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Open access at the crossroads

TUBpost_crossroadsAs repository managers, many of us are having trouble envisioning getting from where we are currently to what the original OA movement idealistically proposed. This is due to the practical constraints we are faced with (such as restrictive publishers’ policies including not allowing posting of published versions even a decade and more after publication, lack of ready access to authors’ manuscripts, etc.). The solutions being offered to move toward the initial goal include author-pays OA, mandated self-archiving of manuscripts, CHORUS, SHARE, and others, which are—from my standpoint as a repository manager—one-and-all ineffectual or unsustainable initiatives to varying degrees.

In populating our repository within the varied constraints, and in offering non-mandated, mediated deposit, at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln we are taking a bottom-up approach to access (from the author to the reader) and, as Paul Royster has pointed out, it leaves us in the odd position of actually standing outside the OA movement as it is defined. We have seen forces gather (led by publishers and others) that have further galvanized our peripheral position. From my perspective, these forces intend that the initial vision of OA will be realized on the backs of the authors themselves (with author-pays schemes, mandated self-archiving of manuscripts, etc.).

Should authors have to bear the brunt of the OA movement? To some extent, of course, but ultimately that seems counterproductive since they are the ones who generate the content. As librarians and as the in-house publishing unit within the library, we work with, and for, authors daily and we help them get their work out to readers. We assist with interpretation of permissions, upload the work, and so on. They create, we facilitate access to their creations.

In summary, in the discussions that have ensued on the various lists this past week [*], I see a disconnect between what I experience on a daily basis working with the IR and what we say as a community we are trying to achieve.

Sue Ann Gardner
University Libraries
University of Nebraska-Lincoln


* Editor’s note: The email lists referred to by Professor Gardner include the American Library Association’s scholarly communications listserv, and the UK’s JISC-Repositories listserv.

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