Re: Priorities: OA Content Provision vs. OA Content Preservation

From: Brian Simboli <brs4_at_Lehigh.EDU>
Date: Tue, 5 Oct 2004 14:51:09 +0100

**Responses in asterisks**

I don't pretend to have all the answers in these issues; I just want to
point out concerns that will no doubt occur to any working librarian.

Brian Simboli

>bs> Let us say that one is concerned with the good of preservation and places it at
>bs> least on par with the good of open access, and perhaps even trumps the latter.
>sh> Hard to see how preserving content can trump providing content: One cannot
>sh> preserve non-existent content...

**Well, sure, one cannot preserve non-existent content, but that is not
the point. Let us cut through the sophistics, which are interminable,
and ask the question: in deciding how to dispose funds for digital
initiatives on a campus, should a library manager devote money to the
green approach or to a gold or to a TA approach, assuming that they
must make some sort of decision? The typical academic library does not
have huge resources, nor does it have much staff time available. It is
a continuing saga of triage. I am not speaking of CDL, or of Harvard, or
MIT, though librarians at such large places may also face this dilemma**

> providing immediate access to all would-be users now increases rather
> than decreases the probability of eventually finding a way to guarantee
> that that access will last forever.

**Not clear on why this is the case.**

>bs> This to me is a quite significant speculative leap about the future
>bs> behavior of thousands of institutions and individuals.
>sh>It is speculative to assume that people will want to hold onto
>sh >a good thing, once they get used to having it?

**The point is rather that they may not be interested in holding on to
a good thing once it is no longer immediately gratifying (a negative
feature, incidentally, and by analogy, of social behaviors in our larger

> Because while we wait for OA content provision, research impact is being
> needlessly and cumulatively lost, daily, weekly, yearly.

**Interesting. However, pursuit of self-archiving does not guarantee
the sort of long-lasting and stable preservation of the scientific
record that, in the long term, will promote impact of research. /Green
solutions are dependent on the largesse of big publishers that are not
charitable institutions, and who at any point can hem in or overturn
their green provisions./ Why not, right now, set up the infrastructure
for universities to own their own output in a long-lasting and stable
fashion, rather than be continually hostage to whatever new pricing
scheme is dreamt up by marketers at the big publishers? Again, it gets
down to where to put the bucks--in training faculty how to self-archive,
or in developing publishing alternatives that will much more so guarantee
longevity of access, whether open or TA?**

> Fulfilling immediate needs surely trumps waiting for guarantees that that
> fulfillment will last for ever.

**I'm not so sure about this. Small universities don't have much
money to spend on digitization efforts, whether staff time or outlay
for infrastructure. I think that the library community should be more
concerned with preserving the scientific record, rather than focus on
immediacy of access--/access which is already being provided, at least
in the first world, via highly efficient interlibrary loan operations,
and ability of individuals in the public to walk into university libraries
and use public terminals./ I cannot speak for the third world**

Brian Simboli
Received on Tue Oct 05 2004 - 14:51:09 BST

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