The Promise of Collaboration: White Paper


The Promise of Collaboration: Collective Funding Models and the Integration of Open Access Books into Libraries

This 66-page report, released in May by COPIM, is the result of a series of interviews, pre-workshop surveys and online workshops held during 2020, intended to identify some of the barriers to acceptance of open access (OA) monographs in higher education. COPIM (Community-led Open Publication Infrastructures for Monographs) is a three year project funded by Research England Development Fund, a UK-based organization and by the charitable foundation, Arcadia. The COPIM report documents possible avenues of collaboration by a small group of OA publishers and academic libraries in order to further the use and adoption of such monographs.  Discussions emanating from the workshops have led to a proposed model for collaboration between those publishers and libraries with suggested benefits that the model might bring to the OA monograph market and to supporting institutions.

Not surprisingly, a long-standing decrease in materials budgets as well as the effects of the global pandemic fuels much of the rationale for support of OA monographs. As a quote early in the report (page 23) notes:

“tighter budgets will mean that librarians will be forced to focus more on their key activities which is maintaining access to core collections and buying the content that academics and students need most. In other words, they may struggle to use the surplus from their collections’ development funds (if there is any to sponsor OA publications or movements.”

The report outlines an extended list of challenges to the integration of OA monographs into the library environment, including:

  • Uneven availability of library funds across the academic year. 
  • Incompatibility with collection development workflows
  • Incompatibility with library management and acquisition systems
  • Evaluating OA initiatives is workload intensive
  • Time consuming administration
  • Overly complex OA models
  • Doubts about credibility of OA publishers
  • Continuing prestige of legacy publishers
  • Career progression structures embed dominance of legacy prestige publishers
  • Continued preference for printed books by AHSS staff
  • Demonstrating value (global,local value)
  • Quality of metrics

The solution proposed includes the development of collaborative OA offerings as well as a shared infrastructure and the raising of awareness of OA among various stakeholders within the institution. The report includes a set of key principles that should be used to guide the development of a new non-profit platform or model for encouraging institutions to support this form of publication.

Again, a key concluding invitation to readers:

To those librarians looking to support Open Access books, please do get in touch, so we can work to develop solutions that meet your needs and those whom you represent. Similarly, we also invite open access book publishers and other OA-book focused initiatives to reach out to us. The challenges of OA book publishing cannot be solved by any one organisation. COPIM as a project emerged as part of a commitment between organisations to work collaboratively rather than competitively. With this in mind, we look forward to others joining us to explore the potential of scaling collaboration...and for ultimately reshaping what it means to publish a scholarly book open access.  

Additional information about the report may be found here.