It was twenty years ago today

OK, technically, yesterday–and if Charles W. Bailey hadn’t posted about it on DigitalKoans, I wouldn’t have noticed.
Namely, that The Public-Access Computer Systems Review was established on August 16, 1989.
PACS Review (as it was frequently called) wasn’t called an open access journal at the time, because that term didn’t exist. It certainly wasn’t called a “libre” open access journal–but that’s what it was. Authors retained their copyright, the journal was free for readers, there were provisions for noncommercial use. I’m not sure all permission barriers were removed, but most certainly were.
The first issue of PACS Review appeared in 1990. The last–42 issues later–appeared in 1998. (Bailey’s post has more detail.)
PACS Review wasn’t the first freely available peer-reviewed online-only journal. I believe it was the first within the library field.
PACS Review didn’t have author-side charges. Nor did it have subscription fees. All of the work was voluntary; the University of Houston covered server costs (and still does). In early years, each issue consisted of a series of plain ASCII files. In 1995 and beyond, you could get either ASCII or HTML.
There was also, after some discussion and mild controversy, an inexpensive after-the-fact print version of each PACS Review volume for the first five years. I know; I not only argued for providing such a version, I agreed to prepare the camera-ready copy for the trade paperback volums, marking up the ASCII and preparing the books in Ventura Publisher (back when it used GEM as a GUI environment, before Windows was a plausible choice). LITA actually published the annual volumes; I still have a set at home.

As usual, I was taking the easy way out. I’d joined the editorial board some time after the journal was founded, but was never active in soliciting or reviewing manuscripts. I was using desktop publishing to produce the LITA Newsletter; preparing a book template and marking up the ASCII was easy.

Other than turning it into a print annual for five years, I had modest involvement with PACS Review. I wrote a column, “Public-Access Provocations,” that appeared in nine issues over the first four years; I also wrote five other articles and brief pieces for the journal.
Others, and particularly Charles W. Bailey, Jr., and other editors and co-editors, played much larger roles.
The journal was, I believe, significant for its time. Some of the articles still bear reading at this late date. (If anyone claims that some journal from the late 1990s, or even early 1990s, was the first free refereed ejournal, point them to PACS Review2:1, 1991, a special issue including more than half a dozen articles on true pioneers in early online access!)
Twenty years. It seems like only thirty or forty years ago…

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