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November 14, 2007

How libraries handle Open Access resources: educating users is a must

How libraries handle OA resources and educate users about OA

Anna K. Hood, SPEC Kit 300: Open Access Resources, Association of Research Libraries, September 2007. (Thanks to Charles Bailey and Peter Suber) The link points to the OA executive summary and conclusion. The full report is a 140 pp. book available for $40 from Amazon.

From the executive summary:

Faced with ever-increasing journal subscription costs and declining library collections budgets, libraries are expanding their collections by making open access (OA) research literature available through their catalogs, Web sites, open URL resolvers, and other resources....

The purpose of this survey was to gather information on whether and how ARL member libraries are selecting, providing access to, cataloging, hosting, tracking usage of, and promoting the use of open access research literature for their patrons by using established library resources such as the OPAC and link resolvers....

The survey was sent to the 123 ARL member libraries in March 2007. Seventy-one responses were received by the deadline, a return rate of 58%. All but one of the survey respondents provide access to OA resources. These 70 libraries represent 57% of the ARL membership.

From the conclusion:

Almost all of the ARL member libraries that responded to this survey provide access to open access literature, linking to externally hosted content and hosting OA content on their servers. Many of their institutions have made formal statements in support of open access efforts and the majority of these libraries provide financial support for external OA resources by paying author fees, etc. Some provide financial support for locally hosted content that is in addition to hosting and staff time....

In most libraries the selectors and the selection criteria are the same as for other materials, especially other electronic resources.

Cataloging methods and staff are also largely the same for OA resources as for other electronic resources....

In addition to providing links to a variety of externally hosted OA resources, the responding libraries also host a wide range of OA resources on their own servers. These resources include digital collections and archives, pre-publication material, lectures, primary source material, finding aids, theses and dissertations, grey literature, Web sites, and databases, as well as journals. As with print collections, the libraries provide storage, access, and maintenance for these local digital collections.

The most common place to list OA resources is the library’s primary finding aid, the OPAC. They also can be found along with other electronic resources on Web pages, in open URL resolvers, and in other third-party title lists or portals. Of course, locally hosted resources are often found directly by searching institutional repositories.

While most libraries promote OA recourses in the same ways as other resources, many of the responding libraries are actively educating faculty and students about open access and other issues in scholarly communication and make a point of introducing this relatively new type of resource through Web sites, newsletters, campus forums, flyers, and blogs...

Regardless of whether they choose to distinguish between open access and traditional, subscription-supported resources when selecting, processing, and promoting materials, ARL member libraries have embraced open access resources and integrated them into their existing workflows...

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