Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Librarian attitudes toward OA

Kristi L. Palmer, Emily Dill, and Charlene Christie, Where There’s a Will There’s a Way?:  Survey of Academic Librarian Attitudes about Open Access, a preprint forthcoming from College & Research Libraries.  (Thanks to Charles Bailey.)

Abstract:   Academic libraries are becoming increasingly involved in scholarly communication through work with institutional repositories and other open access models. While academic librarians are being encouraged to promote these new models, their opinions about open access have not been documented. This article reports on the results of a national survey conducted in the summer of 2006 of academic librarians’ attitudes toward open access principles and related behaviors. While attitude responses were largely positive, there were differences in levels of support related to respondents’ job descriptions and funding of open access activities. Surveyed librarians appear to be more comfortable with tasks that translate traditionally held responsibilities, such as educating others, to the open access environment. Most significant is the discrepancy between stated support of library involvement in open access initiatives and significantly lacking action toward this end. The results offer insight into how open access proponents may better focus their advocacy efforts.

From the body of the paper:

This study indicates that librarians support the concepts of open access and more importantly believe that that these concepts are related to their work as librarians....

Librarians are in favor of seeing their profession take some actions toward open access. The most highly supported behaviors were those that extend traditional library activities such as educating faculty about open access and providing a means by which to locate open access items. Indeed, involvement in education campaigns was not only highly supported but those librarians managing education campaigns also had significantly more supportive attitudes than other respondents. This positive connection offers open access proponents a logical avenue for focusing their efforts. Yet this survey found that agreement with various open access related concepts does not constitute actual action....

This survey’s results indicate that funding may be one of the primary reasons for little present action from librarians. While the survey results do not shed light on what library monies are actually being spent in support of open access initiatives, they indicate a low level of willingness to expend such funds....

While this survey answered important questions about the level of support by librarians in concept and in action toward open access’ goals, it also raised questions for future studies such as: How are current library?managed open access projects being funded? If funding were not an issue would librarians be more willing to manage and promote open access projects? What other entities, institutions, groups, or professions need to be involved in advocating open access’s principles?