Open Access: A Distilled Perspective

garyprice_220wAs we approach the conclusion of the series of interviews I've been conducting with leaders of the open access community, I've been asked to share a few comments and reflections. Because of the hard work and dedication of the people who were interviewed for the series, open access publishing—including both text and data—is now a reality for librarians, our users, and the publishing community. Of course, this doesn't mean all is perfect and it's time to find a new issue to focus on. Not even close. There is still a lot of work to be done not only in making sure that open access publishing as a whole is sustainable over the long term for both new material that will be written, published, disseminated, aggregated, etc. but also making sure that what has been published will always remain accessible. The library and publishing communities must also work together to make sure that content is available and will remain available formats users want and need. In other words, the technology is a big part of the equation. While sustainability and technology are very important concerns (to name two of many), lack of awareness and knowledge by the academic community of many open access issues—including funding mandates, licensing options, and others—remains critical. So, as we see in many other areas, open access is a marketing issue made more challenging by the fact that for many academics, old beliefs and habits might need to change or at least be modified. This is not easy. The more we can share and teach, using examples specific to those we are speaking to, the better. Articles and flyers can be useful but talking is even better. A company that you’ve heard of, Google, spent no money on traditional forms of advertising during their first decade. It was about having a great product, reaching out to key people with examples they could relate to, a constant stream of new things to discuss, and realizing that word-of-mouth is valuable. The good news is that for a profession that is always looking for ways to be relevant, open access is a perfect opportunity for us. Even better news is that the people interviewed for our series and many others are aware of these issues and are using their skills to make this happen. Finally, one of the benefits of open access is that it can make research and data accessible to more people. We know this but are the people who might benefit from this material aware of it? Is it easy to find? Is it easy to make use of? Share? Right now there are many exciting projects going on to make open access content more easily accessible to both a core audience of researchers and the public at large around the globe. That said, there is often an awareness curve (e.g. "I had no idea this was available") and even a learning curve. However, once again, this is a tremendous opportunity for the library community to share what we know with those we work with. Open Access In Action

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