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Open Access: It’s Not Just PubMed

When I interviewed for my current position as Head, Serials Services at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center’s Robert M. Bird Health Sciences Library, there was a proposal for the potential privatization of the journal Environmental Health Perspectives. Due to efforts of the American Library Association (ALA) and the Medical Library Association (MLA) and many other interested organizations and individuals, it appears that Environmental Health Perspectives [EHP] is now an open access journal and the website proudly notes that “all content is freely available to everyone online immediately after publication”.

Open Access, like Information Literacy, has a number of definitions and interpretations, and my hope in this guest blog is to provide some avenues of information on the topic. Those of us who remember “early threats” to access to government funded research may recall that one of the first, if not the first, journal of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to be privatized. In 1997, the Government Printing Office’s Library Program Service was notified that the Journal of the National Cancer Institute had been “privatized.” Ownership was transferred from the National Cancer Institute to Oxford University Press – USA, Inc. Superintendent of Documents Wayne Kelley said that the letter went on to explain that “because the Journal is no longer a publication of the U.S. Government, copies of the Journal and JNCI Monographs will not be provided to the Depository Library Program nor will sale copies be available at the GPO bookstore.” and that “the new price, from Oxford, is $120 for an individual and $150 for an institution”. Current pricing for the OUHSC library for this title is $585 for print and online. And, fortunately, Oxford Journals does include JNCI and other titles in it’s “ Open Access experiments”.

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