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[BOAI] "At Harvard, a Proposal to Publish Free on Web" | Harvard Librarian Speaks For Open Access

From: "Gerry Mckiernan" <gerrymck AT>
Date: Tue, 12 Feb 2008 13:46:02 -0600


 NYTimes Article: "At Harvard, a Proposal to Publish Free on Web"

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See Also: The Harvard Librarian Speaks For Open Access (see below)

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Gerry McKiernan
Associate Professor
Science and Technology Librarian
Iowa State University Library
Ames IA 50011

gerrymck AT  

There is Nothing More Powerful Than  An Idea Whose Time Has Come
Victor Hugo
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Iowa: Where the Tall Corn Flows and the (North)West Wind Blows ...
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Harvard Crimson 


The Case for Open Access

Published On 2/12/2008 1:03:46 AM


The motion before the FAS in support of open access to scholarly
articles concerns openness in general. It is meant to promote the free
communication of knowledge. By retaining rights for the widest possible
dissemination of the faculty*s work, it would make scholarship by
members of the FAS freely accessible everywhere in the world, and it
would reinforce a new effort by Harvard to share its intellectual

The University Library has taken a leading role in that endeavor. Far
from reserving its resources for the privileged few, it is digitizing
its special collections, opening them to everyone online, and
cooperating with Google in the attempt to make books in the public
domain actually available to the public, a worldwide public, which
extends everywhere that people have access to the Internet. If the FAS
votes in favor of the motion on February 12, Harvard will make the
latest work of its scholars accessible, just as it is creating
accessibility to the store of knowledge that it has accumulated in its
libraries since 1638. 

The motion also represents an opportunity to reshape the landscape of
learning. A shift in the system for communicating knowledge has created
a contradiction at the heart of academic life. We academics provide the
content for scholarly journals. We evaluate articles as referees, we
serve on editorial boards, we work as editors ourselves, yet the
journals force us to buy back our work, in published form, at outrageous
prices. Many journals now cost more than $20,000 for a year*s

The Harvard University Library will set up an Office for Scholarly
Communication to make the open-access repository an instrument for
access to research across all disciplines in the spirit of the
*one-university* environment that the HOLLIS catalog now provides
for holdings in all the libraries, more than 80 of them, throughout the
University system. The Office for Scholarly Communication will also
promote maximum cooperation by the faculty. Many repositories already
exist in other universities, but they have failed to get a large
proportion of faculty members to submit their articles. The deposit rate
at the University of California is 14 percent, and it is much lower in
most other places. By mandating copyright retention and by placing those
rights in the hands of the institution running the repository, the
motion will create the conditions for a high deposit rate. 


Robert Darnton is Carl H. Pforzheimer University Professor and Director
of the University Library. 

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