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Academic libraries and OA books. The Danish perspective.

Published onJan 31, 2021

Key findings

  • The Danish library system is in transition, with the newly-merged Royal Danish Library acting as both national library and university library

  • The library community is tight-knit, with numerous projects and working groups covering OA

  • The national OA strategy is a point of reference for institutional OA policies. It excludes monographs

  • There are no OA book-specific funds in Denmark

  • There are few library/scholar-led OA book publishing initiatives

  • Libraries rely on a cloud based system (Alma); it covers OA books 

General library system for e-content and OA publications

The Danish library system has been undergoing a profound transformation over  the past three years. In 2018 a study, commissioned by the Ministries of Culture and the Ministry of Research and Education, took a closer look at the library landscape in Denmark. The report, which followed the study, has made several recommendations for the future of Danish libraries. Among other things, it recommended consolidating library services within the Royal Danish Library by, for instance, transferring the existing library consortium to it, thus shutting down DEFF (Denmark’s Electronic Research Library) in June 2019 (Licensforhandlinger Skal Samles På Det Kgl. Bibliotek, n.d.).

Until June 2019 DEFF acted as a Danish library consortium covering research, educational and special libraries (Beagrie, Charles, 2014). The project launched in 1998 and played a crucial role in negotiating license agreements with publishers. As of June 2019 the DEFF  dissolved and its responsibilities as a national license consortium were moved to the Royal Danish Library, following the principle of efficiency. With this move a new governance structure was formed where universities in Denmark (incl. the Rectors’ Conference) in collaboration with the Royal Danish Library, develop strategy and provide a total, clear strategic negotiation mandate to the largest national negotiations. Beside the eight universities in Denmark, the consortium also includes a number of university colleges and other higher education institutions, research centres, hospitals and other public agencies. 

Library community and open access

Denmark, being a small country, enjoys the benefits of  a close network of academic librarians. As open access in general is very much present on the universities’ agenda, there have been numerous projects and working groups dedicated to the OA questions. However, no formalised OA-specific forum among librarians exists.

The Danish Open Access Indicator is a tool used by the Ministry of the Higher Education and Science in order to measure compliance of the Danish universities’ published research output with the national open access strategy. It publishes statistics on a yearly basis, covering three main categories: realised open access (publications released as OA), unused open access rights (for publications released as non-OA in journals with embargoes of up to one year), and blocked open access (for publications released as non-OA in journals with an embargo period exceeding one year). 

OA book policies

Denmark launched its national OA strategy in 2014. In its initial form it aimed at achieving open access to 80% of Danish peer-reviewed scientific articles published in 2016 by 2017, arriving at 100% of those published in 2021 by 2022. 

The strategy was revisited in 2018 and in its current state it is aiming to  have  100% of all peer-reviewed articles from Danish research institutions in open access by 2025, allowing for a maximum 12-month long embargo period. It covers scientific journals and conference proceedings, leaving out monographs, edited volumes and PhD theses. Another revision of the strategy is planned for 2021-2022 (Denmark’s National Strategy for Open Access, 2018).

The strategy is being treated as a point of reference for OA-related issues by individual universities, which follow its principles in forming their OA policies. 

Currently, there are eight institutions with open access policies  registered in the ROAR map. Among them two mention books specifically: Copenhagen Business School, Roskilde University.

OA book funding 

Public BPC-specific funds do not exist in Denmark. Until May 2020, the University of Southern Denmark’s library was the only institution offering an OA-specific fund (up to 100,000 EUR per year to cover APCs and BPCs alike). The increasing interest in the fund made it impossible to sustain its existence. Since the official closure of the fund, the researchers of the University of Southern Denmark have been encouraged to upload their publications to Pure (Open Access Fund, n.d.).

Library/scholar-led OA book publishing 

Library or scholar-led OA book publishing initiatives are rare, if not non-existent, in Denmark. 

Among the rare examples is the Aarhus University - with its platform dedicated to un-edited OA material, incl. books - and Aalborg University Press, closely cooperating with the university library.

Aarhus University offers its researchers a chance to deposit their books, PhD dissertations and working papers. The service, run on the Open Monograph Press software, is provided at no fee to authors (provided they are affiliated with the university) and offers no editorial intervention. Authors are asked to submit their manuscripts as  camera-ready PDF copies. Published books are available as PDFs with assigned ISBN and DOI numbers. 

Aalborg University Press offers the open access option for a wide range of publications: journals, conference proceedings, reports, edited volumes and monographs. Books are published in PDF format and hosted on the Knowledge Bade (Vindenbase: VBN) research portal.

Integration of OA books in library systems

The Royal Danish Library has recently introduced a new cloud-based system called Alma, which covers both closed and open sources. Before the system was introduced OA books were integrated in the library discovery systems through DOAB and OAPEN. The Danish National Research Database (central national repository/aggregator) lists more than 5,000 OA books.

Important contributors

The Royal Library

Universities Denmark

Aalborg University Press

The Danish Open Access Indicator

Danish National Research Database


Quick, Mona. (2004). Library consortiums in the Nordic countries. Scandinavian Library Quarterly, 37(4).

Denmark’s National Strategy for Open Access. (2018).

Governance structure for national licence negotiations in Denmark. (n.d.).

Rapport med anbefalinger fra arbejdsgruppen om den fremtidige organisering af forskningsbiblioteksområdet. (n.d.).

 Licensforhandlinger skal samles på Det Kgl. Bibliotek. (n.d.). Retrieved December 3, 2020, from

Danmark får et samlet Nationalbibliotek — Det Kgl. Bibliotek. (n.d.). Retrieved December 3, 2020, from

Beagrie, Charles. (2014). Permanent Access to e-Journals in Denmark.

Forside. (n.d.). Danske Universiteter. Retrieved December 3, 2020, from

Nationalt licenskonsortium. (n.d.). Det Kgl. Bibliotek. Retrieved December 3, 2020, from

Open Access Fund. (n.d.). SDU. Retrieved December 8, 2020, from

Photo of the Danish Royal Library by Susanne Nilsson on Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0

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