ANU Library celebrates 100 million open access downloads

02 Nov 2023

Knowledge is power. It can be a gateway to social and financial mobility, and a means of generating extraordinary change and advancements, both for individuals and society. As such, knowledge is often commercialised, patented and locked away behind paywalls and institutional barriers. Because of its value, knowledge is protected rather than shared.

There’s a reason academics are often referred to as living in an ivory tower. The new knowledge they generate is not necessarily intended to benefit those outside of academia. At The Australian National University (ANU), we strive to tear down these barriers and make knowledge accessible to all, no matter their social, educational, or economic background. 

ANU is a global leader in breaking down obstacles to knowledge. We do this by making millions of resources freely available via the ANU Open Research Repository and the free download option on the ANU Press website. These platforms have now reached a combined total of over 100 million downloads. That is 100 million free downloads of world-class research materials including monographs, textbooks, journal articles, archival materials and more.

To honour this landmark event, on 2 November we held a ceremonial cake cutting followed by a speech from ANU Vice Chancellor, Professor Brian Schmidt to acknowledge and celebrate the contributions ANU open access and ANU researchers make to forwarding and enriching the global wealth of knowledge.

In his speech at the event, Vice Chancellor Brian Schmidt said:

“Some models for open access silence those who need to be heard. The ANU model gives a voice to those who often wouldn’t have one. We are dedicated to publishing and disseminating research by authors from the Asia Pacific and Indigenous authors.

This is an outstanding and equitable model, and it is important for ANU to continue to support open access for both our Press and Research Repository as an investment in academic equality and in the academics and students of today and tomorrow”.

Though unable to attend the event, Chief Scientist Dr Cathy Foley congratulated the ANU of this incredible milestone event and praises the efforts of all staff who support these services. 

Through ANU Press and the Open Research Repository, ANU is helping to enrich a practice of scholarly dialogue and community, and nurture curiosity in future generations of scholars. Having our research openly accessible puts it in the hands of a range of readers – not just those who can pay for access. This is a social justice issue.

We don’t do our research for prestige or awards. We do our research to benefit others. We do it to make a positive difference in the world. Open access has given more equitable access to all, allowing us to put our research in the hands of policy-makers, educators, leaders, students, and practitioners. This increases the impact of the work we do. Open access is helping us to inspire others.

We have fantastic platforms and staff at ANU that help us to achieve our open access goals. 

Our Open Research repository collects and preserves a huge range of open access scholarly materials from the ANU community. Our five most popular downloads all cover subjects relating to either Indigenous or Asia-Pacific studies, making us a world leader in open access Asia-Pacific research dissemination. The wider community is free to browse this material and all members of the ANU community (past and present) are encouraged to contribute their research. Providing access to this wealth of knowledge in a digitised format has unleashed the nation’s investment in the University.

Launched in 2004, ANU Press is the first and largest open-access university press in the world. ANU Press is a world leader in the advancement of Indigenous scholarship and enjoys a longstanding commitment to Indigenous reconciliation. Their collection includes over 80 titles dedicated to Indigenous culture, including the popular Aboriginal History Journal, which contains studies of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ interactions with non-Indigenous peoples. Numerous of these publications focus on subjects relating to Indigenous Australian history, culture and uniquely Indigenous knowledge, with many titles by Indigenous authors.

ANU Press publishes peer-reviewed research on a broad range of topics including Asia and Pacific studies, Australian politics, humanities, arts, Indigenous studies and science, and prides itself on its innovation in the area of open-access research seeking to test the boundaries of what is possible in electronic scholarship. ANU Press is particularly proud to be a globally recognised leader in Asia-Pacific research and embraces a wide range of scholarship from history to biography, anthropology, contemporary politics, security, literature and theory.

To date, the Press has published over 1,000 publications, all freely available to download on their website. 

Between ANU Press and ANU Open Research Repository, ANU has now had over 100 million downloads, highlighting our commitment to open access information and living the value that knowledge should be free to all. Through the millions of free resources available via ANU open access, we aim to cultivate the curiosity and ambition of future generations of academic explorers.