Monday, May 21, 2012

Off-topic: Open Access Research

I don't write a lot about my library job of here, I'd much rather tell you about my spider plant (which is looking quite healthy now, thanks) or the endless rounds of 2x2 rib socks that are falling off the needles (I started two more pair over the weekend).

One of the major challenges for academic libraries, with much broader impact for the public and world, is that the vast majority of research gets locked away in paywalled journals. Even when the research is federally funded, the researchers are expected, usually required, to sign away all rights to their articles to publishers--corporations or societies--that then charge academic libraries really large amounts of money to provide access to the research. We regularly have to explain to faculty and students that no, we can't purchase everything, and no, we don't own the journal that you published in so you can't even see your own work. One of the major goals of librarianship is to help people access information, so you can imagine how this grates.

For myself, I decided that I didn't like this model for scholarly communication. Closed access was really irritating when I was a public librarian and regularly felt shut out of conversations because I didn't have the budget of a research university behind me. The idea of paying $30/article that I wanted to to view was ludicrous.

So I put up an Open Access plan for myself. I blog every week about trying to get tenure while holding to that plan every week over at Hedgehog Librarian.

And now, a very smart group of people have started a White House petition, asking the Obama Administration to require that federally funded research be made available via the internet to the public who paid for it.

It needs 25K signatures in the next 30 days. Obviously, more signatures than that would be fantastic.

If you'd like more a quick two minute video that explains more of what this is about, please check out this one created by the satirical Twitter account @FakeElsevier. There's music but not any other audio, so you can watch without headphones.

If you have questions, please let me know, I'm always happy to talk about why I'm doing this and some of the frustrations I've come up against.

And if you agree that this research should be available, please go and sign.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled socks, spider plants, and cat photos.


Told you it was looking much better.

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