November 30, 2011
President Lewis Duncan recently signed the Berlin Declaration on behalf of Rollins College. In his message to the Max Planck Society, he stated that he was pleased to add the College’s support to the “continuing efforts toward the achievement of free and open access of knowledge in all of our shared academic endeavors.”
The Berlin Declaration is one of the foundational documents of the open access movement and has been signed by over 300 organizations and institutions worldwide. Open access is a movement within scholarship to encourage access to published scholarly research online and at no direct cost to the reader. It contrasts with “toll access,” which restricts access to those who have paid subscriptions to such works. On November 9-10, 2011, the Berlin 9 Conference was held in the U.S. for the first time. Associated with the Conference is a drive to get more U.S. institutions to sign the declaration.
Rollins is already active in the open access movement. The undergraduate faculty passed an open access policy in February 2010, and the Crummer faculty are currently drafting their own. Rollins students and faculty also make use of open access materials every day via the library and openly on the web. The Olin Library administers an open access repository of faculty and student works titled Rollins Scholarship Online.
The internet has fundamentally changed the practical and economic realities of distributing scholarly knowledge and cultural heritage. For the first time, the internet offers the chance to support a global and interactive representation of human knowledge, including the guarantee of worldwide access. The drafters (and signatories) of the declaration are committed to addressing the challenges of the internet as a medium for distributing knowledge, and to positively advance the scholarly communication system. The declaration acknowledges that an institution’s mission for disseminating knowledge is incomplete if the information is not made widely and readily available throughout society.
In order to realize the vision of a global and accessible representation of knowledge, the future Web has to be sustainable, interactive, and transparent, and content must be made openly accessible. This aligns with Rollins’ mission to educate students to be global citizens and responsible leaders.
Library Director Jonathan Miller explained that “signing is not just an expression of our activity and thinking on this topic, it is also politically important. Signing will help us join with others to do our small part to encourage policymakers and funders to continue to move scholarly communication systems in a more open direction and resist efforts to close and commercialize the system.”
Signing the Declaration strengthens Rollins College’s intent to:
• Encourage researchers/grant recipients to publish their work according to the principles of open access.
• Encourage the holders of cultural heritage to support open access by providing their resources on the Internet.
• Develop means and ways to evaluate open-access contributions and online journals in order to maintain the standards of quality assurance and good scientific practice.
• Advocate that open-access publication be recognized in promotion and tenure evaluation.
• Advocate the intrinsic merit of contributions to an open-access infrastructure by software tool development, content provision, metadata creation or the publication of individual articles.