Is Open Access a Realistic Possibilty

This week we were looking at the argument of publishing academic articles and the costs that go with it. I must start off by saying it’s not something I have given much thought. Lecturers bring the topic up from time to time but as far as I’m concerned while in university they are all free for me. Of course people will point out I incur costs through my education fees but I’m sure my education fees are wasted on much less worthwhile endeavours.

All three pieces I read looked at the option of open access and its validity and as with everything there are two sides to every story. The figures stated seem outlandish and the first piece I read “Academic publishers make Murdoch look like a socialist” says it all in the title. The last article I read was the only one that tried to actually explain the outlandish costs “Open access: The true cost of science publishing” that publishers slap on. Something I can’t quite get to grips with is the variation in prices. Some articles cost less than a $/€100 with others going in to the thousands. The explanation of course comes down to hybrid journals and the importance of the subject matter as well as the peer review process but it still seems over the top.
open-access-dt
The debate about open access was discussed thoroughly in “Gold or green: which is the best shade of open access?” and while people seem to be pushing for this is doesn’t actually seem like a viable option to me. Costs would be shifted and the debate whether the average price per article would actually rise or fall is still unsure due to economic demands. Furthermore the lack of enthusiasm as it was put from researchers and research funders to deposit any manuscripts they publish in subscription journals in free online repositories seems an intriguing issue.The lack of a business model behind the gold open access coupled with the fact they seemed to have an agenda going in to it does not shine a good light on that route. However I would be worried if the green open access was adopted, there would be far too much to be waded through with everyone having their articles accessible. I admittedly don’t understand and would need to carry out further research which of course depends on the access I have to what’s published I suppose.

The general consensus is that open access is the way to go and it will eventually become the way. However coming from my economic background I can’t see why organisations would even entertain the idea of relinquishing any power especially if there is nobody forcing them, which there is not. Apparently this debate has been going on since the early 90s and from what I could ascertain will continue on for some time to come. Of course with anything technology has its impact. Many organisations are still dealing with antiquated workflows for arranging peer review, typesetting, file-format conversion and other chores. Whereas small start-ups can come up with fresh workflows using the latest electronic tools, some established publishers are.

Only time will tell and every vested party will have their say no doubt and keep a close eye but who eventually wins out is a mystery nobody can answer at this point in time.

Sources:
Open access: The true cost of science publishing Cheap open-access journals raise questions about the value publishers add for their money.(2013) Richard Van Noorden

Gold or green: which is the best shade of open access?

Academic publishers make Murdoch look like a socialist. (2011) George Monbiot

Removing Digital Dust

“You can document it but you can’t capture it.”

As good a place as any to start this week is with “The 21st Century Library” by Terry which can be linked in to my blog post from a couple of weeks back. This piece had to do with the design process of the Rhode Island School of Designs library. While only so much of a picture can be built from the description a converted old protected bank building in to a library it still lets the imagination run. Going beyond the actual process of design, the real point is how you adapt the library to fit the need. In order to do that you must first understand the need and that was the most important part of this story for me. All the planning and meetings, the endless consultations with staff students and stakeholders in order to create this wonderfully functioning space that went on to inspire other builds and win awards.
dust
The next two pieces explain my tag line. Firstly the heritage outlook which looks at cataloguing images from the Kilkenny Design Workshops (KDW) which ran from the 60’s until the late 80’s. The second was the MacMahon document review which can’t be linked a long with the others at the end of this blog due to access only being made through UCD on this occasion. This newspaper piece looked at an exhibition which was held by NIVAL, which documents events’, exhibitions, artistic displays or whatever term you feel would be most suitable. “You can document it but you can’t capture it.” This comes from a point made in the review that while you can document an event, the date, the artist, where, what and when you can never quite capture the feeling of being there in person. This point resonated with me. While there are obvious reasons to document and archive such events the question remains how much are you losing out on and in turn what are we really gaining. The KDW archive which falls under the NIVAL umbrella also poises the same question. It allows you to look in the past but only through a key hole of a door that can’t fully be opened. It is so important however to hold on to these events of the past and as alluded to when people need to study them for whatever range of reasons if they can get their hands on original documents and a wealth of information to go along with it then it is a pretty good second best to being there in person and getting to experience it for yourself.

The final reading I did this week was the Tate Library Electronic ephemera. The collection of digital material in email format ranging from newsletter to promotional materials for artists, charities, events and beyond. A step too far in my opinion perhaps. The work that it takes to manage such a repository surely outweighs it benefits but who am I to draw a line in the sand and say as much. However it did bring up the copyright and storage issues which sometimes are wrongly overlooked in such cases. A particular favourite line of mine was the digital collection gathering dust which it can do if it is abandoned to a PDF file never to be looked after or at again. While this article highlighted the more or less failure of this project it did lay down the foundations for future work should someone take up the mantle. I don’t however think it will be me.

Resources:

Terry 21st century library

Callaghan tate ephemera 2013

Walker heritage outlook 2011

MacMahon document review 2012

Advocates & Change Agents

I didn’t enjoy my first reading of the week. Even though it was short it left a taste of desperation. The most provoking message I picked up in the readings was Librarians don’t know who they are. The Bernard-Barrett short article to me sounded like someone complaining they should be treated as equal just because what they do is a professional vocation. With any line of work it’s what you do and how you do it that gets respect and in this article it sounded like a dead horse was being flogged. If librarians want to get rid of the stigma that hangs over them, they need to be the first to drop it. The second reading got to the bones of a real issue. I am not denying the fact there is a stigma that follows librarians and it will be hard to shift. Until they deal with health care cuts services like health libraries, unfortunately they will be some of the first to go. Librarians will have to fight for every inch just to survive in an economy like the one we are stuck in at the moment.

In the HSLG SHeLLI Report it was touched upon how in America there had been some success stories and in their words it was not all doom and gloom. While this was obviously focused on the health sector libraries it is clear all sectors are suffering due to cut backs. I wonder how many Irish agencies are going outside their front door and abroad to look for possible solutions. I know from my study into South Dublin County Libraries last year they have adopted their strategic plan form Australia and in fact it has been a great success. I would be interested in seeing what is actually being done or is it a case like the first reading of moan, moan, and moan.
advocates
While the Bernard-Barrett reading obviously got under my skin because of how it portrayed the message, it isn’t completely lost on me. They have to show their skills and what they can do. I think last week’ “Helping people to manage and share their digital information” is a perfect example of that. I don’t think people know what it is exactly librarians do. I think a great way to get that message across is through the children that inevitable go to libraries either with school or parents encouraging children to read. I know from last year SDCL offer father/son activities. Once you have the attention of people whether it’s through their kids or whatever avenue, it is important to grab it. Another important point is librarians are no longer working as librarians. They have branched out in to a wealth of different fields such as C.I.O’ or Knowledge managers etc and this is a side I would like to explore more.

I think what has been emphasised is the message from the readings done back at the start of term on growing your PLN. Quite often it is a case of who you know and not what you know which might be extremely relevant to librarians. It’s important for them to weave their ways into the foundation of organisations and to become tangled within it. I do wonder if some librarians themselves know where they want to go or they want to do. While ideas can be big and wonderful, they will still remain on paper unless there is a definitive plan

Resources:
HSLG SHeLLI Report

Bernard Barrett- Brief Talk Description and Article