Imagine a scenario where suddenly over night all toll access publishing suddenly converts to Open Access. You go to bed and your average academic library spends millions of dollars on serials. You wake up, and the subscription bill is zero.
Now, that doesn't mean that suddenly scholarly publishing doesn't cost anything to support. It just means that the money to support that publishing is coming from somewhere other than library budgets. I would generally assume that an entirely open access publishing ecosystem would be significantly less expensive overall than the current mixed publishing ecosystem with all the profit, duplication and waste built in but that's not really important for the purposes of this thought experiment. I'm assuming that one day we all wake up and library budgets have been completely freed of the need to support scholarly journal publishing, that somehow somebody else picks up the institutional support and/or author fees and/or funder support and/or whatever else comes under OA business models.
(Alternatively, we could imagine something like the proposed arXiv business model somehow becoming universal. While not completely wiping out library serials budgets, this would represent a huge savings.)
What I'm interested in is asking, "What you would spend all that money on?"
How much would you reinvest in other library personnel, collections, spaces or services? What kinds of library personnel, collections, spaces or services would you invest in?
How much would you return to the central institutional budget? And what would you do with that money?
I imagine different constituencies would have different ideas of what we could spend that money on, and I'd certainly like to hear ideas from some of the following:
- Librarians of all stripes
- Library administrators
- University administrators
- General public
And of course, any other constituency that cares to chime in.
Let's all have at it in the comments!
(Two main inspirations for this post: first of all, I'm reading Peter Suber's excellent new book, Open Access and it's really got me thinking deeply about the implications of OA. Secondly, I've had this Scholarly Kitchen post concerned with the "diminution of science librarians" on my mind since it came out and have been searching for a way to respond. I may still devote a separate post to it.)