What concerns do you have about access to scholarly literature for yourself and your students?
What can Grinnell College and Grinnell College faculty do to share teaching and scholarship more widely?

"As a teaching and learning community, the College holds that knowledge is a good to be pursued both for its own sake and for the intellectual, moral, and physical well-being of individuals and of society at large. The College exists to provide a lively academic community of students and teachers of high scholarly qualifications from diverse social and cultural circumstances. The College aims to graduate women and men who can think clearly, who can speak and write persuasively and even eloquently, who can evaluate critically both their own and others' ideas, who can acquire new knowledge, and who are prepared in life and work to use their knowledge and their abilities to serve the common good."--Grinnell College Mission Statement, 2002

Grinnell College's teaching and learning community depends on the availability of scholarly work – peer-reviewed articles and books, syllabi and teaching materials, and other work – produced outside the college, just as other learning communities depend on access to the work created by Grinnell's faculty and staff. As a community of learners and teachers, we take seriously our responsibility to share our work widely for the benefit of society, and we encourage other scholarly communities to do so as well. At the same time, we advocate respect for the work of authors and other members of the community as part of the scholarly practice we share.

Today's digital technology promises better access to scholarly materials worldwide, yet faculty and students at Grinnell and elsewhere are frustrated by rising prices of scholarly publications and restrictive laws and policies regarding the use of these materials for teaching and learning. Many scholars and institutions are calling for all scholarly materials to be made openly available via the World Wide Web.

In April 2013, the Grinnell College Faculty voted in favor of a resolution presented by the Open Access Task Force, committing themselves to expanding access to their forthcoming scholarly articles. According to the resolution, faculty give Grinnell College permission to disseminate worldwide and without cost through the Digital Grinnell repository any scholarly articles published in peer-reviewed journals after April 15. The resolution also encourages faculty and staff to make their syllabi and other curricular material and other scholarly publications freely available through Digital Grinnell. The full text of the resolution is available here.

The resolution is modeled on one adopted by the Harvard University of Faculty of Arts and Sciences in 2008 (http://osc.hul.harvard.edu/policies) and by over 50 colleges and universities in the United States, and many more abroad, since then. It recognizes that digital technologies can expand access to learning and scholarship in ways not possible with a paper-based publishing system, for the benefit of learners across the world and the scholarly authors as well.

This Web site provides information and background on these issues.

The Cost of Scholarly Publications: Impact on the Grinnell College Libraries 

Total library expenditures:

  • FY12: $2,088,636

Library expenditures for books:

  • total expenditure, FY12: $331,601
  • average per book, FY12: $47.62

Library expenditures for journals and databases:

  • total expenditure, FY12: $1,156,895
  • average per title, FY12: $229.91

Note: Many of the most expensive journal titles (from publishers such as Elsevier and Wiley) are not on subscription at Grinnell but are accessible through pay-per-view.

Price increase for journals and databases to which the Grinnell College Libraries subscribe:

  • from FY10 to FY11: 6.7% ($53,107)
  • from FY11 to FY12: 8.2% ($87,883)

Copyright Permission Fees for Electronic Course Reserves (For Books and Journal Issues Already Owned):

  • FY11: $44,012
  • FY12: $35,376

 For additional information on the prices of scholarly publications, see:

Copyright and Scholarly Publishing: Impact on Teaching at Grinnell College

Copyright: How It Works

By law, publishers require an author's permission to publish a work. By tradition, publishers request a full transfer of the author's rights, thus becoming the sole controller of the right to copy or disseminate the work. In scholarly publishing, scholars and researchers receive no payment (for journal articles) or very little payment (for monographs) in the expectation that publishers will make the work available for teaching and scholarly use.

Copyright to a work is owned by the author from the moment it is written. Copyright owners have the exclusive right to reproduce the work; prepare derivative works; distribute copies of the work; perform the work publicly (for certain kinds of works); and display the work publicly (for certain kinds of works). Copyright owners may also set the terms, including the price, according to which readers may have access. (For a complete enumeration of the owner's rights see http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ01.pdf.)

Certain exceptions to the owner's exclusive rights are part of the law, including fair use and certain forms of interlibrary loan, but these exceptions are limited and, increasingly, contested in courts.

However, authors can retain some rights while granting others to the publisher. Examples of rights that can be retained include the rights to copy, to distribute, to publicly perform or display, to prepare derivative works, and to authorize others to make non-commercial use of the work so long as the author receives credit and the source is properly cited. Under these terms, authors may make and distribute copies in the course of teaching and research and may post the work on personal or institutional Web sites or other open-access digital repositories.

Many book and journal publishers will grant these broader terms on request, or already incorporate them into their standard policies. Scholarly authors owe it to themselves, their colleagues, and their students to secure the broadest possible rights. For guidance on negotiating changes to a publication contract or attaching a Creative Commons license to your work, see Taking Action: Further Information for Faculty and Other Authors (below).

Copyright: How It Affects Teaching

Course reserve is a long-standing practice in which libraries have provided access to materials selected by faculty that are required or recommended course readings, once in the form of photocopied excerpts from journal issues or books, now through electronic reserves systems that permit the excerpts to be stored in electronic form instead of filing cabinets.

The extent to which these course reserve practices are legal has been increasingly contested by publishers, who argue that libraries should pay royalties for the right to copy (digitize) excerpts and make them available to students enrolled in a course. In 2008, Cambridge University Press, Oxford University Press, and Sage Publications sued Georgia State University for the library's e-reserve practice. The plaintiff's legal costs were covered by the Association of American Publishers and the Copyright Clearance Center.

In 2012, the decision in the case generally upheld Georgia State's e-reserve practices as fair use, but established more precise limits than have previously been articulated. Beyond those limits, permissions and royalties are still required. The decision is currently under appeal by the plaintiffs. Grinnell College will continue to follow developments in case law and legislation and adjust local policies accordingly.

Learn More:

Cambridge University Press et al v. Patton et al.: http://docs.justia.com/cases/federal/district-courts/georgia/gandce/1:2008cv01425/150651/423/

"Issue Brief: GSU Fair Use Decision Recap and Implications," prepared by Brandon Butler, Director of Public Policy Initiatives, Association of Research Libraries: http://www.arl.org/bm~doc/gsu_issuebrief_15may12.pdf

What are Grinnell's Options? 

Grinnell College could encourage and assist scholarly authors to modify their publication contracts to permit deposit in an open-access repository.

Grinnell College could encourage and assist faculty to post syllabi and other teaching materials in openly accessible spaces:

  • Departmental or personal Web sites
  • The Digital Grinnell repository: digital.grinnell.edu/
  • Pioneer Web if it is modified to permit open access

Grinnell College faculty could endorse signing by the President or Chair of the Faculty of the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge, the Cape Town Open Education Declaration, and the Budapest Open Access Initiative.

  • Authors would commit to granting to all users of scholarly and educational materials free right of access and license to copy, use, distribute, transmit and display the work publicly and to make and distribute derivative works subject to proper attribution of authorship
  • Authors would commit to depositing their work in an open repository

Grinnell could adopt a Harvard-model requirement for providing open access:

  • Each Faculty member would grant the College permission to make his or her published scholarly articles available through an open repository
  • The policy would apply to all scholarly articles written while the person is a member of the Faculty
  • The Dean or the Dean's designate would waive application for a particular article upon written request
  • Each Faculty member would provide an electronic copy of the final version of the article to the Dean's Office

Similar requirements have been adopted by Trinity University (San Antonio), Oberlin College, Rollins College, MIT, the University of Kansas, Duke University, Lafayette College, Emory University, Princeton University, Bucknell University, Utah State University, and Rice University, among others in the United States. See the Registry of Open Access Repositories Mandatory Archiving Policies <http://roarmap.eprints.org/> for an international listing, with links to the policy statements.

Taking Action: Further Information for Faculty and Other Authors

Authors Can Retain Copyright by Modifying Their Contracts

Several models have been developed to help authors modify their article or book publishing contracts to retain key rights:

Teachers, Authors, and Institutions Can Provide Open Access to Articles and Teaching Materials

Many journals permit authors of published papers to post copies electronically in a local repository. Journals vary in the version of the paper that can be posted.

Many colleges, universities, and scholarly societies provide digital repositories in which faculty can post copies of syllabi, other teaching materials, and scholarly works. Grinnell College will launch a repository that could be used this way in Fall 2012.

Authors Can Influence Publishers' Pricing and Other Practices

Authors Can Choose Open Access Publishers

Many scholarly publishers offer cost-free access to journals and books. Publishing expenses may be subsidized by the sponsoring institution, supported by an endowment, or covered through fees paid by the author (typically, through the author's research grant).

Selected Book Publishers:

Selected Journal Publishers:

  • PLoS (Public Library of Science): http://www.plos.org/. Note: Author fees are waived for Grinnell College authors through the Grinnell College Libraries.
  • BioMed Central: http://www.biomedcentral.com/. Note: Author fees are waived for Grinnell College authors through the Grinnell College Libraries.
  • Directory of Open Access Journals: http://www.doaj.org/

Libraries Can Work Together to Lower Subscription Prices

For many years, libraries (including the Grinnell College Libraries) have joined together at state, regional, and national levels to reduce prices by sharing subscriptions to electronic journals and databases, negotiating better terms in subscription contracts, and sharing resources in other ways.

Open Access Resolutions at Peer Colleges


Amherst College: https://www.amherst.edu/library/services/facstaff/openaccessresolution

College of Wooster: http://openaccess.voices.wooster.edu/policy/

Wellesley College: http://new.wellesley.edu/sites/default/files/assets/departments/provost/files/openaccesspolicy2.13.13.pdf


Bucknell University: http://scholcomm.blogs.bucknell.edu/2011/10/04/bucknell-faculty-approves-open-access-policy/

Hope College: http://www.hope.edu/admin/provost/fachandbook/Obligations/C6-C9/C9.html

Lafayette College: http://library.lafayette.edu/oaresolution


Rollins College: http://scholarship.rollins.edu/as_facpub/Open_Access_Policy_Final_02252010.pdf


Oberlin College: http://oberlin.edu/library/programs/openaccess/resolution.html

Trinity University: http://www.trinity.edu/org/senate/Trinity%20University%20Open%20Access%20Policy.pdf

Members of the Open Access Task Force

Richard Fyffe (Libraries)

Heriberto Hernandez-Soto (Chemistry)

Sarah Purcell (History)

Tyler Roberts (Religious Studies)

John Stone (Computer Science)

John Whittaker (Anthropology)

Lesley Wright (Faulconer Gallery)