Joseph J. Branin, Editor of College & Research Libraries, has announced in the journal's current issue that C&RL will "lift its six-month embargo on recently published online articles and become a fully open access journal."
The announcement is an major step for the Association of College & Research Libraries, bringing its open access advocacy positions and its publication practices into alignment.
Librarians were pioneers in publishing scholarly "gold" open access journals. The first library open access journal was the The Public-Access Computer Systems Review, established in 1989 with the first issue published in 1990. It was soon followed by LIBRES (1991), Issues in Science & Technology Librarianship (1991), and MC Journal— Journal of Academic Librarianship (1993).
However, over twenty years later, most scholarly library journals still restrict access to their published PDF and/or HTML articles, although most permit self-archiving of author eprints (they may restrict where the eprints can be self-archived).
There are some fine exceptions: Ariadne, Code4Lib Journal, D-Lib Magazine, Information Research: An International Electronic Journal, the International Journal of Digital Curation, the Journal of Digital Information, the Journal of Electronic Publishing, the Journal of the Medical Library Association, Law Library Journal, and LIBER Quarterly come quickly to mind (117 open access library journals are listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals). However, scholarly library journals from most major commercial publishers and library association publishers remain restricted access.
Consequently, ACRL's decision to go "gold open access" is an important and welcome one. Hopefully, it will encourage other divisions of the American Library Association to follow suit, providing open access to their journals without embargo periods or other access restrictions.
Here's an excerpt from the announcement:
On January 10, 2011, the ACRL Board of Directors unanimously passed the following resolution:
Whereas ACRL supports open scholarship and access to scholarly work;
Whereas ACRL publishes C&RL, the premier journal for academic librarians; Whereas ACRL has made successive changes to increase access to the research found in C&RL;
Whereas ACRL member groups support making C&RL an open access journal;
Be it resolved, that ACRL provide open access to the electronic version of College & Research Libraries journal as of April 2011; and,
Be it further resolved, that ACRL, through this action, continues to play a leading role in advocating for new models of scholarly communication in all of the disciplines.