Open your mind to Open Access! This week libraries, schools, colleges, universities and others are celebrating International Open Access Week (October 20 – 26, 2014). Are you still not sure what OpenAccess? Why should libraries and librarians even care?

Let’s start with the basics: what is it?

Open Access focuses on free, unrestricted online access to content created by users (faculty, students, trainers, teachers, researchers, scientists, and possibly even you!) If you have ever uploaded a presentation to slideshare and allowed others to download it, you are already participating! Open Access is just one piece of the larger open movement which includes Opensource software, Open Data, and much more.

Open Access content can be reused, shared, and often, modified. Although Public Domain content which has no copyright is often included in Open Access resources, copyright content is also included if it is licensed for use, such as under a Creative Commons license, which makes it easy to determine usage and citation policy (attribution). Content can be educational in scope (Open Educational Resources aka OER, like lesson plans and course content in OER Commons), research oriented (journals in the DOJA), images such as those shared via social media and licensed for sharing and reuse,   public domain content (like the Prelinger Archives in the Internet Archive), and much more.

 So, why should libraries and librarians care?

Resources are expensive. Journals and textbooks are expensive. MOOCs (Massive Online Open Courses) are changing the landscape of education. Content is being created an extraordinary rate everyday and uploaded to the internet – why not harness the power of the crowd?  Why not make it easy to reuse and remix, facilitating creativity and fostering a culture of innovation? Sharing and access to information are some of the things that libraries do best. Sharing saves resources (time, money, and even space within buildings!) but also make libraries stronger as a whole, giving patrons much more information than any one library could offer.

This is where libraries and librarians come into the picture. Not only can we use the resources ourselves, but we can share those with our patrons. We can also help create these materials, organize them, describe them, and provide access to these resources, through digitization projects such as the DPLA, HomePlace, and Digital Library of Georgia, DLG.

So, the next time you present at a conference, or create a reader’s advisory or finding aid, write a blog post, or share an image on social media, think about how you can start opening up your content to the world at large.

Here are a few sources Open Access resources to get you started (and don’t forget you can search many social media and sharing websites like Flickr and Youtube by rights):

Learn about OER


My resources on OER:


General websites

Creative Commons search:

DPLA (all formats, some public domain):

Internet archive (all formats; some public domain; can limit to rights via advanced searching, ): ; Georgia related items

Library of Congress (all formats; some works in public domain) :

Open Access library:

University of Montana list of public domain (books, manuscripts, music, maps, visual art)


Collections by format


Audio books

Images & Film

Music (licensed under creative commons)



Open Education Resources



Tips: Search google, flickr, bing (and others!) by rights or usage – often using filtering after a search

Advanced searching in Youtube:

Advanced searching in Google