Blogging has played an important part of reflective practice for me. Usually when I blog, it is about something that I have been thinking about that I need to write in order to understand. This is not one of those posts. This is just a random post about something that just dropped into my inbox.
Usually, e-mails from the big publishers, like Elsevier, SAGE og Ebsco, go straight to my spam folder. I really have no interest in hearing about shiny new products or subscriptions that a) I have no control over anyway seeing as I am not in acquisition b) we do not have funds to buy and c) that just lines the pockets of wealthy businessmen and women on the backs of the universities at their mercy. (Wow – that sounded a little harsher than I had intended, but I have decided not to practice self-censorship here and I’ll just let it go.)
Today, however, one of these e-mails (I will not name the publisher), made its way to my inbox. It had been forwarded, and it said “FW” in the title, so I figured I’d just browse through to see what it was. It was just a reminder to check out some new journal package, and just when I was about to delete it, I noticed the following sentence, put in right before the end greetings:
“We know libraries have faced unforeseen challenges this year, and we’re here to help you every step of the way.”
I don’t know why this suddenly caught my interest, but I just wanted to hold this publisher upside down and give it a good shake to see if any loose change came out of its pockets. First of all, “unforeseen challenges”?? Is that what we call it? Is that what we call a pandemic (not really unforseen at all, when we think about it) that has taken millions of lives? Is that what we call a constantly understaffed, under-financed and under-appreciated (is that a word?) library sector? Is that what we call it when librarians in many countries have been forced to go back to universities and colleges, in the middle of surges of covid, just to offer services that are not even considered life-saving? Secondly, “here to help you”.. Right. Because we all want to be saved by the publishers that bleed us dry every year? The publishers who demand 6 percent increase in price every year for more or less the same content, ultimately forcing us to cut down on staff etc. just because they have us in their sweaty grip? (wow.. again.. didn’t know I was this annoyed. Checking blood sugar.. nope, I’m fine there.) I don’t think so, and it is insulting to even suggest that they are here to “help us”.
Well – the e-mail is in the spam folder where it belongs. The backdrop, however, is very much still in my mental inbox. Open Access (OA) week starts soon, and while I still applaud this initiative, and I believe that OA and Open Science is more necessary and important than ever, it is hard to get really excited about it as long as we are still so bound by the publishers. We cannot mess with researchers’ autonomy, but how I wish they would just collectively say: screw this! Let’s figure out something better than just pouring money out of here to get access to the research that WE DID ourselves.
Apologies for this random rant on a Friday. I’ll work on my blood pressure this weekend.