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The Boston Library Consortium (BLC) is committed to furthering the goals of open access and supporting the rights of authors affiliated with its member libraries. The scholarly and academic publishing world is in the midst of transition and upheaval and libraries are working individually and collectively to address rising costs of journals, texbooks and e-books, participate in open access models for academic publishing, and ensure that faculty and students are well educated on copyright and fair use.
In 2007, the BLC received a generous grant from the Sloan Foundation to allow sponsorship of two forums on open access to scholarly content. The first, held in September of 2008 focused on digitization projects with an emphasis on the local work being done by individual BLC member libraries and highlighting the important role these projects play in opening up scholarly content for open access. A white paper from the forum entitled "Free Our Libraries: Why We Need a New Approach to Putting Library Collections Online" by Richard Johnson, founding Executive Director of SPARC [Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition] was a high point of the program.
The second summit, held in January, 2012, invited academic administrators, primarily Provosts and Vice Presidents of Research, to explore open access issues and determine appropriate activities for their institutions to further support the expansion of open access across the campus. The two-day program, "Open Access: Mission and Mandate" was video-taped is available from the BLC Vimeo site.
Ensuring and Extending Authors' Rights
First and foremost among the activities of the BLC has been working with its members to ensure that institutional authors understand their rights and are encouraged to maximize those rights as they publish. To that end, the BLC has developed two documents that provide tools for the BLC member libraries to work within their local institutions to extend the rights of authors and ensure that the language in author agreements guarantees free and open access to scholarly content. The first document, adopted on September 6, 2005 is an "Agreement to Extend Authors' Rights". This is a tool used by member libraries to raise author awareness on their respective campuses. The document provides an easy way for authors to secure their rights. The BLC works with its members to encourage use of this document.
The second document is model license language to give authors rights to use their own work for scholarly and educational purposes, including self-archiving or depositing the content in institutional, subject-based, national, or other open repositories. This language can be used by authors to insert into their agreements with vendors and publishers.
To further its support of scholarly communications, the BLC recently formed an Open Access Funding Models Community of Interest [COI] focused on the impact of open access on library budgets and collections and how libraries can manage the transition to open access in a sustainable way. This COI is actively working with a major publisher on a project to increase the transparency of the payment of article processing charges [APC's] by institutional authors to ensure that libraries' collections budgets are not further eroded as open access publishing becomes more common. For details on this project and its status, contact the Executive Director.