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The Netherlands

Academic libraries and OA books. The Dutch perspective.

Published onJan 31, 2021
The Netherlands

Key findings

  • The Netherlands, being a small country, enjoys close geographical proximity of libraries which form tight professional networks

  • The National Open Science Plan was introduced in 2017 and it includes books

  • There are OA book-specific funds, both on national funder and institutional levels

  • There is a plethora of stakeholders engaged in the implementation of the National Open Science Plan: the UKB (The Dutch library consortium), VSNU (the Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU) and the NWO (the National Research Foundation) and the NPOS (Netherlands Plan Open Science) being the crucial players for scholarly books output

  • No typically scholar/library-led OA book initiatives based on non-BPC models were identified

  • Libraries rely on aggregators for OA book coverage

General library system for e-content and OA publications 

The Dutch higher education system comprises of public research universities and universities of applied sciences, as well as  medical and private business schools. The Netherlands has been among the first European countries to support transition to open science, and academic libraries played a significant role in the development of OA on a national level. The UKB consortium, comprised of 13 Dutch research libraries, the Open University Library and the National Library of the Netherlands, represents the interests of its stakeholders (Leden | UKB, n.d.). In the 2017 document entitled The Power of Synergy. Ambitions 2017-2020, UKB identified five focus points for its activities, ranging from the library architecture requirements, creating and maintaining access to collections, supporting teaching stuff, students, and researchers to setting up joint systems (The Power of Synergy. Ambitions 2017-2020., 2017). UKB, together with VSNU (The Association of Universities in the Netherlands), is in charge of negotiating deals with large commercial publishers on a national level. Following the government’s directives, the UKB and VSNU are making sure that no new deals are signed without an open access component. 

Libraries and open access books

The library community is OA-oriented and interconnected, with a strong presence of both formal (UKB) and less formal (mailing list) networks. Several working groups, comprised of librarians, operate within larger open science-related projects, sharing best practices and informing strategical decisions taken by each library. The UKB Open Access Working Group focuses specifically on all OA-related issues. 

There are two main communication channels about OA geared towards the academic sector in the Netherlands: provides information on current OA policies, OA-related projects and the advantages of OA, while the National Platform Open Science was set up to monitor developments in open science and open access on a European scale and share best practices.

OA book policies

In February 2017, following its 2016 EU presidency and strongly pushing towards OA on the European scale, the Netherlands released its National Open Science Plan. It called for open access, with no embargo periods, to all publicly funded scholarly publications (books included) to be achieved by 2020. The implementation of the National Plan was handed to the joint forces of VSNU, UKB and SURF (National Plan Open Science, 2017). 

A recently established project C1: Exploration of broadening Open Access to books is exploring the measurements to be taken and further policies to be implemented in order to increase the uptake of OA books (Project C1: Verkenning Verbreding Open Access Naar Boeken, n.d.).

The Dutch Research Council (NWO) has also mandated OA on publications funded by their grants for  journals, book chapters and books.

Most Dutch HEIs have created their own institutional OA policies. Currently, there are 11 HEIs listed in the ROAR map with OA policies. Among them, however, only four specifically mention books (Radboud University, Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, Tilburg University and Wageningen University). All HEI repositories are aggregated in  

OA book funding

There are OA book-specific funds in the Netherlands, on both the funder and institutional levels. 

NWO has recently launched a funding scheme dedicated specifically to  BPC payments for OA monographs resulting from NWO funding. The fund amounts to up to 10,000 EUR per book and makes it clear that it is for monographs only, excluding other types of book-form publications such as trade books, conference proceedings, textbooks and dissertations (Open Access Books | NWO, n.d.).

Dutch researchers at TU Delft and Utrecht University can also take advantage of institutional funds, which cover both APCs and BPCs. They come with a funding cap (at  Utrecht University, 50% of BPCs are reimbursed with a maximum of cap at 2,500 EUR, while TU Delft put its cap at 4,500 EUR per book)(Open Access Fund - Utrecht University Library - Universiteit Utrecht, n.d.; Open Access Funding, n.d.). 

Library/scholar-led OA book publishing

Alongside university presses — such as  Amsterdam University Press, with its long tradition of OA book publication — there are institutions offering publishing services to their authors. Among them, TU Delft provides its researchers with an option of publishing OA books under its imprint BK Books, associated with the Faculty of Architecture and Build Environment. Publishing services are reserved for the TU Delft affiliates; the press operates on a BPC model. BK Books operates on Open Monographs Press software and releases books in PDF format (BK BOOKS, n.d.).

As of 2019, University of Groningen Press offers a platform for affiliated researchers, where they can publish academic books in open access. The press runs on Open Monograph Press with books available as PDF files (Books and Series, 2019). 

Among scholar-led presses one notices Open Press TiU, associated with the Tilburg University, which aims to publish 100% of their books OA. The press charges “affordable and transparent book processing charges” to authors (Open Press | Openpresstiu, n.d.). 

No OA book publishing initiatives operating on a BPC-alternative model were found.

Integration of OA books in library systems

Open access books are integrated with the discovery tools and library catalogues in The Netherlands. For this inclusion they rely on the service providers, without taking additional measures to list DOAB for a list of open access books available. 

Important contributors


National Plan Open Science. (2017).

The Power of Synergy. Ambitions 2017-2020. (2017).

Leden | UKB. (n.d.). Retrieved December 9, 2020, from

Project C1: Verkenning verbreding Open Access naar boeken. (n.d.). Retrieved December 9, 2020, from

Open Press | openpresstiu. (n.d.). Retrieved December 9, 2020, from

Open Access Books | NWO. (n.d.). Retrieved December 9, 2020, from

Open Access Fund - Utrecht University Library - Universiteit Utrecht. (n.d.). Retrieved January 22, 2021, from

Open Access Funding. (n.d.). TU Delft. Retrieved January 22, 2021, from

BK BOOKS. (n.d.). Retrieved January 22, 2021, from

Books and series. (2019, April 4). University of Groningen.

Photo of TU Delft Library by Juan Sarasua on Flickr, CC BY 2.0

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