The Access to Research initiative, which gives users in UK public libraries free access to over 10 million academic articles, has been given the green light by publishers and librarians to continue.
The service was originally launched as a pilot by the UK Universities and Science Minister in 2014, in order to support expanded access to publicly funded research in the UK. Two years on and over 80% of UK local authorities, representing more than 2,600 libraries, have signed up to the initiative from across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Since the launch, over 84,000 users have accessed the service and an independent report, commissioned by the Publishers Licensing Society (PLS) and the Society of Chief Librarians (SCL), and co-funded by PLS and Arts Council England, has confirmed the value of the Access to Research service to users. The report found that satisfaction with Access to Research is high, with 90% of those surveyed indicating the information they found through the service was useful. User feedback included: “I was surprised how much material was made available” and “it makes the public library look like a more happening place.”
Almost every academic discipline is covered by the journals made available through Access to Research, via the Summon® discovery service. Findings have shown that users are taking full advantage of this to explore a wide variety of topics. Over 230,000 searches (since Jan 2014) have investigated topics from dementia to biomedical engineering; modern religious philosophy to contemporary art; social work to polar records; and Roman Wales to Ebola; amongst many more.
Access to Research has been made possible by a consortium of academic publishers, who collectively publish some of the world’s most respected scientific journals. News of the publishing community’s decision to extend the service has been warmly welcomed by librarians and users.
See full press release from PLS