If you want to learn more about Open Access one of the best places to start is with the works of Peter Suber.
Peter Suber is the Director of the Harvard Office for Scholarly Communication, Director of the Harvard Open Access Project, Senior Researcher at the Berkman Center, Senior Researcher at SPARC, and Research Professor of Philosophy at Earlham College. He’s been writing about open access issues since the turn of the century, and participated in 2001 in the world’s first major international open access initiative, the Budapest Open Access Initiative.
His most recent work addresses good practices for university open-access policies.
You can read an electronic version of his book available through the library’s online catalog. You will need to log in using your Spartans domain username and password to gain access to Open Access by Peter Suber. (You can find open access versions of the book here.)
The following is quoted from “A Very Brief Introduction to Open Access.”
Open-access (OA) literature is digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions. What makes it possible is the internet and the consent of the author or copyright-holder.
In most fields, scholarly journals do not pay authors, who can therefore consent to OA without losing revenue. In this respect scholars and scientists are very differently situated from most musicians and movie-makers, and controversies about OA to music and movies do not carry over to research literature.
OA is entirely compatible with peer review, and all the major OA initiatives for scientific and scholarly literature insist on its importance. Just as authors of journal articles donate their labor, so do most journal editors and referees participating in peer review.
OA literature is not free to produce, even if it is less expensive to produce than conventionally published literature. The question is not whether scholarly literature can be made costless, but whether there are better ways to pay the bills than by charging readers and creating access barriers. Business models for paying the bills depend on how OA is delivered.