Open Access and Interlibrary Loan


Open Access (OA) resources provide a wealth of material available for Interlibrary Loan units to fulfill patron requests. While OA materials are freely available to library users, they are often difficult for researchers to easily discover and access. Interlibrary Loan units that develop workflows that incorporate OA resources are able to improve the service they provide. With a body of readily available material, the library is able to fill a patron’s request in a more timely manner while not having to rely on other institutions to fill the request. Cost saving benefits include fewer postage and associated copyright fees.  

The Resource Sharing committee is pleased to provide:

  • resources that may help Interlibrary Loan units utilize Open Access materials in their daily workflows (below, under Annotated Open Access Source List).
  • access to a thorough discussion on the inventive ways interlibrary loan librarians are making use of OA materials (below, under Annotated Bibliography).

(Published 6/2/2016; Created by the FY2016 CARLI Resource Sharing Committee)

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In response to the January 2016 “Open Access and Interlibrary Loan” query to the Resource Sharing Interest Group email list, the CARLI Resource Sharing Committee learned that a number of institutions within the CARLI Resource Sharing community are already utilizing OA resources. The majority of libraries are taking advantage of Google Scholar, but mention was also made of ResearchGate for current articles, and Google Books and HathiTrust for electronic access to older monographs, and journal title runs. OA databases are available for direct searching; additionally, some libraries provide links to OA database content (e.g. Directory of Open Access Journals, PubMed Central) through their link resolvers. This provides their patrons direct access, reducing the number of ILL requests for articles available through OA.

Searching for the Open Access (OA) availability of an article is not always a first priority for libraries, especially during peak request periods. Many libraries will begin with a traditional request via OCLC.  Often a web-based search is instigated only when attempting to verify a problematic citation, or one that cannot be easily filled through OCLC. That said, there are libraries that while, not looking actively for OA, do begin the search process looking for freely available copies before placing an ILL request on behalf of the patron. Budgetary considerations were listed as the motivating factor for beginning the process in this manner. A benefit of searching for OA materials, as opposed to a more general web search, is in the area of copyright. With OA materials, you can be confident that the copying and redistribution of the materials does not violate copyright law. The same cannot always be said about the pdfs available on the web, even in Google Scholar. When discovering materials on the internet, it is important for Interlibrary Loan staff to verify the source and determine that the party making the item available is doing so ethically.  As mentioned above, OA materials will also help the library control their ILL copyright budget.

ILL staff are able to use Open Access resources to fill borrowing requests, and it is equally important to note that these resources can be used to fill lending requests. It is impractical for many requesting libraries to check for the availability of OA resources before the submission of each request. This might be due to the quantity of requests, or whether the institution allows their patrons to submit direct requests.  Often there are too many places to look for free resources. As ILL staff search for OA resources for lending, they will become more familiar with what is available on the internet. OA allows libraries to provide access to materials when local copies are unavailable.


Open Access (OA) literature is digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions. from Suber, P. (2012). Open access. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Levels of Open Access

  1. Gold Open Access - Articles in fully accessible open access journals.
  2. Green Open Access - Self-archiving, generally of the pre- or post-print version of a published article, often used in repositories.
  3. Hybrid or Paid Open Access - Subscription journals with open access to individual articles usually when a fee is paid to the publisher or journal by the author, the author's organization, or the research funder.

from Burtle, L. (2016, April 26). Types of Open Access. Retrieved from

Search Engines/Directories:

  • Google Scholar ( Google Scholar provides a simple way to broadly search for scholarly literature. From one place, you can search across many disciplines and sources: articles, theses, books, abstracts and court opinions, from academic publishers, professional societies, online repositories, universities and other web sites. It is not all fulltext, but it does identify many works that may not be indexed in all library databases as it also searches publisher websites. One is allowed to save article records if one has a general Google account.
  • OAIster (Open Archives Initiative Database) (  This union catalog managed by OCLC (formerly U. of Michigan) contains more than 30 million records of Open Access materials contributed by over 1,500 organizations. Types of materials include digitized books, journal articles, newspapers, theses, photos, videos, and audio files.
  • OpenDOAR (Directory of Open Access Resources) (  This site provides a quality-assured listing of open access repositories around the world.  OpenDOAR staff harvest & assign metadata and visit each site to ensure quality and consistency in the information provided. There are just over 3,000 resources, of which 2,200 are in English.


  • Google Books ( This book discovery tool contains the full text of millions of public domain books from over 40 international libraries in multiple languages. It also searches copyrighted books, and provides a few context sentences within the search results to provide searchers with enough information to  find   items in libraries or  purchase them.
  • HathiTrust ( This U.S. digital preservation repository and access platform contains seven million book titles and 370,000 serial titles, of which around 40% are in the public domain. A portion of publicly accessible HathiTrust records are searchable through the CARLI I-Share Libraries' VuFind catalogs, and items from the UIC and UIUC collections are included as two of the over 100 partner libraries.
  • Internet Archive ( This site is a non-profit library of 10 million texts, as well as movies, software, music & more. Its purposes include offering permanent access for researchers  to historical collections that exist in digital format and it collaborates with institutions including the Library of Congress and the Smithsonian to preserve a record for generations to come.  
  • Project Gutenberg ( This “first provider of electronic books’” has a mission to encourage the creation and distribution of ebooks. It contains 50,000 free ebooks that can be downloaded or read online in 238 categories.
  • Universal Digital Library ( This full text book repository  of over 1.5 million titles contains items from the 16th-21st centuries. Collections are primarily from China, Egypt, India, and the U.S.

Conference Papers/Presentations:

  • All Academic ( This bare-bones site contains a repository of 90+ conference papers from a variety of disciplines from Sciences, to Social Sciences, to Humanities. It is searchable or browsable and content spans from the mid-2000s to the last 3 years and varies by association. It also contains a list of 80+ free journals.

General Journal Articles:

  • Directory of Open Access Journals ( This directory contains over 10,000 international open access journals covering all areas of science, technology, medicine, social science and humanities. The DOAJ aims to be the one-stop shop for users of open access journals, although it is not an exhaustive list, as journals are vetted before being accepted. It is both searchable and browseable by subject area and contains mostly full-text articles.
  • Research Gate ( A free-to-join social Linked-In of sorts for scientists and researchers with over 9 million members who can upload their publications to share. Formats are author manuscripts and pre-print/accepted or published versions of scholarly articles.

Subject Specific Journals & Other Resource collections


  • Internet Archive Audio Archive ( This library contains recordings ranging from alternative news programming, to Grateful Dead concerts, to Old Time Radio shows, to book and poetry readings, to original music uploaded by our users. Many of these audios and MP3s are available for free download.
  • Internet Archive Moving Image Archive ( This library contains digital movies uploaded by Archive users which range from classic full-length films, to daily alternative news broadcasts, to cartoons and concerts. Many of these videos are available for free download.
  • International Music Score Library Project ( The purpose of the IMSLP is to gather all public domain music scores, in addition to the music scores of all contemporary composers (or their estates) who wish to release them to the public free of charge. IMSLP currently has 106,011 works, 349,706 scores, 39,791 recordings, 14,004 composers, and 369 performers.


  • ERIC ( ERIC, the Education Resource Information Center, is administered by the U.S. Department of Education and provides access to education literature and resources. The database contains more than 1.3 million records and links to more than 323,000 openly accessible full-text articles, books, and grey literature dating back to 1966.
  • OER Commons (Open Educational Resources) ( This project by the Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management in Education provides Open Educational Resources (OEDS) which are teaching and learning materials that may be used freely and downloaded to share. These resources include textbooks, lesson plans, full university courses, and interactive simulations.


  • Europe PubMed Central ( Europe PMC provides a single point of access to the 26 million abstracts available through PubMed,3.9 million PMC full-text articles (See record below), and an additional 5 million other relevant resources, such as patent records and theses. A consortium of the major biomedical and life sciences research funders in Europe require their grant holders to make their published research available as  Open Access through EPMC.
  • PubMedCentral ( PubMed Central (PMC) is a free full-text archive of biomedical and life sciences journal literature at the U.S. National Institutes of Health’s National Library of Medicine.  Over 3.9 million journal articles are archived from 5,880 journals. Not all titles and articles are Open Access, but those which are have an OA symbol indicating so.

Science & Math:

  • (Math & Sciences) ( ArXive is an electronic archives and distribution server for nearly 1.15 million open access research articlesin Physics, Mathematics, Computer Science, Quantitative Biology, Quantitative Finance and Statistics. Authors may submit their research to the site, which is maintained and operated by the Cornell University Library. Submissions are reviewed by expert moderators to verify that they are topical and contributions  follow accepted standards of scholarly communication.
  • CiteSeerx (Computer & Information Science) ( CiteSeerx was one of the first academic paper search engines originally developed at Princeton in 1998. Today, it is an evolving scientific literature digital library that focuses primarily on the literature in computer and information science. CiteSeerx crawls publicly available scholarly documents, so most of the content is open access.
  • Digital Library for Physics and Astronomy ( This digital library is operated by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) under a NASA grant. Its Astrophysics Data System maintains three bibliographic databases containing more than 12.0 million records covering publications in Astronomy and Astrophysics, Physics, and the arXiv e-prints. Records also include links to external resources like publisher website articles. This may contain some open access, but does not exclusively provide full-text sources.
  • Highwire ( This site is a directory of over 500 science journals (with links to their websites) that are published online through HighWire Press with free full-text articles. There are over 2.4 million full-text articles in these, but you will have to go directly to the journals, as it is not a database site.
  • Organic Eprints ( This international open access archive specializes in e-publications related to organic food and farming. The archive will accept any document - published or unpublished, so not all sources are scholarly.
  • Project Euclid (Math & Statistics) ( Project Euclid is a nonprofit publishing service which hosts math and statistics journals, monographs, and conference proceedings. Around 70% of PE’s journal articles are openly available and it provides access to over 1.2 million pages of content. Only 22 of the journals indexed are entirely open access, though.
  • Public Library of Science (PLOS) ( PLOS is a nonprofit Open Access publisher that advocates for a more open “ethos” in scholarly publishing. It has published over 165,000 articles from 160 countries’ authors and produces its own series of Open Access publications including the multi-disciplinary PLOSOne, PLOS Medicine & PLOS Biology.
  • ( is a search gateway to over 200 million pages of government science information from over 2200 sites, including MedlinePlus, NASA,, and ERIC. Retrieved search records include links to articles in other databases, websites, abstracts, and e-books.

Social Science:

  • Social Science Research Network ( The SSRN’s Electronic Paper Collection contains over 59,000 downloadable full text pdf documents, and the site also abstracts over 668,000 scholarly working & forthcoming papers. Author contact information is provided for follow-up.


  • Chronicling America (  Sponsored by National Endowment for the Humanities and Library of Congress. Has a US newspaper directory from 1690 to the present and digitized newspapers from all over the US ranging from 1836 to 1922. The directory of newspaper titles contains nearly 140,000 records of newspapers and libraries that hold copies of these newspapers. The title records are based on MARC data gathered and enhanced as part of the NDNP program. They can be searched via opensearch. See above for Illinois’s contributions.
  • Historical Newspapers (Open Access LibGuide page - These are meant to be a collection to preserve American history. Links to sites are listed under the states, but some are dead links. (Illinois’s comes up blank) National newspapers are listed at the end. The oldest one is the Virginia Gazette from 1736 to 1780. Most cover the 1800s to early 1900s, the Northern New York Historical Newspapers goes up to 2007.
  • Illinois Digital Newspapers Collection ( This collection was developed by UIU and is comprised of digital facsimiles of newspapers and trade journals (1831-1975). Anyone can correct the accompanying text file if they see a mistake, in fact they encourage it.. These are mostly due to the deteriorated images of old scans. When you click on an article in the facsimile a box appears with the text printed out. They will be aggregated and maintained by the Library of Congress via the Chronicling America database.
  • Wikipedia List of Online Newspaper Archives ( This archive has both free and paywall content. Include some journals. Many of the graphic archives are indexed into searchable text databases. Older items are in image format, so no cutting or pasting. Some items won’t allow access until they have been proofread. On the right is a link to every country and within that every state. This then brings up a list of publications available including the links to many of them. It also states on the list whether they are free and if they are only indexes.


  • EThOS ( This has the UK’s doctoral research theses. Any PHDs supported by the British Research Council have to be made available in their entirety. In fact any publication that comes from publicly funded research must be freely available. I understand that they try have links to all theses, not just those supported by public funds and of these others some may be free some not. Depending on the University the user may have to pay digitization costs up to £54.48 (~$80.00) Only 45 out 132 universities take on the price of digitizing.
  • OhioLINK ( Electronic Theses and Dissertations abstracts by Ohio undergrads, masters, and PHD students from participating Ohio LINK schools. The institution decides when a paper is ready for distribution full text on the public site. Should also have access through major internet search engines. They also submit to Proquest/UMI.
  • PDQT Open ( This is an online repository of Open Access graduate works. The authors choose to have their dissertations or theses published in open access. It’s a new service offered by Proquest/UMI.
  • Theses Canada Portal ( Only loans within Canada and even then they will not loan something available anywhere else in Canada even if only for a fee.
  • Baich, T. (2012). Opening interlibrary loan to open access.  Interlending and Document Supply, 40 (1). 55-60.
    • Study conducted of the interlibrary loan requests placed by patrons of Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) during 2010 and 2011 to determine the impact of open access resources on interlibrary loan requests. The article describes the workflow for processing interlibrary loan requests for open access materials using the OCLC ILLiad system. The study concludes that interlibrary loan requests are not likely to decrease with the availability of open access resources because users will still need assistance from librarians to find the materials freely available online.
  • Baich, T. (2015).  Open access: Help or hindrance to resource sharing?” Interlending and Document Supply, 43 (2), 68-75.
    • This article discusses the author’s findings when researching the issue of why are patron’s still placing Interlibrary Loan requests for material that is openly available.  The authors is able to draw on data collected from IUPUI that appears to contradict the widespread notion that Open Access materials will lead to fewer ILL requests.  “Users clearly find it easier to request through ILL rather than completing the search process themselves, even though this means a delay in access.” (74)  Data did show that requests for OA available had increased over time, they still only made up a small portion of the overall requests.  What will be interesting for ILLiad users was the author’s mention of how the product can assist in the tracking of OA requests by supporting the “creation of custom routing rules, queues (including “Awaiting Open Access Searching” and “Awaiting Thesis Processing”) and emails that assist staff in automating workflows.” (70) Finally, the author presents three possible benefits that Open Access provides Interlibrary Loan staff:  the increased ability to fill requests, especially for thesis/dissertations and conference papers and reports; increased speed in filling requests due to reduced turnaround time; and cost-savings on borrowing, shipping, and copyright fees.
  • Berger, M., & Cirasella, J. (2015). Beyond Beall’s list: Better understanding predatory publishers. College & Research Library News, 76 (3), 132-135.
    • This article discusses concerns about predatory open access journals that charge article authors exorbitant article processing fees and produce low quality content that is falsely advertised as peer reviewed. Beall’s list refers to the curated list of possible predatory publishers of open access journals created by Jeffrey Beall, librarian at the University of Colorado-Denver. Berger and Cirasella discuss issues with Beall’s list due to his potential negative bias towards open access publishing. While the authors express concern with Beall’s bias they do cite his criteria for identifying predatory open access journals as a useful tool that can be used by librarians and scholars to evaluate the quality of open access journals. The Directory of Open Access Journal and the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association are noted for providing vetted lists of quality open access journals.
  • Crawford, W. (2011). Open access: What you need to know now. Chicago: American Library Association.
    • This 76 page “Special Report” by frequent American Libraries columnist Crawford, covers issues related to Open Access, teaches how librarians can become OA activists, and provides sources for understanding, tracking, and using OA. It is a nice overview particularly catered to librarians on why OA is important to libraries and our patrons while also presenting the publisher’s perspective. It covers the factors that led to the OA movement (STEM journal price gouging), covers what OA is like today, and predicts its future.
  • Hu, F., & Jiang, H. (2014). Open access and document delivery services: a case study in Capital Normal University Library. Interlending & Document Supply, 42(2-3), 79-82.
    • The authors suggest marketing OA resources to library users to make them better aware of OA, particularly because many already are using internet (rather than library) sources to find research, but also in the interest of quick access. The authors also suggest that OA resources should be utilized in conjunction with document delivery services. Specific recommendations include making the search of OA resources part of the daily document delivery workflow, integrating OA resources into the OPAC, and the creation of instructional materials about OA for library users. The conclusions drawn in this article seem very similar to the goals of the group project.
  • Kohn, K. (2006). Finding it free: Tips and techniques for avoiding borrowing fees and locating online publicly available materials. Journal of Interlibrary Loan, Document Delivery & Electronic Reserve, 16 (3), 57-65.  
    • This dated 2006 article discusses strategies used by Kohn when she worked as Assistant Librarian at Polisher Research Institute of the Madlyn and Leonard Abramson Center for Jewish Life in North Wales, PA. The main focus is on the utility of medical library consortia and reciprocal borrowing agreements, formal or informal. There is one page of OA discussion, followed by an annotated list of sites (Directory of Open Access Journals (, FindArticles (,  Google Scholar (, OAIster (, FreeMedical Journals (, HighWire Press ( and PubMed Central (
  • Martin, R. A. (2010). Finding free and open access resources: A value-added service for patrons. Journal of Interlibrary Loan, Document Delivery & Electronic Reserve, 20 (3), 189-200.
    • 2010 article by the then head of Access Services at NIU asserts that it’s time to include searches for OA material as part of a library’s regular search processes in order to stay relevant to users.  She gives a brief historical overview of and current issues with each of the following types of OA materials:
      • Open access Journals and Self-archiving
      • Open Textbooks
      • Open Educational Resources
    • The author gives many examples of relevant sites, along with some pros/cons and search capabilities. This article could serve as a starting point for libraries trying to develop a procedure for checking for OA availability when doing ILL or reference.
  • Morrison, H. G. (2006). The dramatic growth of open access: Implications and opportunities for resource sharing. Journal of Interlibrary Loan, Document Delivery & Electronic Reserve, 16 (3), 95-107.
    • The author says that the growing number of open access resources demonstrates that open access is the future of access.  She goes on to show examples of many different resources and how they can be used in a library setting.  However, this does not preclude the problems that still face ILL and open access.  Problems such as multiple versions of  an article or the disappearance of an article crop up often.
  • Mullen, L. B. (2010). Open access and its practical impact on the work of academic librarians: Collection development, public services, and the library and information science literature. Oxford: Chandos Publishing.
    • Written by a practicing “frontline” librarian at Rutgers, this book touches upon different issues facing academic librarians as both scholars and practitioners in regards to open access aspects. Brief information is discussed about open access and the impact on interlibrary loan regarding the research habits of users preferring immediate access to articles with a majority of users utilizing interlibrary loan services only occasionally. As institutional repositories and other open access resources become available interlibrary loan departments will need to shift focus from obtaining sources from other libraries to directing users to open access resources (p. 134).
  • O’Brien, K. (2015). Large-scale book and journal digitization projects and interlibrary service: Opening the discussion. Journal of Interlibrary Loan, Document Delivery & Electronic Reserve, 25 (1-2), 39-42. doi:10.1080/1072303X.2016.1150380
    • The author is the Assistant  Special Collections and Access Services Librarian at the University of Illinois Chicago Library of the Health Sciences and he posits that, although digitization is currently limited by U.S. copyright law, and most digitized content is limited to material in the public domain, the courts have shown support for digitization and libraries should be adapting their workflow to take advantage of it.  The article discusses difficulties with using Hathi Trust and Internet Archive resources to fill interlibrary loan requests, and provides suggestions for  and ways to incorporate these open access resources into interlibrary loan workflows. The article also calls for the establishment of best practices for utilizing open access resources to fill interlibrary loan requests.
  • Open education resources (OERs). (n.d.). Retrieved from
    • Many aspects of open resources are discussed in this paper from a legal, ethical and research point of view for many countries and universities. Links to many resources are included.
  • Shear, L., Means, B., & Lundh, P. (2015, June). Research on open: OER research hub review and futures for research on OER. Menlo Park, CA: SRI International. Retrieved from
    • Since 2002 the Hewlett Foundation has been an important driver in the movement toward  high-quality free and open content, and has funded a wide assortment of major programs in Open Educational Resources (OER) development and research.  The report focuses on the OER Research Hub (OERRH), based at the Open University in the UK. (1) This 23 page report summarizes the results of the evaluation, and draws implications for future needs in the field of OER research. (2).
  • Suber, P. (2012). Open access. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
    • This book provides a great overview of open access topics and, while not geared specifically to librarians, contains information that is relevant to the profession about scholarly research practice. Peter Suber is the director of the Harvard Open Access Project, a faculty fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society, and Senior Researcher at SPARC (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition). He is widely considered the de facto leader of the world-wide open access movement. Suber provides multiple reasons why open access is beneficial to both authors and readers of scholarly literature. He provides definitions for different types of open access resources, and briefly discusses the potential impact of the availability of open access journals on libraries deciding to cancel subscriptions to journals they pay to access.
  • Suber, P. (2015, December 5). Open access overview. Retrieved from
    • This brief overview to Open Access by OA leader Suber serves as a useful introduction to OA’s main elements. It features hyperlinked key concepts and further reading section, making it reminiscent of an online encyclopedia article.
  • Wiley, L., & Chrzastowski, T. (2005). The impact of electronic journals on interlibrary lending: A longitudinal study of statewide interlibrary loan article sharing in Illinois. Library Collections, Acquisitions, and Technical Services, 29 (4), 364-381.
    • This study compares trends in resource sharing of articles from 1995/1996, 1999/2000, and 2002/2003. The data is from an early transitional period to e-journals, but a trend showed there were fewer ILL requests for articles in the 2002/2003 study indicating that local access to e-journals resulted in fewer requests. There was a 20% overall drop in ILL requests for articles from 1999/2000 to 2002/2003. Embargoed journals are briefly mentioned as an issue with libraries providing access to e-journals and resulting in ILL requests for articles from journals that are owned by the library in e-journal format. At the time the article was published it is highly likely that the requests were easily filled by other libraries that maintained a print subscription to the journal since a major migration from print to e-journals happened more recently due to better database interfaces, link resolvers, and increasing need to budget and space management.