Open Access and Interlibrary Loan

The University of South Carolina Libraries care about sustainable publishing and research collection practices. We readily acknowledge that open access publishing has more than a few issues. However, we support the exploration of different types of open access models that can enable our patrons to access resources more quickly and affordably while reducing our budget.

One way that we’ve attempted to both introduce our patrons to open publishing and to encourage economically viable research is by implementing an open access policy into the Interlibrary Loan workflow.¬†

Before requesting any article, thesis, or gray literature from another institution, we check to make sure that this item is not already freely available through an open access publisher or a repository. While there are a many places that scholars can check for open access to needed materials (see this¬†excellent list compiled by the Consortium of Academic and Research Libraries in Illinois), we’ve found that the simplest way to quickly check for access is through a browser add-on called Unpaywall.

Unpaywall automatically checks requested content against numerous repositories for legally uploaded copies of documents. When we search for an item in a browser, we can quickly see if a free copy is available. If it is, we simply copy the link and place it in an email that not only provides access to the article, but includes a link to more information on open access for interested patrons.

Have any suggestions to improve our open access workflow? Let us know in the comments!

-Contributed by Amie Freeman

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