Andrew Albanese -- Library Journal, 3/6/2009
- End print law journals
- Greater access to scholarship
- Supported by more than 30 top law schools, law librarians
- Ending print publication of its journals and to making “definitive versions of journals and other scholarship produced at the school immediately available upon publication in stable, open, digital formats.”
- To keep a repository of the scholarship published at the school, including “open standards for the archiving of works, as well as redundant formats, such as PDF copies.”
- Creating and supporting use of “a standard set of metadata to catalog each article to ensure easy online public indexing of legal scholarship.”
- And, as a measure of redundancy, “to urge faculty members to reserve their copyrights to ensure that they too can make their own scholarship available in stable, open, digital formats.”
The statement came out of a November, 2007 meeting at Duke University. It is dated February 11, 2009. More law schools and law librarians are considering signing on.
Not your average OA statement
As Duke University scholarly communication officer Kevin Smith observed, the Durham statement breaks new ground for OA statements. “First, the Durham Statement calls for law schools to simply stop publishing print versions of their journals,” Smith noted. “It also includes a clause urging faculty authors to retain their copyrights. One might wonder why this is important if all law journal publication was online and free. The Statement calls this ‘a measure of redundancy,’ and that is a big part of the answer. If academics retain their copyrights, they will be in a position to respond to changes in the means for distribution and use of their work.”
The statement also prominently addresses cost reduction for libraries and law schools in a time of “extreme pressures” on budgets. Noting that most scholars now access legal information digitally, the statement suggests that print simply no longer makes economic sense.
“It is increasingly uneconomical to keep two systems afloat simultaneously,” the statement reads. Although law journals are not-for-profit and schools do not rely on revenue from their journals, “the presumption of need for redundant printed journals adds costs to library budgets, takes up physical space in libraries pressed for space, and has a deleterious effect on the environment.”
Articles can still be printed on demand, the statement acknowledges. “In general, however, we believe that, if law schools are willing to commit to stable and open digital storage for the journals they publish, there are no longer good reasons for individual libraries to rely on paper copies as the archival format.”
Of course, the “if,” when it comes to long-term stable archiving could be a particularly big one. “We hope that our statement will provoke the development of generally accepted formats for preserving these materials,” Richard Danner, senior associate dean for information services at the Duke University School of Law, told LJAN.
As for repositories stepping to shoulder the load, Danner suggested that repository development on the “school” level, such as in law schools, “has been easier to manage and scale” than it is on the university level. “A good example, I think, is Duke Law's Faculty Scholarship Repository."
More importantly than savings and efficiencies, however, the statement asserts that an aggressive move to digital formats for legal scholarship will “increase access to legal information and knowledge not only to those inside the legal academy and in practice, but to scholars in other disciplines and to international audiences, many of whom do not now have access either to print journals or to commercial databases.”