Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Friday, March 13, 2009

An OA mandate for the OSU library faculty

The library faculty at Oregon State University have adopted an OA mandate.  From today's announcement:

On March 6, library faculty adopted a policy that requires deposit of final published versions of scholarly works in the libraries’ institutional repository, ScholarsArchive@OSU. This is the first open access mandate adopted by a library faculty in the United States, according to Michael Boock, head of digital access services for OSU Libraries.

Since 2004, OSU Libraries has worked to collect the university’s scholarship in digital form to ensure greater accessibility and long-term preservation of the scholarship. ScholarsArchive@OSU, which recently ranked fourth among U.S. digital repositories, contains dissertations, theses, a wide variety of university technical reports, working papers and series and increasingly, published articles, papers and presentations. The current contributions come from across campus, and are contributed on a voluntary basis.

The new policy means that the 42 library faculty will automatically contribute all of their scholarship to the archive, which will not be the case for faculty in other departments, who can continue to contribute on a voluntary basis.

No later than the date of publication or distribution, library faculty members will deposit an electronic copy of the final published version of their works in an appropriate format (such as PDF) to ScholarsArchive@OSU. The policy applies to articles, conference papers and proceedings, substantial presentations and internal reports of interest to a broader audience that are authored or co-authored by library faculty members.

“As faculty members at Oregon’s land grant university the library faculty believes they have a responsibility to share their expertise and research with the public,” Boock said. “As librarians, they believe in the widest possible access to information and its long-term preservation. The policy they’ve adopted supports these goals.”

From the policy text:

...The policy will apply to all scholarly works authored or co-authored while a faculty member of the University Libraries, beginning with works created after March 2009....

When a publisher is involved who will not agree to the terms of this policy as stated in the Science Commons Access-Reuse Addendum, the University Librarian or the University Librarian’s designate will waive application of the policy upon written request from faculty. When a waiver is granted, faculty are encouraged to deposit whatever version of the article the publisher allows (e.g. pre or post-print)....

The Coordinator [who also grants waivers] may assist the author in getting terms from the publisher that are most agreeable to the author.

From the policy guidelines:

[The Library Faculty Association] recommends that authors select the Access/Reuse agreement type using the Science Commons Scholar’s Copyright Addendum Engine....

Comment.  Kudos to the OSU Library Faculty Association (LFA) for this strong policy.  I applaud the mandatory language, the dual deposit-release strategy (or what Stevan Harnad calls immediate deposit / optional access), and the clarity in making waivers apply only to OA rather than both OA and deposits.  I like the way the LFA will help faculty deposit their articles as well as obtain better terms from publishers.  You can classify this as a policy from faculty rather than administrators, and as a departmental rather than university-wide policy.  Now that the library faculty have taken the lead, I hope we'll see other departments and divisions of OSU, already operating under a policy to encourage self-archiving, strengthen their policy as well.

Update (3/14/09).  Also see Stevan Harnad's comment:

Librarians have been at the vanguard of the Open Access movement, often trying heroically, but in vain, to convince other faculty university-wide to deposit, as well as to convince the university to mandate deposit. Here is something they can do on their own, to provide an example and show the way: mandate deposit within their own department or faculty. (This is also an instance if Arthur's Sale's suggestion that "patchwork mandates" be adopted at the laboratory, department or faculty level, rather than waiting for university-wide mandates).

Update (3/16/09).  Also see the comments of Terry, who is apparently a faculty member at OSU:

I think that this is important on a number of levels.

  1. Symbolically, it’s important.  It’s very difficult for the library to go to faculty on campus and ask them to contribute content to the IR, when in fact, the Library faculty itself is not regularly submitting to the IR.  This changes that – and hopefully – will act as a catalysis for other departments on campus to follow the Library faculty’s lead.
  2. As tenured faculty, the research (both papers and presentations) our librarians generate represent an important contribution to the scholarly community. As researchers and scholars, preserving our content and making it freely accessible to future researchers is indeed one of our primary responsibilities as faculty.
  3. This was really a faculty initiated endeavor, that has a great back story, but I won’t include it here right now.  But suffice it to say, a good number of people at OSU deserve a lot of credit for making this happen, chief among those being Michael Boock and Janet Webster – who have worked tirelessly from the beginning to advertise, grow and advocate for the IR in the library.  And for the faculty as well, for stepping up and making this a reality. 
  4. Finally, it’s just one more example of that Beaver ingenuity and can do’edness.

Update (3/24/09). Andrew Albanese reports that the vote was unanimous.