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New exhibit examines information as a commodity

  • 'Open Everything' exhibit is open to the public in the Mary Idema Pew Library Learning and Information Commons through September 11, 2014.

Posted on August 21, 2014

‘Open Everything’ — a new interactive exhibit exploring the idea of information as a global commodity — is now open at the Mary Idema Pew Library Learning and Information Commons through September 11.

The purpose of the display is to introduce students, as well as the general public, to the global issue of open access to information or lack thereof.

“The issue is that scholars create information to advance the well being of society, but then they give it away to for-profit publishers who try to sell it back to us at exorbitant prices, limiting access to those affiliated with well-funded institutions,” said Lee Van Orsdel, dean of University Libraries. “Most of these scholars and their institutions are supported by taxpayers, so the research they produce should be open to others who can contribute to the innovations, discoveries and cures that drive economies and make a better world.”

In each of the four areas of the exhibit, visitors are prompted with a role-playing scenario to choose a path and then discover the hypothetical local, national or global implications of their choices. The four role-play scenarios of open information include:

•    Open Access – free, online availability of research articles and the rights to use them.
•    Open Software – open source software is available for modification or enhancement by anyone.
•    Open Textbooks – teaching and learning materials freely available online for everyone to use.
•    Open Data – data that can be freely used and shared by anyone.

“One of the most captivating ideas that I’d like people to become aware of is just the power that information has in our world and the ways in which increased access to information globally can have a positive impact on solving the problems that we all face,” said Erin Fisher, GVSU library program manager.

Exhibit hours are: Sunday 10 a.m.-2 a.m., Monday-Thursday 7 a.m.-2 a.m., Friday 7 a.m.-9 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m.-9 p.m.

The exhibit is free and open to the public. For more information, contact Erin Fisher at (616) 331- 3925 or

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