The Open Access movement has radically changed the face of access to scholarly knowledge over the last twenty years.
While it is far from universal (both as concerns disciplines covered, and geography), it has seen a growing share of research published without barriers to access and use, meaning that readers are not dependent on belonging to a (wealthy) institution in order to be able to participate in science.
However, it remains contested. Some still argue that the products of research should still be paywalled, or at least subject to restrictions on access, for example in order to prevent researchers in other countries from having access.
Others point to questions around different business models, and in particular how different ways of covering the costs of publication may risk disadvantaging some, and leading to the (continued) dominance of research outputs from a small sub-set of countries and cultures.
Still others underline risks of reduced impact with insufficient investment in research, the rise of questionable journals, and underline, correctly, that copyright status should not be the only thing deciding whether it is appropriate to publish something or not.
However, such discussions should not mask the fundamental point that the concept of open access – that no-one should be unable to enjoy their right to benefit from science because of paywalls – remains valid!
It is therefore useful, both for ourselves, and for those around us, to be able to be clear about this goal.
So for our 70th 10-Minute International Librarian exercise, be able to explain why Open Access matters.
There are of course plenty of materials available, with a rich range of organisations already active around OA, preparing explainers and advocacy tools.
Take a look at these, including of course LibGuides produced by colleagues around the world! If needed, try to condense them down into a few powerful sentences.
Think what arguments will work best in your own context – is it about equity, possibilities to work across disciplines, or greater reach for research produced in your context?
Share your favourite resources in the comments box below!
This idea relates to the IFLA Strategy! 1.4 Shape public opinion and debate around open access and library values, including intellectual freedom and human rights