Posted: October 19, 2017 -- letizia

WSU Libraries will host a celebration of International Open Access Week from 2-4 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 25, in the Terrell Library Atrium, featuring a jack o’ lantern judging contest and cookie-decorating station with an open-access theme.

Open Access Week, this year scheduled from Oct. 23-29, is a global event to promote free, immediate, online access to the results of scholarly research and the right to use and reuse them. For more information, see http://www.openaccessweek.org/.

Spooky fun with open access

The jack o’ lantern judging contest is part of making WSU’s Open Access Week celebration more fun and tied to Halloween, according to organizers and WSU librarians Talea Anderson and Gabriella Reznowski. Terrell visitors will vote for the spookiest and best open access-themed pumpkins on display, carved by library employees.

“Orange is the official color of open access, so pumpkins are a natural fit,” Reznowski said.

As for the cookies, Anderson said the libraries worked with a 3-D print shop on campus to produce a cookie cutter shaped like the open access logo. The idea came from Gettysburg College’s Musselman Library in Pennsylvania, which made the cookie cutter for its Open Access Week events in 2014.

WSU Libraries’ Access Services Manager Sue Shipman—whose after-hours passion is baking and decorating cookies and cakes—will bring the open access cookies to the Oct. 25 reception for visitors to decorate.

“This year we wanted to share some of the great things that are happening in open access while having a little fun in the spirit of fall and Halloween,” Anderson said. “We’re looking forward to seeing everybody on Wednesday.”

Examples of open access at work

Some avenues for providing open access to resources have been around for some time; others are newer. Founded in 2001, Creative Commons is a system that helps creators of music, artwork, images and more to share their work with others. Using a Creative Commons license, authors can communicate to others how they’d like their work cited and used. As of 2016, more than 1.2 billion items have been licensed under Creative Commons. That’s up from 100 million in 2006.

Open educational resources (OERs), or course materials made available to students at no cost, are helping universities address the skyrocketing prices of college textbooks, largely due to corporate monopolies in academic publishing. As of 2017, the Open Textbook Library—a catalog of open textbooks being used across the country—contains some 400 textbooks in 14 subject areas. OERs can also include full courses, modules, streaming videos, software and more.

A more recent example of open access activism is the Open Source Seed Initiative (OSSI), founded in 2012 by a group of plant breeders, farmers and seed companies interested in curtailing corporate monopolization of seed breeding and sales. Some corporations use patents and restrictive contracts to prevent sustainable practices in saving, replanting and sharing seeds. OSSI invites breeders to pledge open access to the genetic code behind seed varieties they develop. In fact, WSU’s Sustainable Seed Systems Lab has pledged two types of spelt to OSSI.