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How to Get Started: Campus Librarians

As a librarian, you’re already aware of the high price of journal subscriptions and the limitations that places on the resources you’re able to offer your users.  However, you also have a great opportunity, through your interactions with students (and faculty), to educate and inspire them to adopt open publishing practices themselves and get involved in advocating for change.

You may believe students wouldn't care about high journal prices, but this is far from the case!  Students feel the impact of not being able to get past abstracts everyday.  Instead of letting them assume limited access is just the way it is, inform the students on your campus of the rapid rise in journal prices and the negative impacts these high prices have not only on them, but on everyone who needs access to academic research.  The Benefits area of our Web site is good place to build talking points.

So, you’ve decided you want to engage the students on your campus – here are some suggestions on how to get started:

STEP ONE: Advertise for Open Access

The library is always one of the most popular spots on campus.  Use this to your advantage!  Put out posters, flyers, handouts, and swag in high traffic areas.  Open Access Week is a great time to commit the effort to put out these resources to raise awareness.

STEP TWO: Reach Out to Your Students

Use connections to the student community your library already has, and make sure those students who are involved with the library are aware of what a problem journal prices have become.  Help them see that they, as students, can do something about it.  Second, don’t be afraid to reach out and form bonds that you don’t yet have with student groups.  Student governments are tasked with advocating for the interests of the students on your campus, and part of that responsibility extends to their education experience - which certainly includes their ability to access the latest research results.  That’s why student governments, both undergraduate and graduate, compose roughly half of our Coalition’s membership.  Our member student organizations deeply believe access to research is an issue that falls within their purview.  This is what one of our student government leaders said when asked why he takes the time to advocate for Open Access:

“The purpose of research is wide dissemination and cultivation of knowledge. With increasing journal subscription costs and decreasing library budgets, we as users and producers of scientific knowledge are taking a stand to support open access to scholarly research.  As a student government concerned both locally and globally, we feel this is not only a responsibility to our own constituency, but also to researchers and human advancement worldwide.”

- Kevin McComber of MIT’s Graduate Student Council

STEP THREE: Champion an Open Access Policy on Your Campus

A large portion of all Open Access policies started in some form or another in the library, yet the library’s role is not to be the main advocate but rather the catalyst around which a diverse group of advocates from across your campus can join together.  The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC), our partner organization, has developed a detailed guide that will tell you how best to pass an Open Access policy from start to finish.  It can be found on the Campus Policy section of SPARC’s website.


From the journals you to which you subscribe to how you interact with faculty, there are many, many steps you can take to make your library more Open Access friendly.  See the SPARC Resources page to get a full idea of what steps your library could take.

If your library is not already a member of SPARC, you should consider joining.  SPARC is an international alliance of academic and research libraries working to correct imbalances in the scholarly publishing system, and it is only through membership from libraries like yours that SPARC can carry out its mission. 

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