Open Access: An Important Resource for Special Libraries

Lauren Hays

Lauren Hays

June 09, 2020

In an earlier post, I wrote about open educational resources (OER), and I want to continue the open conversation by discussing open access. Content needed by special libraries is widely available in open formats. Therefore, understanding the open access movement and knowing what resources are available is important for special librarians. 

According to SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition), “open access is the free, immediate, online availability of research articles coupled with the rights to use these articles fully in the digital environment” (para. 1). Journals adopt open access primarily to broaden their reach, and to make their content more readily available, thus making the content more impactful. Furthermore, many grant-making bodies now require work created with grant funds to be openly published. 

The open access definition from the American Library Association varies slightly from SPARC’s. According to ALA, “open access refers to the free and open availability of scholarly content on the Internet. Open-access materials are made available via digital repositories (archives) or scholarly journals. Open access does not equate to ‘anyone can publish anything’; rather, open access refers to the ability of anyone to view, download and use scholarly information.” Open access content can be journal articles, books, datasets, conference papers, etc. 

The open access movement has morphed and grown over the years. Defining moments in the history of open access include:

There are different types of open access publishing options. The two most common are Green OA (open access) and Gold OA (open access). Generally, Green OA is free and allows for self-archiving of a pre-print version of an article. With Gold OA, there is frequently a charge that the author must pay and then they maintain copyright. More detailed information about open access publishing options can be found on publishers’ websites. Additionally, SHERPA RoMEO includes definitions and terms as well as aggregates publishers’ open access policies. 

As librarians working in specialized fields, locating open content relevant to our constituents’ needs may be challenging. Therefore, I included a few resources below that will hopefully prove helpful. 

Open Access Sites

DOAB (Directory of Open Access Books): “The primary aim of DOAB is to increase discoverability of Open Access books.” 

DOAJ (Directory of Open Access Journal): “DOAJ is a community-curated online directory that indexes and provides access to high quality, open access, peer-reviewed journals.”

Open Access Directory: “The Open Access Directory (OAD) is a compendium of simple factual lists about open access (OA) to science and scholarship, maintained by the OA community at large.” 

OpenDOAR (Directory of Open Access Repositories): “OpenDOAR is the quality-assured global directory of academic open access repositories. It enables the identification, browsing and search for repositories, based on a range of features, such as location, software or type of material held.”

ROAR (Registry of Open Access Repositories): “The aim of ROAR is to promote the development of open access by providing timely information about the growth and status of repositories throughout the world.”

SHERPA RoMEO: “SHERPA RoMEO is an online resource that aggregates and analyses publisher open access policies from around the world and provides summaries of self-archiving permissions and conditions of rights given to authors on a journal-by-journal basis.”

Lauren Hays

Lauren Hays

Lauren Hays, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Instructional Technology at the University of Central Missouri. Please learn more about Lauren and read her other posts about skills for special librarians; then take a look at Lucidea’s powerful ILS, SydneyEnterpriseused daily by special librarians to empower their users.

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