More on the Open Access Debate

An interesting article was recently published in US News and World Report about traditional publishing, open access publishing, libraries, and money. “Is the Academic PUblishing Industry on the Verge of Disruption?” looks at the various problems and potentials of open access publishing and it impact on traditional publishing, libraries, funding of research, etc.

The open access debate is very contentious and quite frankly I don’t know enough about both sides of the issue to make an intelligent comment for or against either side.  My only comment is that if this author’s information is true and 80% of publishers’ income is from libraries then something needs to be done quickly because we (libraries) cannot continue buying.  As Jean Shipman mentions in the Comments, library budgets have been shrinking. When will we get to a tipping point when the publishing houses fail to make 30-40% profits because 80% of the market can’t afford them?  We are very close.  I believe I will see this happen in my career.  What becomes of it, I don’t know.

Unfortunately this article is just on open access publishing, but the problem is bigger than that.  Many libraries subscribe to non-traditional resources such as DynaMed, UpToDate, FirstConsult, VisualDx, Primal Pictures, etc. that are not journals.  They are point of care guides, image systems, etc. that are also very expensive to subscribe to and continue to increase in price.  They are in our budget and we can’t afford them just like we can’t afford the online journals.

It is a mess.

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