What role will academic libraries play in an open access future?

Open access is becoming more important as a way of communicating research findings, particularly driven by strong policy moves in Europe and to some extent in North America. In April, we convened a roundtable in association with the British Library to discuss how these changes would impact on academic libraries. 14 senior librarians and industry representatives attended, representing old and new institutions from the UK, Europe, USA and Middle East. Today, we published a report summarising the discussions of that event. Read it here.

The views of the roundtable were that academic libraries and research communication will both change as open access grows in importance. The traditional role of librarians will need to change, but that they will still play an important role in managing and advising on information and information-related budgets.

A lot depends on the uptake of OA: discussions showed a variety of opinions on this, ranging from little or no increase on the 10-15% of articles that are published via a gold OA model today, to 50% of the total in 10 years, funded through a combination of article-processing charges and/or subsidized in other ways. There was also a variety of views on whether there would be equal uptake across geographic and discipline boundaries.

The roundtable discussion identified a number of key aspects of the role of academic libraries in an open access future. Providing information literacy and information mediation will remain important. But where there was anticipated change was around collection development. The more content that is available as OA, the less importance is seen for having institutional collections. There will be an increasing trend to sharing discovery and support services among libraries and institutions. ‘The concept of the individual library is going to go away. We are going to have to work together’, said one participant.

Libraries need to evolve and be prepared to be creative, as the ways that researchers and students access and use information are changing and will continue to change. They will have a key role to play in managing services such as institutional repositories, providing licensing and related advice to researchers, supporting preservation and managing metadata. For teaching and learning, students may be interested in what other students are reading, especially those who are doing well: recommender services will likely be important.

As the report concludes:

With a willingness to be creative and to support users in new ways through communication, collaboration and tools, academic libraries should remain an important component of the research process in their institutions and beyond.

SAGE is committed to supporting the sustainable dissemination of scholarly and educational material. The shift to open access raises issues for the whole scholarly communication process, and we are committed to working with our stakeholders to navigate these changes together. We were delighted to work with the British Library in hosting this workshop to review the potential challenges for academic libraries. Events since the workshop, such as the Finch report and restatement of the position of the EU on access to and preservation of scientific information, have increased the importance of engaging with these changes for many stakeholders. We are part of a changing scholarly landscape and are committed to supporting our publishing partners, including launching new SAGE Open journals and widening the availability of our SAGE Choice programme at a lower rate for the humanities and social sciences.

We are actively working with our scholarly society partners now to identify how best to support their needs, and will be posting more blogs and comments on these developments over the next few months. We welcome your comments and feedback!

This entry was posted in SAGE Connection, SAGE news and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.