Reading libraries

Karen said:

The current thinking in LITA is that ITAL is a member benefit and restricting it to members (and later, journal silos) is important or people won’t belong to LITA. This isn’t a data-driven conclusion, just how current thinking works. I have often wondered why people join and stay in LITA; I wonder what a game theorist would say. [Lorcan Dempsey’s weblog: Library websites again]

And yep, I saw the discussion on the LITA discussion list.
For me, the main issue here is impact and communication. Within libraries we tell each other we have important lessons for other communities about information management. I hope that that is the case. How do we communicate what we have learned? How do we imagine others will know what we do? How do we participate in general conversation about these issues? Well, apparently not through our journal literature, much of which is not available on the web, and is limited in circulation. Continuing current policies with ALA journals will ensure that they are read by a progressively smaller professional group. And, as importantly, lack of impact will mean that they attract a diminishing pool of papers. And that is sad.

5 thoughts on “Reading libraries”

  1. So why not accelerate the process? Let’s start some open-access library-sci journals. We’re talking the talk; let’s walk the walk!

    I grant you, this suggestion is more than a little motivated by recent-vintage annoyance at ALA. Even so — does anyone seriously think any ALA journal is going to go open-access within the next 20 years?

    So if it’s going to happen, it’ll have to happen elsewhere. Let’s not wait around for it. Let’s make it happen!

  2. I’ve been pushing the ITAL editorial board–not terribly hard–to do the right thing, arguing (I believe correctly) that it wouldn’t hurt the division:

    That is, to make the refereed articles in ITAL open-access (thus making ITAL an open access journal), while retaining the print journal and all of its non-refereed/non-“scholarly article” content [17 of 41 text pages in September 2004, 16 of 59 in December] as value added.

    It is worth pointing out that none of the ALA divisional journals are really “part of the problem” if the problem is library budgets: They’re all cheap even as institutional subscriptions, particularly given that they’re among the top journals in the field. But I agree that ALA divisions should “walk the walk.” (And I would forcefully disagree with any suggestion that ALA should force them to do so, unless ALA underwrites lost revenue.)

    Dorothea’s suggestion is interesting, but I would question whether LIS needs or can sustain any more journals. There have been some OA journals (mostly started before the term arose); they have mostly petered out. I know; I was on the editorial board of one of the earliest and most significant, Public-Access Computer Systems Review. There are so many journals in the field, and (ahem) perhaps not a flood of first-rate articles overwhelming most of them…

  3. I think that if any ALA association is going to make its publication Open Access, its LITA/ITAL. As leaders in technology for the field, I think it falls to us to take the first step here. Walt–what can we, as ITAL readers/LITA Members do to help you in your efforts to make ITAL open access?

  4. Sarah et al,

    I don’t have any active efforts, to be honest. I’ve raised the issue once per year, roughly–but my days of power or influence in LITA ended about a decade ago.

    I’d suggest letting LITA Board members know that you think it’s a good idea. (Copying the ITAL editor, of course.)

    LITA is going to raise revenue issues–not surprisingly. To the best of my knowledge, there are no firmly-established cases of journals losing revenue by offering OA access to refereeed articles, and there are certainly cases where journals have seen submissions shoot up (and subscriptions increase) when they gained visibility through OA. (Frankly, I think that if there were any proven cases of revenue loss, AAP’s PSP division would be publicizing them to the skies…) But it’s awfully tough to prove a negative. Proving a positive–greater visibility through OA–is somewhat easier. (“Greater impact through OA,” as impact is currently measured, is nearly impossible to prove.)

    Sorry, Lorcan: This feels like taking over your blog. With luck, I’ll have my own one of these days…

  5. Sarah, et al.,
    I’m the former editor of ITAL — my six-year term just ended. I’m going to predict that ITAL will be open access in some form (perhaps as Walt suggests) in way less than 20 years, perhaps 2 or 3.
    Walt, FYI, during my editorship I sent pretty much everything through the peer-review process — research articles, cummunications, even tutorials. Among the information I asked reviewers to provide me was a statement as to which category the reviewer thought a piece should be assigned. Using that and my own judgement, I put it some place. In general, I tended to put those “we did this at our library” pieces in the communications section, and pieces with actual investigative research in the main section (but don’t hold me to that literally).

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