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Libraries to retain online research service



Report on pilot declares Access to Research a success and encourages librarians to promote the service

Public libraries have been given the green light to continue providing the Access to Research service, which enables the public to view academic articles for free through a specialist software platform available in the libraries.

The Publishers Licensing Society and the Society of Chief Librarians have declared it a success after a two-year pilot, and librarians taking part are now being encouraged to continue promoting the service.

A report on Access to Research has confirmed its value, saying that more than 84,000 people have used it and 90% of those surveyed said the information they found was useful.

It has been picked up by over 80% of UK local authorities representing more than 2,600 libraries, and there have been at least 230,000 searches on a range of topics from science to contemporary art.

Sarah Faulder, chief executive at the Publishers Licensing Society, said: “I am delighted that the Access to Research initiative has been received so positively by librarians and the general public, and we are pleased to have the support of publishers to continue providing this service. We hope to see usage continuing to increase over the coming months.”

Finch Group recommendation

Access to Research was launched in response to a key recommendation of the Finch Group, a committee convened by the government to look at how the availability of publicly funded research could be expanded. It recommended that the major journal publishers should grant public libraries a licence to provide free access to their academic articles.

Users can search and find abstracts to the articles from home, but have to visit a library with a terminal to read them in full. It uses the Summon software platform, which has an intelligent interface and makes it possible to save articles.

In July 2014 about 8,600 journals were available and there were plans to increase this as more publishers join.

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