Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Friday, September 08, 2006

Improving access for the general public, short of OA

Access for Members of the Public to Digital Content held in University and College Libraries, Research Information Network, August 2006. A "Report on Current Practice and Recommendations for the Future" by "Members of the Expert Group on Public Access to Digital Content in Academic Libraries".  Excerpt:

This paper reports on the current position with regard to the provision of access for members of the public to digital content in libraries in the higher education (HE) sector in the UK. It has been prepared by an expert group assembled by the Research Information Network (RIN) and provides advice to the sector and to its funding agencies on issues that need to be addressed if public access is to be enhanced.

The Government has acknowledged the significance of providing access to members of the public to scientific journals and other materials held in academic libraries, in pursuit of its aims of enhancing public understanding of science, of lifelong learning, and widening participation in higher education....

We present seven recommendations - addressed to Government, to the Higher Education Funding Bodies, to the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC), to Eduserv Chest, to the Society of College, National and University Libraries (SCONUL), to the Universities and Colleges Information Systems Association (UCISA), and to university and college libraries to address these issues....

Comment. All seven recommendations will increase access to TA research for walk-in patrons, online patrons, lay readers, and independent scholars. But one recommendation is missing:  provide open access to a larger portion of the research literature.  The UK is already working toward OA on many fronts, of course.  But every new argument, ally, and connection helps the cause, just as every failure to recognize how OA can solve a problem is a setback for OA and for the prospects of solving the problem.  We can talk at length about negotiating permissions to share keys for locked doors, but at some point we should also talk about leaving the doors open.