Sunday, November 12, 2006

Open Access in Practice

With all the talk about open access these days, it may not be obvious that the role of the advocate is the tip of the iceberg. The real size and strength of the open access movement is best measured by the very great many people whose work focuses on implementing open access, not talking about it!

In a recent presentation at the Charleston 2006 Conference, Open Access in Practice, several of us talked about what we are doing to implement open access.

George Machovec of the Colorado Alliance of Research Libraries (CARL) talked about open access linking and listing for CARL members, who share access to 80 open access title lists through Gold Rush. George is also Managing Editor of the for-profit Charleston Advisor, which practices an interesting twist on the author payment model for OA: some of the reviews from each Advisor are OA - and it is the author who is paid (an honorarium). Charleston Advisor also has a generous author copyright policy, which facilitates author self-archiving.

Heather Whitehead of the Colorado School of Mines described the process she and her colleagues employed in creating a specialized open access journal list, which is shared with the other CARL members through Gold Rush. The Colorado School of Mines list includes specialized titles not (yet?) in DOAJ. Audience members encouraged Heather to share her list with DOAJ! In turn, Heather encouraged audience members to think about creating and sharing other specialized lists. None of us can vet and select all of the open access resources by ourselves - but if we work together, who knows what we can accomplish?

As for me, it was my great pleasure to talk about how we librarians are sharing our own work through E-LIS: the Open Archive for Library and Information Science. As a voluntary collaboration of editors from all over the world, E-LIS is not only a model for sharing for librarians; in my opinion, it is a model for how we can work together in a global society. I talk about some of the benefits of E-LIS for searchers and for depositing authors.

We conclude with some notes about the reality of open access - the substantial, and growing resources, and what this means for librarians. Much of our work is exactly the same in the open access environment. We connect people with information - whether the information is purchased, or freely available. We build collections, through careful selection and preservation; again, it does not matter whether or not the resources are purchased.

This post reflects my personal opinion only and does not represent the opinions or policy of the BC Electronic Library Network or the Simon Fraser University Library.

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