IFLA’s Science and Technology Libraries (SCITECH) Section has hosted a number of programs over the years that explored and addressed open access. Programs ranging from Open Practices (2022), Library as Driver for Open Access (2018), Open Data (2016), and Open Access Across Scientific Disciplines (2009), among others. In this article we provide some background on Open Access (OA) and how it is in line with our section’s 2023 World Library and Information Congress (WLIC) programme.

OA has been the prevalent theme among scholarly publishing for over two decades thanks to the launch of the Internet in the early 1990s. Scientific literature “opened up” with the online repository of electronic preprints of scientific papers in the field of applied physics, soon to be known as ArXiv.org and today 22 years later it contains over 2 million submissions. Its success led to the establishment of preprint servers in many other disciplines. The chronology expanded with networks like SciELO forming to address journal collections regionally and across continents that made their journals OA.

The Open Society Institute, now renamed the Open Society Foundation, advanced the awareness of social justice, public health, independent sourcing and media and related themes. STEM publishing focused on OA options. BioMed Central was the among the first and largest OA science publishers. PubMed Central was formed to be a free digital repository for the life and health sciences. In the early 2000s PLOS ONE emerged as one of the world’s largest OA journals. Today, there are many families of journals that are exclusively OA. Funding mandates from national governments and Plan S helped spur growth of OA.

Librarians were early adopters of OA and libraries around the world promote OA and host events for the international OA week in October. Today we see open movements aligned with the entire global scholarly universe promoting open science, open peer review, open monographs and books, open data, and many efforts that will continue to create open content that is released with affordable, sustainable and equitable business models.

In 2023, the theme of IFLA’s SCITECH Section’s WLIC program builds on OA with “Decoding Citizen Science: Putting Libraries in the Public Sphere,” and hopes to welcome speakers to share their experiences of public engagement for citizen science.

We hope to see you in Rotterdam!