Editorial board of Journal of Library Administration resigns en masse in honor of Aaron Swartz

The entire editorial board of the Journal of Library Administration resigned en masse. Board member Chris Bourg wrote publicly about the decision, and an open letter elaborates on it, stating that their difference of opinion with publisher Taylor & Francis Group about open access, galvanized by Aaron Swartz's suicide, moved them to quit.

“The Board believes that the licensing terms in the Taylor & Francis author agreement are too restrictive and out-of-step with the expectations of authors in the LIS community.”

“A large and growing number of current and potential authors to JLA have pushed back on the licensing terms included in the Taylor & Francis author agreement. Several authors have refused to publish with the journal under the current licensing terms.”

“Authors find the author agreement unclear and too restrictive and have repeatedly requested some form of Creative Commons license in its place.”

“After much discussion, the only alternative presented by Taylor & Francis tied a less restrictive license to a $2995 per article fee to be paid by the author. As you know, this is not a viable licensing option for authors from the LIS community who are generally not conducting research under large grants.”

Pretty amazing that Taylor & Francis thought that they could convince authors -- who weren't paid in the first place -- to cough up $3000 for the right to use their own work in other contexts. Talk about being out of step with business realities of publishing!


  1. dunno if this is relevant, but when my mom started working for libraries, she was told to join the union and was shocked to find it was the IWW.  the wobblies hadn’t busted heads in years, but that’s what most people know about them (if at all.)  but they handled all the blue-haired old librarians, too.  (then again, I’m told they will take literally anyone.)

    point being, perhaps this hardline, collective stance of the JLA editors–and I raise my glass to them–is an echo of this history with the IWW?  just a random thought.  don’t fuck with the librarians, man.

    1.  “Librarians are the secret masters of the universe.  They control information.  Never piss one off.”  ~~Spider Robinson

  2. Okay, just to be sure I understand, confirm or deny this conclusion of mine as if I were five years old, please.

    So JLA wanted their “JLA-ournal” to be published by Taylor & Francis, who said “OK, but..each time an author wants to include *your particular paper* in his work (I’m assuming these are academics) they have to pay $3000 to us”.

    Edit: And who foots that bill? University or adacemic?

    Also: I overheard someone say once, “Explain this to me like a five-year old”.

  3. The $3000 is a publication fee paid by the author to make the article freely available to all. This is becoming standard across open academic publishing. $3000 is high. A more typical amount is $2000. It’s particularly crap as the grants funding your research usually won’t pay such fees, though at the same time the funding organisations demand that you publish as much as possible in open journals. Another point to note is that when you review such an article for the journal you get paid $0. Academic publishing really is a scam by the publishers.

  4. Why can’t a group a academics or universities create an open Academic publishing system and host it on servers in the institutions.  The cost of entry could be a university would have to provide a server to mirror the system.  Private publishing companies should not even be involved.  There is an organization that all these librarians/libraries belong to they could organize it.  I am sure you could get a CS department to build the entire thing as a research project / paper.

    1.  Many academic libraries are involved in the development of Institutional Repositories, or IRs, and one of the things many are looking to include are the small, independent journals edited on their campus. For most IRs, a lot of the content will be articles that university faculty have published elsewhere, which is why retaining your right to archive your own work (and NOT pay $3000 for the privilege) is so important.

  5. To say that the board was galvanized by Aaron’s tragic death is not accurate. My crisis of conscience over restrictive publishing practices in the wake of Aaron’s death was mine alone — not the board’s. See http://chrisbourg.wordpress.com/2013/03/29/my-stint-on-the-jla-editorial-board-a-few-clarifications/

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