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  • Does It Make a Sound:Are Open Access Monographs Discoverable in Library Catalogs?

This article describes an exploratory study examining the common perception among library-based publishers that open access academic publications (especially monographs) are not readily discoverable in library catalogs. Using titles from the Michigan Publishing imprint, digitalculturebooks, the study provides an empirical basis for evaluating these suspicions. The analysis indicates that only a small percentage of college and university library catalogs in the United States and Canada consistently enable discovery and access for the test sample. However, investigation into the varied discovery configurations of the libraries that do enable discovery and access suggests room for optimism about the future solubility of the problem.


Library publishing efforts have grown significantly in the last decade and a half. The history of library publishing is a long one, of course. But the rise of the networked digital domain, along with an ongoing crisis in traditional scholarly communication, has sparked new academic publishing experiments in libraries of all sizes. In its twenty-first century manifestation, library publishing has also occurred alongside the precipitous rise of open access (OA), a movement whose values and priorities library publishing often, but not always, shares. Ann Okerson and Alex [End Page 179] Holzman have recently surveyed this landscape with some thoroughness. While they arrive at fairly unsurprising general conclusions, they do consider the possibility that library publishing may represent a “sea change for librarianship.” They also note that this change may constitute a principal piece of a process that will “place libraries in a new relationship with their institutions and traditional clients.”1

Others go farther in their prognostications about the library’s future as a producer of information. In David W. Lewis’s opinion, the library is losing pride of place as a provider of “information subsidy”2—that is, centralizing purchasing in a way that affords users in the community more information access than they could achieve on their own. This change in the role of the library continues to transform collection practice.3 Commercial discovery services and digital collections, Lewis argues, are on pace to make obsolete or otherwise disintermediate much of the information collecting and dispensing activity the library has proudly performed for generations.4 Faye Chadwell and Shan Sutton predict a future when ongoing budget contraction in higher education, increasing numbers of open access mandates, and improving OA publishing models encourage libraries to publish significantly more original content. While Chadwell and Sutton expect a shrinking reliance on content purchasing and licensing, they see new opportunities in publishing for library faculty and staff to demonstrate the value of their expertise.5 Janice Jaguszewski and Karen Williams expect significant changes for subject liaison librarians, in particular, noting that increased reliance on approval plans and demanddriven acquisition has already undermined the traditional role of liaison librarians in collection development. They have observed a rise in “diverse perspectives and broader skill sets, further challenging the concept of who and what a librarian or liaison is.”6 The two primary roles for the library going forward, Lewis avers, are in purchasing licenses for commercially produced information and in creating free and open content as part of the information commons, the collectively shared open information universe.7 For most libraries, the purchasing side of Lewis’s vision is no longer a prediction but a reality. As Michael Levine-Clark writes, “Libraries are now at the point where they have become comfortable with only licensed access to most journal content, not because they would not prefer perpetual access, but because they can provide access to far more content at a far cheaper price than perpetual access allows.”8

Twenty-first century research library collections extend beyond local holdings as ends in themselves to include a mosaic of content types with an array of licensing and access conditions. In this context, the meaning of the term library collections has become more controversial than it once was.9 Discussion of library collection management can now be taken to refer to the guidelines and activities entailed in handling existing aggregations of content, prospective accumulations, or both.10 “More material … available for collecting than ever before sharpens users’ desire to have it all,”11 and users who expect discovery and delivery to be linked increasingly prioritize immediate, full-text access.12 [End Page 180]

The changing collections landscape has recently led to administrative transformation in a number of libraries. Montana State University Library in Bozeman, for example, has moved from “acquisitions to access,” or away from a “collection budget model” to a new model prioritizing “concepts of surfacing and discovery, provision, creation, and acquisition.”13 The University of California, Berkeley Library recently transformed its position of “associate university librarian collections” into an “associate university librarian for scholarly resources.” University Librarian Jeff Mackie-Mason frames the position as one that will put new priority on providing access to resources. This new administrative and budgetary model includes collection development but also emphasizes scholarly communications and user needs assessment.14 At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, as Ellen Finnie writes, “The collections budget has been incorporated into, essentially under, the scholarly communications program. Not the other way around.”15

All of the aforementioned trends support Okerson and Holzman’s suggestion that library publishing will likely become a key piece of the library’s evolving relationship with its institutions and users. Ultimately, whether licensing content or producing it, the library must also help users discover and access content. As libraries increase their role as content creators, they also seek to promote that content to users beyond their local community.16 Like the term collection, the term catalog has lost some definitional clarity through waves of innovation and diversity of practice. The implementation of “next-generation” catalog discovery interfaces (such as VuFind) and commercial Web-scale discovery services—including Ex Libris Primo, ProQuest’s Summon, EBSCO Discovery Service, and OCLC (Online Computer Library Center) WorldCat Local—oblige us to distinguish between various discovery types, especially between known-item and exploratory searches. Most libraries have moved away from catalog search tools that rely exclusively on local index content, offering instead a single-pane, general-search system from their gateway pages. These represent an effort to achieve what Lorcan Dempsey has called “full library discovery.”17 Full library discovery is intended to provide access to the entire collection (local and distributed), as well as to expertise and services. Doing so, of course, requires a challenging coordination of centralized and decentralized, cloud-based resources.

ITHAKA and Jisc (formerly the Joint Information Systems Committee) reports have emphasized users’ rising reliance on search engines and scholarly databases for exploratory searches.18 Roger Schonfeld reports, for example, that “a higher share of academic discovery than ever before is routed around, rather than through, the library.”19 This raises questions like those asked in the articles “Is Google Enough?”20 and “Does Discovery Still Happen in the Library?”21 Nevertheless, these same reports acknowledge that users employ a range of search strategies and, most significantly for the present study, that many users (especially faculty in the humanities) still rely on the “online library catalog” as a starting point.22 Citing Stephen Sloan’s 1984 C&RL article, “Research and [End Page 181] Library Skills,” Barbara Fister argues that the library’s orientation to discovery has always been about facilitating the navigation of diverse sources and not about centralizing the experience in one place.23 Also, local user log analyses at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have found high occurrences of known-item searches from their full library discovery systems, which mirrors ITHAKA numbers indicating continued library catalog use for this kind of discovery.24

Although there is disagreement about where and how the library should invest in alternative paradigms, and despite the incredible power of search engines and other commercial discovery services, commercial services alone are not adequate to satisfy the needs of academic researchers. The maturing of open access publishing and library publishing will likely exacerbate this inadequacy rather than alleviate it. A modest thread of research already exists around library open access journal publishing activities and the challenges it can pose to librarians invested in treating open resources as vetted pieces of a collection development strategy.25 Libraries may ultimately be forced to cede to commercial entities the responsibilities Lewis labels the “dispensing function,” because “Libraries are [not] the only, or even the best, means of making information easily and conveniently available.”26 But studies and anecdotal experience continue to indicate that—irrespective of “convenience”—library information management and provision remain necessary for comprehensive retrieval.27 Increased discoverability on the open Web is one of OA publishing’s beneficial attributes. Questions about how and where OA resources are discovered, as well as what OA content is discovered, cause considerable debate. Providing high-quality content (distinguished from less reliable “Web sources”) through expertly vetted search tools remains one of the library’s major value propositions in an era of information superabundance. As creation of quality OA content continues to rise, it follows that libraries should take a natural interest in adapting their own discovery tools to accommodate the changing landscape.

Purpose and Scope

The present study assumes that further, focused research is called for in the area of open access discoverability. In the aggregate, the results of such efforts should help the profession move from speculation to action in setting priorities around the work of content creation and of making such content discoverable through the library’s information infrastructure. While OA journals represent many discoverability challenges, as Cheryl Collins and William Walters have helpfully documented, open monographs represent a kind of terra incognita with respect to extended library discoverabilty research.28 Although not new, OA monographs have not, to date, become a priority for most libraries. OA publishing in the library—especially journal publishing and institutional repository-based dissemination—has made significant strides,29 but the OA monograph publishing effort has not yet achieved what Rick Anderson recently called “proof of scale in scholarly communication.”30 In their omnibus report, Okerson and Holzman also assert that “no open access model has yet emerged [End Page 182] with substantial impact on the [monograph] field, though it appears that viable experiments are under way.”31 There are indeed significant experiments underway, although Okerson and Holzman do not address many of the most compelling. According to Sarah Lippincott, program director for the Library Publishing Coalition, an organization that supports a range of library publishing practices, monograph production is a relatively minor activity, but the trend appears to be moving toward greater engagement.32 Two projects, in particular, present significant potential for disrupting traditional monograph publishing funding and distribution models. They are the Luminos project, launched by the University of California Press in 2015,33 and Lever Press, a “platinum open access” publisher—that is, one which does not charge author fees—begun in 2016 by the Oberlin Group of small liberal arts colleges.34 Meanwhile, ambitious recent efforts within the Association of American Universities (AAU), the Association of Research Libraries (ARL), and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation have matured significantly and rapidly, creating an auspicious outlook for OA monographs.35 As one or more of these models begin to make a serious impact on the field, it will be important for library discovery to keep pace.

The present study is a constrained attempt to test the hypothesis that open access content (particularly OA monographic material) is not adequately discoverable in pertinent library systems, and to inquire into the details of what makes OA monograph materials more or less likely to be discoverable in those systems.36 As a test case, the author has chosen another small but viable OA monograph model: the University of Michigan Press’s digitalculturebooks imprint. This imprint is one of the earliest and longest-running open access monographic book imprints in the humanities and social sciences. Each book is published under a Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-ND license, with a full-text online version that is free to read, as well as traditional print versions that may be purchased through regular channels.37 A CC (Creative Commons)-BY license permits others to use the work if they give the author credit. NC (noncommercial) allows noncommercial use only. ND (no derivative work) permits only exact copies to be used. Notably, the free version is not meant to be downloaded. Although open access purists might view these restrictions with distrust,38 the digitalculturebooks OA monograph business model is consistent with recommendations made by the 2013 Open Access Publishing in European Networks–Netherlands (OAPEN-NL) report. Insofar as the press is itself an imprint of the University of Michigan Library’s Michigan Publishing division, it manages to serve as an interesting experiment in collaboration between a university library and a university press around open access,39 providing free admission to high-quality, peer-reviewed scholarly long-form arguments without charging authors front-loaded processing costs. For each of its titles, Michigan Publishing also provides bibliographic data in a machine-readable cataloging record bundle.40

At the time of data collection in August 2015, 39 digitalculturebooks titles were available for purchase. Four of those were creative works. This study, therefore, focused on the 35 academic titles that were available to libraries. Because much serious research in the humanities and social sciences still relies heavily on library catalogs,41 the study aims to assess the visibility of the OA versions of these titles in U.S. and Canadian library catalogs. The “catalog” is scoped to include both traditional online public access catalogs (OPACs) and Web-scale discovery system implementations. The search is limited to North America because that is the primary sales market for digitalculturebooks print titles. The University of Michigan Library’s Technical Services Division performed the original cataloging for these titles. [End Page 183]


The data collection method employed is partially adapted from that of a recent study by Elizabeth A. Jones and Paul N. Courant, which uses the OCLC WorldCat data, accessed through the FirstSearch interface. Jones and Courant’s study ultimately focuses on measuring historical aggregate academic library buying trends for scholarly monographs between 1975 and 2010 against university press output numbers during the same period.42 Where Jones and Courant reasonably eschew individual library catalog querying, preferring the historical “snapshot” available through FirstSearch, the present study employed the FirstSearch search engine as a means to identify a representative sample of library catalogs with current physical holdings of digitalculturebooks titles. Once that sample had been established, the author performed multiple manual queries of the library catalogs of those owners. To make this process manageable, the author first identified the 194 libraries with current physical holdings of the digitalculturebooks imprint’s best-selling title, Bonnie Nardi’s My Life as a Night Elf Priest: An Anthropological Account of World of Warcraft. In addition to its sales record, this title presented the advantage of having been published roughly in the middle of the imprint’s history. The author concluded that libraries with no physical holdings for this title could be excluded; if this title was not part of the collection, the imprint was unlikely to have been acquired on an approval plan. Libraries that did hold a physical copy of this title had a greater chance of consistently collecting the digitalculturebooks titles in print (again, via approval plan). Libraries that routinely acquire these books in print, he further concluded, deemed the quality of the content high enough to warrant ongoing, automatic acquisition. For these titles, then, the author judged that the open access version of the same content could not be disqualified from addition to the catalog on the basis of quality (a common, and not unreasonable, matter of concern with respect to digital collection development).43 Obviously, this method fails to capture records for OA versions of digitalculturebooks titles appearing in catalogs where no record of a purchased physical version exists, nor does it sample libraries that only purchased the book through an e-book aggregator such as ProQuest Ebrary or Project MUSE University Press Content Consortium.

The author coded the results of the 192 catalog searches for the Nardi volume according to a three-category system indicating the degree to which a given set of search results rendered the OA version’s existence legible and freely accessible.

The first category, coded as the A group, contained results with no indication of (or route to) the OA version. Of 192 results, 127 fell in the A group. The second category, coded as the B group, contained results with a clear record of (and route to) the OA version. Of 192 results, 40 fell in the B group.44 The final category, coded as the C group, contained results without a clear indication of the OA version but with some indirect route to it (typically through a generic sidebar link to a WorldCat record, which, in turn, contained a field of links to various “e-book” versions [End Page 184] including the OA version as well as the ProQuest Ebrary version). Of 192 results, 25 fell in the C group. Therefore, for the best-selling title in the digitalculturebooks imprint, only 21 percent of purchasing libraries included a clear record of an extant OA version in their catalogs. An additional 13 percent provided some path to the OA version, albeit indirect, and 66 percent provided no indication of, or path to, the OA version. This result gives some provisional support, at least, to the notion that OA monographs are not as discoverable as they could be in library catalogs.

Table 1. Results of 192 catalog searches for the open access (OA) version of Bonnie Nardi’s My Life as a Night Elf Priest * The A group gave no indication of or route to the OA version. † The B group indicated a record of and route to the OA version. ‡ The C group had no a clear indication of the OA version but indicated some indirect route to it.
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Table 1.

Results of 192 catalog searches for the open access (OA) version of Bonnie Nardi’s My Life as a Night Elf Priest

* The A group gave no indication of or route to the OA version.

† The B group indicated a record of and route to the OA version.

‡ The C group had no a clear indication of the OA version but indicated some indirect route to it.

Still, the OA version is highly discoverable in some catalogs, which raises a number of questions. First, for the library catalogs that do feature a clear OA record for the Nardi volume, how many have equally straightforward records for other OA titles? In other words, could the Nardi volume be an outlier—even within the digitalculturebooks imprint—because of its relative popularity? Is it more likely to have been manually added to these catalogs in a one-off manner, or does group B represent a stable group of libraries committed to the idea of including OA monograph records and possessing an efficient workflow for adding them and clearly organizing their representation to the world?

To address these questions, the author further narrowed the sample of library catalogs in the study to the 40 group B results from queries for the Nardi volume and then queried all of these catalogs for each of the 35 digitalculturebooks titles covered by the study. This sample of catalogs is already significantly constrained, as previously indicated. Notably, however, the range of library “types” it represents ends up being fairly diverse (see Table 2). The presence of a range of institutional types allows for insight into the potential differences in capacity for collection development work in the OA monograph space as determined by such factors as budget, staffing, and access to specific technology or products.


In assessing group B catalogs, the author recorded positive results (that is, a discoverable “record” of the OA version in the OPAC) for each of the titles in the study in each [End Page 185] of the catalogs of the initial sample. These tabulations allowed the author to gauge the consistency with which catalogs from group B in the Nardi search also included records for the OA versions of the rest of the digitalculturebooks imprint. The author organized search results by original publication date to capture any variation in practice or performance over time.

Table 2. Parent institutions of the academic libraries covered by this study
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Table 2.

Parent institutions of the academic libraries covered by this study

Figure 1. Percentage of open access (OA) catalog records for digitalculturebooks titles
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Figure 1.

Percentage of open access (OA) catalog records for digitalculturebooks titles

As Figure 1 indicates, approximately three-fourths of the titles do well in this search. The second book in the imprint, Steven Levy’s Best of Technology Writing 2007 edited volume, is an early outlier, but otherwise the output of the imprint’s first several years [End Page 186] (2006 to 2012) consistently shows up with an OA record in 78 percent or more of the surveyed catalogs. A title from 2013, Jennifer Gabrys’s Digital Rubbish: A Natural History of Electronics, is a late outlier insofar as it shows up with an OA record in 92 percent of the surveyed catalogs. The other titles published since 2012 appear with far less consistency (in fewer than 41 percent of the catalogs). These results allow us to draw some further initial conclusions: (1) libraries that acquired the print version of the Nardi volume and provided some record of the OA version in their catalog have demonstrated a willingness and a capacity to include OA records for much of the digitalculturebooks imprint; and (2) something appears to have changed around 2012 to interrupt this practice for many libraries.

Alongside tabulations organized by title, it is also helpful to consider tabulations organized by catalog. These data offer a view of how consistent (or inconsistent) each library in this set has been in the practice of including an OA record for the titles in question.

Figure 2. Percentage of open access (OA) records by library catalog for digitalculturebooks titles
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Figure 2.

Percentage of open access (OA) records by library catalog for digitalculturebooks titles

Significant variation appears across catalogs, but the majority include an OA record for 70 percent or more of the titles. The overall pattern seems to hold that a small number of libraries can and do consistently make OA versions of these books discoverable in their catalogs.

But what should be made of the significant drop in discoverability for titles published since 2012, as shown in Figure 1? As it turns out, this drop can be explained by way of a third-party aggregation, which also provides a good indication of a necessary piece in the OA monograph discoverability puzzle. Between 2009 and 2012, Michigan Publishing submitted the metadata for digitalculturebooks to the Directory of Open Access Books (DOAB), a database of academic, peer-reviewed books published in open access. The Directory of Open Access Books is maintained by the OAPEN Foundation, an international initiative dedicated to open access monograph publishing, based at the National Library [End Page 187] of the Netherlands. For reasons that are not completely clear, this practice seems to have ceased in 2012. When non-DOAB titles are removed from the aggregate data, the overall discoverability of the remaining 26 titles appears greatly improved.

Figure 3. Percentage of digitalculturebooks titles in the Directory of Open Access Books (DOAB) that also have catalog records
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Figure 3.

Percentage of digitalculturebooks titles in the Directory of Open Access Books (DOAB) that also have catalog records

Over half the titles have OA records in 90 percent or more of the catalogs in the sample. The rest of these titles (with one exception) have OA records in 80 percent of the same catalogs. As should be expected, titles not registered in DOAB are significantly less discoverable. The early outlier from Figure 1, Levy’s Best of Technology Writing 2007, for example, which seems never to have made it into DOAB, is discoverable in only 34 percent of the catalogs in the broad sample. The other seven titles are discoverable in only 41 percent or less of the studied catalogs.

Similar data filtering by catalog, likewise, provides a better picture of how consistently various libraries include OA records for digitalculturebooks titles. When non-DOAB titles are removed, overall percentages for libraries including an OA record for digitalculturebooks titles go up dramatically. [End Page 188]

Figure 4. Percentage of open access (OA) records by library catalog for digitalculturebooks titles in the Directory of Open Access Books (DOAB)
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Figure 4.

Percentage of open access (OA) records by library catalog for digitalculturebooks titles in the Directory of Open Access Books (DOAB)

All libraries in group B, with one exception, provide an OA record for at least 75 percent of the titles in the study that also appear in DOAB. Most provide a higher percentage of coverage. There is, therefore, a strong indication that aggregation of OA metadata by a trusted entity such as the Directory of Open Access Books plays a significant role in facilitating OA book discoverability in library catalogs. Evaluating the actual workflows for leveraging and delivering this kind of aggregated metadata lies beyond the scope of the present article, but the variety suggested by this sample includes a host of older and newer OPAC platforms integrated variously with contemporary commercial discovery services such as Serials Solutions Summon, Ex Libris Primo, OCLC WorldCat Local, and Innovative Interfaces WebPac Pro, as well as with older database search platforms. The most consistent factors in determining discoverability, therefore, appear to be DOAB metadata aggregation, on the one hand, and local library policies around inclusion or exclusion of DOAB metadata, on the other. Many libraries currently protect all Web-scale discovery system results behind local user authentication. While this all-or-nothing approach has benefits for managing subscription content access, it effectively undermines the openness of open content. Some other library systems (De-Paul University in Chicago, for example) allow users to choose to log in or proceed as guests, which solves this problem.

Library participation in consortial OPAC management arrangements can increase the likelihood of discoverability. If one library in such an environment has included an OA record, other libraries in the same environment can typically access that record through the shared catalog. This is not always the case, however, and consortial catalogs can prove detrimental to OA monograph discovery in cases where management is centralized and OA metadata have not been ingested, harvested, or displayed in knowledge bases for discovery layers and link resolvers, which enable users to find materials held at their library. In those cases, one decision effectively renders the content invisible for all affected users. [End Page 189]

It is also worth noting that a small segment of the libraries studied have OA records for all or almost all of the digitialculturebooks titles (whether DOAB metadata are available or not). Again, the particularities of the technical services coordination involved in accomplishing these results lie beyond the ken of this study. They, nevertheless, suggest that reliable OA monograph discoverability can be achieved in the library catalog in a sustainable way. The particular details warrant further inquiry.


Speaking at the 2016 SPARC (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) Meeting on Openness in Research & Education in San Antonio, University of California Press Director Alison Mudditt closed her presentation on Luminos, the press’s OA monograph publishing program, with the following remarks:

As we have begun publishing titles in Luminos, we have identified a couple of challenges with making OA content fully discoverable within libraries—a critical step if we are to fulfill one of our core goals of driving greater usage and impact for this scholarship. Firstly, some librarians see their cataloging role as pertaining only to their local collections, which greatly limits discoverability in a networked environment. Secondly, for those who do want to catalog them, there is no easy way for us to push out records through the usual workflow (i.e. via vendors such as YBP [Yankee Book Peddler, which provides collection management and metadata services to academic and research libraries]) as their business models are built on taking a share of the sales price. For OA monographs to meet their potential, we need to work together with partners in the information supply chain and librarians to find effective solutions.45

Although the scope of the present study prevents us from drawing sweeping conclusions about the discoverability of OA monographs, it does provide concrete data corroborating Mudditt’s basic concerns. OA monographs are not as discoverable in library systems as they could be. That being said, the present study’s results suggest that the challenges Luminos and other OA monograph publishers face in this regard are not as complicated as they seem. It is also true that original cataloging is typically done for unique, local holdings. But libraries also usually contribute their original records to the commons. The routine practice of “copy cataloging” preceded and, in many ways, anticipated the open access publishing phenomenon in libraries.46 In partnerships between libraries and publishers (especially in cases where the library is the publisher), nothing prevents libraries from adding original cataloging for new publications to the standard original cataloging workflow. In fact, this is how the University of Michigan created the digitalculturebooks records. Although, as Mudditt says, there may be “no easy way for us to push out records through the usual workflow,” the widespread adoption of Web-scale discovery services that can readily harvest and display DOAB records may solve the problem.

As larger publishers and retailers embrace open access, their interests will likely affect the discovery effort in ways that may or may not include libraries.47 At present, however, most monographic publishing is done by smaller, nonprofit entities. If libraries are interested in contributing to the creation and dissemination of this type of content, as they seem to be, libraries would do well to facilitate discovery of the same content in the systems they coordinate and maintain.

If the results of this study are a little dispiriting, they are not hopeless. In fact, the evidence suggests the problem of OA monograph discoverability in library catalogs is a soluble one, and with less effort than a publisher like Alison Mudditt seems to think. The two most important factors in making a digitalculturebooks title discoverable appear to be (1) the publisher depositing records in DOAB and (2) libraries opting to systematically include or display OA monograph records. The technical and economic challenges represented by these factors are relatively minor. Each, however, represents a “collective action” problem. In such cases, as the poet Aphra Behn said, “Good council’s easily given, but the effect / Oft renders it uneasy to transact.”48 Persuading publishers and librarians to adjust their practices is a gradual and imperfect process, but it may be cultivated through compelling data-driven research.

Increased discoverability of OA monograph content benefits libraries and their users in incremental ways. In the aggregate, these benefits have significant potential impact. Above and beyond any benefits of library self-consistency around open access as a cause, numerous groups of users stand to gain from greater access to stable, free versions of any books the library deems worthy of inclusion in its catalog. The short list of obvious virtues includes unlimited availability (no need for recalls or interlibrary loan requests), no barriers to access (alumni do not lose access when they move to new circumstances), and clear use and reuse licensing (users need not wonder about their rights). These merits alone would seem to justify the effort required to increase discoverability. The larger-scale economic benefits to libraries, as open access monograph publishing initiatives gain further momentum, follow naturally. If the time has not yet come for addressing OA monograph discoverability in the catalog, it will come very soon, and libraries still have work to do. While the study described in this article is clearly an exploration, it establishes a justification and groundwork for more extensive investigation into the specific details of the technical services labor necessary to supply the visibility and access achieved at the libraries where digitalculturebooks titles have proved most reliably discoverable. Likewise, this study provides a foundation for further research into the overall catalog discoverability of the entire DOAB data set. Collaborative work in this effort, across institutional boundaries and library organizational divisions, holds significant promise for coordinating newer [End Page 191] library roles in creating information with the esteemed library traditions of organizing and dispensing information.

Aaron McCollough

Aaron McCollough is an assistant professor at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and the head of scholarly communications and publishing in the University of Illinois Library’s Office of Research; he may be reached by


1. Ann Okerson and Alex Holzman, The Once and Future Publishing Library (Washington, DC: Council on Library and Information Resources, 2015), 14.

2. David Lewis uses the term information subsidy to indicate the role libraries have traditionally played in large-scale purchasing information resources on behalf of communities (academic or otherwise) for whom distributed, individual purchases would be infeasible, inefficient, or both.

3. David W. Lewis, “From Stacks to the Web: The Transformation of Academic Library Collecting,” College & Research Libraries 74, 2 (2013): 159–77.

4. Ibid.

5. Faye Chadwell and Shan C. Sutton, “The Future of Open Access and Library Publishing,” New Library World 115, 5–6 (2014): 225–36, doi:10.1108/NLW-05-2014-0049.

6. Janice Jaguszewski and Karen Williams, “New Roles for New Times: Transforming Liaison Roles in Research Libraries,” Association of Research Libraries (ARL), 2013,

7. Lewis, “From Stacks to the Web,” 309.

8. Michael Levine-Clark, “Access to Everything: Building the Future Academic Library Collection,” portal: Libraries and the Academy 14, 3 (2014): 428.

9. Chris Avery, Sue Baughman, and Judy Ruttenberg, “21st-Century Collections: Calibration of Investment and Collaborative Action,” ARL Issue Brief, March 10, 2012, 1,

10. Samuel Demas and Mary E. Miller, “Rethinking Collection Management Plans: Shaping Collective Collections for the 21st Century,” Collection Management 37, 3–4 (July 1, 2012): 168–87.

11. Avery, Baughman, and Ruttenberg, “21st-Century Collections,” 1.

12. Scott Hanrath and Miloche Kottman, “Use and Usability of a Discovery Tool in an Academic Library,” Journal of Web Librarianship 9, 1 (January 2, 2015): 18.

13. Doralyn Rossmann and Kenning Arlitsch. “From Acquisitions to Access: The Changing Nature of Library Budgeting,” Journal of Library Administration 55, 5 (July 4, 2015): 394–404.

14. Jeff MacKie-Mason, “Building the Future of Scholarly Resources,” madLibbing, accessed February 9, 2016,

15. Ellen Finnie, “What Organic Food Shopping Can Tell Us about Transforming the Scholarly Communications System,” IO: In The Open, blog, March 23, 2016,

16. Lorcan Dempsey has called this broader promotional effort the “inside-out challenge.” Lorcan Dempsey, “Thirteen Ways of Looking at Libraries, Discovery, and the Catalog: Scale, Workflow, Attention,” EDUCAUSE Review, December 10, 2012, 15.

17. Dempsey, “Thirteen Ways of Looking at Libraries, Discovery, and the Catalog,” 16. For more on the current technical approaches to discovery, see Marshall Breeding, “The Future of Library Resource Discovery: A White Paper Commissioned by the NISO [National Information Standards Organization] Discovery to Delivery (D2D) Topic Committee” (Baltimore, MD: NISO, 2015), accessed June 14, 2015, [End Page 192]

18. Roger C. Schonfeld, “Does Discovery Still Happen in the Library? Roles and Strategies for a Shifting Reality,” Ithaka S+ R, 2014,; Ian Chowcat, “Spotlight on the Digital: Recent Trends and Research in Scholarly Discovery Behaviour,” Jisc, September 2015,

19. Schonfeld, “Does Discovery Still Happen in the Library?” 5.

20. Jan Brophy and David Bawden, “Is Google Enough? Comparison of an Internet Search Engine with Academic Library Resources,” Aslib [Association for Information Management] Proceedings 57, 6 (2005): 498–512; Birger Hjørland, “Is Classification Necessary after Google?” Journal of Documentation 68, 3 (2012): 299–317.

21. Schonfeld, “Does Discovery Still Happen in the Library?”

22. Ibid., 8.

23. Barbara Fister, “Redefining What Discovery Means | Peer to Peer Review,” Library Journal, October 2014,

24. Suzanne Chapman, Shevon Desai, Kat Hagedorn, Ken Varnum, Sonali Mishra, and Julie Piacentine, “Manually Classifying User Search Queries on an Academic Library Web Site,” Journal of Web Librarianship 7, 4 (2013): 401–21; William H. Mischo, Michael A. Norman, Mary C. Schlembach, and Jason P. Heldreth, “The Bento Approach to Library Discovery: Web-Scale and Beyond,” presented at Internet Librarian International, London, October 19–21, 2015.

25. See Chris Bulock, Nathan Hosburgh, and Sanjeet Mann, “OA in the Library Collection: The Challenges of Identifying and Maintaining Open Access Resources,” Serials Librarian 68, 1–4 (2015): 79–86; Cheryl S. Collins and William H. Walters, “Open Access Journals in College Library Collections,” Serials Librarian 59, 2 (2010): 194–214; Adelia Grabowski, “The Impact of Open Access on Collection Management,” Virginia Libraries 61, 1 (2015): 17–22; Krista Schmidt and Nancy Newsome, “The Changing Landscape of Serials,” Serials Librarian 52, 1–2 (2007): 119–33.

26. David W. Lewis, “What If Libraries Are Artifact-Bound Institutions?” Information Technology and Libraries 17, 4 (1998): 192.

27. Brophy and Bawden, “Is Google Enough?” 511; Scott Hanrath and Miloche Kottman, “Use and Usability of a Discovery Tool in an Academic Library,” Journal of Web Librarianship 9, 1 (January 2, 2015): 11, doi:10.1080/19322909.2014.983259.

28. Sarah K. Lippincott, ed., Library Publishing Directory 2014 (Atlanta, GA: Library Publishing Coalition, 2013); Sarah K. Lippincott, ed., Library Publishing Directory 2015 (West Lafayette, IN: Purdue University Press, 2014); Sarah K. Lippincott, ed., Library Publishing Directory 2016 (West Lafayette, IN: Purdue University Press, 2015).

29. Rick Anderson, “Proof of Concept, Proof of Program, and Proof of Scale in Scholarly Communication,” Scholarly Kitchen, blog, Society for Scholarly Publishing, September 22, 2015,

30. Okerson and Holzman, The Once and Future Publishing Library, 12.

31. Sarah K. Lippincott, e-mail message to the author, March 2, 2016.

32. Rick Anderson, “University of California Press Introduces New Open Access Publishing Programs,” Scholarly Kitchen, blog, Society for Scholarly Publishing, January 21, 2015, 2015/01/21/university-of-california-press-introduces-new-open-access-publishing-programs/.

33. Rick Anderson, “An Interview with Lever Press,” Scholarly Kitchen, blog, Society for Scholarly Publishing, January 25, 2016,

34. Raym Crow, “Prospectus for an Institutionally Funded First-Book Subvention,” AAU [Association of American Universities]-ARL Task Force on Scholarly Communication, June 12, 2014,; [End Page 193] James Hilton, Carolyn Walters, Paul Courant, Sidonie Smith, Meredith Kahn, Charles Watkinson, Jason Jackson, Scott Smart, Gary Dunham, Shayna Pekala, and Nick Fitzgerald, “A Study of Direct Author Subvention for Publishing Humanities Books at Two Universities: A Report to the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation by Indiana University and University of Michigan,” October 6, 2015,

35. For documented examples, see Schmidt and Newsome, “The Changing Landscape of Serials”; Maria Bonn, “Maximizing the Benefits of Open Access: Strategies for Enhancing Discovery of Open Access Content,” College & Research Libraries News 76, 9 (2015): 491–94.

36. For more on the Creative Commons (CC) CC-BY-NC-ND license and on CC licenses in general, see

37. By “Open Access purists,” the author means those who view CC-BY as the only truly open license. For more information, see Claire Redhead, “Why CC-BY?” Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA), October 23, 2012,; Bethany Nowviskie, “Why, Oh Why, CC-BY?”, May 11, 2011,

38. Collins and Walters, “Open Access Journals in College Library Collections.”

39. The relation between press and library at the University of Michigan represents one of the earliest concrete examples of the kind of direct collaboration model recommended in Raym Crow, “Campus-Based Publishing Partnerships: A Guide to Critical Issues,” SPARC (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition), Washington, DC, 2009,

40. Michigan Publishing, University of Michigan Library, digitalculturebooks,

41. Schonfeld, “Does Discovery Still Happen in the Library?” 8.

42. Elisabeth A. Jones and Paul N. Courant, “Monographic Purchasing Trends in Academic Libraries: Did the ‛Serials Crisis’ Really Destroy the University Press?” Journal of Scholarly Publishing 46, 1 (2014): 54.

43. Grabowski, “The Impact of Open Access on Collection Management,” 18.

44. Here it is important to acknowledge that fuzzy definitional criteria were used intentionally to treat any clear acknowledgment, via the catalog, of the OA version of the book as a positive hit. Although these positive hits were occasionally independent catalog records in the strictest sense, they were, often as not, results in subfields of records for the print edition. Thus, when I refer below to “records” of the OA version, I do so in a loose rather than a strict sense.

45. Alison Mudditt, “Practical Implementation Session: Luminos,” presented at the SPARC Meeting on Openness in Research & Education, San Antonio, TX, March 7–8, 2016.

46. LIS [Library and Information Science] Wiki, “Copy Cataloging,”

47. Amazon, for example, recently unveiled plans for its “Inspire” Open Education Resources (OER) platform as a loss-leader for marketing other related merchandise. See Rick Anderson, “A Possible Game-Changer for Open Educational Resources?” Scholarly Kitchen, blog, Society for Scholarly Publishing, February 29, 2016,

48. Aphra Behn, Æsop’s Fables with His Life: In English, French and Latin. Newly Translated. Illustrated with One Hundred and Twelve Sculptures. To This Edition Are Likewise Added, Thirty One New Figures Representing His Life, by Francis Barlow, ed. Thomas Philipot (London: H. Hills Jr., 1687), University of Michigan, Early English Books Online, 1641–1700, 339: 28. [End Page 194]

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