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Library Statement on Commitment to Free and Open Information, Scholarship, and Knowledge Exchange

Global Knowledge Exchange


Global Knowledge Exchange

This post originally appeared on the University of California Office of Scholarly Communication‘s blog, March 6, 2017. 

The University of California Office of Scholarly Communication (OSC) and the University of California Libraries issue the following statement in response to recent actions by the new federal administration and in order to address resulting concerns about continued open access to and preservation of information, scholarship, and knowledge.

The unfettered exchange and careful preservation of information are fundamental to democracy, progress, and intellectual freedom. The critical research and scholarship conducted by government entities and academic institutions worldwide safeguard and support human rights, public health, the environment, artistic and literary enterprise, scientific and technological innovation, and much more. This scholarship is critical for informed discourse and policy development throughout society. As such, the fruits of governmental and scholarly research—the data and documentation generated and released—must remain publicly available and must not be suppressed, endangered, or altered to serve political ends.

To encourage broad dissemination of research and scholarship, the faculty of the University of California and the UC President have implemented open access policies that echo many of the open data and scholarship mandates adopted by the federal government. Recognizing that open access to research increases scientific, scholarly, and critical knowledge, the UC system has committed, via these policies, to making all UC scholarly articles widely and freely accessible, regardless of access restrictions elsewhere. Now more than ever, UC faculty and staff’s participation in these open access policies is fundamental to ensuring persistent, unfettered access to valuable data and research.

OSC and the UC Libraries are working to protect public access to government data and research in the event that the original sources for these materials should be compromised. In the coming weeks, OSC and librarians on each of the UC campuses will identify specific actions to be taken to ensure that research data, publications, and scholarship remain accessible and discoverable. These efforts are not intended to supplant the authoritative sources for government data, publications, and information. Rather, we are working to make certain that these materials remain shielded from inappropriate political influence or suppression.

We support similar information rescue and preservation efforts taking place around the country and encourage other institutions to join in this commitment. We look forward to seeing statements from our peer institutions (and encourage any who wish to borrow or adapt ours), and we welcome opportunities to work with these institutions on projects supporting access to and preservation of the scholarly record. In particular, we offer our collaboration to those working in disciplines or within organizations facing new threats.

In the meantime, we wish to underscore our commitment to advocating not only for researchers and authors at UC campuses, but also for scholars and readers worldwide, and to emphasize our dedication to ensuring information access as an essential public good. We will continue to champion these professional and democratic values and to challenge any policies or practices that levy obstacles to intellectual exchange.

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