The National Forum described here was proposed as a first step in surfacing community requirements and principles toward a collective OA collection development system (Shorish et al. 2018). The Forum asked participants to envision a collective funding environment for libraries to contribute provisioning or sustaining funds to OA content providers. A critical component of this project was to bring together groups of interested and invested individuals with different priorities and perspectives and begin to build a community of engagement and dialogue. By analyzing focus group feedback and leveraging the insights and interactions of participants, this paper presents the challenges, opportunities, and potential next steps for building an OA collection development model and culture based on a community of collective action.
The focus group feedback and our own research into the field surfaced these key observations:
- The open content landscape is massive and unwieldy. Librarians at large universities, even those with dedicated scholarly communication librarians, were as likely to cite being overwhelmed and under-informed as were those from smaller staffed institutions.
- There is a strong desire for clear criteria and a centralized clearinghouse or catalog of trusted projects, products, and platforms that could be used to aid decision-making and to speed the approval process.
- Paying for OA content creation (e.g., open educational resources [OER], article-processing charges [APCs], or subventions) was often conflated with supporting OA content consumption (e.g., arXiv, Knowledge Unlatched collections, Open Library of the Humanities). The former was most often seen as a locally beneficial activity and the latter as part of collective service.
- Supporting OA content is considered by almost everyone as a supplemental “nice to have,” rather than as core to the collection — and it is being funded that way.
- One particular type of open content — OER, especially textbooks—has widespread support across all institutional types and sizes, and successful adoption of OER could be leveraged as an entrée into developing support for other types of open content.
- Collective funding challenges are shared across a variety of institutions. Regardless of institution type, libraries face similar challenges in terms of making locally compelling arguments for supporting collective funding for open content.
- Transparency is important to the community of OA investors, including pricing, values, governance, and preservation.