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eBooks for all!


An important role of public libraries is to ensure free access to knowledge for anyone. The open access movement, in the beginning focusing on free and unrestricted access to journals, has recently expanded its efforts to also opening up books. Already for journals, CERN took a leading role for open access in our discipline and has now also put increasing focus on textbooks and monographs.

CERN has over the last years been experimenting with open access books, based on experience gained from the CERN Report series, better known as Yellow Reports, which the Organization has published openly on the Internet since the mid 1990s. One of the first open access titles, sponsored by CERN, was “Melting hadrons, boiling quarks: from Hagedorn temperature to ultra-relativistic heavy-ion collisions at CERN” (Springer) by Jan Rafelski. In spite of being some sort of a “niche” title, the book enjoys a tremendous popularity. Since it was published, close to 130’000 chapter downloads have been recorded, a record number compared to any book of this type.

In conjunction with the 60th anniversary of CERN, three open access books were published by World Scientific. These books constitute a valuable resource for any teacher or student interested in particle and accelerator physics.

To test other business models for open access books, the CERN Library has recently worked with the open access platform Knowledge Unlatched to open up two popular books in the field of accelerator physics, both becoming available open access in November 2019:

Online Open Access to the books listed above has been financed by CERN, but if laboratories and universities collaborate one can achieve even more. One such example is the recent biography of accelerator physicist Rolf Widerøe “Obsessed by a Dream” by Aashild Sørheim, originally published in Norwegian. Translated open access editions in English and German will be published by Springer, financed by a collaboration of European and US laboratories, coordinated by CERN.

Persuaded of the importance of opening up relevant, high-quality books in particle physics and related areas, the Sponsoring Consortium for Particle Physics Publishing (SCOAP3), yet the largest open access collaboration, hosted at CERN, is now looking into a more systematic approach to support open access books.

There are several new open access books in the pipeline, and book projects obviously tend to span over a lengthy period of time. However, the volume 3 of the long-awaited “Particle Physics Reference Library” (Accelerators and Colliders) has just been published and the 2 other volumes are expected to appear in a few months (Vol. 1 Theory and experiments ; Vol. 2 Detectors for particles and radiation). This publication includes many CERN contributions and is edited by Herwig Schopper, Chris Fabjan and Steve Myers.

Open access books selected by the CERN Library are available via the Library catalogue.

CERN authors who have manuscripts in their drawers or already work with a publisher are invited to contact the Scientific Information Service to explore the possibilities for publishing open access.

CERN Scientific Information Service