H. Frederick Dylla Director's Matters

Publishers and librarians do well as allies
University and other research-institution librarians are primary customers of scholarly journal publishers such as AIP. This customer/service-provider relationship has generally been productive and harmonious for many, many years. In the past two decades, however, as library budgets have lagged behind the growth and acquisition costs of journals, librarians have been looking for solutions. Consortia and site-license models delivered some relief by lowering the unit cost of information and providing access to more titles than ever before.

Most journals operate based on the subscription model, which has evolved to allow institution-wide online access to current content, recent years' content, and in some cases, content back to volume one. Of the 25,000 journals in scientific, technical, and medical publishing, less than 5% operate in the open-access mode. There is also a so-called "delayed open access" model, in which the article is released for free public access after an embargo period of time varying from 6 to24 months. "Mandated open access" is a requirement by some funding agencies that authors deposit a version of their article in an open-access repository. (Last year's NIH Public Access Mandate is an example of this.) A recently reintroduced bill in the US Senate, the Federal Research Public Access Act (FRPAA; S-1373), would mandate a six-month-delayed access to virtually all publications resulting from federally funded research.

Some librarians favor FRPAA because of the appeal of making scholarly information freely accessible; yet they admit that such a mandate would not likely lower libraries' costs for journals. Most publishers, however, take issue with government legislation such as FRPAA that imposes market terms and conditions, arguing that this is not government's role. Such mandates can be viewed as "unfunded mandates" with unintended consequences such as the demise of some high-quality society journals. And, there is also the issue of what is the right length of time for an embargo, which depends on a number of factors including subject, frequency of publication, citation half-life, and usage statistics. The potential for publishers and librarians to take opposing viewpoints on this issue would not fit well the mutually supporting and beneficial roles that these partners have traditionally had in dissemination of, access to, and preservation of scholarly information. Fortunately, a number of forums involving librarians and publishers have emerged, leading to a constructive dialog.

This summer, the House Science and Technology Committee and the Office of Science and Technology jointly commissioned a roundtable that is studying approaches to increasing public access to scholarly publications while maintaining incentives for scholarly publishers. Hopefully, the results of this group's deliberations will be considered by the funding agencies, the academic community, and publishers before any new legislation is enacted. Within the medical field (where this debate started), a recent collaboration of medical librarians and medical publishers called the Chicago Collaborative has been working on common issues and concerns. And on the international scale, the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions and the International Publishers Association have recently signed a joint resolution that embraces a constructive debate between publishers and librarians on open access. These traditional allies do well when engaged in a constructive debate.


JMP celebration at ICMP09
At the beginning of August, the 16th International Congress on Mathematical Physics was held in Prague, Czech Republic, and attracted approximately 600 attendees from around the globe. The congress—held every third year—is the largest gathering of mathematical physicists, making it the perfect venue to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the founding of AIP's Journal of Mathematical Physics (JMP). The journal was well represented with a booth that featured general information and a gift to congress attendees of a USB memory drive containing more than 50 seminal articles—selected by JMP editor Bruno Nachtergaele and the associate editors—from JMP's half-century of publication. Nachtergaele also delivered an invited talk, "Lieb-Robinson bounds for quantum lattice dynamics and applications," as part of the topical session on nonequilibrium statistical mechanics. Attendees were uniformly grateful to receive the set of selected papers and expressed their high regard for the journal. Nachtergaele convened a meeting of the JMP editorial board during the congress, at which plans for future special issues were discussed. Special issues—a long-standing and popular feature of the journal—provide a collection of papers on a topic of current interest. Visit JMP's website to link to full-text versions of the high-impact papers gathered for the anniversary, which have been made freely available for the celebration, and to explore JMP's wide range of special issues.

Online archive of physicists in their own words
The Niels Bohr Library and Archives (NBL&A) now has online more than 400 of its interviews with leading physicists and astronomers. The online archives include full transcripts of some of the most valuable interviews from its remarkable oral history collection. Audio clips for a number of the interviewees—including Steven Weinberg, Hans Bethe, George Gamow, and Werner Heisenberg—are also available online.

The library's oral history collection consists of approximately 1,500 interviews with physicists and astronomers and draws on four decades of work by the staff of the Center for History of Physics and other researchers. It includes in-depth coverage of the history of quantum physics, laser science, solid-state physics, modern astrophysics and astronomy, nuclear physics, physicists in industry, high-energy physics, science education, space science and geophysics, scientific organizations, and science and society. It also includes smaller numbers of interviews on many other topics.

The current work to make oral histories accessible via the Web is partly funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities. When the current project ends, NBL&A will continue to add oral histories to the online archives as resources permit.

Recycle that toner cartridge
When the toner in your printer is ready to be replaced, remember that most office supply companies have toner cartridge recycling programs. If so, inside the new toner box will be a return label or other instructions, indicating how to recycle the cartridge. In most cases, you can simply put the old cartridge in the new box and take it to the mailroom with the return label. The office services staff will take it from there!

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