White Paper: OA in the Open


Focusing on what might be needed in formulating a collective Open Access collection development system, this white paper, OA in the Open: Community Needs and Perspectives, was authored by Rebecca Kennison, Judy Ruttenberg, Yasmeen Shorish and Liz Thompson. The IMLS-funded paper presents the "challenges, opportunities, and potential next steps for building an OA collection development model and culture based on a community of collective action" and proposes a National Forum. 

Key take-aways from the paper are noted in the Executive Summary. They include the following:

● The open content landscape is massive and unwieldy. Librarians at large universities, even those with dedicated scholarly communication librarians, were as likely to cite being overwhelmed and under-informed as were those from smaller staffed institutions.

● There is a strong desire for clear criteria and a centralized clearinghouse or catalog of trusted projects, products, and platforms that could be used to aid decision-making and to speed the approval process.

● Paying for OA content creation (e.g., open educational resources [OER], article-processing charges [APCs], or subventions) was often conflated with supporting OA content consumption (e.g., arXiv, Knowledge Unlatched collections, Open Library of the Humanities). The former was most often seen as a locally beneficial activity and the latter as part of collective service.

● Supporting OA content is considered by almost everyone as a supplemental “nice to have,” rather than as core to the collection — and it is being funded that way.

● One particular type of open content — OER, especially textbooks—has widespread support across all institutional types and sizes, and successful adoption of OER could be leveraged as an entrée into developing support for other types of open content.

● Collective funding challenges are shared across a variety of institutions. Regardless of institution type, libraries face similar challenges in terms of making locally compelling arguments for supporting collective funding for open content.

● Transparency is important to the community of OA investors, including pricing, values, governance, and preservation.

The paper synthesizes feedback gathered through focus groups of attendees present during the 2019 ALA Midwinter, ER&L and ACRL conferences.