Last week I attended the 5th International Summit of the Book, held this year in Limerick. The Summit of the Book conference was initiated in 2012 by the Library of Congress, Washington, as an ‘annual global meeting to discuss and promote the book as a crucial format for conveying societies’ scholarship and culture’.
Speakers came from HEI and national libraries all over the world and included the Director of the Library of Alexandria, the Chief of Library Services at the UN office in Geneva, the Director of Scholarly and Educational Programs at the Library of Congress, the President of the African Library and Information Association, the Director of the National Library of Ireland, the President of LIBER, the Head of the European Library, and the Chair of IFLA’s Freedom of Access to Information Committee.
Along with many short presentations of case studies of practices and initiatives at libraries around the world, including the use of special collections for teaching, common reader programmes, the possibilities of digitization, and managing university libraries in different languages and cultures, the conference offered a global insight into the changes and challenges for libraries everywhere, some common to all and others particular to a country or circumstance.
I gave a presentation on the open access publishing model adopted by UCL Press, and the growing trend for libraries to set up their own open access publishing service. I described the global reach achieved by the Press’s books and journals since launching in June 2015 (getting on for 80,000 now) and the benefits that can accrue to an institution through making its research freely available to all. I hope that our experience might serve as an inspiration to other institutions of the transformative potential of having an open access press.