Building Bridges with No Trolls: The Practical Ethics of Open Access Institutional Repositories and Digital Archives
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Librarians have long been seen as the gatekeepers of information. The collection, organization, and dissemination of information resources is a vocation that goes back to the very beginnings of civilization – but access to information has always been limited, to some degree. Policies of individual libraries serving particular communities, sometimes with the best of intentions, restricted information access - certain materials were too precious to let out of sight, or particular classes were denied access to holdings. As well, logistical problems – language differences, item fragility and rarity, international relations – made information sharing difficult or impossible between communities. Over time, these obstacles have been lessened, and access to information is almost ubiquitous and instantaneous – particularly with the use of mobile devices, online translation services, and the electronic presence of news agencies and academic journals. Increasingly, limitations to information access are entirely artificial – such as digitized news or journal articles hidden behind expensive paywalls, creating an unnecessary obstacle to information access for those who cannot afford to pay. In this chapter, we look at how the ethics of librarianship steer us towards the creation and maintenance of open access institutional repositories and archives as ways of building bridges for information access, intellectual freedom, and scholarly communication inside and between communities.