Monday, July 20, 2009

Open Access Study

In this month's issue of College & Research Libraries Kristi L. Palmer, Emily Dill, and Charlene Christie discuss their research study on librarian attitudes regarding open access: "Where There's a Will There's a Way?: Survey about Open Access."

"This study indicates that librarians support the concepts of open access and, more important, believe that these concepts are related to their work as librarians" (328). This observation did not surprise me as I had suspected as much, but they did point out that while librarians are in favor of open access initiatives, they do not do very much to make any changes or educate others about the issues surrounding it.
Librarians are in favor of seeing their profession take some actions toward open access. The most highly supported behaviors were those that extend traditional library activities such as educating faculty about open access and providing a means by which to locate open access items. Indeed, involvement in education campaigns was not only highly supported, but those librarians managing education campaigns also had significantly more supportive attitudes than other respondents.

It seems to me that librarians should be talking more about open-access issues with each other and with other academics in their communities. The survey said that librarians talk more about this issue among themselves than with faculty and staff. Not surprisingly, educating campus constituents about open access was perceived as a more favorable activity than advocating changes in publishing and tenure policies, such as encouraging faculty to publish in open-access venues, keep their copyrights, place "pre-published versions" of papers in institutional repositories, etc.

On an information-literacy level, the authors of this study sent the survey out in the summer of 2006. It seems that the data might be a little aged. How have open-access issues changed in the past three or four years? How have academic librarians changed their attitudes regarding open access? Have they?

Still, it seems that librarians could do more to educate others about open access and provide more helps on how to find the publications that are freely accessible.

Palmer, Kristi L., Emily Dill, and Charlene Christie. "Where There's a Will There's a Way?: Survey of Academic Librarian Attitudes about Open Access." College & Research Libraries 70.4 (July 2009): 315-35.

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