arl.org

>>From one standpoint, the recent GWLA letter is - perhaps - a step
> in the right direction. It is indeed good to see provosts aware
> of the issues in publishing.
>>From another, it's just one more instance of the usual rhetoric
> about the need for open access. The worry here is that this
> rhetoric might divert academic administrative attention from
> creating university-based, stable, long-lasting, low-cost
> alternatives (whether OA or not) that challenge the current
> barrier to dissemination of knowledge, viz., high pricing.
> --
> Brian Simboli
> Science Librarian
> Library & Technology Services
> E.W. Fairchild Martindale
> Lehigh University
> Bethlehem, PA 18015-3170
> E-mail: brs4@lehigh.edu