Milner Library loves working with creators to lower barriers to the access of their scholarly and creative works. This is often done through ISU ReD, Illinois State University’s institutional repository, but other institutions are embracing the open access philosophy for their collections as well. The Smithsonian recently placed millions of digital items from their collections online with a Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license.

Patrons can now use, transform, and share these items from the Smithsonian’s rich collections without obtaining prior permission from the Smithsonian. Online materials include text, images, sound recordings, and even 3D images and data. The Smithsonian’s CC0 licensed items are not prohibited from being used in commercial projects, which means that in addition to being available for research and scholarship patrons can use materials in their for-profit projects. The Open Access Remix page highlights some of these projects, which include sculptures, a song writing intensive, the Museum in a Box project, and many other ideas. The Smithsonian has also compiled materials into Open Educational Resources by theme or learning style.

This directly supports the Smithsonian’s mission to support “the increase and diffusion of knowledge.” By making their materials available online and allowing patrons to reuse them without restriction, exciting new projects can be created and contribute to scholarly and creative pursuits. Users should note that the Smithsonian may own all rights to certain materials (a digitized image may contain trademarked material, for example), and a more detailed explanation of use rights is available.

Milner Library’s Scholarly Communication Team members are also happy to answer questions about placing your own materials on ISU ReD and what options are available. Creators do not surrender any of their copyrights by placing an item on ISU ReD, unless they specifically declare otherwise. Anyone wishing to make their own materials more readily available can often place pre-prints or even published articles and materials on ISU ReD.

Anyone wishing to discuss these options further, for current or already published research, please contact Milner Library’s Scholarly Communication Team at