Tag Archives: Open Access Week

IFLA celebrates Open Access Week 2023

International Open Access Week is upon us!

The theme of 2023 is Community over Commercialization. Libraries are places of community, and – as has been meme’d online, possibly tracing back to Neil Gaiman – are one of the few public spaces people can visit without being expected to buy something. ‘The default setting of libraries is open’ is another oft-repeated phrase. We are a place where people can come to access information, without charge.

Open Access builds on the ideals of the library to address more specific issues of community and commerce. It is rooted in part in the logic that publicly funded research has already been paid for by the public, and should not be paywalled by private companies. This is evident in, for example, the US’ 2022 policy update that all federally-funded research should be released OA. It also creates research publication and access opportunities globally, supporting researchers and the public to be engaged, contributing members of the scientific community. OA makes steps toward a world where scholars aren’t limited by their institutions’ resources and prestige.

As I wrote after attending Eurasian Academic Libraries Conference (EALC), in Astana, Kazakhstan.

”Hearing speakers from around Central Asia enthusiastically and the world discuss OA, repository development, and other related ongoing projects, it felt like I had entered a space where OA and related policies were the norm and traditional publishing modes were the alternative. It clearly showed the vitality and utility of OA.”

IFLA offers a variety of resources on OA, including our advocacy-oriented 2022 statement in support of Open Access and 576-page guide to copyright for libraries (published open, of course).  IFLA is in the process of formalizing its OA working group into an advisory committee, which will provide dedicated support to Open topics.

Among the IFLA units and sections with an interest in OA, the Copyright & other Legal Matters (CLM) committee addresses the legal, contractual, and publishing aspects of OA, while the Freedom of Access to Information and Freedom of Expression (FAIFE) committee supports OA’s role in furthering human rights and information equity.

IFLA’s Academic and Research Libraries (ARL) section hosted a 2023 WLIC satellite conference with the theme of “Inclusiveness through Openness”, emphasizing OA’s value in “equitable participation in the global research and scholarly communication system.”

At the conference, I was interested to hear about the work on OA being done around the world, including by services like the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) in addressing journal discoverability and curation.

OA – and libraries – help us build community, and IFLA celebrates OA this week and beyond.

So what can you do? For one, read and publish OA! Part of my goals before OA Week 2024 are to clear some half-finished publications off my own desk, and dig more into UCL Press’ OA catalogue (for example). Look to IFLA’s 2022 OA Statement an advocate for OA, and help build infrastructure and alliances! And watch for developments from IFLA, including our upcoming OA vocabulary sheet scheduled for publication before year’s end.


Matt Voigts

IFLA Copyright & OA Policy Officer

Celebrating Open Access week and the publication of ‘Navigating Copyright for Libraries’

by Sara Benson, Copyright Librarian and Associate Professor, University Library, University of Illinois

Chair, IFLA Copyright & Other Legal Matters (CLM) Committee

One of the many exciting events to happen at this year’s World Library Congress in Dublin was the launch of a new volume in the IFLA Publication Series – Navigating Copyright for Libraries: Purpose and Scope. This volume, conceived and produced by members (current and past) of the IFLA Copyright and other Legal Matters (CLM) Advisory Committee, brings together 20 chapters written by some of the top global experts on copyright law for the libraries sector.

As a primer on the relationship between copyright law and libraries, this book sets out to provide librarians and information professionals with the grounding necessary to understand and articulate copyright in their institutions, consider approaches to supporting copyright literacy, and engage more fully with copyright policy and advocacy at local and international levels. It provides both basic and advanced information, with chapters covering some of the hottest issues facing libraries today, from the impact of artificial intelligence to the call for global support for library exceptions.

But even with this outstanding content, arguably the most exciting thing about this publication, and what we seek to celebrate this Open Access Week 2022, is the fact that it is one of the first two IFLA  Publications Series to be available immediately to download as an open access resource. It will also be available in a fully accessible format, among the first for an IFLA  Publication Series.

With both the editors and the authors including experts on and advocates for open access, from the outset it was clear that the book should be a test case for IFLA to put these ideas into practice. As the work to write and prepare the book progressed over three years from the first planning meeting in August 2019, the importance of the decision only became more apparent. The global pandemic has highlighted inequities in access to information more clearly than ever before and emphasised the imperative to facilitate timely access to knowledge on a global scale.

With the support of CLM and the IFLA Professional Committee, and the assistance of the staff at De Gruyter, the book has been published under the broadest of the Creative Commons licences, Attribution Only. This will ensure it can operate as open education resource (OER), available for all to reuse, remix, translate, update and integrate into local or more targeted resources. Versions using best practice accessibility standards are already on their way, and discussions have started about the first translations into languages other than English.

In its Preface, Navigating Copyright is dedicated to every librarian who has taken the time to read and interpret their national copyright statutes in the hope of finding a solution to an access challenge, and to those who have spoken up and continue to highlight inequalities in access to information and call for change. In this Open Access Week, we celebrate the contribution that open licensing choices can make to achieving this essential goal of knowledge for all.

The 10-Minute International Librarian #70: be able to explain why Open Access matters

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

As we publish more ideas, you will be able to view these using the #10MinuteInternationalLibrarian tag on this blog, and of course on IFLA’s Ideas Store! Do also share your ideas in the comments box.

How IFLA’s volunteers are building understanding and action on Open Access

Happy Open Access Week 2021!

How to achieve Open Access – and in particular the theme of this year’s week, ‘it matters how we open knowledge’ – is a question mobilising libraries and library organisations around the world.

With the world far from a situation where all scholarly communication is open, and important questions being raised both about how to avoid creating new inequities and how to avoid inadvertent harm. The value of exploring these questions together, to share perspectives and ensure a more complete picture, is high.

IFLA itself is currently looking again at its own Open Access statement, and looking forward to sharing a revised version in the coming months. In this blog, we wanted to bring together some examples of what volunteers from across IFLA are currently doing to advance understanding and progress the debate.

Open Access and Serials Assessment: our Serials and other Continuing Resources Section dedicated a session at the World Library and Information Congress to the impact of OA on serials assessment, looking at what can be done to tackle a phenomenon which has received a lot of attention – the rise of questionable journals.

The session brought together representatives of publishers and reference platforms (in Latin America, Africa, and global), and looked at the criteria and tools being developed to weed out poor quality journals, and the impact that they have had, highlighting the different approaches open to the topic.

Power of Transformation: OA and Library Collections: our Acquisition and Collections Development Section also focused on Open Access at the World Library and Information Congress, looking at the impacts of open access in their area of focus – collections development.

With perspectives from libraries in developing and developed countries alike, speakers addressed the disruption that OA could cause, and how libraries can respond, as well as the importance of investing in infrastructure.

Drawing on Openly Licenced Materials in Education: the Information Technology Section looked specifically at the use of open access materials and tools in education (Open Educational Resources – OER), and the role that IT systems play in making this work. It noted the role that ICT can play in developing and enhancing OER initiatives, boosting discoverability and quality, while keeping costs under control.

Speakers focused on the leadership role that librarians can play in the movement, including through the open education librarianship movement, as well as how the development of new systems could help ensure easier access to the huge and diverse range of materials available to support learning.

Rights Retention and Open Access: the Academic and Research Libraries Section ran a series of three webinars with Plan S, discussing the latter’s proposals for a strategy on rights retention could apply in different parts of the world. The webinars – for Latin America and the Caribbean, Asia-Oceania, and the Middle East and North Africa/Sub-Saharan Africa – included presentation on the Plan S Strategy, but also opportunities to highlight the impacts that this could have on existing open access practices, as well as raising important questions about different approaches to openness.

Document Supply and Open Access: the Resource-Sharing During COVID (RSCVD) Initiative run by IFLA’s Document Delivery and Resource Sharing Section, the winner of IFLA’s Dynamic Unit Award in 2020, worked closely with Open Access Button in order to enable access to knowledge during the pandemic. The work provided a great opportunity to highlight the power of open access to support research, as well as familiarising more of the field with Open Access Button as a tool.

Open Access Library Publishing: IFLA’s Library Publishing Special Interest Group brings together expertise and experience from around the world in order to discuss practices and models for sustainable and effective publishing through libraries. The Group has organised webinars and other tools to build understanding, including insights around how to manage open access publishing programmes that respond effectively to the needs of researchers and users.

Open Access Week 2020: Libraries continue to support equity and inclusion

From 19th to 25th of October 2020, Open Access Week focuses on taking action to build structural equity and inclusion. These principles, a core value of the library field, need to be supported by policies and capacity-building efforts in order to become reality.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, libraries have faced restrictions due to the closure of their facilities, preventing access to legally accessed and paid-for resources such as scientific articles, books, newspapers, textbooks, and additional educational resources to their users. Due to an inadequate copyright framework, libraries in many countries are prevented from, or faced with legal uncertainty in, giving digital access to copies of legally acquired books or legal uncertainties.

This situation reinforces structural inequalities which disadvantage citizens who are not in a position to buy a book to pursue their studies.

This is however not a situation limited to the time of the pandemic. Library facilities are not equally accessible to all citizens. Users can struggle because of the lack of libraries infrastructure in their district, in their city or because they need to access a specific resource which is in a specialized library in another city, another region or another country.

The knowledge is out there but not always accessible to them.

How can libraries continue to support an access to information and to scientific resources to support their users to benefit from all scientific articles in their field notwithstanding their locations and means?

How can libraries continue to provide access to educational contents (e.g. textbooks, articles) to all their students and users without financial barriers, and give students with lower incomes with the best possible resources and environment?

Clearly one response to this is meaningful copyright reform. However, a parallel approach is to ensure that the restrictions often associated with copyright do not apply in the first place.
Open Access and Open Science approaches more broadly do this, and in doing so aim at providing a better access to resources no matter where you are or your means to access them. They are based on the idea that no research should be dependent on funds to access relevant scientific articles. Users should not be asked to travel to access resources physically, or via a monitor on-site as this creates financial and time barriers for all researchers at a time where research funding is largely diminished.

As librarians, we continue strengthening our capacity by training our teams and colleagues to address these access issues, support the development of training and tools for our users (students, researchers, lecturers and teachers) to retain their copyright, encourage them to publish their works in open access with scholarships, to create open educational resources to support all students wherever they are.

Strong and consistent policies have been developed to support these actions such as SDG’s UN Agenda 2030, Unesco’s 2019 OER Recommendation and the principles related to plan S, supporting the implementation of these objectives within our institutions.

We continue to move forward to facilitate these steps by advocating and raising awareness of the importance of this work throughout the chain of stakeholders involved, from the creators of resources and articles, to the users (students and teachers), policy-makers, head of libraries and universities to provide support and means.

We encourage you to check the #OAweek or #OpenAccessWeek to discover all tools and articles related to this topic!

El acceso abierto como primer paso para la ciencia abierta

Acceso Abierto y Ciencia Abierta

Por David Ramírez-Ordóñez

[la versión inglesa del post está disponible aquí]

Tener acceso a los resultados de investigación es un muy buen primer paso de un camino mucho más largo. Enmarcando al acceso abierto en su contexto general, se encuentra casi como el final de una cadena que deriva en la ruta verde (el auto archivo) y la ruta dorada (la publicación), pero vale la pena empezar a recorrer la cadena hacia atrás.

El panorama general

En este gráfico se puede entender la taxonomía de la ciencia abierta.

Junto con el acceso abierto se encuentran:

  • Datos abiertos
  • Ciencia abierta reproducible
  • Evaluación abiertas
  • Políticas abiertas
  • Herramientas abiertas

Ofrecer acceso al “código fuente”

Una forma sencilla de interpretar este panorama general es la idea de ofrecer el código fuente. Entre los desarrolladores de software, un programa tiene dos partes: 1) su código fuente, que permite modificaciones y a su vez es el que genera 2) el ejecutable, que es el programa funcionando.

Si llevamos la idea de código fuente a los procesadores de texto, podría decirse que un documento en pdf es el ejecutable, el resultado de la escritura y su código fuente es el archivo en Word que lo generó. Quienes han intentado modificar un pdf sabrán que es mucho más sencillo modificarlo si tienes acceso al archivo en Word que lo produjo.

Es por esto que me gusta pensar que quien además de abrir el resultado de una investigación mediante el acceso abierto ofrece acceso al “código fuente” de su investigación es como el vecino que pone flores en su balcón: ayuda a embellecer su vecindario. Ayudará a que los investigadores de su campo del conocimiento tengan más para avanzar en sus investigaciones.

Otras formas de código fuente: los datos

Si la investigación tiene datos, es muy común ver artículos o libros con gráficos. Siguiendo la metáfora de abrir el código fuente para los datos, habría que dar acceso no sólo al gráfico bajo licencias abiertas, que serían los “ejecutables” en nuestro ejemplo del software. Las tablas con los datos, por ejemplo un archivo en Excel, sería el equivalente al código fuente.

Con ese archivo de datos no sólo podríamos generar el mismo gráfico que se encuentra en el artículo o libro publicado en acceso abierto. También tenemos la posibilidad de hacer otros gráficos basados en esos mismos datos, hacer análisis diferentes o incluso mezclar diferentes tipos de datos para obtener nuevos resultados.

Publicar los datos es un camino para empezar con los datos abiertos, otro componente de la ciencia abierta.

Las herramientas y la ciencia reproducible

En mis dos ejemplos pasados, en del archivo en pdf y su documento en Word y en el de un gráfico y los datos en Excel usé como ejemplo dos herramientas muy populares, pero que no son libres. Si bien nos hemos acostumbrado a usarlas por su popularidad, para emplearlas debemos pagar una licencia por su uso. La verdad es que hay múltiples opciones en el software libre.

Libre Office por ejemplo tiene Writer, que es el equivalente a Word y Calc que es el equivalente a Excel. Si aplicamos la metáfora de dar acceso al código fuente, pero esta vez sobre las herramientas el resultado es no sólo mencionar con qué herramienta se construyó el artículo publicado en abierto, sino permitir que cualquier persona pueda descargarse estas herramientas y usarlas.

De esta forma se está abarcando las herramientas abiertas y además la ciencia reproducible. Dar todas las condiciones para que otros repliquen tus experimentos y mediciones y que estos a su vez publiquen los resultados de sus investigaciones de la misma forma hace que la ciencia avance más rápido.

El papel de los bibliotecarios en la ciencia abierta

Uno de los principios del acceso abierto es el acceso a las publicaciones científicas sin barreras tecnológicas, legales o económicas. Si empezamos a expandir este principio a la ciencia abierta estamos promoviendo no sólo el acceso a la información, sino el desarrollo de capacidades informacionales. Si lo expandimos un poco más realmente lo que estamos defendiendo es el Derecho humano de acceso a la información y a la libertad de pensamiento sin barreras tecnológicas, legales o económicas.

Adicionalmente el apoyar la ciencia abierta asegura más y mejores oportunidades para garantizar la preservación digital: ¿Cuántos de nosotros podemos acceder a archivos digitales producidos en software que ya no está disponible en el mercado? Si apenas hace 20 años usábamos disquetes ¿Cómo podremos acceder en 20 años a la información producida hoy? ¿Tendremos la capacidad de acceder y reproducir estos documentos sin las barreras legales y económicas?

Este texto fue escrito en Ghostwriter usando markdown para exportarlo a html, el formato en el que seguramente estarás leyendo este artículo. El código fuente puede descargarse en este enlace y está obra está en dominio público desde su creación. Si bien no es un artículo científico, creo que los principios del acceso abierto y la ciencia abierta pueden aplicarse a otro tipo de información. Es mi manera de poner flores en mi balcón.

Extra: Mientras tanto, en Latinoamerica

En Panama (Octubre 22 a 24 – 2018), muchas personas de la sociedad civil estuvieron trabajando en la Declaración de Panamá sobre Ciencia Abierta y bibliotecarios de Colombia, Argentina y El Salvador estuvieron involucrados para promover no sólo el Acceso Abierto, sino la Ciencia Abierta. De pronto podrías replicar esto con tu asociación bibliotecaria.

The Economist and the Librarian: What the Nobel Prize Tells Us about Open Access and Libraries

Open Access and Libraries

Paul Romer, one of the recipients of the Nobel Prize in Economics 2018, has been recognised for his work on how innovation can allow for continued growth. His insights into the nature and role of knowledge – and in particular of access to knowledge – offer welcome support for some of the key functions of libraries in providing access and skills to all.

Libraries and economics are rarely seen together in the same sentence. Indeed, libraries are seen by many as the reverse of economics – a public service aimed at promoting well-being. A long way away from business and profits.

They are, arguably, the answer to the failures of free market economics, which would risk seeing people on low incomes, or who are otherwise disadvantaged, neglected by businesses.

However, the Nobel prize for economics offered a couple of weeks ago to Paul Romer, alongside William Nordhaus, provides an important affirmation of what libraries do.

Paul Romer’s key achievement has been to create models that explain the contribution of research and innovation to long-term growth. The key document here is his 1990 article on Endogenous Technological Change.

Rather than seeing the development of new ideas it as something external, Romer underlines that it was possible – in theory as well as fact – for economies to keep on growing thanks to investing in research and innovation.

Importantly, this also meant that it wasn’t just the number of people, or the amount of capital (machines, computers, investment) that determined growth, but the skills of the population – human capital – that counts.


Why Knowledge – and Access – Matters

The key factor in Romer’s calculations is the unique nature of knowledge.

He underlines that knowledge – ideas – are not ‘rival’. Unlike a piece of food or clothing, one person having an idea does not mean that someone else cannot. Ideas are not exhausted by being known or used.

They are also not easy to keep to yourself. Economists talk about excludability – the possibility to prevent other people from using things. This is easy with a piece of food or clothing, but not so much with ideas and knowledge.

There are intellectual property rights, which create legal possibilities to exclude others from ideas as a means of ensuring some return on investment. However, as Romer’s model sets out, this exclusion is only ever partial.

Because in Romer’s model, it is the fact that knowledge is accessible – that it contributes to the sum of human knowledge – that means it can have such a positive impact on growth.

Once an idea or piece of research is produced, it feeds into the work of others, who can then come up with new ideas and research. While intellectual property rights stand in the way of reproducing and selling the same piece of work, it is possible for everyone to be inspired by it, and go further.

This removes the limits that a certain population – or amount of capital – places on growth. Thanks to wise use of knowledge, promoting accessibility while finding means of rewarding creators for their work, it becomes easier to sustain the growth that pays for crucial public services.


Libraries and Open Access

There is plenty here that speaks to the role of libraries.

As institutions dedicated to supporting access to knowledge, libraries play an important role in realising Romer’s key point that innovation benefits from full access to the stock of existing ideas.

Romer underlines the importance of trade in facilitating the spread of ideas and innovation. Libraries, through cross-border activities, help achieve the same.

Open Access plays a vital role here. Free and meaningful access makes a reality of Romer’s suggestion that new ideas join a stock that is available to researchers and innovators everywhere as a basis for further progress.

Paywalls risk weakening this effect, and this potential.

For researchers in countries at risk of being left behind, they can lock them out completely. One of the more chilling conclusions of Romer’s work is that in some situations, there risks being no incentive to invest in research, seriously damaging the country’s growth prospects. We need to fight against this.

Clearly, free does not always mean accessible. If there is no effort to make a piece of research easy to discover and use, it will not really join the stock of knowledge out there promoting human progress.

Libraries help here also through managing repositories, developing standards, and helping researchers find what they need.

Libraries also respond to Romer’s key policy recommendation – the value of developing human capital (skills) in an economy. This – rather than efforts to extract money from those who make further use of ideas in order further to support rightholders – is the most practical way to boost innovation.


Paul Romer’s ideas have had a major impact on how governments, and intergovernmental organisations think about growth, and how to support it. While not mentioned in his key article, supporting libraries and open access seems a good way to go about it.