Sunday, April 09, 2006

The CERN Library Team: an OA Inspiration!

CERN - the world’s largest particle physics laboratory and birthplace of the World Wide Web, and the CERN Library Team – currently led by Jens Vigen, has been a leader in the open dissemination of scientific results since its inception decades ago. CERN’s free distribution of preprints in paper format has evolved with the technologies available, from FTP to World Wide Web distribution, to the current OAI-compliant CERN Document Server (CDS). If any discipline could afford to rest on its OA laurels, you would think it would be physics! The CERN Library Team, however, is not resting on its laurels at all, but continues to lead the way, from OA via self-archiving to a current push towards full OA publishing (and self-archiving, too).

Accomplishments of the CERN library team include:

The CDS - CERN Document Server repository - as of April 9, 2006, CDS contains over 800,000 bibliographic records, including 360,000 fulltext documents, of interest to people working in particle physics and related areas. A whole team of hard working people have concentrated on this, filling it, harvesting, programming, scanning, managing, etc.

Organising (along with LIBER, SPARC, SPARC Europe, OSI and the OAI) - and hosting the OAI Workshops, one of the world’s major gathering-points for the open access archiving community. As the facilitator of a breakout session at OAI4 – the CERN Workshop on Scholarly Innovations , it is my impression that this series of workshops is an accomplishment not only for advancing OA, but also as a model of how to run a workshop. This was not only one of the most informative workshops I’ve ever attended, it was also among the friendliest for networking, too.

High Energy Physics (HEP) Libraries Webzine (an OA publication).

CERN’s involvement with open access extends back decades to the very beginnings of CERN. Open dissemination of scientific results at CERN began with free distribution of preprints in paper form, and continued electronically via FTP and the World Wide Web before migrating to the current OAI- compliant CERN Document Server.

CERN is now on at the least the third OA policy revision, which addresses OA journals. In 2005, the focus at CERN library was changing publication model meetings. That is, CERN – and its library – are leading the way once more in physics, to move from OA via self-archiving to full OA via OA publishing (and self-archiving too).

The CERN Library Team, like other OA leaders that I know (even if I haven't written about them, at least not yet), has not accumulated a long list of publications and presentations – this team has been too busy implementing to write and present! There are some details about CERN Library's OA history in the presentation,
CERN Document Server Software: The Integrated Digital Library

For the latest on CERN library’s OA leadership, have a look at the SPARC Open Access Forum Archives - look for the thread, CERN’s Historic Role in OA. CERN’s Joanne Yeomans, for example, talks about current developments, including a basket (for creating one’s own bibliographies) and rating system.

Or, better yet, sign up for the SPARC Open Access Forum (SOAF), moderated by Peter Suber, and join in the discussion!

There is a sentiment amongst OA advocates, myself included, that it would be a very fine thing if some of these OA implementation leaders would have some support to promote and explain to the rest of us what they have been doing. All of us OA librarians can benefit from their experiences! Keep up the good work, CERN Library Team – you’re an inspiration to us all!

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