LSJ Editors' Blog: Open Past Initiative

23 October 2006

Open Past Initiative

Richard K. Johnson of SPARC (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) has deposited an article entitled The Open Past Initiative: A Discussion Paper in the E-LIS (E-prints in Library and Information Science) database, which proposes a new cooperative initiative to "digitize and disseminate the back-runs of scholarly journals." Johnson sees an opporunity for librarians and publishers to work together for mutual benefit:

This [current] situation benefits no one. Library investments in materials go underutilized, publisher assets lie unproductive, researcher access remains limited, and author research impact atrophies. Providing free electronic access to these valuable research resources would therefore benefit all the stakeholders in the journal publishing process....The Open Past Initiative would provide an exchange forum that would help match printed journal backfiles requiring retrospective digital conversion with academic libraries willing to support the conversion and online availability of the journal’s retrospective content.

Johnson puts the total cost of converting the backfiles of the average journal at $27,195.

Kudos to SPARC for taking on this noble cause! Obviously the key to making it work will be in finding incentives for individual libraries to make such an expenditure, but I hope SPARC can do it.

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