Library as Publisher: pwning Open Access

Presentation given at the first Library Publishing Forum, 3/6/2014.

— My notes from the presentation —

Session Title: Alignment with OA Publishing Policies (Thursday, 11-12:15)

Live Prezi here 


** Intro Slide 

Library Publishing: Pwning Open Access
OR Open Access Beyond the Repository

Like a true (failed) academic, I decided to ignore the prompt and answer what I want to be asked.
Also, this is more an intellectual exercise than anything – I have no answers, only questions.

Thesis Statement – Library as Publisher is our opportunity to rewrite the rules of OA.

LPC definition of library publishing: “… preference for open access dissemination… challenge the status quo.”

Could it be “Advocates of open access and change the status quo?”

pwn: to appropriate, gain ownership, to compromise or control.


** Slide 1
The current conversation about library publishing often focuses on process, practicalities and production. What about principles?
We have discussed values and goals… But which of our principles will we take with us into this venture?

Let me ask the direct question: Is open access a core principle of a library publishing program?

There has been talk of open access in business and sustainability models, policies, etc.
Library Publishing Services: Strategies for Success. SPARC report (2013)

Quote from Rebecca Kennison about Columbia encouraging OA, but remaining neutral. (Serials Review, Balance Point column.)

“CDRS encourages the journals it hosts (and other journals on campus) to adopt an open access business and licensing model… Even so, CDRS is neutral in terms of the business models and licensing agreements for the journals it hosts.” (2011)

Mark Newton, Eva Cunningham and Julie Morris echoes this in the Library Publishing Toolkit.

“In practice, CDRS’ approach to publishing support is business model-neutral, however, and OA is not a requirement for partnership.” (2013)

However, we’ve all read or heard the phrase “open access is not a business model.” Kevin Smith, in a blog post titled “Three Things Open Access is Not” from Oct 2012 says, “Open access is not just one thing (continuum “How Open Is It?”)… and it is not just a business model. Open access is also a statement about the values of scholarship; an attempt to introduce more transparency into the process of research and to encourage greater participation in its creation, financing, and evaluation.”

Thinking about OA only in the discussions of business models and policies is too narrow. 


** Slide 2

Hahn “In the near future it should be possible for research libraries to collectively define the core publishing services, particularly for journals, in a 21st century network-based publishing and dissemination system.”

I‘d like to challenge us to be very intentional about how we say what we do. 

Changing the language of OA, or Pwning the language of OA.
Harnad – One big thing holding open access back is calling it “open access publishing.” His argument is for green OA (archiving), but the point applies here too.

I’d like to draw a fine line between “library publishing services” and “library as publisher.”

LPS is a response to changing needs (the needs are Publishing Services not necessarily broader access), Library as Publisher is initiative and momentum recasting the role of the library (whose primary function is as an access agent).

I’d like to problemitize and interrogate the premise that open access happens out there and we need to respond to it. Better yet, I reject the premise.

Aligning with OA policies is not a compliance issue, its a corrective opportunity. We can build our programs/services/organizational models to realign the norms.


** Slide 3

Mike Furlough (2010) – “Much of the early emphasis on library publishing services drew energy from advocacy efforts that sought to counterbalance the control of research by commercial scholarly publishers. But the success of these services will depend not on advocacy, but on identifying significant needs and promising trends in research and scholarship and creating services to meet them.”

Open access in libraries has been a reactive movement since the beginning, forced to this end by the serials crisis.

Moving upstream (library publishing) in the production and dissemination of research, the game has substantially changed, and we can rewrite the rules.

Responding to Mike Furlough, I think we’ve identified the needs and trends and have the service models. (See Library Publishing Toolkit, Library Publishing Directory, Library Publishing Coalition.) 

I think we’ve returned to the place of advocacy, but from a better vantage point, one where the scope of our influence isn’t a serials crisis, but a research production partner.


** Slide 4
I’d like to ask different questions:

How will publishing be structured in 5-10 years, and what roles does OA play there?

As we grow into the areas of publishing and OA simultaneously, how can/should we shape the conversation? In what ways can we be proactive rather than reactive?

To what extent do we, as libraries who do publishing stuff, impose our values on our publishing partners? To what extent can our values, ethics, principles become synonymous with “publishing”?


** Slide 5

What are the core publishing principles/values/ethics that we define as success?

What is the current state of OA in publishing?

What we know as “open access” is dictated to us by faculty senates, publishers, research funders, legislatures and affiliated organizations (DOAJ, OASPA).

     Aside – SPARC has been an outstanding advocate for “our” voice in OA.

Ex. Anyone ever looked at the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association membership list? Cambridge U Press, Oxford U Press, SAGE, and (with voting privileges) Copyright Clearance Center. When was the last time you heard those 4 names in a sentence?
Ex. Publishers still define the default rules for OA archiving. Changing with OA policies.
Ex. White House OSTP Directive “Increasing Access to the Results of Federally Funded Scientific Research.” Focus on science/data?

And, most of the discussion of OA is about OA on the tail end of research, rather than OA implied from the beginning.

How have we let external forces define our role rather than define it for ourselves?

Libraries, organized into proactive coalitions (COAPI, LPC, SPARC), can productively alter what we know of as OA, how it is talked about, and where in the research lifecycle that discussion occurs. 


** Slide 6

Thinking about applying open access as a principle, lets propose a rewrite of how that plays out. 

1) where do our allegiances lie?; publishers have self-interest, libraries have public-interest.
–  do we really want to look like, or call ourselves publishers?

2) Set/inform the policies – we define our role (you decide your own level of involvement)
– ex. LPC/DOAJ response.

3) we see communities of best practices having significant influence.
– fair use codes
– Then “Library as Publisher as Open Access Advocate” becomes a question of alliance rather than compliance.

We don’t have to be reactionary in our growth into publishing, we could be proactive. 

Lets not aligning with, or conforming to, or complying with open access policies, but lets mold, create and shape OA policy.
Why is this better? Because we approach it on principle.

OA as agility — a freedom (of movement), not a requirement/restriction.

None of this is to say it isn’t the case, or isn’t being accomplished – just to say lets say it, make it plain and loud and clear. Lets affirm and announce that the Library Publishing Coalition is a change agent, unapologetically, open access-prone.

In closing:

  • Lets talk about principles, and what of those we will carry with us into publishing.
  • Lets be very careful about how we say what we do, and say what we mean. (We don’t need to just let “library as publisher happen to us. We own it. We are it.)
  • As we move from the end of research to the beginning, lets consider how that allows US to define the rules.
  • As we collectively embrace this redefinition of our role, lets not forget that collective action has power and let us carefully consider how to leverage that influence in this space.


Images, all from Flickr, CC-BY

Typewriter by April Killings worth
2009-08-23- Typewriter-0 by Raúl Hernández González
continental typewriter by dr. shordzi
2010-12-02 by Brenda Gottsabend


One thought on “Library as Publisher: pwning Open Access

  1. Pingback: These, our camps… | The Infornado

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