Skip to main content
SearchLoginLogin or Signup


Academic libraries and OA books. The Polish perspective.

Published onJan 31, 2021

Key findings

  • Academic libraries system in Poland is centralised, with relative autonomy on an institutional level

  • The open access movement in Poland is a bottom-up initiative, with libraries playing an important role in pushing for OA

  • A national OA policy was introduced in 2015 and covers books. It has been slowly adopted by institutions since then 

  • There are no OA book-specific funds for researchers in Poland

  • There are no library/scholar-led OA book publishing initiatives

  • Libraries rely on aggregators for OA book coverage

General library system for e-content and OA publications

Academic libraries in Poland fall under the aegis of the Ministry of Science and Higher Education; however, they are relatively autonomous bodies that depend on the local decisions of each university’s governance. In order to facilitate their work, academic libraries in Poland tend to organise themselves in consortia. Numerous such consortia exist, such as the Federation of Digital Libraries (Federacja Bibliotek Cyfrowych), which gathers digital content from Polish libraries, museums and archives.

The International Centre of Mathematical and Computational Modelling (ICM) at the University of Warsaw is the crucial player when it comes to e-content. It acts as a national consortium for negotiating license agreements with large publishers. It is responsible for both national licenses (covering about 550 HEIs) and consortia licenses (covering 20-50 institutions). ICM hosts the Virtual Library of Science (Wirtualna Biblioteka Nauki) — a database of electronic sources (journals, books, databases) from  publishers such as Springer Nature, Wiley, Elsevier and others — and grants access to  academic institutions in Poland. For Polish academic publications, ICM curates the Library of Science for journal articles (as of 2019 it covered 1000 journals and 300K articles) and the platform Open Up a Book (Otwórz książkę): a repository of Polish academic books, which are no longer available in print (as of 2020, it covered 408 authors and 544 books). 

Part of the ICM, the Open Science Platform (Platforma Otwartej Nauki=PON) acts as a centre of knowledge and best practice sharing when it comes to the implementation of open access models in academic institutions. PON publishes extensively on the status of open data and open science in Poland. 

Library community and open access

The open access movement is very much a bottom-up initiative in Poland, in which librarians seem to be the pioneers, leading the way. The late nineties saw the emergence of the first Polish OA journals, among them the Biuletyn EBIB (1999), which was geared towards librarians. In the following years Polish librarians, together with Polish researchers, were also early to sign ground-breaking OA declarations (the Budapest and Berlin OA and the OECD Declaration to Access to Research Data from Public Funding), long before the question of OA entered official debates in the Ministry of Science and Higher Education.

The Coalition for Open Education (Koalicja Otwartej Edukacji = KOED), an NGO founded in 2008, plays an important role in advancing open access in Poland. Its mission is supported by the Association of Polish Librarians and the EBIB Association. KOED’s platform Uwolnij naukę (“set the science free”) gathers the most up-to-date OA-related news, and offers advice on OA for researchers, publishers and librarians. Together with EBIB, KOED organises some of the most important OA conferences in Poland. KOED has also released a number of reports on the status of OA in the Polish context and organises Open Access Week events in Poland on an annual basis. 

OA book policies

Open Access has been on the radar of the Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education since about 2010, when the first report on OA in the Polish context was commissioned. The document, published in 2011, pointed out main roadblocks and developed a plan of implementation of OA policy on a national scale.

In 2015, the Ministry of Science and Higher Education released an official OA policy document outlining strategies for the development of open access in Poland (Kierunki Rozwoju Otwartego Dostępu Do Publikacji i Wyników Badań Naukowych w Polsce, n.d.). The document does not mandate open access, yet discusses general recommendations for actions to be taken to publish all publicly funded research in OA. It recommends green OA, with deposits in institutional repositories as soon as possible after publication (but not later than six months for STM, and 12 months for HSS). While the document mainly pertains to journal articles, it also mentions books, stating that they too should be made available in OA, yet with more flexible embargo periods. According to these recommendations, all HEIs are encouraged to adopt their own OA policies and appoint OA officers on institutional levels. 

There are currently seven Polish institutions with OA policies registered in the ROAR map. Among them, five mention books specifically:

  • Cracow University of Economics

  • Institute of Nuclear Physics

  • ICM University of Warsaw

  • Medical University of Lodz

  • and the Nofer Institute of Occupational Medicine in Lodz

In 2020 the National Centre of Science (Narodowe Centrum Nauki) also introduced an OA policy for all publications funded by this institution (Wprowadzenie Polityki Otwartego Dostępu Do Publikacji Powstałych w Projektach Badawczych | Narodowe Centrum Nauki, n.d.).

OA book funding

Funding for open access in Poland is hard to come by. There are no OA book-specific funds on a national or institutional level. 

Library/scholar-led OA book publishing

There are no library/scholar-led OA book initiatives in Poland. Most academic books are published either with international legacy publishers or local university presses. 

The University of Torun Press (UMK), together with the University of Torun Library, has been one of the pioneers when it comes to creating open access publishing platforms. In 2013 UMK  launched a platform for OA journals (Academic Platform of Journals/ Akademicka Platforma Czasopism). As part of its recent development, UMK now also publishes OA monographs. 

Integration of OA books in library systems

OA books are integrated with general library discovery systems that, in most academic libraries, rely on services provided by EBSCO. In order to make sure that users have access to OA books (as they are sometimes not fully covered by EBSCO), libraries sometimes also add links to DOAB and OAPEN to facilitate browsing through a global OA book portfolio. In addition to that, CEON (aggregator for Polish research output) lists ~4.400 OA books available in repositories.

Important contributors


Kierunki rozwoju otwartego dostępu do publikacji i wyników badań naukowych w Polsce. (n.d.).

Wprowadzenie polityki otwartego dostępu do publikacji powstałych w projektach badawczych | Narodowe Centrum Nauki. Retrieved December 3, 2020, from

Niezgodka, M. (2011). Wdrozenie i promocja otwartego dostępu do treści naukowych i edukacyjnych.

Fenrich, W., Siewicz, K., & Szprot, J. (2016). Towards Open Research Data in Poland.

Kulczycki, E. (2018). The diversity of monographs: changing landscape of book evaluation in Poland. Aslib Journal of Information Management, 70(6), 608–622.

Raport nt. realizacji polityki otwartego dostępu do publikacji naukowych w latach 2015-2017. (2018).

Szprot, J. (n.d.). Otwarty dostęp w instytucjach naukowych.

Siewicz, K. (n.d.). Otwarty dostęp do publikacji naukowych - kwestie prawne.

Szprot, J. (2014). Open Science in Poland 2014. A Diagnosis.

Photo of the Warsaw University Library by Katarzyna Matylla, CC BY-SA 3.0

No comments here
Why not start the discussion?