Bożena Bednarek-Michalska is an information specialist and deputy director of the Nicolaus Copernicus University Library in Torun, Poland. She is also a member of Poland’s Open Education Coalition (KOED), a board member of SPARC Europe, and the EIFL-OA country coordinator for Poland.
While conducting the interview with Bednarek-Michalska three things struck me as noteworthy about the current state of Open Access in Poland.
First, Bednarek-Michalska reports that access to research information in Poland is “not bad”. In light of Harvard University’s 2012 Memorandum arguing that subscription-based scholarly publishing is now “fiscally unsustainable” this is striking. Harvard is the world’s wealthiest university. If Harvard is struggling, why are Polish universities not struggling too?
The second thing to strike me was that, unlike most journals published in Western Europe and North America, Polish journals are not viewed as a source of revenue. Indeed, since it is assumed that the role of scholarly journals is to disseminate research, rather than make money, they tend to be subsidised. For this reason, no doubt, many Polish journals are produced not by commercial publishers, but by the organisations that generate the research in the first place — universities and institutes.
Third, it would appear that activists in Poland tend to view OA as just one component of a much broader movement for openness. This is perhaps because they became interested in the topic at a later stage than those in the West (where OA has been an issue for some twenty years now). As a result, they entered the debate at a point where a number of different open movements were beginning to coalesce.
This broader approach is reflected in a new draft bill called the “Act on Open Public Resources”. If the bill were to become a reality it would apply to all publicly-funded scientific, educational and cultural resources. That is, it would cover not just scholarly papers and scientific data, but (where they were publicly-funded, or produced by a public institution) “maps and plans, photographs, films and microfilms, audio and video recordings, opinions, analysis, reports and other works and subject-matter of related rights in the meaning of the law of 1994 on copyright and related rights, as well as databases in the meaning of the law of 2001 on the legal protection of databases.” (As translated by Tomasz Targosz of Jagiellonian University).
The interview can be read here: http://poynder.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/open-access-in-poland-interview-with.html