«The whole system is rotten»

By Mikael Böök

The Library Publishing Forum 2021 opened this evening (well, 12 pm EDT in the USA, but 19 pm in Finland where I attend this via Zoom) with a keynote speech by Ms Elaine Westworth, Vice Provost of University Libraries and University Librarian at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

As an introduction to Library publishing her presentation was surely to the point and very useful. The focus of Westworth’s speech was on the necessary negotiations and cooperation with the learned societies, the goal of the librarians being to to break the dominance of the 4-5 biggest commercial publishing houses and to create a new ”business model” for scholarly publishing.

As far as I understood, Westworth mostly talked about the publishing of social and behavioral science journals in the USA. Westworth admitted that much will have to change before a sustainable new publishing model has come into existence, because, as she stated at one point, ”The whole system is rotten.” One of the problems is that the societies are dependent on the commercial publishers for their own income streams, but do not understand that those income streams are actually financed from the library budgets.

Another is the imperative to grow, even when growth might not be justified. And a third is the inbuilt ”inequity” of the societies, as these are more often than not dominated by white middle-aged men.

The LPC Forum 2021, arranged by the Library Publishing Coalition, continues until Friday. The program and the possibility to buy a ticket for attending its sessions (25 USD) is found at http://bit.ly/LPforum21 . I look forward to presenting and discussing my ideas about co-operation with the so called shadow libraries Sci-Hub and Libgen on Friday 14 May at 1.15 pm EDT.

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