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Open Access Week: What does it mean?

Milner Library

Milner Library

Open Access Week is celebrated every year to highlight the benefits of making information free, online, and open for others to use. This annual event gives authors, publishers, libraries, and academics a venue to discuss issues and opportunities in the scholarly publishing industry. This year, Open Access Week takes place October 21–25, and Milner Library has several events planned to increase awareness of and engagement with open access resources.

“The traditional model of scholarly publishing is interesting,” said Anne Shelley, scholarly communication librarian at Milner Library. “Universities pay faculty to research and publish, faculty write and review articles for journals at no direct cost to the publisher, and then university libraries collectively pay billions of dollars each year to get access to that research that originated at their institutions. Some publishers have profit margins over 30 percent and raise journal subscription prices five percent each year, way above inflation. There are some obvious problems with this, and open access is one way we can challenge the status quo.”

This issue of unsustainable subscription costs for libraries is at the heart of the open access movement and is explored in-depth in the documentary Paywall: The Business of Scholarship. Jason Schmitt, the film’s creator and director and chair of the communication, media, and design department at Clarkson University, will speak on the topic at the Normal Theater at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, October 21. A screening of Paywall will follow the talk and Schmitt will hold a Q&A session after the film. The event is part of the Illinois State University Speaker Series.

While this headlining event of Open Access Week focuses on the cost of commercial publishing for universities, Milner Library is offering other events that explore the benefits of openly-available information. On Wednesday, Milner will offer a workshop for students about the library’s 3D printing service, covering online communities that create and share 3D print files. On Thursday, the library will give a workshop for faculty who want to learn about text mining using openly available data from research library collections through HathiTrust.

“Open access is a lot of things—a philosophy, a strategy, an option, or a mandate, depending on where you work. So the library wants to address many different aspects during Open Access Week,” said Shelley. “It’s not perfect, but in principle, it has the potential to help academia take back control of the publishing process and control costs.”

For more information about open access, visit this online guide, or contact scholarly communication librarian Anne Shelley.

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