Photo: Escher's Cabinet of Curiosities by fdecomite
Creative Commons Australia is very proud to announce that our sister research project, Opening Australia’s Archives has released a first version of its Open Access Principles for Australian Collecting Institutions.

Opening Australia’s Archives
Opening Australia’s Archives is an initiative of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industry and Innovation’s Digital Liberty research program which aims to explore opportunities to increase the public’s ability to access and reuse our national collections through coordinated sector-policy, implementation and advocacy. Its major activity so far has been to run a series of meetings around Australia in late 2009 aimed at facilitating discussion between representatives of the cultural sector on this issue. For more details of the Creative Archive project and the minutes of the meetings it held, see here.

The Principles
One of the main pieces of feedback from industry representatives at these forums was a desire for a set of simple principles or guidelines to set out what open access is and how it may be instituted by a collecting body.

In response, the Opening Archives project has produced a set of Principles to assist institutions exploring digital strategies that incorporate open access philosophies, or who otherwise seek to increase public access to and reuse of their collections. Drawing principally on discussion at the industry forums, they set out basic open access policies that institutions may wish to consider adopting. They also provide a summary of some of the open access strategies currently being used by collecting institutions in Australia and international, as well as case studies of successful open access initiatives in the sector.

Note that the Principles do not purport to provide detailed or definitive analysis of all access models or approaches, but rather to assist with the understanding and adoption of more permissive access policies in the Australian collecting sector. We acknowledge that it may not be practical or appropriate to implement the standards in all cases. However, it is argued that it is desirable, wherever possible, for publicly funded and non-profit institutions to aspire to providing as broad and complete access to their collections as possible. The Principles aim to help them do this.

The Principles are published under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 licence, so please feel free to copy, adapt, distribute and edit them as you see fit, as long as you credit the ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation. To make them as useable as possible, we have also uploaded the principles in three different formats – as a rich text document, as a pdf, and as a wiki.

In line with the commitment during the Creative Archive meetings, we intend these Principles to be a growing and collaborative project that draws on expertise across the sector. Thus the current version we are releasing is merely Version 1.

This version summarises the feedback from the meetings and subsequent feedback from interested members of the Australian collecting sector. However, we would like to invite and encourage further feedback on this version, to further align it with the needs and expectations of the sector.

Please feel free to provide feedback on the Principles in any form you like – as comments, as tracked changes, as a written email, or through the wiki. Any feedback we receive will be used to update and improve the Principles for future versions.

Credits—Photo: Adaptation (crop and resize) of ‘Escher’s Cabinet of Curiosities‘ by fdecomite, CC BY 2.0 Generic.