Open access is becoming more important every day
I attend a public medical school supported by state tax dollars. One constant for our school in the current economic environment has been budget cuts. Recently, our library announced the discontinuation of several electronic resources, including journals, electronic textbooks, and online educational resources.* Now, this first round of cuts is probably a good thing. As explained in their email to students and faculty, they only cut the least used, most expensive resources. However, as budgets continue to shrink, deeper cuts will have to be made. This means less access for students, researchers, and physicians who rely on these resources to make very important decisions. Liberalizing access to academic resources is going to become more and more critical as institutions drop subscriptions. As I argued in my previous post on open access, content providers need to provide higher quality content (in terms of delivery and subject matter) at cheaper prices in order to avoid the same fate as newspapers and magazines.
*To be clear, the library’s discontinuation of a few of the subscription services may be the most trivial of budget cuts. In writing this post I did not forget the thousands of people who are losing their jobs at these institutions every day due to budget cuts. I will gladly give up my access to these resources if it means one more person can keep their job.