Putting the OA into interlibrary loan

For the past year, the Open Access Button has been working to integrate our service with library catalogs and interlibrary loan systems — to surface accessible copies of articles directly through library discovery systems and fulfill interlibrary loan requests instantly when accessible copies are available in repositories. We’re excited about the possibilities that this integration creates to bring interlibrary loan closer into researchers’ workflows, improve the number of articles available to users, and accelerate the speed at which users can access research all while saving libraries time and money.

By filling 1,557 interlibrary loan requests with Open Access materials Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis experienced an estimated cost saving of over $27,000 [2]. The new Open Access Button library service provides the opportunity for libraries to see similar or greater cost savings while working in tandem with their existing interlibrary loan systems. Our system can help streamline interlibrary loan workflows, for example, by reducing unnecessary requests and automatically fulfilling requests with Open Access materials. The library service is being designed in partnership with the library community, and a pilot is now underway at Imperial College London.

When an article isn’t immediately accessible the Open Access Button will automatically send a self-archiving request to the author with instructions for depositing into a repository, at the same time an interlibrary loan request is generated. This self-archived version may become available before a traditional interlibrary loan request is fulfilled. In the long term, this request system can play a significant role as a pull mechanism to close the gap between the number of articles that are legally allowed to be shared in some form (but aren’t) and the number that are actually made accessible.

Since launching in 2013, the goal of the Open Access Button has been to close the gap between discovery and accessibility. We’re staunchly open source and incubated within SPARC, a global library coalition committed to making Open the default for research and education. We’re excited to embark on this new adventure to create open scholarly infrastructure for and with the library community.

We want to hear from more libraries and expand our pilot program to ensure the Button serves the community as well as it can. If you’re a library interested in learning more or providing feedback that will shape the service, please let us know here.