If you’ve been frustrated by finding at Google a tantalizing snippet of what looks like an invaluable article on exactly the topic you’re interested in, only to discover that it’s behind the JSTOR wall, you’ll want to read this conversation between Tom Matrullo of IMproPRieTies and Bruce Heterick, Director of Library Relations at JSTOR. Here’s the basic point:
In fact, and here’s the maybe-if-and-when good news, the presiding lights behind JSTOR are now looking at various ways and means to open its treasurehouse to all, because they understand that that makes all sorts of sense. They simply have to ensure that by doing so, they don’t remove the parts of their economic model that have enabled them to build a self-sufficient, independent 501(c)3 organization in a relatively short time.
There’s much more in the post and comments; I don’t understand all the economic issues involved, but I’m glad they’re being discussed, and hopefully they’ll be solved before long. (Via Tom’s comment on this post at This Blog Sits at the Intersection of Anthropology and Economics.)
Update. A followup post clarifies the situation, all too depressingly. Heterick wrote Tom:
It isn’t really the case that JSTOR is thinking about “open access” as much as I was carrying forward the notion that JSTOR is always trying to “open access” more broadly to other communities (e.g. secondary schools, public libraries, developing nations). That is an important part of JSTOR’s mission (to extend access as broadly as possible), so perhaps I should have used the phrase “broaden access” instead of “open access” to avoid the confusion with much more highly-publicized “open access movement”(OA).
Tom says, “Apparently JSTOR doesn’t believe that knowledge, the scholarly intelligence of the humanities, belongs to us all. I believe JSTOR is wrong.”