Metadata Librarians for Open Access

How to Cite

Chan, J., Zhang, E., Vermeij, H., & Riemer, J. (2024). Metadata Librarians for Open Access: A Path Towards Sustainable Discovery and Impact for Open Access Resources. International Journal of Librarianship, 8(4), 30–41.
Received 2023-09-15
Accepted 2024-01-17
Published 2024-01-31


Support by academic libraries for open access (OA) over the past three-plus decades has largely focused on the development of digital infrastructure, promotion of open access publishing, support of policy-driven access mandates, and more recently, adoption of transformative agreements. Libraries have correspondingly created a broad array of scholarly communication roles to support these varied approaches. Surprisingly, one area of open access support that has received less attention from libraries is the facilitation of description and discovery of open access resources through the creation of robust original metadata. Expertise in Organization of Recorded Knowledge and Information represents a core competency of librarianship, yet the current academic library landscape shows few positions that specifically apply this expertise towards support for OA resources. Efforts to describe OA resources typically fall below those dedicated to licensed resources and pale in comparison to OA advocacy work, repository, publishing and other services. This case study offers an example of how one large academic library has introduced a metadata librarian position focused on description of open access resources into its activities supporting open access. 

For decades, commercially licensed resources have benefitted from metadata enhanced layer by layer by commercial and library professionals alike. With increased focus and funding being devoted to open access driven by governmental, institutional, and private funders, attention is critically needed to ensure that these new resources obtain the description necessary to allow them to be useful. Metadata librarians focused on open access resources can work with array of positions, such as repository managers and other digital asset management professionals, to ensure that open access resources are properly ingested and managed, and that metadata practices are aligned with best practices for preservation and long-term access. OA metadata librarians could be responsible for developing and implementing metadata standards and practices for open access resources like scholarly articles, data sets, and other digital objects. These standards would help ensure that open access resources are accurately described and discoverable alongside purchased resources, making them more accessible to researchers and other users.  

In addition to their technical responsibilities, OA metadata librarians can also play key roles in advocating for open access resources and educating library staff and users about the importance of metadata in supporting discoverability and accessibility. Through participation in professional organizations and initiatives focused on open access and metadata, OA metadata librarians can help raise awareness of the importance of metadata in supporting open access resources, their sustainability, and ultimately, their impact.


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