What does Icelandic fishing have to do with commercial publishing?

Siglufjordur is a small fishing village in the north of Iceland that my wife and I had the pleasure of visiting this past summer.  It nestles between the mountains of the Icelandic highlands and the sea in a way characteristic of towns on the northern coast.

What is unusual about Siglufjordur is its economic history.  It was a boom town in the 1940s and 50s, the center of the North Atlantic herring trade.  In addition to fishing, a great deal of processing and packing was done in Siglufjordur, and the town was triple its current size.  In the early 1960s, however, the herring industry in Siglufjordur collapsed quite suddenly, because the fishing grounds had been overfished.  Now the town is a shadow of its former self, surviving on sport fishing and tourism (the Herring Museum, perhaps surprisingly, is very much worth a visit). Read more

Why just 2.5%?

Sustainability planning is certainly a tricky business. Over the last several months I have been working with teams grappling with sustainability and other long-term plans for four projects: the Big Ten Academic Alliance’s Geoportal, Mapping Prejudice, the Data Curation Network, and AgEcon Search.  These are all cross-unit collaborative projects, and multi-institutional in most cases, but their common element is that my library serves as administrative and/or infrastructural home and/or lead institution. This planning has led to an interesting thought experiment, spurred by the AgEcon Search planning. Read more

Copyright in government works, technical standards, and fair use

It is one of the simplest, yet most frequently misunderstood, provisions of the U.S. copyright law.  Section 105 of Title 17 says that “Copyright protection under this title is not available for any work of the United States government, but the United States government is not precluded from receiving and holding copyrights transferred to it by assignment, bequest or otherwise.”  A single sentence, but lots of nuance, both because of what it says and what it does not say.  Last week, an important decision from the DC Circuit Court of Appeals again highlights some of the scope for confusion. Read more

The Case for Fixing the Monograph by Breaking It Apart

Earlier this month the University of North Carolina Press (where I am director) received a nearly $1 million grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to lead an OA pilot among multiple university presses (UPs). During the three-year experiment we will utilize web-based digital workflows to publish up to 150 new monographs. We intend to transform how university presses might publish their most specialized books while validating the legitimacy of high quality scholarship delivered in digital-first formats. Read more

Offsetting as a path to full Open Access: MIT and the Royal Society of Chemistry sign first North American ‘read and publish’ agreement

Over the past few years the MIT Libraries – like many US research libraries– have been watching with interest the development of “offsetting” agreements in Europe and the UK.  In offsetting agreements, a single license incorporates costs associated with access to paywalled articles and costs associated with open access publication.   This type of agreement has emerged in Europe and the UK and been the source of both new deals and broken deals. Read more

The Impact of Big Deals on the Research Ecosystem

Earlier this month I read this article by Kenneth Frazier from D-Lib Magazine which argues that academic libraries should reconsider the value of so-called “big deals” from publishers. The core of the argument is that the downsides of these journal packages outweigh the benefits of convenience and an arguably lower cost per title. I say “arguably” about cost per title because, if one excludes the titles in a bundle that are rarely or never used when calculating per title cost, the value proposition is significantly different. Read more