ATG Hot Topics 3/11/16

Erin GallagherBy Erin Gallagher

Spring is in the air!  My Christmas cactus is inexplicable blooming, despite my best efforts to kill it, and we got a nice pollen-fall last night, so the joys of a Floridian pseudo-spring are upon us.

Does anyone else out there subscribe to the LIBLICENSE listserv?  If so, you’ve seen the upwards of fifty messages daily regarding Sci-Hub (please note that this link will probably result in an error; I’m including it intentionally).  The listserv conversation runs the gamut from insightful comments and questions to those of the “nanny nanny boo-boo” variety, but Carrie Russell and Ed Sanchez provided an excellent summary in the latest College & Research Libraries NewsThe Sci-Hub debacle is yet another brick in the ever-lengthening wall of recent news surrounding the academic publishing landscape and open access.  If you haven’t been following, Sci-Hub operates by allowing hackers to dupe unsuspecting users affiliated with colleges into entering their usernames and passwords on dummy login sites.  The hackers then store this info and use it to access and download boatloads of copyright-protected articles, making them available to the public through the Sci-Hub repository.  I hate giving giants like Elsevier and Wiley so much of our money knowing they’re profiting from the free labor of our researchers (and making insane profit margins).  But I agree with the authors that the way to move beyond this is not to spark cause for litigation, allowing them to justify charging us even more as a barely-veiled punishment.  The Sci-Hub scenario isn’t like some grassroots open access initiative; I’m not going to pay Wiley $50K for a journal package and then cheer when some clever hacker makes the content freely available.   I’m pleased that many libraries are doing our part to support open access initiatives and projects that, unlike Sci-Hub, might effectively lessen the power these publishing giants hold over us…eventually.  We just need valid alternatives instead of well-meaning fly-by-night projects that promise a lot a lead nowhere.

March is also Women’s History MonthCheck out the link to find all sorts of fun and educational events and digitized collections from the Library of Congress, the National Park Service, and more.  And if you’re feeling really ambitious and looking for some powerful reads, check out this terrific list of top feminist books from the New York Public Library.  Let the pride fly, ladies and gents everywhere.


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