Saving research connected to Open Access Week

Hany Abdel

With advancements in technology, digital formats are subject to media obsolesce and bit rot, rendering information irretrievable, as an Open Access Week speaker addressed Wednesday.

Jaime Schumacher, director of the Digital POWRR Project, said digital copies can be more fragile than archaeological finds several thousand years old. The POWRR Project is investigating and recommending “sustainable digital preservation solutions” for libraries with fewer sources or small amounts of data, according to its website, and is funded by NIU’s Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Open access is a global movement to digitally archive and make scholarly research publicly available over the Internet.

Schumacher compared the Dead Sea Scrolls, manuscripts from circa 400 BCE, which are available to view in museums, to the 1996 presidential election website, the first of its kind, which can only be found as a snapshot of its homepage.

Also Wednesday, anthropology professor Winifred Creamer spoke about the life cycle of scholarly research. She has been able to use geographic information systems to help store and record her archaeological findings as the physical elements are property of the Peruvian government.

She is able to distribute this research on platforms like Huskie Commons Institutional Repository, a digital service that preserves and collects digital material and makes it available to the NIU community.

The Open Access to Research Articles Act, nicknamed the “Biss Bill” because of State Senator Daniel Biss’ support, “gives more rights to the authors,” said Danielle Spalenka, curator of Manuscripts for the Regional History Center and University Archives. Rather than the author giving up his or her rights to a publisher, authors can have control over their work.

The Open Access Movement is trying to add competition by allowing the author’s work to be made available to the public, rather than being available through the publisher.

Biss will give the closing keynote address for Open Access Week at 2:30 p.m. Friday in the Holmes Student Center’s Carl Sandburg Auditorium.