Open Access survey findings throw light on the evolving role of the librarian

June 26, 2012

Today, IntechOpen – a leading Open Access publisher – has published the results of a survey appraising attitudes and awareness of the library community towards the Open Access (OA) business model in scholarly publishing.

211 librarians participated in the survey with 156 completing all questions. The majority of respondents were associated with large academic institutions covering a broad discipline base and located in Europe or North America.

Key findings:

  • High levels of awareness of OA amongst the library community but anticipated lower awareness amongst the research community – 95% of respondents stated they were very or quite familiar with OA, but 61% state their author and reader communities were not familiar with OA
  • Librarians are seeking to educate their communities about OA but lack supporting resources – 97% stated that it is part of the librarian’s role to provide information on OA, but 42% state that they don’t feel they have sufficient knowledge or information to do so effectively
  • Librarians feel benefits of OA are already being realized – 50% of respondents state that OA is already achieving tangible benefits with a further 45% envisaging this for the future
  • Currently librarians are not actively involved in managing OA funds – 70% of respondents never help organize funds to contribute to OA charges, with 46% unsure how OA charges are funded within their institution
  • Librarians key concern with OA relate to its cost – 67% of respondents cited high article processing charges levied by publishers as a concern. Less concern was expressed for reducing visibility for the library / librarian (23%), poor quality peer review (39%) or incentive to publish quantity over quality (39%)
  • A future of many mixed business models is anticipated by librarians – 64% of respondents agree with this, but 26% state that OA will become the predominant model in scholarly communications
  • The key change librarians see OA bringing to their role is the need to be better integrated with their research community – 95% agree they need to become a more active research partner and innovator.

“Librarians clearly see a gap between their knowledge of Open Access and the knowledge their research communities have,” said Henk Compier, Managing Director at IntechOpen. “They see it as their role to be educators on this subject but seemingly lack the resources to do so effectively. As an OA publisher we will be looking at ways in which we can offer additional help here.”

“Librarians have relatively limited involvement currently in the management of OA funds but they are well placed to provide centralized author support within an institution. The ambition for the librarian community to become more closely integrated with their research communities is particularly encouraging to see. Options for readers and authors are set to become increasingly complex, and the role of the librarian could be key in helping guide their communities through this complexity to make the right choices for them and their institutions.”

By sharing the results of this survey, IntechOpen hopes to encourage other OA publishers and advocates to promote understanding and discussion of the issues while making progress to better meet the needs of the research community.