PKP International Scholarly Publishing Conferences, PKP Scholarly Publishing Conference 2007

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Rethinking Collections: Libraries and Librarians in an Open Age
Heather Morrison

Last modified: 2007-07-14


Depending on your perspective, the transition from subscriptions to open access can be overwhelmingly complex, or elegantly simple - as simple as rethinking the basic purpose of a library collection, and rewriting your collection policy accordingly. This session will focus on the theoretical aspects, and practical implications, of transitioning to open access for libraries and librarians.

Specific topics:

Rethinking collections: is a simple shift in thinking from a primary purpose of "buying what our users need" to "building and preserving collections" - the only really essential step for libraries to transition to open access? Once this simple step (arguably not a new direction, but rather a return to more traditional values) is accomplished, and reflected in collections policy - does everything else simply fall into place?

The academic library has long been a primary support for scholarly publishing. This shift in perspective, from buying to producing, does not change this basic fact, but rather articulates it in a way that facilitates change to more effective means of support, such as providing direct support for scholarly publishing in the form of new university / library presses and partnerships, or indirect support such as participating in processing-fee approaches to supporting scholarly publishing.

Providing support for publishing need not be unique to the academic, research library. Public libraries provide support for digital collections of historical importance and community networks, and teach people how to create websites and how to blog. Special libraries and their clients will benefit a great deal from open access, and have both potential and incentive to contribute as well. Consortial groupings including a variety of sizes and types of library have worked well for purchasing, and have the potential to work well for supporting scholarly publishing, too; for example, provincial or statewide initiatives make just as much sense to support dissemination of the scholarly output of a region, as they do to ensure that resources are available for scholarship.

There are many factors to consider to ensure an efficient, effective new scholarly communications system. For example, with a processing fee approach to publishing, it is essential that market forces come into play to keep fees at a moderate level.

The need for efficiency in the traditional system may be easier to understand if coupled with the need for support for the new forms of scholarly collections made possible by the world wide web. Libraries need to collect and preserve much more than journals and books; we need to collect and preserve raw data, scholarly blogs and websites, listservs, and an increasing array of audiovisual formats.

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