Brian Kenney on ALA Setting Content Free

So if you’re a member of one youth division in the American Library Association (ALA), then you can’t read the literature from the other divisions, much of which might be highly relevant to your work. Unless, of course, you join the division; take out a subscription; get a friend to send it to you, like we did in the old days; or have access to the right subscription databases. I’m surprised ALA—which brought us $259 preconferences—hasn’t created a way for its members to buy articles from the other divisions, but it’s probably just a matter of time.

Go deeper and the situation gets more chaotic. Public Libraries is available online, but the last year is embargoed. It would seem that the Reference & Users Services Association’s RUSQ is open access. But College & Research Libraries, from the association of the same name, is the craziest of all: they release articles preprint, embargo the current two years, but make available older issues.

This is all, of course, very ironic. After all, librarians are the most vocal advocates for open access to journal content—except, apparently, when it’s their own publications. I suspect this is because of ALA’s outdated, carrot-on-the-end-of-the-stick, publishing model: keep the publications locked away as the supreme benefit of membership.

I am pleased to be a part of the RUSQ editorial board. The journal’s content is shared via the blog here: