The American Anthropological Association and the Committee on Practicing Applied and Public Interest Anthropology (CoPAPIA) are pleased to announce that a package of more than 3,000 full-text journals, called the Online Research Library, is now available for an annual price of $24.99 for members of the AAA. Non-members can purchase an annual subscription of $99.99. All members continue to enjoy free access to AnthroSource.
Offering the Online Research Library is part of AAA’s effort to reduce a disparity in the access of digital research services. Anthropologists with university library privileges currently have greater access to digital sources than those who do not. The members of CoPAPIA believe this differential access to digital resources is beginning to adversely affect anthropological scholarship because scholars employed outside of universities, or in countries with limited internet access, find it increasingly difficult to keep abreast of current anthropological knowledge.
AnthroSource provides AAA members with access to a digital database containing AAA publications, including more than 250,000 articles from AAA journals, newsletters, bulletins and monographs. However, the journals and publications of the AAA represent only a part of the digital record of anthropological scholarship, and CoPAPIA members thought the AAA should increase access to other sources of research.
CoPAPIA shared our concerns with Oona Schmid, the AAA Director of Publishing. She contacted other organizations to find out how AAA members could gain access to digital resources. We learned that reciprocal sharing of journals with other scholarly organizations was impractical because many of our sister organizations fear that making their journals available to non-members will adversely affect their membership. We also learned that JSTOR, Wiley-Blackwell, and other large providers of digital content do not license their collections to scholarly societies.
Oona then investigated using a third party aggregator who bundles journals to serve digital services to AAA members. With the assistance of CoPAPIA, the Publishing Department organized a volunteer test team to assess and compare journal packages offered by ProQuest’s Research Library and EBSCO’s Academic Search Complete. This team included Lori Barkley, Mary Odell Butler, Tony Chavarria, T J Ferguson, Mary Gilliland, Jim Heidke, Sarah Herr, Robert Muckle and Katherine Woodhouse-Beyer. The results indicated a general preference for Research Library, an online database including abstracts from more than 5,060 titles, and 3,600 of these include full text of articles.
Based on this test, the AAA Executive Board approved a survey to determine how many AAA members would find access to the Research Library valuable, and what price would recover annual licensing fees. The Publishing Department surveyed 2,768 members of four sections (Archeological Division, Council of Museum Anthropology, National Association for Practicing Anthropologists, and Society for Medical Anthropology). The survey produced 837 responses. Respondents without access to university library privileges highly ranked the value of the online Research Library, while those with access to library collections ranked the Research Library as having some value. The perceived value was articulated in the comments such as:
- I have been without access to scholary journals in the past and it is, of course, impossible to research or write for publication. This would be a valuable service for many members that are not affiliated with an institution (such as recent graduates who may not yet have a home) to keep up-to-date on developments in their field.
- I think this is a great idea! This would help anthropologists who graduate from PhD programs and are still looking for jobs but do not have ready access to journals online.
- With more anthropologists working outside of academia than ever before, I think this would be a valuable resource and will provide additional incentives to attract more non-academics to the AAA.
- Although access to a research library would have no value for me personally because it duplicates access I already have, I FULLY SUPPORT the AAA initiative to provide such access to members who are not academics or who do not already have access for whatever reason.
- The Research Library would be a tremendous assistance in my work! And of great value to those of us who reside outside of the US (ie, Africa, Asia and Latin America). I reside in Mexico, and the greatest obstacle I face in my work is having access to US and other journals. The Research Library would greatly improve my working conditions and scholarship by allowing me to engage my research and writing with current US (and International) literature and debates.
- This is a fantastic idea that will enable anthropologists outside the academy to participate in the discipline in a more equitable manner than currently exists.
All in all, the survey revealed an enthusiastic reception to the concept of adding the online service as a membership option. Most survey respondents indicated they would be willing to pay between $20 and $30 dollars for this service.
Information about the Online Research Library, including a link to specific titles included in the package are posted at http://bit.ly/P2nb8X. A user guide and links to YouTube videos on how to effectively use the service are also available on this webpage. To purchase access for a year, click the link to the Online Store.
If you have any questions regarding Research Library, please contact Oona Schmid at firstname.lastname@example.org.