Libraries to debate open access

The implications of Open Access for libraries will be debated in Westminster at an event hosted by the Libraries All-Party Parliamentary Group.

The date of the debate has yet to be confirmed, but it will include MPs and representatives from the library, publishing, university and academic fields.

Annie Mauger, chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Library & Information Professionals [pictured], said the debate was needed to flesh out the many questions around how the government’s Open Access policy might impact on libraries and ensure politicians understand the concerns of those employees working on the ground.

Mauger told The Bookseller: “We feel our members will benefit from us raising the debate. There are a lot of questions people are grappling with. Of course Open Access is a very good thing for many reasons, but there is also the question of who is going to pay for it and where the money is going to come from . . . It is going to have an impact somewhere and it could be that it impacts on libraries’ purchasing power for other things.” She added: “We understand the dilemma of publishers: people have to make a living. To get all the parties in one room together is a better way to have all those issues aired.”

The debate will also explore how Open Access might have differing impacts on different types of university, for example between research-focused universities and those universities that placed an emphasis on the student experience, Mauger said.

Mauger was speaking ahead of an appearance at Dawson Day (1st May), an annual speakers event run by Bertrams-owned Dawson Books and attended by publishers and librarians. This year the theme was “A new era”—a discussion about the latest trends, issues and challenges in the academic sector.

Mauger said: “The public are ahead of us [librarians] and they are dictating what we should do in terms of digital, which is as it should be. In America, the first bookless library has just been opened. If there were no books there would still be libraries, because they support learning and store information.” She added that she hoped librarians’ good relationships with publishers would sustain and develop in the face of increased digital challenges affecting the sector.

Also speaking at Dawson Day, taking place in Westminster, was Dr Mark Kerrigan, senior lecturer in Education at Greenwich University and Ben Showers, programme manager for digital infrastructure at JISC.

Universities minister David Willetts announced last September that all publicly funded research should be free and open to access for all by 2014. The move would, he said: “Provide exciting new opportunities and keep the UK at the forefront of global research to drive innovation and growth.”