Library Publishing in Context

escholarship_homepageimagePaul Royster’s article, A Library Publishing Manifesto, provides an excellent overview of the current state of scholarly publishing. He recaps the commercial publishers’ practices that have let us down and the challenges faced by the university presses. Read with  The “Wild West” of Academic Publishing: The troubled present and promising future of scholarly communication, cited in the previous post, the two articles provide a good primer on the scholarly publishing landscape.
He makes a strong case for the role that library publishing can fill.
I believe the academy has room for both library and university press publishing. I believe this because each has a radically different role and mission. I do not think that either one has the solution to the other’s problems. I don’t see library publishing initiatives as opposed to the university presses, but I think they are better off independent of them. I want library publishers to “come out of Babylon” (as Bob Marley might say) — to leave behind the ownership-based, property-accumulating, copyright-hoarding, commercially-driven publishing model practiced by the corporate giants and imitated to various degrees by academic presses struggling for self-sufficiency.
All of us have a chance to do more and do better. In fact, the universe of publishable materials has never been more exciting and energizing. There is more than enough to go around. To those who would say “that’s not real publishing” or “not good publishing,” I can only say: it’s not a contest. We are all seeking to serve the communication needs of scholars and researchers. The Copyright Office defines publishing as “offering copies for distribution,” and that’s enough for me. We can all get judgmental, or we can each take advantage of the opportunities that the new technology has handed us.

Digital reproductions of public domain works

public domain During Open Access Week the Harvard University Libraries announced a new policy on reproduction of public domain works:

The Harvard Library is pleased to announce a new policy on the use of digital reproductions of works in the public domain. When the Library makes such reproductions and makes them openly available online, it will treat the reproductions themselves as objects in the public domain. It will not try to restrict what users can do with them, nor will it grant or deny permission for any use.

In an interesting podcast from Digital Campus, Dan Cohen  from the DPLA, and others discuss this policy and other copyright issues.

At BC, the recommendation of our Digital Program Plan (Appendix K) regarding rights to digitized public domain material is:

For items we have determined are in the public domain, we recommend asking only for acknowledgement of the source of the material. All uses of the content and the images will be permitted.


Harvard’s DASH: Scholarly Access to All

This week the Harvard Gazette published Scholarly Access to All, an update and overview of DASH, Harvard’s digital repository, the free and open repository for peer-reviewed literature written by Harvard faculty. There are now over 20,000 articles, dissertations etc. deposited in DASH (Digital Access to Scholarship at Harvard) and since the repository’s beginning in 2009 its contents have been downloaded more than 3.4 million times. Peter Suber, director of the Harvard’s Office for Scholarly Communication, is quoted as stating “We’re sharing Harvard research with everybody with an Internet connection not just with the people lucky enough to be affiliated with libraries rich enough to subscribe to the journals in which those authors publish.” Suber, the author of “Open Access” (MIT Press, 2012), continued: “Open access removes the barriers between authors and readers. It connects authors and readers in a way that conventional publishing cannot. . . . We tear down the toll booth. We make it easier for authors to find readers. We make it easier for readers to find authors.”

bioRxiv: The Preprint Server for Biology


Science reports the creation of a new preprint server called bioRxiv whose goal is to be the biologists’ counterpart to the physicists’ arXiv. From the Science article:

. . . . BioRxiv, launched yesterday by the nonprofit Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL), aims to be biologists’ version of arXiv, the popular preprint server where physicists have shared their draft manuscripts for more than 20 years. The goal is to speed the dissemination of research and give scientists a way to get feedback on their papers before they are formally peer-reviewed, says John Inglis, CSHL Press executive director. “There is a growing desire in the community for this kind of service,” Inglis says.

It will be free to submit a paper or to read it in bioRxiv, Inglis says. CSHL is paying the costs of the service (he declines to specify them) but hopes that, like arXiv, it will ultimately attract contributions. Although anybody can submit a paper, not everything will be posted: A group of more than 40 “affiliate” scientists have agreed to screen submissions to “assure us that this is real science,” Inglis says. “We certainly don’t want the enterprise to be sunk by publishing a load of crap.”

Another limitation is that bioRxiv is for life sciences, not medicine, so it will not publish clinical trials or other research that is “medically relevant,” Inglis says. Human genetic data could be posted, however. . . .