Council of Australian University Librarians submission

24 February 2011

Towards an Australian Government Information Policy Issues Paper 1: Response by the Council of Australian University Librarians (CAUL)

This response was prepared on behalf of CAUL (Council of Australian University Librarians) by Alex Byrne.

Contact Details:

Dr Alex Byrne
University Librarian
University of Technology, Sydney
Phone: 02 9514 3332

24 February 2011



The Council of Australian University Librarians (CAUL) is pleased to have the opportunity to contribute to the development of an Australian Government Information Policy.

CAUL members have been active in expanding access to information and data generated by universities. In the last ten years, CAUL members have exploited information and communication technologies to support the discovery, access and use of information produced by universities. Large numbers of theses, conference papers, journal articles and special collections have been available online in open access regimes. CAUL libraries have successfully implemented repositories that contain a wide range of textual and non-textual information. The next stage of repository development will focus on storage of primary research data generated at universities. CAUL supports the use of Creative Commons licences, which have been implemented in many research repositories and databases.

CAUL has a strong belief in the ‘public good’ of such initiatives and that this information is created by and for the public.

General comments

CAUL commends the Issues Paper and supports the Draft Principles on Open Public Sector Information (pp 54-58)

CAUL supports all improvements in access to public sector information. This information supports research, learning and teaching activities in CAUL’s member organisations. CAUL supports the removal of any administrative or cost barriers to accessing public sector information. There are clearly benefits for the community in maximising access.

Specific comments

In particular, CAUL strongly endorses the following principles:

1. Open access to information – a default position --- This should be extended to require open access to research outputs and research data generated through publically funded research especially that funded via the ARC and NHMRC subject only to the protection of the privacy of individuals.

3. Robust information asset management frameworks --- Considerable work has been done through the ASHER, ANDS, ARCS and related programs to ensure effective management of research outputs and data . However, there is a need for strategic ongoing investment in research information management.

4. Findable information --- CAUL strongly endorses the emphasis on high quality metadata and recommends strategic investment in tools to automate metadata generation.

7. Open and accessible formats online --- CAUL strongly endorses the use of open and accessible formats and notes their importance for fostering platform independence, long term preservation and access and use by people with disabilities.

8. Appropriate charging for access --- CAUL endorses the position taken in the paper and is resolutely opposed to information access being regarded as a source of income.

9. Clear reuse rights --- Publically funded research should be available to stimulate more research and investment in innovation. Data should be available for reuse subject only to the protection of the privacy of individuals.

10. Engaging with the community --- CAUL strongly supports the principle of an informed community and urges ready access to governmental and government funded information including research outputs and research data. In sensitive areas, such as health and Indigenous research, it is advisable to invest in effective consultative mechanisms in order to promote open access while respecting community issues and concerns.