OA Monographs in Europe’s Research Libraries: Best-Practices, Opportunities & Challenges

Posted: 26-07-2019

Over 80% of surveyed LIBER libraries say they distribute Open Access (OA) books via a repository and include them in discovery services or catalogues. A further 40% publish OA books, or plan to do so, and a quarter provides library funding to pay author fees related to OA book publishing.

These are among the insights from a recent questionnaire on OA Monographs, circulated in April by LIBER’s Open Access Working Group. The survey aimed to investigate the activities and strategies related to OA books already in place across LIBER’s network and to identify best practices, opportunities and challenges related to the publishing and implementation of OA for monographs.

Highlights of the survey. All survey data can be downloaded.

This fills a gap in the OA landscape, as currently, most OA initiatives focus on journal articles as the dominant format for sharing research, rather than monographs, edited collections and other forms of research outputs which require longer lead times and diverse funding models. 

Survey Respondents

Sixty-seven people in 19 countries replied to the survey, the vast majority from LIBER institutions. 

Percentage of survey responses from regions of Europe.

A quarter said they occupied a role as scholarly communications officer or publishing manager in their library, while a further 20% were library directors or deputy directors. Many also identified as Open Access coordinators, managers and officers.

Nearly half worked in smaller libraries, with under 100 employees. University libraries made up three-quarters of survey respondents.

OA Book Activities

The survey listed 15 different activities related to OA books and asked respondents to indicate which ones they are already doing or plan to adopt. The answers were as follows, with the activities already heavily practised at the top:

Already Heavily Practiced

1. Distribution of books via a repository (own publications, green OA or archive copies) – 83% do this already and 9% plan to do so.

2. Including OA books in discovery services or library catalogues – 81% do this already and 13% plan to do so.

3. Supporting authors with negotiating contracts or copyright issues – 63% do this already and 14% plan to do so.

4. Funding or contributing to shared OA publishing initiatives or services (KU, OBP etc.) – 60% do this and 10% plan to do so.

5. Supporting authors with technical advice on publishing OA books (i.e. formats, metadata) – 50% do this already and 16% plan do to so.

Somewhat Practiced

6. Actively contributing to the creation of OA policies to include OA books (institutional, national or international)  – 44% do this already and 27% plan to do so.

7. Requiring providers to include OA content in services/products (e.g. discovery services, database providers etc.) – 42% do this already and 19% plan to do so.

8. Funding or contributing to shared OA book-related infrastructures (DOAB, OAPEN, SCOSS etc.) – 41% do this already and 14% plan to do so.

9. Providing opportunities for skills development for staff on OA books (also as parts of Open Access or Open Science initiatives) – 35% do this already and 29% plan to do so.

10. Systematically considering OA options when acquiring literature – 33% do this already and 21% plan to do so.

Little Practiced

11. Monitoring OA book publishing of your organisation (e.g. collecting publication data, usage, metrics etc.) – 31% do this already and 30% plan to do so.

12. Manage institutional funding to pay for OA book author fees – 29% do this already and 11% plan to do so.

13. Library publishing of OA books (incl. own university press, OJS/OMP platform or publishing office) – 25% do this already and 15% plan to do so. A further 42% see this as a relevant activity.

14. Providing library funding to pay for OA book author fees – 24% do this already and 6% plan to do so.

15. Providing training to authors about publishing OA books – 23% do this already and 29% plan to do so.

Challenges & Opportunities

The survey indicated challenges ahead such as funding issues, lack of necessary skills among staff and a need to foster the OA culture in the library and at the home institution.

We would like to do more but for the moment there is no institutional strategy and engagement in favour of OA in our University. 

We are underfunded when it comes to OA book publishing so we cannot do it even if we want to.

The main problem is the lack of staff, followed by lack of culture. There is some interest in OA Book publishing, but most of it addresses the need to issue volumes of proceedings, rather than monographs.

Despite these challenges, opportunities remain if libraries can find ways to reallocate funding and work with current budgets and to create or develop workflows that include open access books. Good examples of what is already being done were discussed at a LIBER 2019 workshop.

Looking Ahead

The last part of the survey asked respondents to identify activities which they would most like to learn about, in order to build an OA monograph strategy. Requests were made for better knowledge of:

  • Business models of OA books;
  • Creation of Open Educational Resources and in-house textbooks;
  • Copyright and licensing issues;
  • Discovery of OA content (search patterns, how users find books which are specifically OA);
  • Metadata of OA books in library catalogue systems (visibility, findability);
  • Possibilities to publish OA books without large costs;
  • Publishing processes (steps, costs, challenges, the library’s role) and contracts;
  • Setting up your own university press;
  • Specific features of the peer review process in book publishing;
  • Supporting authors with technical advice on publishing OA books (formats, metadata);
  • Technological aspects of publishing platforms;
  • What’s already being done elsewhere, and how (examples of best-practices, first hand sharing of knowledge and experience from library employees).
  • Workflow management.

Interested in learning more?

All the data from the survey (plus presentations from a LIBER 2019 Open Access workshop) are available for download.

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