The Open Research Library: Its Rationale, Main Features and Launch

The Open Research Library gives libraries and scholars more options for discovering and accessing Open Access content, while providing stakeholders with an opportunity to invest into an electronic library solution that meets their needs.
The Open Research Library: Its Rationale, Main Features and Launch

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The large-scale transition of the scientific publication system towards Open Access has gathered pace in recent years. To unleash the full potential of this output, well-connected and user-friendly infrastructures are essential. It obviously takes more than the implementation of new business models in publishing to transform the scientific publishing system into an Open Access world. Existing technological as well as ideological infrastructures need to shift and new ones to emerge to build and sustain an open scholarly communication system.

Open Access infrastructures ensure that scientific content, once it is published, actually reaches its readers. In the best case, this takes place without users even being aware of the underlying discovery network. Well-functioning infrastructure, such as the Open Research Library (ORL), thus, provides the link between content production and its usage.

In the field of monographs, the ORL adds a new layer for discovery, while enhancing the existing Open Access infrastructure landscape that connects users and content. The ORL aims to encompass Open Access book content from around the word on its platform for user-friendly discovery, while offering a seamless navigation experience for its collection that currently includes more than 70,000 items in Open Access.

This vital infrastructure is slated to comprise the most comprehensive collection of peer-reviewed Open Access publications, while making them freely accessible for the general public. Libraries investing into the ORL, thus, contribute to the development of a dedicated Internet-based resource for the global community of researchers, scholars and scientists. Participating libraries have the opportunity to benefit from a set of exclusive services in exchange for their support for the ORL.

More specifically, the ORL represents an aggregation of peer-reviewed, Open Access, scholarly monographs hosted on the BiblioBoard platform. The hosting solution of the ORL makes user experience consistent across the collection, while enabling its users to maintain a single bookshelf for their Open Access book content. For libraries, the ORL streamlines workflows and reduces customer service workloads. The ORL also provides a single point of contact for issues that may arise. In addition to book content, the platform can also accommodate video, poster and audio content.

The beta version of the ORL became accessible at the beginning of 2020. To celebrate this, a formal launch event was held at the Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society in Berlin on March 10, 2020. Dr. Andreas Brandtner, Director of the University Library of Freie Universität Berlin, has made an opening keynote presentation at this event. Nina Weisweiler, ORL Project Manager at Knowledge Unlatched GmbH, has presented an overview of the ORL and addressed potential challenges for Open Access infrastructure projects. Their presentation materials can be accessed from the ORL room at the Open Research Community.

By Nina Weisweiler and Pablo Markin

Featured Image Credits: ORL Launch Event - Examining the Role of Open Access Infrastructures, Berlin, Germany, March 10, 2020 | © Courtesy of Catherine Anderson.

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