Open Access Initiatives in Academic Libraries: Challenge to the User
Kaur, Kiran, and Chia, Yip Ping, (2009) Open Access Initiatives in Academic Libraries: Challenge to the User. In: World Library and Information Congress: 75Tth IFLA General Conference and Council, 23-27 August 2009,, Milan, Italy.
Official URL: http://www.ifla.org/annual-conference/ifla75/index.htm
University of Malaya. Faculty of Computer Science & Information Technology
Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman. Library
In developing countries, academic librarians are experimenting with open source software in the establishment of institutional repository (IR) systems in local libraries, using either Greenstone, Fedora, DSpace or EPrints. These libraries are vouching on the successful implementation in the local library set up, so that it can then be up-scaled to institution-wide application through campus networks or intranet. A healthy uptake of the institution-wide set up may then open up to wider audiences with the availability of dedicated information infrastructure combined with broadband connectivity and national educational policies. In Malaysia the pioneers to open access initiatives are the academic libraries, specifically the university libraries. These libraries have initiated innovative services to their researchers by creating open access institutional repositories for wide dissemination of scholarly literature by their own community members. This study explores an extremely valuable electronic service in the academic library, i.e.
the open access initiatives by Malaysian university libraries. Specifically it aims to investigate the extent of open access adoption; the types of initiatives taken and the efficiency of these initiatives based on user perspectives. A system, no matter how technically sophisticated, is only as good as the users of the system judges it to be. Therefore, this study also attempted to investigate the perception of users of open access initiatives towards the usability and efficiency of these systems to help users search and access useful resources with minimal effort. The investigation is extended to all public and private universities in Malaysia with open access institutional repositories (IR). An initial framework for investigation was built based on the literature and this was tested using the data collected from reviewing the various open access journal and IR. User perception about the open access initiatives is based on survey and interviews with selective users from each university. The results of this study can be used to improve user services, especially in electronic medium for wider dissemination of open access initiatives and increase participation of user communities. Some of the major challenges faced by the users are ease of access, ease of searching the relevant content, updated content and online help support. Users deem these issues to be pertinent when providing access to institutional repositories. There is also much demand on help from information professionals via electronic communication channels. As a developing country, Malaysia has a long way to go, but the beginning is promising and it is hoped by studies such as this the user perspective may be a contributing factor to the establishment of open access initiatives.
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