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Academic libraries and OA books. The Swedish perspective.

Published onJan 31, 2021

Key findings

  • The National Library of Sweden is the main body investigating OA-related issues. The National Library of Sweden is responsible for coordinating OA-related issues and keeping track of costs on a national level

  • The National Library  also runs  the Bibsam consortium, which serves as a vehicle for the shift to OA by negotiating transformative agreements on behalf of the universities and colleges

  • Recommendations by  the Swedish Government and the Swedish Research Council suggest that the transformation of OA to include all publicly funded research publications should be completed  by 2026

  • There are no OA book-specific funds in Sweden

  • The OA book publishers Stockholm University Press and Kriterium play a pivotal role as library/scholar-led initiatives

  • Libraries rely on aggregators for OA book coverage

General library system for e-content and OA publications

Research libraries in  Sweden differ substantially when it comes to their size, resources and funding. The Bibsam consortium, with 55 participating institutions (as of 2019), is in charge of licence negotiations for e-content with international publishers on behalf of Swedish universities, university colleges, research institutes and governmental agencies (Bibsam Consortium, n.d.).

The National Library of Sweden has since 2017 been acting as a national contact point with responsibility for coordinating and investigating work related to the aim of  open access to research publications in Sweden (Koulocheri, n.d.). As part of this initiative, five national investigation studies have been conducted over the period of 2017-2018, looking into the implications of transition to open access, with one focusing specifically on open access to monographs (see the summary of the recommendations in the main report, 2020) and one focusing on technical and financial support for scholarly journals (which has been translated to English: Open Access, n.d.).

Library community and open access

The Swedish Library Association represents both organisations and individuals and their aim is to promote libraries and their work by reporting news and supporting the development of skills for librarians. While the association does not have an open science policy, it follows actions that its member libraries decide to take.

OA book policies

Open access has been an important part of the conversation about the future of scholarly communication since 2006 in Sweden, when the National Library of Sweden  started its work towards advancing OA. In 2015 the Proposal for National Guidelines for Open Access to Scientific Information, produced by the Swedish Research Council, laid out basic principles for OA in Sweden, recommending that all publicly funded publications (books included), art works and data that the research was based on should be made available open access without embargo periods from 2020 the latest, with the OA policy fully implemented by 2026 (Proposal for National Guidelines for Open Access to Scientific Information, 2015).

The Research Bill Collaborating for Knowledge – for Society’s Challenges and Strengthened Competitiveness, presented in 2016, displayed the vision for higher education institutions for the period of 2017-2020, with open access being one of the desirable directions (Regeringskansliet, 2016). 

The general national approach is followed by universities and research institutes, with individual OA policies differing per institution. There are 12 institutional OA policies registered in the ROAR map for Sweden, with two specifically mentioning books (Blekinge Institute of Technology and University College of Boras).

OA book funding

Funding for OA books in Sweden is generally provided as part of research grants, with no OA book-specific funds available on a national level. Individual institutions might have their own OA funds, geared mostly towards APCs. 

Some Swedish research funders, such as Riksbankens Jubileumsfond, encourage researchers to submit applications for publishing costs including books, even if this is not included in the official policy. Others, like the Swedish Research Council, also mentions books in their open access policy, even if it is not a requirement (Publishing Your Research Open Access, n.d.).

Library/scholar-led OA book publishing

Two main players in the field of library/scholar-led OA book initiatives in Sweden are  Stockholm University Press and Kriterium, the first being a proper publishing house and the latter labelling itself as “a mark of quality”. 

Stockholm University Press publishes OA journals and books and is open to proposals from any author, not necessarily affiliated to Stockholm University. The press is run by the university library. Editorial Boards consisting of experts in the fields of humanities, social and natural sciences assess the academic quality of submitted proposals and they are also responsible for selecting reviewers for the external peer review process applied for all manuscripts. The Publishing Committee, consisting of representatives of four faculties of the Stockholm University, supervises the transparency and fairness of the peer review processes and makes final decisions concerning acceptance for publication. Stockholm University Press operates on a gold OA model, with a BPC charged to authors on a case-by-case basis, depending on the range of provided publishing services, with an approximate BPC at £3,250 (+VAT) for a book of about 200 pages. SUP’s portfolio consists of 31 OA books and it runs 12 book series. The Editorial Boards consist of at least three to five experts in their respective field, where at least one member should be affiliated to Stockholm University.

Kriterium calls itself a “portal” for review rather than a publisher (Kriterium, n.d.). This initiative is a collaborative effort between universities and academic presses focused on publication of peer reviewed academic books, with a special emphasis on humanities, social sciences and Swedish scholarship. Kriterium takes care of the peer review process, while the production of books is carried out by participating publishers. The open access versions of the books are usually published via the Kriterium website and added to the OAPEN Library, while the print books are usually manufactured by the publisher of the book. The initiative is supported by the Swedish Research Council, the National Library of Sweden and the Riksbankens Jubileumsfond. Currently there are nine participating universities (Gothenburg University, Karlstad University, Lund University, Malmö University, Stockholm University, Södertörn University, Umeå University, Uppsala University and Örebro University) and two participating publishers (Nordic Academic Press and Makadam publishers).

Lund University Press is the body led by a steering committee, consisting of representatives of the supporting institutions (SRC, NLS and RJ), of participating university libraries and publishing houses. They oversee the work of the consortium, proposing guidelines, while a group of academic co-ordinators gathered in the Editorial Board supervises the academic merit of the published content. So far, 21 OA books have been published with the Kriterium “mark of quality”. Lund University Press has entered a collaboration with Manchester University Press, where the print books are available for purchase and the online versions are added to the Manchester Hive for additional distribution.

Integration of OA books in library systems

OA books are integrated with the general library discovery systems that rely on EBSCO services. In order to make sure that the users have access to OA books (as they are sometimes not fully covered by EBSCO) libraries add links to DOAB and OAPEN to facilitate browsing through a global OA books portfolio.

Many libraries use the DiVA repository, governed by a national consortium of libraries, to publish and disseminate locally produced books (and other types of publications such as reports, conference proceedings, local journals etc.). DiVA is usually the place where universities publish PhD theses, but it also serves as the main repository for green open access. The archive itself is free to access, but it is up to each contributor to indicate and manage rights for their publication. This means that content may or may not be classified as open access. However, for many libraries this is the only affordable option for them to support open publication. 

In addition to that, SwePub, the national publication database, lists more than 25,000 open access books.

Important contributors

The National Library of Sweden

SUHF (The Association of Swedish Higher Education Institutions)

The Swedish Library Association

Bibsam Sweden

Stockholm University Press


Lund University Press

DIVA repository



National Library of Sweden. (2020). The transition to an open access scholarly publishing system.

Proposal for national guidelines for open access to scientific information. (2015).

Expenditure on scholarly publishing Universities and University Colleges 2017. (n.d.).

Bibsam Consortium. Retrieved December 3, 2020.

Regeringskansliet, R. och. (2016, November 28). Collaborating for knowledge – for society’s challenges and strengthened competitiveness [Text]. Regeringskansliet.

Koulocheri, E. (n.d.). Sweden. OpenAIRE. Retrieved December 17, 2020, from

Open Access. (n.d.).

Publishing your research open access. (n.d.).

Kriterium. (n.d.).

Photo of the National Library of Sweden by Øyvind Holmstad, CC BY-SA 4.0

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