Sunday, January 15, 2006

George Porter, and the OA Slam Dunk

Caltech Library System's George Porter is well-known to many of us through his work as one of the Open Access News blog team, since May 2004. George also frequently posts news about new OA journals to ERIL-L and the SPARC Open Access Forum. I'm very glad he does, too - it was partly because of these announcements that I realized just how much growth there has been in open access. I enjoy George's announcements so much, I've never minded the duplication - in fact, after I see one of his messages, I always look forward to receiving my second copy!

As an OA advocate, naturally George self-archives his work in Caltech Library System's institutional repository. One interesting recent piece of work is George's PNAS, Open Access & Levels of Interest. George's data suggest a correlation between willingness to pay processing fee charges and the author's perception of the importance of the work - for example, authors of cover stories seem more inclined to be willing to pay processing fees.

In November 2004, I had the pleasure of attending George's presentation An Open Access Bestiary - a wonderful introduction to open access, which explains the many flavors - so much more than just green and gold! of open access, in a very delightful manner.

Speaking of George's delightful manner, this is something that comes across in some of his otherwise very informative postings, too. Following is one of my favorites - a message to the SPARC Open Access Forum, among others lists, Tracking down dissertations:

A student came by the reference desk this morning. He was inquiring about the procedure for getting a dissertation from another institution. I showed him the online ILL thesis request form, but then probed a bit further.

He needed a fairly recent dissertation from Georgia Tech. My first impulse was to go to the Georgia Tech library website, using Libweb Fortunately (not at all obvious from the GT Library main page that they have ETDs), my desire to show off our local electronic dissertation (ETD) commitment led me to try that route. [Yes, a simple author name search in the catalog search box at Georgia Tech pulls up the dissertation.]

I used the NDLTD link from the Caltech's ETD website to delve into participating institutions, which quickly led to Georgia Tech's site

Slam dunk. The dissertation popped up in an instant. Downloaded the PDF to his USB thumb drive. Happy student. No $ spent and the library saved him a ton of time! Ah, the virtues of Open Access resources.

Heather again: George's slam dunk did more than help the one student. It was George's open sharing of his experience that helped me to see that open access is already more than just a philosophical ideal; it is a substantial, and rapidly growing, set of resources that we librarians need to learn about, in order to provide our patrons with the best services we can.

This just goes to show how much more we can accomplish when we work together. Not only did George help the one student - by openly sharing the experience, he helped me to be a more effective open access advocate, too. If you have a slam dunk story of your own, the SPARC Open Access Forum is a great place to share it!

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1 comment:

Brian Mathews said...

Glad that our Library was able to help your patron.