Who doesn’t like a good deal? Some deals are better than others, some are too good to be true, but who doesn’t like to get something that is good quality for very little or no cost? With the launch of the World Bank’s Open Knowledge Repository, such a deal is now on offer.
In April 2012, the World Bank announced the adoption of a new open access policy and the launch of their Open Knowledge Repository (OKR), the first phase of this policy. The Repository gives access to more than 2100 books and papers produced since 2009 and issues from 2007-2010 volumes of the World Bank’s two journals — World Bank Research Observer (WBRO) and World Bank Economic Review (WBER). Starting in 2013, the repository will include links to datasets used for publications and over time, there are plans to add translations of those publications originally published in English. Along with the launch of the Open Knowledge Repository, the World Bank has launched a revised Policy on Access to Information. This policy governs information relating to World Bank projects, meetings, and advisory activities.
Rendering such a large variety of World Bank products open access is a boon for researchers, because of both the sheer volume of information now available for free and also the large range of topics covered, from agriculture and energy, to development and health. Additionally, included among the monographs now available for free are the World Development Report and other flagship publications for which access was previously more limited.
The Open Knowledge Repository interface is user-friendly and the layout uncluttered. Visitors can query the collection using a single Google-esque search box and filters to modify or restrict queries. Records for publications include complete metadata (handy for cataloguers though perhaps of less interest for other users), abstracts, and links to publications in the same series, by the same author(s), or on similar subjects.
Libraries of all kinds are always on the lookout for new resources to help support the needs of their patrons and the discovery of free resources offers added benefits. While some users will still prefer to consult the print versions of these publications, the availability of these monographs online for free means that the portion of our budget previously allocated to their purchase could now be liberated and reassigned.
While this resource may be of greater use to researchers at academic or special libraries, this new open access policy may have more wider-reaching effects that could benefit. Publications are now to be covered by Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) copyright license, which allows distribution, reuse, and building upon the World Bank’s published works, even commercially, as long as credit for the original publication is given to the World Bank. One of the most flexible and permissive licenses offered by Creative Commons, this license allows wider dissemination and use of the publications and data produced by the World Bank. Perhaps more organizations, including those who already make many of their publications available online, will follow the World Bank’s lead to make even more information and even better resources available for online and for free.
Source: World Bank, Press Release No. 2012/379/EXTOP, “World Bank Announces Open Access Policy for Research and Knowledge, Launches Open Knowledge Repository.” Permanent link: http://go.worldbank.org/VOS0JQ0VK0.