Knowledge for All is a bold response to barriers in access to scholarly journal literature. Increasingly, these barriers are financial, spurred on by rising database subscription fees that severely limit the ability of libraries, institutions and managers of academic works to facilitate meaningful access to scholarly research. Over the last 15 years alone, the cost of journal subscriptions has increased by over 180% with no sign of stopping. These rising costs have ripple effects that extend beyond just library budgets: students, researchers and decision makers lack access to the latest findings; authors lack a platform to promote their work, receive feedback and gain credibility; members of the public lack access to publicly funded research.
Knowledge for All represents an alternative to subscription-based models of access that are failing the communities they are intended to serve. The project is a move to place scholarly journal literature back into the hands of those who create, manage and seek it, calling on the international library and academic community to collaborate in developing their own truly free, truly open tool for scholarly journal research. The first project of its kind, Knowledge for All utilises open source software and open data to deliver and promote open access to scholarly journal content via its dynamic online interface. The full tool is also available for download and customization by the private user in need of a cost-effective, accessible alternative to commercial products.
Though Knowledge for All stands to benefit creators, managers and seekers of scholarly journal literature across the board, the project has deep roots in the academic library community where it began. Faced with a 120% fee increase for ISI’s Web of Science, University of Prince Edward Island’s Robertson Library declared enough was enough. In an open letter to library patrons, University Librarian Mark Leggott outlined why the increase was not only infeasible, but unacceptable. The fee hike, combined with a challenging fiscal climate and a restrictive contract posed a major challenge to the library’s ability to effectively connect faculty, students and members of the campus community with journal content - contrary to the very purpose of scholarly journal databases. The letter announced that, as such, Robertson Library would discontinue its subscription to Web of Science and instead develop a free, open index of scholarly journal literature that would meet the needs of the international academic library community without causing added financial strain.
Following this announcement, a proposal for Knowledge for All was drafted and shared with local and international library consortia, and with funds granted by the Council of Atlantic University Libraries, the project launched into operation. Now on track to product launch scheduled for November 2012, the project continues to gain momentum and support and represents a collaborative effort to tackle challenges in access to scholarly journal literature. It invites participation from libraries, research institutions, journals, publishers, students, authors and members of the international library and academic community at large to participate in developing a tool that is built by and for them, decreasing reliance on expensive commercial products.
At its core, the Knowledge for All project is based on principles of
Openness. Knowledge for All is developed using open source software, open data and aims to facilitate open access to scholarly journal literature as much as possible.
Accessibility. Knowledge for All aims to lift all barriers in access to scholarly journal literature, whether financial, legal, formal, linguistic or otherwise.
Collaboration. Knowledge for All is a flat organization that invites the international library and academic community along with members of the public at large to contribute and benefit from its development as equal participants regardless of institutional or individual affiliation.
Interdisciplinarity. Knowledge for All content aims to span all academic disciplines and represent a diverse range of subject areas.
Accountability. Knowledge for All is governed, developed and maintained by the very same community it is intended to serve and invites continuous feedback and input in order to ensure needs are met.
Sustainability. Knowledge for All is designed as a long term, dynamic solution intended to evolve and grow with the needs of the community it serves.