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Equitable & Open Access for Library Services

Instructor: Kristen Goode

Kristen has been an educator for 25+ years - as a classroom teacher, a school administrator, and a university instructor. She holds a doctorate in Education Leadership.

Libraries today are tasked with providing visitors equitable and open access to library materials. This lesson will discuss equitable and open access and provide suggestions for promoting both as part of a library program.

Using the Library

Maria is a high school student with a report coming due. She needs to do some research on her chosen topic, but is unable to do so because she does not have a computer at home through which her research might be conducted. Maria has decided that, in order to conduct her research, she will visit the school library because she knows that she will have access to a computer as well as other resources while she is there. Maria's school library provides equitable and open access to its materials.

Equitable Access

Equitable access means that all people have access to the library materials they need, regardless of age, ethnicity, language, socio-economic status, or education. It also suggests that all people have access regardless of where they are located, meaning library materials are accessible electronically as well as in person. Another area to consider under equitable access is the availability of resources. Equitable access ensures that those who do not have the means to access information electronically, like Maria, are able to do so while visiting the library via computers and other on-site access points.

Equitable access provides library access to all people.
equitable access

Open Access

Open access in the context of the library is the ability of all people to be able to download, open, and/or read library materials online. It is free and open access to scholarly material via the internet and involves the use of digital archives and online journals. Open access does not guarantee the freedom to publish or advertise; rather, it is the freedom to locate and read published and printed material.

Open access provides electronic access to library materials.
open access

Hurdle to Equitable and Open Access

One of the major hurdles in providing equitable and open access in the library is censorship. Censorship is the limiting of access to material that might be considered offensive or questionable. While there are good arguments for some degree of censorship, such as the protection of minors from access to explicit content, it does make both equitable and open access difficult to fully guarantee.

Promoting Equitable and Open Access

There are several things libraries can do in order to ensure that they are actively providing equitable and open access to all people.

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