Supporting inter-library loans with the Open Access Button
Exploring the opportunity for an Open Access Button-enabled inter-library loan service
Ended 31 Jul 2017100%
In order to enable better discovery and promotion of open access (OA) content, we aimed to assess the value and feasibility of a new service, which would use Open Access Button functionality in the discovery/ILL workflow.
We've long been involved with the development of Open Access Button, which is an open source, non-profit tool delivering free, legal research articles instantly or automatically requested from authors, when users hit a paywall.
What we did
We wanted to understand whether a new service would:
- Prevent multiple ILL requests for the same article
- Improve the user experience of the ILL process
- Contribute to making more articles open access
- Offer cost and time efficiency by checking if requested material is already available under OA conditions
To achieve this, we split the project into three interconnected workpackages:
- WP1: Gather evidence on the institutional requirement and develop use-cases for a possible service (undertaken by Sero Consulting)
- WP2: Scope the feasibility of identified use-cases in more detail within individual institutional case-study settings (undertaken by OA Button)
- WP3: Develop delivery options for a possible service (undertaken by Sero Consulting)
WP1: Preferred use-case for a potential service
Three key use-cases were initially identified as offering potential for a service:
- Integration of Open Access Button technology into the ILL workflow
- Integration of Open Access Button technology into the library discovery layer
- Integration of Open Access Button technology into the user environment
Based on the input of the advisory group and our interviews with institutions, the preference in most cases was centred around use-case three, ie to look at the ways in which we can push open access content directly to the user during their discovery process, well before they reach the inter-library loan procedure in the library. It should be noted however that institutions did still register support for the practical possibilities that use-cases one and two offered.
WP2: ‘Real-world’ feasibility of identified use-cases
We undertook three case studies within UK HE institutions, to understand whether OAB technology could be used to improve the ILL process:
- Imperial College London: Aimed to analyse the potential impact of stand-alone apps for delivering library services (broadly WP1 use-case three). Download the WP2 Imperial College London report (pdf).
- University of Huddersfield: Aimed to simplify and enhance ILL forms, while streamlining ILL staff workflows (broadly WP1 use-case one). Download the WP2 University of Huddersfield report (pdf).
- University of York: Aimed to explore how to provide existing open access content into library search and link resolvers, while providing seamless access to the ILL system and Open Access Button requests (broadly WP1 use-case two). Download the WP2 University of York report (pdf).
WP3: Service options
The project, based on the range of evidence gathered, identified three potential service options Jisc should explore:
- A focused inter-library loan service: Would improve the quality of the metadata of the item requested by the user through an ILL form, and then check for an open access version of a requested item, and where one can be identified, fulfil the user’s request for the item
- Integration of OA search into library systems: Would bring open access material into library discovery systems (and may also bring library discovery systems – now including OA material – into the user environment).
- Extend scope and integrate with other Jisc services: Would integrate functionality in other Jisc library-facing services.
Of the three service options (in WP3), the first only showed small cost savings leading to a limited appetite for such a service amongst the institutions we engaged with. Therefore, we have set this aside for now.
However, ‘integration of OA search into library systems’, showed a stronger demand for broader integration of OA materials within the ‘discovery to delivery’ process and also, the vital role of discovery layer vendors in potentially fulfilling this requirement.
Working with CORE
Separate to our work on this OA Button project, but opportunely timed, the CORE service has recently signed an agreement with ProQuest to integrate the CORE’s metadata and content so that their library discovery services, Ex Libris Primo and Ex Libris Summon, can discover CORE’s content within those systems. Notably, CORE is also intending to integrate with other library search products to ensure a wider search experience across such services in the near future.
Taking CORE’s comprehensive coverage of not only metadata records (currently 80m records) but also open access research outputs (currently 8.3m full text items), alongside the large market share of the Ex Libris Primo and Ex Libris Summon services, this development will significantly enhance the discoverability of OA content to a large proportion of the sector already subscribing to those systems.
Within the context of the project, this not only addresses service option two (integration of OA search into library systems), but also allows more scope for future integration of OA discovery within Jisc’s wider portfolio of services (service option three), given the existing strategic partnership between Jisc and the OU. It also addresses CORE’s wider aim to integrate their data with existing services to support more effective discovery of OA content using an integrated information retrieval approach.
Therefore, we will be developing work with CORE at the centre of any OA discovery-focused solutions, initially by addressing the issue of search and discovery integration with library systems.
The future of Open Access Button
Open Access Button has been instrumental in supporting developments in this area and continues to be a vital resource for both researchers and libraries. We remain completely supportive of Open Access Button’s work and would consider other areas for collaboration in the future.
The Open Access Button will continue to work separately on products in the discovery/ interlibrary loan workflow, you can follow progress on the Open Access Button website.
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Meet the project team
Deputy head of scholarly communications support and director of the centre for research communications, Jisc
Open Access Button
This project ran until summer 2017