Librarians and OA advocacy

From: Andrew A. Adams <A.A.Adams_at_READING.AC.UK>
Date: Mon, 23 Apr 2007 19:38:26 +0900

A recent email discussion stimulated the following comment, which I was
encouraged to post here more generally.

Some librarians are engaged in lobbying locally, nationally and
internationally in ways which undermine our goal of 100% OA. This is not
because they are evil, but because they respond to a different set of
pressures than do researchers. It should be recognised that supporting Green
OA requires something of a change in emphasis for librarians' roles.
Librarians (along with many other groups in late twentieth century academe)
have to some extent lost touch with their principle missions. Academic
institutional librarians, as with everyone else in academia apart from those
performing research or directly supporting student's learning, are there to
provide the members of the university (the staff and students) with the
support they need to perform their role (researching/teaching/learning). The
increasing managerialism in academia (unfortunately true almost everywhere
and not restricted to the UK although it is one of the worst) means that many
other groups, not least the managers themselves, have started to see their
job as achieving their targets, rather that contributing to the research and
teaching mission of universities.

In performing that contribution, it is time that librarians re-assessed their
approach. In the past, the job of librarians was to provide access for their
own staff to the output of other institutions. A very minor part of their
mission used to be providing advice to academics on where to publish, but
that role has been increasingly replaced by online access to such
information. Other online access has gradually replaced a significant part of
the information they have provided in paper form. They need an adjusted
mission and this requires a change of viewpoint. That change should include
providing the librarianship skill in helping to provide not just an
institutional repository, but a repository which helps to maximise the impact
of the work produced by their own researchers. The first stage in this is to
throw their weight behind the creation of an IR and an OA mandate. There is
then significant work for librarians in supporting and maintaining metadata
categories in the repository, along with "digital preservation" use. IRs will
not undermine the need for librarians, but they will require something of a
change of role. The move to Green OA is an opportunity for librarians to be
instrumental in defining their new role in facilitating two way information
exchange between researchers, rather than acting as one way conduits for
access to external information.

*E-mail*********  Dr Andrew A Adams
**snail*27 Westerham Walk**********  School of Systems Engineering
***mail*Reading RG2 0BA, UK********  The University of Reading
****Tel*+44-118-378-6997***********  Reading, United Kingdom
Received on Mon Apr 23 2007 - 13:31:42 BST

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