Damon E. Jaggars, associate university librarian for collections & services at the Columbia University Libraries, New York, recently stepped down as editor of the Journal of Library Administration (JLA), along with the rest of the editorial board, because of disagreement with the publisher Taylor & Francis’s licensing terms. LJ caught up with him to hear his reasoning and plans for the future.
Library Journal: What would have been the ideal outcome, from your and the board’s point of view?
Damon Jaggars: The ideal outcome would have been for Taylor & Francis to have provided a less restrictive publishing license to authors, preferably some form of Creative Commons license not tied to a large fee. It does offer a less restrictive license option, but it is tied to a $2,995 per article fee to be paid by the author. So, the options offered to authors are to publish under the standard Taylor & Francis licensing terms that many find confusing and too restrictive, or to pay almost $3,000 to obtain less restrictive terms. Most LIS authors are not working under large research grants, so the latter option, which Taylor & Francis calls Open Select, is not really viable. If an option isn’t achievable, is it really an option? When given this choice, many authors decided on a third option, which was to refuse to publish with JLA.
LJ: What would have been an acceptable compromise? Would a lower fee or an elimination of the post-peer-review windowing have been enough?
DJ: We needed Taylor & Francis to provide less restrictive licensing terms not tied to an author fee. An author fee for the LIS author community is a nonstarter. There was certainly room to negotiate the details of what a new license might look like, but we never got past tying less restrictive terms to an author fee. Enabling authors to post the version of record to institutional repositories would have certainly been a positive step, but open access (OA) writ large was not the fundamental issue in this disagreement. These authors wanted control over their own intellectual property—a more fundamental concern. Thus, the repeated requests for some form of a Creative Commons–based license.
LJ: Would you ever get involved with editing another traditionally published journal?
DJ: It depends on what you mean by “getting involved.” I would consider submitting content to a traditionally published journal only if it provided author-friendly publishing terms along the lines of what we argued for from Taylor & Francis. If a journal offers such terms, is it still “traditionally published”? Note that I’m speaking for myself here and not for my colleagues on the (former) board.
LJ: Do you have any plans to start an OA journal to fulfill the role in the profession that you had hoped to achieve through JLA? Or to partner with an existing one?
DJ: There are no concrete plans to start a new journal. That being said, there is still a lot of energy around what we were trying to accomplish with JLA. We were curating strong content and planning to try what we hoped would be interesting approaches to engage the LIS community. A number of colleagues have reached out to discuss possibilities, but I’m not convinced that the profession needs another traditionally conceived peer-reviewed journal. That niche seems to be ably filled. Personally, I would be more interested in creating something new and to steal a sentiment from Brian Mathews, associate dean for learning and outreach at Virginia Tech, something I would want to read. I like the idea of working with a talented group of colleagues to curate future-facing, challenging content that impacts our professional discourse. This is what we hoped to do with JLA. If I’m involved in a publishing venture in the future, I think it would be headed in that direction rather than adding another volume to an already crowded shelf. Again, I’m speaking for myself here.
LJ: What will happen to the content that was in the pipeline?
DJ: Well, the authors control their content. They will ultimately decide what to do with it. I do know that other journals have reached out to a number of these authors with offers to publish.
LJ: A Taylor & Francis spokesperson was quoted in the Chronicle of Higher Education as saying, “There seemed to be a misunderstanding and some sort of conflation of the different licenses that Taylor & Francis is offering.” Could that have been the case?
DJ: There was no confusion or misunderstanding among board members about the different licenses Taylor & Francis is offering. In my opinion, Taylor & Francis misunderstands authors’ expectations about the control they want over their own intellectual property. This isn’t primarily about the various open access options that Taylor & Francis does or does not offer. It is about authors wanting the ability to control how their own intellectual property is used, now and in the future.