The Troublesome Catalogers and Magical Metadata Fairies had an interesting discussion on Facebook recently: how should we encode that an ebook is open access, so that patrons can limit their search to open access materials only?

I have a few thoughts on this:

  • I am not in the habit of doing this for our open access books, but it might make sense to put it in MARC 506 (Restrictions on Access Note), like:
    • 506 0_ ǂa Open access.
    • Note that the first indicator zero means “no restrictions”.
  • Should this go in the bib or elsewhere? If a library had access to multiple copies, some open access and some not (this does happen), it might make more sense to attach this as a note or license to the particular holding/portfolio under the bib.
  • Once you’ve decided how to encode this, there’s the added step of configuring the OPAC/discovery layer to allow limiting in this way.
  • Is this a common search for patrons to want to do in the library catalog? If so, why? For the academic purpose of just knowing which titles are open access? or for some practical reason concerning their own access? Our patrons should be able to access any of our ebook titles from off campus; they may have to login through a proxy though. In an in-person discussion, somebody mentioned the idea of reference librarians (particularly in public health) identifying resources that they could send to community members more broadly, which seems like a good use case. Any others?

Any other thoughts?