Open Access Reaches the Public Through Medical News

ABC News ran a story about doctors who expect to have access to the medical literature but can’t because of publisher costs.  They also mentioned the open access movement including the NIH mandate to deposit publications funded by the federal government to PubMed Central so they can be accessed by the public for free.

This is a great opportunity to educate the public about the need for Open Access promoted by advocates like Peter Suber in the United States and Steven Harnad in the UK.  The story begins with a direct connection between the doctor who did the research that would help many people and the lack of access by most people because of commercial publication costs.

Maybe us librarians could hit the comment section with a dose of open access education?  This way more people will understand that the disproportionately rising costs of journals compared to library budgets is a danger to them as well as the “ivory tower”. That’s the ticket.


How Can Institutional Repositories Improve and Succeed?

Current state of IR’s is poor writes Andrew Richard Albanese. Begins with Harvard’s open access mandate and details what went wrong overall with repositories. Mentions some things that IR’s need to do to be successful such as enticing faculty to contribute by providing services.

Some interesting quotes from the article followed by my comments:

“IRs have failed to catch on for a multitude of reasons, Salo explains, not the least of which is that the first generation was hopelessly passive about their collection activities.”

  • Librarians must better understand faculty motivations, including tenure and reputation, and build services around that desire. – post by kgerber

“In his opening keynote at the 2008 SPARC Digital Repositories Meeting in Baltimore, John Wilbanks, director of Science Commons, spoke about what would move IRs forward: incentives. ‘My experience is that faculty don’t like to be hit with sticks,’ Wilbanks said. ‘They prefer carrots.'”

  • What carrots can we provide? Some ideas:
  • Offer assistance in submitting to discipline-specific repositories or organizations
  • Provide personal Web space
  • Repository submissions recognized in tenure process – post by kgerber

World Digital Library released with much fanfare

Many news organizations trumpeted the release of the World Digital Library on April 21st.  John Billington, from the Library of Congress, with the help of UNESCO and other funders, succeeded in putting up an interesting interface that provides access to over 1,000 of the world’s precious documents of cultural history.  Included are items from all continents, except Antarctica, which are old, beautiful, and high quality.  You can zoom in on an ancient map or manuscript to get a good look and can experience it in seven languages.

It is an excellent example of what a digital library can do by providing access to items that some would never be able to see.  This site will not substitute for a visit to the actual holders of the items but is a wonderful opportunity for those who can’t.

Open Source Software Introduction

You may have heard the term open source mentioned many times but are wondering what it really means.  Karen Schneider from Equinox,  the software company that supports the open source ILS Evergreen, presented an excellent introductory Webinar on Open Source software on March 17, 2009. Follow the “Here’s the recording” link. The first 12 minutes are an orientation to the Webinar functions and troubleshooting for the attendees.  Skip forward to get to the content on Open Source.

The Webinar inspired this post and I am highlighting  some important points in the presentation while including my own comments and examples. The five main sections are:

  1. Definition of Open Source
  2. Examples
  3. Reliability and Quality
  4. Cost
  5. Assessment
  6. Question and Answer session


The definition of open source software is set by the Open Source Initiative and is paraphrased below:

Software that allows its users to access and modify the computer code it was created with and includes licensing that allows it to be freely shared and modified without restriction.

A similar concept exists in the GNU Operating system and the Free Software Foundation who originally developed the concept of free software distribution. The major difference with their license and philosophy is that they choose to emphasize the word “free” and do not accept some license restrictions that open source does.


  • For more examples fast forward to (33:30) for a list of open source software in libraries – The audio mentions more Continue reading