What Is Open Access Print Archiving?
Network infrastructure has made possible for the first time the separation of the access and archiving roles of scholarly journals that in the past have been implemented through the single means of distribution of print issues. Access can be provided at a near-zero marginal cost over networks, making the possibility of open access journals practical. Open access holds the promise of a revolution in scholarly publishing, with instantaneous world-wide free access to articles.
Archiving, however, must still be provided for. Passively stored and maintained acid-free paper has a track record demonstrating its ability to provide archival access to information over many centuries. The archival status of digital data is untested over long periods, and in any case, the most optimistic expectations for digital archiving assume active maintenance (refreshing, migration) at relatively frequent intervals. Thus, the use of acid-free paper archiving is a prudent step for scholarly publications, at least until such time as alternative mechanisms have "shaken out" and demonstrated their potential for longevity.
Some open access journals have partnered with traditional publishers to provide print versions of their journals. Unfortunately, because they are geared toward, and think of their activity as, journal publishing, rather than print archiving, the high overheads of traditional publishers place them at a significant disadvantage in providing this kind of print access.
The print archiving alternative
As an alternative, Microtome provides a mechanism for print archiving in which a print version of the journal is generated annually for distribution to libraries. The volumes are library bound on acid-free paper with identifying information preprinted on the spine, obviating the need for libraries to rebind and label the journal. The costs of these annual volumes can be made dramatically lower than typical print journal subscriptions.
The print archiving solution to long-term archiving of open access journals was first proposed by Stuart Shieber at the 1996 "Finding Common Ground" meeting of the Association for Research Libraries, and again at the 143rd Annual Meeting of the Association for Research Libraries in 2003. Professor Shieber argued for open access print archiving as an appropriate activity for the research library community to engage in as away of supporting open access journals. Now, through Microtome Publishing, this service is available directly to journals and libraries.
For publishers of open access journals
Print archiving provides a mechanism for you to ensure the archival availability of your journal at no cost. You simply provide to Microtome an annual digital copy of the papers published by the journal. Microtome prints, binds, and distributes the print volume.
Print archiving allows you to support the open access revolution by vitiating
one of the common arguments against open access journals, their lack of long-term
archiving. The cost of a print archive journal is typically much less than
that of a traditional print journal and no rebinding and reprocessing are needed,
keeping costs down.