Last Wednesday, more than 30 MIT students and researchers stopped by the Office of Scholarly Publishing & Licensing table in Lobby 10 set up to celebrate international Open Access Week. About two-thirds of the people who came by to chat were undergraduate students who hadn’t previously heard of open access or DSpace@MIT, the digital repository that houses scholarly articles, theses, and other MIT content. Most were curious and happy to learn that through the MIT Faculty Open Access Policy researchers are making their scholarly articles freely available online. Issues that particularly resonated with students were the fact that increasing journal subscription prices are shutting out large numbers of readers around the world and that open access is way to democratize scientific research.
The information table was a new experiment for the Libraries. Students who attempted a quiz question on open access, DSpace@MIT, or author rights won a prize: an MIT Libraries t-shirt, a PLOS t-shirt, or the book Open Access by Peter Suber, a leader of the open access movement. The shirts were popular and disappeared quickly. Other giveaways included pens, magnets, and Halloween candy. Given the interest and enthusiasm, the Libraries hope to make this an annual event.