’ s R
with open access
Good morning, and thank you for having me here. My name is Dorothea Salo, and I am a librarian at the University of
Wisconsin. I’m here today to give a little context to the opening of Island Scholar, and to do that, I thought I’d use a
famous children’s story involving a young girl as heroine.
(CLICK) Unfortunately, and at the risk of offending, I will NOT be using the famous children’s stories involving a young
girl as heroine that Prince Edward Island is well-known for. Sorry about that; I just couldn’t quite make it ﬁt. I hope we
can be kindred spirits anyway!
Running and running and running just to stay in one place, to keep from falling behind. That has been the trajectory of
the academic library over the last few decades, faced with the massive growth in scholarly literature, and the even more
massive growth in the COST of scholarly literature.
What the University of Prince Edward Island is doing today -- opening Island Scholar on the open Web to hold the
intellectual output of the university -- is part of a multi-faceted effort to break free of the Red Queen’s Race. I offer my
congratulations to you all on this auspicious event; I hope you are proud!
On with our story, then...
Alice the librarian
We begin our story with Alice the librarian, whose job it is to purchase and arrange all the materials that Dr. Kitty needs in
order to do her incredibly important research into string theory. (All right, all right, I’m sorry.)
Alice doesn’t just buy library materials for Dr. Kitty, of course; she is responsible to all of Looking-glass University. Books
on cards, books on spades, books on hearts, books on jades, as well as journals on all those subjects and more.
Most of this does not come free. In Looking-glass University, members of the court give their authorship and peer-review
work away for free to journal publishers...
... who then demand that Alice pay a great deal of money so that the court can see the work it gave away, as well as the
work other courts in other parts of the land have given away. Alice can only give the court what she can afford to pay for.
If she can’t pay for it -- the court can’t see it.
If this seems odd to you, well, remember, we’re in Looking-glass University here.
And as more and more books and more and more journals came to be published, and their prices went up and up and
up, Alice’s ability to provide the banquet of books and journals that Looking-glass University expected of her diminished.
This earned her some odd looks from Dr. Hatter and the others, but poor Alice could only do what she could do.
A little under a decade ago, Alice the librarian was offered a new bottle of electronic journals for Looking-glass
University. DRINK ME, said the bottle, and I will give you huge quantities of the journals you need for Dr. Kitty and Dr.
Hatter and all the rest of the court of Looking-glass University.
“This sounds useful,” said Alice, “because surely I cannot afford everything I must buy any other way.” And so Alice drank
from the bottle, and the label changed from DRINK ME to THE BIG DEAL.
Alice soon found that while the Big Deal did indeed help her grow her library, she herself had been trapped. Some of the
journals in the bottle were exactly what she needed; others were not, but she could not drop them without dropping the
Big Deal. And soon the Big Deal became a bigger and bigger and bigger part of Alice’s budget, which shrank and shrank
and shrank until poor Alice wondered how she would ever make ends meet!
Soon she found herself having to throw journals out of the window every year, just to make room in her budget for the
Big Deal. Soon it became even worse than that, because she had to throw books and monographs out the window too.
Reluctantly, Alice did what she had to.
What eventually happened is that Alice found herself drowning in costs, Big Deal or no Big Deal. She simply could not
afford everything that Looking-glass University needed.
“Come with me,” said a fellow librarian, also trying to make some headway against the torrent of costly new literature.
“We will band together, pool our strength, and surely we will be able to afford what our institutions need.”
Led by her wise dormouse colleague, Alice the Librarian joined a consortium of libraries and librarians, to pool their
resources so that they could buy what they all needed.
And this worked. For a time.
Until the torrent of costs rose up again, overwhelming even the resources all of them together could throw at the
journals. Desperately they scattered, Alice and rabbits and dormice and parrots and all.
And so Alice found herself in the Red Queen’s Race, doing everything she could think of just to stay even with the cost of
the journal literature, constantly aware that for all her efforts, she was falling behind.
To make matters worse, the court of Looking-glass University was becoming restless, because they began to suspect that
they were missing out on things that were kept in bags that they couldn’t look into; they could see only what the
publishers priced within Alice’s buying power. This bothered Alice a great deal, as you can see, but it didn’t help her stay
even in the Red Queen’s Race.
Worse still, the court realized it could no longer be sure that its proclamations were reaching beyond its own borders,
because if Alice couldn’t keep up with the Red Queen’s Race, who could? And what about those who didn’t belong to a
royal court at all? How would they hear the court’s proclamations? Because after all, a court that isn’t making
proclamations might as well lie down and go to sleep.
And ﬁnally Dr. Walrus and Dr. Carpenter said, “Wait a minute. We have a great many pearls of wisdom to share, and we
want to share them; the problem is that they’re locked up inside tough pay-for-subscription oystershells.”
And thus was born the open access movement.
A brief interlude
re is copyright
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How to do open access
• Peer-reviewed journals qua an appropriate
The gold road The green road
on the Web, open to all version of your article in a
without subscription disciplinary site or in
barriers. Island Scholar
• http://doaj.org/ • http://oaister.org/
Pay attention to your rights!
This will be review for some of you, but not all. There are two
basic ways of making your work open access. The so-called “gold
road” is simply to publish in a journal that does not charge
subscription fees for access to articles. There are many of these in
many disciplines; the most comprehensive listing of peer-
reviewed open-access journals is the Directory of Open Access
Journals at d-o-a-j dot org. The “green road” is to place an
appropriate version of your article in a disciplinary website such
as arXiv for physics, math, and computer science, or E-LIS for
information studies. To search articles that have been made
Alice the librarian, rather nervously, opened a website just like Island Scholar, taking the technical work and responsibility
onto her own head as though it were a heavy crown. Then she went out to speak to scholars and researchers like Dr. Kitty
about the new service and what her hopes were for the scholarly literature.
Dr. Kitty, absorbed in her string-theory research, didn’t pay Alice the librarian much mind. After all, the system seemed
to work well enough, and it had been around a long time. Why change? Why now?
Sometimes Alice was deafened by tremendous drumbeats of protest. What about my favorite scholarly society? What if
open access hurts it? Never mind that many society journals have been pushed out of the market by the Big Deal. What
about multiple versions of my article? What about peer review? Which Alice thought was quite ridiculous, because about
the same percentage of open access journals as subscription journals are peer-reviewed, but there you are.
Sometimes the result of Alice’s effort was pure chaos. Everyone at Looking-glass University was familiar with the Red
Queen, after all, and Alice was new to all this, and not someone the court was accustomed to heeding on the subject of
Sometimes no one had time or leisure to listen to Alice, or to help her put new articles on the website. The Red Queen, of
course, whose race had caused all the trouble, never had bothered to listen to Alice. And after a while of trying, Alice
became so frustrated that she...
... picked up the Red Queen she’d been racing against in both hands and shook as hard as ever she could. And so it
became clear that the fearsome Red Queen, whom Alice was trying so hard to tame...
... was only Dr. Kitty, after all!
And that is my message to all of you, on the opening of your repository. For all the fantastic technical work that Mark
Leggott has done on the technical platform he calls Islandora -- and it is groundbreaking and brilliant work, and I hope
all of you congratulate him as he deserves -- it is every one of YOU, Dr. Kitty’s and Alices alike, who must make open
How you do that differs depending on who you are and what you do.
The ﬁrst thing is to have a sense of the chessboard. Don’t believe everything I’ve been telling you? GREAT. Go ﬁnd out for
yourself what your favorite journal costs, and what your library has been doing to afford it. Learn what your peer
institutions and your disciplinary colleagues have been doing and saying about scholarly communication. I know this is
yet one more thing in a crowded schedule of string-theory research, but the scholarly communication system is the air
you breathe; one way or another, your career and your legacy depend on it. Learn.
Changing such an entrenched system as scholarly communication is a tall order. There’s no getting around that many of
you will have to gear up, take some risks, and do some things differently if you believe the system needs to change. Alice
the Librarian can help you put your armor on, but she can’t enter the lists for you. You have to be the one to ﬁght. Pay
attention to your publication agreements, and amend those that need it. Find out what your scholarly and professional
societies are saying and doing about open access, and make your voice heard there if you don’t agree. Put your material
in Island Scholar. Spread the word up the chain that Island Scholar is a service worth supporting.
And you can all go and shout in other faculty ears! Alice the Librarian doesn’t have much luck with this, honestly. Faculty
heed their peers. It takes more shouting than you think. A 2004 article by Barton and Waters suggests that it takes SEVEN
MENTIONS of a service like Island Scholar before a potential user has enough awareness to check it out.
Seven mentions. Per faculty member. Get shouting!
If you are senior in your career, such that you have career authority over your fellow faculty, it is only you who can
REWARD open access. You decide what journals you believe your fellows should publish in; some are friendlier to open
access than others. You decide how they need to present their accomplishments to you; you can ask them to place their
journal articles in Island Scholar for consideration. You decide what quality measures are valid; you can decide not to
discriminate against online-only journals and newer open-access journals.
Alice the librarian is looking to you for leadership. Please provide it!
Sir John Tenniel, Illustrations from
Alice in Wonderland
Alice Through the Looking-Glass
This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0
United States License.
In closing, let me credit the wonderful John Tenniel, and the wonderful VictorianWeb for making his work available. This
presentation will be available for reuse, talk notes and all.
And ﬁnally, once again, allow me to congratulate you all on the opening of Island Scholar, and wish you the very best of
luck with it! Thank you very much for your time, and I’m told I have a little time to answer questions.