Spotlight On Open Access At The Smithsonian Libraries

Richard Naples | Smithsonian Libraries Unbound | January 30, 2013

James Smithson bequeathed his fortune to the people of the United States with the clear impetus for the “increase and diffusion of knowledge.” The Smithsonian Libraries takes that message to heart by striving to connect ideas and information to you, and all whom we serve. Consider this an overview of Open Access (with capital O and A) and open access (lowercase o & a) here at the Libraries. Long story short: if you have access to the internet, you have access to an increasing number of quality, peer-reviewed journals and scholarly publications (as long as you know where to look).

Open Access can be best described as a movement among academics and researchers to provide the fruits of their intellectual endeavors openly and without the barriers of pay or time delay. While this movement towards intellectual sharing has a rich history throughout the centuries (public libraries, archives and museums being the vanguard), the Open Access movement as a specific historic idea became relevant only with the widespread adoption of the World Wide Web, and the possibility, for the first time, of a distribution network that didn’t rely on printing physical copies. Whether it be online access to scholarly research or the rights to reuse those results as needed, the Open Access movement has allowed products of research to be reached more broadly than ever before. Institutions around the world take advantage of the annual Open Access Week in October to promote open access. The Smithsonian Libraries, for instance, was proud to cohost a Wikipedia Edit-a-thon during this past October’s Open Access Week.

The Budapest Open Access Initiative was a turning point in open access. The December 2001 meeting codified the aims of the Open Access Movement into two complementary strategies: what is now referred to as the green strategy—placing articles in freely accessible repositories, and the gold strategy—publishing in open access journals to begin with...