Gavia Libraria

Understanding librarianship, serials, and open access

Kent Anderson works for a scholarly publisher. So does Peter Binfield.

Phil Davis is a researcher. So is Martin Eve.

Why is it so hard for certain portions of the open-access movement to assimilate that libraries and librarians are not monolithic with respect to open access (or, indeed, much of anything else) either?

To be sure, some of the answer to that question is “unconsidered privilege.” Librarianship is a feminized profession; that has profound social consequences vis-à-vis voice and silencing as well as political capital and lack of same. It is hardly coincidence that the loudest voices either spouting absolute nonsense about libraries and scholarly communication or erasing libraries’ contributions to open access altogether have been—universally, as best the Loon can tell—white men.

The Loon can name names if need be. Per her usual practice, she would vastly prefer not to.

Anyone can learn, however. To that end, some suggestions for places to learn about the complex world of libraries, electronic-resource management (as libraries term it), and open access.

LIS textbooks

There are worse ways to grasp a field than to look at materials used to train new entrants to that field. Look through this canned WorldCat search; books unavailable locally can probably be acquired through interlibrary loan from an academic or public library.

LIS periodicals

The most-available major index to the LIS periodical literature is LISTA. EBSCO, which owns LISTA, allows free LISTA searching via a redirected domain. The Loon presumes individuals interested in scholarly communication can generally get to full text from a citation; if not, or if paywalls are a problem, your local librarians can assist you.

The most on-point periodical for scholarly-communication buffs is, of course, the Journal of Librarianship and Scholarly Communication. Other open-access(-ish, in the case of Library Trends) venues in which pertinent content sometimes appears include:

Quite a few toll-access periodicals publish relevant material also, but the above suggestions will keep the interested quite busy enough.

Librarian authors worth searching for individually include but are certainly not limited to (in alphabetical order by surname) Carol Hixson, Gail McMillan (particularly important regarding OA to electronic theses and dissertations), Dorothea Salo, Sarah Shreeves, Maura Smale, and (saving the best for last) Denise Troll Covey. All these librarians (save possibly Smale, whose institution does not presently have an IR, though one is coming) are diligent about self-archiving, so accessing their work should not pose much difficulty.

Library conferences (and associated proceedings)

Perhaps the best-known serials and scholarly-publishing conferences frequented by librarians are:

NASIG publishes a proceedings, but unfortunately it is tied up in a toll-access Taylor and Francis journal. The license is not T&F’s standard, however, so you may have more luck than usual seeking green-OA versions of sessions of interest. UKSG’s outlet is Ariadne, linked above Insights.

Library conferences with a more open-access bent include:


Though he refuses to call himself a librarian, Walt Crawford has been blogging about open access for years, as well as accumulating considerable fascinating datasets. See also his longrunning Cites & Insights.

There are sadly fewer librarian blogs on scholarly communication than formerly. The Loon’s Boring Alter Ego is not the only librarian blogger driven underground or out of blogging forever by standard silencing practices. Barbara Fister’s blog at Inside Higher Ed is of course required reading. A few more stalwarts remain as well, including the inimitable Kevin Smith of Duke and the indefatigable John Dupuis of York.

(Yes, the Loon is leaving out at least two currently-prominent examples. This is entirely intentional.)


Check the Loon’s own follower list; it contains dozens (perhaps hundreds by now?) of librarians.

Additional suggestions for relevant librarians and librarian-authored materials welcome in the comments. Happy learning.

7 thoughts on “Understanding librarianship, serials, and open access

  1. John Mark Ockerbloom

    As a complement to the Loon’s canned WorldCat search, might I suggest a similar similar canned search for The Online Books Page? There you can find free online books 1 click away not just on electronic information resources management, but also on similar library-related subjects. You can also click on the “your library” link on the left to see what’s available straight from your own library’s collection.

  2. Martin Eve

    Since I was one of the individuals that you did choose to name above, I will only say that I hope I have not been “spouting absolute nonsense” as that paragraph implies (and your previous posts on this site seem to suggest that you didn’t think this was the case). If there’s something specifically wrong with something I’ve written, please let me know and I’ll re-think.

    With respect to erasing the contributions of others, I certainly do accept that I write from a position of intense structural privilege as a white man and that I benefit from this. I accept that this is neither right nor fair and that I have a responsibility to listen to others and to, basically, “shut up” at times so that I don’t silence others.

    At the same time (and without seeking to justify/excuse any lapses), I have attended events run by the library groups/conferences you list above diligently over the past few years, worldwide, to listen to a diverse range of voices and to expose my own ideas to critique. I also try to read as widely as possible. That said, two of the above authors were, I admit to my shame, not known to me; now remedied.

    Which is all to say: if there is more I can do, please tell me (and I appreciate that, in a way, that’s what you are doing in this post). What I’ve taken away from this is that I should be flagging the contributions of others, from across a range of identity positions, more. I’ll try to do so.

    1. Library Loon Post author

      Perhaps the Loon did not make her point sufficiently clear: she used you as a conscious contrast to Phil Davis, even as Binfield contrasts instructively with Kent Anderson.

      1. Martin Eve

        Ah, thanks for the response! I’ll stand by the above pledge anyway and continue to listen to a range of voices.


  3. Bev Acreman

    Just to correct one point in the Library conferences piece: the UKSG open access journal is Insights – insights.uksg.org – and many of the annual conference and one day forum papers appear in there. Ariadne is a separate publication, independent of the UKSG.