Friday, April 23, 2021


Nan Li, Nan Li

Open access in Asia series - An interview with librarians from The Hong Polytechnic University

Librarians share thoughts on supporting open access publishing and the effects of the pandemic on the library’s open access goals.

In a recent survey, librarians in Asia shared with us that supporting their researchers in open access publishing is one of their top five goals. While the Open Access movement is largely driven by their counterparts in the west, librarians in Asia are looking at ways to support the evolving publishing needs of their research community, specifically in open access as well.

In this series of interviews, we hope to share with our readers, librarians’ perspectives on open access in Asia, and how they support their researchers in this region. We would like to thank our respondents, Janice Chia, Johnny Yuen and Cindy Lui from Pao Yue-Kong Library, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University for joining us in the first part of this series.

Q: What do you think are some of the drivers for libraries to support open access (OA) in your country?

Requirement from Funders (i.e., Research Grant Council’s open access requirement) is one of the biggest drivers of support for open access in Hong Kong. RGC recently communicated to the 8 Universities regarding their open access roadmap, which includes open access archiving and open data for all research arising from the funds they have dispersed. In return, our Library works with the University to support our researchers to comply with their requirements.

At the HK PolyU, supporting open access and OER (Open Educational Resources) is one of the university-wide strategic goals for the year 2019/20 - 2024/25. For OER, our Library curates open educational resources recommended by students or created by faculty members and the latest and best e-learning resources to support blended teaching and learning at HK PolyU on the 2019-launched PolyU OER Portal.

Q: Is there growing interest from researchers in your institution in open access over the past few years? If yes, why?

With more open access publishing options available, more researchers are now aware of, and choose open access publishing. In addition, with RGC’s roadmap for open access over the next few years, researchers in PolyU and in Hong Kong will become more aware of open access publishing, open access archival and open access data.

Q: The open access movement is prominent in the West. Has that reached libraries in your country, or have you seen how that impacted your library in areas of Open Access over the past few years?  

Closely monitoring the experiences of open science in the States and in Europe, Hong Kong libraries are exploring different ways to support our universities and faculties in open educational resources, open data and meeting different open access requirements. An example would be adopting “Transformative Agreement” and ”Subscribe to Open” with publishers to facilitate open access publishing by authors in our institutions.

Q: How is your library supporting Open Access publishing currently?

Our library supports open access publishing through user education – increasing the awareness and understanding of the nuances in open access publishing and open access archiving. The Library has also started “Transformative Agreement” and “Subscribe to Open” with publishers to facilitate open access publishing by researchers in our University.

Q: Has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your library’s goals for Open Access?

Open access to scientific information and research data has become more critical than ever, as evident from the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has instead sped up adoption and increased the awareness of open access, evident from how publishers have opened their resources for free – for research and learning. The Library created a web page to consolidate them and made these resources available for users.

Q: What is your perspective on the library’s role in open access? Do you see any opportunity for the librarian’s role to change because of Open Access, and in what ways?

With the increased emphasis on open access and open science, the library’s role will definitely change as we find new ways to support and facilitate developments in these areas for our University. The library’s role in supporting these areas will differ from institution to institution as it is dependent on the strategies and priorities of each university and its administration.

On top of addressing the evolving needs of OA in learning and research of the University, our Library also makes an effort to understand and archive what spawns from “access”—for example, inviting students to share their disciplinary challenges, how they solved the problems, how OER artifacts link-up with subjects and curriculums, and so on. We believe the local collective wisdom from our users will grow into a new form of library support for our university-wide community over time.