There are a number of ‘big-ticket’ ways to promote Open Access to patrons at small academic libraries, such as hosting Open Access Week events or creating an Open Access library subject guide. However, there are also small ways your library can remind patrons of Open Access as they use your website for their everyday research and writing needs that won’t hack into your budget.

Highlight when resources are Open Access

An easy way to remind patrons about the Open Access movement is to indicate whenever a resource mentioned on your library’s website is Open Access. Doing so will make patrons more familiar with the phrase and so they may pay more attention when your library is promoting its next Open Access Week events. In order to encourage further engagement, it would be a great idea to link mentions of Open Access on your library’s website to your OA subject guide (or some other type of OA reference material) so patrons can easily click-through and educate themselves on the movement.


Baker University – Baldwin City, KS

Baker University’s business subject guide includes a section specifically for Open Access case studies. What is great about this subject guide is that it explains to patrons in plain language that the library can provide access to many case study resources, but that certain items will cost money for patrons if they choose to seek them out. The subject guide unfortunately doesn’t explicitly explain that the list of Open Access case studies are free to use and could therefore be easily improved by providing a brief explanation of why the OA resources were included in the subject guide.

California College of the Arts – San Francisco, CA

In its library subject guide for different types of art materials, the California College of the Arts (CCA) Libraries has included the database source next to each of the journals listed to help students retrieve relevant articles more efficiently. Many of these journals are Open Access, however, and don’t require signing into a database to access them. In these cases, the subject guide simply notes next to the journal title that it is Open Access. I personally like this strategy for indicating Open Access journals because they are integrated with all other journals in the list and categorized in ways that are useful to students looking for information on different art materials.

Allow users to apply Open Access filters to their searches

Another small way to remind patrons about Open Access is to include functions on your library’s website that allow users to filter materials by whether they are Open Access or not. Even better than acting as a reminder, this tool could be particularly useful for alumni or other patrons who do not have institutional access to subscription journals. The Open Access filter will allow them to easily find freely-available materials.


Mount Allison University – Sackville, New Brunswick

Mount Allison University’s library uses the Springshare web platform, which has standard features allowing users to browse databases alphabetically or by subject. What is unique about this platform, however, is that you can also filter by database type, which allows users to filter their searches to only show Open Access databases.

Final thoughts

It’s not a fool-proof method for increasing your Open Access engagement with patrons, but leaving these little reminders around your library’s website is yet another way to increase patron’s exposure to Open Access as a concept. This should by no means be your only method of reaching patrons on this topic, but it is a small way to remind patrons about the Open Access movement on a year-round basis.