During the week of October 24-28, the Alfred University Libraries celebrated Open Access Week with a series of SUNY-sponsored webinars. The webinars highlighted the potential of this movement to benefit libraries and researchers.
What is Open Access?
Open Access is the free, immediate, online availability of research articles, combined with the rights to use these articles fully in the digital environment. This contrasts with the dominant scholarly communication system that puts research behind publisher “pay walls” and asks authors to relinquish rights to their own writing.
Why does Open Access matter?
The current system of scholarly publishing puts large financial burdens on libraries and severely restricts access to scholarly research. Faculty contribute research articles to scholarly journals for free, signing away their copyright in the process, and libraries must then buy back this content through annual subscription fees that have grown by as much as 400% in recent years.
As illustrated in the chart below, some major scientific publishers are realizing profits that exceed the returns of successful companies like Google and Apple:
What can you do to support the Open Access movement?
Authors can take steps to preserve their rights. To learn more, watch this very informative webinar on “Understanding and Protecting Your Rights” by Jill Cirasella of the City University of New York.
How do the AU Libraries plan to improve access to faculty and student research?
You may have heard of AURA, Alfred University’s institutional repository. AURA is designed to provide access and to ensure the long-term preservation of documents produced at Alfred University, including faculty and student research.
The Open Access movement is an important piece of the puzzle, because many publishers place restrictions on what faculty can do with their own work, making it more difficult for libraries to archive copies locally.
The more faculty and students learn about their own rights, and take concrete steps to retain those rights, the easier it will be for libraries like ours to ensure long-term access to the intellectual output of our campus.
-Ellen Bahr, Information Systems Librarian, Herrick Library