This toolbox provides essential resources for familiarizing yourself with issues around access and preservation of digital publications
|What is open access?||
An introduction and and a list of resources on Open Access
Open Access : An Introduction
Open access (OA) can be defined in many ways, and it is a concept that has evolved over the years. At a basic level we can describe it as free, online access to the results of publicly funded research. This can happen either because the publisher is open access (referred to as Gold OA), or because authors deposit (or ‘self-archive’) copies of their publications in open access repositories (referred to as Green OA).
The most influential declaration of the movement, the Budapest Open Access Initiative (BOAI), defines open access as “free availability on the public internet”, and lists the following as implied user permissions with respect to the content:
The only constraint that the BOAI outlines on the above permissions is a requirement “to give authors control over the integrity of their work and the right to be properly acknowledged and cited”. Since free public access to research results leads to more citations and impact, the open access movement aims to increase the benefits of research on society.
Open access content does not necessarily refer to any information available freely online, traditionally the term has been used to describe scientific and scholarly publishing in the academic context that results from research funded by the public sector, and made available explicitly as open access with all of the permissions that entails.
The open access movement has evolved over time in response to specific challenges in scholarly publishing, such as the exponentially rising costs of academic journal subscriptions that leave academic libraries struggling to maintain services to their users. Supporters of open access believe that these private publishing companies should not profit at the expense of publicly funded research.
While notable support for open access has come from the medical and scientific research communities, there has been little acknowledgement of it within the arts research community. However, in 2008 the International Association of Research Institutes in the History of Art (RIHA) Resolution on Copyright  cautioned that ‘a regime which is unduly protective of the interest of existing rights holders’ can stifle the advance of creative and scholarly study. The RIHA resolutions recommend that copyright holders use broad and effective copyright exemptions for purposes of research, private study, criticism and review. It is clear that issues of access and far-reaching copyright restrictions are as applicable to research in arts disciplines as in science, medicine and technology.
Open access does not by definition preclude other forms of dissemination. It is possible to make publications available through an open access repository, and to sell digital or print copies of the same publication. The Athabasca University Press is one such publisher that makes its publications available freely for download as well as offering print versions for sale. The Centre des arts actuels Skol is an artist-run centre in Montreal that has made the majority of its publications openly available in e-artexte and also sells print copies through their website.
Open access can serve as a complementary avenue of dissemination for publications. Some believe that the increased access and international visibility provided by an open access repository may lead to greater sales of print publications. As of yet there is no definitive research to support this claim, however there is a pilot study currently underway in the UK to assess the usage and sales of open access monographs versus commercially available monographs . The results of this study will be available in 2014.
For now, we encourage visual arts publishers to consider the open access model as one that will help to broaden the distribution and reach of their publications.
About Open Accès
Peter Suber, Open Access Overview
Examples of open access publishers
Public Library of Science
Open access repositories in the fine arts
1. Budapest Open Access Initiative. 2002.
2. International Association of Research Institutes in the History of Art (2008). RIHA resolution on copyright.
3. OAPEN: JISC pilot project on right now to assess usage and sales of OA monographs vs commercially available monographs.
|e-artexte and open access||
Information about digital repositories
What is a digital repository?
e-artexte is an open access digital repository. What do we mean by digital repository?
A digital repository is more than just an online database of documents.
We can define a digital repository as “a set of services offered to a community for the management and dissemination of digital materials created by members of that community” .
Digital repositories are most often found in the university context, where they provide access to the publications of students and faculty, such as theses and journal articles. Many research universities have institutional repositories to this effect, and faculty and students are asked to ‘self-archive’ their publications. Self-archiving means that authors upload their own documents to the repository and provide some basic information to describe the documents.
The services offered by a digital repository include technical services designed to ensure the longevity, interoperability and accessibility of its contents, thereby aiding in the long term preservation of knowledge. Repository services also include support for authors and publishers in understanding the copyright subtleties of open access self-archiving, as well as documentation and support in completing the self-archiving workflow.
Unlike academic institutional repositories, e-artexte is a thematic repository focused on a specific area of study – Canadian art from 1965 to today – and privileges critical publications such as catalogues, monographs and periodicals.
There are several open source digital repository software programs available; the e-artexte repository uses the EPrints software, developed by the University of Southampton.
1. Clifford Lynch, “Institutional Repositories: Essential Infrastructure for Scholarship in the Digital Age.” ARC 226 (2003) n. page. Web. 6 Feb. 2013.
Using PDF/A for long term access to digital publications
What is PDF/A?
PDF/A is an ISO standard file format for long term preservation of content based on the Portable Document Format (PDF). Although the PDF format is widely used, PDF files may contain elements that will render their contents less accessible over time. For example, PDF files may contain embedded fonts or multimedia content that rely on external components to operate. Such components may become obsolete or unsupported over time, resulting in a loss of information within a file. For this reason the PDF/A standard was developed. The PDF/A format includes certain file features and excludes others in order to preserve as much as possible the appearance and readability of the file contents over the long term and independently of the platform. The files are self-contained, as opposed to PDF files. This means that the file does not rely on external components in order to be read. Fonts are directly embedded in the file, and embedded media files and links are not permitted. Encryption and compression are also not allowed in PDF/A. The PDF/A format is self-documenting, which means that the metadata related to the content of the file can be saved within it. Information such as the author name, title and keywords can be saved with the file to ensure future access.
Creating PDF/A files
Below is some information that describes how to generate PDF/A files from a variety of other file formats.
Save as PDF/A in Adobe Acrobat
Using Adobe Acrobat 7 or later, you can save your files directly in PDF/A format using the File > Save As menu.
MS Office 2007 and 2010 to PDF/A
If you use MS Office 2007 for Windows, then you can install the Microsoft Save as PDF or XPS Add-in. Once this Add-in is installed, you can open your document in Word, go to File > Save As and choose the PDF or XPS option. Then in the PDF options you can select ISO-19005-1 compliant (PDF/A) and click Publish. In MS Office 2010 for Windows the ability to save as PDF/A is built in. Follow the same directions as for MS Office 2007.
MS Office 2008 and 2011 to PDF/A
In MS Office 2008 and 2011 for Mac, you can use the File > Save As menu to save in PDF format. Once you have a PDF file you can convert it to PDF/A using Adobe Acrobat.
Open Office / Libre Office to PDF/A
If you use an earlier version of MS Office or another word processing software that does not support PDF/A, you may be able to open your files in Open Office or Libre Office, open source office suites which include the ability to export files as PDF/A.
PDF/A-1, PDF for Long-term Preservation, Use of PDF 1.4, Sustainability of Digital Formats, Library of Congress.
PDF as a standard for Archiving, White Paper, Adobe.
Publishing with ePUB at the Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA)
The Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA) began publishing its digital series of Quaderns portàtils (portable notebooks) in 2006. From the beginning, the goal was to make these publications easy to read, distribute and share. Originally offered in PDF format, the MACBA is now making the QP series available in ePUB format. ePUB is an open e-book standard that can optimize content for different display devices. We spoke with Sònia López, head of the Web at MACBA, about their experiences publishing with ePUB.
You can see the complete series of Quaderns portàtils online at www.macba.cat/en/qp
What were some of the reasons why the MACBA decided to start providing access to your Quaderns portàtils series in an e-book format in addition to PDF?
We want to make it easy for our readers to access and use the content we provide. The more formats we can publish in, the more we will respond to the many needs of our users. This is related to our goal to be as “open” as possible.
Quaderns portàtils (QP) is one of those surprising projects that started from a very simple idea: we wanted to produce a low-cost and well designed line of publications, easy to distribute and share. As soon as they were launched, the QP became one of our digital “blockbusters”. In 2006 when we launched the series, it was very common to have a printer handy at home, and it looked like PDF was the format that best fit our needs: you could read the publication on screen but the common behaviour was to print it. The design is also made to be able to bind the printed pages as a classical book.
The download of PDFs has been consistently high since 2006. Twenty eight issues have been published and more than 18,000 QPs have been downloaded to date. This encouraged us to extend the range of formats for the series.
Why did you choose ePUB as an e-book format?
ePUB is free and open, and the accepted standard for e-books. It allows CSS styling which is something important for us (we like to make usable editions but still pretty). It also supports metadata, something we started to care about some time ago.
The idea of providing Quaderns portàtils in different formats came up early on (we started talking about it in 2009) but back then, the scenario of reading digital formats was confusing and the resources for conversion were difficult to manage. Designers didn’t have sufficient experience yet and tablets and e-readers were still something very new and uncommon. So we left the idea in the fridge.
But when Sigil, Calibre and some other software tools emerged that made the conversion to different formats seem very easy, we thought it was time to experiment. Sometimes I have the feeling that real life moves much faster than “institutional life”: I was converting my personal readings to ePUB at home, but I did not at the museum? Why? Senseless. Somebody said that the QP essays were too dense to be read on a screen. But I think the cost of working with ePUB is so low, that it is worth it to let the readers decide where and how they want to read the essays.
Will previous issues of the Quaderns portàtils be converted to ePUB format or will it only be used going forward with new issues?
The Quaderns portàtils series released 27 titles to date only in PDF and I think in the next 12 months we will be able to convert the older issues to ePub as well. We now have an XML template to use and open source software to work with, so it’s only a matter of time to progress with the conversion.
Have you encountered any challenges, technical or otherwise, in producing ePUB files?
We commissioned the development of the XML template to the studio that designed the PDF format for the series (http://cosmic.es/index_B.html) and they did the “hard work” of dealing with the particularities of the format. There are some factors to take into account. For example in an ePub footnotes are always at the very end of the document and therefore the contents that used to go to the back-cover now have to be presented slightly differently. But in general, I think the process was easy from a technical point of view.
I think the bigger challenge for the designers was to accept the loss of control in the general look of the e-book. But, on the other hand, they realized that their loss of control was a gain for users, so the final balance was fair enough. In this case, content and its easy access is the main interest.
They tried very hard to make a template that is usable but still well designed for a comfortable reading. I think they succeeded.
How has the use of ePUB changed your digital publishing workflow?
It hasn’t really, but this has to do with the fact that we use the “pure text” possibilities of the ePub format. For the QP series the text is edited and proofread by the same standards used for other publications. We divide (or maybe the word should be identify) the content into different units (cover, index, title, body of text, colophon, notes, etc) and we give it to the designer who first works with an Adobe InDesign template prepared for a double output (PDF and ePUB). Once we have the PDF layout back we proofread it again once or twice. Then, when we are ready to finalize the PDF, we get the ePUB file for a final revision in a tablet. If everything is ok in the PDF, normally the ePub will be ok too. We check the metadata as well. This is something I admit we didn’t take into consideration when we only had the PDF, I guess that’s because unconsciously we had the printed product in mind, not the digital one.
This workflow is similar to any other non-digital publication, and it works for the QPs because they are mostly plain text content. But just this week I started some conversations for a new publishing project that might require an enriched ePUB format, with some videos and other dynamic resources. We will have to see then if the classical workflow will work.
What tips would you give to an organization that wants to publish in ePUB format?
I would encourage any organization to give to ePUBs a try. If you cannot afford a designer to help you, there are some handy tools available that you can experiment with on your own. If you are a bit geeky, you can take an ePUB with a structure you like and open it with Calibre or Sigil to see how it is made and borrow some ideas to make your own ePUB XML template.
Metadata is a very important thing. Take good care with it. Here I can point to some articles that might be of interest on the subject of metadata and its importance in different contexts: