They Know We Know They Know: Does Sci-Hub Affect Library Subscriptions? – The Scholarly Kitchen

The question of whether — and, if so, to what degree — Sci-Hub and similar pirate portals will lead (or are already leading) libraries to cancel journal subscriptions has been a fraught one for some time, and the debate doesn’t seem likely to settle down anytime soon.

One recent case in point: on the LIBLICENSE listserv last week, librarian and consultant Danny Kingsley made mention of a recent story in the Times Higher Education in which it was argued that universities in Europe are finding it “easier… to ditch their journal subscription contracts because so many articles are now available for free.” Furthermore, the article observed that academic library consortia, in particular, “have in recent years struck a much more assertive line with publishers over cost and open access,” with the result that, for example, “Germany’s consortium is currently without a contract with Elsevier… in part because librarians believe that academics can access free papers through sites such as ResearchGate.”

Kingsley quoted this article with some asperity, describing it as “frustrating,” given that “there is NO causal arrow between material being online somewhere and library subscriptions.” In response, Scholarly Kitchen Chef and consultant Joe Esposito called Danny’s claim “remarkable,” saying that “ResearchGate and Sci-Hub are in the background of every library negotiation with publishers now.”

In the course of agreeing with Kingsley, noted scholarly communication researcher Anthony Watkinson observed that he was “not aware of any research on library decision making processes” — which suggests not so much that there is no causal connection between library subscriptions and free online availability, but rather that we don’t yet know what, if any, causal connection there may be. But some anecdotal evidence in support of Kingsley’s position quickly came in on the list: several librarians chimed in, one of them saying that such considerations “have certainly never been in the background on any negotiations with vendors that I have been involved in,” and another saying that the availability of free or pirated content “does not influence my decision-making and isn’t considered when it comes to subscription renewals.” A third librarian suggested that such considerations are more likely to be “in the back of the minds of every Publisher, rather than in the minds of the Librarians.” Lisa Hinchliffe, a librarian at the University of Illinois and a Scholarly Kitchen Chef, pointed out that while librarians may not specifically assess the availability of free or pirated content when making subscription or cancellation decisions, they certainly do take cost per download into account — and to the degree that any library’s patrons download articles from subscribed journals through platforms like Sci-Hub and ResearchGate rather than from the publisher through the library’s website, that library’s cost per download will go up. (The entire discussion thread may be read here.) …”

Libraries in a computational age | Feral Librarian

Openness is a also a very important part of our culture and widely-shared value at MIT. We are one of the few private universities in the US with an open campus, including libraries that are open to all visitors. We are also committed to openly sharing our educational and research materials with the world.

MIT created Open Courseware in 2000, “a simple but bold idea that MIT should publish all of our course materials online and make them widely available to everyone.” To date Open Courseware has over 2 million visitors/month, and hosts 2400 courses.

In 2009, MIT passed one of the first campus-wide open access policies in the US, passed by a unanimous vote of the faculty. MIT turned to the libraries to implement the policy, and because of a commitment to provide adequate staffing and resources to collecting faculty research, we now share 45% of MIT faculty journal articles written since 2009 openly with the world through our OA repository….

The first conclusion was that although the initial digital turn in libraries was not yet complete, we were already on the cusp of a second, potentially  more profound one. The first, original digital shift in libraries was print to digital plus print, and was brought about by the internet, google, and e-books/journals….

Although this was a HUGE shift, it did not open up access to scholarly content the way many of us hoped it would. In large part because of the market power of many large commercial publishers, the advent of online journals did not democratize access to knowledge, and the potential for the rise of the internet and of online information and scholarship to create information equality has been stunted. None the less, the first digital turn in libraries and scholarly communication did make research and reading arguably more efficient for those who had access….

In describing the next evolution of libraries, the MIT future of libraries task force emphasized not only the technological shift, but also the importance of combining this shift with a renewed commitment to open science and open scholarship. What is the next shift? It is an evolution of libraries from service to platform, and is from not just digital and physical; but also to computational….”

Open Access publishing as a catalyst for change in scholarly communication: Principles of Library and Information science are essential to its ideology | hc:24873 | Humanities CORE

Abstract:  Open Access (OA) initiatives, movements and policies have had a large impact on scholarly communication publishing and dissemination. This is of particular interest to Library and Information Science, through implementation, ethics and how libraries and librarians engage with the process. Library and Information Science principally concerns itself with the organisation and sharing of information and knowledge, considering the impoteus behind the OA movement in contrast to recent commercial implementation.

ACRL/SPARC Forum: Collective Reinvestment in Open Infrastructure (ACRL)

Libraries are increasingly considering scaling back their subscriptions or cancelling big deals altogether. Yet, the question of how and where to reinvest the resources that become available is both far from settled and increasingly pressing. As we start to move away from the subscription model, we should be intentional about crafting the vision for open research communication we strive to build and how we intend to build it.

This forum, “If I Had A Million Dollars: Collective Reinvestment in Open Infrastructure,” will invite active participation throughout the session in a facilitated discussion with experts representing both libraries and research funders. …”

The Wikipedia Library – Meta

The Wikipedia Library is an open research hub, a place for active Wikipedia editors to gain access to the vital reliable sources that they need to do their work and to be supported in using those resources to improve the encyclopedia. We aim to make access and use of sources free, easy, collaborative and efficient.

The Wikipedia Library is run by a team of Wikimedia Foundation staff and global volunteers. We operate on a community-organized satellite model: we administer the global project but work with local coordinators in local Wikipedia projects to help each community set up their own libraries….”

Open and Equitable Scholarly Communications: Creating a More Inclusive Future

“For many years, the academic and research library workforce has worked to accelerate the transition to more open and equitable systems of scholarship. While significant progress has been made, barriers remain. The Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) seeks to stimulate further advances through this action-oriented research agenda, which is designed to provide practical, actionable information for academic librarians; include the perspectives of historically underrepresented communities in order to expand the profession’s understanding of research environments and scholarly communication systems; and point librarians and other scholars toward important research questions to investigate.

This report represents a yearlong process of reviewing the scholarly and practice-based literature to take into account established investigation coupled with extensive public consultation to identify the major problems facing the academic library community. Through interviews, focus groups, workshops, and an online survey, over 1,000 members of the ACRL community offered their thoughts and expertise to shape this research agenda. Incorporating guidance and input from ACRL’s Research and Scholarly Environment Committee and an advisory panel, this document recommends ways to make the scholarly communications and research environment more open, inclusive, and equitable….”

Sustaining Values and Scholarship A Statement by the Provosts of the Big Ten Academic Alliance

“We, the provosts of the Big Ten Academic Alliance, are committed to sustaining and advancing equitable modes of sharing knowledge. Our 14 institutions embrace individual mission statements that support the common good, equity of access, and the global impact and reach of our research and scholarship. Collectively, our institutions’ more than 50,000 faculty are supported by over $10 billion (2017) in research funding, and our institutions have similarly invested significantly in our capacity to further our missions to advance knowledge. Together, we produce roughly 15% of the research publications in the United States…. In 2006, we shared an open letter in support of taxpayer access to federally-funded research. In 2012, we repeated our advocacy for open access in the face of potentially restrictive legislation to curtail that openness. Since then, our institutions have further invested in systems, repositories, and local policies to support open access to the works of our faculty. And we have encouraged our libraries and faculty to work together to assess the value of purchased or licensed content and the appropriate terms governing its use. With Big Ten libraries’ expenditures on journals exceeding$190 million, we recognize that our institutions are privileged in the level of access we provide our campuses, yet the status quo is not sustainable….”