OA at ALA: How do the chapters fare?

A recent post on Open Access News highlighted the fact that while the American Library Association supports OA as a matter of policy, several of its journals are not themselves OA.

I remembered having been shocked that the Florida Library Association, a state ALA chapter, didn’t provide OA to its journal. So I decided to investigate a little and see how the other state and regional chapters fare.

I went through the states, starting with A and stopping at Louisiana (after which I lost interest). I also checked the regional chapters, as well as the chapters in D.C., Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The verdict:

  • Of the 18 state chapters reviewed, 7 appear to provide OA to the journal they publish. (That number increases to 8 out of 19 if you include D.C., which ALA counts as a state chapter.) Methodology: I browsed the chapter’s Web site and searched Google for the journal named on ALA’s chapter list. (In a few cases, I couldn’t find the chapter’s “journal” but did find the chapter’s “newsletter” — e.g. Kentucky, Colorado, Alabama.) Louisiana is borderline, since the most recent issue online is from 2000: I’m not sure whether that’s the most recent issue published, or whether more recent issues haven’t made it online yet; I counted Louisiana as OA in my count. So that’s 42% of this (non-random) sample, or 58% if you include the newsletter-but-not-journal states.
  • I couldn’t find a Web site for either Guam or the Virgin Islands — neither the association nor its journal, if it publishes one. (ALA counts these as regional chapters, so I didn’t include these in the previous count.)
  • All four regional chapters representing the states provide OA to their journal.

It would be nice for ALA to exercise more leadership here, and lean on their chapters to provide OA to their journals (and adopt a broad commitment to OA to all their publications). (Similarly, the forward-thinking already currently providing OA could goad their hesitant peers into doing likewise.)

I’m sure it would help if ALA would provide tech support for the chapters’ publications, e.g. allow chapters to use ALA’s publishing platform, or facilitate the chapters in pooling resources to fund a system they can all use. (In almost every case for the states I reviewed, providing OA meant simply posting a PDF of the journal issue, with no HTML or Web-formatted version. This suggests the technical/administrative burden of providing OA may be an important factor, beyond any fear of lost revenue — or at least that there’s a learning curve to be overcome.)

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