Twenty-five years? It's hard to believe I've been doing this since Madonna's "Express Yourself" was in the top 40. I don't typically write about personal matters in DigitalKoans, but here's a mini-memoir, so please indulge me.
Here are the highlights of my open access publishing activities since June 1989. A full chronology is also available.
PACS-L and the The Public-Access Computer Systems Review
Twenty-five years ago I went to the ALA Annual Conference and passed out a few leaflets announcing the Public-Access Computer Systems Forum (PACS-L), a LISTSERV list intended to foster discussion on the then-revolutionary idea that library users could access digital information themselves instead of submitting database search requests to librarians. At the time, PCs were being used to provide access to databases on CD-ROMs and some avant-garde libraries were providing access to "locally-mounted databases" on minicomputers. In 1989, librarians were reading papers such as "Library Applications of CD-ROM"; "Loading Local Machine-Readable Data Files: Issues, Problems, and Answers"; and my "Public-Access Computer Systems: The Next Generation of Library Automation Systems."
I was particularly interested in the emergence of public-access computer systems because the University of Houston, where I worked as the library's Assistant Director for Systems, had a President who envisioned a bold new age of digital information access. One of my first tasks when I a took the job in 1987 was to flesh-out, in a couple of weeks, the details of this vision for a very substantial grant proposal. By the summer of 1989, I had spent a considerable amount of time reviewing the literature on "electronic publishing" and grappling with how to make the potential real. The library's visionary director, Robin N. Downes, was very supportive of my starting PACS-L (and of my subsequent digital publishing efforts at UH).
My expectations at ALA were modest; however, the timing was right and PACS-L was one of the first lists to focus on a broad topic rather than a single library automation system. Moreover, PACS-L soon morphed into a list that dealt with the nascent Internet and its implications for libraries and electronic publishing. Consequently, it grew rapidly, and, within a year, had over 1,400 subscribers (at its peak, it had over 10,000 subscribers).
In this uber-interactive age, it is difficult to convey the early excitement that the development of this new digital community held, especially as it became more international. In short order, I began to consider the possibility of launching an e-journal, and I floated the idea on PACS-L.
Although the technological infrastructure of the time was primitive at best, on August 16, 1989, I announced the The Public-Access Computer Systems Review, an e-journal whose articles would be distributed as ASCII text files using a LISTSERV server. Here's an excerpt from the announcement:
The Public-Access Computer Systems Review will contain short articles (1 to 7 single-spaced pages), columns, and reviews. PACS Review will cover all computer systems that libraries make available to their patrons, including CAI and ICAI programs, CD-ROM databases, expert systems, hypermedia systems, information delivery systems, local databases, online catalogs, and remote end-user search systems. All types of short communications dealing with these subjects are welcome. Articles that present innovative projects in libraries, even those at an early stage of their development, are especially welcome. Proposals for regular (or irregular) columns will be considered on an ongoing basis. There will be a section for reviews of books, journal articles, reports, and software.
A call for papers was issued in October, and the first issue was announced in January 1990. The journal became peer-reviewed in November 1991.
Starting with its first issue, The Public-Access Computer Systems Review was freely available, allowed noncommercial use, and allowed authors to retain their copyrights. There was no established theoretical or legal context for doing so. The concept of "open access" wouldn't be articulated until the Budapest Open Access Initiative declaration in February 2002, and the Creative Commons wouldn't release its first license until December 2002.
Needless to say, the journal was product of many hands, including its hardworking editorial staff, its very engaged editorial board, its risk-taking authors, and its columnists.
From 1994 through 2005 (the only years that data is available), The Public-Access Computer Systems Review had over 3.5 million file requests.
In the early 1990s, I also cofounded and coedited Public-Access Computer Systems News, which published short news items, and founded and moderated the PACS-P list, which announced new e-serials issues for publications such as Current Cites.
The Public-Access Computer Systems Review and Public-Access Computer Systems News are preserved in the Internet Archive. The University of Houston has a partial archive of the The Public-Access Computer Systems Review (only ASCII versions of articles, not the HTML website or HTML versions of articles published from 1995 onwards) and a complete archive of Public-Access Computer Systems News. After the University of Houston deleted the PACS-L archive in 2013, it is no longer publicly available.
For more details about PACS-L and The Public-Access Computer Systems Review, see:
- Bailey, Charles W., Jr. "A Brief History of the Journal." http://web.archive.org/web/20070124234520/http://epress.lib.uh.edu/pr/pacsrev.html#history
- ———. "Electronic (Online) Publishing in Action . . . The Public-Access Computer Systems Review and Other Electronic Serials." ONLINE 15 (January 1991): 28-35. http://digital-scholarship.org/cwb/2eserial.pdf
- ———. "The Public-Access Computer Systems Forum: A Computer Conference on BITNET." Library Software Review 9 (March-April 1990): 71-74. http://digital-scholarship.org/cwb/pacs-l.pdf
- Crawford, Walt. Talking about Public Access—PACS-L's First Decade." Information Technology and Libraries 19 (September 2000): 112-115. http://waltcrawford.name/pacsl.htm
- Ensor, Pat, and Thomas Wilson. "Public-Access Computer Systems Review: Testing the Promise." The Journal of Electronic Publishing 3, no. 1 (1997). http://dx.doi.org/10.3998/3336451.0003.106
- Moothart, Tom. "Charles W. Bailey, Jr.: Editor, Publisher, Innovator." Serials Review 23, no. 1 (1997): 59-62. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00987913.1997.10764364#.U6dEXLEobm4
Scholarly Electronic Publishing Bibliography
The Scholarly Electronic Publishing Bibliography evolved out of three bibliographies about "electronic publishing on networks" that I published in The Public-Access Computer Systems Review. I was motivated to write them because it was difficult to track this emerging trend using conventional indexes, and I thought that making this information more accessible would foster the further development of digital publishing.
The final bibliography in this series, "Network-Based Electronic Publishing of Scholarly Works: A Selective Bibliography," was the result of an experimental publishing strategy that I tried in the journal: the option for authors to update their articles. This article was updated 26 times between March 1995 and October 1996.
By its final version, the bibliography had outgrown the article format, and I transformed it into an electronic book: the Scholarly Electronic Publishing Bibliography. Since the literature never stopped changing, I decided that the book wouldn't either: it would be updated periodically. And so it was: 80 times from October 1996 through October 2011. Always freely available, I put it under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License in July 2004.
Over the course of its evolution, it was distributed as PDF files, printed books, a website, and Word files. By the time the last print version was published in early 2011, it was over 460 pages long. Along the way, a directory of related resources ("Scholarly Electronic Publishing Resources, which was published from 2000 though 2009) and a weblog that listed new works (the Scholarly Electronic Publishing Weblog, which was published from 2001 through 2013) were added to the bibliography.
The Scholarly Electronic Publishing Bibliography is archived at Digital Scholarship and the Internet Archive. The University of Houston Libraries no longer maintains an archive of the e-book.
From October 1996 through December 2005, the Scholarly Electronic Publishing Bibliography had over 5.5 million file requests.
For more information about the Scholarly Electronic Publishing Bibliography, see:
By 2005, I felt that the technological infrastructure had evolved to the point where it was feasible for a single individual to perform all the functions of a digital publisher, and I established my own open access digital press, Digital Scholarship. As you know, it provides information and commentary about digital copyright, digital curation, digital repositories, open access, scholarly communication, and other digital information issues. Its publications are under versions of the Creative Commons Attribution or Attribution-Noncommercial Licenses. I also established DigitalKoans that year to provide timely coverage of those topics.
In November 2006, I resigned my position as Assistant Dean for Digital Library Planning and Development at the University of Houston Libraries, and I migrated the Scholarly Electronic Publishing Bibliography to Digital Scholarship.
Until 2009, Digital Scholarship only published digital works. In May of that year, I published the Scholarly Electronic Publishing Bibliography: 2008 Annual Edition as a low-cost paperback with an open access digital version.
To date, Digital Scholarship has published the following works:
- Books and Book Supplements (Print with OA Digital Version)
- Digital Bibliographies/Webliographies
- Other Publications
- Social Media
Not unexpectedly, the most popular books, aside from the Scholarly Electronic Publishing Bibliography, have been those about open access:
- Open Access Bibliography: Liberating Scholarly Literature with E-Prints and Open Access Journals: 0ver 627,000 file requests.
- Transforming Scholarly Publishing through Open Access: A Bibliography: Over 637,000 file requests.
During the time it was published by Digital Scholarship, all digital versions of the Scholarly Electronic Publishing Bibliography had over 7.1 million file requests, bringing the total number of file requests to over 12.6 million.
From April 2005 through May 2014, Digital Scholarship had over 13.7 million visitors from 230 counties and over 66.8 million file requests.
By analyzing Digital Scholarship log data with Weblog Expert, it is possible to separate out spider requests, to break out page views (a page view would be for a Epub, HTM, HTML, PDF, text, or Word file), to determine the number of unique IPs, and to gauge bandwidth use.
Here's the breakdown for the same period:
- Total file requests: Over 66.8 million
- Spider file requests: Over 26.2 million (about 39% of file requests)
- Total page views: Over 47.7 million (about 71% of file requests)
- Total unique IPs: 1.4 million
- Total bandwidth: Over 1,700 GB
In the age of Google, bibliographies may seem antiquated. Digital Scholarship's use data argues otherwise. Certainly, the scholarly information that users are seeking is typically on search engines, but extracting it can be a time-consuming and vexing process. For example, in the early days of the open access movement, Google search results for this topic were replete with papers about surgical procedures, restricted access to beaches, and other false drops.
My publishing efforts have been driven by advocacy. I write to foster the development of causes that I care about. I hope that my contributions have had a positive impact on them.
As to the future of Digital Scholarship, I haven't taken a lengthy publishing vacation in 25 years, so it may be time for a sabbatical. I've become increasingly involved in creating digital art, and that taking up more of my time. We'll see.
Preservation-wise, I've put the major works in the Internet Archive, but, as an individual unaffiliated with a university, can't do much beyond that. As you would imagine, I have extensive digital work files and publication use data dating from the dawn of open access, but I'm not sure how to archive them.
So, onward, and, hopefully, upward. Thanks for your interest and support over the last quarter-century.
And a special thanks to the The Public-Access Computer Systems Review editorial staff, editorial board, and columnists:
- Pat Ensor (1997-2000)
- Thomas C. Wilson (1997-2000)
- Leslie Dillon, Associate Editor (1990) and Associate Editor, Columns (1991-1997)
- Elizabeth A. Dupuis, Associate Editor, Columns (1997-2000)
- John E. Fadell, Copy Editor (1998-2000)
- Andrea Bean Hough, Associate Editor, Communications (1997-2000)
- Mike Ridley, Associate Editor (1989-1990) and Associate Editor, Reviews (1991)
- Dana Rooks, Associate Editor, Communications (1991-1997)
- Robert Spragg, Associate Editor, Technical Support (1996-2000)
- Roy Tennant, Associate Editor, Reviews (1992-1993)
- Ann Thornton, Associate Editor, Production (1995-2000)
- Ralph Alberico (1992-2000)
- George H. Brett II (1992-2000)
- Priscilla Caplan (1994-2000)
- Steve Cisler (1992-2000)
- Walt Crawford (1989-2000)
- Lorcan Dempsey (1992-2000)
- Pat Ensor (1994-1996)
- Nancy Evans (1989-2000)
- Stephen Harter (1997-2000)
- Charles Hildreth (1992-2000)
- Ronald Larsen (1992-2000)
- Clifford Lynch (1992-2000)
- David R. McDonald (1989-2000)
- R. Bruce Miller (1989-2000)
- Ann Okerson (1997-2000)
- Paul Evan Peters (1989-1996)
- Mike Ridley (1992-2000)
- Peggy Seiden (1995-2000)
- Peter Stone (1989-2000)
- John E. Ulmschneider (1992-2000)
- Priscilla Caplan (1992-1998)
- Walt Crawford (1989-1995)
- Martin Halbert (1990-1993)
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