Full Text Is [Not] Available…

Whenever I go to a library conference, I come away re-motivated. At The Future of Academic Libraries Symposium held at the OU yesterday, which also hosted the official launch of the OU Digital Archive and a celebration of the career of ever-welcoming Librarian Nicky Whitsed as she heads off to pastures new, I noticed again that I’m happiest when thinking about the role of the Library and information professional, and what it means in a world where discovery of, access to, and processing of information is being expanded every day (and whether what’s newly possible is part of the Library remit).

I’ll post more thoughts on the day later, but for now, a bit of library baiting…! [Hmm, thinks.. maybe this is when I happiest?!;-)]

The OU Library recently opted in to a new discovery system. Aside from the fact that the authentication doesn’t always seem to work seemlessly, there seems to be a signalling issue with the search results:


When is available not available? When does green mean go? If it said “Full text available” but had a red indicator, I might get the idea that the thing exists in a full text online version, but that I don’t have access to it. But with the green light? That’s like saying the book is on-shelf but it being on a shelf in a bookshop adjunct to the library.

Here’s another example, from the OU repository, where the formally published intellectual academic research outputs of members of the University are published:


As you can see, this particular publication is not available via the repository, due to copyright restrictions and the publishing model of particular journal involved, but neither does the Library subscribe to the journal. (Which got me wondering – if we did an audit of just the records in the repository and looked up the journal/conference publication details for each one, how many of those items would the OU Library have a subscription to?)

One of the ways I think Libraries have arguably let down their host institutions is in allowing the relationship with the publishers to get into the state it currently is. Time was when the departmental library would have copies of preprints or offprints of articles that had been published in journals (though I don’t recall them also being delivered to the central library?) As it is, we can still make a direct request of the author for a copy of a paper. But the Library – whilst supporting discovery of outputs from the OU academic community – is not able to deliver those actual outputs directly? Which seems odd to me…

Enjoy your retirement, Nicky!:-)

Author: Tony Hirst

I'm a Senior Lecturer at The Open University, with an interest in #opendata policy and practice, as well as general web tinkering...

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