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Several academic disciplines have begun to understand the benefits of open access to scholarship, both for scholars and for the general public. Scientific disciplines have led the way, partially due to the nature of scholarship in those areas and partially because they have felt the crisis in serials pricing more acutely than others. Theological studies, however, have largely been insulated from the push for open access; considering the reasons for that is the first task of this article. It is also the case, however, that the missionary impulse that stands behind much theological scholarship is a strong incentive to embrace the opportunities afforded by digital, online dissemination of research and writing. After discussing this imperative for global distribution, the bulk of the article focuses on how theological institutions, and especially their libraries, can encourage and support scholars in making their work freely accessible. Copyright issues, including the elements of a successful copyright management program, are discussed, as are some of the technological elements necessary for an efficient and discoverable open access repository. Options for licensing, both at ingestion of content and at dissemination to users are also considered. Finally, it is argued that the role of consortia and professional organizations in supporting these initiatives is especially important because of the relatively small size of so many theological institutions.
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