KU Spotlight Newsletter: Issue 2

Featured in this issue: KU's Open Access Heroes 2021, KU's B Corporation Certification, the Guaranteed Access Model, Oable, KU's Open Access Workflow Tool and KU for Beginners.

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Dear librarians,

Welcome to our Spring 2021 newsletter.

2020 was a challenging year for us all, but KU forges ahead encouraged by the outcome of our last pledging season. As you may have seen in our recent announcement, some 310 books and 34 journals will be published Open Access (OA) in 2021 due to the library support we received in 2020. These include 240 books in our legacy collection, KU Select HSS, as well as 65 books in our partner collections, including IWA Publishing, Pluto Press, Berghahn Books, Brill, and HAU Books, among others. In addition, 31 journals will be flipped to OA thanks to two Subscribe-to-Open projects: Pluto Open Journals and IWAP Open Journals.

This past year we were particularly pleased to welcome 30 new institutions to the KU community, bringing the total number of libraries that have supported KU initiatives to date to 630. By the end of this year, KU’s total impact will number around 2,700 books and over 50 journals made OA.

The next pledging round will be here before long, so our team has been busy evaluating the possibilities for 2021. We look forward to sharing our new OA offerings with you soon. Until then, here are a few newsworthy items:

  • We've just released our annual OA Heroes results. 
  • As of late 2020, we are a B Certified Corporation.
  • Our successful Guaranteed Access model continues in 2021.
  • Have you heard of Oable? Our new CSO gives the scoop.
  • Are you new to KU and OA? We have some useful materials for you.

Stay well.

Alexandra, Amir, Bob, Catherine, Elaine, Felix, Lawrence, Max, Mirela, Olaf, Pablo, Philipp, Wilson, and Sven


OA Heroes by Country 2021

KU's Open Access Heroes 2021

Each year KU assesses the impact of the books it has unlatched to shed light on where OA books are used the most and which titles, publishers, and categories stand out based on our in-depth usage reports. For more information on this year's results, visit the Open Research Community site: https://openresearch.community/documents/ku-open-heroes-2021-poster.


KU B Corp Logos

Why KU's B Corp certification is a big deal

If you have received an email lately from anyone at KU, you may have noticed the addition in our signatures of a “Certified B Corporation” logo. While this signifies something important, it may be unfamiliar to you.

Since 2006, B Corp has operated as an independent agency evaluating and identifying corporations that meet a high level of social responsibility and impact in balance with their for-profit status.

After a grueling evaluation process that took 18 months, KU has been granted this certification. This means that we have proven to the B Corp evaluation committee that we are focused on using company resources to make a difference in the world.

For those of us who are committed to the work KU does to increase the impact of open access, this recognition is a big deal. Our small yet global team is made up primarily of librarians and publishing professionals, all of whom are devoted to helping the world have access to important scholarly works. Our hope has always been that our work helps make the world a better place. The B Corp certification validates that hope.


KU Guaranteed Access

Why the Guaranteed Access model makes sense

When you look at our brochure of pledging options, you will see that virtually all of our partner offerings (publisher-specific collections in targeted subject areas) come with Guaranteed Access.

This added feature assures the supporting library that, should our overall funding goal not be reached (as sometimes happens), those titles in the collection we could not make open access will still be made accessible to library users of supporting institutions through free access to the publisher’s digital version of each book.

We do not use any pledged funds to pay for this feature. You can rest assured that your pledge fully goes for the collection you want to support.

KU partner offerings that have thus far come with Guaranteed Access include two Routledge collections—African Studies and Gender Studies—Berghahn Migration and Development Studies, Brill Literature, Pluto Press Radical Politics, and IWA Publishing.

We look forward to adding the Guaranteed Access feature to more collections in 2021.


Oable logo

Spotlight on...

We caught up with Olaf Ernst, KU's recently hired Chief Solutions Officer , to discuss the rollout of KU’s new offering, Oable. Olaf has a deep knowledge and long-standing experience within the STM industry, serving on the Executive Management Boards of Springer and IOP Publishing. Throughout his career, he helped develop and successfully implement an array of products and solutions for the global research and library community.

Olaf, tell us a bit about your background and how you came to KU?

I have been around in the STM industry for some time with senior leadership roles within Springer and IOP Publishing in England. I have a Ph.D. in Business Economics and my career started in the media business, being engaged in the early days of digital business models in the Dot.com boom time. I have always been passionate about developing and implementing digital products and solutions with high value and impact. So, when the chance came around to build and shape the new Chief Solutions Officer role at KU, I got excited. Open Science and OA is the future of scientific publishing and being part of this mission gets me out of bed in the mornings.

What is Oable and why has KU developed it?

Oable is an OA management workflow solution, which allows an institution or a library to approve, pay and report against all OA transactions it makes on campus across different products (journals, books, etc.) and across publishers. The vision for Oable is to help institutions more effectively manage the ever-growing complexity of OA activities and changing business models. This could mean better managing the growth and variety of transformative agreements or just helping to get the APCs out of the wild to deliver a holistic view of OA spending across campus.

Oable has been developed with significant librarian input from the start from institutions all over the world. With this key focus in mind, we have built a global Development Partner and Supporter Program to secure library/institution input into the development, testing, and general feedback. These development partner institutions include: in the US: Iowa State University, Los Alamos National LAB, Portland State University, Purdue University, and the Z. Smith Reynolds Library from the Wake Forest University; in Latin America: the University of Sao Paolo and the State University of Campinas; in Europe: IST Austria, FZ Jülich, FU Berlin and the University of Liverpool. In APAC, the National Science Library of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) did join as a supporter as well.

I would like to use the opportunity to thank all of them for this incredible support.

What are Oable’s key features?

Oable’s strength is in its process design view and its functionality as a workflow management tool. We think it is easy to use and fully flexible to adapt and change according to the customer needs. Hence, we call it a real solution. A key element is its interoperability to integrate with other systems within the scholarly ecosystem of OA publishing. This includes data input integration with publishers or partners, and data output integration with library systems. From a functionality point of view, we have added important features for complex tasks, like a split payment function for APCs and cost centres or department-specific approval rules.

Quite unique is the option to add data like single APCs or invoices directly into the system to allow for a full overview of APC transactions on campus in an organized, accessible manner. We know that a lot of these payments do happen without central involvement or even knowledge of the institution or the library. (You can get a clearer idea of this by viewing this video.

What use is there for Oable in a library that does not centrally pay for OA articles?

Oable displays its best potential when the goal of an institution or library is to centrally manage OA activities while managing an OA fund for example. However, if this is not the case, using the Oable system still has a lot of value. An institution can use the system to track and report OA activities on campus and see how much is spent overall. Once data is added into Oable, it can become a central system for providing analysis on integrated usage, publication, and transaction data. Using a feature we call the OableAnalytics tool gives a more holistic overview of the impact and ROI of OA publishing activities.

How is Oable priced?

Oable is priced based on actual usage/transactions of the system and how much OA output (journal articles or book chapters) in each institution will go through. It will be tiered according to this usage of the system, while higher volume usage tiers will see discounts. Based on these assumptions, the associated Oable license fee will cover the unlimited access and use of this product solution for a given year.

KU is pleased to offer Oable as another piece of our support for Open Access. For more information, visit the Oable website: www.oable.org.

If you would like to have a demo, you may reach out to Olaf directly: olaf@knowledgeunlatched.org.

Watch Oable video


KU Select logo

New to KU?

Watch FAQ video.

The KU universe continues to expand. What once was an initiative known for one multi-disciplinary collection of HSS books made OA has grown into an organization offering an array of options each year to institutions wanting to support OA. The basic premise remains the same: through KU's collaborative financing models, libraries choose the collections and initiatives they want to invest in, thus contributing to making scholarly content free worldwide.

If you need an introduction to KU, you will be interested to know we are working on a section on our website intended for librarians needing a beginner's approach. We look forward to sharing this in our next newsletter. Meanwhile, our FAQ video is a good place to start.


Featured photo by Brigitte Tohm on Unsplash.

Mirela Roncevic

Library Relations, Knowledge Unlatched