Scholarly Walls & Bridges: Paywalls and Open Access

Over 20 courses are being offered in the 2014-2015 academic year related to the course cluster theme of Walls & Bridges. Commemorating the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, this theme seeks to question the purpose of walls and bridges: are they built for protection to keep the “bad” out or as an exercise of power to keep the “good” in?

From the course cluster themopen access logoe description:

“The world continues to be mark
ed by the construction and demolition of both walls and bridges, physical, economic, ideological, and political. Walls and bridges serve to both separate and unite; however, the reasons for building walls and bridges is complex – informed by history, power, and ideas.”
Libraries deal with these sort of complex issues daily as they relate to scholarship. Many libraries pay millions of dollars each year in order for you to access scholarly resources. There are normal costs associated with publishing scholarship, but what happens when the costs of journals rises so far that even elite research-intensive universities cannot afford to keep up.

Are publishers building walls around scholarship by charging so much for access?

If publishers are building walls, are there “bridges” into scholarship? The Open Access movement has gained momentum in challenging the publishing industry to account for increasing profit margins. There are, however, many misconceptions about open access
, perpetuated by the publishing industry.

Want to learn more? Check out our display on the first floor of the Ames Library or ask a librarian about how licenses, paywalls, embargoes, and open access affect your experience at IWU.

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