How OA is changing the role of librarians

In an international survey, librarians were questioned about their attitudes to OA and how their roles are changing.

The Croatian Open Access publisher InTech has surveyed over 200 librarians to explore their awareness of, and attitudes to, open access publishing.  Over 80% of the respondents worked in academic institutions and the majority (56%) were based in Europe.

Of particular interest are the anticipated changes librarians feel OA will bring to their roles.

Awareness and attitudes to open access

The survey revealed high levels of awareness of OA - 95% of the respondents stated they were very or quite familiar with the OA model.  Librarians highlight a number of benefits of OA publishing models:

  • Ease of access to content
  • Increased visibility, usage and impact for authors
  • Improved sharing and collaboration
  • Improved public engagement with research
  • Broad benefits for society of improved access to research
  • Improved return on investment for funders of research


  • 78% of respondents support OA publishing, with only 5.5% stating they oppose the model.
  • 95% believe OA is already delivering benefits, or will do in the future.


Librarians did express some concern about OA publishing models.  In particular that the charges levied by publishers would create a barrier for authors with limited access to funding, while opening up the potential for 'vanity' publishing for those with funds.

The librarian's role

While librarians reported high levels of familiarity with OA, they were less confident that their various stakeholder groups understood the implications of open access.  For this reason, librarians see that they have a major responsibility in educating and informing their communities.  Librarians are using a number of sources to keep themselves up-to-date (library listservs, blogs, conferences and events, research, contacts, government funded research such as JISC).  However, only 58% of respondents reported they felt confident in their own levels of knowledge.

Future changes

The report concludes with some thoughts on how the role of librarians may evolve and what actions they should take. 

  • Librarians as partners and innovators - libraries should become more integrated with the research process. They should support authors by giving advice on publishing models
  • Librarians as content collaborators - there are opportunities for librarians to become involved in the content creation process
  • Discovery - librarians should develop value added discovery tools and focus on metadata creation and management
  • Professional development - librarians should develop enhanced search and discovery skills
  • Improved understanding of processes - (46% of respondents do not currently know how OA charges are funded in their institutions)
  • Advocates for the institution - librarians can help promote the research output of their institutions to a worldwide audience.

The full report is available from the Intech website.

Image courtesy of Gideon Burton via Flickr.