One of the features of the open access discussion in recent years has been the collection of significant reports authored or co-authored by Alma Swan. I was struck by this paragraph in a recent entry on her blog:
Many people argue for Open Access on the grounds that publishers make too much profit, but that is skating on very thin ice. There are very good reasons for Open Access but this isn’t one of them. Most of those who argue that way live in capitalist societies and implicitly accept that the profit motive drives their country’s economy, local small businesses and personal effort (outside the public sector). And for those in the public sector who may consider themselves above all this, it would be rare for their own personal financial situation not to be tangled up with the fortunes of companies such as the big scholarly publishers. The custodian of the other large chunk of my own pension contributions is the Universities Superannuation Scheme in the UK, which of course holds Reed Elsevier shares in its equities portfolio. Anyone who has worked for any length of time at a British university has this kind of stake in Elsevier. And since Reed Elsevier is also listed on the NYSE, this probably holds true for US public sector employees as well. Elsevier’s profits, then, are going to help fund all our old ages. What a cosy thought. [OptimalScholarship]
I was interested to see the remark about ‘those in the public sector who may consider themselves above all this”. Many librarians seem to feel this way. Or may be inclined to distrust the motives of those who work for the vendors with whom they engage. Always a somewhat strange starting position I thought, given the mutual dependencies involved.