E-Resources at Oxford

Our training session today was on e-resources at Oxford and it was a great insight in to what resources Oxford has, what we produce, what we buy, how we allow users to access the resources and the current state of play with regard to open access.  Talks were given by Michael Popham (Head of Oxford Digital Library), Jonathan McAslan (Electronic Resources Manager), and Sally Rumsey (ORA Service and Development Manager).  They were all incredibly informative and fascinating to listen to but there were a few points that stuck out for me:

  • Accessibility: As a large proportion of the e-resources accessed are done so from outside Oxford this implies lots of people needing to use the resources of the university are unable to come directly in to the university (or are unable to).  This raises interesting challenges for how many more resources are going to be required online and the increasing demand on each resource.
  • Funding of digitisation projects: Universities have little funding themselves to be able to fund digitisation projects but there are still a lot happening due to external people/companies coming up with the cash to fund specific projects.  Problems can arise when the cash runs out but as long as Oxford still owns the original images there is a lot we can do with them.
  • Journal access: Jonathan raised some interesting issues that I certainly wasn’t aware of, such as the phenomenal cost of journals, the negotiation that goes on to buy access, and the VAT that is payable on e-journals.  This has certainly put journals in to an entirely new light for me.
  • Open Access:  Sally’s talk was fantastic and gave us all a lot to think about with regards to open access to research and data.  This seems like sure a lively and progressive area that is fast moving at the moment in terms of rule changes and new budgets.

All of these talks certainly highlighted for anyone still in any doubt that digital assets are a vital resource that a university has and this will only become more the case in future years.  The overall impression I got from this session is that Oxford is committed to providing it’s vast resources to meet the needs to the users, in a format which they need it.  It also seems focused on providing access to the fantastic research that is done here in a fair and open way to any one who wishes to view it, and as far as I’m concerned that can only be a good thing.

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