Open Access Week, a global event now entering its 12th year, is an opportunity for the academic and research community to learn about the benefits of open access, to share what they’ve learned with colleagues, and to help inspire wider participation in helping to make open access a new norm in scholarship and research. The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) applauds the 2019 theme for Open Access Week: “Open for Whom? Equity in Open Knowledge.” As an association, our mission is to catalyze the collective efforts of our member libraries to provide enduring and barrier-free access to information.
We commend all our member libraries’ commitment to open, equitable access to knowledge. Some highlights from 2019 include breaking down the following barriers between people and the knowledge they seek:
- Barriers to distribution: In January, we celebrated materials entering the public domain in the United States for the first time in 20 years.
- Barriers to self-determination in library and archival description: An ARL White Paper on Wikidata: Opportunities and Recommendations highlighted librarians at York University who are using Wikidata, the open metadata hub underlying Wikipedia, in partnership with Indigenous communities to increase the visibility and representation of Indigenous people and collections in Wikipedia.
- Barriers to accessing paywalled academic research: Our spring Association Meeting featured a panel of ARL member representatives addressing campus coalition building to transform the existing scholarly communication system, including Jeff MacKie-Mason (UC Berkeley), Chris Bourg (MIT), and Elaine Westbrooks (UNC Chapel Hill).
- Barriers for readers with print disabilities: ARL and the University of Virginia published The Law and Accessible Texts: Reconciling Civil Rights and Copyrights, analyzing how institutions of higher education can meet their mission of providing all students with equitable access to information within the current legal framework.
And as more information is generated automatically and algorithmically, research libraries will engage with policy makers, institutional leadership, and the research and learning community to address ethical issues around data and decision-making bias in AI and machine learning.
About the Association of Research Libraries
The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) is a nonprofit organization of 124 research libraries in Canada and the US whose mission is to advance research, learning, and scholarly communication. The Association fosters the open exchange of ideas and expertise, promotes equity and diversity, and pursues advocacy and public policy efforts that reflect the values of the library, scholarly, and higher education communities. ARL forges partnerships and catalyzes the collective efforts of research libraries to enable knowledge creation and to achieve enduring and barrier-free access to information. ARL is on the web at ARL.org.