Library Matters / Libraries Matter: Open Access

Posted on October 26th, 2017 by

Welcome back to our Library Matters / Libraries Matter blog series, where we share insights into the issues, questions and opportunities libraries consider on a regular basis. This week, we’re celebrating Open Access Week at the Library, joining a community of researchers, publishers and librarians who advocate for removing barriers to scholarly publications. Open Access seeks to reform de facto methods of scholarly publications in order to make research freely available, rather than hidden behind multiple paywalls and other barriers.

SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) outlines the major issues:

Our current system for communicating research uses a print-based model in the digital age. Even though research is largely produced with public dollars by researchers who share it freely, the results are hidden behind technical, legal, and financial barriers. These artificial barriers are maintained by legacy publishers and restrict access to a small fraction of users, locking out most of the world’s population and preventing the use of new research techniques.

Libraries struggle with the rising cost of scholarly materials. Databases (which provide access to scholarly journals) cost money, as do journal subscriptions. It’s not unusual for us to pay a several hundred dollars per year for a single journal title, either in print or electronically (and we subscribe to a bunch). Databases can easily cost more per year than a luxury car. In fact, we cancelled a database a few years ago because the cost was projected to be over $65,000 a year. Our budget simply couldn’t sustain it.

This is why libraries legitimately claim they are severely underfunded.

But we support open access for more than financial reasons. At their core, libraries are democratic institutions, working to eliminate barriers to information for the populations they serve. The Open Access movement flows naturally from that mission. In short, open access is a democratic ideal.

The Gustavus Library promotes open access through several key ways:

  • We provide training, write blog posts and create displays near the library entrance (stop by and see it!) to educate the community about open access.
  • We have established and continue to expand GustieScholar, our institutional repository, which provides open access to research produced by our community. (Read more here.)
  • And in the Library, we hold ourselves to the same standards we promote with our Open Access Pledge.

During this week – and beyond – please explore open access. Consider how you can make your own work freely accessible. Talk with one of the library faculty members further about GustieScholar. Advocate for information to be freely available. This is what democracy looks like.

 

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