Identity and access management – what librarians say

As the demand for offsite access continues to grow, are librarians providing seamless user journeys?

The effective and unobtrusive management of access to resources is vital when it comes to delivering great user services.  Yet many librarians feel they are not offering the best access solutions to their customers.

OpenAthens sponsored a survey to explore librarians’ experiences of identity and access management.  Over 500 librarians responded – the vast majority working in academia and/or healthcare, although government, corporate and pharma sectors were also represented.

Key findings

  • Over 98% agreed that access management is ‘critical to meeting user needs and maximising investment in resources’
  • Changes in user behaviour driving remote access include multi-location work/research; cross-site collaboration; and expectations of 24/7 service


  • A majority (86%) of respondents felt that the growing demand for offsite resources would increase the use of licensed information resources. 
  • Others noted the opportunity to extend engagement with users and to improve understanding of what users are doing with the information resources

For many the changing pattern of user behaviour provides opportunities to rethink and redefine the services, products and spaces they offer.


  • Offsite access adds technical complexity and creates more work for library staff
  • Security challenges
  • A more complex user journey
  • Limitations of existing tech systems
  • Library staff report a lack of familiarity with more technical terms related to access management

Priorities, solutions and wishlist

  • For librarians the ideal access management solutions would not require IT knowledge
  • Content providers would provide more flexible licensing models
  • More clarity over ‘ownership of user access management
  • Improved user statistics
  • Provide a fully supported service
  • Personalised user portals
  • Better mobile options

The full report is available for free from here.