Based on a paper presented at the UKSG seminar 'Scientific Publications: Free for all?', The Geological Society, London, Tuesday 23 November 2004
This article offers a perspective about open access and the current 'churn' in scholarly journal publication from a collections development and scholarly communications specialist librarian in the United States. The differences between the US and UK higher education systems are not insignificant, the former being more extensive as well as more diverse in sources of funding support, with less direct involvement by national government. Thus, while librarians in both countries very much aim to improve various aspects of scholarly communications, their approaches and expectations may be somewhat different. The author suggests that much more experimentation with business models is needed before we can well understand the sustainability of open access, the models that can effectively support it, and to what extent. Early evidence suggests that there are no panaceas that will result in close to free journal publication; under an open access publishing system, the costs to research-intensive universities may well increase.