Posts Tagged 'journal of library administration'

My stint on the JLA Editorial Board: A few clarifications

Seems like a few clarifications about the story of my short stint on the JLA Editorial Board are needed. In no particular order:

  • I’m female. Some of the follow-on stories refer to me as “he”. I get it. It’s a gender-neutral name, and I guess if you googled me for a picture, that might not clear things up. But I am female. I figure if I write “Chris Bourg is female” here, future bloggers can google me and get it right next time.
  • I do not speak for the former Editorial Board of the Journal of Library Administration. My post about my stint with JLA is my own story. I thought that was obvious in the original post, but apparently not.
  • My crisis of conscience in the aftermath of the tragic death of Aaron Swartz was my own and not the board’s. I’m pretty sure I never even mentioned Aaron’s death or my feelings about it in any conversations ever with the Editor of JLA or any of my fellow board members.
  • Even after my crisis of conscience, at the time, I decided to stay on the board, and to submit the article I promised. Judge me if you will. Later, when negotiations with T&F went nowhere, I resigned along with the rest of the board.
  • Any connection between my crisis of conscience, Aaron’s tragic death, and the board’s resignation is tenuous and indirect at best. I suppose my hesitation to submit my article counted as one more piece of data adding up to the board’s conclusion that the restrictive and confusing licensing terms were making it difficult to attract quality content.
  • It is my opinion, and was my hope, that the terms negotiated by the authors of the articles in the special issue on Digital Humanities in Libraries should have served as a model for a new standard author license for JLA. I think Micah Vandegrift and the rest of the authors in that issue deserve enormous credit and praise for both the quality of that issue (which was hugely influential in my decision to join the board), and for their persistence in negotiating an amended license, and for doing so publicly. I just didn’t, and still don’t, think every potential JLA author ought to have to go through the same lengthy negotiation process.
  • As former Editor Damon Jaggars has stated: “Open Access writ large was not the fundamental issue in this disagreement.” I characterize it as about open(er) access and about author’s control of their own work.
  • And just for good measure, I am female. Always have been, always will be.

3/29/13, 6:30pm: Edited to make timeline clear and to reiterate that we all remain resigned.

My short stint on the JLA Editorial Board

In the Fall of 2012, I was persuaded by Damon Jaggars to join the Editorial Board of the Journal of Library Administration. This week, we all resigned.

When I was asked to be on the board, I warned Damon that I had actually never published anything in library literature, and that I was generally critical of the quality of much of the literature in the field. He convinced me this would be a chance to do something about it, and that he had some good ideas for publishing a quality product. Damon is a pretty persuasive guy, and I figured it was time for me to stop grousing about the problems with library literature and try to be part of the solution. So I signed on.

Later, Damon asked me to write an article about our Library Concierge project for JLA, and again I said yes. When Damon contacted me later with an actual deadline for the article, I told him I was having second thoughts. It was just days after Aaron Swartz’ death, and I was having a crisis of conscience about publishing in a journal that was not open access. Damon reminded me (gently) that not only had I agreed to write for JLA, but I was on the Editorial Board, so this could be a problem. More importantly, he assured me that he was working with Taylor & Francis to try to get them to adopt less restrictive agreements that would allow for some form of Creative Commons license. He told me his strategy was to work from within to encourage change among publishers. Once again, Damon’s power of persuasion worked.

So, I worked on the article, and just recently submitted it. In the meantime, Damon continued to try to convince Taylor & Francis (on behalf of the entire Editorial Board, and with our full support), that their licensing terms were too confusing and too restrictive. A big part of the argument is that the Taylor & Francis author agreement is a real turn-off for authors and was handicapping the Editorial Board’s ability to attract quality content to the journal. The best Taylor & Francis could come up with was a less restrictive license that would cost authors nearly $3000 per article. The Board agreed that this alternative was simply not tenable, so we collectively resigned. In a sense, the decision was as much a practical one as a political one. Huge kudos to Damon for his persistence, his leadership, and his measured and ethical stance on this issue.

So, if anyone has an opening on an editorial board of a journal with less restrictive author agreements, I just so happen to have some free time. I’ve also got a fairly decent article about our Library Concierge Project all ready if anyone wants to publish it.

(3/23, 5:43pm, Edited to correct some spelling and add a link. CB)


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