The Libraries recently celebrated the seventh annual Open Access Week. This global event is an opportunity for the academic and research community to learn about the potential benefits of open access – the free, immediate, online access to the peer-reviewed results of scholarly research, and the right to use and re-use those results.
This year Peter Suber, Director of the Harvard Office for Scholarly Communication and Faculty Fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society, was the Library’s keynote speaker. Author of the book, Open Access, published by MIT Press in 2012 and now available openly online, Dr. Suber met with students, faculty and faculty governance bodies to discuss the impacts and implications of the open access policy adopted by Harvard.
The high cost of commercial textbooks (both print and electronic) continues to be a major concern for both students and their parents. During Open Access Week, the Libraries announced the fifth round of grants available through the Open Education Initiative (OEI). This faculty incentive program supports faculty interested in providing their students with a less expensive yet educationally rewarding alternative to commercial textbooks.
Through a total investment of $39,000 in the first three years of the initiative, 30 faculty members from eight schools/colleges have created alternatives to commercial textbooks that have resulted in an estimated savings of over $1 million for their students. The Friends of the Library are providing $10,000 to fund this cycle’s OEI grants.
The Libraries also announced a new fund to support open access publication of UMass Amherst peer-reviewed scholarship. The Supporting Open Access Research (SOAR) Fund underwrites reasonable publication charges for articles published in peer-reviewed journals that are openly accessible. A pilot program will make $25,000 available to UMass Amherst authors of articles and books.
Finally, the Libraries are one of only five sites in the country chosen by OpenStax College, supported by Rice University, to engage in a pilot program to showcase their open textbook materials. These are peer-reviewed texts written by professional content developers. Free online and low-cost in print, the OpenStax College books are built for today’s student budgets.
The UMass Amherst Libraries have two major goals in promoting open access on campus. The first is cost containment—both for students through less expensive textbooks, and for libraries through reduced pricing for scholarly journals. The second is public access to scholarly research—encouraging faculty to publish in high-quality, peer-reviewed journals and still providing open access to their scholarship.
We in the Libraries are excited by this opportunity to support open access for the good of students and the academy.
Thank you for your continuing financial support, which helps underwrite these very important efforts.