Editor’s note: This is part of a series of reflections by community members on the recent Library Publishing Forum. See the whole series. This post is guest written by Alison McGonagle-O’Connell, Editoria Community Manager and Owned by the Academy presenter.
As a first-time Library Publishing Forum attendee, presenter, and a participant in the “Owned by the Academy” pre-meeting, I was struck by how truly welcoming and collaborative this group is! These meetings also provided me with a few key takeaways:
- Open Source (OS) publishing technologies are proliferating, and are of increasing interest to the broader library publishing community.
- These tools and platforms represent one way for the community to reclaim some control of the scholarly communication marketplace.
- Hosted service models for OS tools will be necessary for some to take the leap from commercial products.
- OS providers need to work together to ensure interoperability, and to effectively map tool capabilities to the unique needs and requirements of the community
The first two takeaways are general observations, largely supported by those who attended, tweeted, and have subsequently discussed the meetings openly. OS technology gives organizations the ability to design and customize platforms to support their own needs and values. There is significant freedom in not being locked in to a commercial solution’s unalterable roadmap. Want to design accessibility into the platform with your user community? Go ahead! Concerned about security? Need support for interactive images including integration with data sets? Want to support multiple languages? Done. Nothing is off the table with this kind of community-driven and -supported infrastructure.
The next two takeaways represent challenges. The “bepress acquisition” discussion highlighted a level of dissatisfaction that some library publishers are resigned to endure because, for various reasons, including the need for a turnkey service and customer support, they don’t see good alternatives in the current marketplace. One librarian I spoke with pointed to the complexity she has faced in trying to manage IT projects within the library. She felt unwilling to “go to bat” again. Dismayed by Elsevier’s values and concerned about an uncertain future, she saw value in OS solutions but felt that it was beyond her bandwidth to try to implement one again.
She wasn’t the only one. Others I spoke with expressed enthusiasm about Vega, Janeway, Editoria, and others, but felt that these solutions are basically out of reach until new implementation possibilities exist that do not require development staff. While these are challenges, they are also opportunities.
It appears that OS providers have work to do to address the needs of publishers in this space. As our use cases and communities continue to grow and flourish, as features are perfected and new releases rolled out, we need to focus on also responding to these needs, or finding partners better positioned to do so. Similarly, a community-led governance model for solving these problems, or at least working on them transparently, will position library publishers to have more control over the sustainability of and long-term plans for the solutions they invest in. In the healthily competitive ecosystem that is developing around OS scholarly communication solutions, we have the opportunity to address these issues in new and exciting ways and, consequently, to offer significant benefits for library publishers, researchers, and society at large.