FAQ Website Project

In LIS 2600, another semester long project was the creation of an FAQ site using HTML and CSS. The full description of the project can be found FAQ Website Assessment.

I really enjoyed the process and learning HTML and CSS was much easier than I expected!


Screenshot of the FAQ site

You can check my site out here! http://www.pitt.edu/~led62/FAQ.html

Linked on the site is a full explanation for how the website was built and the thought processes that went into creating the FAQ.



Librarians as Faculty

In comparing the two blogs, we can see that the issue of tenure is a thorny one. Tenure is often difficult to achieve, and once achieved it complicates the role of academic librarian in a multitude of ways.

Librarians exist in a strange space within the university structure. I think Freedman and Dursi hit the nail on the head when they ask whether librarians are fish or fowl. As they state in their introduction: “Every situation appears to be different and it is difficult to look across our discipline to find a common policy and procedure existing for these topics” (Freedman and Dursi 2011, 284). Librarians occupy liminal space within the university, so the issue of tenure often changes the way they are viewed by other academics within the university structure, as well as how they are treated by the university itself.

Does tenure help or hinder the status of the library profession?

While it may be believed that tenure promotes scholarship and ensures that librarians are in a position to pursue such, it seems that the reality is often the exact opposite. As Farkas states in her blog: “I know at some places, librarians are told that they can take x% of their time for scholarship or that they can take one day/week for it. At most places, that isn’t the case. You try to fit it into your work week while you’re doing your ‘real work’ and are expected to take it home with you because it’s how you’re going to keep your job” (Farkas 2014). Tenure, instead of helping librarians pursue scholastic work, chains them into specific research that doesn’t actually assist them in their mission as librarians.

Fister believes in tenure and says: “What I do notice is that there’s a rather odd disconnect between what the tenure process promotes (especially in the area of contributions to scholarship) and what academic librarian career paths depend on (which is primarily focused on experience managing other people’s work)” (Fister 2014). She sees tenure as assisting her in being the best teacher she can be. She continues by stating: “It involves us in the life of the college through service, and that gives us the opportunity to see our work in the context of the entire institution’s mission and operations. It gives us support (though never enough, it’s there) to be formally curious about the world, the freedom to ask the questions we find compelling, and an obligation to share what we learn for the public good and to speak up when necessary. It tests us to see what we’re made of but, in exchange, guarantees that if we say unpopular things or ask difficult questions, our colleagues will have our back” (Fister 2014). But I fell that these are troubling statements. While the academic library is there to support the mission of the university, the librarian should be supporting the library’s needs (i.e. patron needs) over that of the overall university, and scholarship should be done in support of that mission, not done because it is being forced by the larger university. Also, the ideas of the freedom of information and open discourse should support whatever scholarship is being done and whatever the librarian has to say without fear of reprisal from the larger institution. If librarians (and any faculty) live in fear of the lack of support for their research, than the larger institution has already lost.

In my own personal experience, I think that not having tenure can hinder the position of the librarian within the greater university. I work for an institution where librarians are faculty, but without tenure. They are hired within a promotion track process where they must achieve a certain level of promotion within a certain amount of time before they are offered a permanent contract. Right now, the university I work for is cutting benefits and changing the structure of the university hierarchy. Because librarians do not fit within the faculty/tenured track and yet, are not considered staff, they have been largely left out and ignored in the discussion, leaving our librarians on edge and fearful of their position within the university. From a purely professional viewpoint, I can see where having tenure can protect the status of librarian and make sure that the university treats them as the important members of the academic institution that they are. It is often easy to overlook librarians as scholars and teachers, and the process of tenure makes sure this doesn’t happen.

Do tenure requirements promote reflective practice?

But at the same time, I am pursing librarianship because I do not want to teach on the classroom level like academic faculty do. I also want to publish scholarship that I wish to pursue, not scholarship that I am forced to pursue. I don’t want to worry that my job depends on publication, when service to my patrons is much more important to me. I observe that while publication may help, but there are times when it has nothing to do with the work of librarianship.

Tenure is sort of a trap. There are both good and bad things about tenure. Several people have brought up how badly adjunct faculty are treated, and I think that in many regards, librarians are treated in a similar manner.

We are expected to have advanced degrees and to publish research and engage on a much larger community level such as on national committees and in professional organizations, but we are not seen as faculty unless we obtain tenure.

I don’t think that tenure promotes reflective practices. In fact, I think it does the exact opposite. The profession of librarianship itself constantly encourages that reflective practice and most librarians will continue to seek out new ways to improve what we are doing without the lash of tenure at our backs.

Will you look for a job on the tenure track?

I don’t know whether I will seek a job on a tenure track. The idea of tenure upsets me and I don’t want to have to work for tenure, but at the same time I see what happens when librarians do not have tenure and are regarded with less respect within the university structure. At the end of the day, I think the notion of tenure is something that needs to be addressed at a much higher level, and viewed across the board for the entirety of the university. The downsides of tenure do not just affect librarians, they affect everybody.


Farkas, M. G. (2014, July 23). On tenure, after three years on track [Blog]. Information Wants to Be Free. Retrieved from http://meredith.wolfwater.com/wordpress/2014/07/23/on-tenure-after-three-years-on-the-tenure-track/.

Fister, B. (2014, July 29). Should academic librarians have tenure may be the wrong question [Library Babel Fish Blog]. Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved from http://www.insidehighered.com/blogs/library-babel-fish/should-academic-librarians-have-tenure-may-be-wrong-question.

Freedman, S., & Dursi, M. (2012). What’s in a Name: Are we fish or fowl? Something’s Gotta Give: Charleston Conference Proceedings, 2011 (pp. 284-­292). doi: 10.5703/1288284314913. Retrieved from http://docs.lib.purdue.edu/charleston/2011/Administration/5/.

Users as Selectors – Traditional Collection Building vs. PDA

Changes in technology and lowered budgets have shifted the focus of collection building from librarians to the hands of patrons. Patron driven acquisitions (PDA) allows libraries to lower acquisitions costs by giving patrons access to a larger amount of electronic resources without having to buy each title (Draper 2013). Vendors provide MARC records for titles dealing with selected subjects, and patrons can choose and download these titles as needed. While libraries have traditionally taken patron input into account when choosing titles for acquisitions, PDA changes the traditional selection model and puts it almost entirely into the hands of the patron. In the past, items have been purchased with the anticipation of patron needs; now items are being purchased only when immediately needed by patrons (Hodges, Preston and Hamilton 2010).  The issue of whether or not PDA should entirely replace traditional forms of collection building is a difficult one. In general, libraries do not have the budgets to keep building collections with items that will not be used by patrons. PDA allows libraries to purchase specific titles only as needed. But PDA also complicates records management, and changes the face of the library’s core collection. Librarians build collections with specific purpose. The items they choose support specific topics and subjects within their institution. Often the library itself has very specific focuses, and part of a librarian’s job is to keep those goals in mind when making acquisitions decisions (Douglas 2011). PDA takes collection building out of the hands of the librarians and changes the focus and goals of a collection.

While costs of subscriptions and databases have continued to rise, ensuring that libraries cannot continue to purchase these types of resources in perpetuity, PDA seems to be the answer many have been looking for. But in many ways it seems like its the easy way out. It puts too much of the collection building into the hands of patrons and libraries will see an increase in very unbalanced subject acquisitions. While written policies help ensure that PDA functions within certain limitations, these restrictions don’t change the fact that collections are being built by patrons who do not see the bigger picture of the collection. Policies need to be regularly revisited, and libraries have to balance the immediate needs of patrons with the needs of the institution and the collection itself (Douglas 2011).

In my personal experience as an library acquisitions manager, PDA is something that patrons don’t necessarily understand. They know that they have immediate access to a title, but they don’t understand the economic impact of their click on a title, only that they have access to the title they are interested in. We implemented a PDA program for the first time last year, with policies for the type and price of the items within the program, just as the OSUL libraries did in the Hodges, Preston and Hamilton article. We set aside $10,000 from our approval budget for this purpose. This original $10,000 was intended to last the entire year, but the budget was gone within the first four months of the program.. We found, in doing a study of the pilot program, that one patron alone had spent $1200 on titles relating to one specific subject. While one patron obviously needed access to these titles, who else will want to focus on this very specific subject? When the patron chose these titles, it was to help their research and had no regard for the research of other patrons within the larger institution.

I see PDA as being a sort of stop gap response to the current budgetary crises in libraries, and to the increased need for items in the present moment. One of the other university libraries in our area has changed to an entirely PDA driven collection because their budget has been cut so significantly that they can only afford titles that they know will fill patron needs. But at the same time, academic vendors are slowly changing their licensing and prices in response to libraries standing up to them and insisting that they can no longer afford such huge price tags. We had a vendor come in last week to introduce their new ebook program, which will for the first time ensure that once an ebook has been purchased by our institution, our institution will actually own that title and will not be renting it, as is the case with many others. We will always have access and not have to pay more licensing fees at the end of a specific period of time. Their pricing was also for multiple users and was more affordable than even the more traditionally affordable ebrary titles. This is an example of how publishers are changing their pricing and licensing policies in a way which might render PDA unnecessary. Another issue with PDA is how vendor generated records flood our catalogs. This might seem like a small thing, but while we have access to these records, we don’t necessarily own them, and this also changes the face of a collection. When looking at the collection as a whole, how do these records affect what we want to be seen? In the end, PDA seems a reasonable response right now, but I wonder how we will view it in the long run?

catalog cartoon


Draper, D. C. (2013). Managing patron-driven acquisitions (PDA) records in a multiple model environment. Technical Services Quarterly, 30(2), 153-165. doi: 10.1080/07317131.2013.759813

Hodges, D., Preston, C., & Hamilton, M. J. (2010). Patron-initiated collection development: Progress of a paradigm shift. Collection Management, 35(3-4) , 208-221.

Douglas, C.S. (2011). Revising a collection development policy in a rapidly changing environment. Journal of Electronic Resources in Medical Libraries, 8(1), 1521. doi:10.1080/15424065.2011.551487

Group Poster Presentation – Digital Collection Management

We were tasked with a group project where we had to create an information poster about some aspect of the library profession. My group chose to look at digital collection management and the role of electronic resources in the library.

poster pic

Please click here for the actual powerpoint document! Crawfords poster

Fair Use and “Song of the South”

As an Acquisitions coordinator, I deal with copyright and fair use on a daily basis. Ironically, many of the librarians I work with like to overlook copyright and fair use issues, especially when it comes to purchasing DVDs and media, because licensing for academic institutions for these materials can be very expensive. In these cases these librarians like to cite educational use when it comes to copyright and fair use, in order to avoid having to purchase the more expensive licensing. Very early on, we set policy in place that if a license was available, we would purchase it and we would only buy brand new DVDs to ensure that these DVDs are in good condition, and that they come from legal vendors. These basic policies protect us a great deal right off the bat, and I have to argue with librarians on a regular basis when I refuse to purchase DVDs that don’t meet these basic guidelines. I am always shocked when a librarian tries to get out of buying the educational license when it’s available or sends me a link to a vendor that seems less than reputable.

I recently had a strange situation come up. One of our faculty requested that we purchase a copy of Song of the South. If you’re not familiar with Song of the South, it is an extremely controversial film that Disney produced in 1946. Seen as being overtly racist, it has not been released for home video in the United States: “Disney hasn’t released the controversial Song of the South to American audiences for over twenty years” (Sperb 2010).


Yet there is still a vast interest in this movie among academics. “…Song of the South lives on, yet the company can’t even really acknowledge the film, much less cash in on it directly. If you were born after 1980, you’ve almost certainly never seen it in full, and it’s unlikely that will change anytime soon” (Lingan 2012). Song of the South is an important film when discussing the Civil Rights movements and cultural trends in early twentieth century American culture. While the film is horribly offensive to today’s audiences, there is a great deal that can be learned from viewing it on the university level. So the member of our faculty essentially wanted a legal copy of a film that is not available legally within the US. There are no new copies that can be purchased directly from Disney. The only copy that we were able to purchase was a copy that was made illegally and was available through a third party seller on Amazon.

So the question was, do we buy this copy or not?

We bought the copy, because it was literally the only copy available and we decided that educational use would protect us if any issues came up.

In viewing this decision from the standpoint of the four factors of Fair Use cited in this assignment, I think this presents an interesting case study. The four factors are:

(1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether the use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes

(2) the nature of the copyrighted work

(3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole

(4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

This copy was going to be used specifically for education purposes (citing criteria 1, use for…nonprofit educational purposes). It was going to be a major component of our African American studies department and would also be used in Film and Media Studies. The film itself was going to be viewed in full in the classroom setting, so using the clips posted illegally on YouTube, was also an issue (criteria 3). This film was not going to be used for making money from a copyrighted work and from a technical reading of criteria 1, educational use should legally cover the viewing of the film.

Were we correct? I’m not sure. In this rare instance, there is literally no legal copy out there. You can see clips on YouTube, or find a few non-English language versions (when I looked it up just now, I found this German copy). But while the film is going to be used educationally, it is a straight up pirated copy of the original film. This is not transformative, it is not a parody, it is literally an illegally copied version of the original property. But it can also be argued that you can find the full film on YouTube, therefore there is other access to this film aside from pirated copies on the market (ARL 2012).

At the end of the day, we probably should have turned the professor down and told him that due to copyright and Fair Use considerations, we couldn’t purchase the illegal copy of the film. At the time, educational use was used to trump the other issues that we saw in purchasing this copy.

If there are ways in which it seems to violate Fair Use in many ways, in examining it through the ways that courts have determined Fair Use as outlined in this assignment: “Is the use you want to make of another’s work transformative — that is, does it add value to and repurpose the work for a new audience — and is the amount of material you want to use appropriate to achieve your transformative purpose?” then yes, it is absolutely falls under terms of Fair Use. The use of this movie absolutely adds value and repurposes the film for today’s scholars and for future scholars of American race studies.

In this case, I don’t know that there was a perfect answer. Will the film be helpful to our students? Absolutely. Is it an illegal copy? Yes. Is the unique nature and cultural importance of the film criteria enough to justify this purchase? We thought so. What do you think?


ARL. 2012. Code of Best Practices in Fair Use For Academic and Research Libraries. http://www.arl.org/storage/documents/publications/code-of-best-practices-fair-use.pdf

Lingam, John. 2012. “Bristling Dixie: Uncle Walt thought Song of the South would be his masterpiece. Now it’s invisible”. Slate, January 12, 2012, accessed October 25, 2015. http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/books/2013/01/song_of_the_south_disney_s_most_notorious_film_by_jason_sperb_reviewed.html

Sperb, Jason. 2010. “Reassuring Convergence: Online Fandom, Race, and Disney’s Notorious Song of the South.” Cinema Journal 49, no. 4: 25-45. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed October 25, 2015).

Reflection Paper #1 – Cataloging the World: Paul Otlet and the Birth of the Information Age

Reflection Paper #1
          In the book Cataloging the World: Paul Otlet and the Birth of the Information Age, author Alex Wright concludes: “Otlet’s Mundaneum will never be. But it nonetheless offers us a kind of Platonic object, evoking the possibility of a technological future driven not by greed and vanity, but by a yearning for truth, a commitment to social change, and a belief in the possibility of spiritual liberation” (Wright 2014, 308). This statement sums up the model of information services that libraries and librarians offer in answer to the question ‘what can libraries can offer that institutions and organizations cannot?’ While Paul Otlet was an idealist who struggled his entire life towards a three dimensional system of information, an idea similar to H.G. Well’s concept of ‘A World Brain,’ he also understood the need for standards and common terms: “He…advocate[d for] his belief in international standards, arguing that librarians should embrace common protocols, including a universal set of subject headings that could enable them to share their work more effectively across institutional and national boundaries” (Wright 2014, 88). Libraries and librarians respond to the specific needs of their users by adhering to standards and core competencies of the library alone, never letting a single organization or institution monopolize or control how information and data is found and organized. Without having any agenda other than open access to their materials, libraries are able to offer their patrons something that corporations and institutions never can: access to information without advancing private interests in an environment that works for social change and a dedication to the latest trends in information.
          Unlike corporations, the primary goal of the library is in meeting the needs of its users. The agenda of the library is in openly offering access to information, while maintaining the privacy of patrons. In their article on future data curation trends, Weber, Palmer and Chao state: “Thus, the essence of librarianship holds—maximizing the ‘effective use of graphic records’ by adding value that is aligned with the social structures of a broader intellectual community” (Weber, Palmer, & Chao, 2012, 306). By functioning this way, the library becomes an important part of the publishing lifecycle of information, one not isolated by the agenda of a specific institution or entity. When a patron accesses information offered by a library, that material has already been deemed acceptable under the library’s expectations and standards, ensuring that the patron does not have to take the extra steps of reviewing that information for themselves. And if the library to which one goes does not have what one needs, it’s very possible that the inter-library system can procure that resource for you. This is just one example of the library as a collaborative model that works within a wide range of groups and institutions to facilitate research and information sharing with no hidden agenda.
          Paul Otlet was working to create a system that allowed users access to knowledge in a more convenient manner than was available at the time. Convenience seems to be a big point in the consideration of meeting user needs easily and rapidly. By adhering to core competencies and agreed upon standards, libraries meet user needs more conveniently than any single organization could. In her article on how libraries can meet user needs in a rapidly changing information environment, Mary Pagliero Popp states: “The concept of convenience is not new, but it is likely that some of these findings are even more important now in the context of current technologies Librarians must determine better ways to help users while being cognizant that most of the users they are helping want to get research done and go do something else” (Popp, 2012, 85). Libraries serve as a user-driven resource which implement systems and databases to aid in quickly finding needed information. The library as an institution itself is dedicated to facilitating this need for information easily found and accessed. By a commitment to agreed-upon core competencies and standards, libraries offer services that are more convenient to users than a more individualized organization might. Libraries constantly work to seek out the newest technologies and possibilities for the dissemination of all information, with no focus according to agenda, allowing them to present the most up-to-date capabilities much sooner than most individual organizations. The library constantly looks at changing trends in the information world and remains flexible, adopting those trends to allow information to be more convenient for our users: “The issue of change must be at the forefront of planning in all libraries, regardless of size. Both economic realities and the impacts of technology have the potential to greatly alter the way libraries are organized, the services libraries provide, and the work that is done by library employees” (Popp, 2012, 85-86). A commitment to change is one of the greatest assets that libraries are able to offer their patrons.
          But how do we sort out the services we need to offer our users to create an atmosphere of both competency and convenience? In her article, Tamara Pianos poses the question of knowing our patrons and their specific needs: “What does the user want? And who is the user? Or rather who are our users?”(Pianos, 2010, 5). While search engines like Google offer access to an amount of unprecedented information, the library is able to shift through that information and ensure that it is coming from acceptable sources, tailoring that information to their specific community: “However, user needs for filter options, expert search options and subject-specific search options are not fulfilled by Google, even though Google by now offers a few facets. This is traditional library turf; libraries should use their advantages creatively and intelligently” (Pianos, 2010, 10). When a user approaches information found at a library, that information is ready to use. They do not have to worry about whether or not that source has been peer reviewed or comes from a reliable author. The library has already put that stamp of approval on the source just by the act of offering it.
 “Code of Ethics of the American Library Association.” Code of Ethics of the American Library Association. Accessed October 5, 2015. http://www.ala.org/advocacy/proethics/codeofethics/codeethics.
 Pianos, T. (2010). EconBiz Meeting User Needs with New Technology. Liber Quarterly: The Journal of European Research Libraries, 20(1), 424. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=lih&AN=88858709&site=ehost-live
 Popp, M. P. (2012). Changing World, Changing Libraries, (April), 8489.
 Weber, N. M., Palmer, C. L., & Chao, T. C. (2012). Current Trends and Future Directions in Data Curation Research and Education. Journal of Web Librarianship, 6(4), 305320. http://doi.org/10.1080/19322909.2012.730358
Wright, Alex. Cataloging the World: Paul Otlet and the Birth of the Information Age. Oxford University Press, 2014.

Higher Education Brief – Open Access

This was an assignment for my Academic Libraries class.

The assignment was to produce an evidence-based briefing paper on one topical concern chosen from the list of topics (Bibliometrics and altmetrics, Digital humanities, Internationalization and multiculturalism, Massive open online courses (MOOCs), Online education, Open access, Open textbooks and Research data management). From the original assignment: “You should imagine that you are working in a college or university library and have been asked to  research the area in question and to produce a paper sharing your findings that will  help your colleagues develop  a  better  understanding of the subject and its implications, including an awareness of how other academic libraries are responding to the situation” (Corrall 2).

I chose to discuss open access and here is my brief!

Higher Education Briefing Paper – Open Access


Often seen as the answer to replacing economically unsustainable subscription based models of publication, Open access publishing has been a rising trend in the academic community throughout the last ten years. Open access journals offer an alternative method of publishing scholarly work that costs less money for the institutions that these types of research serve. They also offer a larger number of opportunities for access, enabling work to be read by a much greater readership. David W. Lewis argues in his article on the inevitability of open access that, “we can anticipate that it will become the dominant model for the distribution of scholarly journal content within the next decade” (Lewis 2012). Thomas J. Liesgang claims in his discussion for a continued movement of open access that, “after decades of a successful publication process, the traditional subscription model of publishing research is now at a crucial and evolving stage” (Liesegang 2013). Open Access is a part of this crucial evolution in the publishing industry that is both inevitable and unstoppable. It is a trend that libraries need to understand and utilize in order to serve the needs of their communities, and deal with rapidly declining budgets which cannot maintain rising subscription costs from traditional publishers.


Open access is a method of publishing that offers an alternative to the traditional model. In this new paradigm, authors, as Lila Guterman states in her article on the promise and peril of open access, “are the revolutionaries offering an alternative to the publishing status quo…creating online journals that charge no subscription fees [in order to] rescue librarians from the tyranny of prohibitively costly journals – upwards of $20,000 per year – and to empower researchers who, because of the expense, often have difficulty keeping up with new developments in their fields” (Guterman 2004). With the continued rise in journal subscription prices, and new technological possibilities brought about by the Internet, open access publishing has become an important movement within the academic world. However, it has only been recently that researchers have started treating open access publishing as a viable and acceptable means for releasing their work. because of issues such as lack of peer review, exclusivity and reputation, as well as predatory behaviors on the part of the open access journals themselves. While the open access movement likes to ignore these issues, they cannot be ignored by the wider community of researchers and scholars.


Open access has radically changed the publishing industry in a fairly short period of time and seems to offer an answer to the rapidly increasing cost of subscription based journals. Open access may be the wave of the future, but there are complex issues that still need to be worked out before it can become more widely used and accepted by the academic community. Traditional methods of publishing have caused delays in the timely publication of research, and as Jill Cirasella points out in her history of open access, “these delays frustrated authors and readers, and slowed the pace of scholarly dialogue and discoveries” (Cirasella 2014). In a world where technology allows for rapid communication, these publishing delays are no longer acceptable. The most up-to-date research must be made immediately available to digital age scholars, and open access offers a solution to this problem.
Open access has also been regarded with suspicion by large academic institutions, so that “authors wishing to enhance their reputations often feel compelled to publish in established, highly thought of venues and, especially before tenure, are unwilling to risk exploring other alternatives” (Lewis 2012). And while open access offers a solution to the need for much more immediate publication, open access publishers have often been seen as ‘unscrupulous, obfuscatory and predatory” (Cirasella 2014). Open access journals have been accused of being less rigorous in their peer review process, an important key to traditional journal publishing, and one of the reasons traditional publishers are able to charge so much. While many open access publishers claim the same level of peer review that traditional publishers offer, many have simply published any article sent to them (Cirasella 2014). In the last several years, this has largely changed, and open access is slowly gaining a better reputation for the quality of work being offered.


Authors will find that open access offers them a wide range of advantages when it comes to publishing their work. In discussing the ongoing trends in this medium, Mercieca and Macauley state in their article on open access that, “for more than ten years it has promoted the use of networked communications to provide alternative models for the dissemination of scholarship” (Mercieca and Macauley 2008). Also, “by being freely and easily available to anyone connected to the Internet, the author’s work is available to the widest possible audience” (Lewis 2012). But libraries also have to realize that by embracing open access journals and challenging traditional publishers, expectations and budgets for content will be drastically changed: “libraries may end up disrupting academic publishers, potentially including university presses. Taking on this role, especially at scale, could be culturally and politically complex” (Lewis 2012). By continuing to pursue open access models, libraries will cancel more and more subscriptions, therefore causing prices to rise even higher, eventually ensuring that all subscription based journals will fail (Lewis 2012). The open access movement is just as social and political as it is financial; the way that libraries decide to approach their use of open access will for the first time in years be able to force publishers to change their pricing models, and will have a much greater effect on the academic community than it ever has in the past.
Karen Okamoto states in her discussion of how to make higher education more affordable, that “textbook prices have been increasing more than four times the rate of inflation. For community college students, textbooks can constitute up to 75% of the total cost of their education, and books are typically not covered by financial aid. Open and free educational resources are considered to be a possible solution to the textbook affordability crisis” (Okamoto 2013). Textbooks are only one aspect of the open access movement; costs across the board could see a large decrease through the use of open access journals. In a world where library budgets have become much more static, “libraries’ budget concerns may finally be alleviated by the open-access movement…At the same time that libraries have hit the wall, new journals have appeared that would cost subscribers nothing” (Guterman 2004).


While open access has become a very popular method of publication, there are still many issues that need to be resolved before it can become the industry standard. Okamoto states that through advocating, promoting and facilitating open access, libraries have served a historic role in changing publishing trends, but “warns libraries to be aware of the literature on student preferences for electronic versus print books: … the technology and concepts are still very new and require teaching, training, and conversations on campuses before the idea can be considered fully ready to push out across colleges and universities” (Okamoto 2013). And while open access seems like an easy solution, libraries cannot entirely abandon traditional journal subscriptions. Tony Durham argues that access to technology is a privilege of the elite to begin with, so even with open access journals, less privileged institutions will still hit budget walls, “inequalities of wealth and knowledge, on the other hand, seem assured of survival well into the next millennium” (Times and Education 1996). Open access solves some problems, but opens up issues that libraries have not yet begun to consider.


It is important to think about how traditional, subscription based journals can be balanced with open access journals. Many publishers see open access as a “fight to the death”. As Patricia Renfro points out in her examination of the possibilities of open access, “there is no reason to believe that the subscription model is the only way or the most cost-effective way to ensure the effective dissemination of quality peer-reviewed research, or even that the subscription model is incompatible with delayed public access” (Renfro 2011). While subscription based services offer many options, open access journals offer important bodies of work that cannot be ignored, and create an affordability in accessing this work. In embracing open access services, we may risk driving prices higher on traditional, subscription services, but open access journals seem destined to challenge traditional publishing methods and their costs as they grow in popularity. Okamoto also believes that, “library involvement in OER initiatives can be understood within this larger growing movement of libraries involved in publishing as a means to address the rising costs of serials, textbooks and other publications” (Okamoto 2013). Paul Rainford points out that through the use of open access, “Open access materials tend to be more cited than comparable material behind pay walls, and making an open access version of materials available can help companies, public agencies and NGOs find the right academic experts far more easily, because none of these groups typically have library access to learned journals” (Rainford 2011). Libraries and librarians must begin to think about how open access publishing will serve the needs of their communities, and how it will effect library budgets. And although, open access brings with it its own set of issue, it’s something that we cannot ignore and must consider a permanent addition to advancing library collections.


Cirasella, J. 2014. “Open Access.” Contexts 13 (2): 12–14. doi:10.1177/1536504214533489.

Guterman, Lila. 2004. “The Promise and Peril of ‘Open Access’.” Chronicle Of Higher Education 50, no. 21: A10-A14.

Lewis, Dw. 2012. “The Inevitability of Open Access.” College & Research Libraries 73 (5): 493–506. doi:hwp:master-id:crl;crl-299.

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