FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 6, 2001
For further information please contact:
Judith Matz <judith _at__ arl.org>
Communications Officer, ARL
LIBRARIANS URGED TO PROMOTE OPEN ARCHIVES
Washington, DC -- Librarians are uniquely positioned to take a
leadership role in helping the higher education community regain control
of scientific publishing. Recognizing the importance of librarians in
the struggle to keep the knowledge commons open and accessible,
Professor Jean-Claude Guédon is urging librarians to "throw all of their
weight––and it is considerable––behind the Open Archive Initiative."
Professor Guédon's proposal is detailed in his new work, In Oldenburg's
Long Shadow: Librarians, Research Scientists, Publishers, and the
Control of Scholarly Publishing. The paper is based on a recent
presentation he made to members of the Association of Resear
(ARL) and the Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL).
Professor Guédon proposes a new alliance between research scientists and
librarians to combat the "serial publishing crisis" in which scientific
journals have been priced out of the range of many libraries. He is
particularly interested in the potential of networking technologies to
improve scholarly communication. ARL has published his paper to
stimulate discussion and encourage new thinking on the important issues
In Oldenburg's Long Shadow examines the history of scientific publishing
beginning in Europe in the mid-seventeenth century when Henry Oldenburg,
Secretary of the Royal Society of London, created the first public
registry of ideas to protect intellectual property and ensure the rapid
evolution of scientific knowledge. Little changed in the scientific
publishing system until the mid-nineteenth century when publishers
"managed to transform scholarly journals—trad
itionally, a secondary,
unpromising publishing venture at best—into big business." Professor
Guédon traces this transformation to the development of "core journals"
and the use of core journals in the creation of the Science Citation
Index in the 1960s. The notion of a scientific core of journals in which
elite scientists must publish and which libraries must acquire at any
cost, resulted in the identification of "targets of opportunity" for
commercial publishers who developed strategies to acquire and control as
many of the leading scientific journals as possible.
The advent of digitization, however, changed the dynamic of scientific
publishing. Digitization allows a distinction between an article and the
journal in which it is published. The refereed evaluation process of an
article by the research community can now be separated from the print
publication process. The large investment of time, money, and equipment
required to include an article in a print jou
rnal is not an issue in the
digital world. In particular, the rise of the Internet has allowed for
the creation of a system of open archives with no-fee access to
articles, unified harvesting tools, and citation linkages. "In short,"
Professor Guédon states, "the evaluation process stands ready to be
reinvented in a clear, rational way by the relevant research communities
themselves." The challenge for librarians, working closely with
scientists, is to seize the opportunities offered by these advances in
technology for they "hold the key to developing a total, global mapping
of science" for the benefit of humanity rather than for the advantage of
an elite few.
Jean-Claude Guédon holds his doctorate in the History of Science from
the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and is currently Professor of
Comparative Literature at the University of Montreal. His interest in
both theoretical and practical issues regarding electronic publishing
has led him to produce numer
ous papers on the subject as well as to
present at conferences worldwide. He has been actively engaged in
projects pushing the boundaries of scholarly communication including
serving on the steering committees of the Canadian National Site
Licensing Project and the Digital Library of Electronic Theses and Dissertations.
ARL published the paper with the expectation that the library and
scholarly communities will give serious consideration to the issues and
suggestions presented by Professor Jean-Claude Guédon. In Oldenburg's
Long Shadow is available both in print and online. For further
information, see: <http://www.arl.org/arl/proceedings/138/guedon_aboutpaper.html>.
ARL is a not-for-profit association representing 123 research libraries
in North America. ARL programs and services promote equitable access to
and effective use of recorded knowledge in suppor
t of teaching,
research, scholarship, and community service.
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