I am never so happy to be done with my school days as I am during finals week here at our library. Our students are huddled together around desks with glazed and frantic looks in their eyes, the stress is thick enough to slice with a butter knife, and all this is accompanied by the grinding cacophony of printers working overtime. Anytime I consider pursuing my doctorate, all I need is a library during final exam week to snap me out of it. A simple Google search reveals that many college libraries bring in therapy animals (mostly dogs and the occasional cat) to alleviate student stress. I would never turn down a chance to pet a pup. Does anyone do this at your libraries?
Hot off the press this week is the announcement from Nature Publishing Group that they will make their articles (going back to 1869) “free to read”. Before anyone gets too excited, this doesn’t mean that non-subscribers can now access Nature content willy-nilly. It does allow subscribers to create and share links to articles that are then viewed on the proprietary ReadCube format, which is a bit of a sidestep toward open access (OA). Publishers are feeling increased pressure from stakeholders to adopt OA models, particularly due to stipulations from grant funding agencies that require mandatory OA publishing. Even if this is a sidestep, it’s still a step in the right direction from one of the biggies, and it creates a glimmer of hope that some of the other usual suspects in the academic publishing world (particularly here in the US) will get on board.
Maybe we are a jaded bunch in the academic library world, but my first reaction to announcements like the one from Nature is “what’s their angle?”. Perhaps they’re embracing modified OA out of the gushy goodness of their hearts. More likely, they’ve discovered that this is a way to pump up visibility without losing existing revenues. Libraries who already subscribe to Nature aren’t going to unsubscribe based on this news, as the read-only ReadCube workaround is clunky enough not to replace the subscription model. Libraries who don’t already subscribe, however, may find that their patrons gain access to articles through sharing and start wondering why they don’t subscribe to this wealth of material, thus initiating new subscriptions. What are your thoughts?
And now for something delightful. Another Shakespeare First Folio (jeez, another one!) was found in a small library in the French town of Saint-Omer. Considering that there are only around 230 known copies of the First Folio in existence, this was no small discovery. Imagine being the librarian who happens to take a rare book from the shelf and realizes that this is a legendary relic. I get chills just thinking about it.