3 UC libraries sign Expression of Interest committing to achieve open access for scholarly journals

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Three University of California libraries, including UC Berkeley’s, signed an Expression of Interest with Open Access 2020, or OA2020, a movement aimed at increasing accessibility to scholarly journals.

The signing, announced in a press release by the UC Berkeley Library on Monday, makes UC Berkeley, UC Davis and UC San Francisco three of the latest institutions to join OA2020 a movement spearheaded by the Munich-based Max Planck Digital Library. They join more than 80 scholarly organizations worldwide, including California State University Northridge, which signed in July 2016.

According to Anneliese Taylor, UCSF Library assistant director for scholarly communications and collections, what the agreement means in practice is that any publications in academic journals by authors from the three UC campuses will become open-access.

Taylor said discussion among the Council of University Librarians, or CoUL, a group comprised of the heads of the UC libraries and a representative from the California Digital Library, picked up fairly quickly after OA2020’s formal unveiling at the Berlin12 conference in late 2015.

“It became clear that there were three campuses that were more ready than others,” Taylor said.

She added that, while all of the UC campuses supported the goals of OA2020, differences primarily arose over how to achieve those goals.

From there, Rachael Samberg, UC Berkeley library scholarly communications officer, got in touch with Ralf Schimmer of the Max Planck Digital Library. Samberg said in an email that she then arranged for Schimmer to come to California and meet with representatives from the various UC campuses about how to achieve open access and potentially sign the Expression of Interest.

According to Taylor, who attended the meeting as part of UCSF’s delegation, six of the UC campuses sent representatives. These included the three that would eventually sign on, as well as UC Merced, UC Irvine and UC San Diego.

UC Berkeley, UC Davis and UC San Francisco each took the prospect of joining OA2020 through their respective systems. According to Samberg, she and UC Berkeley’s University Librarian Jeffrey MacKie-Mason wrote the initial drafts that formed the base for all three campuses’ versions of the agreement to join OA2020, and all three campuses signed within weeks of each other.

”Our intention is really that it’s going to affect all scholarly journals … and that would include journals in all disciplines,” Taylor said.

She also said removing paywalls and subscription fees would make gaining access to information easier for students and that UCSF plans to keep working closely with UC Davis and UC Berkeley as they pursue OA2020’s aims.

MacKie-Mason said in an email that, while OA2020 had supporters and detractors from all of the UC campuses, it was not the first move by the campus to increase accessibility. He added that the other UC campuses are continuing to work on potential agreements.

“At present, all 10 University Librarians have agreed to work towards a common statement modeled on OA2020 — though perhaps not exactly the same — that everyone would agree to sign,” MacKie-Mason said in an email. “Stay tuned.”

Contact Connor Bunnell at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @cbunnell_dc.