Once upon a time there was a professional organization whose branches ran a good many professional journals. As the open-access message penetrated this organization, a few of its journals ventured out into the open waters. Happy ending?
Not for Reference and User Services Quarterly. Frankly, the Loon hadn’t even heard of this journal, much less read it, before it went OA (see first comment) (see also, though ALA being ALA, this link will eventually 404 too) and she found it linked to here and there. (Reference is not the Loon’s bag; she’s never sat behind a ref desk in her whole loonly life.) She discovered some rather well-done articles in it, added it to her RSS feeder, and subsequently discovered more.
The RSS feed doesn’t work any longer. RUSQ has called off its OA experiment, going back to subscription/membership-only.
The Loon is disappointed by that, but not particularly surprised or angered. (All right, she’s angered enough that every RUSQ read on her syllabi will be replaced; she refuses to reward this behavior.) Gold OA isn’t a financially-feasible path for every journal at present; there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with giving it a whirl, discovering it doesn’t work, and doing what needs to be done to save the journal. What does anger her—well, anger and intrigue at once—is the secrecy with which the re-closing took place. No announcement, no explanation, no apology—just a whole lot of 404 leading to a good bit of bewilderment.
She conjectures that the powers-that-be at RUSQ feel shame, fear, or both over the re-closing. Shame, because they feel open is a good thing to be, a sentiment with which the Loon of course concurs. Fear, because the open-access movement has teeth and claws these days, among librarians as much as anywhere and more than in many disciplines and professions.
She wishes, however, that RUSQ’s editors and supporters would come clean. Open access has a history of paying a good bit too much heed to rose-tinted glasses. It’s important to get mistakes and failures out there for examination, uncomfortable though that process often is (not least because a few open-access advocates sling blame around with hurricane-force winds, and just as indiscriminately).
There might even be feasible ways to bring RUSQ back to open. How will we know, if we don’t know why RUSQ re-closed?
Edited to add: RUSQ’s editorial board, if anyone knows anyone to ask. The Loon doesn’t.
RUSQ’s camouflage by Library Loon, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.