Last month, the Big Ten Academic Alliance (BTAA) made a series of announcements regarding its support of Open Access (OA) initiatives across its member libraries. Open Access is the free, immediate, online availability of research articles coupled with the rights to use those articles fully in the digital environment. Put plainly, Open Access ensures that anyone, anywhere, can access and use information. By supporting these developments in OA, the BTAA aims to make information more accessible to the university community, to benefit scholars by eliminating paywalls to research, and to help researchers to publish their own work.
On July 19, the BTAA announced the finalization of a three-year collective agreement with the Open Library of Humanities (OLH), a charitable organization dedicated to publishing open access scholarship with no author-facing article processing charges. OLH publishes academic journals from across the humanities disciplines, as well as hosting its own multidisciplinary journal. This move was made possible thanks to the OLH Open Consortial Offer, an initiative that offers consortia, societies, networks and scholarly projects the opportunity to join the Open Library of Humanities Library Partnership Subsidy system as a bloc, enabling each institution to benefit from a discount. Through this agreement, the BTAA hopes to expand scholarly publishing opportunities available to its member libraries, including the University of Illinois.
Following the finalization of the OLH agreement, the BTAA announced on July 21 the finalization of a three-year collective action agreement with MIT Press that provides Direct to Open (D2O) access for all fifteen BTAA member libraries. Developed over two years with the support of the Arcadia Fund, D2O gives institutions the opportunity to harness collective action to support access to knowledge. As participating libraries, the Big Ten members will help open access to all new MIT Press scholarly monographs and edited collections from 2022. As a BTAA member, the University of Illinois will support the shifting publication of new MIT Press titles to open access. The agreement also gives the University of Illinois community access to MIT Press eBook backfiles that were not previously published open access.
By entering into these agreements, the BTAA aims to promote open access publishing across its member libraries. On how these initiatives will impact the University of Illinois scholarly community, Head of Scholarly Communication & Publishing Librarian Dan Tracy said:
“The Library’s support of OLH and MIT Press is a crucial investment in open access publishing infrastructure. The expansion of open access publishing is a great opportunity to increase the reach and impact of faculty research, but common models of funding open access through article processing charges makes it challenging for authors in the humanities and social sciences particularly to publish open access. The work of OLH to publish open access journals, and MIT Press to publish open access books, without any author fees while also providing high quality, peer reviewed scholarly publishing opportunities provides greater equity across disciplines.”
Since these announcements, the BTAA has continued to support open access initiatives among its member libraries. Most recently, the BTAA and the University of Michigan Press signed a three-year agreement on August 5 that provides multi-year support for the University of Michigan Press’ new open access model Fund to Mission. Based on principles of equity, justice, inclusion, and accessibility, Fund to Mission aims to transition upwards of 75% of the press’ monograph publications into open access resources by the end of 2023. This initiative demonstrates a move toward a more open, sustainable infrastructure for the humanities and social sciences, and is one of several programs that university presses are developing to expand the reach of their specialist publications. As part of this agreement, select BTAA members, University of Illinois included, will have greater access to significant portions of the University of Michigan’s backlist content.