Open Access Works

Submission Process

Who may submit items to Libra?

Any employee of the University who produces scholarly works may deposit items in Libra.

What may be submitted?

While Libra has been developed specifically as a repository for peer-reviewed, scholarly articles, other works such as books may be deposited as well, as long as sufficient rights have been retained by the author or authors. Scholars may also deposit data sets if the data is suitable for open access.  See the Dataset FAQ for more information.

Articles should be complete and ready for distribution. That is, they should be as close as possible to their final, published version. Libra is intended as a repository for completed work in electronic format, analogous to the physical library as a repository of completed work in print format.

What file formats are accepted?

All articles must be submitted in PDF format. PDF offers a reasonable assurance of long-term sustainability and access.

How can I create a PDF of my work?

Printed Materials

Several libraries around Grounds offer scanners and software that can convert printed materials to PDF format.


Microsoft Office users may use the “Save as PDF” extension to export PDF files from Microsoft Word, Excel, and other programs. Several free applications and sites, such as PDFCreator, will also convert documents to PDF in a variety of programs.

Mac OS X

In any application, select File > Print from the menu, then select “PDF” and “Save as PDF…” Learn more at Apple’s support site.

Deposit License

Why do I have to agree to the deposit license, and what does it say?

In order to deliver written works and other copyrighted materials to the public, Libra must have consent from the copyright holder. The deposit license asks you, the author, to confirm that you are the copyright holder, or have permission from the copyright holder (typically a publisher to whom you may have transferred the copyright in exchange for publication in a journal or book). Libra is not asking you to transfer your copyright to the University, or to give up any rights you have in the material to the University. The Deposit License confirms that you wish to make the material available through Libra to the public, to allow certain educational, non-commercial, public uses of the material, and to allow for preservation by the University. It is a LIMITED, NON-EXCLUSIVE agreement, meaning you retain all the rights you had before the item was deposited.

What rights do I grant the University when I deposit my work in Libra for Open Access?

You grant to the University of Virginia the right to:

  • Reproduce and/or distribute your submission (including the metadata and abstract) worldwide, in any format or medium for non-commercial, academic purposes only.
  • Migrate the submission, without changing the content, to any medium or format, and keep more than one copy of your work for purposes of security, back up and preservation.
  • Authorize Libra users to reproduce and/or distribute your submission (including the metadata and abstract) worldwide, in any format or medium for non-commercial, academic purposes only.

See the full text of the Public Deposit License for more information.

What rights do I grant the University when I deposit my work in Libra for UVA-Only Access?

You grant the University of Virginia the right to:

  • Reproduce and/or distribute your submission (including the metadata and abstract) within the University of Virginia community of students, faculty and staff, including walk-in users of the University libraries, in any format or medium for non-commercial, academic purposes only.
  • Migrate the submission, without changing the content, to any medium or format, and keep more than one copy of your work for purposes of security, back up and preservation.
  • Authorize the University of Virginia community as described above to reproduce and/or distribute your submission (including the metadata and abstract) within the U. Va. community only, in any format or medium for non-commercial, academic purposes only.

See the full text of the U.Va.-only Deposit License for more information.

What if the work was produced by multiple authors?

The Libra deposit process allows you to list additional authors of a work to ensure that proper credit is given to all contributors. You should only deposit a work if you are certain that you have permission from all copyright holders to place the work in the repository.

What if the work contains images or other third party content for which I was required to obtain permission prior to publication of the work?

If permission was necessary to incorporate images, photographs, graphs, extended quotations, or other “third party” material in your original work, you should be careful to review whether the permission obtained is sufficient to enable to you to put you work online for open access through the Libra repository. If in doubt, please consult with Library staff or remove such material from the deposited article as a precautionary matter.

Working with Publishers: Permission

How do I know if I have permission to deposit my work?

If the article has been previously published, you should check the copyright transfer agreement that you signed at the time of publication. The agreement may make explicit reference to your right to deposit in your institution’s digital repository, along with any specific guidelines to follow. You can also check the publisher’s website. Many major publishers now have clear statements about Author’s Rights on their websites, and many are generous in allowing their authors to deposit a pre-print version of a work in a repository, sometimes after a short embargo period to allow the publisher to get the work out.

See these links for some examples of author’s rights policies from major publishers:

The SHERPA/RoMEO site also provides a useful compilation of many major publishers’ policies.

Working with Publishers: Authors’ Rights

How can I deposit in Libra, when my agreement with a publisher required me to sign over my rights?

You may have signed an agreement that turns over all rights to the publisher. The copyright agreement may have contained language transferring “exclusive” or “all” rights to the publisher, for example:

The undersigned author or authors (‘Author’) of the above article (‘Article’) transfers and assigns exclusively to _________________(‘Publisher’) all Author’s right, title and interest in the Article including, without limitation, the copyright therein for the full term of copyright and any extensions or renewals of that term, including but not limited to the exclusive right to publish, republish, transmit, sell, distribute and otherwise use the Contribution and the material contained therein in electronic and print editions of the Journal and in derivative works throughout the world, in all languages and in all media of expression now known or later developed, and to license or permit others to do so.

Unless another section of your agreement specifically allows it, this type of broad grant prohibits you from making the work available to the public through a repository like Libra without first requesting permission from the publisher.

How can I request permission from a publisher to deposit an already published work?

If you have signed over rights to your work, you can still request permission to deposit from the publisher. You should make a written request even if you believe the publisher’s policy has changed since you signed your original author’s agreement.

Here is some suggested language for communicating with a publisher:

Dear (Publisher),

I am writing to request permission to deposit my article: __________ (title) published in __________ (journal) on __________ (date) in the University of Virginia Library’s Libra open access repository. Libra terms stipulate only non-profit research and educational uses of open access deposited materials.

Thank you in advance for your prompt consideration of this request.


____________ (Author)

You should document this process by printing out your note to the publisher and the publisher’s response. If the publisher sends a link to their posted Author’s Rights or similar policy, it is wise to print out that policy as well and to keep these materials together in a secure place.

I’m about to publish, and the publisher’s agreement requires me to sign over my rights. What can I do?

If your article has not yet been published, check the copyright transfer agreement. If it does not allow you to retain rights to deposit in an institutional repository, and requires that you transfer “exclusive” or “all” rights to the publisher, you may be able to amend the agreement prior to signing. The SPARC addendum provides a useful inventory of the broad rights that an author might hope to retain. However, many publishers are unwilling to accept such an addendum. A simpler statement that you can write in or request would be:

Notwithstanding anything in this agreement to the contrary, I reserve the right to use this work in my personal teaching and research, and to place an electronic copy of this work [or, “my final author’s submitted version of the work”] on a publicly accessible web site for non-commercial research, teaching, and scholarship.

Some work may be subject to the National Institutes of Health Public Access policy. For information on retaining author’s rights in order to comply with the NIH policy, see the NIH Rules page from the Claude Moore Health Sciences Library website.

Where can I get more information on Author’s Rights and publishing agreements?

The following are good sources of additional information:

Will publishers be willing to accept my article if a pre-publication version is already in Libra?

Publishers have their own policies about this. You should be careful not to endanger formal publication of your work by early deposit in the open access environment of Libra. In our experience, some publishers will only publish work if they have first publication/distribution rights. In other disciplines, it is common for pre-publication versions of papers to circulate freely and not to be seen as competition for the formal publication. We view this as a discipline-, publisher-, and scholar-specific inquiry. Libra aims to support scholars and scholarship, never to stand in the way!


What is an embargo period?

A submitter is able to set an embargo period during which his or her submission is saved in the repository but not available for public view. An embargo may be used to balance publishers’ interests in exclusive distribution and sale of subscriptions to scholarly journals, while also ensuring that scholarship is accessible to the public within a reasonable period of time. An embargo period may be set by or negotiated with a publisher; check the publisher’s copyright transfer form for an embargo period, or see the SHERPA/RoMEO site for a useful compilation of many major publishers’ policies.

Use of Libra

May I delete or change an item that I previously submitted to Libra?

Because the repository is meant for scholarly work that is as close as possible to its final or published form, items may not be deleted or changed once they are deposited in Libra. Scholars should only deposit in Libra the version to which they intend to provide permanent open access.

Faculty may also add links from a Libra record to a published version of the article on a publisher’s site. Access through such links may be limited to members of the U.Va. community if the articles are available through paid subscriptions held by the University Library.

Are there limits on file size and number of items I may deposit?

At this time, there are no limits on the number of items that may be deposited. Self-deposit file size is limited to 100MB, if you have larger files to upload, contact us.

Are items in Libra guaranteed to remain available in perpetuity?

The Library and ITS are committed to the durability and sustainability of scholarship deposited in Libra.  Libra uses standard data management practices, including security and backup procedures, to provide a reasonable assurance that files will remain retrievable over time.  In addition, UVA Library is a founder and  participant in the Academic Preservation Trust consortium, which aims to ensure preservation of digital library content including Libra files.  However since permanent access is not a guarantee with any technology, we urge scholars to keep personal copies of their files in both print and digital format.

Who can access Libra to search for and download items? What can users of the repository do with the content that I have submitted?

Libra is an open access repository, meaning that anyone can search, view and download content. Users are required to agree to the Terms of Use stated on the Libra site before accessing content. Those terms make clear that only non-commercial educational uses are permitted, and that unless otherwise stated on the work itself, the copyright holder for each work retains all rights associated with the works deposited in Libra. As with any other copyrighted work, others may use the work as allowed by the “fair use” provisions in U.S. copyright law. Items that have been deposited with a U. Va. Only Deposit License are available in full-text only to students, faculty, staff, and walk-in users of the university library.