Have you ever found the absolutely perfect resource for your research, only to discover that it somehow falls outside of Snell Library’s collection of over half a million print- and e-books (each!) and hundred thousand e-journals? Found a title that Snell owns, but a classmate got to it first? Need a scanned chapter quickly, but not the whole book? Don’t worry, Interlibrary Loan has you covered! Currently enrolled students, faculty, and staff are able to borrow items free of charge from participating libraries across the country, including physical books, DVDs, music, and electronic copies of articles and book chapters. It’s as easy as identifying the item you need, either through the Snell’s own Scholar OneSearch, through WorldCat (the world’s largest online library catalog), or by manually entering your request through ILLiad, Interlibrary Loan’s management system. First time users will need to register an account, but the process only takes a few minutes. After submission, we’ll get to work finding the item, and patrons can track the status of their requests via their ILLiad account. Articles and book chapters generally arrive within 1-2 days, and while physical loan delivery times can vary (depending on availability and the lending institution’s location), titles typically arrive within 2-10 business days. Loan periods are generally 4-8 weeks. Check out our FAQ here, but do not hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 617-373-8276. We look forward to helping you fulfill your research needs!
It’s that time of year again… you’re thinking about your syllabus for the spring semester! Linking to articles and e-book chapters on Blackboard is a great way to help your students save money on classpacks. It’s also a good way to stay in compliance with copyright law. Check out our guide to help you find and create permalinks to articles and e-books in library databases – links that will persist over time and are best for including in an online reading list. We’ve recently updated our guide because creating permalinks is now so much easier – you can do it right within Scholar OneSearch!
Today’s Open Access Week event is an opportunity to hear from representatives of Open Access journals. We’ll have speakers here from BioMedCentral and SAGE Open, and I will be providing information on the Public Library of Science (PLoS). This will be an excellent opportunity for researchers on campus to learn more about Open Access journals and gain a better understanding of how they compare to traditional, subscription-based journals. The event is at noon in 90 Snell Library – pizza will be served!
On April 17, 2012, Harvard University’s Faculty Advisory Council on the Library issued an open memo to the Harvard community stating that “major periodical subscriptions cannot be sustained” due to high prices and unreasonable publisher practices. If this topic sounds familiar, it’s because it’s already been in the news recently – in January, mathematician Timothy Gowers-Lee blogged about these issues specifically as they relate to publishing giant Elsevier. In February, a website was created where scholars could sign on to a boycott of Elsevier; as of today over 10,000 signatures have been gathered. The Harvard memo avoids mentioning specific companies, instead referring to “certain publishers” that receive close to $3.75 million per year from Harvard for its subscriptions to their journals. Harvard’s expenses for online journal content from just two major providers has increased 145% over the past six years. The memo states, “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. Doing so would seriously erode collection efforts in many other areas, already compromised.” Harvard University is certainly not alone in struggling with rising subscription costs – it’s been discussed in the professional literature since the 1990s, when publishers introduced the “big deal” pricing model of requiring libraries to subscribe to less important journals along with their subscriptions to essential titles. Only recently, though, have the mainstream media begun reporting on publishers’ questionable practices. Although it’s too soon to say whether the Harvard memo will have any direct impact on the industry, it’s definitely increasing public awareness of an issue that not only affects Harvard but is jeopardizing the financial sustainability of academia as a whole. Recommended reading: ⇒ Full text of the Faculty Advisory Council Memorandum on Journal Pricing ⇒ “Harvard Now Spending Nearly $3.75 Million on Academic Journal Bundles,” The Atlantic, April 23, 2012 ⇒ “The wealthiest university on Earth can’t afford its academic journal subscriptions,” io9.com, April 24, 2012 ⇒ “If Harvard Can’t Afford Academic Journal Subscriptions, Maybe It’s Time for an Open Access Model,” Time, April 26, 2012 ⇒ “Harvard panel pushes benefits of free journals,” The Boston Globe, April 28, 2012
Mega-publisher Elsevier has been garnering some negative publicity of late. Last month it was revealed that its political action group funded the re-election campaigns of Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), one of the authors of the controversial Research Works Act (H.R. 3699) that would prohibit open access to articles resulting from government-funded research. [Update: On 2/27/2012, Elsevier announced it no longer backed the Research Works Act, and the sponsoring legislators subsequently announced they will not pursue the bill further.] Now, thousands of scholars are signing an agreement to boycott Elsevier in protest of its high subscription prices, its practice of bundling journals (so libraries are forced to subscribe to titles they don’t want), and its support of restrictive legislation like SOPA, PIPA, and the Research Works Act. Although members of the library community have protested such practices by Elsevier and other large publishers for years, this marks the first occasion that members of the research community–the people who write the articles and serve as peer reviewers or editors–have taken a large-scale stand. Timothy Gowers, a prominent mathematician, wrote a blog post on January 21, 2012, in which he discussed the issues outlined above and asked, “Why can’t we just tell Elsevier that we no longer wish to publish with them?” A reader took up the challenge and created a website where scholars could register their dissatisfaction and refusal to provide free labor for Elsevier in the form of research, peer review, and editorial duties. Within its first ten days of existence, the website has collected the signatures of over 2,700 scholars worldwide. The boycott has received a lot of media attention, perhaps especially because it has grown so exponentially in such a short period of time. And many writers are asking: because scholars are both producers and consumers of research journals, do they have the ability to disrupt the scholarly publishing system and effect lasting change? Further reading:
- Elsevier’s Alicia Wise on the RWA, the West Wing, and Universal Access – Richard Poynder’s “Open and Shut?” blog, 2/8/2012
- “Thousands of Scientists Vow to Boycott Elsevier to Protest Journal Prices” – Science, 2/1/2012
- “As Journal Boycott Grows, Elsevier Defends Its Practices” – Chronicle of Higher Education, 1/31/2012
- “Testify: The Open-Science Movement Catches Fire” – Wired.com, 1/30/2012
- “Elsevier’s Publishing Model Might be About to Go Up in Smoke” – Forbes.com, 1/28/2012