- User Service Philosophy
- 10th International Evidence Based Library and Information Practice (EBLIP10) > Abstracts
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- Customer service for academic library users on the web
Further, the retrospective deposit of legacy journal literature into open access institutional repositories is difficult for legal publisher copyright and institutional policy reasons, and because motivating authors to deposit legacy items into institutional repositories is challenging University of California Libraries, In such an environment how do universities and libraries fulfill openness missions through providing access to both physical and digital published collections, extending access to knowledge?
From the s, the capacity of university libraries to engage with the information needs of wider communities has been challenged by shrinking budgets, new complexities associated with the impact of digital technologies, and the subscription models applied by online content vendors Karaganis, Maintaining access to libraries for users other than staff or students has become harder to sustain Courtney, , Academic libraries managing the complex demands of commercial licensing, copyright, budget limitations, and security prioritise use and access policies around the information needs of their core communities: students, staff and faculty.
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Access for unaffiliated users has not disappeared entirely, but often involves membership fees charged to offset additional costs such as electronic resources and associated services. The key research question that this paper considers is how university library access policies reflect their institutions' positions on open knowledge. It does this by asking the following questions:. We first review literature regarding changes in academic library access policies and related studies.
The second section presents an analysis of access and use policies from twelve academic libraries across four continents, and views them in relation to institutional open access policies and percentages of open access publishing. The literature identifies changes in academic library access policies since the mid-twentieth century, reflecting financial constraints and the changing electronic publishing environment.
A range of studies has analysed library access policy and Internet documents, conducted online and telephone surveys, or employed a combination of both methods. Several examined the effects of policy changes and restrictions on library and institutional mission statements or intentions. The literature is dominated somewhat by the United States, with its long history of academic library community engagement Dunne, and publication requirements for tenured professional academic librarians. That there is less discussion from other parts of the world suggests open access to academic libraries may not be an issue everywhere.
For example, university libraries in Finland are open to all Lehto, Toivonen and Iivonen, It also reflects the predominance of English language and the north Atlantic in the literature. Further, fewer reviews of library access policies appear in the last five to ten years during which the open access publishing landscape has grown and changed rapidly, moving from an extreme position to mainstream policy. Academic library policies adopt a range of terminology to identify users external to institutions, those who are not registered as faculty, staff or students Barsun, ; Burclaff and Britz, ; Weare and Stephenson, Terms include alumni, unaffiliated or non-affiliated user, external user, non-institutional borrower, community member, member of the public, visitor and day visitor.
They may be one-time visitors with needs such as consulting print or electronic material, seeking study space or computer facilities, or individuals with longer term ongoing or complex research needs who may be required to register as members.
The history of publicly funded university libraries from the mid-twentieth century shows a marked trend in opening libraries to external users. Decisions to make the resources of university libraries available to the wider community reflected awareness of the role of libraries in generating goodwill among the communities that ultimately funded their operations.
Publicly funded university libraries also recognised their role as part of the information infrastructure that their local communities depended on, and their capacity to help lessen the impact of budget cuts to public libraries by making their collections available for community use.
However, extending access, services, borrowing privileges and study space to unaffiliated patrons such as high school students, members of the public, local business and industry became difficult for university libraries to sustain, and they began to prioritise servicing their primary users, students and faculty Courtney, Surveys of US academic libraries in the s showed institutions offering a range of options, from continuing to provide equal physical access, restricting access for unaffiliated users, including alumni, charging fees, to implementing 'tiered access policies' Burclaff and Britz, , p.
These schemes grew in the s and s to supplement shortfalls in library budgets as purchase costs increased. Globally such institutional agreements provide reciprocal borrowing, consortial purchasing, and increasingly focus on shared digital resources Dong and Zou, Access to shared resources print and digital does not extend to users who are external to member institutions, although some academic consortial lending schemes include public libraries. In addition to agreements between institutions, who bear and share the costs of reciprocal borrowing, academic libraries have implemented tiered arrangements incorporating levels of access to institutional alumni, external organisations, private or individual researchers, and members of the public.
This can involve a daily, joining or annual membership fee that provides physical access to libraries, borrowing of print material, access to a subset of electronic resources, but restricted access to collections and services that may conflict with institutional core users' needs Weare and Stephenson, The fee is presumably intended to offset administrative and staff costs of providing access and services to external users, but analysis or evaluation of the economic impact of fees is limited.
One small US library removed membership fees and found increased community use but minimal impact in terms of extra cost to the library, although the authors acknowledged economic impact is difficult to assess Dole and Hill, An outcome of fee-charging, intentional or not, is the narrowing of access to information. In the twenty-first century, policies have moved rapidly from providing open, public onsite access to academic library collections and published research, both online and in print Courtney, , to multi-levelled and multi-dimensional access incorporating coalitions and consortia with other research institutions and organisations.
In such arrangements the individual, unaffiliated researcher, member of public may have the least access. For reasons of collection and space management, and to extend teaching and research access to published knowledge, many libraries have moved towards an electronic collection preference purchasing model.
Pre-online, print only materials such as journal and newspaper volumes not available electronically may be discarded to create computer and study spaces and minimise shelf management. Libraries cancelled print serial subscriptions in favour of electronic versions Courtney, , reducing access to books and journals published electronically for users external to academic institutions.watch
User Service Philosophy
Libraries now subscribe to online packages through aggregating vendors who impose restrictions based on subscriptions and licensing with full access limited to registered, authenticated institutional members. This knowledge is leased, not owned by the institution.
Lorcan Dempsey refers to a shift towards 'facilitated collection', where libraries manage or are stewards of external collections and information partnerships p. Tiered access to electronic resources delineates categories of users and access, for example: all resources for core users; a set for alumni, onsite visitor or guest use; and resources freely available to the public.
Ironically, while access to some current research output is expanding through open access online publications, access to knowledge paywalled commercially may be shrinking or narrowing for populations not affiliated with universities or research institutions. Heather Joseph, Executive Director of the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Research Coalition SPARC noted how difficult it had become for external users to access information in research publications, and the financial barriers for academic libraries, 'even the wealthiest private research institution in the United States' Joseph, , p.
In , Joseph was positive about the growth of public declarations promoting open access to research, government policies and research organisational mandates, with emerging options for repository deposit and open access journal publications. However, over the ten years since Joseph's article, access to research and knowledge has become more complex. Elizabeth Gadd noted that self-archiving policies of journal publishers had become more restrictive and complex since Publishers' 'paid gold open access options over time increased at a similar rate to the volume of self-archiving restrictions' Gadd, , p.
Universities, while adopting open access policies, have left the ownership of copyright in scholarly publications largely to academics, funders and publishers.
10th International Evidence Based Library and Information Practice (EBLIP10) > Abstracts
Gadd suggested universities implementing joint copyright ownership could be more beneficial for universities, academics and open scholarship, although this is at odds with the Budapest Open Access Initiative statement regarding authors' control over the integrity of their work. The recent growth of 'shadow libraries' Karaganis, , p.
In the s and s, as libraries grappled with appropriate policies to meet changing circumstances, surveys and studies of library access, particularly in the United States, indicated continued support for unaffiliated users Burclaff and Britz, As library access expressed in policies contracted into the s, several studies examined access for particular groups of external users. More recent studies surveyed institutions by questionnaire and interview, and through analysis of Web documents.
Some discuss the relationship between library access policies and university and library mission statements, but do not articulate a correlation with open access to knowledge. In two related articles, Nancy Courtney reviewed and surveyed the policies and practices of US academic libraries towards 'unaffiliated users Reviewing literature from to Courtney chronicled the debates and the challenges to free, unaffiliated access from library budgets, computerisation and the Internet.
She correctly predicted 'the possibility of diminished access' , p. Surveying higher education institutions with responses , Courtney found most academic libraries continued to offer open access for unaffiliated users to buildings and borrowing with some restrictions , a result similar to a Association of College and Research Libraries survey. However, Courtney's survey responses showed increasing limitations to electronic resources as a result of print serial cancellations in favour of online with vendor restrictions and campus computing authentication policies.
A similar pattern emerged in five studies by the UK Research Information Network , although there was an increase in external use of the research libraries since Recent studies of United States academic and research libraries analysed access policies for unaffiliated users for example, Barsun, ; Burclaff and Britz, ; Weare and Stephenson, ; Whitehead, Gutierrez and Miller, They found wide variations in external access policies and conditions, with differing fee structures.
The information for potential public users was often insufficient, particularly in relation to electronic resources. Beyond universities, Esther Roth-Katz analysed visitor and use policies of US art museum library Websites and concluded they did not always communicate clearly the missions of art museums to 'serve the public' as set out in the 'Code of Ethics for Museums' Roth-Katz, , p. In this study we set out to explore, through Internet-based policy documents and related information, how university library access or use policies reflect and project institutional positions of openness to knowledge.
The selection includes universities with a mix of open-access publication policies, institutional repositories, university presses, high profile research output and smaller research output. A range of countries across four continents was selected to provide a spread of languages and practices. Using qualitative data analysis, we examined the content of Web-based library access policies to identify types and levels of institutional and external library membership. This involved an iterative process of researchers reading and re-reading the documents Bowen, Several reviews of the documents were needed in order to elicit comparative data for each institution.
Further manual searching and following Weblinks located more detailed library membership data. This was required because the information and terminology used to describe membership are not standardised and vary geographically and linguistically. With the information gathered we were able to identify patterns in the data, classify library patron type groupings to create a model of user categories, and count these data across institutions.
We started with the broad questions of 1 who had access to the libraries; 2 under what conditions such as payment or entry requirements ; and 3 what services and collections people had access to. The answers to these questions were not provided consistently and the terminology varied. We collected all references to groups of people allowed or not allowed access and sought to classify them. We first classified them according to their proximity to the university: were they internal, adjacent meaning a community with specific links to the university such as alumni, collaborators, or spouses of academics , or public meaning general or community members without a specific connection to the university.
We identified a set of descriptive categories which successfully captured most of the terms that we observed see below, Figure 1.
A similar approach of collecting references to conditions of access and resources was adopted, followed by categorisation. This was less complex as the requirements to gain access generally were applied to multiple categories in a simpler way. Similarly, the actual resources accessible were more consistent across multiple groups and could be categorised broadly. A similar process of data analysis was used to identify and enumerate the institutional open-access policies and open-access publishing practices. Generally, this information was easier to locate because terminology was more consistent.
We added the data to spreadsheets in order to compare across institutions. Using constant comparison within grounded theory Glaser and Strauss, , cited in Weare and Stevenson, , p. As we worked through these iterative and comparative processes we learned more about the dimensions of library and open access and were able to identify points of difference on institutional openness.
To identify and retrieve documents we developed a user-assisted tool to automate the search, retrieval and downloading of library access or use policies, and open-access policy documents from university Websites. The tool consists of a Jupyter notebook supported by a small library of Python code. Generally, for English-language universities if the relevant document exists on the university's Web domain it is found in the top five results.
The search results are presented to the user, who can select the appropriate results which are downloaded to a data folder. The code and an example notebook are available at Github and Zenodo Neylon, The tool successfully retrieved documents from twelve universities within the sample set including institutions in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan through their English language Web pages.
However, searching and document retrieval from Websites of universities in Mexico and Brazil was less successful because of differing language terminology and limited detail on English language pages. The automated tool retrieved policy documents, and subsequent manual searching to three or four levels of Web pages identified more detail of user categories, fees charged and privileges for twelve universities.
Both automated and manual processes required multiple searches using different keywords, reflecting variations in terminology on Web pages according to local or national custom and translated Websites. Terms used in access policy documents include library access policy, library use policy, library rules, access services and access to libraries.
Details of fees charged and privileges appeared in documents labelled with the terms borrow, borrowers, borrowing, members, membership, external users, privileges, admittance, visitor, visiting and services. Searches of the university Websites using the keywords open access policy, open access and open access funds retrieved Web pages and documents regarding open access policies and support for open access publishing.
Customer service for academic library users on the web
The Directory of Open Access Repositories was the source for the presence of institutional repositories, as well as university Websites, and the Web of Science database provided numbers of open access publications for each institution. The searches took place from May to July The content retrieved from Websites included documents related to library access policies and procedures, open access policies, open access information and publishing. From the library access policy documents, we identified and categorised groups of library users and membership together with their privileges, fees charged for external user access and membership and physical access restrictions to library collections and buildings.
Tabulated, these data show the extent of their presence across the sample libraries. The existence or absence of an open access policy, statement of institutional support for open access funding, and an open access institutional repository were considered indicative of institutional support for open access publishing. The two datasets library access and open access were plotted with percentages of the institutions' publications with a status of open access.
Finally, we applied a statistical analysis to correlate the association between these three variables. Institutional patrons and external users may be granted membership to access libraries, but multiple categories reflect differing levels of eligibility for privileges and services, joining or membership fees charged and restrictions on physical access. Overall the categories can be grouped in three concentric positions indicating their relationship to the core business of the university: the academic community; individuals and organisations who have prior, established relationships adjacent to the university; and the general, unaffiliated public who have specific research or other information needs see Figure 1 :.