The Statistical Abstract of the United States is a yearly publication that summarizes (abstracts) statistical information about the United States.
Published yearly since 1878, the Abstract was slated to cease publication, as the government announced that it would no longer publish the work. The 2012 issue is the last the federal government says it will publish.
The work aggregates data that is already available open-access on the Internet.
Recently, ProQuest announced that it would continue to publish the work, gathering the data eclectically.
Librarians hailed ProQuest’s announcement. One writer called ProQuest’s plan “admirable.”
An article at libraryjournal.com noted the reactions of some librarians. One wrote, “This is great news, especially the monthly updates. Way to go, Proquest!”
Bloggers echoed these positive reactions. Blogger Sue Polanka wrote, “I’m thrilled that ProQuest will continue aggregating this important content.”
Librarian Daniel Peterson exclaimed,” Happy news indeed! My beloved Statistical Abstract is being saved. Thank you, ProQuest!”
So, here we have librarians delighted at the prospect of paying for content that is available for free. With a couple tiny exceptions, all the statistical data that ProQuest will include in its version of the Statistical Abstract is available open-access.
ProQuest (and its partner Bernan Press) will add value to the data by aggregating it, keeping it updated, and publishing it.
Why are librarians praising a traditional publisher for coming out with a toll-access product whose content is already available for free?