One of the most exciting things happening around academic research is the freeing of scholarly content. Libraries certainly are playing a part, working with their faculty to understand and embrace open access/open science and continue to advocate for publications models that include an avenue that supports making scholarship freely available. And in many places, faculty are. Libraries certainly are playing a role — and are playing a role here at The Ohio State University. Programs like the Knowledge Bank (http://kb.osu.edu — currently ranked #17 for North American repositories [4/1/2013 — http://repositories.webometrics.info/en/North_america]) and it’s tremendous staff provide faculty with help navigating their publication rights and provide a platform for publishing their scholarship in an open venue. These programs make a difference — by opening up scholarly research, they provide opportunities not only for citizen researchers, but for researchers around the world who may not have the opportunity to work at an institution as well resourced as The Ohio State University. And as a land grant institution for the state of Ohio, and an institution with a vision of being a land grant institution for the whole world, I’d argue that we have an obligation to ensure that OSU sponsored research is as open and available as possible.
But it goes beyond libraries – and this is where it’s really cool. For a very long-time, libraries have been creating repositories and looking for allies. One such ally has been the Internet Archive, home of the WayBack Machine (http://archive.org/web/web.php). The Internet Archive has been an innovator in exploring different models for making information more widely available. Mr. Kahle has sponsored a digitization project like Google Books (but without the restrictions), they’ve created the Open Library (http://openlibrary.org/) and they more recently, have started working with scholarly publishers to make more early period research publicly available. And it’s the latter activity, that has lead to the recent partnership with JStor and announcement that over 450,000 early journal articles have been made freely available through the Internet Archive (http://blog.archive.org/2013/04/11/450000-early-journal-articles-now-available/).
I personally think that this is a very exciting time to be part of the academic community, because you can feel the sea change…scholars are pushing for more open scholarship. And in the library, we need to stand with our faculty, advocate for them, and celebrate our partners successes as we continue to champion for the widest possible access to academic scholarship and discoveries.