Friday, January 18, 2013

First! and The Best Things [1/18/13]

Another library blog! We need one of those! This would be a great time for HTML to have sarcasm tags! Well, I need a blog for a class this semester, so this is happening.

Anyway, in order to use my constant, obsessive consumption of stuff to my advantage when making content, I'm going to do a weekly post called "The Best Things" which will be, well, what I thought were the best things I read/watched/listened to over the previous week. These things will usually be library and academia related, but I am an easily-distracted being so who knows what may slip in on occasion.

So, let's begin, yeah?

Not just an Academic question: Why Open Access matters for public libraries, by Hugh Rundle (hat tip Library Loon)

This is probably one of 500 articles I've read recently that frames itself around the suicide of Aaron Swartz. Rundle tackles the common framing of Open Access as a "academic librarian" issue and not that important to public libraries. Of course, that's garbage. Public libraries pay for scholarly content, and paying for scholarly content means you can't pay for something else (opportunity cost! Hooray semester of economics!). Also, acceptance of the current system is acceptance that only certain people (those who are connected to institutions with sufficient money) can have access to the full breadth of scholarly publishing, which should be anathema to all librarians.

Why I've Joined the Bad Guys, by W.T. Gowers (another hat tip to the Library Loon)

One of the most controversial things surrounding Open Access (usually Gold OA) publications is that they usually charge article processing charges (APCs) for the publication of an article. Gowers, who is among other things the editor of the OA mathematics journal Forum of Mathematics, explains why his journal charges APCs, who pays them (institutions, not the authors), how they try to prevent inability to pay from preventing scholars from being able to publish in the journal, why he thinks the cost is appropriate, why Open Access journals with APCs could be a good short-term option as scholarly communications transforms into something more open, and more. It's an interesting read, and the comment section is as well.

Guerilla Open Access Manifesto, by Aaron Swartz (hat tip New York Times)

While I'm still not down with what he did with JSTOR as the best tactic for promoting access to scholarly communications, this manifesto from 2008 really helps me undersand why Swartz did what he did. After celebrating the good work that the Open Access movement is doing, he points out a problem I really had avoided thinking about: at best, we are freeing only future content. But there is a lot of important scholarly material that is already locked up that Open Access won't free. Now, ideally public domain would eventually free all of this material, but of course, it seems every time something might become public domain Congress extends the length of copyright. It is this problem that Swartz wanted to solve with his civil disobedience. I'm still now sold on it, but I see what he was trying to do, and I can't say I'm sure what the best course of action is.

The Modern Book Club (meets in a bar), by Leah L. White  

How to run your next library book club at a bar. Awesome. Also, if you aren't already reading Letters to a Young Librarian, well, start. 

Anyway, I need to go figure out how to add my preferred commenting system to this site...
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