November 19, 2017

Feedback: Letters to LJ, March 15, 2015 Issue

“I really liked the idea of [libraries as] ‘something we own collectively,’ as opposed to the whole, ‘Hey, it’s free,’ thing, since it’s not really…”

It is not really free

Rebecca T. Miller’s “Worth the Price: Reflecting on the Problem of ‘Free’ ” (Editorial, LJ 2/1/15) was a thoughtful and helpful way to look at the issue a little differently. I really liked the idea of [libraries as] “something we own collectively,” as opposed to the whole, “Hey, it’s free,” thing, since it’s not really (trust me, I count on that check every month!). Anyway, thanks for being insightful and ­informative….

—Fred LeBaron, Adult & Teen Svcs. Libn., Downers Grove P.L., IL

Predatory interests?

I’ve been advocating [open access] for around eight years. I know several well-funded concerns that may speak against it depending on special situations, but to honestly argue against proper OA, i.e., CC BY for outcomes of research fully funded by the public…leaves me flabbergasted and wondering whether a) I stepped into a time machine back to 2010 or b) there might be vested interests behind such an article (Rick Anderson, “CC BY and Its Discontents”).

The large science societies in Europe today push hard toward proper OA, whole editorial boards (i.e., scientists) of journals are leaving major publishers that do not offer OA-compliant models or charge twice for them, and suddenly come “messages” that scientists want to keep commercial rights in order to prevent others from making huge profits from research results fully or largely financed by taxpayers? ­Really? Maybe the author misunderstood something or wanted to misunderstand.

What risk of big money being made is there when something is put under CC BY and thus everybody is allowed to print, and sell? Ask economists if you don’t have a sufficient gut feeling that this is bogus. If everybody can copy it and must indicate it was freely licensed there is no economic incentive for any predatory or parasitical business model. There’s only a beneficial cut in costs for transactions that have already been paid for. To demand commercial monopolies for such publicly funded content, that is predatory.

—Name withheld upon request

Articles or results?

Rick Anderson asks whether the public has a “moral right” to access and reuse the results of publicly funded research (“CC BY and Its Discontents”). But it’s important to note that what you’re talking about is not the actual research results themselves but rather the articles written about those results. If the public truly “owns” what they fund, then why are researchers allowed to lock up their discoveries behind patent paywalls, charging millions of dollars for taxpayer-funded discoveries? In many ways, arguing about access to and reuse of the stories written about discoveries seems a distraction from dealing with the thorny issue of the discoveries themselves. It’s a bit like saying it’s vital that you can read about my cure for cancer, but if you actually want to use that cure, well, you’re going to have to pay me. Why does the public’s “moral right” only extend to sets of words and images in a particular order but not to actual research results?

—David Crotty, Exec. Editor, The Scholarly Kitchen, New York

“Volunteered” to quit

Along with those who were dismissed from their jobs (Barbara Fister, “Recognizing My Library Heroes of 2014,” Peer to Peer Review), I would like also to mention that I know at least three more who have “voluntarily” stepped down from their positions, because they could no longer bear the endless battle with administrations who thought they knew better and who didn’t want uppity librarians (usually women, though sometimes the administrators in question are women as well) daring to question them. And I know more who are on the verge of joining those ranks.

—Name withheld upon request

Deserving of kudos

I’d like to add library worker Nathan Scott of FSU to this list of those deserving kudos in service to libraries (Barbara Fister, “Recognizing My Library Heroes of 2014,” Peer to Peer Review). He’s the young man who, despite having been shot in the leg, got inside his library to secure the door and warn others of the shooter in the foyer. When offered assistance for his injury, he directed people to give to…a student who was paralyzed…. Talk about service to patrons.

—Name withheld upon request

Elevators and airplanes

Michael Stephens, you’re too kind to include me in your story (“What’s Your Pitch?,” Office Hours, LJ 2/15/15)! I agree that it’s so important to encapsulate what you do in a memorable way. It took me a long time to get my job description down to this: I’m a stand-up comedian who helps students and adults change their relationship to money…. I’ve elevator pitched you many times since our flight, to my library association friends in New York, California, and even very close to you at Troy Public Library in Michigan!

—Colin Ryan,


The Social Sciences review of Perry D. Jamieson’s Spring 1865 (LJ 3/1/15) misidentified the port city as Wilmington, DE, instead of Wilmington, NC. LJ apologizes for the error.

This article was published in Library Journal's March 15, 2015 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.