Facilitating access to free resources

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Academic libraries are moving away from ‘content purchasing' models to ‘facilitating access to content'.  And an increasing amount of this content is free.Taylor and Francis has published a white paper exploring the challenges and opportunities faced by the library community of facilitating access to free resources.How much free content is out there?

  • In May 2013 Google indexed 45 billion web pages
  • Between 1993 and 2009 the number of OA articles increased ten-fold; the number of OA journals increased from 740 to 4,769
  • By December 2012, the Directory of Open Access Journals listed 8000+ titles
  • According to the Registry of Open Access Repositories there are over 3300 OA repositories
91% of librarians surveyed by Taylor and Francis ‘agreed' or ‘strongly agreed' that free resources add value to the research process.  However, discovering and facilitating access to such sources can be a challenge:
  • Lack of metrics and evidence to demonstrate the value of free content
  • Lack of metadata and the challenge of identifying access and reuse rights
  • Concerns over permanence of OA sources
Conclusions
  • Librarians need to educate institutions that their role goes beyond purchasing content
  • Work needs to be done to prove return on investment for time spent enhancing the discoverability of free content
  • Work needs to be done on the development and adoption of metadata standards
  • There should be increased collaboration between librarians and users to select content
  • Librarians should continue their focus on improving institutional information literacy
  • There should be more comprehensive indexing of quality free resources by discovery systems
Taylor and Francis held one focus group in the UK and one in the US. In addition they conducted in-depth telephone interviews; desk research and an online survey with over 500 responses.The White Paper is available here