To state the obvious, Elsevier’s acquisition of bepress caused quite a bit of disruption in the library world. Some reacted openly; others stayed quiet. We immediately began looking at our options and decided collectively that it would behoove us to start looking at alternatives. Certainly, not all libraries will be in position to do make an early statement, and I understand why many wish to wait until they are ready to move to a new institutional repository (IR) platform. We, however, found that there was greater benefit in being transparent with our intentions and processes so that we can encourage the greatest amount of collaboration going forward and have frank conversations with our users.
Why did we make an announcement?
- Avoid mixed messaging and encourage transparency. This statement shows that the Penn Libraries stands united and is serious about exploring options to leave bepress.
- Make it easier to talk to faculty, staff, and students about the IR going forward. This statement allows us to have transparent and open conversations with our partners – new and old – and to be upfront about the future of ScholarlyCommons, Penn’s IR, as we continue our repository services. It also allows us to address concerns, to forge new collaborations for the transition, and to solicit feedback.
- Encourage internal and external collaboration. This statement presents our intentions and allows us to make an open call for collaborators. We want to collaborate internally as well as externally on new solutions, and this statement makes it much easier to do so.
- Send a message. We are not happy with this acquisition and what it means for our repository. This as a pivotal time that will shape the future of scholarly communication – do we allow major corporations to take over our platforms, or do we stand against it?
We want to get started right away in exploring our options and forging new collaborations. We see no reason to wait until we have a specific path forward; indeed, we would rather share our journey – messy bits and all – so that others can learn from us and with us. We stand for open access, and we want to practice what we preach.