In a blog post, the former BMJ editor, Richard Smith, describes a week of trying to access articles. Do read it, though, to summarise, he tries to read five articles. One is freely available; the rest are behind paywalls. He can only get the articles with the help of the author, in one case, and friends who have access in three others. All the articles were written by authors who received no payment from the publishers.
He only tries a library for one article. While he is kind to librarians, saying that, 'in my experience librarians are some of the most helpful people on earth and always seem to feel it as a personal failure that they can’t give you the words you are looking for,' nevertheless, this library can only give him access by making him jump through four hoops, including getting photographic ID. He gives up.
The Journal of the Medical Library Association has announced a special issue for October 2013 on the theme New Century, New Roles for Health Sciences Librarians. I wonder if one new role might be a more vigorous attitude on our part to removing these barriers?