How We’re Walking the OA Walk

The good news about open access keeps coming. Here at ACRLog, we’ve followed the trend since Harvard’s Arts and Sciences faculty adopted an open access resolution. Boston university and MIT have made similar resolutions. Individual scholars like Danah Boyd have committed to making their work available online by boycotting publications that don’t allow it. And individual departments such as Stanford’s School of Education have stepped up. Recently Oregon State University librarians adopted an open access mandate, followed quickly by the University of Oregon. We’ve also been saddened when institutions fail to take up the cause. Yet, it seems to be movement on the move.

Well, at our last librarian’s meeting we adopted our own Open Access Pledge. It’s not as sophisticated as the ones that have been making news. We are a small library, with only six librarians, and we haven’t had the time or money to start up an institutional repository. We also, quite frankly, don’t have a terribly sophisticated grasp of all the OA arguments, the copyright issues, and the color choices. (Green? Gold? What about mauve?) We’ve also very, very busy trying to wrap up a big project, working with departments to make enough cuts that we can balance our budget next year – without scuttling our commitment to undergraduate research.

And that is precisely why it seemed time to take a stand, even if it’s not a sophisticated one. Our pledge is simply to make every effort to ensure that our scholarship is freely available online, either because the publisher posts its content online (as does Inside Higher Ed or Library Journal), it’s a truly OA journal, or because the publication agreement allows self-archiving, which most credible library publications do. We also pledge to do the work of self-archiving, which really isn’t a lot of trouble for librarians who are tweaking the web daily. It mystifies me that so few librarians can be bothered.

This wasn’t a simple decision. Half of the department is on the tenure track. Their continuing employment depends on establishing professional credibility through publication. But we feel strongly that this is the right thing to do, and that taking these simple steps won’t damage the ability of our emerging scholars to thrive.

We’ve submitted a sobering report about the library’s finances for our next faculty meeting. In the last paragraph we wanted to show one way that our choices, our individual actions, can honor the spirit of open inquiry. It’s the least we can do.

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CC photo by dullhunk