June 29, 2011

Lafayette Joins HathiTrust Digital Library Initiative and Approves Open Access Research Resolution

Skillman Library

Lafayette has become the first liberal arts college to join HathiTrust, a cooperative of academic and research libraries seeking to preserve and provide access to the published record in digital form. The College is also one of just four liberal arts institutions to approve an open access resolution which allows the public to view Lafayette faculty journal publications in a freely accessible, permanent digital repository.

Launched in 2008, HathiTrust has a growing membership currently comprising 50 partners from the United States and Europe. Partner libraries have already contributed more than eight million volumes to the digital library, pooled from content digitized by Google Books and the Internet Archive, as well as local digitization efforts. More than two million of the contributed volumes are in the public domain and freely available on the web. HathiTrust guarantees the long-term preservation of the materials it holds, providing the expert curation and consistent access long associated with research libraries.

“Lafayette’s membership in HathiTrust is an investment in the preservation of our own collections as well as a commitment to the larger effort to build a digital archive that’s co-owned and managed by academic institutions,” says Neil McElroy, dean of libraries & information technology services.

Anyone with an internet connection can search the full text of items in HathiTrust and view the full text of public domain materials. As a HathiTrust partner, enhanced access will be available for Lafayette students, faculty, and staff with a Network ID and password. Enhanced access includes the ability to download complete PDFs of public domain books, the option to create and save collections of items in HathiTrust, and full text access for visually impaired users.

Lafayette’s open access resolution puts the College at the forefront of the open access movement.  Among liberal arts institutions, only Oberlin College, Trinity University, and Rollins College have adopted similar policies.

Under the resolution, faculty members grant the College permission to make the articles they author and co-author available through the Lafayette Digital Repository, as allowed by copyright agreements and unless that person chooses to opt out. The resolution, which was approved by the faculty in the spring, will take effect at the start of the 2011-12 academic year.

Open access benefits both the faculty member and the public. When a faculty member publishes an article in an academic journal, the readership for that article is limited because most journals are subscription-based.

“Articles that are open access, on the other hand, are accessible to anyone with an internet connection, have greater visibility, and, as repeated studies have shown, are downloaded and cited more often than articles available only in subscription-based journals,” says Rebecca Metzger, reference and instruction librarian at Skillman Library. “In short, open access extends the reach of faculty research and makes it easier for all to benefit from it.”

The repository already contains more than 150 faculty articles. It is indexed by all major Internet search engines, including Google, so results from these search engines can lead users directly to a relevant article in the repository.

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