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

From: David Goodman <David.Goodman_at_LIU.EDU>
Date: Tue, 5 Oct 2004 19:31:22 -0400

Dear Stevan,

I suggest that you might want to expand "research community" into "research and user community", as it includes many who are not and will never be researchers:
teachers, students, interested amateurs, researchers(but from another field).

It is one of the great merits of OA that it provides for all of these groups--(under any form of OA). It is one of the deficits of past information systems that most of thee groups were ignored by all parties. Researchers need to recruit new-comers to their field, researchers need to interest other disciplines in their field.

Conventional information systems assumed that all the relevant parties were located at a major education institution. The comments of many of those still opposing OA make the same assumption: they assume that if they lower the cost of the material to the research universities all problems will be solved.
As you have frequently explained, this does not solve the access problem, but
only alleviates the cost problem for the select institutions.

Your natural allies, though I think you may not yet recognize it fully, are the librarians. They are the group that now as in the past tries to keep all users in mind. The librarians in research institutions ought to care not just fror access for their primary constituents, but for all potentially interested in research material. Previously, the physical restrictions of print materials was a conceivable reason for limitation of service to outsiders; even now, some libraries with contracts that permit unaffiliated users, still refuse to permit them access.

The solution is not to reform the chauvinists; they may eventually be replaced, but I doubt they will be reformed. The solution is to free the access from the constraints of institutional affilliation and of paid access.

Librarians normally have other concerns as well, some of which are to provide for the organization and preservation that it is natural for researchers not to interest themselves in. When they raise concerns about particular plans in these regards, they are not opposing the plans; they are merely concerned to ensure that the plans expose sufficient metadata and have sufficient possibility for back-up to fulfill these functions. Any plan can and should--even in a year, things can get quite confused. ArXiv is a model of simple yet adequate function in these respects, and institutional archives can be also.

OA advocates among researchers should rejoice that these functions can be provided for without interfering with their needs, and even without their being primarily responsible or doing much of the work. (And so should publishers!)

Librarians are limited by their funding, and it is natural for them to want to spend the money they are entrusted with for the benefit of their community. I have never known a librarian who does not regard the dependence on funding for access as an evil--and now it is an unnecessary evil. Librarians are quite accustomed to researchers blaming them for the failure to acquire what is needed, when it is not within their power to do so. However accustomed, I have never known a librarian who enjoys this.

Alas, what librarians lack is the power to effect change. They can however communicate to all parties, and they have been--do you think that the researchers alone have been supporting OA? If so, there would be no pending legislation.

It is for the users to express and demand the fulfillment of their needs, the research community and all the other users. The emphasis here is on "all"

Dr. David Goodman
Associate Professor
Palmer School of Library and Information Science
Long Island University

-----Original Message-----
From: American Scientist Open Access Forum on behalf of Stevan Harnad
Sent: Tue 10/5/2004 4:53 PM
Subject: Re: Priorities: OA Content Provision vs. OA Content Preservation
On Tue, 5 Oct 2004, Brian Simboli wrote:

Received on Wed Oct 06 2004 - 00:31:22 BST

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