Harvard Library pushes open access

by Henry Farrell on April 23, 2012

“This”:http://isites.harvard.edu/icb/icb.do?keyword=k77982&tabgroupid=icb.tabgroup143448 looks like a bombshell announcement to me (I’m not aware of the internal politics behind the announcement, but I’m presuming that Robert Darnton’s fingerprints are all over it). Discuss.

bq. We write to communicate an untenable situation facing the Harvard Library. … The Faculty Advisory Council to the Library, representing university faculty in all schools and in consultation with the Harvard Library leadership, reached this conclusion: major periodical subscriptions, especially to electronic journals published by historically key providers, cannot be sustained: continuing these subscriptions on their current footing is financially untenable. … It is untenable for contracts with at least two major providers to continue on the basis identical with past agreements. Costs are now prohibitive. … since faculty and graduate students are chief users, please consider the following options open to faculty and students (F) and the Library (L), state other options you think viable, and communicate your views:

bq. Make sure that all of your own papers are accessible by submitting them to DASH in accordance with the faculty-initiated open-access policies (F). Consider submitting articles to open-access journals, or to ones that have reasonable, sustainable subscription costs; move prestige to open access (F). If on the editorial board of a journal involved, determine if it can be published as open access material, or independently from publishers that practice pricing described above. If not, consider resigning (F).

Some of this may be hardball bargaining with the two unnamed providers (one of which, I presume, has a name starting with E). But not very much – to state the problem so bluntly, and to encourage faculty to stop publishing in, and resign from the boards of non-open access journals sounds more like pushing for system-change than for a better deal within the current system. This may be the beginning of the end.

Jonah Goldberg finds further confirmation of his views (the whole liberal fascist thing – you remember) in a 1932 Atlantic article. I must admit, I braced myself before clicking, expecting to learn that, yes, someone argued, back then, that Hitler was just FDR on stilts, or FDR was mere Hitler-lite. Turns out the author in question made the familiar and sensible point that Hitler wasn’t a socialist in any leftist sense, pace Goldberg.

But it’s true: ‘Nazi’ is short for ‘National Socialist’. So there’s that.