Library metadata and open access
It all started with a preprint. Back in February 2020, I came across the article “Increasing Visibility of Open Access Materials in a Library Catalog: Case Study at a Large Academic Research Library”. Here, Jeff Edmunds and Ana Enriquez describe their work to highlight existing and add more open access titles to their library catalogue at Penn State University Libraries. Simply put, they investigated ways to make it easier for library patrons to discover open access books, by making them more visible in their library catalogue. Library catalogues ingest metadata based on the MARC standard, and the authors discussed recent developments regarding MARC and open access.
Their timing was perfect. The OAPEN Library was to be migrated to the DSpace 6 platform, and this was the right moment to revise our metadata offerings. Thus, I contacted Jeff Edmunds and asked how we could improve our MARC metadata feeds. This was the start of an involved conversation about the general quality of our metadata records and the presence of OA markers to make clear that the title described is open access.
Based on the recommendations, we updated our “MARC exports” in several ways. Firstly, each MARC record now contains both a link to directly download the book – or chapter – and a link to the landing page in the OAPEN Library. In this way, readers have the option to first assess the book in the OAPEN Library or they can directly get the title. Another improvement was to ‘move’ the license URL to MARC field 540, which helps libraries to automatically process in what way the books can be used. Furthermore, to make sure that the cataloguing software automatically flags the OAPEN Library content as open access, we added specific markup to the 506 and 856$7 fields.
The result of all this? In August, Penn State University Libraries added close to 10,000 new open access records to their catalogue – based on the contents of the OAPEN Library. The import was based on this MARCXML feed, and converted to MARC21 using MarcEdit. To allow for the character limit of the identification field used by the cataloguing software, the HANDLE identifier used by OAPEN – for instance https://library.oapen.org/handle/20.500.12657/25287 – was shortened to “oapen25287”.
At Penn State University Libraries, this is how it looks in “The CAT”, searching on “oapen library”:
Penn State University Libraries are transitioning from their old ‘classic’ catalogue to a new layer built using Blacklight. The plan is to add an Open Access facet or search limit in the new catalogue, which will allow users to find all OA content as a group. In the updated catalogue, the results look like this:
When we look at a single book record, the open license is clearly visible. Also, there are multiple links – in this case a link to the landing page in the OAPEN Library and a link to directly download the PDF version and a separate link that opens the EPUB version of this book:
The catalogue can be searched online, using this link.
Starting September, Penn State Libraries will update their “OAPEN collection” monthly.
Future wish list
While we are quite happy with the results, there are still some things that can be improved. To start with a technicality, the MARC Leader field is lacking a few characters at the end:
“=LDR 02817naaaa 00349uu” should be “=LDR 02817naaaa 00349uu 4500”. More important is the planned conversion of the Directory of Open Access Books (DOAB) to DSpace. The new DOAB platform will have the same export features as the OAPEN Library, including the MARC and MARC XML feeds.
Ideally, the descriptions in the OAPEN Library and DOAB would have name headings in an authorised form and WorldCat subject headings. These features will remain on our future wish list, at least for now.
Add the OAPEN Library collection to your catalogue?
Our cooperation with Penn State University Libraries was successful, especially because of the guidance we received regarding our MARC metadata output. We hope that other libraries will follow their example and add the OAPEN Library collection to their catalogue. If you have any questions, please contact me via r.snijder[@]oapen.org, or drop me a line on Twitter @ronaldsnijder.