More on ALA and Open Access

Peter Suber has provided clarification of ALA’s stance on open access in the below Open Access News posting excerpt:

Comment. This is the most detailed discussion I’ve seen of this question. You should read the whole thing, as I’ve had to omit most of the detail on which Charles’ conclusion rests. I’d only add that (1) the ALA Washington office has a page on OA, (2) the ALA Council adopted a resolution in support of FRPAA at its June 2006 annual meeting, and (3) the ALA has signed on to several public statements in support of OA, most recently a July 12 letter in support of FRPAA and a May 31 letter in support of the EC report on OA.

To further clarify this matter, FRPAA (Federal Research Public Access Act of 2006) and the European Commission’s Study on the Economic and Technical Evolution of the Scientific Publication Markets in Europe both deal with open access to publicly-funded research. This is certainly a major open access issue; however, ALA journals are unlikely to publish a high percentage of papers that result from such publicly-funded research. Consequently, the direct impact of FRPAA or, especially, the EC report on ALA’s journal publishing operations is likely to be minimal.

In contrast to this support for FRPAA and the EU report, ALA has not signed the "Budapest Open Access Initiative" (as other library organizations such as the Association of Academic Health Services Libraries, ALA’s Association of College and Research Libraries Division, the Association of Research Libraries, and the Canadian Association of Research Libraries have), the "Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities," or the "Washington DC Principles for Free Access to Science" (as many association publishers have).

The path from the ALA home page to the Washington Office page is: Home–> Washington Office –> Issues–> Copyright Issues–> Open Access to Research. The ALA Web site is quite large and deep, and one would not expect an OA page to be on the top level. The question is: Can this page be found by someone who doesn’t know that open access is a Washington Office concern? It appears that issues of primary concern to ALA are under the home page heading "Issues & Advocacy" (Home –> Issues & Advocacy).

Whether ALA provides more active support for the open access movement and its reform strategies is, of course, up to its officers and members. These two postings on the matter have been descriptive, not prescriptive. Further clarifications to ALA’s stance on open access or discussion of it are welcome, and can be submitted as comments to either posting.

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