Last week Nicole discussed getting political, and the very next day an opportunity came. On February 14, the Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR) was introduced in both the House and Senate. As a library school student who is passionate about open access and interested in scholarly communications, this bill is exciting!
This bi-partisan bill has the potential to have a great impact for access. No matter what type of librarianship you pursue, this bill could significantly help your future patrons. Maybe it will be an adult patron wanting to read a study, a high schooler doing his first research paper, or a university student working on her honors thesis—all needing articles from a journal that your library cannot afford to subscribe to. Sometimes when I think of open access I hear Oprah’s voice shouting, “You get articles! And you get articles! Everybody gets articles!” All right, maybe that is a bit weird… but for librarians, information becoming more accessible is kind of like a dream come true.
If passed, federal agencies that fund $100 million in outside research would be required to develop a public access policy. Agencies that would be affected include the Department of Education, Environmental Protection Agency, NASA, and the National Science Foundation. The public access policy would provide free, online access to peer-reviewed articles no later than 6 months after publication. This bill would extend the current National Institutes of Health Public Access Policy to other federal agencies. Presently the NIH Public Access Policy requires that all NIH-funded articles to become publicly available on PubMed Central no later than 12 months after publishing. This results in about 500,000 articles every year. Half a million! Isn’t that fantastic? And to think, a tremendous growth may be right around the corner! FASTR would not only increase the number of federally-funded articles that become openly accessible, but do so quicker with the 6 month embargo. It is not the ultimate fix for a broken scholarly publishing system, but, in my opinion, it is a step in the right direction.
But don’t just take my word for it. An important part of getting political is getting fully informed. There is a great summary in the Harvard Open Access Project’s wiki, which I have found helpful. Additionally, SPARC has created a FAQ about the bill and you can read the bill here. The bill has been endorsed by ten major library and advocacy organizations, including the American Library Association, the Association of College & Research Libraries, and the Association of Academic Health Sciences Libraries.
If you’re supportive of the bill, then you can stretch your activist muscles and practice getting political. Here are some things you can do:
1. Ask your representatives in Congress to co-sponsor the bill.
2. Thank the co-sponsors that introduced the bill by sending an e-mail or letter to Representatives Mike Doyle, Kevin Yoder, and Zoe Lofgre and Senators John Cornyn and Ron Wyden.
3. Raise awareness! You can tweet about #FASTR, post on Facebook, or e-mail your friends.
Don’t forget to apply to our collaborative internship with Every Library if you are interested in advocacy and public policy.
What do you think about FASTR? Do you know about other legislation library students should informed about?