Big Ten Academic Alliance News – Big Collection, PLOS Publishing Deal, and Accessibility Alliance Expansion

February 9, 2021

BIG Collection and PLOS Publishing Deal

As members of the Big Ten Academic Alliance (BTAA), the UW-Madison Libraries benefit greatly from being part of a network built on decades of collaboration. The BTAA Library Directors share a deepened commitment to an interdependent future, which is evident in the current initiatives underway.

Work around The BIG Collection effort continues. As a recent Library Journal article described, this important initiative and our joint commitment, to leverage the collective resources throughout our institutions to create an integrated user experience across BTAA library collections.  

As noted on the BIG Collection introduction page: Intentional and strategic coordination enabling a networked approach will ensure the collective good, leveraging the true breadth of these remarkable libraries’ collections, while allowing individual libraries to focus more deeply on distinctive collections and services focused on local areas of strength and expertise. People are the heart of this initiative. By joining our strengths, we have the opportunity to create something more powerful than the sum of our parts.

BTAA Universities include:

  • University of Illinois
  • Indiana University
  • University of Iowa
  • University of Maryland
  • University of Michigan
  • Michigan State University
  • University of Minnesota
  • University of Nebraska-Lincoln
  • Northwestern University
  • Ohio State University
  • Pennsylvania State University
  • Purdue University
  • Rutgers University-New Brunswick
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison 
  • University of Chicago

Additionally, under the umbrella of the BIG Collection initiative, the BTAA has recently entered into two publisher agreements to support open scholarship. The new PLOS agreement will provide uncapped, no-fee publishing in their two highly selective journals, PLOS Biology, and PLOS Medicine. All published articles are immediately open and available globally to read at no charge. The benefits extend to authors of all system, regional, and branch campuses of Big Ten universities (with the exception of the University of Illinois at Chicago and Maryland system campuses), is at a single cost for all BTAA schools, rather than by-institution, and creates no workflow changes for authors or librarians. UW-Madison is also participating in a read and publish agreement with Cambridge University Press which also allows our faculty to take advantage of uncapped open access publishing in their journals

Accessibility Alliance Expanded

Two more library consortia (GWLA and WRLC) are confirmed to join the Library Accessibility Alliance which was formed a year ago when ASERL joined the BTAA effort to evaluate electronic resource platforms and collections for accessibility features. This expanded partnership will improve consortial efforts to ensure library users have equitable access to scholarly resources.    

In January 2020,  the Big Ten Academic Alliance (BTAA) and the Association of Southeastern Research Libraries (ASERL) joined forces to launch the “Library Accessibility Alliance” (LAA), a program seeking to ensure all library users have equitable access to information.

LAA has continued a process begun by BTAA in 2016 for evaluating electronic resource platforms and collections, publicly posting the evaluations for review by vendors, libraries, and users. To date, 65 different platforms have been evaluated. The group has also drafted and recommended accessibility licensing language, and provided a series of webinars to increase awareness about accessibility issues for its member libraries.

For the 2021 program year, the Alliance will focus its energies on continued evaluation of library e-resources, assessing the impact of previous LAA work, developing new training content for people working in LAA-affiliated libraries, and creating new communications and outreach activities – including the development of a new, dedicated LAA website.

As we pursue these and other exciting initiatives with our BTAA partners, the UW-Madison Libraries look forward to sharing the value of this partnership with all who use our collections and services.