Checking out open access

Jan 30, 2013

From Wikipedia to shareware, the Internet has made information and software more widely available than ever. At the heart of this explosion is the simple idea that information should be open and free for anyone. Yet with publishers charging exorbitant fees for subscriptions to academic journals, university libraries are struggling to keep up.

Writing in the Journal of Academic Librarianship, Concordia collections librarian Geoffrey Little says that a key way to meet that challenge is through the use of technology. "In order to make information freely available through policies, it's important to look beyond traditional and expensive methods of dissemination and turn instead to open source software," he says.

Open source software is non-proprietary software for which source code (the instructions that make computer programs work) and documentation are freely available. "It's an ideal way for libraries to avoid having to pay large amounts of money to commercial vendors for new products or ongoing maintenance and access. The ability play with source codes in order to modify the program also means that tools can be customized to meet a library's needs and the specific community of users," says Little.

Open source technology is already being used in academic libraries across the country. Tools such as archival management software and course management systems rely upon open source software to disseminate information to a wide public. As journal prices continue to increase, new online scholarly journals are being created outside of traditional commercial publishing channels and are hosted independently rather than by an academic press or commercial publisher.

Here at Concordia University, a landmark Senate resolution on open access encourages all faculty and students to make their peer-reviewed research and creative output freely accessible online through an institutional repository, called Spectrum. In fact, Concordia is the first major university in Canada where faculty members have given their overwhelming support to making the results of their research universally available.

Little hopes the infrastructure and support that is necessary to ensure sustainability of the long-term future of open access projects and initiatives can be guaranteed. "Librarians need to be advocates for open access to ensure that institutional support does not evaporate after a few years. Our mission is to help the users of our libraries access resources that will enable them to write their papers, craft their survey instruments and conduct their lab experiments – and open access is a big part of that."

"Thinking about our work through a lens of open access and using open source technologies where and when they make sense can help academic librarians in our mission to support the scholarly enterprise," continues Little. "Open access is an audacious and evolving initiative that presents us with a unique set of opportunities and challenges. We should not be afraid to experiment, investigate, and be bold in our thinking about the ways in which we can incorporate open access into our work and mission."

Explore further: Newlyweds, be careful what you wish for

More information: www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0099133312001802

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Reading more into open access

Mar 08, 2012

For many years, the traditional method to access researchers’ scholarly works, particularly in the sciences and social sciences, has been through paid subscriptions to journals. But in recent years, a ...

Free articles get read but don't generate more citations

Jul 31, 2008

When academic articles are "open access" or free online, they get read more often, but they don't -- going against conventional wisdom -- get cited more often in academic literature, finds a new Cornell study.

Recommended for you

Newlyweds, be careful what you wish for

13 hours ago

A statistical analysis of the gift "fulfillments" at several hundred online wedding gift registries suggests that wedding guests are caught between a rock and a hard place when it comes to buying an appropriate gift for the ...

Can new understanding avert tragedy?

15 hours ago

As a boy growing up in Syracuse, NY, Sol Hsiang ran an experiment for a school project testing whether plants grow better sprinkled with water vs orange juice. Today, 20 years later, he applies complex statistical ...

Creative activities outside work can improve job performance

Apr 16, 2014

Employees who pursue creative activities outside of work may find that these activities boost their performance on the job, according to a new study by San Francisco State University organizational psychologist Kevin Eschleman ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Newlyweds, be careful what you wish for

A statistical analysis of the gift "fulfillments" at several hundred online wedding gift registries suggests that wedding guests are caught between a rock and a hard place when it comes to buying an appropriate gift for the ...

Can new understanding avert tragedy?

As a boy growing up in Syracuse, NY, Sol Hsiang ran an experiment for a school project testing whether plants grow better sprinkled with water vs orange juice. Today, 20 years later, he applies complex statistical ...

Roman dig 'transforms understanding' of ancient port

(Phys.org) —Researchers from the universities of Cambridge and Southampton have discovered a new section of the boundary wall of the ancient Roman port of Ostia, proving the city was much larger than previously ...

Crowd-sourcing Britain's Bronze Age

A new joint project by the British Museum and the UCL Institute of Archaeology is seeking online contributions from members of the public to enhance a major British Bronze Age archive and artefact collection.

Hackathon team's GoogolPlex gives Siri extra powers

(Phys.org) —Four freshmen at the University of Pennsylvania have taken Apple's personal assistant Siri to behave as a graduate-level executive assistant which, when asked, is capable of adjusting the temperature ...

Better thermal-imaging lens from waste sulfur

Sulfur left over from refining fossil fuels can be transformed into cheap, lightweight, plastic lenses for infrared devices, including night-vision goggles, a University of Arizona-led international team ...