Journal articles made free to public libraries

Journal articles made free to public libraries

Members of the public can now access over one and a half million publicly-funded journal articles through their local libraries as part of a two-year pilot scheme.

Cambridge University Press, Elsevier, Nature Publishing Group, Oxford University Press, SAGE, Springer, Taylor & Francis and Wiley, among others, are taking part in the new initiative, called Access to Research, which has sprung from one of the main recommendations of the Finch Group.

The journals - in the fields of health and biological sciences, social sciences and engineering – have been made available to participating public libraries.

Students, independent researchers and small businesses are expected to be among those who will benefit from the Access to Research scheme, which is being led by the Publishers Licensing Society (PLS).

Universities and Science Minister David Willetts said:  "This country's excellent science and research base is world-renowned and one of our greatest assets. With less than 1% of the global population we produce over 6% of global articles. But this still means the vast majority of global research is not subject to the UK's open access policy.The Publishers Licensing Society's excellent 'Access to Research' programme will now give the public free access to research around the world through our public libraries. This will connect people, including students and small businesses, to a wealth of global knowledge - maximising its impact and value."

Richard Mollet, c.e.o. of The Publishers Association, added that the Access to Research initiative demonstrated publishers’ “strong commitment” to developing open access in the UK, and in taking forward the recommendations of the Finch review. “This will be a hugely valuable pilot for publishers, libraries and their patrons,” he said. “We look forward to monitoring the progress and update of this pilot and to seeing the collected data at the end of the two year period.”

The pilot is open to all UK local authorities to participate, with over half of all local authorities already in the process of signing up libraries, according to the PLS. During the pilot interest and uptake will be closely monitored to see how the service could be developed in the future, the body said.