Reviewing current research and responses to the faculty survey, the report’s authors determined these pros of an open library system:

1. It saves money…lots of money.

According to recent research, notes the report, nearly 70 percent of academic libraries reported their current budgets remained flat or decreased from the previous year, while there was a 5 to 6 percent increase in serials subscription inflation rates.

Price increases are also occurring with student textbooks, with numerous reports showing that book cost, not student need, influenced a student’s decision whether to take one particular course over another.

The report reveals that the University of Massachusetts at Amherst’s Open Education Initiative, launched in 2011, has already saved students $750k.

Temple University has an Alternative Textbook Project that grants faculty members seed money to create low-cost textbooks.

2. It’s a helping hand for publishing profs.

Mitchell and Chu note that there’s a conundrum in the scholarly publishing model: research is conducted by faculty, the content and rights to that research are given away to publishers, then sold back to libraries and students at exorbitant rates.

Keeping this in mind, open institutional repositories can be part of the shift in academia toward a more fair system. Open repositories can be a first choice for publishing original content, including authors, topics, and formats typically excluded from traditional publishing.

By providing open access, their research will also have broader dissemination than subscription journals, which in turn will lead to increased citations. The research may also be disseminated more quickly than a journal’s review and publication cycle.

Finally, faculty can retain the copyright to their own work.

3.  More materials for curriculum.

In the response to the CSUSM survey question, ‘Are you interested in utilizing free or low-cost primary source materials in your pedagogy/curriculum development?’ 70 percent responded ‘yes,’ 26 percent ‘not sure,’ and 4 percent ‘no.’ 94 percent of indicated strong concern about the cost of education materials.

In the survey, 88 or the 107 respondents indicated they typically find source materials for their curriculum development online, followed by journals in their discipline and colleagues.

Building on these responses, libraries can harness faculty willingness to use online source materials with content available in their institutional repositories.

(Next page: The cons of going open)