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ODU Libraries Welcomes Open Conversation on Research and Publishing During Open Access Week

By Jennifer Hoyt

As universities consider how to provide scholarly work through their campus libraries without paying the high costs attached to publishing giants like Elsevier, the option of open access grows more appealing. Open access offers accessibility to research in journals and books online with no charges attached.

Old Dominion University's Perry Library expects to open up discussion on "big deal" journal packaging during Open Access Week, an event recognized on a global scale but tailored to the Monarch community. Through dialogue and academic engagement, concerned faculty, students, librarians and higher education leaders can weigh the outcomes of open access.

Karen Vaughan, organizer of the event and head of scholarly communication and publishing for ODU Libraries, describes the pricey situation as being akin to cable television.

"They give you a ton of channels and up your cost so you have access to all these things, but you never watch them," she said. "Are we going to pay for the whole bundle or are we going to pay for the individual journals that our faculty and students really need?"

Vaughan hopes three educational sessions scheduled for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday will provide answers as guests approach open access from a number of perspectives.

On Tuesday, Open Access Week kicks off with a focus on open educational resources, or OERs. The goal is raising awareness of how libraries can work with ODU faculty on accessing and using resources that are licensed openly.

"I think, ideally, what we want is to have faculty interest, we want them to have questions and we want them to work with us," Vaughan said. "We get these bundles because we think our faculty and students can use them, but we can't afford them anymore."

On Wednesday, the documentary "Paywall" will be screened. The film explores issues related to for-profit academic publishers, representing a publishing process for ODU faculty who are seeking tenured status. The film describes a dysfunctional cycle of academic authors receiving financial support from their institutions to conduct research and then to produce written works for publishing. However, before the works become accessible, the authors must release their control of copyright to a publishing group. Vaughan notes the publishers then "get more money back from the university in the form of library subscriptions."

To highlight Open Access Week, Brandon Butler, director of information policy at the University of Virginia Libraries, will join the discussion Thursday.

"He is going to come and speak to hopefully lots of faculty and administrators about what Virginia is trying to do with breaking big deals," Vaughan said.

She also stresses why Butler's visit is so timely. "We actually have statistics that say, out of the 2,684 journals in 2008 that we subscribed to through Elsevier, approximately 40% were used under 10 times."

ODU faculty should send RSVPs to Vaughan at kvaughan@odu.edu. All sessions will be held in ODU's Perry Library. Guests are welcome to bring their lunch, but treats will be provided.

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