Open Access, the movement to make scholarly and scientific information openly available, has become a prominent idea in recent years, spawning efforts to revise the publishing industry and to establish public archives of research material. In 1937 the English scholar H G Wells (best known for his science fiction stories like The War of the Worlds and The Time Machine) declared that there was no practical obstacle to the formation of a collection of the whole world’s published knowledge in microfilm to render it universally accessible. Less than a decade later Vannevar Bush (Director of the Office of Scientific Research and Development, USA) proposed a similar system that would help researchers to capitalise on such universal access by adding mechanisms that would later come to inspire hypertext links. Neither proposal was developed into a product, but they demonstrate the drive for Open Access on a global scope stretching back over sixty years, predating not just the World Wide Web and the Internet but the digital computer as well. They expose the maturity of the need for a system to augment the publishing process and its familiar artefacts to assist scientists and to make their work more effective. The accepted role of scientific and scholarly publication is to record research activity in a timely fashion, keeping others in the research community up-to-date with current developments. Until very recently, it has been the case that printed journals were the most efficient method for the dissemination and archival of research results. Technical advances in the past two decades have allowed the process of scholarly communication to take other forms, particularly in the dissemination of articles via the World Wide Web. The scientific process critically depends on dissemination – on the exposure of the work to other scientists who can validate, replicate and build on the work as it has been communicated in a research article. Access to these articles (representing the work of other scientists) is important to me because it informs the work that I wish to undertake. Conversely, my access to the other scientists’ work is important to them because it signifies the impact of their work (as eventually evidenced by a citation of their article). Hence improving access (the objective of the Open Access movement) inevitably improves impact – the observed influence of the work (the basis of a scientist’s promotion and career advancement) and ultimately the advancement of science. The effect of facilitating access does not end with scientists reading more; providing open access to scientific information allows new kinds of interaction and engagement with the literature. At their most basic, services can collect and aggregate the literature providing global access. By examining the full texts they can provide search engines and undertake categorisation and classification. More sophisticated services extract citations from each article to enable ranking and co-citation community mapping.