Why are the waiting lists for library e-books so long?

“If you haven’t visited your local public library lately, you might not realize that you no longer need to physically drop by to check out a book or a movie.

 

Thousands of public libraries now let their members check out e-books they can download on their smartphones, tablets, and e-readers. They also lend digital audiobooks anyone can listen to as they commute and streaming online movies to view on a computer, phone, or smart TV. Like other public library materials, they’re generally available for free to anyone with a library card….

This summer, publishing giant Macmillan announced that starting November 1, library systems will only be able to buy one digital copy of every book for the first eight weeks that it’s out….

Macmillan’s move drew criticism from major libraries and the American Library Association, which launched an online petition urging Macmillan not to implement the policy. So far, it’s drawn more than 89,000 signatures, but Macmillan hasn’t announced any changes to the program yet. A spokesperson for the company declined to comment….”

Guest post: Overview of the African Open Access Landscape, with a Focus on Scholarly Publishing – News Service

“The Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) – during October 2016 until October 2019, conducted a landscape study (Academy of Science of South Africa, 2019) of what is happening on the continent in terms of Open Science and progress made regarding Open Access. This formed part of the pilot African Open Science Platform, in preparation of building an actual platform addressing the collaborative needs experienced by scientists in addressing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Awareness regarding Open Access is evident through the

12 Open Science-related (Open Access/Open Data/Open Science) declarations and agreements endorsed or signed by African governments (Academy of Science of South Africa, 2019);
196 Open Access journals from Africa registered on the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ);
174 Open Access institutional research repositories registered on OpenDOAR (Directory of Open Access Repositories);
33 Open Access/Open Science policies registered on ROARMAP (Registry of Open Access Repository Mandates and Policies);
24 data repositories registered with the Registry of Data Repositories (re3data.org) (although the pilot project identified 66 research data repositories);
and one data repository assigned the CoreTrustSeal. Although this is a start, far more needs to be done to align all African research practices with global standards….”

Open Access in developing countries – attitudes and experiences of researchers | Zenodo

Abstract:  Open Access is often considered as particularly beneficial to researchers in the Global South. However, research into awareness of and attitudes to Open Access has been largely dominated by voices from the Global North. A survey was conducted of 507 researchers from the developing world and connected to INASP’s AuthorAID project to ascertain experiences and attitudes to Open Access publishing. The survey revealed problems for the researchers in gaining access to research literature in the first place. There was a very positive attitude to Open Access research and Open Access journals, but when selecting a journal in which to publish, Open Access was seen as a much less important criterion than factors relating to international reputation. Overall, a majority of respondents had published in an Open Access journal and most of these had paid an article processing charge. Knowledge and use of self-archiving via repositories varied, and only around 20% had deposited their research in an institutional repository. The study also examined attitudes to copyright, revealing most respondents had heard of Creative Commons licences and were positive about the sharing of research for educational use and dissemination, but there was unease about research being used for commercial purposes. Respondents revealed a surprisingly positive stance towards openly sharing research data, although many revealed that they would need further guidance on how to do so. The survey also revealed that the majority had received emails from so called ‘predatory’ publishers and that a small minority had published in them.

 

Open Talk in Mexico Explores Strategies for Strengthening Universal Access to Research

“UNESCO and partners explore strategies for strengthening open access research as part of 2019 celebrations of International Day for Universal Access to Information (IDUAI) in Mexico. Annually on 28th of September, UNESCO celebrates the International Day for Universal Access and Information (IDUAI) to affirm the importance of ensuring and enhancing public access to information as a means of protecting fundamental freedoms and human rights. This year’s theme, “Leaving No One Behind” emphasizes the need to bridge the growing divide in access to information based on access to digital technologies.

On 19-20th September 2019, UNESCO held Open Talks in Toluca, Mexico, in collaboration with Redalyc (Red de Revistas Científicas de América Latina y el Caribe, España y Portugal), the Autonomous University of the State of Mexico (UAEM), AmeliCA, and other international partners to celebrate IDUAI. An international event to celebrate IDUAI too place in Peru and another regional Open Talks was held in Malaysia. More than 20 countries held events to celebrate the international day….”

Open Talk in Mexico Explores Strategies for Strengthening Universal Access to Research

“UNESCO and partners explore strategies for strengthening open access research as part of 2019 celebrations of International Day for Universal Access to Information (IDUAI) in Mexico. Annually on 28th of September, UNESCO celebrates the International Day for Universal Access and Information (IDUAI) to affirm the importance of ensuring and enhancing public access to information as a means of protecting fundamental freedoms and human rights. This year’s theme, “Leaving No One Behind” emphasizes the need to bridge the growing divide in access to information based on access to digital technologies.

On 19-20th September 2019, UNESCO held Open Talks in Toluca, Mexico, in collaboration with Redalyc (Red de Revistas Científicas de América Latina y el Caribe, España y Portugal), the Autonomous University of the State of Mexico (UAEM), AmeliCA, and other international partners to celebrate IDUAI. An international event to celebrate IDUAI too place in Peru and another regional Open Talks was held in Malaysia. More than 20 countries held events to celebrate the international day….”

The prehistory of biology preprints: A forgotten experiment from the 1960s

Abstract:  In 1961, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) began to circulate biological preprints in a forgotten experiment called the Information Exchange Groups (IEGs). This system eventually attracted over 3,600 participants and saw the production of over 2,500 different documents, but by 1967, it was effectively shut down following the refusal of journals to accept articles that had been circulated as preprints. This article charts the rise and fall of the IEGs and explores the parallels with the 1990s and the biomedical preprint movement of today.

 

Rebels with a Cause? Supporting Library and Academic-led Open Access Publishing

Abstract:  The authors, who all have experience with academic publishing, outline the landscape of new university and academic-led open access publishing, before discussing four interrelated sets of challenges which are often referred when questioning the viability of such publishing ventures. They are: (1) professionalism, (2) scale, (3) quality, and (4) discoverability & dissemination. The authors provide examples of how, albeit differing in size, form and ambition, these new presses are not just adhering to conventional publishing norms but often innovating in order to surpass them.

International Day for Universal Access to Information

“Since 2016 UNESCO marks 28 September as the “International Day for Universal Access to Information” (IDUAI), following the adoption of the 38 C/Resolution 57 declaring 28 September of every year as International Day for Universal Access to Information (IDUAI).  

The IDUAI has particular relevance with Agenda 2030 with specific reference to:

SDG 2 on investment in rural infrastructure and technology development,
SDG 11 on positive economic, social and environmental links between urban, peri-urban and rural areas and
SDG 16 on initiatives to adopt and implement constitutional, statutory and/or policy guarantees for public access to information….”

Access to Information Is Not Universal: Here’s Why That Matters

Today is the International Day for Universal Access to Information (IDUAI).

Image credit: UNESCO, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO

You may be wondering why this day is necessary—particularly in 2019, when the average person is inundated with an estimated 34 gigabytes of information every day, from emails and text messages to Youtube videos and news programs. In fact, it’s easy to take information for granted. However, access to public information, in particular, is not universal.

“Although technology has increased the amount of information and systematized the collection of data, people and communities across the world still lack access to critical, public information,” explains Bushra Ebadi. As a researcher and Executive Committee Member of the Canadian Commission for UNESCO, Bushra relies on public information to study and develop solutions for issues such as insecurity, corruption, inequality, and climate change.

Access to information “is an integral part of the right to freedom of expression” and “a key enabler towards inclusive knowledge societies.”

According to Moez Chakchouk, UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information, access to information “is an integral part of the right to freedom of expression” and “a key enabler towards inclusive knowledge societies.” Despite this, UNESCO says that many governments “do not have national legislation on access to information as a specific expression of the law,” otherwise known as freedom of information legislation. This means that millions of people do not have the right or the ability to access public information. Further, “Even when these laws exist they are not necessarily abided by,” adds Bushra, “there can be a lot of red tape to access information in a timely manner.”

This lack of access is particularly worrying for researchers and activists, like Bushra. Without universal, open access to data from governments or research institutions, for example, developing effective solutions to global problems is difficult.

A Closer Look At Government Data

Increasingly, governments are using tools like Creative Commons’ CC0 Public Domain Dedication (CC Zero) to maximize the “re-use of data and databases” by clarifying that these resources are in the public domain and not restricted by copyright. However, there are many instances when data collected by governments are not made easily accessible (e.g., through an online data portal or open source data set).

In 2017, the World Wide Web Foundation found that almost every country included in its Open Data Barometer report failed to adequately share important data with the public. For example, only 71% of the observed government data sets were published online, only 25% were available via an open license, and only 7% of government data sets were truly open—meaning they “can be freely used, modified, and shared by anyone for any purpose.” The Foundation also reported that many of the available data sets were “incomplete, out of date, of low quality, and fragmented.”

In her work, Bushra often relies on government data to conduct policy research, but has routinely experienced problems. “The relevance of the data is largely dependent on how and what information was collected, as well as the format it is available in,” she explains. While studying issues related to forced migration and gender discrimination in the Global South, for example, she found it difficult to access reliable data.

“By restricting access to those who can afford it or have power and privilege, we support a system and culture of elitism…”

To compensate for this lack of data, researchers must often rely on data collected by non-government entities—which are typically kept behind expensive paywalls. According to Bushra, this is particularly detrimental. “By restricting access to those who can afford it or have power and privilege, we support a system and culture of elitism in which a select group of people with access are able to dictate what is done with information and how it is used.”

Attendees meet at Rights Con, Tunisia 2019Image credit: Rights Con 2019, CC BY-NC 2.0

The Power of Information

Universal, open access to public information, particularly government data, not only facilitates scientific collaboration and innovation, it also empowers communities that have been historically marginalized and silenced.

“Access to information is intrinsically tied to the right to know and the right to exist,” Bushra emphasizes, “and without access to information, citizens lack the tools they need to hold their governments and people in power accountable.”

Information is powerful—that’s why, even in 2019, the International Day for Universal Access to Information remains not only important, but necessary.

To learn more and get involved, visit UNESCO’s website or sign up for their newsletter.

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