One of the great promises of the internet revolution has been the
democratization of knowledge. Armed just with a computer and way of
connecting to the internet, it is possible to find information on just
about any topic known to humankind. In academia, the spread of the
digital age has been most effective. Instead of having to spend hours
in dusty stacks looking for the right volume of an obscure periodical,
a few seconds using PubMed, Google Scholar, or any one of a number of
databases will often yield up an electronic copy.
But electronic journal subscriptions are horrendously expensive,
often costing hundreds or thousands of dollars a year for each title
(and that’s a discounted rate). Even the most well-endowed US
institutions find these fees burdensome, but for foreign
schools—especially those in less-developed nations—these journals
remain out of reach.
Knowledge deserves to be free.