UChicago librarian looks to future with eye on digital and traditional resources

“Historically the role of university libraries has been to collect material, mostly from the outside world, and then to make it accessible within the organization. In an environment where more is published online and most people go to search engines to find it, our role expands. It includes supporting the creation of knowledge in digital form and helping faculty and students push that knowledge out to the world. Libraries can help make publishing processes easier and make the exciting fruits of research at UChicago widely findable and usable. In addition, we need to think not just about our local collection but also about the global collection of knowledge and how we can ensure transparency, reproducibility, and equitable access to information….

In parallel, we are investing in digital services—for example, around open access and research data. We have also just submitted a multimillion dollar bid in partnership with the Humanities Division to improve access to digital collections, data, and research tools—not only library collections but also faculty research. In the long run, I envision a space to explore all the exciting work that comes out of the University of Chicago…”

Introduction to International Open Access Week from the University Librarian | InfoLinks

“It feels rather ironic to be writing on the subject of open access as we head towards the end of a year in which so many things have remained at least partly closed. However, the pandemic has served both to shine a light on the critical importance of open research and expose the amount of work still to do to achieve it. It is my hope that Open Access Week 2020 both reaches a wider audience and galvanises us into collective action like never before.

I have been thinking about, writing about and attempting to stimulate open access as the right solution for ethical and effective scholarly communications for almost two decades. Fifteen years ago, I was part of an ambitious plan to deliver an open access solution for Scotland through a national repository infrastructure, and while the lofty vision was never realised, this work placed Scotland at the forefront of open access thinking and demonstrated, as is often the case, that this is a nation well capable of ‘punching above its weight’. A paper describing a national information strategy for Scotland provides a 2005 overview of this project, within a wider context. It is satisfying to see that although the networked infrastructure we hoped to build is not in place, this paper still remains freely accessible through the institutional repository of a Scottish university.

This was a time when open access seemed most likely to be achievable by providing versions of published papers in repositories, while the final papers themselves would continue to be published in subscription journals – the so-called Green route. It was not until the publication of the Finch Report in 2012, and the enthusiasm of the then Minister for Higher Education (David Willets) for a Gold route, that open access of the published paper itself began to dominate policy and gain momentum. Very regrettably, this has become synonymous for many with one method of funding it: the article processing charge, or APC. This solution has served to perpetuate a scholarly communications infrastructure which relies upon commercial third parties, placing the research community at the mercy of a small number of profit-making organisations for whom profits and shareholder value are paramount….”