Gavia Libraria

Gauntlet thrown

Faculty may be surprised to learn that Elsevier, despite its well-known allegiance to the dark side, is not Public Enemy Number One in the eyes of most academic librarians.

That dubious honor belongs to the American Chemical Society, an outfit so openly and contemptuously corrupt that it sees no difficulty whatever with making subscribing to its journals a condition of chemistry-department accreditation. (Oh, they say they don’t, but chemistry departments know the score, and so do chemistry librarians.)

SUNY-Potsdam has thrown the gauntlet. Courageously, they’ve done so in public, and the Loon salutes them for that.

(Most collection developers of the Loon’s acquaintance seem to feel personal guilt and shame over dropping subscriptions. The Loon thinks this somewhat misplaced. Don’t get sad; get angry. Then get activist.)

As with the contretemps between the University of California and Nature Publishing Group (however did that story end, anyway?), the librarians at SUNY-Potsdam made sure to range faculty behind them first. This is only prudent; scholarly societies love to propagandize faculty out of sight of librarians who know better, and incautious librarians have been known to be fired by angry ignorant faculty.

The Loon won’t predict the next moves in this game. At this juncture, most librarians are still too scared and not prepared enough to do this sort of thing. They haven’t the strong faculty relationships and understanding that they need in order to throw gauntlets of their own. This likely means that moves like California’s and SUNY-Potsdam’s will be rare and unpredictable for a good while yet.

Slowly, slowly, one brave gauntlet at a time, however… the toll-access edifice finds itself besieged.