Ann Okerson on the state of Open Access: Where are we, what still needs to be done? is one of a series of interviews with prominent figures within the OA community conducted by Richard Poynder in his Open and Shut? blog.
Ms. Okerson is well positioned to offer her expertise. Given her diverse experience as a librarian and her early involvement in the Open Access movement (she co-edited — with classicist Jim O’Donnell — the book Scholarly Journals at the Crossroads: a Subversive Proposal for Electronic Journal Publishing), she provides both a broad based viewpoint as well as an in-depth awareness of the issues surrounding open access.
Ms. Okerson sees herself as being “in the pragmatic wing of open access advocates,” and her answers in this interview bear it out. Her practical perspective is on display as she weighs in on a diversity of topics including: the concept of “open use”, open access in the developing world, tracking the version of record (VoR), “Gold” and “Green” OA, open access monographs, Hybrid OA, and the genesis of the OA movement in the “serials pricing crisis.”
However, Ms. Okerson is at her most pragmatic when she talks about her biggest disappointment with the OA movement. She says that her disappointment comes when the discussion turns ideological causing opportunities for progress to be missed. She seems to agree with the adage that “the perfect is the enemy of the good” implying that in their insistence on the ideal, some OA advocates undermine the very progress that would advance their objectives.
Ms. Okerson has witnessed this in her role as a member of the international steering committee for SCOAP3, a project committed to bringing the journal literature of high energy physics into full OA accessibility. She has been “frustrated that getting library participation can at times be so difficult. A zillion questions are asked, some unanswerable at this point in the project: some want the perfect answers to what will happen with the project 3 or 5 or 10 years out … I’m really struck that some of our more outspoken advocates for OA in the library community, when faced with such a zero-cost, scientist-led initiative, have found it hard to give their assent.”
As usual we are just scratching the surface of all that this piece has to offer. Ann Okerson has a lot to say and says it from a highly informed perspective gleaned from years of diverse and relevant experience. Needless to say, reading her interview is well worth the time and effort.
Tom is originally from Brooklyn N.Y but has spent his entire professional career in South Carolina, most recently as Head of Reference Services at the College of Charleston. As part of the Against the Grain and Charleston Conference team, he serves as the associate editor of the print ATG as well as the co-editor of the webpage. Tom’s conference duties include coordinating the Penthouse Suite interviews as well as the conference poster sessions.
He received his MLS from the University of Buffalo, SUNY and a second master’s in public administration from the College of Charleston and the Univ. of South Carolina. His wife Carol and he live in downtown Charleston and she is an artist and a tour guide offering historic walking tours of the city.