There have been a lot of news stories in the past few years about the “big deals,” academic publishing, and its relationship to journal access in higher education, including here at UVA. And it’s true: what’s happening now is, well, a big deal; one that will affect the way we publish and read for decades to come. This article focuses on three aspects: tools you can download and utilize to make for easier access, processes we’ve put in place on the back end to ensure your access is uninterrupted, and opportunities that have come from this unique moment. If you’re new to this effort, you could start with the Library’s information about Sustainable Scholarship, see recent news stories about the “big deals,” or if you’re familiar and ready for next steps you can jump straight into how you can help.
Our key point today, however, is that the UVA Library is ready and committed to provide continued access to a world of research materials, no matter what.
We’ve been preparing for these transitions for years, and we have infrastructure in place to help you access what you need, when you need it, regardless of contract status or publisher arrangements of any given moment.
Tools to ensure smooth access to academic journals at UVA
Millions of items are discoverable though Virgo, the Library’s catalog — but millions more are harder to uncover since they’re packaged with journals or databases. There are a few tools you can use to quickly gain or request access to academic material on the web, whether you uncover it in Virgo or beyond.
Libkey Nomad Browser Extension locates subscribed or open access full-text articles when you view an article webpage. If we don’t have access to the article, it prepares a detailed ILL request for you to submit. This is one of the quickest and most powerful tools for finding and accessing articles.
The Reload@UVA button is a quick way to see academic material through UVA’s proxy; letting you quickly download articles the Library subscribes to. It can be used in a laptop/desktop browser, or mobile device.
And what about Google Scholar? Adding UVA Library in your Google Scholar settings means faster and more accurate access. Read more about getting the most from Google Scholar.
Want more? The Accessing Electronic Resources Guide will take you through these options and more.
Libraries are building and fortifying reliable pipelines to academic content, so you can get what you need
Library professionals are well-versed in designing information pipelines that can adjust as providers, technologies, and user needs change. Librarians work hard to insulate patrons from the internal workings: from your perspective, access should ideally be pretty much seamless. On the back end, we’re hard at work exploring new possibilities, seeking efficiencies to existing processes, and building collaborative relationships to ensure access at the University of Virginia and across the state. Three examples of this work are Reprints Desk, Rapid ILL, and VIVA partnerships.
Reprints Desk is a clearinghouse that lets Library staff gain prompt access to material at the article and chapter level, directly from the providers. The power of Reprints Desk is that it empowers the Library to pay for exactly what is needed at any given time. Funds saved by avoiding larger package deals can thus go much farther, and be invested in high-priority collecting areas, whether those are demand-based or equity-based. The next section, about opportunities from this present moment, goes into more detail about what this can really mean for the future of Library collections.
RapidILL is another tool that provides prompt access to materials which may not be owned by UVA, but are owned by other institutions participating in this digital interlibrary loan program. At its heart, RapidILL is a database UVA pays to access, which allows Library interlibrary loan staff to identify sources for material we do not own, and to rapidly request and acquire the loan after a patron makes a request. Institutions participating in RapidILL agree to key expectations about sharing content and speed of delivery, making RapidILL a powerful force for quick access to content of all types.
Finally, the VIVA consortium, a state-wide partnership among academic libraries, has enabled a collective opportunity to utilize funding models for electronic access, such as through RapidILL. Building these connections in recent years has led to quicker collaboration and shared access strategies across the state of Virginia. Benefits from this growing consortium will benefit Library visitors for many years to come.
Opportunities, thanks to this unique moment
These major shifts in publishing and subscription practices have inspired a time of invention and opportunity.
The UVA Library has redoubled efforts with Open Educational Resources, and Library subject liaisons are well-versed in helping instructors utilize these materials in the classroom.
The Library is more able than ever to support publishing thanks to Aperio, UVA’s peer-reviewed open access scholarly press. Work with Aperio to openly publish your journals, monographs, textbooks, Open Educational Resources, and more.
Finally, the funds saved from re-thinking the Big Deals mean that libraries can afford additional investment in collections. The UVA Library has put particular emphasis on materials that increase the diversity of UVA’s collection, building on inclusion initiatives throughout the Library. Recent acquisitions include the SNCC Digital Gateway, “Diversity in the Modern World,” “Ethnomusicology: Global Field Recordings,” and many, many more.
Need something? We have you covered.
In the end, we at the Library do hope you’ll keep an eye on changes in publishing and watch for ways you can help transform the industry for the better. But the bottom line is, no matter the current or future status of big deals, contracts, and publishing in general, we have tools and expertise to get you what you need.