Open Access a free-for-all

25 October 2010

LibraryA new online platform allowing for free and easy access to previously hard-to-find academic information was launched by UCT Libraries to coincide with International Open Access Week, which took place from 18 to 24 October.

The launch of the DigiTool platform, which will be the primary platform for the UCT Library's archiving and preservation tasks, is another step in the OpenUCT initiative, a far-reaching project to make the university's knowledge resources available to anyone with internet access.

Developed by library management software specialists the Ex Libris Group, in collaboration with leading academic institutions, DigiTool enables easy access to theses, dissertations and other academic material produced at UCT as well as at other institutions around the world.

Users can also upload their own material and accompanying metadata (for searching and indexing) to share with other users.

Currently used by Boston University in the US, Leiden University in the Netherlands and the University of Melbourne in Australia, among others, the highly customisable software can be accessed through institutional portals, e-learning systems, and custom-built interfaces.

As a local and global collaborative system, DigiTool streamlines archive management and encourages shared digital repositories across institutions.

In other words, UCT Libraries' new system is all about Open Access - the sharing of research. This is not to be confused with Open Content, which involves the sharing of teaching materials. (The UCT OpenContent Directory, which allows easy, free online access to teaching and learning resources, was officially launched on 12 February.)

Michelle Willmers, programme manager of the Scholarly Communication in Africa Programme in the Research Office, Glenda Cox of the Centre for Educational Technology and Janine Dunlop of UCT Libraries' Special Collections combined their efforts to launch DigiTool and highlight International Open Access Week at UCT with events, including a workshop on how to use the repository system.

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