The aim of this study was to establish the role of academic libraries in the context of open access (OA) journal publishing, based on the perceived needs of the journals and/or their editors. As a study sample, 14 OA journals affiliated to the University of Zürich, Switzerland, were taken. They were very different in nature, ranging from well-established society journals to newly founded titles launched by dedicated individuals.
The study comprised two approaches: a comprehensive journal assessment and subsequent editor interviews. The journal assessments evaluated the functionalities, ease of use, sustainability and visibility of the journal. The interviews were used to get additional background information about the journals and explore editors’ needs, experiences and viewpoints.
The results show that journals affiliated to publishing houses or libraries are technically well provided for. Unaffiliated journals offer fewer functionalities and display some unconventional features, often described as innovations by the editors. More resources – financial or human – is seen by nearly all editors as the most pressing need and as a limitation to growth. In comparison, IT/technical needs are mentioned much less often.
The article also describes the launch of an Editors’ Forum, an idea suggested by the editors and implemented by the library. This Forum offered further valuable insight into the potential role of libraries, but also specifically addressed several of the editors’ needs as expressed in the interviews.