Member Story: Texas A&M Libraries promotes Open Access to research

Holly Mercer of Texas A&M Libraries staffs the Open Access Café during Open Access Week 2011. (Photo courtesy of Texas A&M Libraries.)

TDL supports Open Access to research by providing online publication tools that member schools and faculty researchers can use to make their work freely available. Texas A&M University Libraries, a founding member of the TDL, recently held a number of activities during Open Access Week 2011 (held October 24-30) designed to raise awareness about the benefits of free and immediate access to research.

Through a traveling “Open Access Café,” as well as several special events, Texas A&M Libraries engaged students, staff, and faculty on campus in a discussion about Open Access, including about the tools offered through the Libraries’ membership in TDL.

Open Access Café

Texas A&M Libraries’ Open Access Week activities included an Open Access Café that visited several of the campus’s libraries to engage with undergraduates, graduate and professional students, and faculty about the importance of Open Access.

As the costs of journal subscriptions — and other toll-access scholarly resources — continues to escalate, the benefits of Open Access for academic institutions becomes increasingly apparent.

According to Gail Clement, Outreach Librarian for Digital Services and Scholarly Communications at Texas A&M Libraries, a pragmatic message about the costs of scholarly work resonates particularly well with students.

“Students are focused on the pragmatic,” she said. “Students directly see that if we don’t put controls on subscriptions, they’re paying more in student fees.”

Texas A&M Libraries Open Access Week

Postcards encourage faculty to support Open Access through 5 specific actions. (Photo courtesy of Texas A&M Libraries.)

In addition to offering cake and giveaways, the Café gave students the opportunity to actively engage by providing them with stamped postcards to send to their professors. The postcards encouraged faculty to support Open Access in five specific ways: (1) Manage your rights, (2) Use open resources, (3) Exercise fair use, (4) Steward your resources, and (5) Share your work.

Faculty and researcher discussions: OA publishing and Data Management

In addition to creating the Open Access Café, Texas A&M Libraries engaged faculty members and researchers through panel discussions dealing with timely issues related to scholarly communication and access to research.

At a Data Management Discussion held at the Bush School of Government and Public Service, faculty from the social sciences and humanities discussed the challenges of maintaining and preserving increasingly large amounts of data.

A second forum featured journal editors who publish online, peer-reviewed journals hosted by the Texas Digital Library on the TDL Electronic Press. Participants discussed Open Access journals as a viable alternative to traditional subscription-based publications, as well as the risks and rewards the open-access publishing model.

Among the journals managed at Texas A&M through the TDL Electronic Press are: Library Leadership & Management, Politica Comun, Practical Academic Librarianship, The International Journal of Structural Changes in Solids, the Journal of Digital Information, and the Texas Water Journal.

Fair Use Film Festival: Creativity & Remixing

To highlight the importance of access in supporting creativity and innovation, Texas A&M Libraries also held a “Fair Use Film Festival” during Open Access Week, at which faculty, staff, and students could view and discuss a program of film clips, mash-ups, remixes, and other forms of media that demonstrated the importance of fair use in supporting creativity.

“The festival was intended to promote the idea that culture depends on the ability to remix and mash up,” said Clement. “Creativity is about transforming pieces that already exist.”

Open Access Week is held each year, and is celebrated globally by libraries, faculty, and students to promote an emerging model for scholarly communications. Next year’s Open Access Week is scheduled for October 22-28, 2012.

The Texas Digital Library provides information about Open Access Week, as well as the tools TDL provides in support of Open Access, on its website at http://tdl.org/open-access/.

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