Today I was at the British Library (allowed in via the staff entrance, no less) for a librarians’–repository managers’ focus group of the JISC/AHRC-funded OAPEN-UK project, which will run to 2015 and which aims to gather “evidence to help stakeholders make informed decisions on the future of open access scholarly monograph publishing in the humanities and social sciences”.
N.B. There doesn’t seem to be a nice, standard abbreviation for ‘open access scholarly monograph publishing’, so to avoid endlessly repeating the phrase I’ll refer to them as ‘OA e-books’ from now on. Today’s focus group was made up of academic library people (from cataloguing, e-resource management, and subject liaison roles) along with HEI repository managers.
OAPEN-UK is an extension of the original Open Access Publishing in European Networks (OAPEN) project which looked at the role of OA scholarly monograph publishing and its potential effect on researcher attitudes, behaviours, business/publishing models – mainly in the Netherlands. Five publishers (a mixture of ‘pure’ commercial and university publishing houses) are on board the OAPEN-UK steering group; between them they have contributed 60 book titles which will form a pilot data study: divided into 30 matching ‘pairs’ of titles (each pair sharing common characteristics), one book in each pair will form the control group (licensed for sale as usual), the other in each pair will be:
“…made available on the OAPEN Library in open access under a creative commons licence. In addition, the titles may be placed / discoverable via the publisher’s own website, institutional repositories, authors own website and will be 100% available in Google Book Search. MARC records will be made available to libraries”
Quantitative and qualitative data—sales, usage, citations, reuse, plagiarism—will be gathered on both groups of 30 (control/experimental), and combined with information from focus groups (including this one!) and user surveys to inform recommendations for future directions in OA e-book provision: aimed at publishers, universities, libraries, and researcher-authors and researcher-readers.
The bulk of today’s focus group was taken up with an exercise to identify some of the issues of interest to libraries and repository managers in an OA e-book-‘enabled’ world. The 12 attendees divided into four groups of three and brainstormed using post-it notes (pink: ‘big issues'; blue: opportunities, yellow: questions) on charts divided into four areas for consideration: technical, financial, attitudinal, and administrative. We were then each asked to ‘vote’ on the issues we felt were most important/worthy of discussion, using little red stickers.
I took photos of the four charts:
Here’s a list of just a few of the interesting discussions that came out of the exercise:
- What will be the attitude of subject specialists – if selection isn’t tied up with a financial burden to the university library, will they feel they have lost control of the selection process? Libraries will expect good, accurate, and correctable metadata and selection tools… or will we see a national, shared OA e-books ‘firehose’ feed with little or no selection at the institutional level?
- How will the vendors of e-book aggregation services and platforms react? And what will be the effect of their reaction on libraries who subscribe to their services? Will we see a model where publishers/aggregators charge for ‘added value’ to a basic OA offering?
- Does ‘Open Access’ equate to ‘access in perpetuity’? Whose responsibility will it be to ensure continued access? Will we need a LOCKSS/UK Research Reserve-type approach to looking after OA e-books? What should be the role of the JISC/legal deposit libraries/other national bodies in this (to set standards and accredit/certificate universities, perhaps)?
- Who pays in a future OA e-book ecosystem? We’re not on familiar gold/green journal OA territory. What about author royalties – how will they be collected? Will they suffer, and how? Are libraries being pushed into a new ‘big deal’, this time for e-books (and can OA help)?
- OAPEN-UK website: http://oapen-uk.jiscebooks.org/
- List of book titles in the OAPEN-UK pilot: http://bit.ly/sottAe
- Information for librarians on the pilot
- Information for repository managers on the pilot
- Project page on JISC: http://www.jisc.ac.uk/news/stories/2011/10/oapenuk.aspx
- Twitter: @oapenuk / hashtag #oapenuk