I argue that the eventual triumph of open access will have far reaching impacts on academic libraries with practically no domain of librarianship escaping unscathed. The article predicts that in a mostly open access environment, the library's traditional role in fulfillment and to some extent discovery will diminish (arguably library's role in some aspects of discovery is already mostly gone ).
So much for library discovery. Saw yesterday at a Springer demo how 96% of their traffic originates from Google/Scholar/PubMed— Patrick Hochstenbach (@hochstenbach) May 13, 2016
Given that currently faculty view academic libraries mainly in the role of purchasers, I suggest to survive academic libraries will start shifting towards expertise based services like Research data management, GIS, information literacy etc.
Libraries may move towards supporting publishing of open access journals (perhaps via layered journals or similar) or focusing on special collections, supporting Lorcan Dempsey's inside-out view
I end by suggesting the trick for academic libraries is to figure out the right way and time to shift resources away from current traditional roles. Perhaps the percentage of content your faculty uses/cited that is available for free could be a useful indicator of when to shift roles.
What about the nature of open access that emerges?
What led to this article was of course the news that the very dominant social science & humanties subject repository SSRN (Social Science Research Network) was bought up by Elsevier.
Elsevier , SSRN and the civil war in Open access
a) Gold Open Access (if payment not issue)
b) Green Open Access (via Subject Repository) - for disciplines with traditions such as RePec, ArXiv, SSRN etc
c) Commercial academic sharing networks (e.g Academia.edu, ResearchGate)
d)Green Open Access (via Institutional Repository)
Still, I must admit until this happened it never occurred to me that subject repositories could be bought by legacy publishers!
Here are three moves it made in the open access space in May 2016 alone.
Just a few days earlier they announced a pilot program with University of Florida that allows metadata from Sciencedirect to automatically populate the Institutional repository.
Given the large investments that Elsevier can pour into SSRN, add the synergies it can create with it's ownership of other parts of the ecosystem , can institutional repositories truly compete? Institutional repositories today are often mostly metadata rather than full text. Even as a librarian I find uploading my papers to University Institutional Repositories extremely painful compared to commercial alternatives like ResearchGate, Academia.edu due to the complicated online forms.
Sure, most Universities running Dspace , Eprints can in theory can fix the interface, add functionalities that aren't in the standard set, but this would apply only to their versions and not the base package. Compared to a centralised subject repository , researchers would find uploading their output extremely fragmented and uneven experience. Eg Some Institutional repositories would have usage statistics sent to them, some wouldn't. Compare to someone uploading to SSRN, which will have a set of consistent data available for comparison (Institution, Researcher, Paper) across the whole output posted in SSRN.
"Elsevier is now getting closer and closer to researchers with business models that don't involve libraries.” How worried should libs be?— Jennifer Howard (@JenHoward) May 17, 2016
One bright spot exists though. Current research information system (CRIS) (eg. Thompson Reuters' converis or Elsevier's Pure), do have the potential to be in researcher workflows and it's logical for institutions to leverage on those systems to provide traditional Institutional Repository functions. But as noted here , such systems are mainly internal focused rather than external focused (though this might change) and libraries are generally secondary partners in them compared to Institutional repositories where they typically lead.
So it's hard to say if this will pan out or if they do what roles libraries will play.
I would like to thank Gulcin Gribb my University Librarian for nominating me and the awards panel.
I was cited for my contributions to the library profession for sharing of knowledge and ideas and this blog is definitely a very big part of it, so I thank everyone who I have worked with, corresponded and exchanged ideas with including all of you dear readers who give me motivation to blog.