The time for open education resources is now

Share this on social media:

Andrew Barker, Director of Library Services & Learning Development at Lancaster University, shares his views on the importance of open access

The theme this year is climate justice and sustainability – how does that tie in with your goals as an open-access university library?

Our library reports to the PVC Global, whose responsibilities include sustainability – so climate justice is at the forefront of all our minds. Increasingly, we are looking at everything we do internally and externally through the prism of sustainability. To take in all aspects of the word, we are looking increasingly at every part of our operation to understand the impact we are having on our environment and the financial impact that collections and technologies have on our ability to be a world-class university library.  So this year’s theme ties in really nicely to our goal and our vision for the future of open research by including open access as one part of that wider open research vision.

Why is open access important, and why does Open Access Week matter?

Open Access Week aims to encourage connection and collaboration among the academic and open research community. This aligns very closely with one of the key aims of our Library 2025 vision, which is to be a ‘connected connector’ that brings our communities together to co-create and share knowledge.

Open access sits at the heart of everything we do at Lancaster University Library – from there being no physical barriers at the entrance of our library building and providing our community with free access to our print collections as Community Card members – right through to our Principles of Open Research. It is important because as our university charter states that our objective is to ‘advance knowledge’, and we feel that needs to sit at the centre of all we do. More specifically, providing publicly funded research for free to the public seems appropriate in our information-rich world. My view is that we should not be putting barriers up to knowledge, we should be opening up access as much as we can to all – locally and globally. Open Access Week enables us to focus fully on open access and to consolidate our day-to-day work into one week to promote what we do. Fundamentally, Open Access Week is an event to celebrate all we do throughout the year.

How will you be marking this year’s Open Access Week?

For this year’s Open Access Week, at Lancaster University Library, we have engaged with a range of internal and external partners to develop a programme of events to showcase our library partnerships and bring our communities together within our library building’s researcher spaces. For instance, Lancaster University's 'ReproducibiliTea' journal club will be delivering a special Open Access Week meeting in our library research engagement spaces, while Lancaster's new Digital Humanities Research Centre will be co-delivered by our library staff in our Digital Scholarship Lab, further showcasing the work with our partners.

This year’s focus on climate justice has also seen us design events with the intention of encouraging connection and collaboration among the climate movement and open research community. Author and activist Matt Sowerby will be delivering a talk titled 'How to find hope in a climate crisis', featuring live poetry readings, which will be open to all of our staff, students and members of the public with an interest in this area.

Other events include a seminar on how our researchers can take advantage of Lancaster University's read-and-publish agreement with Wiley, and drop-in sessions with our open access team. We'll also be running a Lego-based research metadata game aimed primarily at our PGR community. We are really excited by the range of events we have happening during the week.

What is the future of open-access publishing?

We will see the open access journals market mature, as the impact of transformational deals is made visible and read-and-publish deals are evaluated. Open monographs will rise in prominence, new models will be explored and the market will mature - all while witnessing an increase in the rise of rights retention by authors and institutions.

In terms of what that might all look like, I think the future of open-access publishing will be built around multi-university and library consortia working with university presses to create these open monographs and open textbooks. With changes to UKRI policy, there is clearly a policy and cultural shift, and with the increasingly unaffordable pricing of e-textbooks, I am convinced that if we can join up and work together, the time for open education resources is nigh. So there’s lots to look forward to with the future of open-access publishing!

Andrew Barker, Director of Library Services & Learning Development, Lancaster University