Sunday, August 5, 2007

Information Wants to Be Free

I've picked up a little phrase from each of my library school classes. An aside: One day I should make a list of them and post them. In one of my first classes the phrase was "information wants to be free".

Turning the ivory tower into an open book
, from the July 21, 2007 Canada's Globe and Mail, begins

This year, the University of Toronto's library system will spend $20-million on acquisitions. But less than one-third of that money will go to books. The majority will pay for the rising subscription costs of academic journals.

"It's alarming," says Carole Moore, the university's chief librarian.

Along with colleagues across the country, she has watched the price of the latest research skyrocket, with top titles such as medical journal Brain Research now hitting $21,000 or more for annual subscriptions. This, even as an increasing number of journals are available electronically.

All of which has sparked a hot debate among academics about who should own knowledge: Echoing the music and film industries, the two camps are polarized between those who argue for open access to research - especially studies funded by the public purse - and those who insist that proper collection and editing of research come with a cost.

More and more we will be going to open access journals.
(See this .) The directory currently includes 2,789 free, full text, quality controlled scientific and scholarly journals, 836 of them searchable at article levels, with a total of 142373 articles. Their goal is to cover all subjects and languages.

If vendors want to keep their markets, they're going to have to become more inventive and creative in what they offer libraries. Oh, yes. That's another phrase on my list from library school: value added.

P.S. And oh! how ironic that the newspaper allowed me to read the article free for a short time, but now wants to charge me C$4.95 plus tax to view it again with a time limit of 30 days!