Publications and Research

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One of the most essential missions of academic research libraries is to facilitate access to information. Librarians do this by sharing their print collections, as well as digital information, with members of their local communities. They also share this information, with each other, through interlibrary loan (ILL) services.

A fundamental belief in the mission of information access and the value of sharing information is why so many librarians also support the open access movement. In addition to this shared mission and value, there are also lessons the open access movement can learn by exploring how traditional ILL services – and their policies, procedures, costs and reciprocal, cooperative systems – successfully function.

By examining what is easy to get through ILL, and what is impossible or prohibitively expensive, we can see why current publishing models are not financially sustainable. By looking at the bottlenecks between what libraries can provide and what students and researchers are requesting, we can recognize the need for global solutions to information sharing. ILL specialists see all the limits to information sharing that open access publishing could transcend. We also see the pros and cons of what is promised and threatened, gained and lost, depending on how open access is actualized. We can speak to the importance of library collecting, preservation and access, the continued use of print information, the value of digital information, and the need for open access publishing.


This work was originally published in "Open access and the future of scholarly communication: Policy and Infrastructire," edited by K. L. Smith & K. A. Dickson.


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