Report: 100 Stories – The Impact of Open Access

Citation: Banker, J-G. & Chatterji, P. (2016). “100 Stories: The Impact of Open Access” (Preprint) Open Access to Scholarly Communication in 2016: Status and Benefits Review, UNESCO (2016). [link]

This report, authored by the CEO of Bepress and a senior employee, ostensibly aims to supplement Altmetrics and other measures by providing a “framework” that shows some of the ways in which institutional repositories can have an impact on readers (“Advancing Knowledge”), authors (“Reputation Building”), and institutions (“Demonstrating Achievements”) (pp. 2-3). This is done by presenting what are essentially 100 short case studies of institutions who use Digital Commons, the repository software owned by Bepress.

Some examples of the impacts the authors present are:

Advancing innovation
Improving access to education
Updating practitioners

Amplifying scholarship
Finding collaborators
Preserving scholarly legacy

Building reputation
Strengthening recruiting
Professionalizing students

Although these all seem fairly undeniable as things that OA can accomplish, it’s a bit of a stretch to label what the authors have created as a framework, a term which the OED defines as “an essential or underlying structure; a provisional design, an outline; a conceptual scheme or system.”

Rather, the document presents more a list of possible outcomes that can be achieved by using an institutional repository or other system to distribute scholarly research under an OA model.

That’s still a fine and useful thing, and the list of case studies should be of interest to anyone looking to start up an institutional repository.

Ultimately, however, the overselling of the outcomes as a framework, coupled with the obvious incentive that Bepress has to showcase their own product, makes this report feel a bit closer to advertising than a study into the impacts of OA publishing.

Book chapter: Collection development, e-resources, and barrier-free access.

Citation: Schmetzke, A. (2015). Collection development, e-resources, and barrier-free access. in B. Wentz, P.T. Jaeger, & J.C. Bertot, (Eds.), Accessibility for persons with disabilities and the inclusive future of libraries. Bingley, UK: Emerald Group.

In this book chapter, Schmetzke examines e-resource accessibility with a specific eye to how librarians can keep accessibility issues in mind when acquiring (or when subscribing to) various e-resources like databases and online journals. The author includes a letter from a friend who was given the run-around by her local library and its consortium when she was unable to access a database with her screen reader to show that “clearly, librarians should consider accessibility when considering electronic information products” (p.113).

With this as his impetus, the author examined library schools, existing literature, and professional library organizations to get a sense of whether or not librarians were receiving guidance encouraging them to keep issues of accessibility in mind when doing so, or not.

The rest of the chapter is split into three parts, as summarized below:
Library Organizations

  • ALA – Schmetzke mentions that, despite a lack of communication between ALA’s various divisions and interest groups, ALA has at least discussed the accessibility of electronic resources a few times. The most important document to have come out of this, he says, is “Purchasing of Accessible Electronic Resources Resolution,” a 2009 resolution by the ALA council which argues strongly for the responsibility of libraries to ensure their electronic resources meet Section 508 and WCAG 2.0 to the best of their abilities. (p.115)

This section also mentions three web accessibility toolkits:

Library Schools

Schmetzke notes that, while data about how (or if) accessibility is taught in library schools is scarce, several surveys have shown a lack of focus on the topic in North American schools.

Literature Review

Schmetzke performed a content analysis on 55 books about collection development published between 2000 and 2014 to determine the coverage of accessibility in general and in relation to e-resources, concluding that very few books cover the topic.

Book chapter: Libraries and the future of equal access for people with disabilities

Citation: Jaeger, P.T., Wentz, B., & Bertot, J.C. (2015). Libraries and the future of equal access for people with disabilities: Legal frameworks, human rights, and social justice. in B. Wentz, P.T. Jaeger, & J.C. Bertot, (Eds.), Accessibility for persons with disabilities and the inclusive future of libraries. Bingley, UK: Emerald Group.

In this book chapter from a 2015 book focused on accessibility in libraries, the authors look at several legal structures intended to provide equal access to library services for those with disabilities. This chapter is in the “Digital Library Accessibility” section of the book, so deals largely with access to digital resources (an earlier section of the book contains chapters on physical accessibility issues).

The authors make the argument that “Information and the Internet can now be seen as being central to human rights,” (p.239), citing articles as early as 2000 which argue this, noting that the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights explicitly declares that people have the right to “seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media” without interference (p.240).

After discussing how library and information organizations like ALA, IFLA, and UNESCO act as proponents of libraries’ roles as agents of social justice in this sense, and providing a basic overview of laws in various countries intended to ensure equal Internet access for those with disabilities, the authors move into discussing how public libraries already provide access to many online resources for free, as well as providing education on digital and information literacy (p.246).

Although the authors note that these are “uniquely important to people with disabilities,” (p. 247), and briefly discuss several ways that libraries (in general and specifically) focus on those with disabilities (p. 248), little time is spent focusing on the details of how libraries can increase digital accessibility in any practical sense. To be fair, this is largely a “why” chapter, but the lack of specifics is still disappointing.