Many academic libraries have something called an institutional repository. The purpose of this repository is to collect and make freely available the work of scholars within a certain institution. These types of repositories exist for certain domains or disciplines as well. Libraries or groups spearheaded these efforts to make work freely available to all. The best part is that this information is easily locatable through either Google (whether you love them or not), Oyster and via their own site. They were created because the publishing model that currently exists just does not working for academics.
Well maybe this model does not work for the general public either, but no alternative has been suggested. Perhaps public libraries need to get in on this. As my colleagues Justin Hoenke writes, libraries are more about content creation now. I think we need to create community repositories. Local authors would be able to deposit their work (and lets face it, the vast majority of authors don’t actually make any money from their hard work) into these repositories. Libraries can organize, and make available these works for the entire world. This solves a host of problems (monopolistic copyright problems, abusive publishing tactics, easier preservation, flexibility to adapt to new platforms, etc…)
Libraries can, and have, been in the business of helping authors write better, publish and the like. We offer programs, workshops, writing clubs, and myriad books on the topic. This step would not be that difficult for us. There would be some sunken costs up front, but easily defrayed over the course of a year or two.
This is a real option for us. I too have bantered on about how victimized we are, but enough is enough. I am going to switch my focus to offering constructive alternatives and solutions to real problems. The tools already exist for us to carry out a program like this. Perhaps it would take a decade to reach critical mass, but a large number of academic works already exist through these types of platforms.