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Academic libraries and OA books. The Spanish perspective.

Published onJan 31, 2021

Key findings

  • The academic system is decentralised, relying on 17 regions with numerous regional library consortia 

  • REBIUN is a crucial network for Spanish academic libraries

  • The National Open Access Policy, introduced in 2011, encourages, but does not require, deposition of publications in open access repositories. The law focuses on journals and does not mention books

  • There are no OA book-specific funds in Spain

  • No scholar/library-led OA book publishing initiatives were identified

  • Libraries rely on aggregators for OA books coverage

General library system for e-content and OA publications

The higher education system in Spain relies on universities: there are more than 80 of them across the country, with the majority being publicly funded (Registro de Universidades, Centros y Títulos, 2020). Due to the country’s decentralisation into autonomous regions, universities are being self-governed in each of the 17 regions. Academic libraries belonging to them have their own budgets at their disposal, comprised of regional and national-level funds (Echeverría & Jiménez, 2011).

In the 1980s academic libraries started uniting into consortia, the first one being the CBUC (Consorcio de Bibliotecas Universitarias de Cataluña), serving the interests of libraries in the community of Cataluña. There are several regional academic libraries consortia: CBUA (for the community of Andalusia), MADRONO (for the region of Madrid), BUCLE (for Castilla-Leon), and BUGALICIA (for Galicia). These consortia are in charge of negotiating deals with large commercial publishers for access to e-content. 

The Association of Universities’ Rectors (CRUE), comprising Spanish universities representatives, acts as an interlocutor between regional universities and the central government, advising on the most important questions concerning  Spanish HEI development. CRUE is one of the crucial contributors on the higher education scene in Spain and is involved in open access discussions on a national level, including negotiations of deals on e-content with large commercial publishers.

Library community and open access

REBIUN (Spanish Network of University Libraries) is an organisation uniting representatives of academic libraries nation-wide and acts as a main discussion forum for librarians. It comprises several working groups, one of them dealing with questions of open access, with a special focus on repositories. The group is currently composed of 36 members representing 27 Spanish academic institutions (Repositorios | Red de Biblioteca Universitarias Españolas, n.d.).

The Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology (FECYT), operating under the auspices of the Ministry of Science and Innovation, is the crucial player on the open access scene in Spain. It oversees the implementation of open access-related developments in Spain, deals with questions of open science infrastructure, interoperability and standardisation, and provides information and guidance on open-access-related questions to institutions and researchers. 

FECYT, together with REBIUN, runs the RECOLECTA (Open Science Harvester) project, which aims to gather institutional OA repositories in one national platform for open scientific content. RECOLECTA is a significant forum for the library community in Spain, offering advice on open-science-related questions to local repositories’ managers. 

OA book policies 

In 2011, the Spanish government released Ley 14/2011 which encourages the deposition of publicly funded publications in open access repositories (Ley 14/2011, de 1 de Junio, de La Ciencia, La Tecnología y La Innovación., 2011). The law does not require, yet does recommend, OA and focuses on journal publications, making no explicit mention of how books should be treated. The question of open access has been raised in the subsequent State Plans for Research, Development and Innovation (2013-2016 and 2017-2020), which stated the push towards open science as being one of their core objectives (Spanish National Plan For Scientific and Technical Research and Innovation, 2013; Plan Estatal de Investigación Científica y Técnica y de Innovación, 2017). 

Currently, there are 43 institutions with open access policies registered in the ROAR map. Among them twenty mention books specifically:

  • CEU Cardenal Herrera University, Repositori Obert de Coneixement de l'Ajuntament de Barcelona (BCNROC)

  • Spanish General State Administration

  • Spanish National Research Council (CSIC)

  • Universidad Complutense de Madrid

  • Universidad Internacional de La Rioja

  • Universidad Politécnica de Cartagena

  • Universidad Politécnica de Madrid

  • Universidad Pública de Navarra

  • Universidad Rey Juan Carlos

  • Universidad de Burgos

  • Universidad de Extremadura

  • Universidad de Granada

  • Universidad de León 

  • Universidad de Sevilla

  • Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (Open University of Catalonia, UOC)

  • Universitat Politecnica de Valencia

  • Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC)

  • Universitat de Lleida

  • Universitat de Vic

OA book funding

Funding for open access in Spain does not exist per se: there are no OA book-specific funds on a national or institutional level. OA publications are often financed through research grants. After the economic crisis of 2009, Spanish universities have suffered severe budget cuts, which affected libraries and the available publication/acquisition funds.

Library/scholar-led OA book publishing

No typically scholar/library led OA book publishing initiatives were identified. Some university presses offer an option to publish scholarly books in OA (for example UPV, UPC), with the Publicacions de la Universitat Rovira i Virgili (URV) being a fully OA born publisher.

The existing university presses are rather traditional and not OA-oriented. Revistas is a publication initiative that processes OA books, publishing them in  PDF format. The press does not charge BPCs to authors. It is covered by the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC). Revistats publishes 70-90 books per year.

Integration of OA books in library systems 

Open access books are integrated in the Spanish library catalogues and discovery tools in use.

Important contributors


Ley 14/2011, de 1 de junio, de la Ciencia, la Tecnología y la Innovación. (2011).

Spanish National Plan For Scientific and Technical Research and Innovation. (2013).

Plan Estatal de Investigación Científica y Técnica y de Innovación. (2017).

Repositorios | Red de Biblioteca Universitarias Españolas. (n.d.). Retrieved December 8, 2020, from

Registro de Universidades, Centros y Títulos. (2020).

Echeverría, M. and Jiménez, S. (2011), "Interlending and document supply in the context of Spanish library consortia", Interlending & Document Supply, Vol. 39 No. 4, pp. 190-199. doi: 10.1108/02641611111187613

Photo ofthe Biblioteca Barri, University of Girona by UdGBiblioteca,CC BY-SA 4.0

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