Randy Olsen Receives Inaugural Goldstein Award to Advance Scholarly Communication

BioOne and the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) honored Brigham Young University’s University Librarian for the Harold B. Lee Library Randy J. Olsen with its inaugural Howard Goldstein Award to Advance Scholarly Communication. Howard’s son Alex Goldstein presented the award on April 16, 2009, at a special ceremony in conjunction with BioOne’s annual meeting of publishers, librarians, and partners.

Education of the scholarly community is an important part of BioOne’s mission. The most recent addition to BioOne’s education program is the Howard Goldstein Award to Advance Scholarly Communication, jointly sponsored by BioOne and SPARC. The Goldstein award was created in 2008 to recognize and encourage efforts to enhance the sustainability of communication within the scholarly community.

Randy J. Olsen has held leadership positions in the Utah Library Association, the American Library Association, Research Libraries Group, Greater Western Libraries Association, Mountain Plains Library Association, and Utah Academic Library Council.  He currently chairs the Library and Scholarly Communications Advisory Council at Brigham Young University and currently serves as a member of the Steering committee for SPARC.

From his vantage point, Randy Olsen is in the perfect position to view the university library as a focal point for scholarly communication, capable of providing resources to support the entire process from creation to dissemination. As he explored the myriad publishing efforts taking place on his own campus, Olsen became aware of the challenges facing several publications based at BYU—either owned by university departments or handled by BYU faculty.  He recognized that many were wrestling with the administrative burdens of peer review, and looking for cost-effective ways to publish current issues electronically, as well as to make their legacy content available online.

A pragmatist, Olsen initiated a series of concrete steps that have since provided sustainable models for a growing number of important campus publications. These solutions have likewise served as a direction for others to follow. It was Olsen’s idea, for example, to hire Jeff Billiston as the Scholarly Communications Librarian to identify and provide publication services and programs. In 2006, Olsen encouraged Billiston to develop an institutional repository that now hosts the legacy issues for 12 publications, with several more to come.  In 2007, Olsen became aware of several campus journals in danger of extinction as print-only publications. Careful review of each journal’s situation resulted in a variety of solutions that range from a library-sponsored investment in the development of Open Journal Systems software for peer-review and content management, to customized varieties of Open Access publication.

It was Olsen’s suggestion that four faculty members attend the Association of Research Library’s Institute on Scholarly Communication in 2007. Knowledge about publishing options gained at this event enabled one of BioOne’s newest journals, the Western North American Naturalist, to identify a solution to its critical need to modernize. Now in its second year in the BioOne.2 collection, WNAN has increased its distribution and begun to earn important revenue to help sustain its program.

Challenged once again by Olsen, WNAN’s publisher the Monte L. Bean Life Science Museum at BYU concluded that because their companion, Monographs of the Western North American Naturalist, is not their main revenue-producing publication, the best way to enhance its distribution was to add it to BioOne’s Open Access collection. The two publications are now seamlessly available to users and their editorial staff is better able to manage both products. According to WNAM’s grateful editor Mark Belk, Olsen has thus helped his publications meet their mission to communicate science broadly. Olsen’s efforts to engage University leaders in this conversation have helped Belk strengthen his argument for the support necessary to ensure production for the good of the entire research community.

BioOne and SPARC recognize Randy Olsen for his vision and his ability to get things moving and to keep them in motion, by creating opportunity and empowering the right people to take ownership of their part of the scholarly communications process.

The BioOne/SPARC community is pleased to honor Randy J. Olsen in Howard Goldstein’s name for contributing time, creativity, and resources to foster sustainability and innovation in scholarly communication.

About BioOne
Launched as a not-for-profit organization in 2001, BioOne is the product of innovative collaboration between scientific societies, libraries, academe, and the private sector, which seek a sustainable, mission- driven alternative to commercial publishing. BioOne brings to the Web a uniquely valuable aggregation of the full-texts of high-impact bioscience research journals. Small societies and not-for-profit publishers publish most of BioOne’s titles. BioOne provides integrated, cost-effective access to a thoroughly linked information resource of interrelated journals focused on the biological, ecological, and environmental sciences.

SPARC®, the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, is an international alliance of academic and research libraries working to correct imbalances in the scholarly publishing system. Developed by the Association of Research Libraries, SPARC has become a catalyst for change. Its pragmatic focus is to stimulate the emergence of new scholarly communication models that expand the dissemination of scholarly research and reduce financial pressures on libraries. Action by SPARC in collaboration with stakeholders–including authors, publishers, and libraries–builds on the unprecedented opportunities created by the networked digital environment to advance the conduct of scholarship.

About Howard Goldstein
Howard Goldstein was BioOne’s head coach from 2000 until his death on September 21, 2008. In his passing, BioOne lost one of its most creative, dedicated, and determined progenitors. In his capacity as SPARC’s publishing consultant, Howard developed the business plan for BioOne that transformed vague hopes for an aggregation of biology publications into an organization that works for the benefit of publishers, libraries, and researchers throughout the world.  BioOne’s success is due in large part to the foundation that Howard laid and to the business savvy he brought to BioOne’s operations in the years that followed.

Howard’s goal was to ensure that BioOne could sustain itself while providing revenue to publishers through sustainably priced library subscriptions. BioOne’s publishers have him to thank for the innovative model used to calculate journals’ revenue and surplus share. BioOne’s librarians have him to thank for streamlining the licensing process. By negotiating creative deals for necessary services and focusing relentlessly on ways to reduce costs without reducing services, Howard helped BioOne to balance its competing goals: providing BioOne publishers with revenue for their publishing operations and providing BioOne libraries with subscriptions to important biology journals at affordable prices.

In recognition of Howard Goldstein’s extraordinary contributions to BioOne, BioOne and SPARC created the Howard Goldstein Award to Advance Scholarly Communication.

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