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by Beth McNeil, Dean of Purdue University Libraries and School of Information Studies and Esther Ellis Norton Professor of Library Science

Dean of Purdue University Libraries and School of Information Studies and Esther Ellis Norton Professor of Library Science Beth McNeil

Beth McNeil, Dean of Purdue University Libraries and School of Information Studies and Esther Ellis Norton Professor of Library Science

During International Open Access week each year, those who work in libraries around the world lead conversations on our campuses, sparking discussion on the changing nature of scholarly communication and the benefits of open access. We often offer OA-related programming and sometimes celebrate our successes during the past year. This year’s theme, “Open for Whom? Equity in Open Knowledge,” is timely, as conversations have expanded beyond the benefits of open to the challenges of building new systems for sharing that offer full access for all.

Earlier this week here at Purdue, four faculty members from across campus described what “open” means to them during an engaging panel program moderated by Justin Race, director of Purdue University Press. Kris Bross, associate dean for research and creative endeavors, Honors College, and professor of English; Gaurav Chopra, assistant professor of chemistry; Wayne Wright, Barbara I. Cook Chair of Literacy and Language and associate dean for research, graduate programs, and faculty development, College of Education; and Michael Witt, associate professor and interim associate dean for research, Libraries and School of Information Studies, each offered examples of how open scholarship/open science influenced their individual academic work and teaching. Their personal experience, plus comments and questions from the audience, made for a very engaging program.

When I think about what open means to me, I know that I, as a librarian, care deeply about making information available to all who need it. In university research libraries we work hard and, sometimes very creatively, to find ways to meet the information needs of our faculty, students, and campus community. Finding the balance between a scholarly communication ecosystem that I know needs deep and sustained change and meeting day-to-day local research information needs can be challenging and complicated.


Oct. 21-27, 2019, is International Open Access Week. This is part of a series — written by Purdue faculty and staff — that demonstrates the benefits of open access scholarly publishing. For the entire series, visit http://blogs.lib.purdue.edu/news/category/oaweek19/.


Each year personnel in libraries, including here at Purdue, are forced to make tough decisions regarding which journal subscriptions to renew. Subscription cost increases of 5-7 percent each year are not sustainable, and when major for-profit publishers report profit margins in the 30–40 percent range each year, higher than Apple, Google, and Amazon — it just seems wrong.

I believe the scholarship and data produced by our researchers, scholars, and faculty can change the world, but to do so, it needs to be open and freely available for all. Contracts and licenses with publishers and content providers should be transparent across institutions and equitable for all parties, and the costs of scholarship should be financially sustainable for libraries. Open. Transparent. Sustainable. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.


Learn more about Purdue’s Open Access resources, including Purdue e-Pubs, Purdue’s open access digital repository, at www.lib.purdue.edu/openaccess.