Open Access (OA) in Slovakia remains relatively understudied in North American Library and Information Studies literature. The present article highlights some of the principal achievements in the field of Open Access in contemporary Slovakia. Slovakia was a constituent part of Czechoslovakia before it became independent on January 1, 1993, in the aftermath of the peaceful negotiations with the Czech Republic. Independence can be thus considered as one byproduct of the peaceful ending of the Communist system in Czechoslovakia in 1989 (the process that ended the Communist State is also known as the “Velvet Revolution”). Since independence, Slovakia has focused on democratization and market reform, and in May of 2004, the country joined the European Union (EU). This introductory article highlights one of the outcomes of EU membership with regards to the current status of OA in Slovakia. This article also provides insight into select Slovak OA sources.
OA in Slovakia within the EU framework
Slovakia’s entry in the EU significantly advanced OA development in the country, as in 2005 when Slovakia joined the EIFL (Electronic Information for the Libraries) project. The European Commission envisioned the evolution of a robust OA infrastructure under the auspices of OpenAIRE (Open Access Infrastructure for Research in Europe), and subsequently, Slovakia was firmly set on the path of OA. However, the initial development of Open Access (OA) infrastructure and policy in Slovakia remains out of scope for this article. The focus of this article is on contemporary OA in Slovakia. Throughout this article, I have used the words Slovakia and the Slovak Republic interchangeably.
Recognizing the need for a central point for coordination of OA throughout Slovakia, the Slovak government in 2013 designated the Slovak Center of Scientific and Technical Information (SCSTI) or CENTRUM VEDECKO-TECHNICKÝCH INFORMÁCIÍ SR (CVTIS) as a coordinating hub for OA policy throughout the country. One impetus for the creation of this hub was the fact that EU membership required that participating countries create a mechanism for the preservation and dissemination of publicly funded research.
Open Government Partnership National Action Plan of the Slovak Republic 2017-2019
In 2017, the Slovak government approved the Government Partnership National Action Plan of the Slovak Republic 2017-2019. The plan is a roadmap for the Slovak Republic’s OA implementation. One of the key facets of this plan is the importance of Open Information. Also, it provides for the development of an Open Data Portal, as shown in image 1. The plan notes, “The concept of open data is based on the assumption that central government bodies collect and manage vast amounts of public data in various areas, such as transportation, culture, finance, science and research, weather, environment, geographic data, and various statistics.”
The data.gov.sk portal currently hosts 2,033 discrete datasets. These datasets are available in several different formats such as XML, CSV, and XLSX, among others.
Slovak Center of Scientific and Technical Information, or Centrum Vedecko-Technickych Informacee SR (CVTI SR)
The SCSTI or CVTI SR was created as a public information center that integrates various open access related activities in the fields of natural sciences, social sciences, and others. The center is tasked with coordinating OA pertaining to research and development strategies across Slovakia.
The “About” page on the OpenAIRE site that describes the activities of this center also highlights the fact that it is currently managed by the Ministry of Education, Science, Research and Sport. This page also describes the mission of the center as follows: “The mission of the Slovak Centre of Scientific and Technical Information is to contribute to science and research promotion in Slovakia, particularly through building and operation of complex information systems developed for research and development. The SCSTI is responsible for administration and operation of the Central Information Portal for Research, Development, and Innovation, the Central Registry of Evidence of Publication Activity and the Central Register of Theses, including the Antiplagiarism system. The institution also acts as the Technology Transfer Centre with the nation-wide operation and the National Centre for Popularisation of Science and Technology in Society. The center also hosts the Slovak network of National Contact Points for Horizon2020 and is responsible for the operation of the Slovak Liaison Office for Research and Development in Brussels.”
The Center has a library, and its online catalog allows the user to access OA e-books as shown in images 4 and 5 below. The library’s online catalog displays newly acquired books, and is available both in English and Slovak languages.
The online catalog provides access to the full-text of the e-books. The catalog links to the digital library component of the CVTI SR, as shown in image 5.
While the government of Slovakia has taken several steps to build and regularize OA in the context of the nation, individual universities continue to develop and provide access to the knowledge that is created in the research activities they carry out. There are numerous prominent universities in Slovakia, and several of them are located in Bratislava-the capital of Slovakia. One of the oldest university libraries in Bratislava is the University Library of the Comenius Czecho-Slovak University. It was created in 1919 following the merging of Czech and Slovak entities into one republic. Today, it is known as the University Library in Bratislava. Until 1956, it also had the status of National Library. Its website is both in Slovak and English.
The OA sources to which the library provides access to are indexed under ‘free sources.’ Most of the sources are in Czech, Slovak, German and English languages. There are eighty-two OA sources that are indexed in this directory. Out of these resources, twenty-two resources are in Slovak in various disciplines, as shown in image seven. Out of these twenty-two sources, three sources are in Czech and Slovak, and one resource is in English, Czech and Slovak languages.
In addition to the University Library, the Slovak National Library (Slovenská národná knižnica) serves as another institution that promotes OA in Slovakia.
Slovenská národná knižnica, or the Slovak National Library (SNL)
The SNL is the library of record for Slovakia, and its website’s landing page is shown in image 8. It also serves as a depository library for Slovakia. The Open Access resources that are either hosted by SNL or indexed are displayed under the ‘Collections’ tab, as shown in image 8. The SNL site’s landing page is available in both English and Slovak. The SNL serves as a coordinator for the library-related activities in Slovakia. Additionally, it was the principal participant in the joint project with the European Union that resulted in the creation of a digital library of Slovakia with an archival component.
The Collections and Sources section displays Open Access Resources on SNL’s site. The library’s website classifies these resources in two major groups: multidisciplinary and subject-based.
The Slovak National Library’s OA multidisciplinary databases section is divided into three parts, as shown in image 10. The first section is that of the prominent digital libraries, and it is followed by several OA dissertation databases, including EBSCO Open Dissertations, Networked Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations, PQDT Open by Proquest, and others. The last section indexes OA journal databases.
The other OA page indexes subject databases in the following areas: Study of English Language and Literature, Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics, Medicine, Natural Science, Library and Information Science, Restoration and Conservation, Social Sciences, Pedagogy and Education, Law, and Sport. To illustrate what kind of titles are indexed by this page, I have sampled three subject areas below: English Language and Literature, Biology, and Chemistry.
English Language and Literature, 7 sites
- http://shakespeare.mit.edu/ http://shakespeare.mit.edu/
Biology, 7 sites
Chemistry, 6 sites
Between Biology and Chemistry, we see the Wiley Open Access database is cross-listed.
Dikda.eu (Digitálna knižnica a digitálny archív- Projekt DIKDA)
Project Dikda was created in collaboration with the European Union in 2010, and its purpose was to develop an integrated digital library and a digital archive of the cultural, historical and literary objects of Slovakia. The website links to the other national project of Slovakia- Memoria Slovaca and the Slovak National Library’s digital library. The project’s self-description is as follows, “The National Project Digital Library and Digital Archive focus on mass digitization of library and archival collections and the protection of written cultural heritage (paper) from significant degradation. It is the largest project of digitization of literature not only in Slovakia, but its scope is a unique project in the context of the European region.”
Project Dikda’s landing page links to news reporting of the day with significant importance on the history of Slovakia. This digitized news excerpt is shown with a textual explanation. The image provides access to the scanned version of the newspaper by the SNK, as shown in Images 12 and 13.
Image 12 shows the scanned version of the newspaper, “Tatry,” from August 1919.
Dikda.eu acts as a platform that connects to a multitude of related digital projects. While Dikda.eu continues to function as one way to access OA digitized content of historical significance, the other equally important project within Slovakia is Slovakiana.
The creator of this project, EEA Solutions, is a commercial entity that focuses on software solutions for the Australian company Atlassian. EEA Solutions describes the Slovakiana project as follows, “The goal of the Slovakiana project group is to ensure the protection of the cultural heritage of the Slovak Republic by its digitization and long-term protection of digitized information, supporting the creation of digital content and making cultural heritage available to the professional and wider public.”
Slovakiana serves as the national aggregator for Slovakia’s digital heritage, and as the ‘Categories’ page shows, it also provides access to over sixteen thousand digitized OA items (see image 15).
Each of these linked textual objects can be accessed individually and downloaded for further research, DRM-free, along OA principles. For example, Image 16 shows a 1922 issue of Slovenský denník.
In this introductory article, I have focused on several different aspects of Open Access in Slovakia. Open Access in Slovakia remains transformative as it works to promote, preserve, and provide access to Slovakia’s robust historical-cultural legacy while focusing on its future within the framework of the European Union. There are several OA projects such as the Digital Library of Slovakia, Projekt KIS3G (Knižnično-informačný systém tretej generácie) aka Slovenská knižnica, and the Digital Library of Univerzitná knižnica v Bratislave, among others. Progress in Slovakia, from the years behind the Iron Curtain to today, can be gauged through the modernization and transformative implementation of Open Access principles in the territory of Slovak Republic.
Librarian for East European and Latin American Collections
University of California-Berkeley