May 21, 2022

UK: Two-Year Pilot Project Begins That Will Provide Public Libraries & Their Users With Free Access to Scholarly Articles


Here’s an interesting pilot project that formally got underway today in the UK. More details to come.

This collaborative project is named “Access to Research” and will provide free full text journal articles to UK public library users (in-library access only) from several academic publishers. A “test” of the pilot ran for a few months during 2013 at 10 libraries around the UK.

Why Access Research (via FAQ)?

Access to Research has been launched in response to recommendations from the Finch Group, a committee convened by the UK government, to explore how access to publicly funded research could be expanded.

One of the main recommendations of the Finch Group was that the major journal publishers should grant public libraries a licence to provide free access to their academic articles. The Access to Research two year pilot, starting January 2014, is the outcome of this recommendation.

Fast Facts

  • About 1.5 million articles are available (free) as of today, from about 8,400 publications.
  • Largest concentrations of articles: Biological Sciences (20%), Social Sciences (18%) and Engineering (14%)
  • Discovery: ProQuest is providing the project with pro-bono access to Summon

Some Specifics

The pilot is open to all UK local authorities to participate, with over half of all local authorities already in the process of signing up their libraries to the initiative.

The technology to support the service has been road tested in 2013 by 250 public libraries within 10 local authorities (Buckinghamshire, Calderdale, East Sussex, Kent, Lewisham, Newcastle, Oxfordshire, Surrey, West Sussex, Windsor & Maidenhead).

The service will now be rolled out as a two-year pilot, commencing February 2014. During the pilot interest and uptake will be closely monitored to see how the service could be developed in the future.

Participating Publishers (as of Feb. 3, 2014; More Publishers Expected to Join Pilot)

Additional Links


Public libraries get online access to research journals (via BBC News)

Note: BBC report includes this comment from CILIP:

The Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (Cilip) has warmly welcomed the scheme.

“Libraries have always been and should remain a beacon for learning and education,” said Darren Smart, from CILIP, but he added that there was a need for further action.

“With the right reform of copyright laws to reflect the digital age, and investment in the public library service, small businesses, students, researchers and local communities across the country can get the right support for their information needs.”

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.